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

This past week saw a baseball version of musical chairs for Cubs prospects as many experimented with other positions around the diamond. Arismendy Alcantara, Erick Castillo, and Edwin Maysonet lined up in two separate positions while Junior Lake appeared in three different places. Also trying out new roles were Ryan Searle and Christian Villanueva.

Staying in one spot was fortunate for Margarita in the Venezuelan League as Dave Sappelt batted a robust .565 with seven runs scored in six games this past week. Meanwhile, Michael Bowden, Jay Jackson, and Yoanner Negrin continued making their case to compete for starting roles in the organization this spring.

You don’t have to wait for the music to start again to come inside and check out the highlights.

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

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas
Michael Bowden experienced the ups and downs of a starting pitcher this week beginning with a 14-1 victory over Licey on Sunday. Bowden went seven strong innings and allowed an earned run with two walks and four strikeouts.

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Michael Bowden was back on the mound on Saturday but was not as successful. Bowden gave up three earned runs in 4.2 innings as the Eagles lost 4-2 to Cibao. Bowden walked one and struck out one while seeing his winter record hit the .500 mark at 3-3.

Leones de Escogido
It continues to be a rough go for reliever Lendy Castillo as he surrendered two earned runs and failed to record an out last Sunday as the Lions defeated Este 9-4.

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Toros del Este
The Bulls had another rough week. Players from the Cubs’ system did not make an appearance until Tuesday. Diory Hernandez was the only player with Cubs ties to see action in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Cibaenas. Hernandez went 1-for-4.

Este’s only win came on Wednesday as the Herd defeated Escogido 3-2. Jeffry Antigua picked up his fifth hold as he struck out a batter in 1.1 scoreless innings. Diory Hernandez worked a walk but was 0-for-3 in the game.

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After Thursday’s off day, Este was back to work on Friday as the Toros lost 8-5 to Cibaenas. Diory Hernandez was 2-for-4 while starter Horacio Ramirez struck out a batter in a 0.2 inning relief appearance. However, Alberto Cabrera wasn’t as fortunate. Cabrera served up a solo home run and allowed three earned runs in 1.1 innings.

Horacio Ramirez was called on to start on Saturday and he gave Este two scoreless innings in an 11-3 loss to Oriente. Jeffry Antigua chipped in by shutting out the Stars for 1.1 innings and Diory Hernandez was 0-for-2 in the contest.

Tigres del Licey
Despite having the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Erick Aybar, and Dee Gordon ahead of him, infielder Arismendy Alcantara has found ways to contribute to the Tigers. Alcantara entered the game last Sunday as a pinch runner and stayed on to play shortstop. Alcantara went 1-for-1 with a double as Licey was hammered 14-1 by Cibaenas.

Arismendy Alcantara was called upon as a pinch runner again on Monday. Alcantara went 0-for-1 but scored a run in a 5-4 win over Escogido.

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Another blow-out on Tuesday offered an opportunity for more playing time for Arismendy Alcantara. Alcantara went 1-for-2 while taking over at shortstop as the Pride embarrassed Cibao 11-0.

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Arismendy Alcantara was used as a pinch runner again on Saturday. Alcantara scored a run and filled in at second base as Licey beat Escogido 8-4 on Saturday.

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Estrellas de Oriente
The Stars reeled off three straight wins and won four out of five this week thanks to the efforts of several Cubs’ prospects. Sunday saw Junior Lake line up in his familiar position of shortstop as he was 1-for-4 with his ninth stolen base in a 5-4 win over Cibao. Nelson Perez demonstrated some new found patience at the plate. Perez worked two walks, drove in three runs and smacked his fourth home run. Rafael Dolis struck out three batters in 1.1 scoreless innings and was credited with the win. Dolis evened his winter record at 1-1.

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It was third base for Junior Lake on Tuesday as he went 1-for-4 while scoring a pair of runs as Oriente defeated Escogido 8-6. Nelson Perez struggled and went 0-for-4.

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Nelson Perez continued his struggles at the plate on Wednesday. Perez was 0-for-2 as Estrellas squeaked out a 1-0 victory over Cibao. Junior Lake lined up in left field and went 1-for-3 at the dish.

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Some time off on Thursday and Friday seemed to help Nelson Perez. Perez drew a walk in a pinch hitting appearance in and 8-7 loss to Escogido.

The breather appeared to have refocused Nelson Perez as he was 1-for-2 with a run scored and three walks as Oriente beat Este 11-3 on Saturday. Junior Lake had a big night. Lake went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored while lining up in left field again. Rafael Dolis struck out a pair but allowed an unearned run in an inning of relief.

