Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/28/13

The Mesa Solar Sox fell back to earth a bit this past week. But that doesn’t mean that Kris Bryant has cooled off. Bryant continues to dominate in the desert. Outfielder Jorge Soler has also heated up, while Wes Darvill continues to be steady. In the Caribbean, several prospects made their season debuts, including Frank Batista, Jeimer Candelario, Willson Contreras, and Hector Rondon.

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

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox

Mesa got back on the winning track Monday as they beat Surprise 9-6. It seems AFL teams might be learning their lesson and began pitching around Kris Bryant. Bryant drew two walks while going 1-for-2 with a double. Armando Rivero continued to struggle as he allowed two earned runs on four hits and a walk. Rivero pitched one inning and notched a strikeout, but was also called for going to his mouth while on the rubber.

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The Surprise Saguaros were able to return the favor on Tuesday in a 4-2 win over Mesa. Albert Almora was the only Cubs prospect to make an appearance. Almora went 1-for-5 with an RBI as the centerfielder and leadoff man.

Mesa suffered their first back-to-back loss on Wednesday as the stumbled against Scottsdale 2-1 in ten innings. Designated Hitter Kris Bryant was 1-for-5 with a double. Wes Darvill, playing right field, went 1-for-4 with an outfield assist and drove in the Solar Sox only run. Albert Almora did not receive an at-bat as Darvill’s defensive replacement.

It was Cubs’ pitching day on Thursday as Mesa got back on the winning track and beat Scottsdale 7-4. Dallas Beeler toed the bump for the Solar Sox and got his second victory. Beeler struck out two and allowed two runs on four hits in four innings. Matt Loosen followed and fanned three in two innings and gave up an earned run. Lendy Castillo then pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Jorge Soler was the only position player to make an appearance and he announced his return to the lineup with authority. Soler went 3-for- 4 with two RBI.

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Mesa was able to string two wins in a row together with a 7-5 victory over Peoria on Friday. Albert Almora experienced his first “O-fer” of the fall by going 0-for-4 with a walk. Kris Bryant had another huge day as he went 3-for-5 with two double and a triple that plated the go ahead run in the ninth. After missing a short amount of time due to residency issues, Jorge Soler has been on a rampage since his return. Soler was 2-for-4 with his first home run and two RBI. Armando Rivero continued his struggles but was slightly better in this appearance. Rivero struck out a batter and gave up an earned run in an inning of work.

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The week ended with Mesa losing to Surprise 6-1 on Saturday. Albert Almora continued his downward slide by going 0-for-4, while Jorge Soler was 1-for-4 with a double. Wes Darvill has made the most out of his opportunities as he drove in the Solar Sox only run with a double and went 1-for-3 while starting at third base. Lendy Castillo was wild but effective. Castillo walked and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning.

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas

Kane County third baseman Jeimer Candelario saw his first action on Tuesday and he was 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the Eagles 10-6 victory over Oriente.

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Another Cubs prospect made his winter debut on Wednesday as Frank Batista had a walk and a strikeout in 1.1 scoreless innings as Cibaenas lost 8-0 to Escogido.

Toros del Este

Last Sunday, Este was able to hang on in a game that started out as a laugher and they beat Oriente 10-7.  Jeffry Antigua was one of the pitchers the Stars rallied off of in the sixth inning as he allowed an earned run with a strikeout in 0.2 innings.

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The Bulls ran into a buzzsaw on Tuesday as they lost 19-8 to Licey. Reliever Jeffry Antigua went two innings and gave up an earned run on two hits and a walk while striking out a batter.

Tigres del Licey

Licey stated the week off on a good note as they defeated Escogido 5-3. Outfielder Julio Borbon was 1-for-3 with a run scored while Arismendy Alcantara went 0-for-4.

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Despite the Tigers’ 19-8 victory over Este in Tuesday, Julio Borbon didn’t have a particularly good game. Borbon went 0-for-5 with a walk and run scored.

