Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/15/12

As the Maxine Nightingale song said we’re “right back to where we started from” as the CCO welcomes you to another year of coverage of the winter leagues. This week saw the opening of the Arizona Fall League, as well as the Mexican Pacific League and the Venezuelan Winter League. As it stands, the Cubs have received commitments from 23 players to the winter leagues, with more to come as the Dominican Winter League began on Sunday, while the Puerto Rican League opens in the early November.

Along with a summary of play from the Fall Instructional League, welcome back to baseball in warmer climes.

Note: Coverage of the winter leagues will be by calendar week, Sunday through Saturday.

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox
Things started off with a bang for Javier Baez in the AFL opener on Tuesday, as he homered in his first at bat and finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI in a 6-5 loss to Salt River. Matt Szczur hit leadoff hitter for the Solar Sox and was 0-for-2 with two walks. Pinch-hitter Rubi Silva delivered a single and scored a run. Kevin Rhoderick saw 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, striking out three, while Tony Zych struck out the only batter he faced.

The dramatics anticipated prior to the start of the league showed up on Wednesday, as Javier Baez reportedly pouted through a start at third base, committing two errors and going 0-for-4 in another loss to Salt River, 11-3. Nick Struck struggled to get through 1.1 IP, walking three with a strikeout, but came away unscored-upon. Leading off again was Matt Szczur, as he was 1-for-4 with a stolen base. Rubi Silva went 1-for-5.

Mesa recorded their first win on Thursday, defeating Surprise 6-5. Dae-Eun Rhee got the start for the Solar Sox and went two innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out two batters. Tony Zych ended up the winning pitcher, striking out a batter in a scoreless inning. Javier Baez was back at shortstop and went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI, while Matt Szczur also had an RBI and was 1-for-4.

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The Solar Sox were more convincing on Friday, drubbing Surprise 12-6. Matt Szczur led the way for Mesa, going 2-for-5 with an RBI and two stolen bases. Rubi Silva is also showing some skills on the basepaths. Silva stole two bases as part of a 1-for-5 performance. A solo home run tagged Kevin Rhoderick with a blown save, but he recovered to strike out two in an inning in relief.

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It was three in a row on Saturday, as Javier Baez broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning with a three-run blast and Mesa pulled away from Peoria 8-3. Baez’s three-run shot ended up being his only hit of the afternoon. Baez finished the game 1-for-4. Rubi Silva led off and went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Nick Struck came on in relief of starter Luke Putkonen of the Detroit Tigers and allowed a solo homer, but struck out two in an inning of work. Tony Zych finished out the game with a scoreless inning.

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Mexican Pacific League

Venados de Mazatlan
Iowa infielder Greg Rohan lined up at third base and hit clean-up for the Deer in their opener on Saturday. Rohan was 1-for-4 with a run scored in a loss to the Tomateros de Culiacan.

Yaquis de Obregon
The Yaquis have a distinctively Cubs flavor this season as infielders Alfredo Amezaga and Christian Villanueva, along with pitcher Esmailin Caridad, have been joined by former Cub farmhands Marco Carrillo and Oswaldo Martinez, who are both pitching in the Mexican League.

Alfredo Amezaga started at short and batted second for the Tribe in their opener on Saturday and went 1-for-4 with a run scored in a 9-2 triumph over the Mayos de Navojoa. Esmailin Caridad tossed a scoreless inning in the win.

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Venezuelan Winter League

Caribes de Anzoategui
Daytona reliever Eduardo Figueroa was busy for the Indians this opening week, as he tossed a scoreless inning on Friday as Anzoategui defeated Caracas 8-1.

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Eduardo Figueroa then gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings on Saturday, picked up both a blown save and the loss as Caribes bowed 7-6 to Margarita.

Tigres de Aragua
Iowa outfielder Ty Wright is attempting to come back after injuries cut short his 2012 season. Wright was 0-for-3 with a run scored as the Tigers lost their opener 10-3 to Aguilas de Zulia on Thursday. Wright was 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting appearance as Zulia blew out Aragua again 9-0 on Friday.

