The Cubs unveiled their new Spring Training calendar Monday afternoon with 16 games to be played at Cubs Park, the organization’s new Spring Training facility. The season will kick off on Feb. 27 against the Diamondbacks and will wrap up on March 29 vs. the D-backs. The club will play a total of 36 games (16 home games, 16 road games, two games in Las Vegas, two games vs. Arizona at Chase Field).
Individual game tickets for the Cubs go on sale on Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. CST and are available at the Cubs Park ticket office, at cubs.com or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS. All games begin at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time unless otherwise noted. Split squad games are noted with an (ss).
Mesa came back to defeat Salt River 5-4 Monday night in a rain-shortened, eight-inning affair. Jorge Soler stepped up in a big way for the Sox, while right-hander Matt Loosen picked up the win despite a shaky inning of relief. Here are the highlights from yesterday’s fall/winter league action.
Arizona Fall League
Kris Bryant, 3B – Batting fourth, Bryant finished 0-for-2 with a walk.
Matt Loosen, RHP – Loosen entered the game in the fifth inning, walked the first two batters and surrendered a single to load the bases with no outs. But then he got Stephen Piscotty (Cardinals) to pop out, and after giving up an RBI single, fanned Tim Wheeler (Rockies) and induced a line out from Richie Shaffer (Rays) to end the inning. Loosen was credited with the win. His final line read: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER 2 BB, 1 K.
Jorge Soler, RF – With men on second and third in the bottom of the fifth, Soler hit a sharp grounder to left, scoring David Freitas (Athletics) and Addison Russell (Athletics). The two-RBI double scored the game-tying and game-winning runs. He finished 1-for-4.
Mesa heads to Salt River Tuesday to take on the Rafters, with first pitch scheduled for 8:08 CST. The game will be broadcast on MLB Network. Tommy Collier (Tigers) will throw for the Sox opposite Sam Gaviglio (Cardinals).
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B – Alcantara went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in a 2-1 win for Licey.
Despite a three-run eighth inning, Mesa put itself into too deep a hole Tuesday, falling to Salt River 7-3. Cubs prospect Kris Bryant registered his sixth home run of the fall, and Matt Loosen pitched two solid innings in relief to headline the North Siders’ efforts. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.
Albert Almora, CF – Almora led off the game with a single to center. He also drew a walk in the fifth inning to finish the game 1-for-4.
Kris Bryant, 3B – Bryant recorded the Sox’s first run on a leadoff homer in the eighth inning. The third baseman was 1-for-5 on the afternoon. He leads the AFL with six home runs.
Lendy Castillo, RHP – Castillo came on in the sixth, and struck out the first batter he faced, Jacob Wilson (Cardinals, No. 20 organizational prospect, according to MLB.com). But he followed that with three walks and a double. His final line read: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 K, 3 BB.
Matt Loosen, RHP – Loosen replaced starter Matt Purke (Nationals) in the fourth and made an immediate impact, striking out his first two hitters faced, Dustin Garneau (Rockies) and James Ramsey (Cardinals, No. 10 organizational prospect). He then induced a ground out to end the inning. After giving up a one-out base hit in the fifth, Loosen forced Kyle Parker (Rockies, No. 9 organizational prospect) to fly out and fanned Richie Shaffer (Rays, No. 9 organizational prospect) to end the inning. His final line read: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 3 K, 0 BB.
Jorge Soler, RF – Soler went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Mesa heads to Scottsdale to take on the Scorpions Wednesday afternoon. Cubs prospect Dallas Beeler is scheduled to pitch. He has a 2-0 record with a 5.40 ERA this fall. Opposite the right-hander will be Phil Irwin (Pirates). First pitch is scheduled for 2:35 CST.
Dave Sappelt singled in his first game with Iowa Tuesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa, Tennessee and Daytona all struggled to get the bats going Tuesday night, all resulting in losses while Kane County had the night off. Despite the defeats, here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (11-18)
Iowa mustered only four singles in a 5-0 setback at Colorado Springs in the first game of a four-game series.
- RF Dave Sappelt (1-for-3) singled in his first game with Iowa.
- 2B-LF Edwin Maysonet (.254) went 1-for-1, extending his hitting streak to four games (.500/5-for-10).
- C Luis Flores (.200) singled, snapping a five-game hitless skid.
- RHP Zach Putnam tossed 1.1 shutout innings of relief, allowing no hits and striking out one.
