The Iowa Cubs take center stage for this week as outfielder Adron Chambers and pitcher Armando Rivero made their winter debuts in Venezuela. In Mexico, Christian Villanueva is still shredding LMP pitching while Ryan Buchter is emerging as a reliable closer. And in the Dominican Republic, Arismendy Alcantara remains consistent.
In the Arizona Fall League, future I-Cubs Jeimer Candelario and Willson Contreras continue to be a wrecking crew, while pitching is still a concern.
With all of the details, including the opening of the Roberto Clemente League, today’s Down on the Farm Report is a must read.
Note: Coverage of the Winter Leagues runs from Sunday to Saturday
Arizona Fall League
It was a wild affair last Monday as Mesa scored six runs in the ninth inning to hold onto a 10-9 victory over Glendale. The big blow came from Jeimer Candelario, who broke an 8-8 tie with a two run double. Candelario went 1-for-5 in the game with a double and two RBI. Willson Contreras was also a big cog in the offense as he was 2-for-4 with a double, and RBI, and two runs scored. Mark Zagunis also came alive as he went 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Starter Pierce Johnson had a tepid performance, as he gave up two earned runs and struck out a batter in four innings.
Pitching once again failed to show up for the Solar Sox on Tuesday as they lost 9-5 to Glendale. The only pitcher that seemed ready was the Cubs David Garner, who walked one and struck out one in a scoreless ninth. Willson Contreras was 0-for-4 with a walk in the loss.
Another wild game was the highlight of Wednesday, as Mesa staged another late inning comeback to defeat Surprise 11-10. Jeimer Candelario once again came up with the clutch hit, as his two run double in the eighth tied the score at eight. Candelario was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI, while starting catcher Cael Brockmeyer set up a dramatic ninth with a single as he went 1-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored. Brockmeyer was on board when Mark Zagunis belted a three-run homer in the ninth to put Mesa ahead for good. Zagunis went 2-for-4 with a walk, a home run, and four RBI. The victory went to Corey Black, who walked a batter but otherwise pitched well for 1.1 innings.
On Thursday, the Solar Sox finally got some good pitching, as they were able to outdistance Surprise 5-3. Willson Contreras got Mesa on the board in grand style with a two-run home run in the first inning. Contreras went 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored in the game. Contreras also nailed a base runner attempting to steal. Jeimer Candelario had a rare hitless performance as he went 0-for-4 while Mark Zagunis went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Friday had another epic pitching fail as Mesa was trounced by Scottsdale 12-1. Rob Zastryzny was okay for the first two innings, giving up a walk, a stolen base, and a double. Then the bottom dropped out as Zastryzny surrendered four earned runs on a solo home run and a three-run homer. David Garner came on in the seventh inning and was beat up pretty badly, yielding three earned runs on five hits. The Solar Sox managed only five hits in the game, one of them belonging to Willson Contreras, who went 1-for-4.
The week wrapped up on Saturday with the Solar Sox losing 6-2 to Surprise. Mesa managed only three hits as Mark Zagunis started in right field, batted second and was 0-for-2 with two walks. Jeimer Candelario went 0-for-3 with a walk as he batted third and played third base. Pitching left a little to be desired as starter Pierce Johnson allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out four in four innings and committing an error on a pickoff attempt. Corey Black went a little backwards as he gave up an earned and had a strikeout in an inning pitched.
Dominican Winter League
Tuesday was a day to forget for Cibaenas as they lost 8-1 to Oriente. Frank Batista had one of those days as he allowed three earned runs in the fifth inning and failed to record an out.
Estrellas de Oriente
It was a breeze for Oriente on Tuesday as they beat Cibaenas 8-1. Juan Paniagua came on in the seventh and tossed a scoreless inning while striking out two and giving up two hits.
The Eastern Stars emptied the bullpen on Friday night as the lost 4-3 to Licey. Starling Peralta went the final 0.2 innings and did not give up any runs, hits, or walks.
Tigres del Licey
Licey began the week right as they shutout Estrellas 5-0 last Sunday. Arismendy Alcantara started at second base and went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI in the win.
The Tigres could only muster four hits on Wednesday as they lost to Oriente 2-1. Stationed at second base was Arismendy Alcantara, who went 1-for-4 in the loss.
The Cats were simply outplayed on Thursday in a 4-1 loss to Este. Licey pitching gave up 10 hits, which the Toros converted to runs. Arismendy Alcantara did his best to contribute, as he went 1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI.
