Cubs acquire RHP Brooks from Athletics for OF Coghlan

Brooks(Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Chris Coghlan.

Brooks, 25, has pitched part of the last two seasons in the big leagues with Kansas City (2014-15) and Oakland (2015) after being selected by the Royals in the ninth round of the 2011 draft out of Cal-State San Bernardino. He was acquired by Oakland on July 28, 2015, as part of the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the Royals. Brooks has gone 3-5 with an 8.38 ERA (54 ER/58 IP) in 15 big league appearances, including 10 as a starter.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander combined to go 7-5 with a 3.56 ERA (47 ER/118.2 IP) in 20 appearances, all but one as a starter, between Triple-A Omaha and Nashville last season. He struck out 103 batters and walked only 21 in 118.2 innings pitched, an average of 7.8 strikeouts and only 1.6 walks per nine innings. He turned in a 4.90 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Brooks has gone 43-32 with four complete games, one shutout, one save and a 4.18 ERA (302 ER/618 IP) in 113 career minor league appearances, 108 as a starter in five professional seasons. He is a native of Montclair, California.

Coghlan, 30, batted .250 (110-for-440) with 25 doubles, 16 homers and 41 RBI in 148 games for the Cubs last season. The former Rookie of the Year joined the Cubs prior to the 2014 campaign and has batted .268 (602-for-2,244) in 666 games with the Marlins (2009-13) and Cubs (2014-15).

Cubs announce 2016 promotional schedule, celebration plans for a century of the club at Wrigley Field

Ryne-Sandberg-Retired-Number-Flag-presented-by-Pepsi

The Chicago Cubs today announced the 2016 promotional item schedule for home games at Wrigley Field, featuring classic items like bobbleheads, caps, shirts and replica statues, plus a few new additions such as pajama bottoms, misting fans and graphic socks. Fans can purchase tickets to each regular season home game during the general on-sale tomorrow, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. CST, at cubs.com or by calling 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

This season, the Cubs will celebrate a century of the team playing at Wrigley Field (which originally hosted the Federal League’s Chi-Feds and Whales from 1914-15). The Cubs will wear a commemorative patch featuring a version of the team’s 1916 logo in modern colors on home uniforms throughout the 2016 season. The celebratory logo will be featured on base jewels and as a stamp on baseballs used during 2016 home games. On Wednesday, July 6 against the Cincinnati Reds, both teams will wear 1916 throwback uniforms, and the Cubs will give away up to 30,000 replica throwback jerseys presented by Ideal Industries Inc. to fans in attendance.

In addition to the Century of Cubs at Wrigley Field celebration, fans can choose from a full schedule of promotional items, including a Ron Santo Replica Statue, Ryne Sandberg Retired Number Flag, bobbleheads featuring Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Joe Maddon, plus six Bud Friday giveaways for adults 21-and-older in the Budweiser Bleachers. Children 13-and-younger can receive exclusive giveaways like a Cubs laundry hamper or youth batting practice pullover at Kids Sundays home games, plus the opportunity to run the bases after each Sunday day game.

“Cubs fans look forward to a number of different promotions each season, and we love to see how excited everyone gets when they enter the ballpark and receive that coveted item,” said Alison Miller, senior director of marketing for the Cubs. “We’re looking forward to some unique additions to our calendar this year, such as bobbleheads commemorating memorable plays like Anthony Rizzo’s tarp catch last season, or our trifecta of postseason award winners. Fans will want to select their tickets and arrive to Wrigley Field early to ensure they can participate.”

Tickets for each regular season home game are available for purchase during tomorrow’s general on-sale, including the home opener vs. the Cincinnati Reds, summer holiday games and rivalry contests with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, as well as Interleague matchups with rare summer visits from the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.

Tickets can be purchased online at cubs.com. A virtual waiting room will begin accepting customers at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., customers will be randomly selected from the virtual waiting room to begin purchasing tickets. All Internet customers will need a valid account. It’s recommended fans register for an account prior to February 26. Fans also can purchase tickets by dialing 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827). There is a four-ticket purchase limit for Marquee and Platinum games per household, credit card or email address.

