Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Vogelbach among minor leagues’ best first basemen

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(Photo by Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs)

As MLB.com continues its positional top 10 prospect lists, the Cubs have another young player getting press. On Friday, the 2015 Prospect Watch unveiled its top minor league first basemen, with slugger Dan Vogelbach slotting in at No. 8. The big 2011 second-round pick has long been known as a deep-ball threat. Here’s some of what MLB.com had to say about Vogelbach:

Bryce Harper made a name for himself when he slammed a 502-foot home run at the 2009 Power Showcase, a high school homer run derby, and Vogelbach topped him the next year with a 508-foot blast. … Vogelbach is more than just a one-dimensional masher, however. He controls the strike zone, makes consistent contact and uses the entire field, so he should hit for a solid average while providing plus power. He has yet to fully tap into his pop, though he’s also still just 22.

There are two obstacles to him becoming a regular for the Cubs: All-Star Anthony Rizzo and persistent questions about whether Vogelbach has enough athleticism to be more than a DH.

Vogelbach spent the entire 2014 season at High-A Daytona with mixed results. He batted .268/.357/.429 (AVG/OBP/SLG) compiling a solid 66 walks and 28 doubles and driving in 76 runs. That said, he also only hit 16 home runs and his .787 OPS left something to be desired, especially given that power is by far his most prominent tool. Known as a slow starter, his production picked up as the season progressed. His 2015 could be an important year, especially if he gets an extended opportunity at Double-A Tennessee.

Cubs announce visitation and memorial service times for Ernie Banks

Banks

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs announced times for a public visitation and memorial service for Cubs icon Ernie Banks, who died of a heart attack on Friday. Services will be held this Friday, Jan. 30, and Saturday, Jan. 31. Friday’s public visitation will go from 12 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on 126 E. Chestnut St. in Chicago and Saturday’s memorial service will start at 10 a.m. with limited seating available. The church’s full address is as follows:

Fourth Presbyterian Church
126 E. Chestnut St.
Chicago, IL 60611

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Banks’ memory to Cubs Charities at the below address or by visiting cubs.com/give and clicking on “Donate Now.”

Cubs Charities
In Memory of Ernie Banks
Wrigley Field
1060 W. Addison
Chicago, IL 60613

From the Vine Line Archives: Our 2014 Q&A with Ernie Banks and Derek Jeter

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(Photo courtesy New York Yankees)

On Friday night, baseball fans across the country were saddened by the news that Cubs great Ernie Banks had died at the age of 83. Always in a chipper mood, Banks could put a smile on anybody’s face and was accurately nicknamed “Mr. Cub” for his passion towards the organization. When the Yankees made a rare appearance at the Friendly Confines in late May of last year, Vine Line had a rare opportunity to sit down with the Hall of Famer Banks and the recently retired Derek Jeter for a memorable conversation. The following story is from the July 2014 issue.

Mr. Cub and Mr. November. When it comes to playing shortstop in the major leagues, it’s hard to do better than Cubs legend Ernie Banks and all-time Yankees great Derek Jeter.

Between them, they have 28 All-Star appearances, two MVP Awards (with 10 top-10 finishes) and six Gold Gloves. They have also amassed nearly 6,000 hits and 800 home runs. Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. Assuming Jeter holds firm on his decision to retire after this season, he just needs the calendar to turn to 2019 for his certain enshrinement.

Both enjoyed long and distinguished careers with one organization; both spawned memorable moments and were the faces of their respective franchises; and both became great ambassadors for the game.

When Derek Jeter made a rare interleague appearance in Chicago this past May, Vine Line and Yankees Magazine couldn’t let the opportunity to get the two iconic players together slip away.

Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III spoke to the man affectionately known as Mr. Cub and the Yankees captain about playing a demanding defensive position, spending their entire careers with a single team, playing at the Friendly Confines and more.

For baseball fans, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Vine Line: First of all, it’s an honor to be here with two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen. Thank you both. Mr. Jeter, how did Mr. Banks, who is over 6 feet tall, impact the future of the position?

Derek Jeter: I’ve had the opportunity to meet Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, who were two of the other great shortstops from Mr. Banks’ era. Those guys epitomized who played that position back then—shorter guys without a lot of power. Mr. Banks redefined the position, and he really paved the way for taller players like me to get the opportunity to play shortstop.