Tennessee Smokies (15-15)
Tennessee allowed back-to-back, six-run frames (third and fourth innings), falling 16-0 to Birmingham in a rain-shortened, five-inning game.
- LF Ty Wright (.257) recorded a hit for the fourth time in five games, going 1-for-2 with a single.
- DH Ronald Torreyes (.317) walked twice in two plate appearances. He has reached base in five-consecutive games.
- C Rafael Lopez (.231) extended his hitting streak to five games with a fifth-inning single.
- Tennessee has been shut out in three-consecutive games and five times in the last eight outings.
Daytona Cubs (16-15)
- SS Javier Baez (.238) went 1-for-4 with a solo home run, his sixth of the season.
- LF Taiwan Easterling (.224) recorded his first multi-RBI game since April 12, knocking in two runs as part of a 1-for-3 outing.
- 3B Ben Carhart (.310) extended his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games (.422/19-for-45) with a fifth-inning single.
- LHP Sheldon McDonald (IP) tossed his third-consecutive scoreless outing (4.0 IP).
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
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Spring Training is finally coming to a close. The Cubs wrap up 2013 preseason baseball with a two-game set in Houston this weekend to take on the newly minted AL West Astros. And in more ways than one, it’s fitting the Cubs would wrap up the spring with their old NL Central rival.
Both organizations struggled at the major league level in 2012, finishing with the two worst records in baseball. But with massive overhauls taking place in Chicago and Houston, they are definitely two of the most interesting franchises around.
Both Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow asked their fans for patience, as they entered their respective organizations after the 2011 season. And both ushered in a philosophical overhaul that could pay dividends in the not too distant future.
So far, it appears the Cubs are a little farther along than their former division rivals. Not only did they win more games last season, they also have more big league talent in place. In addition, they signed major league talent at positions where they were previously lacking—most notably with the pitching staff. Also, in order to shore up a farm system short on high-impact talent, the North Siders traded expiring contracts for some top-level prospects and had a 2012 draft many consider a success on paper.
That’s not to short Houston, however. While they might not have gotten much better at the major league level—and trading one of their best players in Jed Lowrie won’t help this year—the minor league system is improving in a hurry. With the first overall pick in the draft last season, they took a high-upside shortstop in Carlos Correa, who is already impressing. In all, Houston has five prospects in Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects list, including four in top 50.
Though each organization has seen new ownership over the last few seasons, historically, the franchises have had little trouble spending the money it takes to win. The Cubs have traditionally been near the top of the list in annual team payroll, and the Astros were in the top 10 as recently as 2009. The key will be when each respective management group feels it is truly ready to compete.
The two organizations still might struggle in 2013, but they’re a pair of clubs that should draw a lot of interest from baseball fans and executives over the next few years. With two savvy front offices, the teams could be heading toward the front of the standings shortly. And there’s a good chance they’ll both stay there for a while.
First pitch for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:05 CST. Edwin Jackson will get the start for the Cubs, opposite Alex White. Saturday’s game will start at 1:05 CST and then the team will head to Pittsburgh to open the season Monday.
At this point in Spring Training, the lineup card starts to get a little repetitive. David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano—in some variation—will be in the lineup. So whenever a new name enters the fray, it’s cause for excitement. With Starlin Castro out, as his girlfriend gives birth to their first child, top prospect Arismendy Alcantara will get the nod Thursday.
While Castro will undoubtedly be the Cubs Opening Day shortstop (he’s expected to rejoin the team in Houston), this gives the management group another opportunity to evaluate the 21-year-old minor league infielder. In Vine Line‘s February prospectus issue, we broke down more than 60 Cubs prospects, and Alcantara was among the group. Here’s what we said about him:
Ht/Wt: 5-10/160 • B/T: S/R
Born: 10/29/91 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Acquired: 2008 NDFA
Alcantara popped onto the radar last season at just 20 years old with a hit tool that played up in the Florida State League. He has a lot of strengths, including a line-drive bat from both sides of the plate, a middle-of-the-field profile and good speed. Though he’s not big, he has sneaky strength and some surprising power. Alcantara has good range, and his arm rates at least plus, but his footwork (the cause of many of his throwing errors) was a focus during fall instructs. Overall, it’s an exciting package—watch for him in a loaded middle infield at Double-A Tennessee.
Alcantara hit .302/.339/.447 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with seven home runs, 51 RBI and 25 stolen bases in High-A Daytona last season.
