Results tagged ‘ Junior Lake ’

Arizona Fall League/Caribbean Winter Leagues recap: 11/7/13

Mesa scored four runs in the eighth to tie the game, but a lack of offense cost the Solar Sox in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to Glendale Thursday. Albert Almora recorded two of the club’s five hits, and Matt Loosen pitched well despite earning the loss. Elsewhere, Junior Lake tore it up at the plate in the Dominican, and Eduardo Figueroa picked up a win in Venezuelan league play. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.

Arizona Fall League

Albert Almora, CF – Almora recorded his first hit of the game in the eighth inning, when he ripped a single to right, scoring Max Muncy (Athletics) from third. He scored two batters later on a Devon Travis (Tigers) single to tie the game at four. He singled again in the 10th on a line drive to right.

Matt Loosen, RHP – Loosen got the side out in order in the bottom of the 10th, including a Jared Mitchell (White Sox) strikeout. He gave up a leadoff double in the 11th, and after fanning Marcus Semien (White Sox), Travis Mattair (Reds) singled down the right-field line, scoring Colin Moran (Marlins) from second to end the game. His final line read: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB.

Mesa will host Surprise Friday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1:35 CST. Sammy Solis (Nationals) will pitch for the Solar Sox, while Eduardo Rodriguez (Orioles) will take the mound for the Saguaros.

Caribbean Leagues

Dominican Republic

Junior Lake, LF – Lake had a huge day, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a double in an 8-4 Estrellas loss.

Venezuela

Eduardo Figueroa, RHSP – Starting for the Tiburones, Figueroa earned the win going five scoreless innings, fanning seven and walking one while giving up six hits. He is 2-1 on the season.

Lioger Padron, RHP – Padron pitched one inning, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk as Caracas lost 13-1.

Arizona Fall League/Caribbean Leagues recap: 11/6/13

Mesa couldn’t get back on track, falling 6-4 to Glendale on Wednesday, but Kris Bryant and a few Cubs relievers made solid contributions. Elsewhere, Frank Batista and Marcos Mateo both pitched well in the Dominican. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s fall/winter league action.

Arizona Fall League

Kris Bryant, 3B – Bryant led off the second inning with a single to center. He scored three batters later on a Steven Souza Jr. (Nationals) double. Bryant reached base again in the third with a walk and in the eighth with a two-out single to right. He finished 2-for-3 on the day.

Lendy Castill0, RHP – Castillo pitched a scoreless fifth inning, walking one and striking out Pratt Maynard (Dodgers) to end the frame.

Wes Darvill, LF – Darvill finished 0-for-4 Wednesday.

Armando Rivero, RHP – Rivero relieved fellow farmhand Castillo and pitched a scoreless sixth inning, giving up one hit, walking one and striking out Marcus Semien (White Sox).

Mesa travels to Glendale Thursday to take on the Desert Dogs. Michael Roth (Angels) will throw for Mesa while Jamie Walczak (Reds) takes mound for Glendale. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 CST.

Caribbean Leagues

Dominican Republic

Frank Batista, RHP – Batista gave up two hits over two innings, striking out one and allowing no runs in an 8-2 Aguilas loss.

Marcos Mateo, RHP – The Estrellas closer racked up his fourth save of the season, pitching a scoreless ninth inning and striking out one in the 5-3 win.

Junior Lake, LF – Lake went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly for the Estrellas.

Venezuela

Hector Rondon, RHP – Rondon pitched 0.1 innings, giving up two hits, walking one and allowing two runs, though neither was earned in a 4-1 Leones loss.

Hot Off the Presses: November Vine Line featuring GM Jed Hoyer

VL1311_Cover_JM_newstand

How do you evaluate a 96-loss season? It depends on how you look at it.

Are you evaluating just the major league team or the organization as a whole? Your answers would likely be very different.

On the surface, things don’t look too good. For the second straight year, the Cubs languished in the basement of a stacked NL Central that sent three teams to the 2013 postseason. The offense consistently struggled to put runs on the board, the bullpen faltered early in the season, several key players failed to develop as expected, and manager Dale Sveum was released after two seasons at the helm. To hear General Manager Jed Hoyer tell it, that’s simply not going to cut it.

“One of the things about this job is that your report card is in the paper every morning,” Hoyer said. “Obviously, that report card tells us we’re not good enough. We’re not talented enough at the major league level, and we have to improve that.”

Despite the struggles in Chicago—and both President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and Hoyer are quick to admit they’re disappointed by the win-loss total—the front office has never wavered from its initial blueprint for building a consistent winner.