The full 2016 promotional calendar with supporting partners follows (subject to changes and additions).

2016 Promotional Item Schedule at Wrigley Field
April
April 11—Cubs Magnet Schedule presented by Giordano’s (Up to first 30,000 fans)
April 30—Ron Santo Replica Statue presented by TransUnion (Up to first 10,000 fans)

May
May 8—Cubs Charities “Pink Out” T-shirt presented by Advocate Health Care (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher fans)
May 30—Ryne Sandberg Retired Number Flag presented by Pepsi (Up to first 10,000 fans)

June
June 1—Cubs Cap presented by Conquer Cancer Foundation (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher fans)
June 3—Cubs Tote Bag presented by MLB Network (Up to first 20,000 fans)
June 4—Commemorative Oversized Trading Card presented by Topps (Up to first 10,000 fans)
June 5—Cubs Laundry Hamper presented by Vienna Beef (Up to first 5,000 children) ⓿
June 19—Kids Hooded Towel (Up to first 5,000 children) ⓿

July
July 4—Cubs Camo Apron presented by Magellan Corporation (Up to first 10,000 fans)
July 5—Anthony Rizzo “Tarp Catch” Bobblehead presented by Reynolds Wrap (Up to first 10,000 fans)
July 6—1916 Chicago Cubs Replica Throwback Jersey presented by Ideal Industries Inc. (Up to first 30,000 fans)
July 17—Cubs Family Decals presented by Gonnella Baking Co. (Up to first 5,000 children) ⓿
July 18—Cubs Ear Buds with Case presented by Starwood Preferred Guest (Up to first 10,000 fans)
July 19—Cubs Pajama Bottoms presented by American Airlines (Up to first 10,000 fans)
July 20—Jake Arrieta “Cy Young” Award Bobblehead presented by Pepsi (Up to first 10,000 fans)
July 30—Cubs Misting Fan presented by Comcast SportsNet (Up to first 10,000 fans)
July 31—Cubs Youth Batting Practice Pullover (Up to first 5,000 children) ⓿

August
Aug. 1—Kris Bryant “Rookie of the Year” Award Bobblehead presented by Wintrust Community Banks (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Aug. 3—Cubs Graphic Socks presented by StubHub (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Aug. 14—Clark Hat presented by Velveeta   (Up to first 5,000 children) ⓿
Aug. 16—Joe Maddon “Manager of the Year” Award Bobblehead presented by Benjamin Moore (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Aug. 17—Cubs Beach Tote Bag presented by Las Vegas (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Aug. 18—Cubs Floppy Hat presented by RumChata (Up to first 10,000 Adults) ●
Aug. 30—Cubs Wine Cork Sunglasses presented by Barefoot Wine (Up to first 10,000 Adults) ●

September
Sept. 3—Cubs Tumbler presented by Pepsi (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Sept. 16—Kyle Schwarber “Home Run” Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Sept. 17—Cubs Stainless Steel Drink Bottle presented by Ideal Industries Inc. (Up to first 10,000 fans)
Sept. 18—Item TBD presented by Jewel-Osco (Up to first 10,000 fans)

Budweiser Bleacher Fridays
May 27—Bud Fridays #1: ’90s Visor (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher Adults) ●
June 17—Bud Fridays #2: T-shirt (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher Adults) ●
July 15—Bud Fridays #3: Distressed Cubs Cap (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher Adults) ●
July 29—Bud Fridays #4: Tank Top (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher Adults) ●
Aug. 1—Bud Fridays #5: Cubs Fedora (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher Adults) ●
Sept. 2—Bud Fridays #6: Maddon Glasses (Up to first 5,000 Budweiser Bleacher Adults) ●

Visit cubs.com throughout the season for an updated promotional schedule.
*Tentative, subject to change ● Age 21-and-older ⓿ Age 13-and-younger
The first 1,000 kids 13-and-younger run the bases after every Sunday day game.

