It was a week of comings and goings for Cubs’ prospects as Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year Carlos Pimentel made his winter debut in the DWL. In Arizona, catcher Willson Contreras had to be shut down for the rest of the off-season with an injury.
Pitching dominated the rest of the leagues as Ryan Buchter has emerged in Mexico. Fernando Cruz is proving invaluable in Puerto Rico, and Armando Rivero had his ups and downs in Venezuela.
For the inside story, come inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Note: Coverage of the Winter Leagues runs from Sunday to Saturday.
Arizona Fall League
The beginning of the week had a familiar feel for the Solar Sox, but not as bad, as they lost to Peoria 6-3. The only Cubs’ prospect to see any action was catcher Willson Contreras, who went 1-for-4 in the loss.
It has gotten to the point that you really have to feel bad for manager Mark Johnson for the pitching staff he was given as Mesa lost 14-5 to Peoria on Tuesday. Part of the problem was his own prospect as Corey Black entered in the third inning and gave up six runs, five earned, including a Grand Slam, in 1.1 innings. David Garner once again tossed a scoreless inning. Jeimer Candelario was 1-for-4 with an RBI, but had three errors in the field. Playing DH, Willson Contreras went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Mark Zagunis drew his league leading 15th walk, going 1-for-3 with a run scored in the loss.
The misery continued for the Solar Sox on Wednesday, as they were thrashed by Salt River 12-6. Cael Brockmeyer got a start at catcher and went 0-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and he was hit by a pitch. Mark Zagunis (0-for-3) collected his 16th walk and drove in a run.
On Thursday it was a reversal of a recent trend and Mesa actually received good pitching performances in a 4-2 win over Salt River. Rob Zastryzny was on the hill for the Solar Sox and gave up one walk and one hit in five scoreless innings while striking out three batters. Zastryzny now leads the AFL in strikeouts with 21. The game also had its scary moments as Willson Contreras left the game with a hamstring injury. Jeimer Candelario was 1-for-4 in the victory.
It was back to square one for the Solar Sox on Friday as their pitching abandoned them again in a 7-6 loss to Glendale. The Desert Dogs whipped up on Cubs’ prospect Pierce Johnson, as he served up a three-run home run and a solo shot, failing to get out of the first inning, Johnson’s final line was four earned runs on three walks and two hits while striking out a batter in 0.2 innings. David Garner was rushed into the fray and worked around two hits in 1.1 scoreless innings. Mark Johnson installed Mark Zagunis in the leadoff spot, and he responded by going 3-for-3 with two walks, a run scored, and a stolen base. Cael Brockmeyer was behind the dish and went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
The Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game was held on Saturday with the West team beating the East 8-3. Jeimer Candelario was a representative for the East squad and made a spectacular play on a pop fly before delivering an RBI double in the seventh. Candelario was 1-for-2 with an RBI in the game. Corey Black came on eighth and gave up three earned runs, two on a two-run homer, as he had a strikeout in an inning of work.
Dominican Winter League
Pitching was the undoing of Cibaenas on Friday night as they were unable to hold off Oriente in a 7-5 loss. Relieving starter Michael Roth, Frank Batista came on in the sixth and worked around a walk and a hit for a scoreless inning, and gave the Eagles a chance.
Estrellas de Oriente
Oriente began the week with a shutout, blanking Cibao 5-0 on Sunday. Juan Paniagua recorded the final out of the game.
Leones del Escogido
Escogido had a hard time keeping up with Cibao on Tuesday as they lost 8-4. Carlos Pimentel, in his winter debut, relieved starter Jarret Grube after he allowed four runs in the first inning. Pimentel gave up two earned runs on two hits and a walk in two innings.
It was another rough start for the Lions on Friday as they were shut out by Cibao 3-0. Carlos Pimentel once again had to relieve a troubled starter as he came in for Edward Valdez with two outs in the third inning. Pimentel struck out two as he tossed 1.1 scoreless innings.
Tigres del Licey
It was not a good start of the week for Licey as they lost 10-7 to Cibaenas last Sunday. Arismendy Alcantara had a mixed day, going 0-for-3 and committing an error, but he walked twice and drove in two runs.
The Tigres got back to their winning ways last Monday with an 8-5 victory over Cibao. Arismendy Alcantara contributed to the win by going 1-for-4 with an RBI while playing second base.