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Infielder Arismendy Alcantara was able to finally get off the schneid on Wednesday as he was 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored in Licey’s 7-4 win over Oriente.

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The Man-eaters were able to make it two in a row on Thursday as Licey topped Cibao 6-4. Arismendy Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the victory.

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Licey fell 4-1 to Cibaenas on Friday. Julio Borbon was 0-for-3 while Arismendy Alcantara went 0-for-2 off the bench.

Estrellas de Oriente

Reliever Marcos Mateo tossed a scoreless inning on Wednesday as the East Stars lost 7-4 to Licey.

On Saturday, Marcos Mateo picked up his second save as the Stars beat Licey 3-2. Mateo struck out two in a scoreless inning.

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Mexican Pacific League

Tomateros de Culiacan

It wasn’t a good start to the week for Culiacan or reliever Marcus Hatley as the Tomateros lost 5-0 to Guasave on Sunday. Hatley pitched an inning with a strikeout, but also served up a home run.


While Marcus Hatley did his part, the Pickers could not muster any run support on Wednesday as they lost 1-0 to Hermosillo. Hatley closed the game with a strikeout in a scoreless inning.

On Friday, Marcus Hatley was able to slam the door as Culiacan beat Mexicali 5-2. Hatley allowed only a free pass with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth. Hatley earned his third save of the season.

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Venados de Mazatlan

Reliever David Villegas still appears to be overmatched as he surrendered two earned runs on two hits in 0.1 innings as Mazatlan lost 8-2 to Mexicali on Sunday.

Yaquis de Obregon

Third baseman Christian Villanueva was part of a big day for the Yaquis last Sunday as Obregon beat Hermosillo 10-3. Villanueva was 2-for-5 with a home run and an RBI.

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On Tuesday, Christian Villanueva drove in two runs and went 2-for-4 in the Tribe’s 5-0 victory over Los Mochis.

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Christian Villanueva cracked a solo home run, his second of the winter on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough as Obregon lost 8-3 to Los Mochis. Villanueva also notched a double and finished the game 2-for-4.

It took eleven innings before Obregon finally bowed to Mazatlan 3-2 on Friday. Christian Villanueva was 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting appearance.

It appears as if opposing pitchers are now more wary of Christian Villanueva, as he was 0-for-1 with three walks in the Yaquis’ 3-2 loss to Mazatlan on Saturday.

Venezuelan Winter League

Tigres de Aragua

Kane County catcher Willson Contreras made his first appearance of the winter and went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the Tigers’12-10 loss to Magallanes on Sunday.

On Thursday, Willson Contreras made his first start and went 2-for-5 with a run scored in Aragua’s 6-5 victory over La Guaira.

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Willson Contreras scored the winning run as a pinch-runner on Friday as the Man-eaters defeated Margarita 8-7 in ten innings.

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Leones de Caracas

Iowa swingman Yoanner Negrin continued to be dominant as the Lions shut out Margarita 6-0 last Sunday. Negrin started and tossed five shutout innings while scattering three hits and two walks. Negrin struck out three in five innings in route to his second victory.

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Chicago Cubs’ reliever Hector Rondon made his winter debut with a splash on Tuesday in Caracas’ 4-2 loss to Magallanes. Rondon struck out three and walked a batter in a scoreless inning.

It wasn’t a masterpiece on Friday, but Yoanner Negrin got the job done as Caracas beat Magallanes 5-4. Negrin allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks. Negrin struck out five in five innings as he earned his third win of the season. Hector Rondon gave up a hit in a scoreless inning as he picked up a hold.

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Bravos de Margarita

Daytona reliever Frank Del Valle saw his first action of the winter last Sunday. Del Valle struck out two and walked a batter in Margarita’s 6-0 loss to Caracas.

