Results tagged ‘ Blake Parker ’
Neil Ramirez got his first call-up to the major leagues Thursday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez and left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa Thursday. Outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, and right-handed reliever Blake Parker was optioned to Triple-A. According to manager Rick Renteria, the team will go with a 13-man bullpen for the next few series.
This is the 24-year-old Ramirez’s his first call-up to the majors, after going 36-35 with a 4.40 ERA in 140 minor league appearances over the last seven seasons. He was acquired by the Cubs as the player-to-be-named later in a deal that sent starter Matt Garza to the Rangers. Ramirez spent most of Spring Training in major league camp, pitching 7.2 scoreless innings. In seven frames at Iowa this season, he had a 7.71 ERA. Between Double-A Frisco and Double-A Tennessee last year, he went 9-3 with a 3.68 ERA in 22 starts.
“It’s a dream come true. Everybody says that, but when you get that call, it’s definitely that feeling that you’ve been working for something so long, and it’s finally here,” Ramirez said. “I’m just excited to be here and give the team a chance to win.”
Rosscup, 25, joins the Cubs for the second time this season. He previously came up as the 26th man during the doubleheader against the Yankees on April 16. He made his big league debut as a September call-up last year, posting a 1.35 ERA with no record in 10 appearances, all out of the bullpen. He’s currently 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA over six innings with Iowa.
Ruggiano, who injured himself chasing a ball in the right-field corner Wednesday, is batting .229 (8-for-35) with a homer and six RBI this season. Parker has no record and a 16.20 ERA in two relief outings.
Welington Castillo was one of 19 players to agree to a deal with the Cubs Monday afternoon. (Image by Stephen Green)
The Cubs have come to terms with 19 players on their 40-man roster with zero-to-three years of major league service time. The terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
The players who have reached agreements include right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta, Dallas Beeler, Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, Blake Parker, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon and Arodys Vizcaino; left-handed pitchers Zac Rosscup and Chris Rusin; catcher Welington Castillo; infielders Arismendy Alcantara, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters.
Dave Otto is doing his usual hosting duties. He opens up by introducing the panel with Smokies announcer Mick Gillespie, SVP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod, farm director Jaron Madison, and Cubs pitchers Blake Parker and Justin Grimm.
Madison talks about the 2013 draft and how happy they were to land the people they targeted (Kris Bryant, et.al.).
Otto gives a recap of the minor league system, including the Daytona team that won the Florida State League championship.
Otto talks about how there used to be only one or two guys on the farm fans could get excited about. Things are different now with guys like Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, C.J. Edwards, Corey Black, Pierce Johnson, Jen-Ho Tseng, etc.
A fan asks about the plan with Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. McLeod says the organization still has belief in both of them, especially Vitters, who has hit wherever he’s been and is still only 24. But both had rough seasons last year and were hampered by injuries.
Both Parker and Grimm talk about how rewarding it is to finally break into the majors and the belief they have in their ability. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the grind.
Gillespie talks about how hard Parker worked back when he was with the Smokies in Double-A, and how much he enjoys seeing the players in their developmental phases. He remembers being the first guy to interview Darwin Barney after he got called up to the big leagues.
McLeod talks about the “Core Four” and how good they can be, but that the organization is much deeper than just them. Generally, you feel pretty good if you feel you have two guys who could become stars. He says the Cubs have multiple guys who could get there. Some won’t make it, but that’s why volume is important. Guys like Jeimer Candelario and Arismendy Alcantara could really make an impact.
McLeod talks about how he drafted Grimm out of high school and brought him up to Boston, but Grimm decided to go to the University of Georgia instead. McLoed jokes that Grimm just wanted a free trip to Boston. McLeod and Epstein went to see Grimm pitch in the SEC tourney the following year, and Grimm was pumping 97 mph fastballs. Epstein joked that he was going to fire McLeod for not signing Grimm. McLeod thanks Grimm for almost getting him fired.
Asked about routines and superstitions, both Grimm and Parker defer. Grimm does say he check through some pitching checkpoints on his iPad before games. It’s just stuff that helps him stay focused on his mechanics, etc.
One fan asks about the potential of Dustin Geiger. McLeod talks about how Geiger has been very solid but has been overshadowed by guys like Soler and Baez. He’s a big guy, so they are working with him on flexibility at first base. The front office doesn’t think he’s under the radar, but he doesn’t tend to get a lot of press. Geiger hit .281/.365/.458 at High-A Daytona last season.
