Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 02/06/12

Winter League Wrap-up

This year’s Winter Leagues saw an increase in the number of players from the organization, but an overall decrease in participation. While 33 players that were affiliated with the Cubs’ system for all or part of the off-season were part of winter baseball, 19 ended up playing less than ten games with their temporary clubs. Movement played a prominent role as fans said goodbye to Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Andrew Cashner, Robert Coello, Marwin Gonzalez and Carlos Zambrano while saying hello to Alfredo Amezaga, Juan Apodaca, Anthony Rizzo, Dave Sappelt and Casey Weathers.

Some prospects, such as Junior Lake, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, Rebel Ridling, and Chris Rusin were effective in limited appearances. Others, such as Marco Carrillo, Bryan LaHair, Oswaldo Martinez, Blake Parker, Ryan Searle, and Kyle Smit performed well over the course of the season.

Organizational Pitcher of the Winter
Marco Carrillo: Prior to the opening of the winter leagues, Marco Carrillo was without a contract. The front office acted quickly to re-sign him, and Carrillo set off for a new role with Yaquis de Obregon: starting pitcher. The just turned 25-year old right-hander had been a jack-of-all-trades in the Cubs’ system, making 40 appearances with nine games started and 11 finished in 2011. Used exclusively as a starter, Carrillo went on to post a 5-3 record with a 2.72 ERA, good for third in the Mexican Pacific League. He kept up the pace in the playoffs, sporting a 2-0 record with a 3.77 ERA, including a six-strikeout series clinching shutout. With strong pitching staffs shaping up in Iowa and Tenessee, what Carrillo’s role will be for the upcoming season is somewhat of a mystery. Wherever he ends up, Carrillo will probably make that pitching staff stronger.

Organizational Player of the Winter
Bryan LaHair: In a somewhat stormy winter, Bryan LaHair went a long way to erase some doubts in his ability. The big left-hander took the Venezuelan League by storm, hitting .290 with seven home runs and 14 RBI in the first five weeks of the season, including taking former Cubs’ starter Carlos Zambrano deep. Shortly afterward, LaHair left Navegantes del Magallanes. While there have been many rumors as to why LaHair left, he returned on November 27.

LaHair struggled in his return, leading to some harsh criticism from local media in Venezuela. He then left Magallanes briefly, only to return again in December. From there, LaHair was a force. He ended up by hitting .272 with 15 home runs to lead Venezuela, including 29 RBI and an on-base percentage of .404. LaHair received nine intentional walks and demonstrated that he can hold his own in left field.

Best Game of the Winter
There were many candidates for this year’s Game of the Winter. Among those were Team USA’s intense 2-1 loss to Team Canada in the Pan-Am Gold Medal game; Marco Carrillo and Yaquis De Obregon rallying twice to defeat Hermosillo 3-2 in a 16 inning marathon; Bryan LaHair’s return to Navagantes de Magallanes and a 2-for-3, 2 home run game; and Ryan Searle’s complete game, five-strikeout performance in Brisbane’s 7-3 victory over Melbourne. However, to spotlight once again was in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rican League: Indios de Mayaguez 2 – Criollos de Caguas 0

With the league championship series tied at 1-1, Mayaguez manager Dave Miley made an unusual call and started Boston reliever Justin Thomas. Thomas had appeared in only nine games for the Indians, with no starts. After allowing one hit in two innings, Thomas gave up a double and a walk with two outs in the third inning. Miley summoned Iowa reliever Kyle Smit, who got the Tribe out of the jam. Smit was then staked to a two-run lead as a sacrifice fly by Marlins prospect Jeff Dominguez and a single by Jesus Feliciano to put Mayaguez ahead 2-0. Smit then had his longest outing in nearly two years, eventually tossing 4.1 innings, striking out three, and shutting out the Creoles. White Sox farmhand Ryan Kussmaul recorded an out to earn a hold, while Dodgers pitcher Ramon Troncosco went 1.2 scoreless innings for the save as Kyle Smit got credit for the victory.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Player to Watch
Arismendy Alcantara: The 20 year old switch-hitting infielder played in only four games for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican League, but was able to make his presence felt. Arismendy Alcantara hit .400 in his ten at bats, with a double and an RBI. While that can be considered a small sample size, Alcantara was able to show he belonged with much older and experienced players. Alcantara had a successful 2011, where he batted .271 in 99 games for Single-A Peoria. Perhaps the experience could have a similar effect as it did last year to former Cubs’ prospect Marwin Gonzalez, and be a springboard to greater success.