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Mexican Pacific League

Venados de Mazatlan
The Jay Jackson that was once a top ten prospect for the Cubs a few years ago appears to be showing up in Mexico as he evened his record at 2-2 in a 7-0 shutout of Navojoa on Thursday. Jackson pitched seven scoreless innings while walking a pair and striking out three.

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Yaquis de Obregon
It was a quiet week for Cubs prospects in Obregon as the team decided to change-up its line-up. Esmailin Caridad tossed a scoreless inning and Christian Villanueva pinch hit and played first base in a 4-2 loss to Guasave on Wednesday. Esmailin Caridad gave up four earned runs while striking out two in an inning of work on Thursday. Caridad suffered the loss as the Yaquis dropped their second straight to Guasave, 9-5. The losing streak moved to three games as Alfredo Amezaga went 0-for-5 in a 5-4 loss to Navojoa on Friday.

The Tribe was able to salvage something from the week by defeating Navojoa 8-1 on Saturday. Alfredo Amezaga went 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, a run scored and an RBI.

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Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League

Atenienses de Manati
It was a productive week for Edwin Maysonet in Puerto Rico as he belted his first home run of the winter in a 5-4 loss to Santurce on Sunday. Maysonet ended up going 2-for-4 while showing his versatility by lining up in left field. Maysonet was back at shortstop on Tuesday and went 2-for-3 as Manati was on the wrong end of a 10-0 laugher to Santurce.

It was back to left field for Edwin Maysonet on Thursday as the Athenians edged past Santurce 8-7. Maysonet went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI.

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Edwin Maysonet ended his week by going 0-for-3 with a walk on Friday. Maysonet split time between left field and shortstop in a 3-1 loss to Carolina.

Venezuelan Winter League

Bravos de Margarita
The Braves managed two wins last week despite red-hot performances from Dave Sappelt and Alberto Gonzalez. Sappelt was 2-for-4 on Sunday as Margarita fell 6-3 to Lara.

Tuesday was the first of an extended run for Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez at third base and went 1-for-3 with a triple, a run scored and two RBI as Margarita fell 10-7 to Caracas. Dave Sappelt was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and his fourth stolen base.

Margarita had a change in fortune on Wednesday as Dave Sappelt had another monster game. Sappelt went 3-for-4 with two runs scored while swatting his third home run as the Bravos shut-out Caracas 9-0. Alberto Gonzalez (1-for-4 with a double) chipped in with two RBI.

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Dave Sappelt continued his offensive rampage on Thursday. Sappelt went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI as the Braves lost 14-6 to Aragua. Alberto Gonzalez was 0-for-3 but drew a walk and scored a run.

Alberto Gonzalez and Dave Sappelt provided most of the offense in another Margarita loss on Friday. Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, while Sappelt went 2-for-4 with a RBI.

Saturday saw the Braves return to their winning ways as they defeated Zulia 6-5. Dave Sappelt scored a run in his fifth straight game while going 2-for-3 at the plate and Alberto Gonzalez went 1-for-5 in the win.

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Cardenales de Lara
It appears Luis Valbuena ran out of gas last week as a promising start ground to a halt. Valbuena went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI in Sunday’s 6-3 victory over Margarita.

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Luis Valbuena reached base four times on Monday with a 2-for-2 performance that included a pair of walks and his third stolen base of the winter as the Cards lost 2-1 to Magallanes. Valbuena (0-for-3) then drove in a run with a sacrifice fly as Lara beat Aragua 9-6 on Tuesday.

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Wednesday brought a 6-3 loss to Aragua as Luis Valbuena went 1-for-4. Valbuena then went 0-for-4 on Thursday as the Redbirds beat Caracas 3-2.

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The week ended for Luis Valbuena with an 0-for-4 performance on Saturday, as the Cardinals lost 4-3 to Anzoategui.

Caribes de Anzoategui
As hot as Johermyn Chavez was two weeks ago, he was equally as cold last week. Chavez went 1-for-4 last Sunday, his best performance of the week, as the Caribes lost 8-2 to La Guiara. Anzoatigui would make it two in a row over the Tiburones on Tuesday with a 9-8 loss. Chavez went 0-for-4.

Young catcher Erick Castillo showed off his versatility on Wednesday. Castillo lined up in left field as the Tribe took the finale in the set with La Guiara, 5-2. Castillo went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base.

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Johermyn Chavez was back in the line-up on Thursday, but the results were the same. Chavez went 0-for-3 in a 4-3 victory over Magallanes.

Erick Castillo continued displaying his athleticism on Friday by moving to first base. Castillo sluggled his first home run as the Caribes romped 5-0 over Magallanes.