Mexican Pacific League
Tomateros de Culiacan
It was a real dogfight for Culiacan last Sunday as they edged out Hermosillo 2-1 in 10 innings. Ryan Buchter worked around two walks in the 10th as he eventually struck out the side for his fifth save.
The Tomatomen used a four run fourth inning to gain the lead and held on for a 7-5 win over Mazatlan on Friday. Ryan Buchter moved into third place in the league as he struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.
Yaquis de Obregon
Obregon led wire-to-wire last Monday as they outdistanced Culiacan 7-2. Christian Villanueva remained a hitting machine as he went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the win.
It was a second win in a row on Tuesday for the Yaquis as they beat Culiacan 3-2. Christian Villanueva was stopped at the plate but still found a way to do some damage as he went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Make it three in a row for the Tribe as they out-slugged Culiacan for a 9-7 win on Wednesday. Christian Villanueva got back into the hit column as he was 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Obregon evened their record at 12-12 on Friday to remain within striking distance of the leaders as they defeated Hermosillo 5-3. Christian Villanueva remained a rock in the line-up as he went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in the win.
The win streak ended at four on Saturday for the Yaquis as they lost to Hermosillo 5-2. Christian Villanueva was as steady in the lineup, going 1-for-3 in the loss.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League
Cangrejeros de Santurce
Santurce scored four in the first inning but could not make it hold up as they lost 5-4 to Caguas last Sunday. Fernando Cruz relieved starter Matthew Zielenski in the fifth and tossed two scoreless innings, working around a hit and a walk with two strikeouts.
It was over early on Tuesday as the Cangrejeros scored three runs in the first three innings and cruised to a 3-1 victory over Carolina. Fernando Cruz is establishing himself as a reliable middle reliever as he came on in the seventh and threw a perfect inning.
On Saturday, it was marathon baseball as it took 13 innings for the Crabbers to lose to Caguas 3-2. Once again, Fernando Cruz provided quality relief, striking out three and giving up only one hit in three scoreless innings.
Venezuelan Winter League
Bravos de Margarita
Wins have been hard to come by for Margarita this fall, but they were able to outpace Magallanes 7-5 on Wednesday. P.J. Francescon worked around two hits in the final 1.1 innings, as he held the Navigators scoreless for his fourth save.
It took 10 innings on Saturday, but the Braves were finally able to get past Lara for a 5-4 win. P.J. Francescon had a rough time in 1.1 innings. Although not charged with any earned runs, the three hits and two walks he gave up led to two runs and earned him a blown save.
Cardenales de Lara
Lara was unable to find an answer for the Magallanes offense last Sunday as they lost 6-3. Yoervis Medina was picked on pretty well, allowing two earned runs in 0.2 innings.
The Cardinals offense could not be stopped on Tuesday as they beat La Guiara 11-6. Yoervis Medina continued to struggle as he gave up an earned run in 0.2 innings but still gained a hold.
On Saturday, the Redbirds made a furious comeback but came up short as they lost the Margarita 5-4 in 10 innings. Yoervis Medina came on with one out in the seventh and tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Navegantes de Magallanes
It was a great comeback for Magallanes on Saturday, scoring three runs in the eighth inning to beat Aragua 6-5. Erick Leal gave the Navigators a chance to get back into the game by delivering two scoreless innings in relief of starter Lorenzo Barcelo for his first victory of the winter.
Tigres de Aragua
In a tight game, Aragua was able to hold off Caracas 3-2 last Sunday. Armando Rivero gained his second victory of the season by striking out two in a perfect 1.1 innings.
The Tigers were on the other side of a very close ballgame as they lost 3-2 to Caracas on Tuesday. Armando Rivero was the goat this time, giving up two earned runs in 1.1 innings.
On Thursday, Aragua and Zulia were scoreless for five innings until the Cats broke through and were able to hold onto a 2-0 victory. Armando Rivero appears to be rounding into form as he fanned two in a perfect ninth for his first save.
It was a disheartening loss for the Big Cats on Saturday as they fell apart in bowing to Magallanes 6-5. Aragua blew a two run lead in the eighth inning as Armando Rivero gave up three earned runs and had a strikeout in 0.2 innings.
News and Notes
For those who still need their baseball, this is a link to live streaming of the Australian Baseball League at ABLtv.com