Cubs Prospects Stay Hot in Arizona and Other Minor League News

Kris Bryant and Albert Almora are off to excellent starts in the Arizona Fall League, and Bryant put on a show on Friday afternoon. Bryant hit not one, but two, big flies and just missed a third. Bryant hit what was described as a “moonshot” in the fourth inning that cleared the berm in left field at HoHoKam Park. Bryant’s second homer went to right and he finished the game 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double, four RBI and three runs scored.

Kris Bryant is hitting .423/.448/.962 in his first six games this fall with a 1.410 OPS … 11-for-26 with two doubles, four home runs, two walks, two stolen bases, eight runs scored and 12 RBI. Bernie Pleskoff was on hand for Bryant’s two-homer game on Friday and reported, “The ball makes that special sound coming off Kris Bryant’s bat.”

Albert Almora went 1-for-6 with a double on Friday and he is hitting .417/.440/.792 over his first five games with a 1.232 OPS. Almora is 10-for-24 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, one walk, eight RBI and six runs scored.

Arizona Fall League

Jorge Soler went 1-for-4 with a run scored on Saturday. In seven games, Soler is 8-for-35 with three doubles, five RBI, five runs scored. Soler is hitting .229/.229/.314/.543.

The Cubs have five other prospects participating in the AFL not named Bryant, Almora or Soler.

Wes Darvill started at third on Saturday night and went 0-for-4. Darvill has played second and third so far in four games and is hitting .250/.357/.500 with one home run, two walks and a .857 OPS.

Dallas Beeler had a rough start on Friday and was hit rather hard in his three innings of work. Beeler surrendered three runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout. In two games, Beeler is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP (four runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings).

Armando Rivero struck out all three batters he faced in his first AFL appearance but has not fared as well since. Rivero gave up two runs, one earned, on two hits with one walk and no strikeouts in an inning of work on Friday. Rivero is 0-1 in four relief appearances with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP (three runs, two earned, on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in four innings). Keith Law thinks Rivero might show a little more in the spring than he has in his short time in the Cubs’ organization after not making his pro debut until June.

Lendy Castillo notched a scoreless inning on Saturday and has been throwing more strikes over his last two appearances. Castillo surrendered one hit on Saturday with no walks. Castillo threw 11 pitches, eight for strikes. Castillo has allowed four runs, one earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings this fall (2.25 ERA, 2.25 WHIP)

Matt Loosen pitched a perfect inning on Saturday with two strikeouts on 14 pitches, eight for strikes. In two appearances, Loosen has allowed four runs, two earned, on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings (4.15 ERA, 1.62 WHIP).

Buster Olney reported this week that a talent evaluator he spoke with indicated the quality of the Arizona Fall League is greatly diminished this year because teams are holding back their best pitching prospects. The evaluator Olney spoke with said that due to the lack of quality pitching prospects it is “hard to get a read on the position prospects, plus conditions aren’t good for pitchers.” Keith Law quickly responded on Twitter and pointed out that pitching over the last two years was weak but his year’s starting pitching is the best since 2010 or 2009.

Mike Olt

Mike Olt will start Spring Training in February in the mix to be at third base for the Cubs on Opening Day in Pittsburgh. Olt spent time at the Cubs’ facility at Fitch Park working with Anthony Iapoce and Oscar Bernard. Olt did not play in the Instructional League and returned home early this month.

Olt is expected to return to Arizona when the new facility opens and will rent a house near the facility so he can prepare for Spring Training. Olt feels healthy for the first time since last November and is now doing exercises for his eyes and taking allergy medication to help with the vision issues he had following a concussion after being hit in the head playing Winter Ball.

Mike Olt realizes nothing is guaranteed and he is expecting good competition in the spring. He is excited for the opportunity and the challenge of winning the job.

Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres

The Cubs signed two of the three top prospects available on July 2 when the International signing period began. Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres are only 16 years old and have been participating in the Instructional League. Fall instructs ended on Saturday.

The Cubs feel both Jimenez and Torres will have a better idea of what to expect after spending the last month-plus in the states.

Anthony Iapoce, the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator, said both players are pretty advanced for their age and they are not raw as far as their talent is concerned. Jimenez has played in the states before but this was Torres first trip and the longest that either player had been away from home.

Ray Fuentes works with young Latin players and teaches them both English and coach-speak according to the report on Fuentes is Cuban, was born and raised in Miami and “knows how difficult it is to adjust to the U.S., especially with language challenges.”