Ernie Banks: Who were the shortstops you watched when you were growing up?

DJ: I was a big Cal Ripken Jr. fan. He’s 6 foot 4, and he played the position as well as anyone I had seen. I also liked watching Barry Larkin, who played his college ball in my home state of Michigan. Alan Trammell played for the Detroit Tigers, and they were on TV a lot in my house when I was growing up, so I got to see him play frequently.

EB: Why didn’t they ever move you to third base?

DJ: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.

VL: Mr. Banks, what are your thoughts on Mr. Jeter’s ability to play such a demanding position so well for nearly two decades?

EB: Well, he’s a remarkable player, and that’s proven by the fact that he is still playing shortstop. We all slow down a little as we get older. I moved to first base after about 10 seasons at shortstop. But Derek has done what no one else has, and that’s remarkable.

VL: How much does it mean to each of you to have played for one team your entire careers—and to be synonymous with those teams?

DJ: Playing my entire career in New York has always been important to me. I’ve been fortunate because in this day and age, it’s more difficult to stay with one team than when Mr. Banks was playing. With free agency, there is so much player movement, and teams get rid of players when there are younger players available who can play the same position a little better. But I can’t imagine playing anywhere else.

EB: It means the world to me. We played all day games in Chicago back then because they didn’t have lights at Wrigley Field until 1988. That was something I got used to and really enjoyed. The only night games we played were when we were on the road. Like Derek said, I couldn’t have imagined what it would have been like to play for another team. If I had played for another team and I had to play most of the games at night, it would have felt like every game was an away game for me.

VL: How would each of you describe your respective fan bases?

EB: The fans here are loyal. When I was playing, I got to meet a lot of fans, and that was a lot of fun. I signed autographs for as many kids as I could because I thought that one day I might be asking one of those kids for a job. Cubs fans aren’t as loud as Yankees fans though. The first time I met Derek, I asked him what it’s like playing in New York. He looked at me and said, “When you win, it’s loud.”

DJ: That’s a great story. Yankees fans follow the team closely, and there’s a lot of energy in Yankee Stadium every time we take the field. The expectation level is high, but there’s no better place to win than in New York.

VL: The enthusiasm that both of you have for the game is well documented. What makes playing baseball for a living so enjoyable?

DJ: Every day is a new day. It’s kind of like life in that you wake up and you never know what’s going to happen when you get to the ballpark. Regardless of how you played the day before, you come to the ballpark with a clean slate the next day. I like that about baseball. I have enjoyed competing and being around my teammates as well. That’s why I have played the game for as long as I have.

EB: It was fun being out there every day. That’s why I said, “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” I especially enjoyed playing the shortstop position. For me, making adjustments to where I was going to play in the field depending on who was on the mound and who was at the plate was part of the game I relished. I got as much fun out of the strategy of the game and making sure I was in the right place to turn double plays as I got out of hitting the ball out of the park.

VL: Mr. Banks, what were the most challenging aspects of going directly from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues to the Cubs at a time when there were very few African-Americans in the majors?

EB: As far as being discriminated against, that’s all I knew since the time I was growing up. But the hardest thing about leaving the Monarchs for the Cubs was saying goodbye to my teammates in Kansas City. I liked being around those guys, and I didn’t want to leave them. They were like my family.

VL: How did you adjust to life in the big leagues?

EB: I played for [legendary Negro Leagues player and manager] Buck O’Neil in Kansas City, and I played alongside Gene Baker and Tony Taylor, who knew a lot about the game. I learned how to play the game from those guys. They taught me about the intricacies of the game and the shortstop position. That along with some God-given ability made it so I was prepared to play in the big leagues when I arrived in Chicago.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how was your career impacted by what Mr. Banks and others did in breaking the color barrier in the early 1950s?

DJ: It’s unimaginable for me. Mr. Banks is one of the players who paved the way for all African-Americans to play the game. I’m grateful to him for what he did on the field, and I also appreciate the way he has treated me since I was a young player.

VL: Mr. Banks, what stands out about Mr. Jeter’s accomplishments and the way he has represented himself and his team over the years?