Cubs announce single-game ticket purchase options for 2016

151020_NLCS_3_Cubs_365(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs today announced details for purchasing single-game tickets for the 2016 season. Single-game tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. CST, and will be available on cubs.com or by calling 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Fans may once again participate in the MasterCard Presale prior to the general on-sale date. Starting Tuesday, Feb. 23, at noon CST, single-game tickets will be available at cubs.com for a 20 percent premium, or a 15 percent premium for fans using a MasterCard.

“Following a deep postseason run and exciting offseason, there is tremendous demand to watch the Cubs this year,” said Colin Faulkner, Cubs senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Between impressive renewal rates among our largest Season Ticket Holder base in team history, to early sales of our multi-game ticket packs, we have seen many of our popular games sell quickly already. Fans will want to secure tickets to their must-have dates as soon as possible.”

Tickets from each regular-season home game are available for purchase during the MasterCard Presale and general on-sale, including the home opener against the Cincinnati Reds, summer holiday games, Kids Sundays, rivalry contests with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, as well as Interleague matchups with rare summer visits from the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.

Details for each single-game purchasing option follow:

MASTERCARD PRESALE:
The Cubs will once again offer the MasterCard Presale starting Tuesday, Feb. 23, at noon through Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 11:59 p.m. Fans using a MasterCard can purchase single-game tickets in advance of the general on-sale date at a 15 percent premium, while fans using other forms of payment may purchase tickets at a 20 percent premium. MasterCard Presale tickets may be purchased at cubs.com.

SINGLE-GAME GENERAL ON-SALE:
Via the Internet: On Friday, Feb. 26, fans can purchase tickets at cubs.com. A virtual waiting room will begin accepting customers at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., customers will be randomly selected from the virtual waiting room to begin purchasing tickets. All Internet customers will need a valid account. Customers are recommended to register for an account prior to Feb. 26.

By Telephone: Tickets can be purchased by telephone beginning Feb. 26 at 10 a.m. Call 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

At Wrigley Field: Due to offseason construction happening in and around the ballpark, the team is not able to offer in-person single-game ticket sales until closer to the season.

There is a four-ticket purchase limit for Marquee and Platinum games per household, credit card or email address. For more information, please contact the Chicago Cubs Ticket Office at 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Murton, Williams, Olmos added to Cubs NRI list

MattMurton(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs have invited three additional non-roster players to major league Spring Training: outfielder Matt Murton, right-handed pitcher Ryan Williams and left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos, who today cleared waivers and will report to major league Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

Murton will wear uniform No. 21, Williams will wear uniform No. 87, and Olmos will wear uniform No. 62. Left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser, who was claimed off waivers last week, will wear uniform No. 60.

Including players previously announced, here are the 21 non-roster invitees for the Cubs this spring:

12 pitchers: right-handed pitchers Stephen Fife, Brandon Gomes, Jean Machi, Felix Pena, Jonathan Pettibone, Armando Rivero, Drew Rucinski, Duane Underwood Jr. and Ryan Williams, as well as left-handed pitchers Luis Cruz, Jack Leathersich and Edgar Olmos.

Three infielders: Jesus Guzman, Munenori Kawasaki and Kristopher Negron.

Four outfielders: Albert Almora, John Andreoli, Matt Murton and Juan Perez.

Two catchers: Taylor Davis and Tim Federowicz.

ESPN’s Schoenfield ranks Cubs top team heading into 2016

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The story of the Cubs has changed quite a bit in the last 365 days. A year ago at this time, projectors estimated the club would make great strides in 2015, improving from an 89-loss 2014 and perhaps even challenging Cincinnati and Milwaukee for third place in the competitive NL Central. Many believed 2016 would be the year the up-and-coming major league squad would arrive. But one season—and an NLCS berth—later, it’s harder to find anyone not picking the Cubs to make the postseason.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield unveiled the top portion of his team rankings heading into the 2016 season Tuesday. The publication’s senior writer stuck to the script and picked the Cubs as his No. 1 team.

