Results tagged ‘ Junior Lake ’

Winter League Highlights: Campana capitalizes on opportunity


(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs outfielder Tony Campana might not pass the eye test of most major league scouts. At 5-foot-8 and no more than 170 pounds, Campana doesn’t possess a lot of raw power—and his two career professional home runs back that notion.

But in 89 games with the Cubs last season, he put his speed and defense on display, stealing 24 bases and taking away numerous hits in center field. In just 37 minor league games last year, the 26-year-old swiped 18 bases and posted a .280 average.

Campana has continued his base stealing exploits this winter for Leones del Caracas of the Venezuelan league. He’s played in only 11 games, but he has managed to steal six bags. And he hasn’t been caught yet.

Although he’s hitting only .214 so far, he made the most of his start Tuesday, going 2-for-5, driving in a run in the fifth inning and scoring a run in the eighth in a 10-7 win over the Bravos de Margarita.

Other highlights around the Caribbean:

Dave Sappelt finished 2-for-4 with a pair of runs in a losing effort for his Margarita team in Venezuela.

In the Dominican league, Junior Lake went 1-for-4 with two runs scored in an Estrellas de Oriente win.

Winter League Highlights: Sappelt just misses a cycle


After battling rain delays all last week, Dave Sappelt‘s Bravos de Margarita team in the Venezuelan league finally got back onto the field over the weekend. Apparently the layoff didn’t hurt the Cubs outfielder, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored, falling just a triple short of the cycle, as the Bravos beat the Tiburones 11-9 on Saturday. On Sunday, Sappelt went 2-for-4, raising his winter batting average to .274, in a 6-3 loss to the Cardenales de Lara.

In his first year in Chicago, Sappelt made a good case for a spot on the 2013 roster, hitting .275 with a .351 on-base percentage in 78 major league plate appearances.

Other highlights around the Caribbean:

Cubs reliever Michael Bowden continued to prove he might have a future as a starter in the Aguilas Cibaenas 14-1 win over Licey on Sunday in the Dominican. Bowden scattered five hits and surrendered only one earned run in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five. Bowden is now 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in six Dominican league starts.

Junior Lake hit a three-run home run and scored twice for the first-place Estrellas in a 5-1 victory over Licey on Saturday. Arismendy Alcantara slugged a solo shot for the losing side in the same game. Lake is hitting .333 with four homers, 17 RBI and nine stolen bases on the winter.

Winter League Highlights: Lake is swinging the lumber

(Photo by Rodger Wood)

For years, Cubs infielder Junior Lake has been seen as a raw, toolsy talent with a ton of potential. But it looks like the 22-year-old might be starting to put it all together. This year at Double-A Tennessee, he hit .279/.341/.432 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 10 home runs, 26 doubles, 50 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 405 at-bats. On Wednesday, Vine Line discussed how Luis Valbuena is tearing up the Venezuelan league; the same can be said for Lake, who is having his way with Dominican league pitching.

Lake’s .330 batting average is fourth best in the Dominican; his .398 OBP is good for fifth; and his eight stolen bases are tied for third. Plus, he’s doing this all while alternating between DH, third base and left field.

His 1-for-4 outing yesterday lowered his batting average a bit, but he drove in a run and scored another in a 4-3 loss. Fellow Cub Nelson Cruz was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBI.

Other highlights around the Caribbean:

In the Mexican league, Esmailin Caridad pitched a scoreless eighth inning, surrendering no hits and striking out two in a Yaquis de Obregon win.

In the Venezuelan league, Luis Valbuena continued his run of success, going 1-for-3 with an RBI double, a walk and a run scored in a Cardenales win.

Also in Venezuela, Dave Sappelt recorded a pair of hits and scored a run for the Bravos de Margarita in a loss.

Winter League Highlights: Valbuena continues offensive onslaught

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Between Ian Stewart’s injury and Josh Vitters’ lack of success in his top-level debut, Luis Valbuena spent a good portion of the 2012 season as the Cubs regular third baseman. Thanks to his steady glove, the 26-year-old tallied 90 games at the hot corner and became a favorite of manager Dale Sveum.

But if the versatile infielder’s offensive production in Venezuela this winter can translate to the major league level, the Cubs may be better off at third base than they thought. In the very competitive Venezuelan league, Valbuena’s .462 on-base percentage is tops, and his .330 batting average and 11 doubles in 103 at-bats both rank third. He has also drawn 24 walks, good for second best.