EB: I really admire him. He’s accomplished so many great things. He’s knowledgeable about every aspect of playing the game. He studies the opposing pitchers, and he learned how to hit the ball to all fields at a young age. He’s an amazing young player. When he got his 3,000th hit on a home run, that was really special for me to watch. What was that like for you, Derek?

DJ: Well, I appreciate you referring to me as a young player. Hitting that home run felt great. More than anything, I was happy that it happened in front of our fans in New York.

EB: How did you do that?

DJ: I closed my eyes and swung the bat.

VL: Mr. Banks, what makes Wrigley Field such a special baseball destination?

EB: It’s special because it has been here for 100 years, and we’ve had some great teams. It’s a beautiful place, and so much history has taken place on this field. Babe Ruth stood a few feet from where we are sitting, pointed to the seats and then hit the ball out of the park. More than 80 years later, Derek Jeter will come up to the plate in the same place. That’s an amazing thing. Also, the fans are very close to the field, and that makes it an intimate setting for baseball. There’s no better place to watch a game.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how exciting is it to visit Wrigley Field in your final season—and during the stadium’s centennial?

DJ: I like being a part of history and tradition, and I’m thrilled to get one last chance to play here—especially since I was on the disabled list when we played here in 2011. I drove here with my class on my last day of high school, and that is a great memory. If I could have written a script for my career back then, I would have included a trip to Wrigley Field during my final season.

EB: You’re not really going to quit, are you?

DJ: After this season.

EB: You can’t do that.

DJ: Yes, I can.

EB: I wish guys like you never had to quit.

DJ: Well, let’s just say I’m moving on.

—Alfred Santasiere III

Cubs’ Schwarber among MLB’s top catching prospects

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(Photo by Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs)

Well, that didn’t take long. Just seven months after being selected with the fourth-overall pick in the 2014 draft, catching prospect Kyle Schwarber’s name is already beginning to rise up prospect lists. MLB.com is currently going through their positional ranks, and they recently named the Cubs’ farmhand the No. 3 catching prospect in baseball. Here’s what MLB.com had to say about Indiana University product:

In his pro debut, Schwarber showed why many scouts considered him the best all-around college hitter in the 2014 Draft. He combines strength and bat speed from the left side of the plate and excels at recognizing pitches and working counts. He repeatedly makes hard contact and has the tools to become a .280 hitter with 30 homers and a high on-base percentage.If he can stay at catcher, Schwarber’s bat could make him a superstar. He moves well for his size and has some arm strength, but his throwing and receiving need a lot of work, and most scouts outside the organization don’t think he can make it as a backstop. If he has to move to left field, where he played some in Indiana and in his pro debut, he still should make an offensive impact.

Schwarber sped through the Cubs system, playing five games in Short-Season Boise before a promotion to Single-A Kane County. After a 23-game stint with the Cougars, the left-handed-hitting slugger finished the year in High-A Daytona. In 262 total at-bats, Schwarber hit .344/.428/.634 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 38 extra-base hits, including 18 homers.

“The season overall, it was great,” Schwarber told Vine Line at the 2015 Cubs Convention. “I learned a lot of things, I matured a little bit. I got through my mind that, you know, you are going to struggle at some points. It’s just how you get through that that really defines you as a player.”

After struggling for the first few weeks in High-A, Schwarber rebounded strong, recording hits in 23 of his last 27 games. He played a big role in the D-Cubs’ run to the Florida State League championship series and finished his FSL season with a .302/.393/.560 line.

“Overall, I took it as a good season, but it’s over now. It’s done. I can’t look on the past,” Schwarber said. “It’s time for the present now, and the future, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/22/15

Games were scarce around the Caribbean Thursday, with many leagues taking the day off. However, there was a game in Venezuela featuring a pair of Cubs representatives. Here’s how they fared:

  • 1B Willson Contreras had a two-hit game, finishing 2-for-5, as the Tigres de Aragua took down the Tiburones de La Guaira. He finished with two runs in the finale of the round robin portion of the postseason. Aragua finished 8-8 and will not advance to the finals.
  • LHP Joseph Ortiz pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Tiburones, earning his third hold of the playoffs. La Guaira finished the postseason 5-11.