Most intriguing player: Jason Heyward’s big contract and move to center field puts him in the spotlight. Heyward seems to have grown comfortable with the kind of player he is, so the fear that he may try to do much and struggle is probably overblown. In fact, I wonder if Joe Maddon puts him in the leadoff spot since there isn’t another obvious candidate. Maddon could run out a lineup of Heyward, [Ben] Zobrist, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Miguel Montero and Addison Russell. There’s power, there’s OBP, there’s left-right balance, there’s youth, there are MVP candidates, there are no easy at-bats for opposing pitchers. Good luck, National League.

The final word: Barring a long list of injuries, the Cubs look like a powerhouse. They’re loaded with depth and versatility in both position players and starting pitching. Unlike the 2015 Nationals, they also have the right manager to make sure there’s no coasting on hype or clubhouse issues that incinerate the team. Considering I think the Pirates and Cardinals fall back a bit this year, the Cubs win the tough NL Central pretty easily. Then comes the postseason …

Many of the shortcomings of the 2015 squad were addressed this offseason, as the club improved its outfield defense with the acquisition of Heyward and added necessary pitching depth with John Lackey, Adam Warren and a slew of bullpen arms. The hope entering this season has shifted from surpassing the division’s bottom dwellers to being the last team standing.

Cubs claim LHP Riefenhauser off waivers; DFA LHP Olmos

CJR(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The Cubs claimed left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser off waivers from the Orioles Friday. To make room for Riefenhauser on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos has been designated for assignment.

Riefenhauser, 26, has spent parts of the last two seasons at the big league level with the Rays, going 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA (14 ER/20.0 IP) in 24 relief appearances. He was acquired by the Mariners as part of a six-player trade on Nov. 5, 2015, and acquired by the Orioles as part of a three-player deal on Dec. 2, 2015. He was designated for assignment on Feb. 4.

With Triple-A Durham last season, Riefenhauser went 4-2 with one save and a 2.86 ERA (11 ER/34.2 IP) in 29 relief appearances. He struck out 34 while walking only seven batters in 34.2 innings pitched, turning in a 0.92 WHIP.

The 6-foot, 195-pound southpaw was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the 20th round of the 2010 Draft.

Cubs announce 2016 television broadcast schedule

The Cubs announced their 2016 regular-season television schedule featuring broadcasts from Comcast SportsNet Chicago, WGN-TV and WLS-TV/ABC 7.

WLS-TV/ABC 7 will televise Opening Night from Anaheim on Monday, April 4 at 9:05 p.m. CDT, the station’s first of 25 games this season. Comcast SportsNet Chicago has its first of as many as 86 games on Tuesday, April 5 at 9:05 p.m. CDT from Anaheim (this game is scheduled for CSN+). WGN-TV’s first of 45 broadcasts will take place on Friday, April 8 at 8:40 p.m. CDT at Arizona. WGN-TV will also televise the Cubs’ home opener on Monday, April 11 vs. Cincinnati at 7:05 p.m. CDT.

Cubs games have been televised by WGN since 1948 (a handful of the 45 WGN-TV produced games will be televised by WPWR My50 Chicago). This will be Comcast SportsNet’s 12th season televising the Cubs and the second for WLS-TV/ABC 7.

Len Kasper returns for his 12th season in the Cubs’ television booth and will be joined by Jim Deshaies for their fourth season together broadcasting Cubs baseball.

