Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/29/12

It was strange happenings as the fall and winter leagues embraced the Halloween spirit. Eduardo Figueroa became the first trade of the winter, appearing for both Caribes de Anzoategui and Tiburones de La Guaira this week. Meanwhile, Mesa played to a rare tie and Javier Baez took over the league lead in RBI. And after struggling last week, Greg Rohan and Jae-Hoon Ha saw things turn around for them at the plate.

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

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox
After going 0-for last week, the tough times continued in the desert for Mesa as they started the week losing 5-4 to Salt River on Monday. Matt Szczur had the best day at the plate of the Cubs’ prospects. Szczur went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two stolen bases. Javier Baez was 1-for-5, while Rubi Silva went 0-for-4 with a stolen base. Nick Struck and Kevin Rhoderick each tossed a scoreless inning of relief, with Rhoderick striking out two batters.

Tuesday saw something you don’t see every day in professional baseball. After 11 innings, the game against Phoenix was called a 7-7 tie. Javier Baez started at third base and continued to struggle defensively. Baez committed two errors and was 1-for-3 with an RBI at the plate. Starter Dae-Eun Rhee went 3.2 innings, allowing two earned runs. Tony Zych tossed 1.2 scoreless innings in relief.

It was a heartbreaker on Wednesday as the Solar Sox saw a 2-1 lead evaporate when closer Kevin Rhoderick served up a three run homer and they lost to Scottsdale 4-2. Nick Struck picked up a hold by striking out three in two scoreless innings. Rubi Silva was 1-for-4, while Matt Szczur also went 1-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base.

The streak reached nine games on Thursday, this time Peoria embarrassed Mesa 8-2. Javier Baez was back at shortstop and worked his third walk of the fall, while smacking his fourth home run. Baez also scored two runs and stole two bases. The Cubs’ other offensive players were not as fortunate as both Rubi Silva and Matt Szczur went 0-4.

Finally, victory came Mesa’s way on Friday as they defeated Scottsdale 8-4. Once again, Javier Baez played a big part as took the league lead with 16 RBI by driving in two runs and stealing a base as part of a 1-for-5 effort. Rubi Silva chipped in with a 1-for-3 day that included a walk. Kevin Rhoderick bounced back from his poor outing by striking out two and picking up a hold with a scoreless inning. Tony Zych then shut down the Scorpions in the ninth.

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The winning streak ended at one as the Solar Sox closed out the week with a 12-6 loss to Salt River. Matt Szczur had a solid effort. Szczur went 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk. After going 0-for-2, Javier Baez was lifted and Rubi Silva (0-for-3) came in at second in a defensive shift and didn’t fare much better. Nick Struck remained inconsistent, struggled with his command and walked two batters while giving up an earned run in an inning of work.

Dominican Winter League

Leones de Escogido
Pitcher Lendy Castillo remained unscored upon for the Lions. Castillo struck out two in 1.1 innings in a 3-2 loss to Este on Tuesday. Castillo then saw 0.2 innings of work on Saturday, once again striking out a batter as Escogido lost 8-7 to Oriente.

Toros del Este
It was a busy week for the Bulls, as they started out on Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Escogido. Iowa infielder Diory Hernandez went 0-for-4.

Cubs’ prospects had a big hand in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Escogido. Reliever Jeffry Antigua picked up a hold while striking out the only two batters he faced. Diory Hernandez (1-for-4) got Este on the board first with a solo home run. Iowa closer Jairo Asencio had a strikeout and picked up his second save.

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However, Jairo Asencio ended up letting in the winning run on Wednesday with a throwing error, as the Bulls lost 4-3 to Cibaenas. Iowa pitcher Horacio Ramirez made his first start and struck out four while allowing three earned runs in 3.1 innings. Diory Hernandez went 1-for-4.

None of the Cubs prospects played again until Saturday, when Este lost 3-2 to Cibaenas. Diory Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Jeffry Antigua had two strikeouts in 1.1 scoreless innings.

