As we paused this past Thursday to give thanks, the winter leagues saw many comings and goings.
However, to answer some concerns of the Cubs Faithful, several pitchers stepped up their games. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Marco Carrillo, and Jay Jackson were perfect in their starts, while Blake Parker and Oswaldo Martinez continue to mow them down in relief. Meanwhile, infielder Junior Lake had a memorable season debut in the Dominican Republic.
To see where some of the prospects are now turning up, take a peek inside this week’s Down on the Farm Report. Dominican Winter League
Leones de Escogido
Tennessee outfielder Nelson Perez, looking for more playing time, has moved to Escogido. On Sunday, in his last game for the Bulls, Perez was 1-for-3with a triple as the Lions defeated Este 3-2. In that game, reliever John Gaub went 1.2 innings with three strikeouts to lower his ERA to 5.63. Gaub pitched only one game over the last week.
Nelson Perez then started back-to-back game for the Lions in a couple of weekend losses. On Friday, he was 1-for-3 with a walk in a 5-0 loss to Licey. Then on Saturday, Perez went 2-for-4 as the Pride lost 3-2 to Oriente.
Toros del Este
Iowa pitcher Alberto Cabrera has seen most of his action as a reliever in the DWL after starting 26 games last season. Cabrera continues to be hit hard this winter, allowing six earned runs in 11 innings. In his last outing on Friday, Cabrera pitched 2.1 innings, allowing an earned run and striking out a batter as the Bulls lost 11-1 to Oriente.
Estrellas de Oriente
Oriente welcomed Tennessee shortstop Junior Lake this week. Lake responded in his first game on Wednesday by going 2-for-5 with two stolen bases in a 6-0 rout over Escogido.
Junior Lake then provided his first RBI on Friday, hitting a solo home run to go along with a walk and another stolen base, as he was 1-for-2 in a crushing 11-1 defeat of Este.
Mexican Pacific League
Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Iowa reliever Blake Parker stayed strong this past week, as he could be in contention for a bullpen spot this spring. Parker started out the week by picking up his seventh hold on Sunday with a scoreless inning, as Hermosillo topped Culiacan 3-2.
Blake Parker was back on the mound on Wednesday, striking out a batter in a shutout inning, as the Orangemen stumbled 3-1 against Navojoa. He was then nicked for two earned runs on Thursday, but still picked up a strikeout and his eighth hold, pitching 1.2 innings as Hermosillo returned the favor to Navojoa, defeating the Mayos 5-3.
Blake Parker then labored a bit on Saturday, giving up a hit and a walk. However, he ended up striking out the side without allowing a run to earn his ninth hold in the Growers’ 3-0 shutout of Guasave
Yaquis de Obregon
The defending Caribbean Champions flexed their muscles this week, going 5-1. The Yaquis closed out the first half of the season going 20-15 with a 7-5 win over Los Mochis on Sunday. Tennessee reliever Oswaldo Martinez tossed a scoreless inning in the victory.
Obregon then opened the second half of the season with a 12-3 pasting of Mazatlan Tuesday. Oswaldo Martinez struck out a batter while not allowing an earned run.
Tennessee starter Marco Carrillo celebrated re-signing with the Cubs organization on Wednesday, striking out five to even his record to 2-2 as the Tribe defeated Mazatlan 5-1. Carrillo lowered his ERA to 2.28 ERA by blanking the Deer for six innings.
Oswaldo Martinez continued to throw up the zeroes on Thursday, earning his third hold in an inning of work as Obregon completed the sweep in a 5-2 victory over Mazatlan.
On Friday, Oswaldo Martinez remained dominant with another scoreless two-thirds of an inning, picking up his fourth hold as the Yaquis beat Culiacan 3-2.
Venezuelan Winter League
Leones de Caracas
Iowa starter Jay Jackson was the story for the Lions this week, as he tries to impress his new bosses. Jackson fanned five batters in five shut-out innings on Thursday as Caracas blew past Aragua 6-1. In that game, shortstop and Iowa teammate Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.
Marwin Gonzalez made some headlines in his last week in the VWL. He started the week by going 1-for-4 and an RBI as Caracas beat Zulia 6-1.
Tuesday saw Marwin Gonzalez and the Lions back in action, as he was 2-for-3 as they would suffer the first of back -to-back losses to Zulia, going down 8-0. Gonzalez was then 1-for-3 on Wednesday in a 3-2 defeat.
Marwin Gonzalez ended his season for the Pride on Friday with an RBI in a 2-for-5 night as the Lions put four on the board in the top of the eleventh inning to pull away from Lara 7-3.
Navegantes del Magallanes
Magallanes tried to keep pace this week, enduring a 2-4 record, including a four-game losing streak, to fall to a game and a half out of first place. New first baseman Rebel Ridling started out slowly, going 0-for- 3 in a 3-1 win over Margarita on Sunday and 0-for-3 with two walks in a 10-9 loss to Lara on Tuesday. In that game, Iowa reliever Robert Coello allowed two earned runs and had a strikeout in an inning of work.
Rebel Ridling would finally get on the board on Wednesday, and the Tennessee first baseman was 1-for-4 as the Navigators lost 8-7 to La Guaira. On Thursday, Ridling ended up 1-for-3 as the Navs lost 4-2 to Margarita. Robert Coello picked up his seventh hold despite giving up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Coello struck out two and was tagged with his second loss.
The streak continued on Friday even though Rebel Ridling was 2-for-4 as Magallanes bowed 11-5 to Margarita. However, Ridling went 1-for-5 as the Pathfinders edged Lara 2-1 on Saturday.
Aguilas del Zulia
Austin Bibens-Dirkx continues to try and make an impression, as he limited Caracas to two hits over 6.2 innings as the Eagles whitewashed the Lions 8-0 on Tuesday. Bibens-Dirkx picked up a strikeout and improved his record to 4-2 while lowering his ERA to 2.92.
News and Notes
Former Cubs’ pitcher Ramon Ortiz is now pitching for Tigres de Licey in the DWL. Tennessee shortstop Junior Lake is now a member of Estrellas de Oriente of the DWL. Tennessee outfielder Nelson Perez has moved from Toros del Este to Estrellas de Oriente of the DWL.
While there has not been an official word, Tennessee catcher Steve Clevenger is no longer on the roster of Leones de Escogido of the DWL; Iowa pitcher Scott Maine is also no longer on the roster of Estrellas de Oriente, also of the DWL. Bryan LaHair has finished his season in the VWL. LaHair batted .264 with seven home runs, six doubles, and 14 RBIs in 24 games. Tennessee first baseman Rebel Ridling has replaced LaHair for Navagentes del Magallenes of the VWL. Marwin Gonzalez ended his winter season for Leones de Caracas of the VWL, and will now work out of the Cubs complex in Mesa, Arizona.
Pitchers Justin Berg and Marco Carrillo, Rule 55 Minor League Free Agents, have re-signed with the Cubs organization. The two pitchers join outfielder James Adduci and infielder Jonathan Mota, who signed earlier this month. Berg is continuing his rehabilitation form Tommy John surgery. Former Cubs catcher Jake Fox has signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Outfielder Luis Montanez, who was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa and off the 40-man roster on November 18, has elected for free agency and is no longer in the Cubs’ system.
As for the other minor league free agents that spent last season in the Cubs’ organization, Brad Snyder and Scott Moore signed minor league deals with the Houston Astros. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Robert Coello, Angel Guzman, Dylan Johnston, Mario Mercedes, Chris Robinson, Carlton Smith, Alvaro Sosa, Jeff Stevens and John Urick remain unsigned.
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