Frank Del Valle gave up a walk and a hit in 0.1 innings as the Braves lost 8-7 in ten innings to Aragua on Friday.

Aguilas del Zulia

Reliever Yeiper Castillo put together a good effort last Sunday when he tossed two scoreless, no-hit innings in Zulia’s 8-3 loss to Anzoategui.

Yeiper Castillo then contributed 0.2 scoreless innings and a strikeout to the Eagles’ winning effort on Tuesday as Zulia beat Lara 7-6.

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After the Raptors’ starter yielded five runs without recording an out on Thursday, Yeiper Castillo got the call to stem the tide. Castillo struck out five and scattered three hits in four scoreless innings in Zulia’s 7-6 loss to Anzoategui.

News and Notes

The Cubs re-signed RHP Ryan Searle to a minor league contract; released RHP Ethan Elias and LHP Luis Villalba.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • Tony_Hall

    Great report as the fall and winter leagues are getting into full swing.

    Most people say that playing fall or winter ball is a good thing and I agree, but I wonder why people who complain about prospects getting inconsistent playing time for the Cubs don’t complain about our prospects getting inconsistent playing time on their fall and winter teams.

  • Tony_Hall

    Tom – Found an Q&A on Baseball America where someone asked about the minor league portions of the Rule V. In short, J.J. Cooper who wrote the answer says he can’t find one significant major league player that was acquired this way, that it is more about minor league depth then anything else. Here is the paragraph with the descriptions.

    “In the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, teams may select any eligible player left off the major league 40-man roster or the Triple-A reserve roster of 38 players. In the Double-A phase of the draft, teams may select any eligible player left off the major league roster, the Triple-A reserve roster or the Double-A reserve roster of 37 players. In other words, a player selected in the Triple-A phase does not rank among his organization’s top 78 talents, and a Double-A selection does not rank among its top 115. In these cases, players are not required to remain on a particular roster. The player’s contract is irrevocably assigned to the drafting team and the drafting fee ($12,000 for Triple-A, $4,000 for Double-A) is paid.”

    To read the whole question and answer here is the link.
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/ask-ba-2/

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Uggla was a Rule 5 player
      So was Johan Santana…..and Josh Hamiliton…..Jody Davis……even Roberto Clemente!

      • Tony_Hall

        Thank-you for listing names of guys taken in the major league portion of the Rule V draft, I think we have all seen them before and even others.

        Tom and I have been talking about the minor league portion part of the Rule V, that my post was talking about and the article I linked was talking about, in which there hasn’t been any player of any significance taken.

    • Tom U

      Thanks for the link Tony! I agree that the minor league phase is a lot more of a crapshoot. However, it would be just the Cubs’ kind of luck to give up the first significant player from those phases.

      • Tony_Hall

        And unfortunately, that would actually be a good thing, as that would show the depth of the farm system.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Tom, how’s Bryant doing at defense at third?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      The reports I have read indicate his defense has been solid this fall. He’s made a couple of leaping catches to take hits away and his footwork has been good with strong throws. He should start Saturday’s All-Star game which will be on MLB Network.

      • Tom U

        Thank you Neil, I did not have that info.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Reports are saying that Arizona Fall league pitching is below average this year…….so don’t drink too much Blue Kool Aid over these hitting stats…………
    on the other hand, the Mexican League always has great pitching…….and Cubs Villanuava is producing good numbers in that league……Olt might be short term for us and used as trade bait for a AL club looking for a DH later on, but I have Villanuava pencil in at third by 2016……
    what a 2017 Cubs lineup might look like…..
    CF – Almora
    2B – Alcantara
    1B – Bryant
    RF – Baez
    LF – Soler
    DH – Vogelbach
    3B – Villanuava
    C – Castillo
    SS – Torres

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      The pitching report was from Buster Olney and Keith Law quickly countered that the pitching this year is better than has been at the AFL in a couple of seasons. AFL stats are just that, AFL stats but even if the pitching is less than previous years, at least they are hitting.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Was Vitters was a top AFL hitter a few years ago……anyone see that guy as a top hitter yet with the Cubs?

