Javier Baez will be Daytona’s shortstop to start the 2013 season. (Photo by Stephen Green)
If there’s any Cubs minor league affiliate that’s going to attract attention at the start of 2013, it’s the organization’s High-A Daytona squad. Daytona season ticket holders will likely see an increase in occupied seats, thanks to the heart of the Cubs’ order.
Sitting third and fourth in the lineup are Javier Baez and Jorge Soler, two of Baseball America‘s top 34 prospects in baseball heading into the year. The talented shortstop Baez crushed Single-A pitching in 2012, hitting .333/.383/.553 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 12 home runs and 33 RBI in 235 plate appearances. He did struggle in 23 games at Daytona to end the season, but after a strong Arizona Fall League and an even better Spring Training—spent mainly with the big league club—his late-summer slide seems like a distant memory.
Likely batting right behind Baez will be hulking Cuban expat Jorge Soler. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right fielder signed a nine-year, $30 million free agent deal in early July. Though he played just 20 games for Single-A Peoria last year, he hit .338 with three homers and 15 RBI. A member of the 40-man roster, Soler was invited to big league Spring Training, where he hit .222 in 36 at-bats, but also flashed some impressive leather and showed Cubs management he’s more than just a big bat.
Other notable offensive weapons include John Andreoli, Stephen Bruno, Zeke DeVoss, Dustin Geiger and Tim Saunders. Former Florida State wide receiver Taiwan Easterling could also be an exciting player to watch. After hitting .307 in 2011, the 23-year-old’s average slipped to .243 last year in Peoria.
The pitching staff doesn’t have as many headline names, but getting right-hander Starlin Peralta back, after initially losing him to Arizona in the Rule 5 draft, helps. Austin Kirk returns after going 7-3 last year with a 3.13 ERA in 21 starts. Eduardo Figueroa was the club’s go-to reliever last season, appearing in 37 games and posting a 2.90 ERA.
Here are the players manager Dave Keller will have on his roster as Daytona opens its season Thursday:
Yeiper Castillo, RHP
Zach Cates, RHP
Frank Del Valle, LHP
Eduardo Figueroa, RHP
P.J. Francescon, RHP
Austin Kirk, LHP
Luis Liria, RHP
Sheldon McDonald, LHP
Starlin Peralta, RHP
Austin Reed, RHP
Ryan Searle, RHP
Yao-Lin Wang, RHP
Ben Wells, RHP
(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
The Cubs officially came to terms with outfielder Ryan Sweeney on a minor league deal Wednesday morning. The 28-year-old spent seven seasons in the majors after being drafted by the White Sox in 2003. A career .280 hitter, Sweeney has 102 doubles in 1,900 plate appearances and hit .286 or better in three consecutive seasons (2008-10).
The big league veteran played 33 games with the White Sox in 2006-07 before being dealt to Oakland in January 2008. He spent four productive seasons with the Athletics before being traded to Boston prior to the 2012 season. Sweeney struggled to find playing time with the Red Sox and was released March 30 after hitting just .217 on the spring.
Sweeney’s best year came in 2009, when he hit .293/.348/.407 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with six home runs and 53 RBI in 134 games with the A’s. That season, he posted a 2.9 WAR, the best mark of his career.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native will spend at least the beginning of the season back home, as he’ll be playing for Triple-A Iowa in nearby Des Moines. He made the announcement yesterday on his Twitter account.
“So pumped to get this opportunity with the Cubs,” he tweeted. “I know I have made a lot of Midwest people happy. Looking forward to a great 2013 season!”
2011 Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo will start 2013 with the Kane County Cougars. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs made their fair share of organizational changes during the offseason, from roster transactions to the proposal to restore Wrigley Field. But one of the bigger moves this winter was partnering with the Kane County Cougars as the club’s new Single-A affiliate. The Cougars play their home games in Geneva, Ill., roughly 40 miles west of Chicago, which gives fans a chance to view the future of the organization up close.
On Tuesday morning, the Cougars announced their Opening Day roster, and it’s full of high-upside talent that Cubs fans should (and now can) keep an eye on.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach headlines the squad’s roster, along with a trio of exciting young infielders in Jeimer Candelario, Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez. Vogelbach, a 2011 second-round pick, is viewed by many as the best power hitter in the organization.
Pierce Johnson, a right-hander the Cubs selected in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft, could be one of the organization’s best young arms. Lendy Castillo, a 2011 Rule 5 pick who got into 13 games last year for the Cubs, will also start 2013 with Kane County.
