Results tagged ‘ Chris Rusin ’

Cubs agree to terms with 19 players

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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.

Cactus Notes: Cubs take on the Angels; doubleheader set for Saturday

The Cubs are looking to get manager Rick Renteria his first win as they head to Tempe this afternoon to take on the Angels in their first road game of the Cactus League season. While the Cubs will get reacquainted with Albert Pujols and get a chance to see superstar Mike Trout, the Angels will get their first look at phenom Javy Baez. The 21-year-old, who hit .282/.341/.578 with 37 home runs and 111 RBI last season between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, gets the start at short today.

Left-hander Chris Rusin is on the mound, taking on the Angels Jared Weaver. Rusin will be backed up by lefties Jonathan Sanchez and Tommy Hottovy, and righties James McDonald and Carlos Pimentel.

Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer will have the game on WGN Radio at 2 p.m. CST. It will also be webcast on Cubs.com. In case you missed it, here’s the lineup for Friday’s game.

1. Chris Coghlan DH
2. Darwin Barney 2B
3. Ryan Sweeney CF
4. Nate Schierholtz RF
5. Donnie Murphy 3B
6. Casper Wells LF
7. Javier Baez SS
8. George Kottaras C
9. Chris Valaika 1B
Chris Rusin P

The Cubs also announced lineups for Saturday’s day-night doubleheader. They start the day at home versus the Giants at 2:05 p.m. CST, and finish up against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale at 8:05 CST. All-Star Travis Wood will take the hill against the Giants, while Edwin Jackson gets his first start of the spring in the nightcap. Rain is currently in the forecast for Saturday, so the games could be threatened. If the weather cooperates, both will be broadcast on Cubs.com. Here are Saturday’s lineups.

Game One
1. Arismendy Alcantara 2B
2. Luis Valbuena 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
4. Justin Ruggiano CF
5. Welington Castillo C
6. Chris Valaika SS
7. George Kottaras DH
8. Darnell McDonald LF
9. Aaron Cunningham RF
Travis Wood P

Game Two
1. Emilio Bonifacio 2B
2. Junior Lake CF
3. Starlin Castro SS
4. Ryan Roberts 1B
5. Kris Bryant 3B
6. Jorge Soler RF
7. Mike Olt DH
8. Chris Coghlan LF
9. Eli Whiteside C
Edwin Jackson P

Javy Baez, Chris Rusin named Cubs Minor League Player, Pitcher of the Month

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Lefty Chris Rusin made his 2013 debut for the Cubs last night in Oakland. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin is having a good week. He has already been named a Pacific Coast League All-Star for Triple-A Iowa, and he made his 2013 debut with the Cubs last night in Oakland. Now he and Single-A Daytona infielder Javier Baez have been named the Cubs organization’s Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Month for June, respectively.

Rusin, 26, went 3-3 with a 2.86 ERA (14 ER/44.0 IP) in six June starts for Iowa, striking out 26 compared to just eight walks. He leads the PCL in innings pitched (110.0) and WHIP (1.10), and he ranks second among starting pitchers in fewest walks per 9.0 innings with a 1.89 mark.

On the season, Rusin is 7-7 with a complete-game shutout and a 3.27 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) with Iowa, recording 10 quality starts. He’s struck out 63 hitters compared to 22 walks, while surrendering just seven home runs in 110.0 innings. The 26-year-old made his big league debut with the Cubs last season, going 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA in seven starts.  He was originally selected by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Kentucky.

Baez, considered by many to be the top prospect in the Cubs system, batted .300 (27-for-90) with seven doubles, and a league-leading nine home runs and 28 RBI in 24 June contests. He drew nine walks, contributing to a .390 on-base percentage and recorded a .678 slugging mark. On June 10, he became just the second player in Florida State League history to hit four home runs in a single game. The performance netted him FSL Player of the Week honors.

In 73 games this season, the 20-year-old is hitting .272 (79-for-290) with 19 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs and 57 RBI. The FSL All-Star leads the league in runs scored (57), home runs and total bases (157), while ranking second in extra-base hits (40) and fourth in RBI. He was originally selected by the Cubs in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2011 draft.

