Winter Leagues Report: Week 4

Good morning, and welcome to Week 4! In today’s addition we learn that the Cubs’ organization has some additions to the winter leagues. Iowa Cubs pitcher has Williams Perez has joined Cardenales de Lara, while Tennessee Smokies Gioskar Amaya and Yasiel Balaguert are with Navagantes de Magallanes and Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League. Meanwhile, the Cubs have claimed pitcher off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

Mexican Pacific League

Caneros de los Mochis

Consistency continues to evade Los Mochis, as a five game win streak ended on Wednesday with a 3-2 loss to Mexicali. Manuel Rodriguez did his part to help the Caneros get back into the game, tossing a scoreless seventh and eighth inning, giving up a walk and a hit while striking out a batter. Mexicali 3 - Los Mochis 2

The Sugarcane-men clawed their way back to .500 on Saturday by sweeping a doubleheader from Mazatlan. In Game 2, Los Mochis answered a run in the top of the fifth inning with three of their own to edge past the Venados 5-4. Helping nail down the victory was Manuel Rodriguez, who struck out the only man he faced with two outs in the sixth inning. Los Mochis 5 - Mazatlan 4


Tomateros de Culiacan

Culiacan maintained their thin hold on first place on Wednesday with a five run rally in the top of the ninth to defeat Mazatlan 7-2. Iowa catcher Ali Solis was part of the twelve hit attack as he went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Culiacan 7 - Mazatlan 2

The Tomateros were able to keep up their pace on Friday as they edged Obregon 3-2 despite giving up two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Ali Solis doubled to lead off the eighth inning, but was thrown out at home on a bunt attempt, going 1-for-4 in the game. Culiacan 3 - Obregon 2

On Saturday, Culiacan upheld their one game lead despite dropping a 5-3 decision to Obregon. Catcher Ali Solis doubled and was 1-for-3 in the loss. Obregon 5 - Culiacan 3


Venezuelan Winter League

Cardenales de Lara

On Wednesday, Lara continued to battle to remain competitive in the first half of the season by beating Magallanes 4-3. Yapson Gomez was part of a seven pitcher effort, striking out the only batter he faced in the seventh inning. Lara 4 - Magallanes 3

Despite jumping ahead 2-0 in the game, the Cardenales succumbed to first place Aragua 8-3 on Thursday. In his first start of the season, Iowa right-hander Williams Perez scattered two hits and two walks, as he struck out two in four scoreless innings. Aragua 8 - Lara 3


Caribes de Anzoategui

It was another disappointing effort for Anzoategui on Friday, as the Caribes fell 14-4 to La Guaira. Erick Castillo entered the game in the fourth inning and was 1-for-2 in the loss. La Guaira 14 - Anzoategui 4


Navegantes del Magallanes

A traditional power struggling for consistency this season, Magallanes was humbled on Tuesday 12-6 by La Guaira. Coming back from a serious knee injury, utility man Gioskar Amaya made his winter debut at designated hitter and was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. La Guaira 12 - Magallanes 6

In one of the biggest offensive explosions of the winter, the Navegantes walloped Lara 19-2 on Friday. Returning at DH, Gioskar Amaya drove in four and was 1-for-4 with a double, a hit by a pitch, and a run scored in the romp. Magallanes 19 - Lara 2


Bravos de Margarita

The Margarita was unable to produce any more runs after the first inning on Friday in a 3-1 loss to Caracas. Eugenio Palma came in with one out in the fifth inning and walked the only batter he was allowed to face. Caracas 3 - Margarita 1


Tiburones de La Guaira

One game out of last place in the VWL, La Guaira got a big boost in confidence on Friday with a 14-4 victory over Anzoategui. Tennessee 1B/OF Yasiel Balaguert made his Venezuelan debut at an unusual position, third base. Balaguert entered in the sixth inning and tripled in his first at bat, going in for 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in the game. Tiburones 14 - Caribes 4

The Hammerheads got behind the eight ball early on Saturday against Magallanes, but made a game of it late in an 8-5 loss. Yasiel Balaguert moved to DH and did what he does best, drive in runs. For the game, Balaguert was 1-for-4 with two RBI. Magallanes 8 - La Guaira 5