Date Opponent Pitch Station
4/4 @Los Angeles (AL) 9:05 ABC7
4/5 @Los Angeles (AL) 9:05 CSN+
4/6 OFF DAY
4/7 @Arizona 8:40 CSN+
4/8 @Arizona 8:40 WGN
4/9 @Arizona 7:10 CSN
4/10 @Arizona 3:10 WGN
4/11 vs. Cincinnati 7:05 WGN
4/12 OFF DAY
4/13 vs. Cincinnati 7:05 CSN+
4/14 vs. Cincinnati 7:05 CSN
4/15 vs. Colorado 1:20 CSN
4/16 vs. Colorado 1:20 CSN
4/17 vs. Colorado 1:20 WGN
4/18 @St. Louis 7:15 WPWR
4/19 @St. Louis 7:15 CSN
4/20 @St. Louis 12:45 CSN
4/21 @Cincinnati 6:10 CSN
4/22 @Cincinnati 6:10 WGN
4/23 @Cincinnati 6:10 CSN
4/24 @Cincinnati 12:10 WGN
4/25 OFF DAY
4/26 vs. Milwaukee 7:05 CSN
4/27 vs. Milwaukee 7:05 WGN
4/28 vs. Milwaukee 1:20 CSN
4/29 vs. Atlanta 1:20 CSN
4/30 vs. Atlanta 1:20 ABC7
5/1 vs. Atlanta 1:20 WGN
5/2 @Pittsburgh 6:05 CSN
5/3 @Pittsburgh 6:05 WGN
5/4 @Pittsburgh 11:35 CSN
5/5 vs. Washington 7:05 CSN+
5/6 vs. Washington 1:20 CSN
5/7 vs. Washington 3:05 CSN
5/8 vs. Washington 1:20 WGN
5/9 vs. San Diego 7:05 CSN
5/10 vs. San Diego 7:05 WPWR
5/11 vs. San Diego 7:05 CSN
5/12 OFF DAY
5/13 vs. Pittsburgh 1:20 WGN
5/14 vs. Pittsburgh 1:20 ABC7
5/15 vs. Pittsburgh 1:20 CSN
5/16 OFF DAY
5/17 @Milwaukee 7:10 CSN
5/18 @Milwaukee 7:10 WGN
5/19 @Milwaukee 12:40 CSN
5/20 @San Francisco 9:15 WGN
5/21 @San Francisco 6:15 FOX
5/22 @San Francisco 7:05 ESPN
5/23 @St. Louis 7:15 CSN
5/24 @St. Louis 7:15 CSN
5/25 @St. Louis 12:45 ABC7
5/26 OFF DAY
5/27 vs. Philadelphia 1:20 CSN
5/28 vs. Philadelphia 1:20 ABC7
5/29 vs. Philadelphia 1:20 WGN
5/30 vs. Los Angeles (NL) 1:20 WGN
5/31 vs. Los Angeles (NL) 7:05 ABC7
6/1 vs. Los Angeles (NL) 7:05 CSN
6/2 vs. Los Angeles (NL) 1:20 CSN
6/3 vs. Arizona 1:20 CSN
6/4 vs. Arizona 1:20 WGN
6/5 vs. Arizona TBD CSN or ESPN
6/6 @Philadelphia 6:05 CSN
6/7 @Philadelphia 6:05 WGN
6/8 @Philadelphia 12:05 CSN
6/9 OFF DAY
6/10 @Atlanta 6:35 CSN
6/11 @Atlanta 3:10 CSN
6/12 @Atlanta 12:35 WGN
6/13 @Washington 6:05 CSN
6/14 @Washington 6:05 ABC7
6/15 @Washington 3:05 WGN
6/16 OFF DAY
6/17 vs. Pittsburgh 1:20 ABC7
6/18 vs. Pittsburgh 7:15 FOX
6/19 vs. Pittsburgh TBD CSN or ESPN
6/20 vs. St. Louis 7:05 CSN
6/21 vs. St. Louis 7:05 ABC7
6/22 vs. St. Louis 1:20 ABC7
6/23 @Miami 6:10 CSN
6/24 @Miami 6:10 CSN
6/25 @Miami 3:10 WGN
6/26 @Miami 12:10 ABC7
6/27 @Cincinnati 6:10 WGN
6/28 @Cincinnati 6:10 CSN
6/29 @Cincinnati 11:35 WGN
6/30 @New York (NL) 6:10 CSN
7/1 @New York (NL) 6:10 WGN