Estrellas de Oriente
Infielder Junior Lake had an interesting week for the Stars. Lake went 3-for- 5, including a home run, in Sunday’s 12-5 loss to Cibao. Lake would not see action again until he had a pinch-hitting appearance on Saturday. Lake collected a hit in an 8-7 win over Escogido.

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Mexican Pacific League

Venados de Mazatlan
It was a turn-around week for Greg Rohan, as he started out by going 1-for-3 with a walk in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Mexicali. Rohan then scored the only run for the Stags on Tuesday. Rohan was 2-for-3 in a 7-1 loss to Novajoa. The Mayos still didn’t have an answer for Rohan on Wednesday. Rohan went 3-for-4 and scored a run as Mazatlan dropped another one to Novajoa, this time 5-3.

The Deer turned their fortunes around by beating Novajoa 4-3 on Thursday and Obregon 8-5 on Friday. Greg Rohan was 0-for-5 on Thursday and 0-for-4 on Friday.

Yaquis de Obregon
Things didn’t start off well for the Yaquis this week, but they ended up posting a 3-3 record. The week began with a 2-0 loss to Hermosillo on Sunday. Infielder Alfredo Amezaga was 0-for-4 in the game. After an off day on Monday, Obregon was back in action and Amezaga went 1-for-3 with a walk in Tuesday’s 7-3 loss to Los Mochis. Daytona third baseman Christian Villanueva was 0-1 in a pinch-hitting appearance.

Wednesday saw Christian Villanueva get his first start for the Tribe and he belted a home run in his first at bat. The Tribe defeated the Canarymen 10-7. Villanueva ended up going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two RBI to go along with his big fly. Alfredo Amezaga scored two runs as part of a 4-for-5 performance.

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Pitcher Esmailin Caridad helped make it two in a row over Los Mochis on Thursday. Caridad notched a strikeout in his 0.2 scoreless innings and earned a hold in a 4-1win. Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in another run while Alfredo Amezaga went 0-for-3 with a walk.

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Obergon had the tables turned on them on Friday, as Mazatlan bet the Yaquis 8-5. Alfredo Amezaga was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored, and two RBI in the loss. The Yaquis then came back on Saturday to defeat the Stags 7-1. Alfredo Amezaga went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. Christian Villanueva (0-for-1) could not take advantage of a pinch-hitting opportunity.

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Venezuelan Winter League

Cardenales de Lara
Infielder Luis Valbuena made his winter league debut on Wednesday and went 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, and two RBI. Valbuena was then 0-for-4 on Thursday as Lara defeated Margarita 4-1.

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Luis Valbuena then showed he can work a count on Thursday, as he went 1-for-2 with two walks in the Cardinals’ 2-1 loss to Caracas. Valbuena earned another free pass on Saturday and went 1-for-3 as Lara beat Caracas 4-2.

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Caribes de Anzoategui
Pitcher Eduardo Figueroa started the week with the Indians and pitched 0.2 scoreless innings while walking two and striking out a batter in an 11-10 win over Margarita.

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Eduardo Figueroa then allowed an earned run with a walk and a strikeout in an inning of work as Anzoategui lost 8-1 to Aragua on Wednesday.

Tigres de Aragua
It was tough times for the Tigers as they posted a 1-5 record for the week. The Tigers started out losing 3-1 to La Guaira on Sunday. Ty Wright was 1-for-4 while Jae-Hoon Ha was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Aragua was back in action on Tuesday, but the results were the same as they lost 11-5 to Anzoategui. Jae-Hoon Ha (0-for-2) continued to struggle at the plate while Ty Wright (2-for-4) scored a run.

Ty Wright had another good effort on Wednesday. Wright went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in the Cats 8-1 win over Anzoategui. It remained bad news for Jae-Hoon Ha (0-for-4) as he went hitless again.