When Epstein and Hoyer took over in October 2011, there was a severe talent deficit in the minor league system, and the major league team was saddled with expensive, aging players. The goal was to stockpile as much young talent as possible as quickly as possible and create payroll flexibility to ensure that the next time the team is competitive, it has a chance to remain competitive for years to come.

On that front, things don’t look bad at all. In 2009, Baseball America ranked the Cubs 27th in its annual organizational talent rankings. By the start of 2013, they had moved up to 12th. Thanks to shrewd trades, some aggressive international signings and a strong 2013 draft, headlined by overall No. 2 pick Kris Bryant, most experts agree the Cubs system is firmly in the top five heading into 2014. And 11 of the organization’s top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com, were acquired since the new front office took over in 2011. That’s a lot of progress in a few short years.

This month, we sat down with the Cubs’ GM for a frank conversation about the state of the organization. There is great reason for optimism, but the wave of young standouts developing in the farm system has yet to crest at Wrigley Field. Until that top-notch talent arrives, it’s imperative the Cubs find a way to improve their bullpen and generate more quality at-bats.

“The amount of talent and the athleticism we have [in the system] is a long, long way from where it was when we first got here, and we’re excited about that,” Hoyer said. “But all those things don’t hide the fact that the goal is to get better at the major league level, and we need to improve on what we’ve done in 2012 and 2013.”

We also talked to one of the key pieces Hoyer acquired last offseason that fits this new organizational philosophy—outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The 29-year-old veteran finally got a chance to play regularly in 2013, and he had a breakout season, with career highs in plate appearances, home runs and RBI. Everybody, from the front office to his teammates, says the same thing about Schierholtz: He’s a professional ballplayer who fights for every at-bat and brings his best effort every day.

Finally, despite the win-loss total, there were plenty of positive developments at the major league level. The Cubs strengthened their pitching depth behind the emergence of lefty Travis Wood, ace Jeff Samardzija continued to miss bats with the best of them, Junior Lake made a surprisingly successful major league debut, and the left side of the infield was as strong defensively as any in baseball. We examine several impressive stats from the 2013 campaign that should bode well for the organization’s near future.

If you want to get to know the future of the organization now, follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline. All winter long, we’ll be following the Cubs’ top prospects in the fall and winter leagues. And pick up the November issue of Vine Line today.

Arizona Fall League/Caribbean League recap: 11/1/13 -11/3/13

The Arizona Fall League held its midseason Fall Stars game on Saturday, and it featured the Cubs’ big three prospects. All three got in the game for the East, but the West cruised to a 9-2 win. Here are some highlights from the weekend’s fall/winter league action.

Arizona Fall League –

Albert Almora, RF – Almora entered the game in the top of the sixth as a defensive replacement, and went 0-for-2 at the plate.

Kris Bryant, 3B – Bryant led off the top of the eighth with a soft liner to center. Two batters later, Devon Travis (Tigers) tripled, scoring the Cubs 2013 first-round pick. Bryant finished 1-for-4 and committed two errors in the field.

Jorge Soler, RF – Batting seventh for the AFL East, Soler reached on a walk in his first at-bat. In his other at-bat, he led off the fifth with a sharp single to the right side of the infield.

On Friday, the Solar Sox were on the losing end of a 5-4 decision with Peoria. Almora and Wes Darvill both got in the game for Mesa.

Albert Almora, DH – Almora led off for the Sox and got things going in the bottom of the first with a double to right, but he was left stranded at second. He drew a walk in his next at-bat. With Mesa trailing by a run entering the ninth, Almora smacked a one-out triple to center, but Mesa couldn’t drive him in to tie the game. THe Cubs prospect finished 2-for-4 with a walk.

Wes Darvill, 3B – Darvill reached on a two-out walk in the fifth. In the seventh, he reached on an error and scored from second on a Dixon Machado single (Tigers). Darvill finished 1-for-3.

Mesa hosts Salt River Monday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:35 CST. Matt Purke (Nationals) will take the mound for the Sox, while Grayson Garvin (Rays) will throw for the Rafters.

Caribbean League –

Dominican Republic

Jeffry Antigua, LHP – Antigua was credited with a hold, striking out his only batter for the Toros as they came away victorious on Saturday.

Junior Lake, LF – Lake went 1-for-4 with the game-winning RBI for Oriente on Sunday. He also added a pair of hits in a loss on Saturday.

Marcos Mateo, RHP – Mateo blew a save on Sunday, but recorded the win, pitching one inning and giving up an earned run on two hits and a walk for the Estrellas de Oriente. He racked up his third save of the Dominican league season with a one-strikeout, hitless ninth inning on Friday.

Mexico

Marcus Hatley, RHP – Hatley pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Culican in a 7-2 win on Friday.

