(Photo by Roger C. Hoover)
The crop of Cubs prospects representing the organization at the 2015 Arizona Fall League might have lacked the hype that accompanied Kris Bryant, Javier Baez or Addison Russell in recent years. However, a few prospects did raise their profile in the showcase league and could be part of the next wave of budding stars.
On Tuesday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis unveiled his top 20 prospects from the AFL, and a pair of Cubs made the list.
5. Willson Contreras, C, Mesa (Cubs No. 10 prospect): After leading the Double-A Southern League in batting (.333) and extra-base hits (46), he continued his breakout 2015 by hitting .283/.361/.547 before straining a hamstring. Like [Gary] Sanchez, Contreras is an offensive-minded catcher with enough defensive skills to be a big league regular.
MLB ETA: 2017
11. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Mesa (Cubs No. 20 prospect): The Cubs keep churning out impressive offensive prospects, and here’s yet another. Candelario is a switch-hitter with legitimate power (he ranked second behind Sanchez with five homers, 13 extra-base hits and 50 total bases) and arm strength, though he may not have the agility for third base.
MLB ETA: 2017
The 23-year-old Contreras, a converted third baseman, slugged .891 during the Double-A season and was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year. He debuted in the Cubs system in 2009 as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League and could be knocking on the major league door sooner than later.
Candelario, who turned 22 on Tuesday, hit .291/.379/.462 between High-A and Double-A in 2015. It was a nice jump from a subpar 2014, though he’s always been one of the younger players at each of his respective stops. He signed with the Cubs in September 2010.
Mesa struggled as a team during the 2015 Arizona Fall League season, limping to a 9-21 record and a last place finish in the East division. Despite a poor showing in the standings, there were some promising players who raised their stock heading into the 2016 season. Here are the final stats from the Cubs prospects in the AFL:
The headliner in this group is certainly Jeimer Candelario, who made the midseason Fall Stars team. He finished second in the league in total bases and tied for second in home runs. The infielder was also top three in doubles and hits and top 10 in batting average and runs batted in. Willson Contreras had a solid season before a hamstring issue shortened his fall. One of the more interesting stats was Mark Zagunis’ 19 bases on balls, which was tops in the league and gave the catcher-turned-outfielder an on-base percentage more than 200 points higher than his average—and second best OBP in the AFL. Cael Brockmeyer, who got into games only twice a week as a taxi squad player, didn’t have a great line, but he also demonstrated his on-base abilities.
Though the offensive numbers have dropped in recent years, the AFL is still seen as a hitters league, and the Cubs’ pitching prospects might have fallen victim to their power-hitting opponents. Rob Zastryzny flexed his strikeout muscles, finishing third in the league in punchouts. He put up a solid WHIP as well, taking fourth among pitchers with five starts or more. Pierce Johnson, one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, didn’t have the greatest fall season, but his last few starts better represented the player many believe he can be. Overall, his strikeouts were sixth in the league. David Garner surprised some with a steady effort out of the bullpen. Though his walk total was a tad high, his 9.0 K/9 rate was good.
The Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Spencer Patton from the Texas Rangers for minor league infielder Frandy Delarosa. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 33 players.
Patton, 27, broke into the big leagues with Texas in 2014 and went 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA (1 ER/9.1 IP) in nine big league relief appearances before splitting the 2015 campaign between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. Patton went 2-0 with 11 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 26 Triple-A relief outings and went 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in 27 big league relief outings. Overall, Patton is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 36 major league relief outings over the last two years, averaging more than one strikeout per inning with 36 strikeouts in 33.1 frames.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Patton has gone 15-14 with 33 saves and a 3.49 ERA in 147 career minor league appearances, all but 12 in relief, covering five minor league campaigns. He has struck out 364 batters in 268.1 innings pitched, an average of 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Patton was named to the 2014 Pacific Coast League All-Star team.