Both players seemed to impress coaches and other players during instructs.

News and Notes

According to Baseball America, outfielder Darnell McDonald and catcher J.C. Boscan have elected free agency. The Cubs outrighted both players off the 40-man roster earlier this month.

Daniel Bard is playing winter ball and will pitch for the Criollos de Caguas in the Puerto Rican/Roberto Clemente Professional League. Alex Cora is the GM for the Caguas Criollos.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Tony_Hall

    Just to make all of these prospects look even better, take a look at these bad contracts. Rip posted some that Bowden talked about yesterday, but here is a look at some more bad contracts. Dollar amounts and years are from Bowden’s article.

    Years and $$$ left
    Ryan Howard 3 years $85M
    Albert Pujols 8 years $212M – real scary part in 4 years he still has 4 years $87M
    Alex Rodriquez – 4 years $86M
    John Danks – 3 years $42.75M
    Dan Uggla – 3 years $39M

    There are more out there, that is for sure, but many of these deals were bad when they were signed.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Speaking of Albert Pujols….
      His lawyer refused to allow Pujols to take a lie detector test in the Jack Clark trial.

      Clark accused him of steroids, and Pujols is suing.

      • Tony_Hall

        I saw that. I have had zero doubts that Pujols has taken something over the years. When you keep up with or outpace steroid users you have to be doing something.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Finally, we agree on something!

        • cc002600

          I have been saying the same thing for years. no doubt in my mind.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Lie Detector tests has flaws and not used in court…….People will lie, but Science does not……blood & urine samples will tell the truth.

    • Ripsnorter1

      And Bowden didn’t even mention Mr. Hamilton’s exorbitant contract.

      How did Arturo Moreno get suckered into these contracts?
      And to think that he didn’t want to pay Trout anything.
      How did a guy like that get so much money in the first place?

      • Tony_Hall

        What about the Braves? They could have to trade good young players at some point, because they can’t get rid of Uggla or BJ.

        • Ripsnorter1

          The Braves will just have to Adam Dunn Mr. B.J. Upton: let him play
          and hope for the best. I figure his best will be about 75% of past production–not so hot, folks.
          Perhaps he’ll hit .227 with maybe 15 HRs. And his speed is declining as well. And that glove
          of his is not All-Star caliber.

          This is pretty close to Theo’s signing Carl Crawford in Boston.
          What a bust he proved to be.


          I hope Theo learns that now. His current performance has not demonstrated that he has
          grasped this concept as of yet. He did damage to Castro and Rizzo and Ed Jackson with
          such contracts. Sure, Jackson might not have signed for less. But he had no real
          compunction to give Castro or Rizzo those dollars at this time.

          • Tony_Hall

            You can’t have a team full of guys without any big money contracts. Power does cost money. Maybe that is why he did it with Castro and Rizzo to get it out of the way now, versus when the team is competitive.

            I still think Castro’s and Rizzo’s deals were smart. Arbitration process is not good for anyone and those contracts save money done the road and give some certainty to the payroll each year.

            But can we get past this thought that Theo, all on his own gave out any of those big money deals in Boston, just like JH didn’t do all the big money signings on his own in Chicago. I think Theo has been pretty clear that FA is the worst use of a teams resources.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I don’t think Castro & Rizzo deals were smart. Too much too soon.

            If Castro comes to ST another 10 lbs heavier, you can forget about his 2014
            campaign, and maybe his career. He is making lots of bad choices these days.

          • Tony_Hall

            And what if last year showed him that he has to work at it and comes in to ST in great shape and has a year more of what we expect from him.

            Castro would be going through arbitration this year for the 2nd time (Super 2 last year) and would have been getting paid either way already. They didn’t really speed up him getting paid. But his pay is much more controlled then if he was going through arbitration. Also they bought out 2 years of his FA. Smart baseball decision.

            Rizzo would still be an auto renewal for 2014, so they did pay him early. They gave him a $2M signing bonus that he has received only 250k of it already and raised his salary to 750k for 2013. He is getting $1.75M on Jan 15th and then is getting paid $1.25M in 2014. After this year, I don’t see Rizzo going out and getting a Rolls Royce and putting on 10 lbs (unless it is muscle), I see him coming into ST more determined then ever to have a good year.

          • Guest

            “If Castro comes to ST another 10 lbs heavier, you can forget about his 2014”

            If it’s 10 pounds of muscle, then it signals dedication, and that’s a good thing.