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Jae-Hoon Ha then broke out of his 0-for-9 slump by going 3-for-4 with a double and RBI on Friday in a 4-3 loss to La Guaira. Ty Wright was 1-for-4 in the game. Ha continued his offensive resurgence on Saturday. Ha stole two bases and finished the game 3-for-5 with an RBI as the Tigers bowed to Magallanes 6-5. This time, it was Wright who went 0-for-4.

Leones de Caracas
It was another good start for Yoanner Negrin on Tuesday, as he struck out five in five scoreless innings in an 8-5 loss to Zulia.

Tiburones de La Guaira
Eduardo Figueroa resumed his winter league season with La Guaira on Thursday. Figueroa tossed a scoreless inning and picked up a hold in as they defeated Caracas 6-4.

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The results weren’t as good for Eduardo Figueroa in his second appearance for the Sharks, but the bottom line was an 8-2 win over Anzoategui. Figueroa allowed two earned runs while walking two and striking out two in 1.2 innings.

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Aguilas del Zulia
Catcher Juan Apodaca saw sparse playing time this week. Apodaca went 1-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday as the Eagles beat Lara 8-7.

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  • paulcatanese

    Baez and third base, either he cannot play there or won’t play there, hard to figure with him. No matter, he does not get it done over at third base.
    I wonder how long the experiment go’s on before they try him in the outfield? IMO thats where he belongs, as SS is out for him.

    • Vivid_Reality

      As much as it pains me to say, I believe he will stick at shortstop to boost his value and then he will be traded. It makes sense if you really think about it. 1B, 2B, and SS are filled for the next 4 years pending a Barney trade. OF has 3 open slots unless Jackson figures out MLB pitching and then there are two spots left. Our best depth in the minors is in the OF and that becomes even more crowded if the likes of Baez, Lake, and others make the switch. We have two very interesting 3B prospects in Villanueva and Candelario. I feel like both of those players fit Theo’s mold more than Baez.

      It sucks to think about but Baez might just be our most valuable and expendable prospect even with the glaring hole at third. He would a pretty good start for a David Price trade though I doubt we have enough “complimentary” pieces to pull that off. In fact I can’t even fathom how much the Rays would ask. It would have to be at least Baez, Szczur, Jackson, Vizcaino, Vogelbach, and one of the recently drafted pitchers, Johnson / Underwood / Blackburn / Maples ect.

      • DWalker

        That is an interesting scenario, and one that might be very possible, I’d actually thought about that myself when they got Villanueva, Yeah, depth depth depth and hope someone works out, but Villanueva and Candelario both are interesting, and Baez could be a monster chip with SS blocked. But, Villanueva is still questionable at bat, so its a question of how long do they dare wait to see how they develop. I also haven’t given up on Baez defensively yet either. Castro was really rough, but he has improved greatly this last year, so Baez is certainly not a lost cause.

        To be honest, I love the fact even with the third base gap right now, we still have enough interesting prospects finally that we can even contemplate a scenario like that and it not be a reach that a trade partner could be found. At some point though, the extra depth of prospects in the field has to be converted into pitching.

      • Tom U

        In 2008, Josh Vitters was said to be the centerpiece in a possible deal to land then Padres’ pitcher Jake Peavy.

        Given that Baez, at this point in his career, is considered to be a better prospect than Vitters was at that time, this type of deal may plausable.

    • Tony_Hall

      You do realize he has barely played 3B so far and is 19 years old. I think they keep him at SS and keep giving him time at 3B, as he seems to be very good at being the guy in charge at SS.

      Any thought on the OF has to be years away, unless it’s a way to get him in the lineup at the major league level, due to his bat being way ahead of his glove.

      • paulcatanese

        Yes Tony, I do realize he is 19yrs old, so what. Tell that to the 19yr olds that were in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afganastin.
        Not to compare, but the excuse of age dosent cut it with me.
        That aside, my point with the outfield for him comes about with the fact, barring injury, Castro will be there for quite a while, eliminating that position for Baez.
        It would be nice, considering his bat, if he could take over at third base, but dosent look probable.
        All I’m saying Tony, is the Cubs could use his right handed bat sooner than later, and if it takes a move to the outfield, so be it.
        He surely cannot do that much worse than what has been out there, and all indications are that he will hit.