Next Favorite Team
Naranjeros de Hermosillo: I was set to name Navegantes Del Magallanes with this honor before they started playing games with Bryan LaHair. Well, maybe next year.

The Orangemen were next on the list with their striking black-and-orange uniforms, cool logo(left), rabid fans, and the success of Iowa pitcher Blake Parker.

Caribbean World Series
Even with the somewhat balmy winter being experienced in Chicago, 80 degrees in the Dominican Republic is nice to think about.

The Caribbean World Series opened on Thursday with a couple of tight games. In the opener, the Puerto Rico rode the arm of Blue Jays pitcher Nelson Figueroa, as he allowed only an earned run in 6.2 innings as they topped Venezuela 3-1. In the second game, the Dominican Republic pitching staff limited Mexico to three hits and struck out nine in route to a 2-1 victory. Cubs’ infielder Alfredo Amezaga was 0-for-4 in the game.

On Friday, it was Mexico’s turn to come up with a big pitching performance, as Randy Keisler scattered four hits and struck out five to blank Puerto Rico 2-0. The nightcap saw the first offensive explosion of the series, as the Dominican Republic rallied for three runs in the top of the 13th to get past Venezuela 5-2.

With all teams now settled in on Saturday, the offenses started heating up. In the first game, Alfredo Amezaga reached on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning and later came around to score. Mexico came back from a 2-1 deficit to end up defeating Venezuela 4-2. Amezaga was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a sacrifice.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Game 2 saw the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico locked in a tight 2-1 battle after four innings. However, Puerto Rico’s pitchers couldn’t hold back the Dominicans, as they added four more runs to take home a 6-1 victory.

The standings after the first half of the double round-robin are the Dominican Republic 3-0, Mexico 2-1, Puerto Rico 1-2, and Venezuela 0-3. The tournament concludes on Tuesday, February 7.

Australian Baseball League
The Perth Heat advanced to the Australian championship series by taking the opening round from the Melbourne Aces three games to one. Perth then got a bye for the second round as Melbourne faced the Sydney Blue Sox. The Sox moved into the next round by defeating the Adelaide Bite by winning three in their best-of-five series. The Sydney Blue Sox then had Melbourne on the brink of elimination by going ahead 2-1 in the second round. However, Melbourne took both ends of a doubleheader to end up facing Perth for the championship. The finals will begin on Friday.

Attention CCO Readers
The Down on the Farm reader’s poll continues. Please post the names of the minor league players you would like the Down on the Farm Report to follow next season. The CCO will track the progress of ten players throughout the entire season. A representative sample of positions and levels of play is optimal. You can name as many players as you like, but remember, only ten will be chosen to be followed.

The CCO’s Top 20 Prospects for 2012

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Dorasaga

    LaHair did what? Sent Zambrano deep crying for mommy? Tom, muchas gracias.

    Seriously, this is more fun than the cheap signings of “organizational depth.” All Hail the Caribbean Series!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Jim Hendry on “Talking Baseball” said the same thing I’ve been telling you for the last two months (and getting yelled at for it). He said, “Theo plan is conserve all of his major league dollars to spend elsewhere.” Let me translate that for you: “Theo’s plan is losing big on the cheap.” 

    Even Jim Qlueless has a clue on this plan!  

    • Steve_Rock-Vegas

      Ripsnorter1,  I’ve finally decided to follow the advice of others and just ignore your posts from now on.  if you REALLY believe the non-sense your posting about “losing big on the cheap”, then you need to go follow some other team or sport and quit torturing yourself following the new Cubs regime. Despite your denial of disliking Qlueless, you’d obviously preferred his plan to spend big on past their prime players, signal to everyone who you’re targeting each offseason so you can overpay them, and then hold no one accountable for their actions. If you also believe that a few months is a good enough sample to form your opinion on what they’re doing, and make THAT conclusion you keep posting is it, then you………never mind, I’ve already spent to much time and energy responding.