Here is the full roster manager Mark Johnson will have at his disposal when his squad opens up on Thursday:
Justin Amlung RHP
Jeff Antigua LHP
Jose Arias RHP
Lendy Castillo RHP
Ian Dickson RHP
Nathan Dorris LHP
Michael Heesch LHP
Pierce Johnson RHP
Eddie Orozco RHP
Felix Pena RHP
Stephen Perakslis RHP
Tayler Scott RHP
Brian Smith LHP
Hisanori Takahashi won a spot on the Opening Day roster. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs made their final selections for the 25-man roster to open up the season Monday morning. Lefty pitcher Hisanori Takahashi officially won the final reliever spot while Alberto Gonzalez replaces Darwin Barney, who went on the DL after suffering a lacerated knee.
Outfielder Brett Jackson was optioned to Triple-A Iowa and right-handed pitcher Robert Whitenack was designated for assignment. The Cubs kick off the season Monday in Pittsburgh, with first pitched scheduled for 12:35 CST. Here are the options Dale Sveum will have at his disposal:
32-Scott Baker, RHP (60-Day DL)
28-Michael Bowden, RHP
54-Shawn Camp, RHP
46-Scott Feldman, RHP
11-Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP
22-Matt Garza, RHP (15-Day DL)
36-Edwin Jackson, RHP
49-Carlos Marmol, RHP
56-Hector Rondon, RHP
40-James Russell, LHP
29-Jeff Samardzija, RHP
47-Hisanori Takahashi, LHP
33-Carlos Villanueva, RHP
41-Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (60-Day DL)
37-Travis Wood, LHP
15-Darwin Barney (15-Day DL)
2-Ian Stewart (15-Day DL)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty)
With the start of the season only five days away, the Chicago Cubs Opening Day roster is coming into focus. The team today claimed right-handed pitcher Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
To make room for Moscoso on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino has been placed on the 60-day disabled list, as he continues to recover from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
Moscoso, 29, is 11-12 with a 4.16 ERA (89 ER/192.2 IP) in 57 major league appearances (24 starts) covering four seasons with Texas (2009-10), Oakland (2011) and Colorado (2012). He made 23 big league appearances in each of the last two seasons. Twenty-one of his 23 outings occurred as a starter with the Athletics in 2011, and 20 of his 23 appearances were as a reliever last year with the Rockies.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Moscoso went 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA (48 ER/128.0 IP) with the Athletics in 2011 before going 3-2 with a 6.12 ERA (34 ER/50.0 IP) last season with Colorado. He began Spring Training with the Kansas City Royals before being claimed off waivers by Toronto on March 16.
A native of Venezuela, Moscoso was originally signed by the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in 2003. He is 44-31 with a 3.90 ERA (278 ER/641.0 IP) in 132 minor league appearances, 107 of which have come as a starter.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Last week’s roster cuts gave Cubs fans a better view of who will be on the Opening Day roster—a total of 11 players were sent to various minor league squads on Friday, and reliever Rafael Dolis was shipped to Triple-A Iowa later in the weekend—but there is still at least one spot up for grabs.
Zach Putnam, Hisanori Takahashi and Cory Wade all will be vying for the final spot in the bullpen, following the news that Michael Bowden and Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon were likely in.
The 25-year-old Putnam signed with the Cubs this past Christmas after spending 2012 with Colorado. The right-hander has pitched nine innings this spring, posting a 3.00 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP and notching five strikeouts. In Triple-A last year, he racked up 12 saves in 49 games and posted a 4.15 ERA in 60.2 innings of work.
Takahashi is a 37-year-old veteran who spent most of his career playing in Japan before coming to the U.S. in 2010. The left-hander split time with the Angels and Pirates last year, posting a 5.54 ERA in 50.1 major league innings. With James Russell the only lefty locked into the bullpen, the Japanese native might have the inside track.
Wade comes over as an offseason signing as well, having spent the previous two seasons with the Yankees. The 30-year-old right-hander posted a 6.46 ERA in 39 innings in 2012. That came after a 2011 campaign in which he had a 2.04 ERA in 39.2 innings. This spring, he has a 5.63 ERA in eight innings pitched.
Cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat reported that Steve Clevenger is likely going to beat out utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez for the final bench spot on the roster. Clevenger played 69 games for the Cubs in 2012, mostly at catcher. This spring, the organization has tried out the 26-year-old at first base. He’s hitting .395 in 41 plate appearances.