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It was four in a row on Saturday as Anzoategui defeated Lara 4-3. Johermyn Chavez (0-for-1) only saw action as a pinch hitter.

Leones de Caracas
It was a tough week for the Lions, as good performances by Cubs prospects still didn’t translate into wins for Caracas. Tony Campana went 1-for-3 with two walks, two stolen bases and a run scored in a 5-4 win over Zulia last Sunday.

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Tony Campana was part of the show on Tuesday as the Pride defeated Margarita 10-7. Campana went 2-for-5 with a RBI, a run scored and his sixth stolen base. J.C. Boscan was 1-for-2 with a walk. Hector Rondon, who ended up in the Cubs system later in the week in the Rule 5 Draft, allowed an earned run in an inning of work and was credited with the victory.

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Caracas began a losing streak on Wednesday with a 9-0 loss to Margarita. Tony Campana was 1-for-4 with his seventh stolen base. Hector Rondon gave up an earned run in an inning on Thursday. Rondon was hung with a blown save while Tony Campana went 1-for-4 with a run scored in a 4-3 loss to Lara. Yoanner Negrin pitched well enough to win on Friday, but didn’t get enough support as Caracas bowed 7-6 to La Guaira. Negrin allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings with a walk and five strikeouts. Tony Campana (1-for-4) tripled, scored a run and drove in two runs, while J.C. Boscan went 0-for-3 with an RBI.

Tiburones de La Guaira
Reliever Eduardo Figueroa made only one appearance last week. Figueroa tossed 1.2 scoreless innings on Thursday as the Sharks beat Zulia 6-3.

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Australian Baseball League

Brisbane Bandits
Down Under, it looks as if Ryan Searle is adapting well to his new role as closer for the Bandits. Searle picked up his second save as Brisbane defeated league leading Perth 6-4 on Friday. Searle tossed a scoreless ninth with a walk and a strikeout.

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  • Dorasaga

    Tom, here’s a question for you.

    The fifth, or maybe, even the fourth man down the rotation is usually a spot open. After all, there aren’t many Major League teams with a sustainable five-man rotation throughout any given season. I want to be realistic; it won’t be the Cubs, either. The fifth man. That’s where a young prospect be tried. That’s where a swingman finds his spot to stay.

    From what I saw and read of Feldman from last season (wonder which one’s more biased), he might be better to stick with the team as a swingman or a reliever. That’ll open up the fifth-man spot quickly. Antigua seems to be on the right track, and might rise to the occasion as an early call-up.

    Hence, which top three Cubs prospects, you believe, will come to Chicago and stay, as a starting pitcher, this coming season?

    • Tom U

      I know you didn’t mean it that way, Dorasaga, but its kind of a loaded question. Therefore, I’ll give you two answers.

      When management teams like Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer make player acquisitions, they usually have an investment in that player, despite what they say in public. Therefore, I expect them to go overboard with opportunities to Scott Baker, Jason Berken, Michael Bowden,Scott Feldman, Horacio Ramirez, and Arodys Vizcaino, as well as someone they have already labeled as their own, Alberto Cabrera.

      However, some of the players I feel that deserve a chance are Frank Batista, Jay Jackson, Yoanner Negrin, Brooks Raley, and Chris Rusin.

      As far as Antigua, he’s just barely pitched at Double-A, so it may be early for him to make the jump to the big leagues. However, like I’ve always said: When pitching is ready, it can be ready in a hurry.

      • Dorasaga

        Thanks for explaining all things necessary. Well, I was trying to explain the “where” and “why” a rotation is even set this way, having “five.” My underlining view, if I may, is that few ready prospects will be here: upon them a competitive chance for that fifth spot, up for grab. (Little I saw out of Feldman to be a starter.) I defined “few” as three, just for average layman (myself included) to stay focus, start knowing the most mature crop of this farm system.

        So, from this standpoint, back to your response, you want to see Batista, JayJ, Negrin, Raley, and Rusin. But only after Berken, Bowden, Horacio (great name!), and Vizcaino are on the line?

        Will we see more than a “top 3” but four or six be called-up to the Big league and fill in a spot start here or there? I wasn’t expecting the Cubs having such a great pool of mature talents. After all, last year was close to disaster, with many called, few delivered.

        • Tom U

          Dorasaga, what I meant was the I believe this management team would give the players in the first group all the opportunities..

          What I’m trying to say is that I don’t really see Michael Bowden or Jason Berken as better than pitchers Frank Batista or Nick Struck; or Horacio Ramirez as better than Brooks Raley or Chris Rusin. But because Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have made a commitment to those pitchers, they will stick with them far past the point that they should.

