Consistency was the key word for week five of winter baseball as many of the Cubs prospects struggled to find the meaning. Two who demonstrated no difficulties were C.J. Edwards and Bijan Rademacher as both remained impressive in the Arizona Fall League. Also welcomed back was Ivan Pineyro, who looked good after having to sit with an arm injury.
In the Caribbean, Frank Batista continues to be a pleasant surprise while minor league veterans Jonathan Mota and Marcos Mateo have performed well. Meanwhile, newest Cubs’ lefty Joseph Ortiz saw his first action in Venezuela.
Along with some news on a couple of former Cubs, welcome to today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Editor’s Note: Coverage runs from Sunday to Saturday.
Arizona Fall League
Back in action last Monday after a weekend of All-Star activities, Mesa locked horns with league leading Salt River in a real pitcher’s duel and lost 1-0. The Solar Sox managed only five hits as first baseman Dan Vogelbach went 0-for-3 while right fielder Jacob Hannemann was 0-for-2 with a walk. Zach Cates pitched a scoreless inning. Cates issued a walk while striking out a batter. But Gerardo Concepcion continued his struggles as he gave up an earned run on two hits and suffered the loss.
It was Cubs Power that provided the difference for the Solar Sox on Tuesday as Mesa beat Salt River 3-1. A three-run single in the top of the first by Dan Vogelbach provided the winning margin as Vogelbach was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Ivan Pineyro was back in action and struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief.
With a dominant performance Wednesday, Mesa moved within two games of first place Salt River by thrashing Glendale 11-2. C.J. Edwards had another outstanding outing. Edwards allowed an earned run on two hits and two walks while striking out four in two innings. Bijan Rademacher remained red hot as he went 1-for-2 with a walk, two RBI, and a run scored. Dan Vogelbach was 2-for-4 and designated hitter Danny Lockhart went 0-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored.
The Solar Sox moved a little closer to first place on Thursday with a 4-2 win over Salt River in 10 innings. The only Cubs prospect to see action was outfielder Jacob Hannemann, who was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Mesa’s league championship bid took a hit on Friday when they lost to Surprise 5-2. It was a good game for Cubs prospects as starter Ivan Pineyro struck out three and gave up two hits in three scoreless innings. Gerardo Concepcion provided some quality relief as he held the Saguaros without a run while striking out a batter in three innings. Zach Cates was touched for an earned run on a walk and a hit but struck out two in his inning of work. Jacob Hannemann continued to putt his average up as he went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Dan Vogelbach was also 1-for-3 with a walk.
The AFL’s Military Appreciation Game on Saturday saw the chances for championship play decrease even more for Mesa as the Solar Sox lost 11-4 to Surprise. That was despite the efforts of Bijan Rademacher, who continues to impress in Fall League play. The right fielder was 1-for-3 with a walk, stole his fourth base and scored a run. Rademacher also gunned down two runners on the base paths, including one at home and a nifty 9-3 double play, catching an opponent straying too far off of first base. Danny Lockhart (0-for-1) entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-runner and scored a run.
Dominican Winter League
Pitching for Cibaenas failed to hold a lead last Sunday as they fell to Cibao 8-6. Starter Frank Batista staked the Eagles to a 5-1 lead. Batista exited after 2.2 innings and allowed an earned run on two walks and five hits while striking out five batters. Manny Ramirez could not help the cause as he went 0-for-5.
The Eagles relied on the long ball Wednesday to beat Escogido 2-1. Manny Ramirez was one of two players for Cibaenas to belt a solo home run as his blast in the second inning started the scoring . Ramirez was be 1-for-4 on the night.
It was a huge night for Aguilas on Thursday as they beat Cibao 12-1. Manny Ramirez got in some work as he was 1-for-2 with two runs scored before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.
Cibaenas could not overcome a rough first inning Friday as they lost to Oriente 3-1. Starter Frank Batista was not sharp to begin the game but overall pitched fairly well. Batista went 4.2 innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits with four walks while striking out five batters.
Saturday night was a big rout for the Eagles as they shut out Escogido 7-0. Designated hitter Manny Ramirez was unable to take part in the fun. Ramirez went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Toros del Este
Este could not manage any runs after the first inning Wednesday as they lost to Cibao 5-2. Jeffry Antigua relieved starter Elih Villanueva and had a strikeout in a scoreless inning. However, Alberto Cabrera failed to record an out as he allowed an earned run on a hit and two walks in the eighth inning.
Estrellas de Oriente
Estrellas came up with a big doughnut last Sunday as they lost to Este 8-0. Junior Lake (1-for-3) had one of the team’s five hits.