Iowa roster full of major league experience

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Josh Vitters will man the hot corner for the Iowa Cubs. (Photo by Stephen Green)

By just scanning down the 2013 Opening Day roster, it’s apparent that the Iowa Cubs have some major league experience. Though the lineup doesn’t include a top prospect of Anthony Rizzo’s pedigree and Jeff Samardzija’s days of shuttling back and forth between Chicago and Des Moines are a thing of the past, this Iowa side has enough talent and experience (17 of the 26 players on the Opening Day roster played in the majors last year) to make things interesting in the Pacific Coast League this season.

Center fielder Brett Jackson will be the centerpiece to this season’s squad. The organization’s No. 4 overall prospect (according to MLB.com) struggled putting the ball in play last season, striking out 217 times combined in Triple-A and in the majors. He spent the offseason reworking his swing, with the hopes of cutting his K total down. If it works, he’ll receive a call-up, or—at worst—there could be an increase in his 15 homers and 47 RBI in 106 Triple-A games from a year ago.

Josh Vitters also returns to the fray after struggling with an August 2012 call-up. He crushed Triple-A pitching last season though, hitting .304/.356/.513 in 110 games, with 17 homers and 68 driven in. He spent much of the offseason working on his patience at the plate, looking to see more pitches and be more selective.

Ryan Sweeney will give the organization a boost as well. The new Cub (signed April 2) has spent seven seasons in the majors, and owns a career .280 average, including hitting .260 with the Red Sox in 2012. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native will get an opportunity to play in front of his home fans before a hopeful return to the bigs.

Much like the other minor league affiliates, the pitching staff doesn’t have a top-level arm. But that’s not to say there aren’t intriguing pitchers.

The rotation boasts three players with 2012 big league experience in lefties Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley and right-hander Drew Carpenter. Rusin’s numbers are the most notable of the three, starting eight games last year and compiling a 6.37 ERA. But during the spring, the 26-year-old surrendered just five runs during 23.1 innings.

The organization’s minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck and Barret Loux both received promotions from Double-A, and round out the rotation. Struck went 14-10 in Double-A Tennessee last year, with an ERA of 3.18 in 155.2 innings, fanning 123. Loux, a former first round pick, recorded a 14-1 record with a 3.17 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A Frisco of the Rangers’ system.

Marty Pevey will take over as manager of the I-Cubs. Here’s the full roster he’ll have to start the season:

PITCHERS
Esmailin Caridad RHP
Drew Carpenter RHP
Jaye Chapman RHP
Casey Coleman RHP
Rafael Dolis RHP
Jensen Lewis RHP
Barret Loux RHP
Yoanner Negrin RHP
Blake Parker RHP
Zach Putnam RHP
Brooks Raley LHP
Chris Rusin LHP
Nick Struck RHP
Cory Wade RHP

CATCHERS
J.C. Boscan
Luis Flores

INFIELDERS
Edwin Maysonet
Donnie Murphy
Brad Nelson
Josh Vitters
Logan Watkins

OUTFIELDERS
Brian Bogusevic
Brett Jackson
Darnell McDonald
Ryan Sweeney
Ty Wright

Cubs assign 11 to minor league camp

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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.

Impressive Rusin gets the start Tuesday

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(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

Castillo’s offense could make a difference

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs made starting pitching a priority this offseason, as evidenced by the addition of four experienced right-handers. However, the organization didn’t acquire an offensive version of Edwin Jackson—a headline name that will instantly bolster the lineup.

One potential reason they didn’t add a bat via free agency is that they’re banking on a hitter they already have in the system to step up this season. One likely spot for offensive improvement is at catcher, where 25-year-old Welington Castillo is primed to take over the starting job. Castillo showed in the second half of 2012 that he can compete at the major league level. He hit .265/.377/.418 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with five home runs in 170 at-bats last year, but much of that damage came after the All-Star break (.289/.353/.434, four home runs).