On Tuesday, he continued his solid campaign, going 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the seventh. He also scored two runs and walked twice in a 15-6 Cardenales win.

Other highlights around the Caribbean:

Junior Lake went 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored for Estrellas de Oriente of the Domincan League in an 8-7 loss.

Jeffry Antigua pitched two scoreless innings in relief for Toros del Este of the Dominican League, surrendering no hits and striking out one in a 3-0 win.

Winter League Highlights: Bowden secures second victory

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs reliever Michael Bowden told Vine Line in August that he was excited about playing baseball this winter in the Dominican Republic.

“I love the opportunity of getting to go to new places and seeing what it’s like and learning a new culture, so I think it’s a great experience and I’m looking forward to it,” Bowden said. “And I get to play some ball.”

While Bowden will likely be coming out of the bullpen for either the Cubs or Triple-A Iowa in 2013, his Dominican squad—Aguilas Cibaenas—has made the 26-year-old a regular in their rotation. In five starts, the Winfield, Ill., native has posted a 2-2 record with a 3.92 ERA in 20.2 innings. And five of his nine earned runs allowed this winter came in one outing.

Bowden was clicking on Monday, as he went 5.1 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits. The effort was good enough to earn the righty a win in a 6-4 decision.

Other highlights around Caribbean:

Alberto Cabrera came on in relief for Toros del Este of the Dominican league. He pitched four innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and a walk. He struck out three.

Infielder Junior Lake finished the day 2-for-5 with a walk in a 7-5 loss for Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican league.

The leagues in Puerto Rico and Venezuela were off Monday.

Winter League Highlights: Negrin shines in win

Yoanner Negrin is an arm many people outside the Cubs organization view as an unknown commodity. The Cuban pitcher signed with the Cubs in August of 2011 and spent much of 2012 in the Mexican League—often compared talent-wise to Triple-A ball. He made an August appearance at Double-A Tennessee before a prompt promotion to Triple-A Iowa to wrap up the season. He finished 2012 with a combined 8-7 record, a 3.05 ERA in 124.0 innings, and 91 strikeouts.

Negrin was solid for his Venezuelan Winter League club, Leones del Caracas, Sunday. He went five strong, surrendering one earned run on eight hits with three strikeouts and a walk in a 4-2 win. On the winter, he’s 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA in nine starts (43.2 innings), and has struck out 31 batters and walked 13.

Other winter league highlights include Jae-Hoon Ha‘s solo home run in a Tigres de Aragua 12-4 loss. Cubs infielder Luis Valbuena went 0-for-1 with four walks for the Cardenales’ in a 10-9 win.

Junior Lake was 1-for-3 with a walk in a 4-1 Toros del Estre win over Estrellas Sunday afternoon in the Dominican. Nelson Cruz also drove in a run in his only at-bat for the Toros.

Winter League Highlights: Perez reaches base 5 times

Alberto Cabrera pitched a pair of scoreless innings for Toros del Este Tuesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Estrellas de Oriente went more than the distance Tuesday in a 6-5, sixteen-inning win over Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican League. The almost seven-hour game finally ended when Juan Diaz singled to left in the top of the 16th, scoring Jonathan Galvez. A pair of Cubs prospects played a role in the win.

Nelson Perez‘s on-base percentage jumped when he reached base in five of his eight at-bats. The Double-A outfielder went 1-for-4 and drew four walks. He’s hitting .244 with a .385 OBP on the season. Dominican teammate Junior Lake went 1-for-7 with an RBI single in the seventh.

Another pair of Cubs arms played for Toros del Este Tuesday. Major league reliever Alberto Cabrera made his second appearances of the Dominican season, going two innings, surrendering no runs on two hits, and striking out four in a Toros loss. Jeffry Antigua pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out two.

Cubs outfielder Dave Sappelt hit his first homer of the Venezuelan season, a two-run shot to center. He finished the day 1-for-5 in a 12-2 Bravos de Margarita win.

In other Venezuelan action, Luis Valbuena had a pair of hits, including a double, in a 6-5 loss for Cardenales de Lara.

In Mexico, Esmailin Caridad pitched a scoreless eighth in a 3-0 win for Yaquis de Obregon.