Puerto Rico

Edwin Maysonet, SS – Maysonet had a single and a walk in a 1-0 win for Santurce Saturday.

Jonathan Mota, 3B – Mota recorded a single and scored the Leones’ only run in a 4-1 loss Saturday. He singled, walked and drove in a run in a win on Friday.

Rubi Silva, LF – Silva went 2-for-4 on Friday with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored for Ponce.

Venezuela

Frank Del Valle, LHP – Starting for Margarita on Saturday, Del Valle gave up one run on four hits and three walks, striking out two over three innings. The Bravos won 7-5.

Hector Rondon, RHP – Rondon surrendered two hits but struck out one in a scoreless eighth inning for Caracas Sunday.

1000 Words: Lake is making it look easy

Lake

Outfielder Junior Lake hit his first career home run Monday night. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Since his July 19 call-up, outfielder Junior Lake has fit right into the Cubs’ offense. Though it’s an extremely small sample size, the 23-year-old has a .529/.556/.765 (AVG/OBP/SLG) slash line in 18 plate appearances. He picked up his first career home run Monday night in a 4-2 win over Arizona.

After spending the majority of his minor league career at either shortstop or third base, Lake has been in center field for all four of his major league games—his first four starts at the position since signing with the organization in 2007.

Cubs bring up IF/OF Junior Lake

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs recalled infielder/outfielder Junior Lake from Triple-A Iowa Friday afternoon. He is slated to play center field and bat sixth in the Cubs second half opener in Colorado.

In 40 games at Iowa this season, the 23-year-old batted .295/.341/.462 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 18 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Originally signed as a nondrafted free agent in February 2007, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder reached Double-A for the first time in 2011, after earning Florida State League midseason All-Star honors with Single-A Daytona. Lake was also named to the 2011 Arizona Fall League Top Prospects team. He spent all of last year in Tennessee, where he hit .279 with 10 homers, 26 doubles, 21 stolen bases and 50 RBI.

To make room for Lake, the Cubs placed outfielder Brian Bogusevic on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain.

Baez and Soler optioned to minor league camp

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

It had to happen sometime, but Cubs fans in Arizona will definitely miss seeing Javier Baez and Jorge Soler play on a regular basis. The Chicago Cubs have assigned seven players—including many of the organization’s top prospects—to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 53 to 46 players.

Infielders Junior Lake and Josh Vitters have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while infielder Christian Villanueva has been optioned to Double-A Tennessee. Outfielder Jorge Soler has been optioned to Single-A Daytona.

Three non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: right-handed pitcher Barret Loux, infielder Javier Baez and catcher Rafael Lopez.

“I’ll be honest, [at Spring Training] I look forward to the sixth through ninth innings more than I look forward to the first five innings,” said Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. “We’ll watch the veteran guys all year. … Getting a chance to see the young players up close is something we cherish because we can’t do that all season.”

Chicago’s spring roster now consists of 24 pitchers (eight non-roster invitees), four catchers (one non-roster invitee), nine infielders (four non-roster invitees) and nine outfielders (three non-roster invitees).

Cubs sign 21 pre-arbitration players

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs agreed to terms with all 21 pre-arbitration eligible players currently on the organization’s 40-man roster Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

Right-handed pitchers Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack; and lefties Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin and Travis Wood were all signed to new deals.

Catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger; infielders Darwin Barney, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur also earned updated contracts.

Prospectus Preview: Close to the Bigs, Junior Lake

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(Photo by Rodger Wood)

Close to the Majors / Tony Zych

Down the Pipeline / Dan Vogelbach

Trades and Claims / Hunter Cervenka

2012 Draft / Stephen Bruno

Close to the Majors / Robert Whitenack

2012 Draft / Pierce Johnson

Down the Pipeline / Jeimer Candelario

Close to the Majors / Nick Struck

2012 International / Jorge Soler

2012 Trades and Claims / Barret Loux


After a slow start, Junior Lake really took off in 2012. He spent a full season at Double-A Tennessee, where he hit .279/.341/.432 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and focused on developing patience at the plate. As the year went on, he became a big part of the Smokies offense, ripping 10 home runs, driving in 50 and stealing 21 bases.

Though General Manager Jed Hoyer said in a December conference call that he doesn’t put a ton of stock into Caribbean Winter League stats, it’s hard to ignore Lake’s efforts in the Dominican. The versatile defender played all over the diamond, including shortstop, third base and the outfield. His .312/.382/.474 line was in the top five in the league in each category, and he hit five home runs and stole 11 bases during the regular season.

Lake will be playing third and batting seventh for the blue team in the Cubs’ first intrasquad matchup on Thursday afternoon in Mesa, Ariz. He’ll be playing alongside star prospects like Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Brett Jackson and will be opposite the potential Opening Day lineup.

