Pitching seemed to be the focus this past week, as the organization added two more hurlers in Michael Bowden and Jay Jackson to their winter roster.
Starters Yoanner Negrin and Horacio Ramirez had some good showings. Among the relievers having a good week were Jairo Asencio, Jeffry Antigua, Esmailin Caridad, and Nick Struck.
It was also a good week for the infielders, as Junior Lake, Luis Valbuena, and Christian Villanueva had their moments, while Alfredo Amezaga simply dazzled.
Details abound inside this week’s winter report.
Arizona Fall League
Mesa Solar Sox
The week started out on a down note, as Cubs fans learned that infielder Javier Baez would be out for the remainder of the Arizona Fall League due to a broken thumb. The Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year, Logan Watkins, replaced Baez on the Solar Sox’s roster.
The week began with Dae-Eun Rhee starting and Rubi Silva leading off, as the Solar Sox lost 7-2 to Surprise on Monday. Rhee went three innings and allowed three earned runs, walked three while striking out two as he suffered his second loss of the fall. Silva put together a 1-for-4 performance.
Rubi Silva saw action again on Tuesday and went 0-for-4 with a walk in Mesa’s 7-5 victory over Phoenix. Relievers Kevin Rhoderick and Tony Zych were also involved in the win. Rhoderick struck out two and picked up a hold in a scoreless inning. Zych earned his first save, but gave up an earned run while striking out a batter.
Wednesday gave us another baseball rarity, as the Solar Sox’s game with Salt River was declared a 2-2 tie after nine innings. Matt Szczur was 1-for-5 and Nick Struck tossed two scoreless innings.
Thursday was a breakout game for Matt Szczur, as he went 3-for-6 with a home run and two RBI in a 7-3 loss to Peoria. Tony Zych struggled again, allowing an earned run in an inning of work.
Mesa had a return date with Peoria on Friday and the results were the same … the Solar Sox lost 7-5. Kevin Rhoderick allowed an earned run in 0.2 innings, while Matt Szczur went 0-for-4 with a stolen base.
The AFL Rising Stars Game was held on Saturday, with the East squad beating the West 9-4. Tony Zych, the only active Cub prospect represented, entered with one out in the fifth and gave up an RBI single to former Cub farmhand Hak-Ju Lee. Zych allowed three hits along with the earned run and a strikeout in 0.2 innings. Zych picked up both a blown save and a win.
Dominican Winter League
Right-hander Michael Bowden joined the Eagles recently and started his first game in the DWL on Friday. Bowden pitched four innings and gave up an earned run while striking out four as Cibaenas defeated Oriente 13-6.
Leones de Escogido
Reliever Lendy Castillo was able to see a lot of action for the Lions this week, starting off with 0.2 innings in Escogido’s 12-8 win over Licey on Sunday. Castillo struck out a batter, walked one and allowed an unearned run.
Lendy Castillo let in another unearned run in 0.1 innings in Tuesday’s 9-4 loss to Cibao. Castillo notched a strikeout in a scoreless inning as the Lions lost 3-2 to Oriente on Thursday. On Saturday, Castillo gave up his first earned run of the fall and was tagged with the loss in a 4-3 game with Cibaenas.
Toros del Este
The Bulls were 3-3 this past week, thanks in a large part to the efforts of relievers Jeffry Antigua and Jairo Asencio. Asencio began the week with a two-strikeout performance that led to his second hold as Este lost 5-0 to Oriente on Sunday. Second baseman Diory Hernandez was 0-for-1 with three walks.
The Toros returned to their winning ways on Wednesday, with Jairo Asencio picking up his third save. Ascencio held Cibao scoreless in a 4-2 victory. Jeffry Antigua earned a hold by blanking the Giants for 0.2 innings, while Diory Hernandez (0-for-3 with a walk) scored a run.
Lefty Horacio Ramirez started on Friday and went 4.1 innings. Ramirez allowed an earned run while walking two and striking out one in a 12-3 win over Licey. Jeffry Antigua got credit for the victory as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and struck out two batters. Diory Hernandez was 1-for-3, including a walk, a run scored, and four RBI.
Jairo Asencio earned his fourth save on Saturday as Este shut out Cibao 3-0. Asencio walked two, but struck out a batter and preserved the win. Diory Hernandez went 0-for-3.
Tigres del Licey
The contributions of Arismendy Alcantara to the Tigers this week may have been small, but they were significant. Alcantara scored as a pinch-runner in Licey’s 12-8 loss to Escogido on Sunday.
Arismendy Alcantara was then able to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt as a pinch-hitter, with the Cats edging Cibaenas on Thursday 4-3.
On Saturday, Arismendy Alcantara played second base and was 1-for-1 with a run scored in a 10-1 blowout of Oriente.
Estrellas de Oriente
The Stars had a good week and posted a 4-2 record. Things started out well on Sunday as they shut out Este 5-0. Outfielder Nelson Perez was 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBI, while Junior Lake was 0-for-3.
