Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers Reporting to Mesa: 2 days
With so much attention being paid to the Cuban players throughout the game, could the Cubs have the best young hitter of the bunch in their organization? According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the recurring theme from the Latin scouts he’s talked to is “of the young Cuban hitters, they love Jorge Soler most of all.”
Some talent evaluators think Jorge Soler could end up the best big leaguer among the impressive group of position player prospects in the Cubs’ system. Soler created quite the buzz in a short time in the majors last year and showed the skillset that could make him one of the elite players in the game.
Baseball America said the following about Soler in the Prospect Handbook.
“Soler’s vicious bat speed, top-of-the scale raw power and impressive feel for hitting make him a terror to pitchers. When locked in, he generates scorching line drives to all fields; some just don’t stop going until they’re over the fence. He’s coachable, takes quality at-bats and isn’t fazed by hitting with two strikes and he has an easy plus arm, fitting the right field profile well. His biggest issues are concentration, competing consistently and staying healthy, none of which he’s done yet over a full pro season.”
News surfaced last weekend that a legal battle was just beginning over Ernie Banks’ remains and according to a report from the Associated Press, Banks’ twin sons are also involved in what appears to be a very unfortunate situation.
According to previous reports, Elizabeth Banks, the fourth wife of Mr. Banks, filed a petition to prevent Banks’ caretaker and executor of his estate, Regina Rice, from cremating his body. Mr. Banks was reportedly in the middle of trying to divorce Elizabeth when he passed away.
The Tribune discovered while researching the background of the petition that was filed the whereabouts of Mr. Banks’ remains is unknown. The funeral home no longer has his body and the cemetery said he is not buried there.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Jerry and Joey Banks, the twin sons of Ernie Banks, “asserted that his agent and caretaker coerced him into signing a new will giving her [Regina Rice] all his assets.”
Mr. Banks’ sons released a statement saying “their father was ill at the time Regina Rice had him sign a power of attorney, a health care directive and a will giving everything to her.” The family did not know Mr. Banks had signed a new will and was not told he changes were made to his estate.
Family attorney, Mark Bogen told the Associated Press “the family will vigorously fight the will.”
- Full Report from the Associated Press – Feb. 16
- Report – Feb. 14 – Includes details of the petition filed to prevent the cremation of Ernie Banks’ remains
The Cubs are leading into the pitchers and catchers report date and the official start of Spring Training with organizational meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Mesa. Carrie Muskat passed along the information Monday.
Under the previous regime, the organizational meetings took place in November. But over the last two years, the meeting has been held the two days prior to camp opening.
A majority of the scouts, all of the minor league coordinators and coaches, and Major League staff will be in attendance along with the Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the entire Cubs’ front office.
Several of the players are already in Mesa. Photos from Sloan Park on Monday indicated Travis Wood, Rafael Lopez, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Matt Szczur, Jason Motte, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta were on the practice fields participating in drills.
News, Notes and Rumors
Arismendy Alcantara could be the X-factor for the Cubs this season according to Phil Rogers.
Sports Illustrated released its first power rankings for the 2015 season, and the Cubs came in at No. 17. Sports Illustrated ranked the Nationals (1), Dodgers (2), Cardinals (3), Mariners (4), Angels (5), Tigers (6), Blue Jays (7), Red Sox (8), Padres (9) and Pirates (10) as the top 10 teams in MLB.
Former Cubs’ reliever, RHP David Aardsma signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers and received an invitation to big league camp.
Speaking of former Cubs, as previously reported and as Tony Andracki pointed out Monday, there will be five in Reds’ camp this spring. RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Jason Marquis, RHP Michael Bowden and LHP Paul Maholm signed minor league contracts with the Reds this off-season. And OF Marlon Byrd was traded from the Phillies to the Reds.
LHP Barry Zito is going back to where it all started for him. Zito signed a minor league contract with the Athletics on Monday. Zito will be in big league camp and received a $1 million base with $175,000 incentives package. As Jerry Crasnick pointed out, Zito un-retired the same day Jason Giambi decided to call it a career.
FanGraphs posted a report on the off-season twitter usage among MLB teams.
FanGraphs ranking of the top 200 prospects is being released Tuesday … and the Cubs will have 11 players in the top 200, tied with the Braves for the most in baseball.
Former Cubs’ outfielder David DeJesus knows he might not make it through Spring Training with the Rays and had his agent put out clauses with refunds in the places he’s rented to stay in Port Charlotte for Spring Training and in St. Pete during the season. DeJesus told Marc Topkin he would like to stay with the Rays.
Tom Verducci listed the top 10 Spring Training storylines for a season of parity and change … Jon Lester, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and the Cubs are mixed into his report.
A tweet made its way around the Internets Monday about Jon Lester basically replacing Jeff Samardzija in the Cubs’ rotation. Samardzija made 17 starts for the Cubs last year. The Cubs were 3-14 in those starts and the A’s went 8-8 in his 16 starts for Oakland. Lester made 21 starts for the Red Sox, Boston was 13-10. In the 12 starts Lester made for Oakland, the A’s were 7-5.
And last, but not least, Starlin Castro will be under the microscope at Cubs camp according to Patrick Mooney.
This Day In Cubstory
1988 – Cubs signed free agent Jay Baller
1981 – Cubs signed free agent Jerry Morales
1976 – Cody Ransom, born
1976 – Scott Williamson, born
1964 – Mike Campbell, born
1921 – Doyle Lade, born
1886 – Pat Pieper, born