Winter League Highlights: Lake does damage in losing effort

Cubs prospect Junior Lake has crushed pitching in his native Dominican Republic this offseason. The infielder has spent much of the winter ball campaign as Estrellas de Oriente’s designated hitter and currently owns a .363/.409/.513 (AVG/OBP/SLG) slash line with six doubles and six stolen bases in 80 at-bats. So Monday was just more of the same for the 22-year-old. He went 3-for-4, scoring from second on a single in the fourth inning to record the team’s only run in a 6-1 loss. He got into scoring position by stealing second after a base hit.

Others who participated in Dominican League action include Arismendy Alcantara, Nelson Perez and Jeffry Antigua. Alcantara entered his game as a pinch-runner in the ninth for Tigres del Licey, scoring on a single in a winning effort. Lake’s teammate Perez went 0-for-1 in a pitch-hit appearance for Estrella de Oriente. And Antigua came on in relief Monday for Toros del Este, surrendering a solo home run in 2/3 of an inning.

Farm Report Wrap-Up: Keep an eye out for some sleepers on Smokies roster

Tennessee Smokies infielder Logan Watkins was named the organization’s 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo by Rodger Wood)

Today we continue our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The Double-A Tennessee Smokies are next in the spotlight.

For all the talent we’ve written about in the lower levels of the Cubs system, it was the Tennessee Smokies who featured two full seasons from the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.

Two nights ago, infielder Logan Watkins and right-hander Nick Struck were honored by Jason McLeod and farm director Brandon Hyde in a pre-game ceremony at Wrigley Field. Watkins was a 21st-round pick out of high school in the 2008 draft, and he’s shown a consistent ability to get on base throughout his minor league career. This year, he hit for a .281/.383/.422 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) and collected 76 walks in 588 plate appearances. His 13 percent walk rate was three percentage points higher than his already lofty career standards, and his slugging percentage was nearly 50 points higher despite having roughly the same batting average. In other words, it was a career year.

Of course, Watkins’ skill set is broader than just patience. He has versatility in the field—spotting at shortstop and center field in addition to second base—and the speed to rack up double-digit triples and stolen bases. He bats left-handed too. A 23-year-old sleeper to track as he likely moves to Iowa next year.

Struck also is turning out to be a late-round sleeper. A 2009 39th-round pick out of an Oregon community college, Struck emerged as the Smokies’ ace a season after he split time between three levels (A, AA and AAA). His 155 innings led the team, and he finished with a 3.18 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Just as importantly, his hits and walks allowed ticked down from a year ago, while his strikeouts climbed to just over seven per nine innings.

Struck isn’t a high-ceiling type—in other words, someone with a high-90s fastball or a wipeout breaking ball—but he’s succeeded with poise, pitch ability and a versatile four-pitch mix. He turns 23 this month and also is likely to wind up in Iowa next season.

Final Records:

First Half / 35-35, tie-second place, 7.0 GB

Second Half / 37-33, tie-second place, 4.0 GB

Storylines: This is a team that the Cubs front office hopes will develop some future contributors in Chicago. Matt Szczur struggled in his first taste of Double-A, but he has the toolset to hit for average and use his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield alongside Brett Jackson. Right-hander Trey McNutt has had mixed success since his breakout campaign two years ago, but this summer, the Cubs found a new home for his plus fastball and power breaking ball in the bullpen. Shortstop Junior Lake also is smoothing out rough edges, but he has a ceiling that few prospects in the higher levels can match. Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha deserves special mention after a successful all-around campaign including a home run in the Futures Game.

Cactus Notes: Prospects dominate first game

MESA, Ariz.–The first Cubs game of the season is in the books, and the youngest Cubs made a big early statement. The Blue team, led by top prospects Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo, took down the White team, which consisted of most of the projected Opening Day lineup, 10-4 in an intrasquad matchup at HoHoKam Park.

Top prospect Jackson got the Blue team off to a good start when he blasted a leadoff home run off starter Travis Wood.

“I just got a good pitch to hit,” said Jackson, who who went two-for-two with two walks. “It feels good to get underway and get that feel of playing innings instead of facing pitchers with the [cage] over you. It’s a good start all around. I think it was a productive day for everyone.”

Although many of the prospects impressed, Matt Szczur, a former football standout at Villanova University, was the real star of the game, hitting a grand slam, a two-run double and scoring from second on a sacrifice fly. Designated hitter Tony Campana also collected three hits and scored three runs in the game.

Wood, a left-hander who is in the mix for one of the final two rotation spots, struggled over three innings, giving up six runs on six hits, including two home runs. Randy Wells started for the Blue team and gave up three runs and four hits in three innings of work.


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