McLeod talks about breaking the curse in Boston and how it’s better than he ever imagined. He also talks about the 2007 World Series team and how it was built with guys they drafted and developed. That’s what gets them excited and what they live for.
Parker explains the tradition of the youngest pitcher taking the pink backpack out to the bullpen. It’s just filled with supplies—gum, candy, etc. The guy with the least service time has to carry it out every game. It’s light rookie hazing.
McLeod talks about Arodys Vizcaino, who the club acquired from Atlanta in 2012. He had a setback after Tommy John surgery last year. He’s throwing well now but is not 100 percent yet. He was in the rookie development program this week and was really popping the glove (note: we were there, and he was). They are being conservative with his rehab to try to get him back into form.
McLeod responds to a question about the lack of system depth at the catcher position, and he says it’s definitely a concern. They have some young guys coming up, but they’re not quite ready yet. That puts some pressure on Welington Castillo this season.
Gillespie talks about how many guys there were at Tennessee who just need to take a step and they’ll be knocking on the door—guys like Matt Szczur and Christian Villanueva. Gillespie raves about Villanueva’s defense at third base, saying he’s better than most major leaguers. McLeod seconds how well Villanueva is progressing. The 22-year-old had 41 doubles, 19 home runs and 72 RBI last season at Double-A. He hit .261.
One fan asks about where Baez will play and if there is a path to the majors this year with Starlin Castro in the fold. McLeod says they’ll look at him in Spring Training and probably have him play multiple positions. But he will be the starting shortstop at Triple-A Iowa this year, and they see him playing short for the foreseeable future. He’s developing well at the position and has great instincts.
We get the obligatory question about Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka and about how his numbers will translate in the majors. McLeod says he’s incredibly talented, and they’ve been scouting him for years. The evaluation process is complete, and they met with him last week in LA. They’ll find out soon where he chooses. But any team will be happy to get him.
Madison says they generally want each player to “dominate” the level they’re at before they move up. They don’t want to rush players if they don’t have to because that can be damaging. It’s a lot of decisions to make about who goes where and when guys move forward, but there’s an entire staff in place to handle it.
Gillespie and McLeod talk about how complicated it is to put guys in a position to succeed. Roster management with the minor league system can be tough. Games are going on all over the country, and each roster only gets 25 guys. If one guys moves up, another guy needs to take his place, and keeping it all in order is tricky.
McLeod runs down the 2013 draft. The team was definitely looking to stockpile pitching. In 2012, they focused on high school arms. Last year, they focused on more mature college arms. In players’ first years, the organization really limits innings. Most of the new guys only go about 20-30 innings. But they did draft a lot of big-bodied, high-velocity pitchers.
McLeod talks about Mike Olt’s struggles last year with vision problems and concussion after being hit by a ball. He was untouchable at Texas a few years ago when they were looking to deal Ryan Dempster. Olt’s been meeting with specialists and is feeling very good. His swing looks strong, direct and fast. All the talent is still there, but he needs to start facing live pitching.
That’s it for Vine Line at the 2014 Cubs Convention. We’ll see you next year. Thanks for following along.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Injuries kept Blake Parker out of action for much last season, so the 28-year-old reliever has been making the most of his opportunity in 2013. Vine Line caught up with right-hander to discuss his favorite places to play, advice he’s received from teammates and rebounding from trips to the disabled list. This and much more can be found in the September issue of Vine Line.
WINDING ROAD For each player, the road to the big leagues varies. Everyone has his own way of getting here, and I think each individual story is just as unique as the next. But coming from a catcher’s background and not really pitching in college, I can appreciate the fact that it’s hard to get here. It’s hard to hit. It’s hard to pitch. To be able to play with a bunch of these guys and call yourself a big leaguer is pretty rewarding.
COMEBACK TRAIL [The injury last year] was very frustrating. It was heartbreaking. Going six or seven years of my career and never getting hurt, and ﬁnally getting called up and then getting hurt, it was devastating. But to be able to make it back and recover from that is even better.
PUMP IT UP Coming into my ﬁrst major league appearance, all I ever heard was how nerve-racking it was. I was more anxious than anything. I just wanted to get out there and pitch. I really thrive off the crowd and off the energy. That really ﬁres me up, so it’s always fun to come into 30,000 or 40,000 screaming fans.
CLOSING TIME It’s always a little bit tougher at the end, especially when the game is on the line. I talk to Kevin Gregg a lot about closing and situational-type stuff. He’s been doing it for so long that he knows what he’s talking about. I just try to pick guys’ brains and learn as much as I can as a rookie. I’d like to stay around a while.