While Estrellas won 9-6 over Cibao on Monday, neither Junior Lake nor Nelson Perez played a big part. Lake was 0-for-5 and Perez went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Nelson Perez did not have an official at bat as he was announced as a pinch hitter in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Cibaenas.
It was Junior Lake’s turn to contribute in Wednesday. Junior Lake went 1-for-3 with a stolen base as the Stars defeated Licey 2-0. Nelson Perez was 0-for-2.
Thursday saw Junior Lake go 1-for-2 with a double and run scored as the Stars nosed out Escogido 3-2.
After getting the day off on Friday, both Junior Lake and Nelson Perez were 0-for-3 on Saturday as Oriente lost 10-1 to Licey.
Mexican Pacific League
Venados de Mazatlan
Iowa pitcher Jay Jackson joined the Stags on Saturday and was thrust into a starting role. Jackson was roughed up for four earned runs in two innings as Mazatlan lost 6-1 to Culiacan.
Yaquis de Obregon
Obregon has apparently found the fountain of youth, and put some of the water into their coolers as both Alfredo Amezaga and Esmailin Caridad had an outstanding week. Things started out modestly on Sunday as Amezaga went 1-for-5 while Caridad gave up two earned runs in an inning of work as the Yaquis defeated Mazatlan14-7. Christian Villanueva went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the game.
Back in action on Tuesday, Alfredo Amezaga heated up and went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, and two RBI as the Tribe beat front-running Culiacan 5-4. Christian Villanueva appeared as a pinch hitter and went 0-for-1. Esmailin Caridad kept things in check by striking out two in a scoreless inning and picked up his third hold.
Obregon continued to have the Tomato Pickers’ number on Wednesday, as they blanked Culiacan 2-0. Esmailin Caridad picked up his fourth hold as he struck out the side in the eighth. Alfredo Amezaga was 1-for-4 and Christian Villanueva went 0-for-2 with an RBI.
The Yaquis completed the sweep on Thursday with a 10-0 thrashing of Culiacan. Christian Villanueva was 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter and saw some time at second base. Alfredo Amezaga lit up the scoreboard by going 3-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI.
Alfredo Amezaga continued his offensive onslaught on Friday as he went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, and RBI in a 5-3 win over Hermosillo. Christian Villanueva joined in on the fun as he was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI. Esmailin Caridad again struck out the side in the eighth and earned his fifth hold.
The Tribe finished up the week with a 9-7 victory over Hermosillo on Saturday. Esmailin Caridad once again provided solid relief. Caridad struck out a batter in a scoreless inning while picking up his sixth hold. Alfredo Amezaga also ended his week on an impressive note. Amezaga went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI.
Venezuelan Winter League
Cardenales de Lara
Infielder Luis Valbuena is making a strong case for earning a new contract by demonstrating the “grinder” approach for the Cardinals. Valbuena was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored on Sunday in a 6-3 win over Magallanes.
Luis Valbuena then came back on Wednesday and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk as Lara beat Margarita 5-2.
Although the Birds lost 3-2 to Margarita on Friday, Luis Valbuena continued to embrace the organizational offensive philosophy. Valbuena was 1-for-4 with a double and a walk.
Tigres de Aragua
It was a tough week for the Tigers, as they are mired in an eight game losing streak. Sunday saw a 7-5 loss to Caracas, as Ty Wright went 1-for-4 with a run scored, while Jae-Hoon Ha went 0-for-3. Aragua lost 8-6 to La Guaira on Tuesday. Wright drove in two runs and finished the game 1-for-5. Ha went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter.
Jae-Hoon Ha broke out of his slump on Wednesday. Ha scored two runs in a 2-for-5 effort that included a double and an RBI as the Cats lost 10-5 to Magallanes. Ha also gunned down a runner at home. Ty Wright was 1-for-3 with a double.
Neither Ty Wright nor Jae-Hoon Ha were able to manage a hit on Friday in Aragua’s 8-2 loss to Caracas.
Leones de Caracas
Starter Yoanner Negrin continued his impressive campaign by taking part in two victories for the Lions this week. Negrin was roughed up for four earned runs in 4.2 innings on Sunday, but was able to strike out three as Caracas came back with a 7-5 win over Aragua.
Yoanner Negrin seemed ready for Aragua the second time around this week. Negrin struck out eight in six scoreless innings for his second win as the Pride won 8-2 on Friday.
Aguilas del Zulia
Catcher Juan Apodaca seems to have settled into a back-up role for the Eagles. Apodaca is receiving playing time only a couple of times per week. On Tuesday Apodaca was 1-for-3 with a RBI as Zulia defeated Anzoategui 4-3.
Click Here for Complete Box Score
Juan Apodaca made another start on Thursday and went 0-for-4 in a 6-2 loss to La Guaira.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO