Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’

June 2011 Vine Line sneak peek

June 2011 Vine Line cover

Hitting your mailbox soon, the June issue of Vine Line is packed with exclusive stories to take you into summer:

  • Cool customers: Starlin Castro sets the path for Brett Jackson and Welington Castillo.
  • Battery barbecue: Sean Marshall and Koyie Hill grill out.
  • Glory Days: 9 Innings with Rick Wrona
  • Farm Report: 2011 draft preview
  • In the Dugout with Mike Quade
  • The Profile: James Russell
  • Minor-league notebooks and more …

Get your insider’s pass today at cubs.com/vineline. Subscriptions start at just $29.95 for 12 issues.

Vine Line on new Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro

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It’s often said in the Cubs organization that players will tell you when they’re ready. After an impressive spring training and start at Double A in which he never stopped hitting, Starlin Castro’s bat and glove have gotten him the go-ahead all the way to Chicago.

General manager Jim Hendry spoke to the media earlier today by phone, and he emphasized that defense is the big reason Castro’s contract was selected today. Castro will play shortstop, moving Ryan Theriot over to second base, which Hendry feels will be a better spot for Theriot at this point in his career.

Looking to learn more about Castro before his big-league debut tonight? We wanted to post a couple of our recent stories from Vine Line. The Farm Report gives the scouting report on the top prospect — as well as an update on the organization’s depth at shortstop. The Inside Pitch talks about how manager Lou Piniella might use the 20-year-old Castro, just like he did a certain other young shortstop in Seattle. (Get more stories on cubs.com/vineline)

For full quotes from Hendry, click past the jump.

(more…)

News and notes from Mesa

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpgMESA, Ariz.–Just some observations from around Hohokam Park:

Manager Lou Piniella isn’t kidding when he keeps reiterating that “a couple of these young kids are going to win jobs.” With a camp filled with first-round draft picks, it’s easy to see why.

– Outfielder Tyler Colvin looks better than ever. I was remarking with a couple of other people during morning practice that Colvin looks like he’s put on 25 pounds. Sure enough, one baseball ops man verified that. This off-season was the first during which Colvin didn’t have an injury to rehab through. He made an impression on many last year with some great catches and timely hitting during a late-season cup of coffee. While he’s a longshot to make the team out of camp, because there’s simply no room for him, I don’t think it’ll be long before he’s back in Chicago. He’s still just 24–he was drafted out of Clemson at 20, not 21 like most juniors–and has three options left, so he’s a prime candidate to ride the shuttle back and forth from Iowa to Chicago in case something happens to an outfielder. It was pointed out to me that Colvin isn’t a guy who does well coming off the bench, so if he comes to Chicago, he will play. He hit a homer and a double in yesterday’s game.

– I am told that hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome have hit it off very well. While there was some reluctance at first, Jaramillo has helped Fukudome shorten his stride, like Soriano. This helped Fukudome stay balanced in the box, and prevents that “spinning” thing he does when things get out of whack. During BP before the game, Fukudome was solidly stinging line drives as well as hitting long home runs to rightfield. During the game, Fukudome had a solid double to centerfield.

– Rule 5 pitcher Mike Parisi gave up a homer to Chicago-native Adam Rosales.

Starlin Castro might be fast, but watching the position players work on baserunning, it’s easy to see just how fast is Brett Jackson. The two have different gaits–Castro has long strides and covers ground in a loping sort of way, while Jackson’s shorter stride is quickened by legs like a halfback.

– Got a real good taste of High Plains Bison meat. The company was giving away samples. It is owned by Ricketts family patriarch Joe Ricketts. I have to say, it’s pretty darn good. Had a sausage with mustard, and it’s better than any hot dog.

–Mike Huang

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News and notes from Mesa

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpg   Just some observations around Hohokam Park today, the first day after the big-league camp moved over from Fitch Park:

–Watched former Rule 5 pick David Patton throw live BP. His got a great breaking ball as most people know, but he had a couple guys turn on him and line singles into right-center.