He’ll be batting ninth as the Cubs bid farewell to HoHoKam Stadium Thursday, before heading east to Houston to finish out the spring. Carlos Villanueva will start for the North Siders, opposite Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma. The game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet or fans can go to Cubs.com to listen live. Here’s the lineup the Cubs will be sending out Thursday:
CF David DeJesus
2B Darwin Barney
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Dioner Navarro
3B Luis Valbuena
DH Scott Hairston
SS Arismendy Alcantara
When the Cubs play their final home game of the 2013 spring slate on Thursday, it will mark the end of an era for the North Siders and their fans at HoHoKam Stadium. The organization is constructing a new, state-of-the-art Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz., that will be ready for the first pitch of Spring Training 2014, so this will be the last game Cubs personnel will spend in the HoHoKam home dugout.
In the last 35 years, many people associated with the Cubs have made personal connections with HoHoKam Stadium. Here are a few memories they wanted to share.
Mark Gallo, HoHoKam Stadium Manager
“My very first year at the ballpark, I was going out to my truck to leave around 7 p.m. when a car drove up with a Cubs sticker on the window. Inside were a husband and wife who had driven over from California and wanted to see the ballpark. So in we went. I spent the next hour showing Lionel Kipnis and his wife, Evalynn, the field. … Lionel is by far the biggest Cubs fan I know. During the next few days, we became friends, and Lionel discussed with me how much he admired Ron Santo and that he had even named his son after Ron. Lionel told me how much he loved reading about ‘his’ Cubs in Vine Line and how he has saved every edition. Knowing what a fan Lionel was, I surprised him a few days later by having him throw out the first pitch before a packed Spring Training game. Seeing the look on his face when he threw that pitch to Casey Coleman was priceless and a memory that will be etched in my mind forever!”
Michelle Streeter, Visit Mesa
“Sitting in the berm and soaking up Arizona’s desert sunshine.”
Len Kasper, Cubs broadcaster
“My favorite call there is one I still hear about from people who laugh about how excited I got. DJ LeMahieu hit a game-winning home run. I think it was a grand slam, in fact. And I called it like it was a big homer. For DJ, who at the time was a minor leaguer, it was a big deal to hit that home run, especially on WGN. My friends joke with me that my excitement was at least partially due to the fact that the homer helped us avoid Spring Training extra innings, but I was genuinely excited for DJ.”
Tim Sheridan, HoHoKam Stadium PA announcer
“I actually got married at HoHoKam in November 2005. My wife and I got married up on the patio on the third-base line. In the upper tier, there’s a large area where they throw big parties, and we had the ceremony there. Then on the first-base line, they have a similar situation. We had the reception over there. A lot of people said, ‘You’re getting married at a ballpark?’ Kind of scratching their heads. But by the time the wedding was over, we heard, ‘This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to.’”
(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)
Cubs star Anthony Rizzo has had a busy spring. After arriving at Spring Training in mid-February, the 23-year-old spent the beginning of March with a totally different group of ballplayers wearing blue and white.
Representing Team Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the first baseman was called upon to be the lumber in the international squad’s lineup. Rizzo hit just .235 batting in the middle of the order for the European squad, but he also walked five times in 22 plate appearances. He drove in the eventual game-winning runs in the team’s opener against Mexico and propelled the underdog Italians into the second round.
Much like the Italian squad, the Cubs will be looking for Rizzo to provide the pop in the middle of the order in 2013. This year, the North Siders will be getting a full season of the phenom, who hit .285/.342/.463 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 15 homers, 15 doubles and 48 RBI after a late-June 2012 call-up. With a more selective Starlin Castro likely batting in front of him, Rizzo should get more RBI opportunities. And if projected cleanup hitter Alfonso Soriano posts numbers similar to those he put up in 2012, it may result in Rizzo getting better pitches to hit.
Rizzo will be in the lineup Tuesday as the Cubs host division rival Cincinnati in the team’s final night game at HoHoKam Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 CST, and fans can listen to the game live at Cubs.com. Jeff Samardzija will be on mound for the Cubs, opposite Reds ace Johnny Cueto. Here’s what manager Dale Sveum’s lineup will look like:
CF David DeJesus
SS Starlin Castro
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Dave Sappelt
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Welington Castillo
3B Luis Valbuena
2B Darwin Barney
P Jeff Samardzija