Though the Cubs aren’t entirely sure where they want to place Lake defensively, the 22-year-old showed he can hit against Double-A pitching last season and was added to the team’s 40-man roster.

Lake is one of more than 60 players covered in Vine Line’s annual Minor League Prospectus. The issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. It’s an exhaustive rundown, perfect for Spring Training and beyond.

IF | Junior Lake
Ht./Wt.: 6-2/215
B/T: R/R
Born: 3.27/90 in San Pedro, Dominican Republic
Acquired: 2008 NDFA
Tools: Power, Arm, Speed
2012 STATS (Double-A): .279/.341/.432 in 103 games

Lake’s a prospect you can’t miss, both because of his height (taller than the listed 6-foot-2) and his tools. He has a cannon arm, big, raw power, and good speed despite his large frame. Lake had a solid 2012, though he still hasn’t had the explosive, breakout year many expect. This season, he came to the ballpark with a plan every day, and his walk rate doubled (to 7.8 percent) under the new development team’s expectations. He’ll start at Triple-A and continue to work on defensive versatility, probably at third base and in the outfield as he did in the Dominican Winter League. Not yet 23, Lake has the majors within reach if he shows game utility.


Other players featured in this section: infielders Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; outfielders Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur; and pitchers Alberto Cabrera, Trey McNutt, Brooks Raley, Nick Struck, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych.

Plus, tidbits on OF Jae-Hoon Ha, LHP Chris Rusin, LHP Frank Del Valle, LHP Zach Rosscup, RHP Matt Loosen, IF Justin Bour, RHP Marcus Hatley, LHP Austin Kirk and RHP Eric Jokisch.

Cactus Notes: Sveum on Fitch, leadership and the future

Rainy

A steady rain drowned out most of the final day of Cubs baseball at Fitch Park on Wednesday, but there was still a little news.

The Cubs announced the starters for the opening games of their Cactus League slate, which kicks off this weekend. Travis Wood will get the Saturday start against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, and Jeff Samardzija will pitch the Sunday home opener against the San Francisco Giants. Carlos Villanueva will pitch Game 3 on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Edwin Jackson will start on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Matt Garza’s debut has been pushed back due to a mild lat strain on his left side. It was announced Tuesday that he’ll likely be out about a week before resuming baseball activities.

Manager Dale Sveum also held his daily presser, despite the lack of on-field action. Here are Sveum’s best quotes from the day:

Then vs. Now
“We have a lot of the same guys in camp [from a year ago] that ended getting some time in the big leagues. But like I said yesterday, there’s just a whole different look in their eyes. Having that experience and going through some adversity with some of the young guys, it’s a whole lot different. There’s just so much more talent in camp this year than there was last year—and also depth. Guys that are very capable of pitching in the big leagues or guys that are on our radar getting really close to the big leagues. … There’s just more playable talent in camp this year.”

Leaving Fitch
“Spring Training is what it is in any park. Here it’s a little bit unique because you have to move [from Fitch to HoHoKam]. Probably my first memory here is when I had to come over here 25 years ago and rehab my leg clear across from Peoria [in extended Spring Training]. We shared it with the Cubs at that time.”

Prospect Watch (Javy Baez, Jorge Soler, Junior Lake, etc.)
“We have so many split-squad games they’re going to get quite a few games in before being sent down. There are a lot of at-bats out there.”

“I’m very anxious [to see them]. Those are the guys you talk about that are on your radar in the minor league systems that have all those God-given tools—the speed, the arm, the power, hopefully the hitting ability, meaning OPS and those things. A lot of that stuff comes a little bit later in careers. But it’s pretty special talent and bat speed those guys have. You want to see it in person and at game speed.”

Veteran Leadership
“We do have some personalities that are able to fill those [leadership] roles. I think [Anthony] Rizzo is one of those guys. I think [Darwin] Barney is ready to be that guy. Obviously Rizzo’s rookie year and Barney winning a Gold Glove—those kinds of things give you added ability to be a leader in the clubhouse because people look up to people like that. We have [Alfonso] Soriano, and [Jeff] Samardzija is going to take on that role, as well as [Matt] Garza and Edwin Jackson. So we have plenty of personalities that can do that.”

Building for the Future
“Going into this last year, you knew the plan we had, and we weren’t going to take any shortcuts to vary from it. Within a year, the whole organization has changed so dramatically for the good. You just get better players in the organization, and you create an atmosphere where people want to play here, and they want to come to this ballpark and work. That’s all you can do. That’s the transformation we’re trying to do all the time here. And it’s changed a ton in a year.”

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