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Baseball America unveils Cubs top 10 prospects

A year ago at this time, many were debating who should be the higher-ranked prospect in the Cubs system: Kris Bryant or Addison Russell. After stellar 2015 campaigns, a similar argument is being made, but in regards to who should be the NL Rookie of the Year winner.

Now that those two, as well as catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber, have officially graduated from prospect rankings, a new wave of talent officially takes over in the Cubs system. On Friday, Baseball America published its Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects list, with hotshot shortstop Gleyber Torres coming in at No. 1.

Signed in early 2013 from Venezuela, the 18-year-old spent much of 2015 in the Low-A Midwest League, where he hit .290/.350/.383 with 24 doubles and 22 stolen bases. He then wrapped up the season in High-A Myrtle Beach as the Pelicans claimed a league title. Here is a portion of Baseball America‘s scouting report on Torres:

Torres has four above-average to plus tools, with only power lagging behind—but give him time. Torres had good strength when he signed and has improved his body significantly working with the Cubs’ strength and conditioning crew, with a trimmer shape. He combines those tools with a gamer’s mentality and a feel for the game on both sides of the ball. Torres’ bat-to-ball skills are only mitigated by youthful aggressiveness, and as he gains experience, he should learn which pitches to selectively zone in on and drive more consistently, giving him at least average future power potential. Some club officials give Torres plus future power, particularly to his pull side. He has a knack for the barrel, uses the entire field and has a solid approach, showing a good two-strike approach for his age.

The rest of the top 10 prospects are as follows:

2. Willson Contreras, C/3B
3. Ian Happ, OF/2B
4. Duane Underwood, RHP
5. Dylan Cease, RHP
6. Albert Almora, OF
7. Billy McKinney, OF
8. Oscar de la Cruz, RHP
9. Eloy Jimenez, OF
10. Jeimer Candelario, 3B

Cubs claim former All-Star RHP Ryan Cook off waivers

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Ryan Cook off waivers from the Boston Red Sox Friday. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 30 players.

Cook, 28, is 13-12 with 17 saves and a 3.43 ERA (79 ER/207.0 IP) in 217 major league relief appearances in all or part of five major league campaigns with Arizona (2011), Oakland (2012-15) and Boston (2015). He has struck out 210 batters in 207.0 innings while walking 89 and allowing only 13 home runs. Cook has limited foes to a .217 batting average against and has held right-handed hitters to only a .190 batting average, .262 on-base percentage and .272 slugging percentage.

The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Cook broke into the big leagues with Arizona in 2011 before being traded to Oakland that offseason. In his first full major league campaign, Cook made the 2012 American League All-Star team and went 6-2 with 14 saves and a 2.09 ERA in 71 outings with the Athletics. He followed that up by going 6-4 with two saves and a 2.54 in 71 appearances a year later. Cook was slowed by injuries in 2014 but still posted a 3.42 ERA in 54 big league outings.

He split most of the 2015 season between Oakland’s Triple-A Nashville and Boston’s Triple-A Pawtucket affiliates, combining to go 4-1 with nine saves and a 3.16 ERA in 37 minor league outings. He made nine relief appearances in the majors between Oakland and Boston, going 0-2 with an 18.69 ERA.

A native of Clovis, California, Cook was selected by Arizona in the 27th round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Southern California.

Cubs top ESPN’s Future Power Rankings

Photo by Stephen Green

Just how well off are the Cubs as an organization going forward? According to ESPN analysts, they’re far and away in the best position to succeed of all major league teams for the next half decade.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Jim Bowden, Keith Law and Buster Olney unveiled their updated MLB Future Power Rankings, with the Cubs coming in at No. 1, a two-spot improvement from March’s edition.

The overview
The Cubs arrived a year earlier than expected, and they’re not going away any time soon. This offseason they’ll put the finishing touches on what should be a championship-caliber club in 2016. Team president Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are committed to building a strong rotation after Arrieta and Jon Lester this offseason to improve their playoff chances, and I expect them to be players on the top free-agent pitchers. If they don’t get one, I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded one (or more) of their many highly touted prospects to get a top-of-rotation type of guy. Either way, they’re positioned for a nice run of winning seasons. — Jim Bowden

All 30 teams were ranked in five categories including state of the major league team, state of the minor league system, finances, management and current contract situation. The Cubs ranked first in the management section and second in the majors department. The club also found itself in the top five of both minors and finances, and eighth in mobility.

In total, the organization accumulated 90.9 percent of the possible points, more than 12 percentage points better than the second place Dodgers. Rounding out the top five were the Red Sox (third), Astros (fourth) and Mets (fifth). The Astros were the biggest risers from March, jumping 15 spots.

Cubs release commemorative logo celebrating a century at Wrigley Field

On Thursday, the Cubs released the logo that will be used during the 2016 season to commemorate a century of the team playing at Wrigley Field. The logo, which features a version of the team’s 1916 logo in modern colors, will be showcased as a patch on the home uniforms throughout the 2016 season. Fans will be able to purchase officially licensed memorabilia with the logo beginning this offseason.

The Chicago Cubs franchise—originally chartered as the White Stockings, then called the Colts and Orphans before officially adopting the Cubs moniker in 1907—played in five different ballparks between 1876-1915 before moving to the team’s current home at the corner of Clark and Addison. Originally named Weeghman Park after Chicago Federals owner Charles Weeghman, the ballpark was first home to the Chi-Feds (later the Chicago Whales) of the Federal League. The park hosted its first game April 23, 1914, with the Chi-Feds defeating the Kansas City Packers 9-1, and hosted the Federal League-champion Chicago Whales in 1915.