Ty Wright was then able to get both himself and the Tigers in the books on Saturday, going 1-for-4 in a 4-2 victory over Leones de Caracas.

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Leones de Caracas
Opening for the Lions this season was 28-year old Iowa starter Yoanner Negrin. The right-hander pitched two innings with a strikeout while giving up an earned run. Negrin suffered the loss as Caracas went down to Anzoategui 1-0.

After a good showing with the AZL Cubs in 2012, 21-year old righty Loiger Padron is seeing some early action for the Lions. Padron pitched 0.2 scoreless innings in an 8-1 loss to Anzoategui on Friday. Padron picked up a strikeout in another 0.2 scoreless innings as Caracas lost 4-2 to Aragua on Saturday.

Tiburones de La Guaira
Twenty-three year old right-hander Hector Mayora, who sat out the 2012 season after pitching in 2011 for the Boise Hawks, recorded a strikeout in a scoreless inning for the Sharks on Saturday in an 8-1 loss to Cardenales de Lara.

Aguilas del Zulia
Iowa catcher Juan Apodaca has played a small part in the Eagles’ hot start to the season. Apodaca went 1-for-3 as Zulia bombed Aragua 10-3 in the opener.

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Juan Apodaca went hitless on Friday (0-for-4, RBI) but still managed to plate a run as the Eagles beat Aragua 9-0 on Friday.

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Juan Apodaca then went 0-for-2 with a run scored as Zulia defeated Magallanes 9-1 on Saturday.

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News and Notes
The Fall Instructional League ended on Saturday. While it may not be a surprise that outfielder Jorge Soler and first baseman Dan Vogelbach performed well, one camp surprise had to be infielder Jesse Hodges. Signed as an undrafted free agent after pitching and playing shortstop for a British Columbia 18-year old and under wood bat league, Hodges was moved to third base in the instructs. Also looking good was the future catching corps of Rafael Lopez, Chadd Krist, Willson Contreras, and Lance Rymel.

As for pitching, 2012 third round pick Ryan McNeil had one rough outing, but generally performed well. Boise starter Jose Arias had two strong starts, while Ben Wells appeared to be throwing easy after injuries ate up a big part of his 2012 season.

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Quote of the Day

"You can be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball." - Cal Ripken Jr.
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  • calicub

    So whats up with Baez’s attitude? is it regarding having to play 3rd base or just Baez being Baez?

    I think he may need to give 3B another try seeing as SS seems like it’ll be kept warm for hmm idk maybe the next seven years or so…

    • Brp921

      Someone needs to tell Baez to wake up and smell the coffee .He’s in the pros now and there’s other guys that can play ball to. The sooner he grows up and realizes that the better off he’ll be.

      • calicub

        well said, if there’s one thing i cant stand its a pro athlete with a bad attitude

  • Baron_S

    “Javier Baez reportedly pouted through a start at third base”

    Baez sounds mighty entitled — someone needs to haze the diva attitude out of him.

  • cc002600

    Well, Baez is young.

    Let’s hope he matures and that attitude improves over time.
    If it doesn’t, that will be a problem…no doubt.

  • Dorasaga

    Is there anywhere online to watch broadcast of the Winter League games ?

    • Tom U

      Sorry Dorasaga. All outlets I checked have nothing but Gameday. It stands to reason, as none of the stadiums are video equipped, like many are in the minor leagues.

      • Dorasaga

        I see. Thanks. It was probably through CCO where I found an online broadcast of the VEN WinterL. a few years ago. Too bad nothing’s available now.

      • Aaron

        The guy they got for Baker…..

        “Carreno’s got a little more velocity,” Owen said. “He’ll sit 91-93, and at times bump 95. He’s got a good curveball, but he’s still young and working to command his off-speed stuff better.”

        From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120903/SPORTS0104/209030347#ixzz29Qj5McZl

        Take it for what it’s worth. I saw another report that had him at 88-89 mph, but it wasn’t dated, so that could’ve been when he was signed, who knows?

        • SuzyS

          Thanks for the link and report, Aaron. Hopefully, in a few years we’ll have several good options for the rotation.

