Results tagged ‘ lineups ’

Minors tracker: Week one prospect report

We’re only a week into the minor league season, but some young stars already are starting to blossom. A few of the Cubs affiliates are playing better than others, but there’s no denying some individuals left Spring Training ready to go.

High-profile corner infielders Josh Vitters and Anthony Rizzo have powered Triple-A Iowa to a 5-3 start. Vitters (.458/.500/.500) has racked up 11 hits in 24 at-bats, driving in six runs. Rizzo, who the Cubs acquired from the Padres for Andrew Cashner, has been just as impressive (.387/.424/.677), smacking three home runs and driving in 10.

Welington Castillo, a backstop who narrowly missed a spot on the Cubs Opening Day roster, is hitting .357 with a 1.214 OPS in 14 at-bats.

Top prospect Brett Jackson has recorded a .276 average with four RBI.

Ace Randy Wells is 1-0 in two starts, posting a 5.25 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and seven strikeouts.

Double-A Tennessee, resting at .500 with a 4-4 record, has plenty of bright spots in both the lineup and on the bump. Shortstop Elliot Soto has a .476 OBP and is slugging .500. Michael Burgess (.333/.417/.524) has a home run and 11 total bases.

Nicholas Struck (1-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 15 K, 12 IP), Dallas Beeler (1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 11 IP) and Trey McNutt (0.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8 K, 7.2 IP) have all been consistent members of the rotation early on.

Despite Daytona’s 1-6 record, a few individuals still have something to smile about. First-round pick Hayden Simpson has a 3.60 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in two starts, and outfielder John Andreoli has a .429 average with a .600 OBP, drawing six walks in 20 total at-bats.

Pitching has been the key for Class-A affiliate Peoria. The Chiefs, who sit at 3-4, have gotten two solid outings each from Michael Jensen (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11 IP) and Patrick Francescon (0-1, 3.48 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 12 K, 10.1 IP).

Cubs Trivia: Milwaukee’s Best?

By now, many are aware of Cubs Manager Dale Sveum’s ties to the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He spent 1986-91 as a player with the franchise to the north. Then from 2006-11, he acted at various times as the team’s bench coach, third base coach, hitting coach and interim manager. But he isn’t the only Cubs skipper in the last decade to have ties to the Brew Crew.

Rene, who went 0-1 as the Cubs’ interim manager in 2002, also spent time at the helm of the Brewers. Lachemann was an assistant to Don Baylor from 2000-02 with the Cubs, but he managed the team on July 5, 2002, against the Braves–the night Baylor was fired and before Bruce Kimm relieved him of his duties. Matt Clement picked up the loss in a 4-3 defeat.

Lachemann managed the Brewers during the 1984 season. There were high hopes for the squad, which was only two years removed from losing the World Series in seven games. But Lachemann’s team finished a disappointing 67-94, and he was fired with three games remaining in the season.

Cubs sign Valbuena off waivers

Chicago — The Cubs claimed infielder Luis Valbuena off waivers from the Blue Jays Wednesday and outrighted right-hander Frankie De La Cruz to Triple-A Iowa.

Valbuena, 26, is a versatile infielder who has spent time at second base, shortstop and third base. He has recorded 13 home runs and compiled a .226 Major League average in four seasons (Seattle in 2008, Cleveland 2009-11). In 2009 he recorded 25 doubles and 10 home runs.

With Triple-A Columbus last season, Valbuena batted .302 (127-for-420) with 22 doubles, 17 home runs and 75 RBI in 113 games.  He posted a .372 on-base percentage and a .476 slugging percentage, good for an .848 OPS.  He was a mid-season and International League All-Star.

Valbuena will be on the Opening Day roster.

De La Cruz, who was claimed off waivers by the Cubs from Milwaukee on March 16, pitched 11 games for the Brewers last season, posting a 2.77 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP.