This offseason, the Cubs also brought in former All-Star catcher Dioner Navarro to both push the 25-year-old Castillo and give him some much-needed advice. Castillo will be batting fourth Thursday as the Cubs head to Camelback Ranch and take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Chris Rusin, 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA on the spring, gets the start Thursday, and the Dodgers will send out lefty Chris Capuano. Cubs fans can listen to the game exclusively on Cubs.com. Here’s the Cubs’ lineup:

2B Darwin Barney
3B Brent Lillibridge
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Welington Castillo
CF Dave Sappelt
SS Luis Valbuena
LF Darnell McDonald
1B Brad Nelson
P Chris Rusin

Cubs Notes: Ian Stewart is scheduled to play in a minor league game Thursday. It marks his first game action since injuring his left quad on Feb. 21.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Q&A with Chris Rusin

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

It all happened fast last season for Cubs left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin. After a flurry of trades and injuries, the Cubs called the 26-year-old up to the majors, where he made seven starts, posting a 2-3 record and a 6.37 ERA. This year, Rusin is likely slated for the minor leagues, but he could also be an option for a swing role in Chicago. So far this spring, he’s posted a 1.80 ERA in 5.0 innings of work. For the March issue of Vine Line, we talked to the left-hander about his call-up to the big leagues, his goals for this season and how he spends his free time.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW  It’s pretty crazy. You get everything thrown at you. The first game was probably the most nervous I’ve been in a long time. After that, you kind of get settled in. It’s just how the big leagues are. I had a couple of rough games that were hard to handle, but I had some good ones too. I’ll take that … and try to learn from it.

THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE  [The biggest difference between the minors and the majors is you have to] have an everyday routine, and you have to hit your spots. If you don’t, [hitters are] going to capitalize on that. The penalty for missing your spots here is a lot bigger than it is in the minors. That was the biggest thing. If you miss, they get their pitch and hit it.

CRAFTY LEFTIES  I like watching [Tom] Glavine or [Andy] Pettitte just because they weren’t overpowering. They were crafty, and that’s kind of what I am. I don’t power pitch, so I have to find ways to get hitters out.

HONING THE CRAFT  [This season, my goal is to] just be more consistent. I’m not going to worry about making a roster spot. I just have to do my part … and come back a better pitcher, a better player, and fight for a spot. [I’m going to] do my best and see what happens in Spring Training.

DOWNTIME  I watch SportsCenter all the time. It’s either SportsCenter or video games. I’m just a real relaxed guy. I don’t like to go out and do too much. I play golf here and there, but for the most part, I just watch sports and play Call of Duty all the time. It’s a good offseason thing for me.

To read the complete interview with Rusin, pick up the March issue of Vine Line, featuring Jeff Samardzija, available now at select Jewel-Osco, Walgreens, Meijer, Barnes & Noble and other Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.

Cubs vs. Cubs, white team takes down blue 7-3

Game-1

The Cubs season is officially underway. After a few weeks of workouts, batting practice and bullpen sessions, the team cranked it up to game speed in a blue vs. white intrasquad matchup Thursday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium. The veteran-laden white team took down the top prospects in the system 7-3 in a five-inning affair.

After a rainy day yesterday in Arizona—it even snowed in some areas—the grounds crew spent most of the morning getting the HoHoKam field back in playing shape. But by game time, things had dried out.

The white team got off to a fast start off blue team starter Chris Rusin in the first. After a David DeJesus groundout, Starlin Castro doubled, Anthony Rizzo walked and Alfonso Soriano singled to load the bases. New Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro followed with a single, and third baseman Ian Stewart laced a ringing double to left center to put the white team up 4-0.

Shortstop Starlin Castro, who many expect to have a big year in 2013, got off to a good start with the bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.

“Castro put two good swings and then just missed another really nice swing down the right field line,” said manager Dale Sveum. “That’s obviously one guy we really don’t have to be concerned with when the numbers are all done. That guy can just hit.”