Patton is a native of Urbana, Illinois, and was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 24th round of the 2011 draft out of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He was acquired by Texas for right-hander Jason Frasor on July 16, 2014.
Delarosa, 19, batted .273 (70-for-256) with 20 doubles, two triples, no home runs and 30 RBI in 62 games for Short-Season A Eugene last season. He originally signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2012.
Mesa concluded its AFL slate with a 5-1 loss to Glendale. A few Cubs got into the season finale. Here’s how they fared:
- 1B Cael Brockmeyer (.194) walked to lead off the second inning. He scored the Solar Sox’s only run three batters later and finish 0-for-3.
- DH Jeimer Candelario was 0-for-4 on the day, but hit .329 on the season.
The team finished with a 9-21 record. Scottsdale will take on Surprise for the AFL title game Saturday.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Cubs claimed left-handed pitcher Jack Leathersich off waivers from the Mets. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 32 players.
Leathersich, 25, went 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA (3 ER/11.2 IP) in 17 relief appearances for the Mets last season, his first appearance at the major league level. He struck out 14 in 11.2 innings with 14 of his 17 appearances resulting in scoreless outings before requiring Tommy John ligament replacement surgery at the end of July.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound southpaw was originally selected by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He is 9-9 with seven saves and a 3.55 ERA (83 ER/210.2 IP) in 160 relief appearances covering five seasons in the Mets minor league system.
Pierce Johnson provided another strong effort in his final AFL start of the season as Mesa toppled Salt River 5-1 on Wednesday. A few Cubs players got into the act offensively as well. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:
- RHP Pierce Johnson (5.47) pitched four strong innings, giving up one earned run and striking out six to pick up the win. He surrendered four hits and a walk in the outing.
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.346) went 1-for-3, recording an RBI single in the sixth. He added a pair of walks and a run scored.
- C Cael Brockmeyer (.214) singled to lead off the third. He also walked and recorded a run scored in the win.
Mesa wraps up its season Thursday with a home matchup against Glendale. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 local time.
The Cubs and right-handed pitcher Andury Acevedo have agreed to terms on a 2016 contract. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 31 players.
Acevedo, 25, spent the last four seasons pitching in the Yankees organization, reaching the Triple-A level for the first time last year, going 1-2 with one save and a 2.31 ERA (3 ER/11.2 IP) in 10 relief outings with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After starting 2015 with Single-A Tampa, Acevedo pitched at three levels in the Yankees, combining to go 3-4 with three saves and a 2.59 ERA (17 ER/59.0 IP) in 41 relief appearances. Acevedo earned Florida State League mid-season All-Star honors, posting a 1.40 ERA (3 ER/19.1 IP) in 13 relief appearances with Tampa.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Acevedo was originally signed by Pittsburgh as an infielder in 2007 before he converted to a relief pitcher upon signing with the Yankees in 2012. Overall, Acevedo is 8-8 with four saves and a 4.00 ERA (55 ER/123.2 IP) in 95 professional relief outings.
Acevedo is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta was named the National League Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Wednesday. Arrieta received 17 of the possible 30 first-place votes, 11 second place votes and two third place votes for a total of 169 points. Los Angeles’ Zack Greinke placed second with 147 points.
Arrieta is only the fifth pitcher in Cubs history to win the Cy Young Award, the first in 23 years since Greg Maddux took home the honor in 1992. Fergie Jenkins (1971), Bruce Sutter (1979) and Rick Sutcliffe (1984) join Arrieta and Maddux as Cy Young winners in franchise history.
In 2015, Arrieta went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA (45 ER/229.0 IP) in 33 starts, leading the majors in wins and posting the lowest ERA by a Cubs pitcher in 96 years (Pete Alexander, 1.72 ERA, 1919). Arrieta went 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA (9 ER/107.1 IP) in 15 starts after the All-Star Break, the lowest ERA in the second half of a season since the All-Star Game was instituted in 1933. He went 11-0 with a 0.41 ERA (4 ER/88.1 IP) in his final 12 starts beginning Aug. 4 to win NL Pitcher of the Month honors in August and September. The 0.41 ERA is the lowest post-Aug. 1 mark since ERA became an official statistic.