          • Aaron

            they still owe an additional PTBNL though, so I don’t know if they’ll get one, or just cash

  • Tom U

    According to a story by Carrie Muskat, Baez says “He’s well aware the Cubs have a shortstop in Starlin Castro. Baez will move if needed.”
    “It doesn’t matter,” Baez said.
    http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20121010&content_id=39661284&vkey=news_chc&c_id=chc

    • Aaron

      thanks for posting that….great article!

    • paulcatanese

      Tom, didn’t read the article. It could mean that “it dosent matter” to Baez because he thinks he’s better and will move Castro out , not a bad way to think for him. A dreamer I know, but can’t hurt to feel that way.

  • paulcatanese

    I sensed that from the very first time I saw his tapes when he worked out. Lazy. At that time I had posted as much that he looked like a player all within himself.
    Maybe his own team should start plunking him in batting practice as other teams have done in games for showing them up.

  • Aaron

    In the video tapes, he definitely show-boated, and I really saw no reason for it. I didn’t really think his swing would play out all that well in pro ball, but I was wrong. I thought the same about his defense, if you looked how he nonchalantly delivered balls to 1B in the showcases.

    But all of that paled in comparison to the contract negotiations. I thought he overvalued himself…like this inflated self-worth that even the over-confident Almora (who had similar negotiations) didn’t seem to have.

    Baez is a LOT like AROD, in more than a few ways. Both were/are explosive at the plate and in the field. Both have egos. Both have/had speed. Both have/had quick hands.

    You can make the case that AROD hasn’t really made an impact on a single team he’s played on.

    Mariners….1994-2000: 3 playoff appearances, 3 winning seasons

    Rangers….2001-2003: no playoffs, 3 losing seasons
    Yankees….2004-present: 4 ALCS appearances, 1 season out of playoffs, 4 LDS knock outs, 1 WS championship

    I think we all can agree that the Yankees would most likely have made the playoffs without him. His career postseason numbers are fairly underwhelming: 324 plate appearances-.265/.372/.467, 16 doubles, 13 hr, 41 RBI, 39 walks, 75 K’s

    I’m NOT trying to say that Baez will have a career (or even make the kind of money) that AROD has, but just that their body types, state in which they were drafted, and other factors I already mentioned are very similar. The Cubs would probably be thrilled if he had the type of career that AROD has had, but when the ultimate goal is reaching the World Series…in 19 years at the MLB level, AROD has reached the playoffs 11 times (8 of which have been with the perennial playoff contender, the Yankees), he’s only made the World Series once (and won a ring there), but teams he’s been on have only made the ALCS 5 times….

    Anyway, the HUGE question that everyone has to answer is if Baez ever comes close to realizing his potential, would the Cubs be better off just trading him before he becomes a problem child like AROD?

    The weird thing is, from what I’ve read, his teammates love him, but opponents hate him. Isn’t that the type of player the Cubs have been lacking? How much do Cubs fans hate Pujols, or Molina, or even Holliday? Probably a lot Cubs fans hate them, because they do all the little things to win. They get inside your head, and they will take the extra base, or swing in a 3-0 count if they feel they can do some damage. Baez seems the same way. Already at Peoria or Daytona (can’t remember which one), he swung at a 3-0 pitch and nailed a home run. In the AZFL, he’s already done the same thing. I’ve never understood baseball purists who say that you shouldn’t swing at 3-0 anyway. Why the hell not? If he gets a strike in there, then it’s 3-1, then the pitcher’s still alive, so he’s trying to strike you out. Why do you have to wait for that to happen?

    I like his aggressiveness and swagger, but the thing that worries me most is what will happen in 7 years or so when he’s ready to hit free agency. Will he be a primadona like AROD, or will he be a cornerstone to build around?!?

    My dream scenario of prospects is still similar to this…..but it’s evolving:

    C-Castillo
    1B-Rizzo
    2B-Lake/Baez
    SS-Castro
    3B-Baez/Lake (whomever can handle it)
    LF-Vogelbach (I just think if he lost 25 more lbs, he could handle it, and I LOVE his patience and his bat)
    CF-Almora
    RF-Soler