Though the white team boasted most of the projected Opening Day starters, the blue team might have been the more interesting group, as it was loaded with many of the organization’s top prospects, including Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Brett Jackson.

And Soler didn’t disappoint. The left fielder gave Cubs fans a glimpse of the future when he crushed a soaring home run to left off minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck in his first at-bat of the game. Soler also walked and made a good play coming in on a ball in left. Mind you, it was only an intrasquad, five-inning game and he was hitting off a minor league pitcher, but Soler certainly made a good impression.

“Pretty nice bat speed you saw,” Sveum said. “Those were some good at-bats—took a walk. … That guy following him up (Baez) had some pretty good bat speed going through the strike zone too—as well as Lake. There are some guys who are on that radar right now that could possibly be impact players some day.”

Top-ranked shortstop prospect Baez, who batted in the seven hole, had a little more of an up-and-down game. He struck out in the second and was robbed by Castro, who ranged to his left for a diving catch, in the fourth. On defense, he made a diving play of his own to rob David DeJesus of a single, but also got eaten up by Navarro’s single in the first.

“Baez was a little shaky today,” Sveum said. “Kind of some young stuff that’s still there that’s got to be cleaned up. [There's] a lot of stuff, even stuff that’s behind the scenes that everybody else doesn’t see, that we have to change—some instinctive stuff.”

New Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz homered in the bottom of the third inning and had an RBI sac fly for the white team. Brian Bogusevic, an Oak Lawn, Ill., native who spent the last three years with the Houston Astros, also homered for the blue team.

Following the game, Sveum announced that third baseman Ian Stewart, who was pulled from the game in the second inning, was day-to-day with a mild—emphasis on mild—left quad strain. Josh Vitters is also day-to-day with the same injury.

“It’s an epidemic,” Sveum joked.

Farm Report Wrap-Up: The Iowa-Chicago shuttle was active in 2012

Josh Vitters was one of the top hitters on the Iowa Cubs this season. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Today we wrap up our tour of the Cubs farm system, which took a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The Triple-A Iowa Cubs are last in the spotlight.

For those of us who subscribe to MiLB.TV, all eyes were trained on Iowa to start the year. Between Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, some of the organization’s top prospects could be found just a step away from the major leagues.

In fact, of the 59 players to appear for the I-Cubs this year, 32 appeared in the major leagues at some point this season. And 24 finished the year on a big league roster (though it should be noted that total includes rehab assignments in Des Moines for Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol and Steve Clevenger).

Of course, Rizzo dominated Triple-A until his mid-June call-up, and he more or less became the Chicago Cubs’ best hitter after that. On the other hand, both Vitters and Jackson weren’t able to take off in their major league debuts and, according to Theo Epstein, are expected to start back in Iowa next season.

Lost in the franchise-record 153 transactions was a team that finished in last place, largely because of an offense that finished 15th out of 16 teams.

Still, some specific performances stood out even beyond Rizzo, Vitters and Jackson. Infielder Luis Valbuena showed some pop and patience to go along with a good glove. First baseman Greg Rohan did well in his third stop of 2012. Catcher Welington Castillo once again showed some power, as he continues to develop his good tools behind the plate. And infielder Adrian Cardenas has produced at pretty much every minor league stop.

The Chicago-Iowa shuttle was active on the pitching side as well. Alberto Cabrera has a live arm and was fairly successful in the majors outside a handful of bad appearances. Left-hander Jeff Beliveau could be a key matchup pitcher for the Cubs—and has shown the ability to get righties out too. Rafael Dolis has a great, hard sinker, and his success in Triple-A and lack of it in the majors largely had to do with control. Lefties Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley each made a handful of starts down the stretch in the majors and could be outside challengers for rotation spots next spring.

Final Record:

Overall: 53-87, fourth place, 28.0 GB

Storylines: The Iowa Cubs will be hiring their sixth manager in as many seasons, as 2012 skipper Dave Bialas was one of six minor league coaches who were told their contracts would not be renewed. Bialas had been in the organization for 18 years.

(more…)

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