CREATURE OF HABIT As far as superstitions go, my daily routine needs to be the same. If I don’t get myself ready the same way every day, or if I do something out of order, I might feel a little bit off. I do like to switch up my music, depending on my mood. Today I’ve got some old-school rap, hip-hop going. Some Bone Thugs, Tupac.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Stadium-wise, I think PNC Park in Pittsburgh is really neat. Atmosphere-wise, Oakland is my favorite place to play, because I feel like I’m back in high school football again and it’s Friday night. They have the drums and everything going in the outﬁeld. It’s just got that feel to it. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m back home playing football.
FAN FAVORITE I recently got into Twitter. It’s a little bit of a boredom cure. I like to interact with people. It’s always fun. As a kid, you dream of having fans, and you love looking up to and having role models. I think it’s a great way to reach out, but I haven’t gotten too deep into it yet.
Blake Parker became the Iowa Cubs’ all-time saves leader Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Iowa Cubs ended a six-game losing streak to rack up their first win of the season, while Tennessee, Daytona and Kane Count all lost on Wednesday. Here are some highlights from Wednesday’s action:
IOWA CUBS (1-6)
Iowa won its first game of the season, scoring three runs in the fifth inning to beat host Round Rock, 3-2.
- C Luis Flores (.250 AVG) went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in the fifth inning.
- RF Ryan Sweeney (.438) recorded his third multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-5.
- 3B Edwin Maysonet (.273) chipped in with two hits, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base (1).
- RHP Yoanner Negrin (0.00 ERA) tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, striking out two. He hasn’t allowed a run in 4.2 innings of relief this season.
- RHP Blake Parker (4.50) became the franchise’s all-time saves leader, tossing 1.1-scoreless innings to notch his 35th career save with Iowa.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-4)
Tennessee lost its third game in a row, dropping a 6-2 decision to visiting Chattanooga.
- 1B Justin Bour (.190) clubbed his first homer of the season, going 1-for-2 with two walks and the clout. He recorded a team-high 17 home runs last season.
- CF Rubi Silva (.235) went 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base (2).
- RHP Frank Batista (0.00) allowed two hits while striking out one in 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-3)
Visiting Clearwater scored five runs in the 11th inning to defeat Daytona, 14-9.
- DH-CF Zeke DeVoss (.308) went 2-for-6, homering for the second straight game … he has hit safely in five of his first six games this season.
- CF-RF John Andreoli (.478) extended his hitting streak to six games, going 3-for-6 with a double.
- 3B Dustin Geiger (.158) and LF Taiwan Easterling (.250) each clubbed their first home runs of the campaign.
- RHP Ryan Searle (0.00) struck out four in 3.2-scoreless innings of relief. He has not allowed a run in 8.1 innings this season.
KANE COUNTY COUGARS (2-5)
Kane County had its two-game winning streak snapped in a 10-4 loss to visiting Clinton.
- 1B Rock Shoulders (.467) went 2-for-5, extending his hitting streak to seven games. He has recorded two or more hits in five-straight games.
- RF-P Bijan Rademacher (.316) reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. He also pitched the ninth inning, allowing an unearned run on three walks.
- CF Trey Martin (.133) went 1-for-3 with a walk, a double and a team-high two RBI (2).
- LHP Nathan Dorris (1.42) struck out five hitters in 4.0-scoreless innings of relief.
Brett Jackson recorded a team-high two RBI for Iowa Monday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Kane County Cougars picked up their first win of the season Monday, while the Iowa Cubs surrendered their fifth-straight loss. Here are the highlights from Monday’s games:
IOWA CUBS (0-5)
Iowa suffered its fifth-straight loss to open the season, surrendering six first-inning runs in a 13-5 setback at Round Rock.
- 2B Logan Watkins (.368) went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and a RBI.
- CF Brett Jackson (.238) was 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high two RBI (2).
- SS Donnie Murphy (.300) was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
- RF Brian Bogusevic (.389) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an outfield assist.
- RHP Blake Parker (6.75) walked one and fanned two in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-3)
Tennessee lost its second game in a row, dropping a 2-1 pitchers’ duel at Pensacola.
- CF Matt Szczur (.409) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base.
- SS Arismendy Alcantara (.261) added two hits, going 2-for-4.
- LF Rubi Silva (.154) went 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
- LHP Zach Rosscup (0.00) allowed one hit while fanning three in 1.0 scoreless inning of relief.