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Vitters hit .360/.383/.540 in 24 games in 2011 with six doubles and four home runs, so yes Vitters hit in the AFL. If you are looking at Vitters as the example, his ability has never been the question. He can hit. His problem has been not being able to get out of his own way.

          I still think he could contribute to a big league team like Jeff Baker.

          On another comp, Starlin Castro hit .376/.396/.475 in 26 games in the AFL back in 2009 with five doubles, one triple and one home run.

          • CubbyDenCritic

            I believe Arietta had an ERA of 0.00 in 2007 pitching in 14 games.
            As for Vitters, it is now or never for him this season……can’t wait on him forever……picking him to be a Jeff Baker type of player seems to be a bad #1 pick then.

          • Ripsnorter1

            To use a #1 and get a part time player is bad.
            To use a #1 and get nothing is much worse.

          • Tony_Hall

            It does happen, not all 1st round picks go on to play in the majors (about 75% do) and only about 40-45% have MLB careers of any significance.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yes, I agree. I’d even say that only about 50% play in the majors for more
            than 100 AB or 50 IP. And as far as having a career of any significance, I’d
            think the number is lower than even 40%.

            MLB is a pretty tough world to live in .

        • Ripsnorter1

          Vitters has hit in AAA. I don’t think Sveum gave him a fair shot at the MLB
          level. And he doesn’t walk much. His contact rates are great. If Jackson
          could ever match his contact rates, Jackson would be an All-Star in MLB.

          So I don’t fully blame Vitters.

    • 07GreyDigger

      It’s Villanueva.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        You gave me a down arrow for one letter in a name!….Really!
        My feelings are hurt.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          another down arrow!

        • 07GreyDigger

          I didn’t give you any down arrows. :)

          • CubbyDenCritic

            Then it must be from Theo’s “Mysterious Manager Candidate” ……LOL

          • Ripsnorter1

            I happen to know it was Dusty Baker.
            And he can’t spell either. : (

  • DWalker

    interesting twitter comments from Parks on Baez, Almora and Bryant as all potential top 10 players under consideration in his list. to him, Almora may be the top cubs prospect as a legit CF with potential power, Bryant one of the closest to safest things in the minors with elite power and Baez with elite potential and bat speed. Not as high on Edwards (concerned about body type and projectability) or Hendricks though, and up in the air still on how to rate Johnson and Maples. Still not high on Vogelbach due to lack of defensive fit. As debatable as any top x lists, but still an interesting look at how others view the farm system now and a good preview owhat we may be seeing in lists this fall.

    • Denver Mike

      I found some of his comments interesting as well. I originally asked him if Edwards would be the 3rd top 10 candidate after Baez and Bryant, acknowledging tha would be a huge jump for CJ. I like Almora quite a bit, but saying he could be the top Cubs prospect just because he has the highest overall floor us a bit of a stretch to me. Parks isn’t real high on Edwards due to his lack of size and durability questions, which is most people’s worry, but did say he could crack the top 101. Also interesting was his comment that Alcantera looks like Jose Reyes lite, not a star but high quality 2B.

  • cubtex

    Samardzija Extension Appears Unlikely http://bit.ly/1aC6H0H #mlb

    Not surprising. I think the chances are pretty good that they move Shark this offseason.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Three Top MLB Pitching Prospects will do.

    • 07GreyDigger

      It’ll be interesting to hear down the line what the number they offered was and the one he wanted.

      • cubtex

        My thought is that he feels he is a much better pitcher than EJax and wants to be paid! I mentioned before…that EJax deal is going to haunt this team. If EJax is worth 4 years at 52 mil…Shark probably feels he is 4 years at 68 mil or 17 mil per year.

        • Ripsnorter1

          But EJackson isn’t worth his contract….

