Results tagged ‘ Christian Villanueva ’

From the Pages of Vine Line: Minor League Prospectus, Part 3 – A Phone Call Away

Jokisch2
Eric Jokisch should be ready to step in and help the big league club in 2015. (Photo by Stephen Green)

As evidenced by the additions of players like Jon Lester and Miguel Montero, the Cubs front office is transitioning from a period in which it focused primarily on bringing in assets to help improve the future of the franchise to an extended period in which they expect to compete every year at the big league level. However, if you were to suggest to baseball president Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer that this transition means they are now less inclined to build through their farm system, they would be quick to correct you.

Just because Cubs fans may finally start seeing wins accumulate at Wrigley Field doesn’t mean the minor league pipeline is suddenly going to go overlooked. In fact, for the second year in a row, the North Siders will have arguably the best system in all of baseball. Boasting the top prospect in the game, an overabundance of high-profile shortstops and a suddenly large group of interesting arms at the lower levels, the Cubs have built the scouting and player development monster they promised to deliver more than three years ago.

In our annual minor league prospectus, Baseball Prospectus’ Sahadev Sharma helps us break down the names to know at all levels of the system. As the month progresses, we’ll unveil player bios on a section-by-section basis. Here is Part 3 of the Cubs minor league prospectus:

Part 1 – The Elite
Part 2 – The Up-And-Comers

A Phone Call Away

While prospects are always fun to follow, no player dreams of a long career in the minor leagues. The ultimate goal for each is to help out at the big league level. Most everyone is aware that guys like Bryant and Russell will be making an impact at Wrigley Field in the near future, but there are other, less-heralded players who could contribute this year as well in a variety of roles.

Dallas Beeler – RHP
Beeler isn’t the kind of prospect who wows you with his stuff, but he still made his major league debut last season after missing much of 2013 with a finger injury. His ability to work down in the zone, primarily with his sinker and splitter, means he has a chance to induce a significant number of ground balls, which could offset the fact that he’ll likely never be a big strikeout guy. And that’s where Beeler must live—down in the zone—if he’s going to carve out a career in the back end of a major league rotation. His modus operandi is relying on his defense while coaxing weak contact from hitters. The big righty is well aware of this fact and does his best to always work to his strengths. He’ll likely enter Spring Training contending for a spot in the big league bullpen.

Eric Jokisch – LHP
Jokisch is often called a left-handed version of Kyle Hendricks, and the comparison works for multiple reasons. Both pitchers are highly intelligent and attended acclaimed colleges (Jokisch went to Northwestern, Hendricks to Dartmouth), both rely more on command than stuff, and both soak up knowledge, using every bit of information they can get their hands on to try and make themselves better at their craft. Jokisch works hard on scouting the opposition, learning hitters’ tendencies and working to expose their weaknesses. While he could find success at the back of the rotation, he has the advantage of being a southpaw, which many believe will allow him to be most effective out of the bullpen. The Cubs, like most teams, could certainly use more left-handed help in the late innings.

Armando Rivero – RHP
Rivero has a solid chance to join a big league bullpen that rapidly improved throughout the 2014 season. He has an explosive fastball that hitters have difficulty picking up, especially when it’s down in the zone. It’s a special pitch with late cutting life, and he combines it with a power slider that’s one of the best breaking balls in the organization. No matter where he ends up, Rivero will likely rack up strikeouts (as evidenced by his 38 percent K rate last season). He also has a change-up that grades out as average or better, leading some to believe he could be a starter. However, he rarely uses it out of the bullpen, and the Cubs have determined that his best role right now is as a reliever. After missing some time following his defection from Cuba, Rivero has moved quickly through the Cubs system. It’s not unreasonable to think he could have a significant impact at the major league level this summer.

Christian Villanueva – 3B
After Villanueva enjoyed an impressive 2013 campaign that had many projecting a bright future, the 23-year-old struggled in his first taste of Triple-A action in 2014 and was eventually sent back to Tennessee when Bryant earned his promotion to Iowa. One thing that will never be in doubt is his glove. He offers plus defense at the hot corner—the type that could garner a Gold Glove or two if the bat ever comes around to the point where he’s getting regular playing time.