Cactus Notes: Opening Day lineup revealed

Last Friday, Manager Dale Sveum set his lineup against the Dodgers the same way he plans on setting it Thursday against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

1. David DeJesus – RF
2. Darwin Barney – 2B
3. Starlin Castro – SS
4. Bryan LaHair – 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano – LF
6. Ian Stewart – 3B
7. Marlon Byrd – CF
8. Geovany Soto – C
9. Ryan Dempster – P

Throughout the spring, there was speculation about the top of the order, mainly over where Castro would bat. Sveum even toyed with Soriano in the leadoff spot, but after a powerful preseason (.316, six homers, five doubles), Soriano landed in the middle of the order. Barney was rewarded for his .392 Cactus League average with the second slot, and, despite a slow first half of spring, LaHair turned it around enough to secure the cleanup spot.

Cactus Notes: Cubs reduce roster to 31 players

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.

Cactus Notes: Camp in, Miller out

Mesa, Ariz. — The Cubs made a pair of minor moves Monday, signing right-hander Shawn Camp and releasing lefty reliever Trever Miller.

Camp signed a minor league deal five days after being released by the Mariners. The 36-year-old posted a 4.21 ERA in 66 innings of relief for the Blue Jays last year, but was not offered arbitration despite his Type-B status. He recorded a 2.16 ERA in 8.1 innings for the Mariners this spring, striking out six.

Miller, 38, had a 5.40 ERA despite his 1.08 WHIP in 8.1 innings in Mesa for the Cubs. The former first-round pick signed a minor league deal as free agent with the squad on Jan. 30.

Cactus notes: Dempster to start Opening Day

Mesa, Ariz. — Cubs manager Dale Sveum named veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster the club’s Opening Day starter over the weekend.

The 34-year-old will start his second consecutive opener for the Cubs and fourth Opening Day start overall (Florida 2001-02) when he takes the Wrigley Field mound April 5 against Washington.

His 2011 totals of 10 wins and a 4.80 ERA are his lowest since the Cubs moved Dempster into the rotation in 2007, but Sveum ultimately picked the veteran for his consistency. The two-time All-Star fanned 191 batters last season, good for 11th in the NL. He also started a league-best 34 games and pitched 202 innings, good for top 20 in National League.

Dempster will face off against 23-year-old Nationals’ phenom Stephen Strasburg.

Cactus Notes: B. Jackson, Rizzo, 5 others sent to minor league camp

Mesa, Ariz. – The Chicago Cubs sent seven players to minor league camp Friday, including a pair of elite prospects in Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson.

Rizzo, as well as infielder Adrian Cardenas were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while Brett Jackson, Jim Adduci, Michael Brenly, Jay Jackson and Bobby Scales were assigned to minor league camp.

Rizzo, a 22-year-old first base prospect, came over in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres for pitcher Andrew Cashner. Rizzo hit .364 with a .962 OPS in 33 at-bats this spring.

The Cubs used a 2009 first-round draft pick on the five-tool outfielder Brett Jackson. The non-roster invitee hit .276 with seven RBI and an OPS of .986 through 29 at-bats in the Cactus League.

While Manager Dale Sveum has praised both of their abilities throughout the spring, it was well-documented that neither would make the Opening Day roster.

Cactus Notes: Sonnanstine outrighted to Iowa

Mesa, Ariz — The Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher Andy Sonnanstine was assigned outright to the organization’s Triple-A Iowa squad Thursday. Entering spring training vying for a spot in the rotation, the 29-year-old posted a 14.40 ERA in five innings through four games.

The move reduces the current roster to 47 players, and Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players.

Sonnanstine came over as a free agent in the offseason. He spent the last five years with the Rays, winning 28 games in his time in Tampa as both a starter and reliever.

Cubs sign Cuban left-hander Concepcion

MESA, Ariz. – The Chicago Cubs and left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion have agreed to terms on a five-year major league contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Concepcion, who turned 20 last month, earned Cuban National Series Rookie of the Year honors last season after going 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 21 games (16 starts) for the Industriales. At just 19, Concepcion placed among league leaders in wins (tied for sixth), winning percentage (second at .769) and ERA (ninth).

A season earlier, the 6-foot-2 southpaw pitched for Havana in the Cuban Junior National Tournament, going 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA (16 ER/47.0 innings pitched) in 15 appearances, six as a starter. He struck out 39, walked only 15 and did not allow a home run in 47.0 innings.

Although Concepcion was added to the 40-man roster, he will report to minor league camp. Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 40 players.

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