          • John_CC

            Really? What makes you believe that, is it more than just the general idea that management sticks with guys they “pick” or is it based on things you’ve seen?

            I understand that human nature would dictate that one would naturally give more of a chance to his or her own over another. But this is a business, and a big one, with many many employees – both on the player side and the evaluator side.

          • Dorasaga

            Points taken. Again, I, a layman, know very little about all prospects, while down the minor. I’m reliant on you, Aaron, and opinions.

  • paulcatanese

    Nice to see Campana have a good week. I don’t think it will help
    him with the Cub’s plans for him though. It’s too bad he had to sit
    on the bench for better than half the season, not being used at all.
    Sincerely hope he will be traded or even released, at least he will have the opportunity to figure out what his future in baseball is.
    He would be able to go somewhere and play or retire, not just sit on the bench.The inactivity hurt him, as he needed to play to get anything at all going.
    Nice report Tom, always like it when Campana is mentioned.

    • Tom U

      Thank you, Paul.

  • Ray Ray

    Jason Griili preferred the Pirates over other teams even though some teams offered more money. Since one of the teams interested in Grilli was the Cubs it’s a damn shame that Pittsburgh is more attractive than Chicago. Oh have the tables turned

    • Tony_Hall

      Maybe he likes Pittsburgh.

      Maybe he has family there.

      Maybe his wife is from there.

      Maybe he was just seeing what the market would offer and the Pirates planned to try to be as close as possible.

      Maybe players actually have a say where they go, and don’t go where fans want them to go.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree Tony, sometimes loyalty is worth more than
        money. Nice to see that a player would overide an Agent (if he did), I hope so.

      • cubs1967

        please……stop making excuses. why would any FA come to Chicago long term knowing full well this team will suck-suck-suck till 2016. Grilli said NO. Ludwick said NO. there is a price to pay when you openly lose on purpose. it’s cost 500,000 fans at the gate and more in 2013. it’s cost sell-outs of the cubs convention. and it’s gonna cost getting FA till team theo decides to try. players like to win. that’s not the current cubs regime.

        • Tony_Hall

          Grilli and Ludwick can now go into the Hall of Fame as a Pirate and Red…

          I don’t believe any of those were excuses, as much as from the players perspective. We only look at from the Cubs perspective and free agency is all about giving the player the choice to explore playing for any of the 30 teams.

          While we are telling people what to stop doing, can you stop being so negative. Rebuilding this mess from the ground up is in the best interest of the long term success of the Cubs and the best chance to win a World Series. Teams are either rebuilding, stuck in the middle, or a winning team, and for years the Cubs chose to be stuck in the middle. Now we are rebuilding and in 2-3 years, the farm system will be producing players year in and year out for the major league team that all came up through the system. And at that point, we will move into the winning team category and most of us that embraced this rebuild will be enjoying this team, while you still be complaining about something.

          • RynoTiger

            stop making excuses cubs1967 said, the FAs don’t want to come to Chicago because Theo and Jed have created a Communist organization that is intent upon destroying America and the game of baseball…they must be stopped even if it means an all out armageddon…the enemy deserves no mercy..sweep the lick…Cobra Kai!

          • John_CC

            I agree Tony.

            Look no further than the Nationals. There’s been a lot made of how Boras praised them, but their path to the best record in the NL last year is easy to follow.

            Look at the Royals. Team stacked with yound talent, so much that they could afford to make a block-buster deal when it was important and immediately put themselves in pennant conversation.

            The Nationals have money. The Royals don’t. The Cubs do. The 2-3 year plan is about as quick as team, with money, can rebuild itself from the ground up. I’m sure the Cubs can.

  • paulcatanese

    Large $ contracts being paid out by the Dodgers, they may pass the National Debt.
    One thing though remains constant for LA, fans will still show up
    in the third inning, look dis-interested and leave by the end of the seventh, not knowing whether there was a game or not, people do not see much with sunglasses on night games.

    • calicub

      gotta beat the traffic in and out of Chavez ravine some how Paul!

      • paulcatanese

        I know, I know, you have a point, but I still can’t get over the Giants and Dodgers moving to the West Coast:)

  • Ray Ray

    Tony. Maybe free agents don’t want to come to a 100 loss team. Maybe he feels the Pirates are closer to winning than the Cubs. Maybe the Cubs are not attractive to free agents who are being pursued by other teams. Example. Brandon McCarthy, Grilli and others.

    • Tony_Hall

      All possible, that is what free agency is all about, they don’t go to a team just because their fans think they should.

      But if you want them to build this team with 30 something free agents, you should of wanted JH to stick around, that was his style.