Clevenger will be batting third and playing first Monday as the Cubs host defending World Series champs San Francisco. Lefty Travis Wood will get the start for Chicago, opposite Ryan Vogelsong. The 3:05 CST game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet, or fans can listen in on Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup the Cubs will send out Monday:
CF David DeJesus
SS Brent Lillbridge
1B Steve Clevenger
LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Dioner Navarro
3B Luis Valbuena
2B Alberto Gonzalez
P Travis Wood
Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman was assigned to minor league camp Friday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs assigned 11 players to minor league camp Friday morning, reducing their spring roster from 46 players down to 35.
The list of re-assigned players includes left-hander Chris Rusin; right-handers Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Jensen Lewis and Blake Parker; infielders Edwin Maysonet and Brad Nelson; and outfielders Brian Bogusevic, Johermyn Chavez and Darnell McDonald.
Rusin is the only member of the 40-man roster to be sent to minor league camp. The lefty had an impressive spring, finishing with a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings and striking out seven.
The other 10 players were non-roster invitees.
With these moves, it is believed Rafael Dolis, Zach Putnam, Hisanori Takahashi and Corey Wade are all vying for the final spot in the bullpen.
Chicago’s spring roster, now at 35 players, consists of 18 pitchers (three non-roster invitees), four catchers (one non-roster invitee), seven infielders (two non-roster invitees) and six outfielders.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The starting rotation might already have been announced, but Chris Rusin is giving manager Dale Sveum a reason to second guess himself. The 26-year-old lefty, who played in seven games at the end of 2012 for the Cubs, has been impressive all spring.
In four games and 13.0 innings, the southpaw has a 0.69 ERA, a 0.69 WHIP and has surrendered just one earned run. Should Rusin make the 25-man roster as the team breaks camp, he’ll likely be a swingman out of the bullpen. Based on his strong performance in Arizona, the Cubs could choose to put him in the Triple-A Iowa rotation, where he can continue to work as a starter. He’ll be on the mound Tuesday as the Cubs take on Texas.
On Monday, Sveum said the lineup for today’s game will likely be the same one he employs on Opening Day, aside from Jeff Samardzija pitching and Dioner Navarro as the designated hitter. Alexi Ogando will start for the Rangers. The game kicks off at 3:05 CST and can be heard on Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup Ogando will face:
CF David DeJesus
SS Starlin Castro
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Welington Castillo
3B Luis Valbuena
2B Darwin Barney
DH Dioner Navarro
(Photo by Stephen Green)
It had to happen sometime, but Cubs fans in Arizona will definitely miss seeing Javier Baez and Jorge Soler play on a regular basis. The Chicago Cubs have assigned seven players—including many of the organization’s top prospects—to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 53 to 46 players.
Infielders Junior Lake and Josh Vitters have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while infielder Christian Villanueva has been optioned to Double-A Tennessee. Outfielder Jorge Soler has been optioned to Single-A Daytona.
Three non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: right-handed pitcher Barret Loux, infielder Javier Baez and catcher Rafael Lopez.
“I’ll be honest, [at Spring Training] I look forward to the sixth through ninth innings more than I look forward to the first five innings,” said Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. “We’ll watch the veteran guys all year. … Getting a chance to see the young players up close is something we cherish because we can’t do that all season.”
Chicago’s spring roster now consists of 24 pitchers (eight non-roster invitees), four catchers (one non-roster invitee), nine infielders (four non-roster invitees) and nine outfielders (three non-roster invitees).
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty images)
On Thursday afternoon, manager Dale Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio announced the Cubs rotation for the first week of the regular season. Right-hander Jeff Samardzija will get the nod on Opening Day, April 1, at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
“That’s what I signed up for,” Samardzija said. “If you don’t want those expectations for yourself, then you may as well go play somewhere else. That’s just kind of a given. There’s going to be pressure, and there’s going to be a lot riding on what you do.”
Samardzija came into last season just hoping to land a spot in the rotation after a successful 2011 in the bullpen. This year, most see the Shark as a front-of-the-rotation guy and a possible ace. He commands five pitches and was third in the league in average fastball velocity last season. His four-seamer clocked in at 95.9 mph, and his two-seamer averaged 95.4 mph.
He’ll be followed in the first week by righty Edwin Jackson, lefty Travis Wood, righty Scot Feldman and righty Carlos Villanueva.
Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason, will get the start in the Cubs home opener April 8 against the division rival Brewers.
Both Matt Garza and offseason acquisition Scott Baker will miss the start of the season recovering from injuries.