However, the bat does leave major question marks, as Villanueva struggled even when sent back to Double-A. He needs to stop giving away at-bats if he’s ever going to live up to the potential some saw after his breakout 2013 season. Either way, his glove makes him a valuable piece, and he could provide some versatility, as he did see time at second base last season and in the outfield in the Mexican Winter League.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/12/15

Javier Baez had a pair of hits, and Christian Villanueva drove in a run as Caribbean postseason play continued Monday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:

Puerto Rico

  • SS Javier Baez recorded a pair of hits, drove in a run and scored a run in the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s 5-4 win over the Criollos de Caguas. Santurce remains in first place in the round robin postseason, sitting at 6-2.

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva went hitless, but drove in a run on a sacrifice fly as the Yaquis de Obregon tied the semifinal series against the Charros de Jalisco 1-1 with a win Monday. Villanueva finished 0-for-2 with a walk.

Venezuela

  • 3B Jonathan Herrera went 0-for-3, but the Navegantes del Magallanes picked up a win over the Aguilas del Zulia. Magallanes sits at 5-3, a game out of first place in the postseason round robin.
  • LHP Joseph Ortiz picked up a loss, surrendering three earned runs on three hits, as the Tiburones de La Guaira fell to the Tigres de Aragua. La Guaira is now 3-5.

 

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/11/15

Javier Baez had a nice day at the plate, and Junior Lake drove in a run in playoff action Sunday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:

Puerto Rico

  • SS Javier Baez went 1-for-3 with two walks despite his Cangrejeros de Santurce falling to the Gigantes de Carolina in postseason play. He added two runs scored as Santurce lost its second game of the postseason.

Dominican Republic

  • CF Junior Lake had a hit and drove in a run as his Estrellas de Oriente picked up the win. He finished 1-for-5, and the Estrellas improved to 7-6 in postseason play.

Venezuela

  • LHP Joseph Ortiz retired the lone batter he faced as the Tiburones de La Guaira secured a victory against the Aguilas del Zulia in postseason round robin play. La Guaira sits at 3-4 and 2.5 games out of first place.

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva finished 0-for-3 with a walk in the Yaquis de Obregon’s loss to the Charros de Jalisco in Game One of the league semifinals.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/8/15

Junior Lake hit his first home run of the playoffs, and Christian Villanueva reached base on a double in Thursday’s postseason play. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean.

Dominican Republic

  • LF Junior Lake hit a second-inning home run to give the Estrellas de Oriente its first run of the game in a 3-2 loss to the Toros del Este. He finished 1-for-4 as the Estrellas slipped to 4-6 in the postseason.

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva finished 1-3 with a double, but it was not enough as the Yaquis de Obregon were blanked by the Aguilas de Mexicali, who forced a Game Seven in the first round of playoff action.

Venezuela

  • 3B Jonathan Herrera went 0-for-3 with a walk but scored the Navegantes del Magallanes’ lone run in a 3-1 loss to the Tigres de Aragua. Magallanes sits in the middle of the round robin postseason standings with a 3-2 record.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/6/15

Christian Villanueva ripped another home run, and Javier Baez drove in a run in Caribbean postseason play Tuesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Winter League action:

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva hit his second homer of the postseason despite the Yaquis de Obregon falling to the Aguilas de Mexicali. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk. The Yaquis still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Puerto Rico

  • 2B Javier Baez recorded a single and drove in a run as the Congrejeros de Santurce picked up another win in round robin postseason play. He went 1-for-5 as Santurce remained perfect in the playoffs at 4-0.

Venezuela

  • LHP Joseph Ortiz pitched 0.2 scoreless innings of relief in the Tiburones de La Guaira’s loss to the Aguilas del Zulia. Ortiz surrendered one hit. La Guaira fell to 0-3 in the postseason.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/5/14

With postseason play continuing, Jonathan Herrera boosted his club to a win in Caribbean play Monday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s winter league action:

Venezuela

  • 3B Jonathan Herrera had a pair of hits and drew a walk in the Navegantes del Magallanes’ win over the Tiburones de La Guaira. He scored two runs in his team’s third postseason matchup in a round robin format. Magallanes is tied for first place with a 2-1 record.

Dominican Republic

  • CF-LF Junior Lake went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run driven in as his Estrellas de Oriente side fell to the Gigantes del Cibao. Despite finishing the regular season with the best record, the Estrellas find themselves three games back in the round robin portion of the postseason with 10 games remaining.

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva went 0-for-4, but the Yaquis de Obregon edged out the Aguilas de Mexicali to take a 3-1 series lead (best of seven) in the first round of postseason play.