7/2 @New York (NL) 6:15 FOX
7/3 @New York (NL) 12:10 CSN
7/4 vs. Cincinnati 1:20 WGN
7/5 vs. Cincinnati 1:20 CSN
7/6 vs. Cincinnati 1:20 CSN
7/7 OFF DAY
7/8 @Pittsburgh 6:05 CSN
7/9 @Pittsburgh 6:15 FOX
7/10 @Pittsburgh 12:35 WGN
7/15 vs. Texas 1:20 CSN
7/16 vs. Texas 1:20 ABC7
7/17 vs. Texas 1:20 ABC7
7/18 vs. New York (NL) 7:05 WPWR
7/19 vs. New York (NL) 7:05 CSN
7/20 vs. New York (NL) 1:20 ABC7
7/21 OFF DAY
7/22 @Milwaukee 7:10 CSN+
7/23 @Milwaukee 6:10 WGN
7/24 @Milwaukee 1:10 ABC7
7/25 @Chicago (AL) 7:10 ABC7
7/26 @Chicago (AL) 7:10 CSN
7/27 vs. Chicago (AL) 7:05 WGN
7/28 vs. Chicago (AL) 7:05 CSN
7/29 vs. Seattle 1:20 CSN
7/30 vs. Seattle 1:20 CSN
7/31 vs. Seattle 1:20 WGN
8/1 vs. Miami 7:05 WGN
8/2 vs. Miami 7:05 CSN+
8/3 vs. Miami 1:20 CSN
8/4 OFF DAY
8/5 @Oakland 9:05 CSN+
8/6 @Oakland 3:05 CSN
8/7 @Oakland 3:05 WGN
8/8 OFF DAY
8/9 vs. Los Angeles (AL) 7:05 WGN
8/10 vs. Los Angeles (AL) 7:05 CSN+
8/11 vs. St. Louis 7:05 CSN
8/12 vs. St. Louis 1:20 ABC7
8/13 vs. St. Louis 1:20 ABC7
8/14 vs. St. Louis TBD CSN or ESPN
8/15 OFF DAY
8/16 vs. Milwaukee 7:05 WPWR
8/17 vs. Milwaukee 7:05 CSN
8/18 vs. Milwaukee 1:20 CSN
8/19 @Colorado 7:40 CSN
8/20 @Colorado 7:10 CSN
8/21 @Colorado 3:10 ABC7
8/22 @San Diego 9:10 CSN
8/23 @San Diego 9:10 CSN
8/24 @San Diego 2:40 WGN
8/25 OFF DAY
8/26 @Los Angeles (NL) 9:10 ABC7
8/27 @Los Angeles (NL) 3:05 WGN
8/28 @Los Angeles (NL) 3:10 CSN
8/29 vs. Pittsburgh 7:05 CSN
8/30 vs. Pittsburgh 7:05 WGN
8/31 vs. Pittsburgh 7:05 CSN
9/1 vs. San Francisco 7:05 CSN+
9/2 vs. San Francisco 1:20 WGN
9/3 vs. San Francisco 1:20 CSN
9/4 vs. San Francisco 1:20 ABC7
9/5 @Milwaukee 12:10 WGN
9/6 @Milwaukee 7:10 CSN+
9/7 @Milwaukee 7:10 CSN
9/8 OFF DAY
9/9 @Houston 7:10 WPWR
9/10 @Houston 12:05 FOX
9/11 @Houston 1:10 CSN
9/12 @St. Louis 7:15 CSN
9/13 @St. Louis 7:15 ABC7
9/14 @St. Louis 12:45 ABC7
9/15 vs. Milwaukee 7:05 CSN
9/16 vs. Milwaukee 1:20 CSN
9/17 vs. Milwaukee 3:05 WGN
9/18 vs. Milwaukee 1:20 ABC7
9/19 vs. Cincinnati 7:05 CSN
9/20 vs. Cincinnati 7:05 CSN
9/21 vs. Cincinnati 7:05 WGN
9/22 OFF DAY
9/23 vs. St. Louis 1:20 PM
9/24 vs. St. Louis TBD CSN or FOX
9/25 vs. St. Louis TBD CSN or ESPN
9/26 @Pittsburgh 6:05 CSN
9/27 @Pittsburgh 6:05 CSN
9/28 @Pittsburgh 6:05 CSN
9/29 @Pittsburgh 6:05 WGN
9/30 @Cincinnati 6:10 CSN
10/1 @Cincinnati 3:10 CSN
10/2 @Cincinnati 2:10 WGN