        • Tony_Hall

          Paul, I just not following you much anymore, not sure what veterans who were 19 have anything to do with baseball.

          I have no doubt that if 3B and SS are both filled by players who will be long term keepers, that Baez would be put in the OF to get his bat in the lineup. I just don’t think you take a guy like this out of SS and decrease his value. That is just not a smart organizational move. I have no doubt that with coaching (something that is new to the Cubs) and time he will be able to convert to 3B or that Castro will be able to convert to 3B (something you want) to accomodate both guys in the lineup.

  • Aaron

    seems there could be interesting starting pitchers available after non-tenders:

    Jurrjens

    Pelfrey

    Braden

    …those are the headliners, plus Brian Wilson might be non-tendered as closer, so should the Cubs find a deal for Marmol, you’d have to be intrigued by him. He’d also bring an edge to the clubhouse, and lighten it up as well

  • ChadAudio

    Great recap Tom… thanks!

  • cc002600

    MLB has got to find a way to finish the world series earlier in October. It is so ridiculous to be playing its marquee event in late October / early November at night while the temps are in the 30’s with frigid winds. That’s not baseball.

  • paulcatanese

    Either what you say, or let the teams from Florida, Arizona, and Southeren California win.

  • cc002600

    As much as I would give anything to watch the Cubs in the WS, had those games been at Wrigley, it would have been miserable to watch in that cold, just like it was in Detroit.

    Sorry, maybe because I’m getting older, but when I can’t feel my hands or toes, it’s not a lot of fun.

  • Vivid_Reality

    Assuming we absorbed all of Josh Johnson’s contract, what would everyone be willing to give up? Seeing what they got for the Dodgers absorbing HanRam makes me think we don’t have the type of pitching prospect they would be looking for. I would float out some combination of Struck, Whitenack, Rhee, and a lesser prospect. Maybe they have interest in the guy we got from Detroit. Would Struck, Rhee, and Carreno get it done? I would probably go for that.

    Our offseason pitching needs become a lot less stressful if we could add Johnson. Admittedly I’ve never been a big fan of his, but he brings some serious upside and a veteran presence. We could then go out and sign two pitchers. Hopefully they are one somewhat reliable and one reclamation project. I would love Anibal Sanchez on a 3/40 deal though I think he’ll go for more years. There are a lot of options for reclamation pitchers. Snaking Scott Baker away from the Twins on an incentive deal would be hard but probably provides one of the better upsides. If we could get Liriano on a 2/10 deal, I think that would be a solid option given the switch to the NL.

    Our rotation shapes up as:

    Garza

    Shark

    Johnson

    Sanchez/Marcum/Jackson

    Baker/Liriano/McCarthy/Matsuzaka/De La Rosa(Club Option) and the incumbent Travis Wood

    That rotation is leaps and bounds ahead of last year. There doesn’t look to be much help out there for the offense. Youk at 3B maybe, but he will likely be priced out of our range. I would stay away from Swisher. I don’t think he will be worth the years he signs for.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Kaplan – Javier Baez is undergoing tests after injuring thumb in AFL. Checking for a break. Rest of fall league in doubt.

  • DWalker

    Why? Johnson would be nice to have, but, he is a free agent after 2013 so he’s a one year rental with a good chance of wanting to test the waters. Unless they feel they can lock him up for a few years beyond next year, there is no way they will trade for him.

  • Tom U

    Thanks ChadAudio! And thanks to everyone for your comments!

  • Tom U
  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Thanks Tom, Baez tweeted a little while ago that he broke his thumb and his AFL season is done.

  • Vivid_Reality

    Its been kicked around the rumor mill. I just like to discuss possible scenarios. The only reason to trade for him would be to flip him at the deadline or make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season if he does really well.