 

Cubs Winter League Recap: 1/4/15

Christian Villanueva blasted a big postseason home run, and Frank Batista pitched well in relief Sunday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:

Dominican Republic

  • RHP Frank Batista pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the Aguilas Cibaenas’ loss to the Gigantes del Cibao. Batista did not allow an opponent to reach base and struck out three.
  • RHP Starling Peralta struggled in relief, giving up two earned runs over 1.1 innings as the Estrellas de Oriente fell to the Toros del Este. He gave up one hit and one walk in the effort.
  • LF Junior Lake went 0-for-3 with a walk for the Estrellas.

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva hit the eventual game-winning home run for the Yaquis de Obregon in their win over Aguilas de Mexicali. Trailing by a run with two on in the eighth inning, Villanueva launched his first homer of the postseason. He was 1-for-4 on the day.

Puerto Rico

  • 2B Javier Baez went 1-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s win over Criollos de Caguas.

Venezuela

  • 3B Jonathan Herrera went 1-for-3 with a double as the Navegantes del Magallanes edged out the Caribes de Anzoategui 1-0.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 12/23/14

Christian Villanueva continued his power surge with another home run Tuesday. Here are a few notes from yesterday’s Cubs action around the Caribbean:

Mexico

  • LF Christian Villanueva launched his 10th homer of the year in the first inning, scoring the Yaquis de Obregon’s only run in a 7-1 loss to the Charros de Jalisco. He finished the day 2-for-4, and his 10 home runs are tied for fourth in the league.

Puerto Rico

  • 2B Javier Baez went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a walk as the Cangrejeros de Santurce dropped the first game of a doubleheader against the Senadores de San Juan. In the second game, he finished 1-for-7 with an RBI double in a losing effort. The marathon affair lasted 14 innings.

Cubs Winter League Recap: 12/18/14

Right-hander Yoanner Negrin had his finest outing of the winter Thursday, while Christian Villanueva recorded another home run for his squad. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action in the Caribbean:

Venezuela

  • RHP Yoanner Negrin had a stellar outing, giving up one run and striking out 11 over 7.2 innings to give the Leones del Caracas a 9-1 win over the Bravos de Margarita. He surrendered just four hits and walked none to pick up his third victory of the winter.
  • DH Luis Valbuena went 0-for-2 but drew a walk in the Cardenales de Lara’s 9-1 loss to the Tiburones de La Guaira.

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva hit his second home run in as many days for the Yaquis de Obregon in their loss to the Caneros de los Mochis. His fifth-inning blast marked his eighth home run of the season.

Dominican Republic

  • RHP Starling Peralta gave up no earned runs in 1.2 innings of relief as the Estrellas de Oriente fell to the Aguilas Cibaenas. He gave up three hits, fanned two and walked none in the effort.
  • RHP Frank Batista got the start in the Aguilas Cibaenas win and went three innings. He struck out five and gave up one earned run on three hits and one walk.
  • LF Junior Lake was hitless in three at-bats for the Estrellas de Oriente.
  • LHP Jeffry Antigua pitched 0.2 innings, giving up no earned runs in the Toros del Este’s loss to the Tigres del Licey.

 

Cubs Winter League Recap: 12/17/14

Christian Villanueva boosted his team with an extra-inning, walk-off homer, while Ivan Pineyro picked up his first victory of the winter on Wednesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:

Mexico

  • 3B Christian Villanueva recorded a walk-off homer in the 10th inning to give his Yaquis de Obregon club a 5-4 win over the Caneros de los Mochis. It was his 10th home run of the season.

Dominican Republic

  • RHP Ivan Pineyro picked up his first win of the winter, pitching five scoreless innings in the Estrellas de Oriente’s win over the Tigres del Licey. Pineyro struck out six and walked none while giving up six hits in the victory.
  • LF Junior Lake finished 0-for-1 with two walks for the Estrellas.

Puerto Rico

  • 2B Javier Baez recorded a double and scored the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s lone run in a 2-1 loss to the Senadores de San Juan. He went 1-for-3 and added a walk.

Venezuela

  • DH Luis Valbuena went 1-for-4 in the Cardenales de Lara’s 6-1 loss to the Tigres de Aragua.
  • LHP Joseph Ortiz pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, giving up one hit, as the Tiburones de La Guaira topped the Navegantes del Magallanes.

 

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