As winter baseball enters its third week, there were more debuts for Cubs’ prospects. Frank Batista was an instant smash in a starter’s role, as he and fellow pitcher Starling Peralta joined the Dominican Winter League. Christian Villanueva was eased into the Mexican Pacific League, while reliever Alberto Diaz made his first appearance in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Continuing to tear things up are Bijan Rademacher and Willson Contreras, as Dan Vogelbach and Jacob Hannemann saw some signs of life in the Arizona Fall League. Meanwhile, the Mesa Solar Sox said goodbye to one Cubs’ prospect and hello to another.
The details are all inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Arizona Fall League
Mesa made it close last Monday but could not catch up to Surprise and the Solar Sox lost 6-5. A sacrifice fly by Dan Vogelbach drove in the first run of the game, as the first baseman went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a RBI. Left fielder Jacob Hannemann also had an RBI on a ground out in the eighth as he was 1-for-4. However, shortstop Addison Russell had a rough game. Russell went 0-for-5 and committed an error.
Tuesday was a day for the Cubs’ prospects to shine as the Solar Sox beat up on Surprise 11-6. Designated hitter Addison Russell came back after a bad game the day before to smacked a two-run homer in the fifth inning as he was 2-for-5 with three RBI. Left fielder Jacob Hannemann had his best game out of the leadoff spot as he went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Starter C.J. Edwards had a decent showing, allowing an earned run on a hit and three walks with three strikeouts in two innings. However, Zach Cates let the Saguaros back in the game by giving up five earned runs on seven hits in 1.1 innings. Gerardo Concepcion settled things down by blanking Surprise for 2.1 innings and striking out two batters in route to the victory.
The Solar Sox have finally gotten some momentum, thanks to Cubs prospects, as they took it to Scottsdale 9-3 on Wednesday. Right fielder Bijan Rademacher continued his assault on Fall League pitching as he was 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base. First baseman Dan Vogelbach was also 2-for-4 while shortstop Addison Russell (1-for-6) drove in two with a single in the second inning. Ivan Pineyro made his second start and wasn’t as impressive despite picking up a win. Pineyro allowed three earned runs on two hits and a walk while striking out three in 2.2 innings.
With Thursday’s 7-3 win over Scottsdale, Mesa had the second best record in the AFL. The icing on the cake was a two-run homer from shortstop Addison Russell in the seventh inning, as he went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Designated hitter Dan Vogelbach was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Mesa ended their three game roll Friday as the Solar Sox lost 9-4 to Peoria. There was some stirring by slumbering prospects Jacob Hannemann (2-for-4 with a run scored) and Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a RBI) as they both collected a pair of hits. Gerardo Concepcion poured some gas on the fire when he entered in the sixth inning. Concepcion gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in two innings. Zach Cates bounced back from a poor outing by striking out a batter in a scoreless eighth inning.
It was a fitting end to a very good week for the Solar Sox on Saturday as Mesa crushed Surprise 14-0. The only Cubs’ prospect who saw action was outfielder Bijan Rademacher, who continued his sterling play by going 2-for-6 with a double, a triple, two RBI and a run scored.
Dominican Winter League
Cibaenas had to make up Sunday’s game on Monday due to a rain out and beat Cibao 7-1. Tennessee closer Frank Batista was the big story as he made his first start since 2010 and struck out three in five scoreless innings for the victory. Iowa player/coach Manny Ramirez got his first hit of the winter as he went 1-for-4 with a walk, a double, and an RBI.
The Eagles once again got their offense cranked up on Tuesday as they defeated Estrellas 10-7. Manny Ramirez appears to be rounding into form as he was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, a home run, and three RBI.
It was a tight ballgame on Wednesday as Aguillas edged Escogido 2-1. Manny Ramirez went 1-for-4 with the game winning RBI.
Cibaenas just didn’t have enough offense to get past Escogido on Friday and lost 6-5. Manny Ramirez helped with two walks and a run scored, but went 0-for-2 in the game.
On Saturday, the Eagles remained a half game out of first place by beating Oriente 8-3. Manny Ramirez contributed to the effort as he went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Toros del Este
It was too little, too late for Este on Friday as they scored three runs in the final two innings to take a 7-4 loss to Cibao closer. Iowa reliever Jeffry Antigua was rushed into service in the fourth inning and struck out two batters without allowing a hit.
Estrellas de Oriente
Estrellas could not keep up with the offense of Cibaenas on Tuesday as they lost 10-7. Outfielder Junior Lake went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a fielding error in the loss.
It was one of those games you enjoy being in, if you are on the winning end, as Oriente thrashed Licey 11-1 on Wednesday. Outfielder Junior Lake was in the thick of things as he was 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Reliever Marcos Mateo struck out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning.
The Eastern Stars are starting to heat up, moving to a half a game from first place with an 8-6 win over Licey on Friday. Junior Lake helped power Estrellas as he was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Marcos Mateo was able to slam the door again and struck out a batter in the ninth for his second save.
In a challenge between upward aspiring teams on Saturday, Estrellas came out on the short end as they lost 8-3 to Cibaenas. Junior Lake went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. High-A reliever Starling Peralta saw his first action of the winter and tossed a perfect eighth inning.
Leones del Escogido
It was a bad night all around for Escogido on Thursday as they lost to Cibao 13-5. Iowa starter Carlos Pimentel was rocked for five runs, four earned, as he struck out two in 1.2 innings.
Mexican Pacific League
Yaquis de Obregon
On Saturday, Tennessee third baseman Christian Villanueva made his winter debut at designated hitter for Obregon as the Yaquis beat Los Mochis 9-1. Villanueva was 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the contest.
Venezuelan Winter League
Leones del Caracas
Caracas started out the week on the wrong foot as they lost 8-3 to Anzoategui on Sunday. Starter Yoanner Negrin had another rough outing as he allowed five earned runs on seven hits while striking out four in four innings for his second loss of the winter.
The Lions got back on the winning track Tuesday as they beat Magallanes 4-3. Loiger Padron continued his stellar relief work as he tossed 0.2 scoreless innings while running his scoreless streak to 4.1 innings over five games.
Leones was not able to muster enough runs Wednesday as they lost 4-1 to Magallanes. Reliever Loiger Padron remained consistent as had a strikeout in 0.2 scoreless innings.
A sputtering offense once again was the undoing of Caracas on Saturday as they lost to Zulia 5-1. Yoanner Negrin continued to have his troubles as he gave up three runs on four hits with four walks in 2.2 innings.
Bravos de Margarita
Last Sunday, Margarita was overwhelmed by Zulia and lost 9-2. Outfielder Arnaldo Calero came on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and struck out.
Tiburones de La Guaira
Saturday saw the debut of reliever Alberto Diaz as La Guaira defeated Aragua 8-4. The left-handed Diaz pitched at three levels last season from Rookie ball to Class-A ball. Diaz walked the only batter he faced in the game.
Tigres de Aragua
Aragua was no match for Zulia on Monday night, as they lost 10-5. Willson Contreras got a start behind the dish and made the most of it by going 1-for-3 with his first home run and two RBI.
The Tigers were unable to keep up with La Guaira on Saturday despite the efforts of Willson Contreras as they lost 8-4. Contreras went deep for the second time in the week. Contreras went 1-for-2 with a walk, a home run, and two runs scored.
News and Notes
The Cubs removed INF Addison Russell from the roster of the Mesa Solar Sox; added INF Danny Lockhart to the roster of the Mesa Solar Sox.