Results tagged ‘ Luis Valbuena ’
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
The Cubs got the season’s second crosstown series off to a lopsided start, hammering 15 hits and tallying 12 runs, in a 12-3 victory. Yesterday we broke down the pitching matchups for the Cubs’ series with the South Side Sox. Today we examine the infielders.
Geovany Soto (.173/.257/.337, 4 HR, 21% CS) vs. A.J. Pierzynski (.286/.329/.512, 12 HR, 29% CS)
Geovany Soto is off the DL and looks to have retained his regular catching duties, despite a .173 batting average. Backup catcher Steve Clevenger (.284/.303/.392, 8 doubles, 76 PA), who played first base yesterday, looked good in Soto’s absence. Soto, a former NL All-Star and Rookie of the Year, will need to bolster his stats a bit to keep his everyday job.
A.J. Pierzynski continues to up his game, even at 35 years old. His .286 average is second-highest among AL catchers, and he leads that group in slugging percentage. He should get serious All-Star consideration.
Bryan LaHair (.299/.380/.572, 13 HR, 28 RBI) vs. Paul Konerko (.359/.434/.600, 13 HR, 38 RBI)
Despite not being in the lineup against lefties, Bryan LaHair’s numbers are some of the best among National League first basemen. So far this season, he has been one of the better feel-good stories in baseball. With the Cubs facing three righties this series, expect to see the 29-year-old slugger’s name penciled into the lineup all three games—even if it’s in the outfield, where he started the first game of the series. That could be a signal the team is readying for first base uber-prospect Anthony Rizzo.
But as good as LaHair has been, Paul Konerko has turned himself into a legitimate MVP candidate—an impressive feat for a 36-year-old many believed was past his prime. His .359 batting average is more than 40 points above his career high.
Darwin Barney (.272/.319/.392, 3 HR, 22 RBI) vs. Gordon Beckham (.236/.286/.372, 8 HR, 27 RBI)
Darwin Barney has been a big contributor for the Cubs all season long. While Manager Dale Sveum has platooned much of the starting lineup, Barney has been one of the few steady regulars, regardless of the matchup. His .272 average and .319 OBP are third-best among Cubs regulars, and he has come through in the clutch on several occasions.
Former first-round draft pick Gordon Beckham continues to struggle at the plate after a promising rookie season in ’08. The Sox were hoping Beckham could emerge as a top-of-the-order guy when the season started, but his .286 on-base percentage has kept him at the bottom of the high-powered lineup. However, he did hit the go-ahead home run in the first game at Wrigley earlier this year.
Starlin Castro (.303/.317/.448, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 16 SB) vs. Alexei Ramirez (.230/.255/.282, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 9 SB)
Starlin Castro is putting together another solid campaign and will likely represent the Cubs in July’s All-Star Game. While he’s walked just six times in 285 plate appearances, he’s still hovering around a .300 batting average. And, despite a few mental gaffes, his defense is improving. His UZR ranks him as one of the NL’s elite defensive shortstops. He’s also running more this season. His 16 stolen bases are already closing in on his career-high total (22) from last year.
Alexei Ramirez has been ice cold for the Sox all season, which may be a bigger surprise than Konerko’s torrid start. Last year, the 30-year-old Ramirez finished with a 4.9 WAR (wins above replacement), good for 17th in the AL. This year, he sits a -0.6, third-worst in the league.
Luis Valbuena (.294/.333/.647, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 12 AB) vs. Orlando Hudson (.176/.265/.297, 2 HR, 10 RBI)
The hot corner features a pair of newcomers to their respective teams. Luis Valbuena was signed by the Cubs a week before the season began and just started earning regular playing time after Ian Stewart went on the DL with wrist problems. Valbuena has produced offensively in the past, hitting .250 with 10 homers in 103 games for the Indians in 2009. In just five games this year, he’s already hit two home runs and driven in seven.
The Sox signed 34-year-old Orlando Hudson in May to take over for the slumping Brent Morel. The four-time Gold Glove winner and career second baseman has been moderately successful with the transition to third, committing three errors in 23 games, but he continues to struggle mightily at the dish.
Tomorrow, we focus on designated hitters and outfielders.
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.