- RHP Trey McNutt (0.00) fanned one in a perfect eighth inning.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-1)
Daytona had the day off. The D-Cubs return to action Tuesday, hosting Clearwater.
KANE COUNTY COUGARS (1-4)
Kane County squandered a 5-1 eighth-inning lead, but plated a run in the bottom of the 10th to defeat visiting Clinton 6-5 in walk-off fashion, snapping a season-opening, four-game skid.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.238) went 3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a stolen base.
- C Chadd Krist (.625) was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.214) added three hits, going 3-for-5 with a team-high three RBI and an outfield assist.
- 1B Rock Shoulders (2-for-5, R) and LF Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5, R) both had multi-hit performances.
Reliever Jaye Chapman was one of 22 players invited to Spring Training Friday.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The clubhouse in Mesa, Ariz., will be a little more crowded later this month as the Cubs have invited 22 non-roster players to major league Spring Training camp. For some of the younger ballplayers, the invite serves as a chance to get acclimated to major league hitting or pitching. For the veterans, it could be another shot to break camp with a big league team.
The Cubs non-roster invitees include a mix of top prospects (Javier Baez, Nick Struck), familiar faces (Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Blake Parker) and former major leaguers (Brent Lillibridge, Brian Bogusevic, Darnell McDonald).
Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa Feb. 12, and the first full squad workout is Feb. 17. Below is the complete list of non-roster invitees:
Right-handed pitchers: Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Dayan Diaz, Jensen Lewis, Barret Loux, Blake Parker, Zach Putnam, Nick Struck, Cory Wade
Left-handed pitchers: Hisanori Takahashi
Catchers: J.C. Boscan, Michael Brenly, Rafael Lopez
Infielders: Javier Baez, Alberto Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, Edwin Maysonet, Brad Nelson
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Johermyn Chavez, Darnell McDonald
Mesa, Ariz. — The Cubs are closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster after sending nine players to minor league camp Thursday, trimming their ranks from 40 players to 31.
Left-handed pitchers Scott Maine and Travis Wood, righty Randy Wells, outfielder Dave Sappelt and catcher Welington Castillo have all been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Infielders Edgar Gonzalez and Matt Tolbert, righty Blake Parker and catcher Blake Lalli—all non-roster invitees—were assigned to minor league camp.
Manager Dale Sveum announced his Opening Day rotation will consist of Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm.
Wood and Wells were in the rotation mix heading into Spring Training, but were outpitched by Volstad and Samardzija. Wood struggled in Mesa, with a 17.28 ERA in 8.1 innings, surrendering 16 earned runs and three home runs. Wells, on the other hand, didn’t give up a run in his 7.1 spring innings, surrendering just four hits.
Castillo spent much of the spring battling Steve Clevenger for the backup catcher position. Though the 23-year-old Castillo hit .324 in 37 at-bats in the preseason, including a pair of home runs, the Cubs ultimately liked Clevenger’s lefty, line-drive bat and poise.
The roster, which needs to be cut down to 25 by next Thursday, currently sits at 16 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders and six outfielders.
Want a sneak peek at some of the top prospects Vine Line has been covering in the Minor-League Notebooks?
Tune in to the MLB Network this Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT to see pitchers Andrew Cashner and Blake Parker, and infielders Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters. All four will be playing for the East Division in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.
And when it comes down to top prospects in the Cubs organization, you can’t get much bigger than these four. Vitters and Cashner are the Cubs’ 2007 and 2008 first-round draft picks, respectively. At just 19 years old, Castro might just be the Cubs prospect gaining attention the fastest. And Parker is a converted infielder who looked good as a part-time closer in Double and Triple A this season.
Vitters is hitting for a .360 AVG/.385 OBP/.460 SLG line over 12 games in the Arizona Fall League, but he has made it his goal to work on his third-base defense while playing with the game’s top minor-leaguers.
“I know my bat will be there,” Vitters told Vine Line earlier this year. “I want my defense to be up there with the best of them.”
With the system stocked with good infielders, vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita has been able to slowly move Vitters up the ladder, splitting his time between Class-A Peoria and Daytona this season. But the 20-year-old’s natural hitting ability has only drawn rave reviews.
“When you first watch him take batting practice, he can really drive the ball,” Peoria manager Marty Pevey told Vine Line. “He has as quick of hands as any young player. I’d say his hands are as quick as Bob Horner back with the Braves when he came out of Arizona State.”
The Vine Line blog will have more on Castro, Cashner and Parker later this week.
– Sean Ahmed
Photo credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images