Arrieta became only the fifth pitcher to have at least 22 wins with no more than six losses and an ERA under 2.00 since the ERA became an official statistic, joining Sandy Koufax (1963), Denny McLain (1968), Ron Guidry (1978) and Dwight Gooden (1985). Arrieta also became the first pitcher in major league history to close a campaign with 20-consecutive quality starts. He also set a Wrigley Field record by finishing the year with a 40.2 scoreless innings streak.
On Aug. 30 at Dodger Stadium, Arrieta tossed his first career no-hitter with a 2-0 victory against Los Angeles. Arrieta struck out 12 and walked only one batter.
(Photo By Stephen Green)
Starting Thursday, Cubs fans can get first access to tickets for the hottest matchups of the 2016 season by purchasing Cubs 6-Game Packs and Cubs 12-Game Flex Packs before single-game tickets go on sale in February.
These multi-game packages are the team’s most extensive ticket offering before the holiday season in recent years, featuring tickets to the team’s home opener vs. the Reds, summer Friday games, Kids Sundays and holiday matchups. Fans also can catch rivalry contests against the White Sox, Pirates and Cardinals, as well as Interleague matchups with visits from the Angels, Mariners and Rangers.
“After an exciting season and equally optimistic outlook for 2016, we’re pleased to once again offer Cubs 6-Game Packs and Cubs 12-Game Flex Packs—now available before the holiday season,” said Cubs Vice President of Sales and Partnerships Colin Faulkner. “These multi-game packs are the best way for our fans to secure tickets to their must-have matchups before single game tickets go on sale.”
Cubs 6-Game Packs and Cubs 12-Game Flex Packs go on sale at cubs.com/packs this Thursday at noon CST.
Cubs 6-Game Pack
The Cubs 6-Game Pack provides a choice of four different pre-selected, six-game plans, with each option tailored to different fan interests. Options include the “Friday Pack,” featuring six Friday games throughout the season; the “Sunday Pack,” featuring Sunday home games with opportunities for kids 13-and-under to run the bases postgame; the “Rivals Pack,” featuring matchups with the White Sox, Mets and NL Central Division foes; and the “Holiday Pack,” featuring games on holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend.
Cubs 6-Game Packs are available in both the Budweiser Bleachers and reserved seating bowl of Wrigley Field. Fans must order the same number of tickets for each of the six games in their package. Prices start at just $126 before service fees and City and County amusement taxes for a “Rivals Pack” in the Upper Deck Reserved Outfield, with other prices varying based on plan and location.
Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack
Fans looking to customize their ticket package can choose the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack. This package allows fans to select from three prime games, such as the team’s home opener vs. the Reds or Crosstown Cup Series vs. the White Sox, plus nine additional games from each month throughout the season. Cubs 12-Game Flex Packs are available in both the Budweiser Bleachers and reserved seating bowl of Wrigley Field. Prices start at just $179 in the Upper Deck Reserved Outfield before service fees and City and County amusement taxes, with other prices varying based on plan and location. Overall, fans can select from 56 total games when purchasing the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack.
Tickets may be purchased online through cubs.com/packs, by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS (1-800-843-2827) or by speaking with the Fan Services team at 773-388-8270.
After getting rained out on Monday, Mesa returned to action Tuesday, falling 4-2 to Salt River. A few Cubs prospects got into the game with mixed results:
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.347) got Mesa on the board early with an RBI single in the first inning, scoring Chad Hinshaw (Angels). He finished 1-for-4.
- RF Mark Zagunis (.234) was 0-for-3.
- LHP Rob Zastryzny (5.19) got the start, but gave up three earned runs in 3.0 innings for his second loss of the fall. He struck out three and walked one, giving up three hits.
Mesa hosts Salt River Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.