Toros del Este
A big seventh inning was the undoing for Este on Wednesday, as they lost to Cibao 12-4. The Bulls allowed the Giants to score eight runs in inning to break a 4-4 tie. Jeffry Antigua tossed a scoreless ninth in the loss.
Mexican Pacific League
Tomateros de Culiacan
Culiacan was able to put together a total game on Tuesday as they beat Navojoa 12-6. Ryan Buchter struck out four in 1.1 perfect innings to collect his second save.
The Tomateros are on a roll as the won their second straight on Wednesday, edging Navojoa 4-2. It was save number three for Ryan Buchter, as he scattered two hits and had three strikeouts in 1.2 innings.
On Saturday, the Tomatomen were able to peck away at Hermosillo and come away a 5-4 win. Emerging as their stopper, Ryan Buchter worked around two hits in the ninth for his fourth save to seal the win for Culiacan.
Yaquis de Obregon
Tuesday brought a see-saw game between Obregon and Jalisco, with the Yaquis prevailing 10-9. Christian Villanueva was a big part of the offense as he went 1-for-2 with two walks, a double, and RBI, and two runs scored.
The Tribe allowed themselves to be doubled up on Thursday as they lost 6-3 to Jalisco. Moving to DH, Christian Villanueva remained a steady contributor as he was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.
On Friday night, the Yaquis out-hit Navojoa 7-5 but still lost 2-1. Remaining at designated hitter, Christian Villanueva was 2-for-4 to give him an OPS of 1.069, good for third in the league.
Game one of a doubleheader on Saturday saw Obregon come up short in a late inning rally, losing 5-4 to Navojoa. Christian Villanueva moved into a tie for second place in the league as he cracked his fifth home run, a solo shot, and was 1-for-3 in the game.
It was nearly a replay for the Yaquis in the nightcap on Saturday as pitching gave up a big lead and the offense came up short in a 6-4 loss to Navojoa. Going 1-for-4 in game two, Christian Villanueva remained in the top five of the league in slugging and OPS.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League
Cangrejeros de Santurce
On Opening Night last Friday, Santurce was unable to translate seven hits into any runs, losing 2-0 to Mayaguez. Tennessee Smokies pitcher Fernando Cruz came on in the fourth inning and went two scoreless innings while striking out two and allowing two walks.
Criollos de Caguas
The LBPRC opened on Friday night as Caguas took 11 innings to beat Carolina 6-5. Tennessee Smokies pitcher Andres Santiago started for the Criollos and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out three in four innings.
Venezuelan Winter League
Aguilas de Zulia
Zulia had quite a tussle with Margarita on Saturday and ended up losing 4-3 in 11 innings. Bryant Flete returned to the starting lineup at second base and went 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored.
Bravos de Margarita
Margarita was unable to hold Aragua in game two of a doubleheader last Monday and lost 5-4. P.J. Francescon suffered the loss as he gave up two earned runs with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Braves were unable to handle Magallanes on Thursday as they lost 7-1. Felipe Paulino tossed three shutout innings, and then gave up two earned runs. Paulino would strike out two and give up five hits with three walks in four innings.
In a make-up game for an Oct. 8 rainout, the Bravos scored three runs in the eighth inning to get past Zulia 4-1. P.J. Francescon had a strikeout in a perfect eighth inning to collect his third save of the winter.
It took 11 innings but the Tribe was able to prevail over Zulia 4-3 on Saturday. P.J. Francescon nailed down the victory after giving up three hits while striking out a batter in 0.2 innings.
Navegantes de Magallanes
Magallanes was not able to keep up with Caracas on Tuesday as they lost 9-2. Erick Leal inherited a mess from reliever Jose Mirjares, but pitched two scoreless innings.
The Navigators evened their season record on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Anzoategui. Iowa outfielder Adron Chambers made his winter debut and had a big night. Chambers was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base while playing center field.
Tigres de Aragua
Aragua was able to outlast a late inning surge and beat Lara 3-2 last Sunday. Gioskar Amaya was at second base and went 1-for-3 with a double in the victory.
Tied after seven innings in game two of a doubleheader last Monday, the Tigers were able to put up two runs in the bottom of the eighth to win 5-4 over Margarita. Gioskar Amaya remained at second base and was 1-for-2 with a walk.
There were four lead changes on Wednesday, but Aragua came out on top over Anzoategui 3-2. Armando Rivero made his winter league debut and struck out two in a perfect eighth inning for the win.
News and Notes
Former Cubs pitching prospect Ryan Searle is among the top pitchers in the Australian Baseball League, leading that circuit with two saves and in ERA at 0.00. Searle also has a 0.79 WHIP and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings as his Brisbane Bandits are tied for second place.