While the Oriente offense continues to try to find their way, they were able to come up with just enough on Friday to beat Cibaenas 3-1. Junior Lake was moved to the leadoff spot and went 0-for-4 with a walk. Marcos Mateo slammed the door in the ninth by striking out two batters to collect his sixth save.
The Stars were not out on Saturday night as Oriente was humbled by Licey 8-1. Junior Lake was moved back into the three-hole in the line-up and went 0-for-3.
Leones del Escogido
In Monday night’s exclusive game it was Escogido in a squeaker, getting past Cibao 2-1. Carlos Pimentel was the winning pitcher as he came on in the third inning and shut down the Giants.
Tigres del Licey
Licey was not able to keep pace last Sunday and lost 8-6 to Escogido. Marco Hernandez lined up at second base and was 1-for-4 with a run scored in the effort.
It was the Tigers running away with things on Saturday as they beat Oriente 8-1. Marco Hernandez (0-for-1) entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and remained at shortstop.
Mexican Pacific League
Yaquis de Obregon
Bad weather on Tuesday forced a doubleheader Wednesday as Obregon lost to Culiacan 8-4. Christian Villanueva was used as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and drew a walk.
In game two, the Yaquis forced a split by beating Culiacan 5-3. Christian Villanueva started at third base and was 1-for-2 with a walk before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the sixth inning.
The Tribe pulled out a close game Thursday by edging Culiacan 2-1 Third baseman Christian Villanueva (1-for-3) tied the game at one in the top of the second with a solo home run.
Obregon managed only three hits on Friday night in a 3-0 loss to Hermosillo. Christian Villanueva once again started at third base and went 0-for-3 before being replaced by a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
The Yaquis continued to have trouble with Hermosillo on Saturday as they lost to the Orangemen 3-2. Appearing again at the hot corner, Christian Villanueva was 2-for-3 with a double.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League
Senadores de San Juan
Starting a new week, San Juan is still looking for their first win as they lost to Mayaguez 12-6. Leadoff man John Andreoli was 1-for-5 while third baseman Jonathan Mota went 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI, and a run scored.
It was a maximum effort on Tuesday but the Senators were able to get their first win by beating Carolina 10-9. Jonathan Mota was 1-for-4 with a run scored while John Andreoli went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base.
It was back to the drawing board for the Senedores on Wednesday as they were shut out by Mayaguez 9-0. Jonathan Mota (2-for-3) remained steady at the plate while John Andreoli (0-for-2 with a walk) continues to have a hard time.
San Juan managed only two hits Thursday in a 3-1 loss to Caguas. Neither of the hits came from Cubs’ prospects as John Andreoli went 0-for-4 and Jonathan Mota was 0-for-3.
The offense for the Senadores remains in neutral as they lost to Caguas 14-3 on Saturday. John Andreoli returned to the leadoff spot and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. Jonathan Mota was 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
Venezuelan Winter League
Leones del Caracas
Caracas held on after building a big lead on Tuesday and defeated Lara 7-5. Loiger Padron relieved starter Victor Sanchez and struck out a batter while giving up two hits in a scoreless inning.
It took extra innings on Friday, but the Lions were not able to keep up with Magallanes and lost 4-3 in 13 innings. Loiger Padron remains a dependable reliever as he had a walk and a strikeout in a scoreless 0.2 innings.
Leones were roaring on Saturday in a 13-7 romp of La Guaira. The game was not as close as the score indicates as Caracas led by 12-4 in the fourth inning. Loiger Padron was called in to face one batter in the eighth inning, which he walked.
Tiburones de La Guaira
La Guaira was unable to hold off Zulia on Tuesday and lost 3-2 in 10 innings. Left-hander Joseph Ortiz, an off-season acquisition by the Cubs, replaced starter Edgmer Escalona and gave up a hit in 0.2 innings.
The Tiburones were not able to answer Lara late in Friday’s game and lost 4-3. Reliever Joseph Ortiz was able to get La Guaira out of the seventh inning after giving up a single which led to the go-ahead run. Ortiz got the first batter in the eighth inning, but was lifted after allowing another base hit.
Tigres de Aragua
Aragua came up big on Wednesday with an 11-4 victory over Anzoategui. However, Willson Contreras (0-for-4) was not able to join in on the fun.
The Tigers came roaring back in the seventh inning on Saturday as they beat Lara 6-4. Willson Contreras (0-for-2) was replaced by a pinch-hitter in a four-run seventh inning.
News and Notes
Former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has been signed by Tigres de Licey in the Dominican Winter League and gave up two earned runs on two hits and a walk with a strikeout in 0.1 innings on Friday. In other former Cubs news, infielder Ronny Cedeno is batting .288 with six RBI in 19 games for Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League.