          But that won’t stop Samardzija. He had one good half, and now
          he wants CC Sabathia money.

          Trade him, if you can….

          • cubtex

            but he is on the same team. If you feel you are better than a co-worker and more valuable….wouldn’t you want to be paid more?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yes, I know….and I agree….

            The Cubs can survive the Shark’s departure. Hey, that big contract may
            just be so heavy on his mind that he reverts to what he was in the JHendry days:
            an out of control pitcher with a huge WHIP.

          • cubtex

            I don’t really blame Shark. Look around baseball. There is a huge need for starting pitching. He probably feels…..Pay me now….or I will get paid later.

          • TheWrongGuy

            EJax was signed for 1 purpose.
            Eat innings, no matter whether he’s pitching good or bad.

            J. Samar…. Shark is the better pitcher. I am in the same realm, as seemingly the FO is… Will we get the Shark from the 1st half of 2012 or the Shark we have seen since then?

            Also of note this FO has said they don’t like to pay for previous performance on new contracts. So with Shark it is all in how they project him in the future.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Look at Samardzija:
            over the last two years, only 25% of his work has been very good. The other 75% has
            been rather pedestrian. And if you take his entire career, less than 25% has been very good.

          • Dorasaga

            His track record was comparable to Anibal Sanchez until this last season.

            Hoyer would expect him to bounce back and pitch as a solid #2, whom he really was.

          • Tony_Hall

            It happens all the time in sports where players salaries don’t match up with how good they are at the time. Samardzija’s time will come, but he needs to put up better numbers more consistently or he is just like Jackson, great stuff, mediocre results.

          • SuzyS

            We may have already seen the best Shark has to offer anyway…from the Feldman trade on…he didn’t show anything worth a long term contract.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        $150 million plus I guess.

      • cubtex

        It is reported that the sides aren’t even close. What would your guess be??? 11 or 12 mil per year by the Cubs for 4 or 5. Shark wanting 16 or 17 mil per? That would be my guess.

        • 07GreyDigger

          The story mentions John Dank’s deal as 5/65 being the floor. I’d be OK with that, but if Samardzija wants 5/75-80 that’s Verlander, King Felix money. That’s way too much.

    • TheWrongGuy

      He is a gone’r.
      I just hope we get a nice return for him.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    I think Cubs are not done with Texas…….if Samardzija does get traded, he will be traded to A.L…….one team that the Cubs can get a nice haul would be from Texas…Shark and maybe Russell can bring in ….Alfaro(C), Proar (IF), Jackson (P), Gonzalez(P), Mendez(P)………later down the line, Cubs can trade W. Castillo for prospects and put Alfaro behind the plate…….Texas will sign McCann this off season.

    • cubtex

      If Yankees miss out on Tanaka….they will be desperate. Might be a good suitor.

      • Vivid_Reality

        The Yankees prospects don’t excite me at all. Their farm system had a pretty down year overall. I wouldn’t mind taking a gamble on Pineda or Banuelos but not at the cost of Shark. I need at least a top 50 pitching prospect and another top 100 player.

        • cubtex

          There catching prospect Sanchez would be a great start. They also have some nice arms. in High A and AA.

          • Vivid_Reality

            Sanchez would be nice but they just don’t have the kind of pitching prospect I would want back. Maybe if the package was Sanchez, Hensley, Campos, and Banuelos. Even then I would rather have more of an established pitching prospect with less question marks.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Wil Myers from Tampa would be real nice.

          Never, ever, happen, though.

          • cubtex

            Andrew Cashner would be nice from the Padres.

            Won’t happen either :))))

          • Ripsnorter1

            OUCH!

          • 07GreyDigger

            Move on.

  • Tom U

    Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler all named to the AFL All-Star squad, per Carrie Muskat

    • Dorasaga

      Good. Now they just need to hang around W.League until Feb., near the Caribbean beach. :-D