Cubs place six among top 100 MLB prospects, according to ESPN’s Law

Contreras,-Willson-5.11_Blog(Photo by Roger Hoover)

Spring baseball is just one week away, with pitchers and catchers slated to report next week. This also kicks off one of the best times of the year for prospect watching. On Thursday, ESPN senior writer Keith Law unveiled his Top 100 prospects list, which includes six Cubs. Though the team graduated one of the greatest crops of young talent in organizational history to the majors last year, the quantity of players still on Law’s list demonstrates the waves of talent in the system.

Here is a small portion of what Law had to say on each Cubs prospect:

15. Gleyber Torres, SS

Torres looked much older than 18 in terms of his plate skills during the 2015 season; he stayed behind the ball really well, with great hand-eye coordination and the ability to shoot a ball to the outfield the way Derek Jeter would do with two strikes. It’s a very easy swing, and Torres keeps his head steady throughout in a way many major league hitters couldn’t emulate. He’s very smooth at shortstop already, with plus hands and a plus arm, showing me in Myrtle Beach’s playoff series against Wilmington that he could come across the bag well on a difficult double play. He needs to continue to get stronger, as well as work on some of his reads in the field and on the bases, where his physical tools have exceeded his acumen. He has a good chance to jump into the top 5 by next year.

Torres burst onto the scene in the Low-A Midwest League in 2015, hitting .293/.353/.386 with 24 doubles for South Bend. Despite his age, he was named the league’s prospect of the year for both his offense and his smooth defense at shortstop.

27. Willson Contreras, C

Contreras is a strong, coordinated, athletic kid with great body control, but none of that had manifested in his performances prior to 2015, except in his generally good contact rates. His bat speed seemed to pick up in ’15, and with a clean, direct path to the ball, he’s going to make a lot of hard contact, though mostly singles and doubles. There isn’t big loft in the swing, although he’s physically strong enough to hit for power, especially if he had a little more rotation in his path. Behind the plate, he has an easy 70 arm and good energy and actions but needs work on the mechanics of receiving and framing, as well as the finer points, like calling a game.

Contreras’ eye-opening 2015 season,  during which he won the batting title in the Double-A Southern League, earned him organizational player of the year honors. He finished with eight home runs, 46 extra-base hits and a .413 on-base percentage in 521 plate appearances.

47. Ian Happ, 2B

Happ is a switch-hitter, smoother and shorter from the left side, less consistent and longer right-handed, although the latter could improve with coaching help and more reps. He has 15-20 homer potential, driven more by his contact rate than any need to get stronger or change a swing.

A 2015 first-round pick, Happ spent all of his debut season in the outfield, where he played a large portion of his college career. Offensively, the 21-year-old demonstrated both his power and on-base abilities, hitting nine homers and reaching base via walk in 13.5 percent of his 295 plate appearances between Short-Season Eugene and South Bend.

69. Billy McKinney, OF

McKinney has a beautiful, fluid, left-handed swing, very easy to repeat, geared toward line-drive contact but without a ton of leverage in it, so he projects as a high-OBP, high-doubles guy, but his ultimate power ceiling might be south of 20 homers as a result. McKinney played center in the lower minors, but that was a pipe dream, especially since he’s a below-average runner. He should settle in as an average defender in left, which will be fine given his offensive profile but limits his potential to be a star unless he starts hitting .320, which isn’t out of the question given his swing and eye.

In 2015, McKinney continued to do what he does best: hit. Between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee, the Athletics’ 2013 first-round pick hit .300/.371/.454 with 31 doubles. This season could be a big one for the outfielder, who is one of the toughest outs in the Cubs’ system.