1000 Words: #TBT to the 2015 Cubs Convention

Last weekend’s 30th Annual Cubs Convention was enjoyed by thousands of fans who had an opportunity to mingle with members of their favorite team at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Whether it was their first convention, or their 30th, most walked away with lasting memories. Though it was only a few days ago, here are some images to remember from the sold-out event:

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Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/21/15

Junior Lake recorded a home run for his Dominican squad in an otherwise quiet day for Cubs representatives around the Caribbean Wednesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:

Dominican Republic

  • CF Junior Lake provided all the offense for the Estrellas de Oriente in their 5-1 loss to the Gigantes del Cibao. Lake hit his second home run of the postseason in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk. His team reached base only two other times as the Estrellas now trail 3-2 in the best-of-nine championship series.

Puerto Rico

  • SS Javier Baez went 0-for-5 with a walk, though his Cangrejeros de Santurce squad topped the Indios de Mayaguez to tie the best-of-nine championship series 1-1.

Venezuela

  • 1B Willson Contreras couldn’t repeat his solid Tuesday, going 0-for-4 on Wednesday, but his Tigres de Aragua topped the Aguilas del Zulia. The Tigres have been mathematically eliminated from advancing to the championship round.

Cubs to host 10th Annual Race to Wrigley run

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Ready, set, go! The Cubs will host the 10th Annual Race to Wrigley Charity Run on Saturday, April 25, outside Wrigley Field. In recognition of the Race to Wrigley’s 10th anniversary, the Cubs will introduce an additional race, the “Let’s Run Two” 10K.

Registration for the races is open now through April 24. Participants can register at racetowrigley.com.

The Race to Wrigley 5K begins at 8 a.m. and the 10K will start at 8:20 a.m. The course routes will allow race participants to run through the streets of the scenic Lakeview neighborhood before returning to the Friendly Confines.

Proceeds from this year’s race will benefit Cubs Charities, which provides increased access to sports opportunities and targets improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk. Cubs Charities will once again donate all proceeds from personal fundraising to support critical care needs for pediatric patients in Chicago. The top fundraising team will receive tickets to the April 29 Cubs game against the Pirates and be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field. The top overall individual fundraiser will receive an autographed Cubs jersey and be recognized on the field prior to a Cubs home game. Runners who raise more than $1,000 will receive all of the prizes from each fundraising level as well as the opportunity to run a post-race victory lap with their names displayed on the new video board.

ATI Physical Therapy, the Official Physical Therapy Provider of the Chicago Cubs, will provide post-race massages and lead the group in a pre-race stretch.

“The Race to Wrigley 5K has become a tradition in the Lakeview community attracting runners from Chicago and beyond. We are excited to celebrate 10 years of promoting fitness and raising money for deserving causes in our community,” said Cubs Charities Vice President of Development Connie Falcone. “We especially look forward to growing the race with the introduction of the first ever 10K at Wrigley Field.”

The registration fee for the 5K fun run is $40 and the chip-timed 5K is $45. The chip-timed 10K fee is $55. Packet pickup will be available at the Cubs Store and a downtown Sports Authority location. Registrants will receive details closer to the event.

All participants will receive a race shirt, refreshments and one beverage (Budweiser, Bud Light or Pepsi product) courtesy of Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi at the post-race celebration, and the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to the April 29 game at Wrigley Field.

2015 Under Armour All-America Baseball Game returns to Wrigley Field

The 2013 Under Armour All-America squad (Photo by Stephen Green)

Under Armour announced early Thursday that that the 8th-Annual Under Armour All-America Baseball Game will be played at Wrigley Field on Aug. 15. Additionally, Baseball Factory announced the first thirteen players selected to the roster for the game, which will air nationally and showcase 40 of the nation’s elite high school baseball players.

The showcase is the culmination of a four-day premier baseball experience, highlighted by a formal workout for major league scouts and a home run derby, all while under the tutelage of some of the game’s best players and coaches. The players are selected by a committee of Baseball Factory scouts.