          • Eugene Debs

            Or steroids.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Javy Lopez says it really transforms a guy in just one winter.

          • CubbyDenCritic

            10 lb’s of fat or 10 lbs of muscle…either way, who else can step in right now and play shortstop?…….Castro will be watched over the winter…..unlike Jerome Walton after his rookie season…..Castro knows that we have “yewts” coming up in the system that can take his place one day…..Torres is my pick… Castro will be ready for 2014.

          • Ripsnorter1

            If 10 lbs heavier, it would mean 20 pounds of muscle and 10 lbs of fat gone.

            : )

          • JimBo_C

            If he adds 10 lbs and 5 inches to his vertical leap then I will wonder if he is working out with D Rose :-)

          • Dorasaga

            Bogaerts, Buchholz, Ellsbury, Middlebrooks, Nava, and Tazawa are all signed by and developed under Theo Epstein.

            This young core of talents will now play the World Series.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            good chance the world series is the dodgers vs boston…both loaded with theo guys/contracts.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Jose Abreu received the largest International contract in MLB history
      from the ChiSox, and his ability to handle ML pitching is in question.

      ChiSox have also stated they are going after Curtis Granderson in FA.

      • Tony_Hall

        I think it is so ironic that Reinsdorf has done everything he can to keep drafted players from making money, and worked to restrict spending on IFA, yet their 1st big outlay in what is left still open, breaks the bank on a guy scouts aren’t sure if he can hit a major league fastball.

        • Ripsnorter1

          It’s a big head scratcher to me. The guy cannot field. They already
          have 3 1B, two of whom cannot catch anything: Dunn and Viciedo.
          Konerko could come back.

          • SuzyS

            Yup. Power is at a premium…but that signing is a head scratcher to me as well.

    • Eugene Debs

      John Danks. $42,750,000. LOL.

  • Tony_Hall

    In about 2 weeks, we will have the final roster moves of the 2013 roster, as the FA’s will come off and the 60 day DL is no more. We have 4 – 60 day DL (Fujikawa, Guerrier, Vizcaino, Gamel) and 4 FA’s (Baker, Gregg, Guerrier, Navarro). 37 currently on the 40 man, we will still be at 37 after these moves.

    They will add Arismendy Alcantara to be the 38th player to protect him from the Rule V draft, but who else do they need to add and they have to keep 1 spot open to be able to pick someone in the Rule V, which they have been doing. Here is the list from AZ Phil in alphabetical order. So they can add 1 more to still draft, but then won’t have room for a FA. They will add at least 1 free agent, so they will also be making cuts at some point. So who on this list is at risk of being taken. Just because a player is taken, doesn’t mean that it matters to us. We may have depth, they may be nothing special (Ha), they may be to far away from the majors for someone to take, etc. There are players I don’t want to lose but think they are too far away from the majors to be at risk of being taken, or not coming back, so I don’t see anyone else they will add this year.

    Arismendy Alcantara, INF
    Gioskar Amaya, INF
    Frank Batista, RHP
    Dallas Beeler, RHP
    Julio Borbon, OF
    Justin Bour, 1B
    Marcelo Carreno, RHP
    Lendy Castillo, RHP
    Javier Castro, RHP
    Zach Cates, RHP
    Hunter Cervenka, LHP
    Pin-Chieh Chen, OF
    Casey Coleman, RHP
    Gerardo Concepcion, LHP
    Willson Contreras, C
    Wes Darvill, INF
    Antonio Encarnacion, RHP
    Luis Flores, C
    Anthony Giansanti, OF
    Edgar Gonzalez, INF
    Enyel Gonzalez, RHP
    Carlos Gutierrez, RHP
    Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
    Marcus Hatley, RHP
    Marco Hernandez, INF
    Eric Jokisch, LHP
    Austin Kirk, LHP
    Matt Loosen, RHP
    Jeff Lorick, LHP
    Eric Martinez, RHP
    Trey McNutt, RHP
    A. J. Morris, RHP
    Jonathon Mota, INF
    Chad Noble, C
    Alan Oaks, RHP
    Loiger Padron, RHP
    Amaury Paulino, RHP
    Felix Pena, RHP
    Starling Peralta, RHP
    Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
    Greg Rohan, IF-OF
    Jose Rosario, RHP
    Victor Salazar, RHP
    Dave Sappelt, OF
    Brian Schlitter, RHP
    Ryan Searle, RHP
    Elliot Soto, INF
    Nick Struck, RHP
    Luis Villalba, LHP
    Yao-Lin Wang, RHP