88. Albert Almora, OF

Almora is a 70 defender in center with outstanding reads on balls off the bat, which makes up for his below-average running speed, and the defense will get him to the big leagues even if he doesn’t hit. He boosted his stat line with a huge August at Double-A, but the real difference was that he started making better quality contact as the season went on, squaring up the ball more frequently and thus improving his BABIP and hitting for more power, mostly doubles power.

Though he may be known for his defensive prowess, Almora’s offense in 2015 was strong as well. As mentioned above, the 2012 first-round pick started making better contact and improved his plate discipline, drawing 32 walks—that’s more than his previous two campaigns combined. He spent the entire season in Double-A, hitting .272/.327/.400 with six homers and 26 doubles.

91. Dylan Cease, RHP

Cease was a potential top-10 pick in 2014 after his fastball hit 99 mph and he showed a plus curveball that spring, but he suffered a partial tear of his elbow ligament that didn’t respond to treatment, requiring Tommy John surgery after he signed an overslot deal as a sixth-round pick of the Cubs that June. Cease returned this summer and was back up to 99, easier than ever with a cleaner delivery.

The sample size is limited (24 innings pitched), but the Cubs front office raves about Cease’s potential whenever there’s an opportunity. During Theo Eptstein’s postseason recap, he mentioned the right-hander as a player who could really break out in 2016.

Cubs launch updated course for the annual Race to Wrigley 5K

The Chicago Cubs will host the 11th Annual Race to Wrigley Charity Run presented by ATI Physical Therapy Saturday, April 23. This year’s Race to Wrigley 5K route will feature an updated course, allowing runners to race through historic Wrigley Field. Registration for the race is open now through Friday, April 22, at 2 p.m. CDT. Participants can register at racetowrigley.com.

The Race to Wrigley 5K begins at 8 a.m. Race participants will again see and experience the Lakeview neighborhood along the course route before entering the concourse through the Budweiser Bleacher Gate on Sheffield Avenue and crossing the finish line steps away from the Wrigley Field Marquee. The ballpark route will feature Wrigley Field tribute statues, newly painted murals and the opportunity to run through the Friendly Confines.

Proceeds from the 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 donate proceeds from all personal fundraising to support Advocate Children’s Hospital. The top fundraising team and top overall fundraiser will receive tickets to the April 27 game against the Brewers, as well as be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field. The first 100 fundraisers to raise a minimum of $500 will receive a Kyle Schwarber autographed baseball.

ATI Physical Therapy will provide post-race massages and lead the group in a pre-race stretch.

“We are excited to introduce an updated Race to Wrigley 5K course, which will allow participants to gain more access to the ballpark than ever before,” said Cubs Charities Vice President of Development Connie Falcone. “We look forward to continuing the tradition of our race by celebrating 11 years of promoting fitness and raising money for deserving causes in our community.”

The registration fee for the 5K fun run is $40 and the chip-timed 5K is $45. Packet pick-up will be available at local Sports Authority locations. Registrants will receive details closer to the event.

Participants will receive a Cubs performance race shirt, an ATI Physical Therapy drawstring bag and one beverage (Budweiser, Bud Light or Pepsi product) courtesy of Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi at the post-race celebration. Runners also will have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to the April 27 game at Wrigley Field.

Cubs invite 18 non-roster players to major league Spring Training

The Cubs have invited 18 non-roster players to major league Spring Training, which begins Feb. 19 when pitchers and catchers are invited to report in advance of their first formal workout on Feb. 20 at the club’s Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, Arizona.

Position players are invited to report to camp Feb. 23 with the team’s first full-squad workout Feb. 24.

The following 10 pitchers have been invited to major league camp: right-handed pitchers Stephen Fife, Brandon Gomes, Jean Machi, Felix Pena, Jonathan Pettibone, Armando Rivero, Drew Rucinski and Duane Underwood, as well as left-handed pitchers Luis Cruz and Jack Leathersich.

The list also includes three infielders (Jesus Guzman, Munenori Kawasaki and Kristopher Negron); three outfielders (Albert Almora, John Andreoli and Juan Perez); and two catchers (Taylor Davis and Tim Federowicz).

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