It was a hot and sticky Wednesday in mid-July, as the South Bend Cubs were going through pre-game drills. In the middle of the diamond, two infielders are snapping through plays with youthful exuberance. They are Carlos Sepulveda and Andruw Monasterio, and they are getting reacquainted after a long layoff. As members of the AZL Cubs last season, Sepulveda and Monasterio played 40 games together. But since the end of last season, it appeared that both players were on different developmental tracks.
When Spring Training broke, the 19-year old Sepulveda was assigned to South Bend straight out of the Rookie League. But a glut of middle infielders throughout the Cubs’ minor league system created a scramble for playing time, and the native of Mexico was placed on both the temporarily inactive list and disabled list several times. But since June, Sepulveda has become a regular in the SB Cubs’ line-up, taking over the leadoff spot and batting .315 in 54 games.
Signed in 2015 by a Cubs’ scout visiting the Mexican Baseball Academy, Sepulveda said that he takes the greatest pride in his defense, a sentiment echoed by South Bend coach Guillermo Martinez.
“His defense is a real plus,” Martinez said. “He [Sepulveda] has very quick hands and anticipates very well.” Martinez also lauds Sepulveda for his “mature approach.” South Bend play-by-play man Darin Pritchett calls Sepulveda “the most underappreciated player South Bend has had the last two years.”
“Sepulveda is a selective hitter who uses the whole field. On defense, Sepulveda has improved his throwing accuracy,” Pritchett explained.
For his part, the left-handed hitting Sepulveda said he would like to “work on his body” and improve his overall strength and speed. Sepulveda is waiting to hear what the Cubs’ front office plans for him for the off-season, but he mentioned that he would like to play for Hermosillo in the Mexican Pacific League.
In 2014 a then 17-year old Monasterio came to the Cubs’ Venezuelan Academy for a try-out, and was signed immediately. About one and a half years younger than the league average, the switch-hitter nevertheless batted .292 in 36 games. But instead of progressing to the Dominican Academy the next season, the Cubs brought the 18-year old Monasterio stateside to play in the Arizona Rookie League in 2015. After participating in Spring Training, Monasterio stayed on in extended Spring Training while waiting for an assignment to Short Season-A Eugene.
The Cubs’ brass was taking note of Monasterio while still in Arizona. So when Monasterio hit .324 in 17 games and was named the Northwest League Player of the Week, they did not hesitate in promoting Monasterio to South Bend. However, there has been an adjustment in both playing time and level of competition, as Monasterio has batted only .206 in 17 games.
But that does not concern Coach Guillermo Martinez, who says that Monasterio is “not scared, is very composed and has a great deal of maturity for his age”. Martinez also praised Monasterio for his awareness on the field and his work ethic.
A little self-conscious during the interview, Monasterio admitted that he enjoys being paired back with Sepulveda. Monasterio believes that they work well together, and that will only improve with time. Personally, Monasterio reports that he likes hitting and stealing bases most of all, and that you should practice as hard as you play in the game.
As the game progressed, it seemed as if the hard work and preparation paid off, as Sepulveda and Monasterio were involved in three double plays. With their individual progress and the chemistry they are developing, it appears that Sepulveda and Monasterio are turning some heads while turning double plays.
- Click here for Photos of Carlos Sepulveda, Andruw Monasterio and the South Bend Cubs taken by Lauren Usiak