After the Federal League folded in December 1915, Weeghman assembled a group of 10 investors, including William Wrigley Jr., to purchase the Chicago Cubs and move them to Weeghman Park for the 1916 season. By 1919, Wrigley gained controlling interest in the club, and the park was renamed Cubs Park, eventually becoming Wrigley Field in 1926. The team celebrated 100 Years of Wrigley Field with a yearlong campaign during the 2014 season.

Additional plans to celebrate a Century of the Cubs at Wrigley Field will be released prior to the 2016 season.

Cubs Arizona Fall League Recap: 11/4/15

With only two Cubs farmhands in action, it was a quiet day for prospects Wednesday. Both were able to drive in runs, but Mesa was on the wrong end of a 12-6 loss to Salt River. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:

  • C Cael Brockmeyer was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning and scored on a sacrifice fly three batters later. The taxi squad player added an RBI groundout in the ninth. He was 0-for-3 in his other plate appearances.
  • RF Mark Zagunis drove in a run on a bases-loaded walk in the seventh but was also 0-for-3.

Cubs third base prospect Jeimer Candelario was added to Saturday’s Fall Stars Game via the AFL’s Final Two Vote. He received 27.8 percent of the votes to earn the final roster spot on the East Division team.

Cubs Arizona Fall League Recap: 11/3/15

Cubs prospects did their part offensively, but Mesa pitching wasn’t there Tuesday, as the Solar Sox fell 14-5 to Peoria. Here are some notes from yesterday’s AFL action:

  • RF Mark Zagunis (.222) singled in the seventh to load the bases, and scored two batters later on a Jake Bauers (Rays) single. He also walked in the third inning, finishing the afternoon 1-for-3.
  • RHP David Garner (3.86) pitched a scoreless sixth inning, surrendering just one hit.
  • DH Willson Contreras (.288) ripped an RBI double in the ninth for his lone hit of the game.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.341) singled in his first plate appearance, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. He recorded a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, rounding out the day 1-for-4. Candelario struggled at the hot corner, committing three fielding errors.
  • RHP Corey Black (11.74) scuffled in 1.1 innings of relief, giving up five earned runs (six total) on two hits and three walks.

Mesa hosts Salt River on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 11/2/15

Christian Villanueva and Arismendy Alcantara both had solid days Monday in the Caribbean. Here are some notes from yesterday’s winter league action:

Dominican Republic

  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara singled in the first and drove in a run on an RBI groundout in the third inning as Licey earned a victory over the Gigantes. He also reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth.


  • 3B Christian Villanueva recorded singles in the fifth and seventh innings, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored in Obregon’s 7-2 win versus Culican.


  • 2B Bryant Flete was 0-for-5 for Zulia.

Cubs Arizona Fall League Recap: 11/2/15

Mesa again failed to get the bats going in a 6-3 loss to Peoria Monday. Only one Cub was in action as the Solar Sox slipped to 4-13. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:

  • C Willson Contreras (.298) stepped up with a man on first and one out and ripped a single to left field in the eighth inning. Both runners would eventually be stranded.

On Monday, the fall league announced Contreras, as well as right-handed pitcher Corey Black, will participate in the AFL All-Star Game on Saturday. Also, infielder Jeimer Candelario is one of the final vote candidates. Fans have until Wednesday at 1 p.m. CST, to vote for the team’s final roster spot.


Cubs Winter Leagues Recap: 11/1/15

A few Cubs second base prospects and relievers had solid days in the Caribbean on Sunday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s winter league action:

Dominican Republic

  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara drew a pair of walks and drove in two in the Tigres del Licey’s loss to Cibaenas. One of his bases on balls came with the bases loaded in the fourth and the other RBI came on a bases-loaded groundout in the third. He was hitless in three official at-bats.
  • RHP Juan Paniagua recorded the final out in the Estrellas’ shutout victory. He forced the only batter he saw to fly out to right.


  • LHP Ryan Buchter struck out the side in the final inning of a shortened seven-inning game to claim his fifth save of the year for Culican. Buchter signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in late July and pitched 18.0 innings for Iowa this season.

Puerto Rico

  • RHP Fernando Cruz pitched two scoreless innings for Santurce, walking one and striking out two in a losing effort. Cruz split the 2015 season in High-A and Double-A, and made one appearance in Iowa.


  • CF Adron Chambers drove in a run in his first at-bat as Magalianes secured a win over Lara. He added a walk and a run scored in his 1-for-3 day.
  • RHP Yoervis Medina surrendered two earned runs on a walk and three hits for Lara.
  • 2B Bryant Flete had a pair of hits and drove in a run, going 2-for-4 with a run scored, as Zulia claimed a victory over Margarita.

Cubs Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/31/15

It wasn’t the best of days for Cubs prospects or the Soler Sox, as Mesa fell 6-2 to Scottsdale on Saturday. The team combined for just three hits and committed three errors. Here are some notes from the action over the weekend:

  • RHP Pierce Johnson (6.00) got the start and allowed two earned runs in 4.0 innings to take the loss. He surrendered five hits and three walks, but struck out four in the effort.
  • RF Mark Zagunis (.208) was 0-for-2 with two bases on balls.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.350) drew a walk but finished 0-for-3, leaving four runners on base.
  • RHP Corey Black (7.11) gave up two hits and an earned run in an inning of work. He struck out one batter.

Mesa will host Peoria Monday, with the first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.


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