“The Under Armour All-America Baseball Game provides the world’s best high school baseball players with a premier opportunity to compete alongside tomorrow’s superstars in a major league environment,” said Jim Bel Bruno, senior category director of baseball at Under Armour. “Now in its eighth year, the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game is a prime example of Under Armour’s commitment to the growth of the game and the empowerment of athletes at every level, from grassroots to the Major Leagues.”

All thirteen selected players will be 2016 high school graduates, including OF Seth Beer and RHP Anthony Molina, who participated in the 2014 showcase and now join a small, elite group of two-time Under Armour All-Americans. Over the past weekend, six of the thirteen selected players participated in the Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament at the Cubs’ Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. The following is the roster of the first thirteen players who have committed to compete in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game:

Seth Beer – OF, 6’3, 195, Lambert High School, GA
Austin Bergner – RHP/IF, 6’4, 180, Windermere Prep High School, FL
Bo Bichette – SS, 5’11, 200, Lakewood High School, FL
Garrett Gooden – RHP/IF, 6’4, 205, St. Pius X High School, GA
Herbert Iser – C, 6’3, 207, Killian High School, FL
Austin James – IF, 6’1, 180, Bloomingdale High School, FL
Carter Kieboom – 3B, 6’2, 180, Walton High School, GA
Anthony Molina – RHP, 6’5, 180, West Broward High School, FL
Riley Pint – RHP, 6’4, 190, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Lenexa, KS
Cole Ragans – LHP, 6’4, 190, North Florida Christian High School, FL
Blake Rutherford – OF, 6’2, 185, Chaminade High School, CA
Alex Speas – RHP, 6’3, 185, McEachern High School, GA
Graeme Stinson – LHP, 6’5, 245, Norcross High School, GA

“We are thrilled to announce the first group of players selected to this year’s Under Armour All-America Game,” said Steve Bernhardt, executive VP at Baseball Factory and chairman of the Under Armour All-America Game selection committee. “Every year we scout worldwide to find high school players to represent Under Armour and Baseball Factory. A talented group, we expect this class to continue the tradition of greatness that Under Armour All-Americans have demonstrated in previous years.”

Current Cubs pitcher Jacob Turner competed in the 2008 game while prospects Addison Russell (2010), Billy McKinney (2012) and Dylan Cease (2013) have also participated. Since the game’s inception in 2008, 185 of the 208 draft eligible players from the Under Armour All-America Game were selected in the MLB Amateur Draft including 51 first round picks.

For more information on the event, please visit baseballfactory.com/AllAmerica.

Cubs 6- and 12-game packages on sale now

(Photo by Stephen Green)

On Wednesday, the Cubs announced an opportunity to purchase Cubs 6-Game Packs and Cubs 12-Game Flex Packs, allowing fans a chance to secure themed tickets throughout the season.

The multi-game packages feature tickets for Opening Night against the Cardinals, summer Friday games, weekend bobblehead promotional games and Family Sundays. These packages also include rivalry matchups with the White Sox and Cardinals, as well as Interleague matchups with rare visits from the Indians, Tigers and Royals.

The packages are on sale now at cubs.com/packs.

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 “Summer Six Pack,” featuring six Friday games from late May to early September; the “Family Day Pack,” featuring Sunday home games with promotional giveaways and opportunities for kids 13-and-under to run the bases post-game; the “Rivals Pack,” featuring matchups with the White Sox and NL Central foes; and the “Bobblehead Pack,” featuring weekend bobblehead promotional games.

Cubs 6-Game Packs are available in the 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 $128 before service fees and City and County amusement taxes for either a “Rivals Pack” or “Family Day 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 two marquee games, such as Opening Night vs. the St. Louis Cardinals or summer weekend dates vs. the White Sox, plus 10 additional games from each month throughout the season. Overall, fans can select from 49 total games when purchasing the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack.

“The Cubs and our fans have enjoyed an offseason full of exciting additions to the team, and we’re pleased to now offer Cubs 6-Game Packs and Cubs 12-Game Flex Packs for anyone looking to secure tickets to their must-see matchups before single game tickets go on sale March 6,” said Cubs Vice President of Sales and Partnerships Colin Faulkner. “We think fans will be excited about the quality of games and diversity of the plans available through these multi-game packs.”

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.

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