    • SuzyS

      Out of that list, I could see a few pitchers possibly being taken like the Cubs did with Lendy Castillo a few years ago…Beeler/Jokisch etc. We can definitely expect some losses.since it doesn’t make sense to protect them all.
      I carried a torch for Ryan Searle that spent a lot of time on the DA this season. Last winter he had a good off-season…couldn’t do that much until the end of this season. Tom U. likened him to Ryan Dempster before ST…I expect they will probably release him or lose him to Rule V.
      Since our farm is getting better, the decisions on who to keep and who to let go will get more difficult.

    • Tom U

      One thing not noted is that there are two other phases, the Triple-A and Double-A phases. In these phases, players not protected on Double-A and Single-A reserve lists for the cost of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively.

      Good teams use this as a measure of protection for some of their players. To illustrate, I’ll RHP Yao-Lin Wang for an example. If the Cubs don’t place Wang on the Single-A reserve, they can assign him to Triple-A and force teams who may want to select Wang to carry him on the major league roster, as he would then be eligible for the major league phase.

      • Tony_Hall

        I don’t know much about the AA or A reserve lists. How many can they keep on it and what are the restrictions for how long or how many years you can do it. I am assuming if they are on a A reserve list they would get taken in the AA portion of Rule V and have to be on the AA team or better all year. If that is the case why wouldn’t a team take a Contreras, Amaya, etc and put them in AA or AAA depending on the situation?

        • Tom U

          I am currently searching for more information concerning that. I know that last year, the Cubs lost IF Matt Cerda and OF Michael Burgess in those phases.

      • Dorasaga

        Smart move. Thanks for mentioning it! BTW, I’ve been reviewing John Sickels’ mid-season review of farm systems, comparing the Cubs to their division rivals. It’s very clear that Hoyer & Co. are ahead in stockpiling impact talents. I can imagine a potent lineup with underrated control pitchers leading the rotation in 2015.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Boscan elected free agency !!!!!….there goes our pennant hopes in 2014…….

  • CubbyDenCritic

    I remember Josh Vitters had a great fall league a few years ago… should not be too high on the stats that we are seeing with our players………takes more then hitting the long ball to become a MLB player.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Tribune has a photo of Boston coach Luvello as the next Cubs manager canidate…….the guy is either sucking his thumb or biting his nail…..bad omen.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Boston Globe (source) report saying LaRussa have not heard from the Cubs on the Manager’s job opening… to have a FO job……but is LaRussa sending smoke signals to Theo?…….LaRussa, one time Cub, would be a great manager to take this team all the way!……I said earlier Cubs should go after LaRussa, but others here shot me down…… What a rival it would really be between the Cardinals Cubs if LaRussa was our manager………LaRussa is better than Joe…Ryno…..and anyone else that was mention before…………Theo, call Tony…..NO, not that Tony, …..but Tony Larussa.
    It is the only choice.

    • Brp921

      Who named Tony has been discussed? I believe I have heard Tony Pena’s name mentioned, though not by any Cub sources. What Tony are you referring to?

      • CubbyDenCritic

        LaRussa would be great for the Cubs… doubt about it……this is a no brainer.

        • Brp921

          I know you like Tony LaRussa that wasn’t my question. I asked you who the other Tony, whom you mentioned, was. To my knowledge there has been no one named Tony in the picture. Is there a candidate I am missing?

          • Dave_in_STL

            Tony LaRussa is a HORRIBLE idea. He’s a maniacal egomaniac who makes decisions just to prove others wrong, like batting the pitcher 8th. Most often, those decisions do not pan out. He’s a jerk to the media, he’s not a good mgr for young players, and he’s given too much credit for the team’s success. I understand he’s got a long career w/ 3 different teams & had a good run, but no thanks, we need some patience on the bench and a willingess to live w/ mistakes yet teach every day. Tony’s not that guy.

          • Brp921

            No argument here.

          • Neil

            Dave, good to hear from you.

            LaRussa has stated that he would never manager the Cubs because of his relationship with Jerry Reinsdorf.

          • Dave_in_STL

            Thanks Neil,
            I’m currently drowning in a sea of red clad lemmings! Baseball heaven, best fans in the world, blah, blah, blah. If I have to hear another Bartman reference, I’m going to choke the mullett toter who asks.