      • paulcatanese

        I don’t know who the others are that are saying ignore Rip’s posts, but he is entitled to his opinion just as you are. The most simple thing you can do is just not read them. but then you would be missing some of the best humor around.
        I as well would question the moves that have been made this year as well as the moves that JH has made, it’s just an opinion and I see nothing wrong with them.
        I may not agree with all posts, just as people may not agree with mine, but they are just post’s, and I respect you’re post as well as everyone that does post.

        • Dorasaga

          Exactly, keep Castro at shortstop. You can fill in third base before Vitter called up.

    • Jimmybob

      Yeah dude, if he was being cheap he wouldnt spend any money at all, you stupid fuck

      • EqDoc

        Jimmybob, whoever you are, please do not post on this website again.  There is absolutly no call for that type of language or personal attack.  I would hope that your comment is deleted by the moderators of this site.

        • Neil

          Comments cannot be removed that are replied to, thank you for bringing this to my attention.

      • paulcatanese

        Whatever happened to the dictionary for choice of words, you are posting you’re ignorance,”dude”!

  • Zonk

    There is a great piece on Fangraphs on Junior Lake.  I highly recommend it!

  • Anthony

    Decided to pull some old files and found a copy of the Top 200 High School players from the Class of 2007 that BA did in the summer of 2006. At that time, these players appeared on the list:
    #4 Michael Burgess
    #28 Josh Vitters
    #41 Kevin Rhoderick
    #56 DJ LaMahieu
    #99 Ben Klafczynski
    I think this list was updated following the USA Baseball event in Joplin. After these guys finished their senior year of high school baseball, the ABCA/NHSBCA listed their All-Americans, and these guys appeared:
    1st Team-Ben Klafczynski
    2nd Team-Josh Vitters/Taiwan Easterling
    3rd Team-DJ LaMahieu
    This is the first national press found on Easterling(maybe football played a role?)
    LINK to ABCA:
    Burgess and Vitters signed out of HS, the others went to college.
    Found these links for 2008 after their Freshman college seasons. On RIVALS, these guys made the FAA teams:
    Micah Gibbs
    Kevin Rhoderick
    Ben Klafczynski
    Took at look at what BA had for the same honors:
    Micah Gibbs
    Brooks Raley
    Ben Klafczynski
    Kevin Rhoderick
    Took a look at what Louisville Slugger, CBN had on their list:
    Eric Jokisch
    Kevin Rhoderick
    Paul Hoilman
    Ben Klafczynski
    In 2009, Tony Zych was honored as a Freshman AA, and Hoilman received AA honors also.
    Nice to know there is some solid baseball history from the college guys going as far back as when in high school, and continued success at the college level. Hope they all perform solidly in Pro ball and become contributors.
    Players all choose different paths. For kicks, that old 2006 BA list had these names also who have done real well so far:
    #6 Jason Heyward
    #7 Neil Ramirez
    #16 Madison Bumgarner
    #18 Rick Porcello
    #20 Freddie Freeman
    #34 Mike Moustakas
    #70 Matt Dominguez
    #110 Anthony Ranaudo
    #123 Deck McGuire
    Lots of good players identified almost 6 years ago.

  • Neil

    Cubs claimed IF Adrian Cardenas off waivers from the A’s In a corresponding move, IF Blake DeWitt was designated for assignment.


    • Tom U

      Cardenas is a left handed hitting infielder/outfielder. He spent his 2011 in Triple-A Sacramento, where he played mostly outfield, but has seen time at second and short. He hit .314 with 5 HR, 51 RBI, and 13 SB in 127 games.

      Paul, maybe you can give us a scouting report on him?

  • Tom U

    With loses by Mexico yesterday and today, no team in the Caribbean World Series, other than the Dominican Republic, has less than three losses. The DR has two games to play and is currently 4-0.

    Therefore, congratulations to the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean World Series Champions!

  • Neil

    Tom, thank you for posting another great update.

  • Neil

    I will ask again to show each other the same courtesy you expect. Please refrain from name calling and personal attacks.