–Cubs fans filtered into the stadium to watch the team practice. The team is very loose, but the level of camaraderie is as good as it was last year. While much has been made about Milton Bradley’s presence on the team, last year during spring training no one had a problem with him. He was participatory and welcomed.

Marlon Byrd, a friend of Bradley’s, has assimilated nicely into the clubhouse. In fact, he has been quite vocal laughing and smiling, further increasing the fun quotient. During BP, he was working on hitting to the opposite field where Ryan Theriot was manning second. The BP pitcher–I think it was Alan Trammell–pitched faster and more frequently, Byrd kept shooting line drives to Theriot. Theriot kept diving and getting up, diving and getting up, snagging them all until Byrd finally got one past the goalie. But Theriot earned a nice hand from the crowd, while eliciting a big “whoo!” from Byrd.

Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro had their fun turning double plays. Castro, a quiet, easy going kid, was all smiles taking throws from “shortstop” Ramirez. But Ramirez showed his shoulder was in top condition when he snagged a liner that was about a foot above his head. That also earned a double take from teammates.

–Another person who earned double takes from teammates was young right-hander Rafael Dolis. The team was just filtering out for stretching while Dolis was throwing early live BP to a group of hitters that included No. 1 pick Brett Jackson. Standing next to Mike Fontenot, he asked what level he was at. I told him Dolis had dealt with some injuries, but I’d lay odds he’s going to be in Class-A Daytona or better. You didn’t need to be a ballplayer to see just how hard Dolis threw. A little buzz raced through the growing impromptu audience. Dolis’ “heavy” ball made a loud thud every time. The audience got a huge “Ohhh!” when Dolis broke Jackson’s bat. Sawed him off right at the handle.

Later, Jackson came by me and said, “Look at that, Mike. Well, that one ain’t coming back.” And he threw down the broken bat in disgust.

–Mike Huang

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Still all about the team

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    MESA, Ariz.–In 1987, after Andre Dawson got plunked by the Padres’ Eric Show, a young Greg Maddux was told not to retaliate. If he did, he’d be on the first bus back to Triple A.

Still just trying earn his keep at the big-league level, Maddux did not heed those words and uncorked a fastball at Benito Santiago. He wasn’t sent down right away, but he did earn respect.

“It’s all about the team,” he told me, when recalling that story a couple of years ago.

Maddux back small.jpgOn Monday, the man who probably will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball history took his turn….throwing batting practice.

It was very non-descript. I’m not sure anyone else saw it. And in his illustrious career, it was the FIRST time he had ever done it. He’s thrown BP to his kids before, but all these years he’s been in camp as a player and never done it.

In the cage were three young catchers–Robinson Chrinios, Blake Lalli and Steve Clevenger. All three probably hadn’t been born or at least were toddlers when Maddux plunked that guy nearly 23 years ago.

There might be a little paunch to his middle these days, but excuse the guy for enjoying himself a little after spending more than two decades winning 355 games, throwing over 5,000 innings and striking out 3,371 men.

“The game gave me more than I could ever want or ever hope for,” Maddux said. “It’s just nice to be back in it and try and give back and help the players and team. That’s what it’s all about. You help the players, hopefully the team wins more games.”

maddux throwing small.jpgHe was huffing and puffing a little bit out there. “Yeah, throwing BP let’s you know how out of shape you are,” he laughed. “It’s OK for the first 10 minutes, then toward the end you’re sucking wind.”

After the session was over I spied Clevenger packing up his bat and helmet. It was then he gave a quick glance out to the mound. While Maddux was picking up balls–just like any other guy–Clevenger shook his head and smiled a big ol’ grin as if to say, “Man, that was pretty cool. I hit BP off of Greg Maddux.”

“Well, hopefully these young guys realize they are good enough to be in the big leagues,” Maddux said. “I hope they understand to work hard to be successful. Because what this game can do for you and your family is incredible, so they should take advantage of that.”

NOTES FROM THE DAY 2:

– Carlos Silva pitched for the first time. He looked decent. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild encouraged him to drive more off his back leg.

– Geovany Soto returned to action, looking fit and solid.

– During double play drills and infield practice, it was amazing to see how smooth Andres Blanco is at shortstop.

– Rookie Starlin Castro looked good during live BP, raking several John Grabow offerings into left field. Line drives, not flyballs, mind you.

– Xavier Nady sat out outfield cutoff drills because of his arm, on which he had Tommy John surgery last year. He stood next to manager Lou Piniella, talking about angles of pursuit.

– It was the “Carlos Show” with Silva and both Zambrano and Marmol throwing live BP. Both looked good, throwing hard and crisp.

–Mike Huang

Vine Line subscribers  will read more of this Greg Maddux interview in the coming months in Vine Line and its new landing page on cubs.com, soon to debut this month.The page will include stories from the current month’s issue, a photo gallery from Steve Green and video from spring training and Wrigley Field, during the season.

To subscribe to Vine Line, visit http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/fan_forum/vineline.jsp

 

Say cheese…*yawn*

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        MESA, Ariz.–It was still dark this morning when staff photographer Steve Green and I made our way to Fitch Park. Though it was 5:30 a.m., to me it was more like 7:30 in Chicago. I felt pretty good. After a short stop at Starbucks, we arrived at the Cubs’ minor-league facility.

Photo day dawn small.jpgThings were still soggy after it rained virtually all day on Sunday. I never have seen so much rain in Arizona, but by the afternoon, most of it had dried up.

Photo Day is when teams take care of photos for MLB security IDs, standard headshots that other teams use on their jumbotrons.

 Also on hand to shoot the players were Topps trading cards, Getty photo services and the Associated Press.

Three stations crammed into a room that usually serves as the coaches’ meeting room. We move all of the tables and chairs to make room.

photo day work room small.jpgXavier Nady, a newcomer to the Cubs, asked “Are these the headshots used on the jumbotron?”

He was worried about how his face looked on a big screen after inspecting one headshot on the photographer’s digital camera.

But when he was reminded that Wrigley Field does not have a jumbotron, he retorted, “Hey, that’s right. Well, in that case, I guess that’s OK.”

In his first big-league camp, rookie Starlin Castro was quiet, but did everything Steve asked.

Castro small.jpgWe were doing a special shoot for our April issue of Vine Line, which will feature our 2010 season preview. He’s a good-looking athlete and certainly has merited all the hype he’s attracted.

Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg takes over our Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. Always accommodating, “Ryno” is a veteran of these photo days, and knew exactly what to do.

No Geovany Soto, he was sent home with a 102-degree fever. Ouch.

Michael Huang 

 To subscribe to Vine Line, visit http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/fan_forum/vineline.jsp

Watch top Cubs prospects in AFL Rising Stars Game

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgWant a sneak peek at some of the top prospects Vine Line has been covering in the Minor-League Notebooks?

Tune in to the MLB Network this Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT to see pitchers Andrew Cashner and Blake Parker, and infielders Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters. All four will be playing for the East Division in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.

And when it comes down to top prospects in the Cubs organization, you can’t get much bigger than these four. Vitters and Cashner are the Cubs’ 2007 and 2008 first-round draft picks, respectively. At just 19 years old, Castro might just be the Cubs prospect gaining attention the fastest. And Parker is a converted infielder who looked good as a part-time closer in Double and Triple A this season.

Vitters J Futures batting.jpgVitters is hitting for a .360 AVG/.385 OBP/.460 SLG line over 12 games in the Arizona Fall League, but he has made it his goal to work on his third-base defense while playing with the game’s top minor-leaguers.

“I know my bat will be there,” Vitters told Vine Line earlier this year. “I want my defense to be up there with the best of them.”

With the system stocked with good infielders, vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita has been able to slowly move Vitters up the ladder, splitting his time between Class-A Peoria and Daytona this season. But the 20-year-old’s natural hitting ability has only drawn rave reviews.

“When you first watch him take batting practice, he can really drive the ball,” Peoria manager Marty Pevey told Vine Line. “He has as quick of hands as any young player. I’d say his hands are as quick as Bob Horner back with the Braves when he came out of Arizona State.”

The Vine Line blog will have more on Castro, Cashner and Parker later this week.

– Sean Ahmed

Photo credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

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