Tigres de Aragua

On Sunday, Aragua maintained their wide lead in the VWL by outgunning Margarita 4-3. Stephen Perakslis was better than his previous two starts, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks, going five innings and striking out three. Carlos Penalver moved to the number two slot in the order and was 1-for-5 with a run scored. Aragua 4 - Margarita 3

In Monday’s spotlight game, the Tigers saved all their runs for the sixth inning in defeating Margarita 3-2. Moving back to the lead-off spot, Carlos Penalver went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Aragua 3 - Margarita 2

The Tigres once again capitalized on a big sixth inning to extend their record to 15-4 on Wednesday with a 7-6 victory over Anzoategui. James Pugliese inherited a two on-one out situation in the top of the sixth and allowed a two-run double. For the game, Pugliese allowed two earned runs in 0.1 innings. Carlos Penalver remained the catalyst, going 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, a run scored, two RBI, and a stolen base. Aragua 7 - Anzoategui 6

Aragua hung a four-spot up in the fifth and eighth innings as they beat Lara 8-3 on Thursday. Carlos Penalver moved down to the eighth slot in the order and was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Tigers 8 - Cardinals 3

Friday was an oddity for Aragua this season, as they were taken down by Zulia 8-4. Batting seventh, Carlos Penalver was 2-for-4 with a double for the Cats. Zulia 8 - Aragua 4


News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs claimed LHP Randy Rosario off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Rosario is currently playing for Gigantes de Cibao in the Dominican Winter League.


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  • We all know Penalver has a good glove and no power. Is there any chance he becomes enough of a contact hitter to be a bench player for the Cubs? Mike Freeman was brutal in the field when Javy and Addy were banged up. I would prefer a defensive option at SS if that situation arose again. Penalver now has 10 xtra base hits in 22 games in VWL. Bad pitching or improved bat? Whattya think, Tom or Michael?

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    Hard to say for sure until Penalver comes back to the states and shows he can produce against more consistent and higher quality pitching.

    However, many players have used the winter leagues as a springboard in their development. Marwin Gonzalez and Willson Contreras are two prime examples.

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    I'm really doubtful it happens. He is just not very strong and doesn't hit the ball with any authority. His defense has yet to stabilize either, still not consistent enough on the routine plays.

    He is a true SS as a defender, though not an elite glove, so it is useful to have him around. It is always possible he takes another step forward.

  • Roster moves today:
    OF Leonys Martin outrighted
    RHP Cory Mazzoni claimed off waivers
    RHP Matt Carasiti selected from AAA

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The 28 year old Mazzoni made MLB debut in 2015, but was an absolute dumpster fire upon making his debut after solid MiLB numbers. He then missed much of 2016 and then the first half of 2017 due to injury.

    Returned in July to AAA, put up very impressive numbers in 20 innings then added to Pads 40 man roster in September. Once again was hammered in the bigs in limited action (6 games).

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    He has given up 38 runs (on 40 hits) in 16.2 MLB innings. And no, that is not a typo.

    3.68 ERA in 107.2 AAA innings with 126 Ks.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    In 2017 he put up a 0.89 ERA and 33 K in 20.1 innings at El Paso

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Throws 92-95. Fastball-Slider guy.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:


    If Jen-Ho Tseng became a relief pitcher, what do you think that would do to his velocity? Do you think he could he have success similar to Maeda as a reliever?

  • In reply to dacubby1:

    There were reports prior to his signing that Tseng could touch 95. We've never seen that as s pro though. Now he has physically matured and sits consistently in the low 90s now (as opposed to dipping into high 80s early in his career). It is always possible there is more in there, especially in shorter outings, but honestly Tseng does not strike me as that kind of pitcher. He seems comfortable mixing pitches and changing speeds. He has a starter's command and repertoire (even if it is a BOR repertoire). Even if he fails as a starter and moves to the pen, I think he would still pitch in a similar fashion.

    My concern with Tseng is whether he can be effective multiple times through a batting order. I think he can go through a lineup twice, which is why I think he can be an effective 4-6 inning BOR guy, but I think his fastball and curve will start get hammered if asked to do more than that. If he fails as a starter I think he can be an effective long guy, spot starter type.

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    The Cardinals released Trevor Rosenthal. He had surgery in Aug so I doubt that he'd be pitching next year but could the Cubs claim him and see what happens. They did draft Cease when they knew he would have surgery but trusted his stuff. I can see them trying to sign him. Maybe he could be the 2018 Schwarber and come back in time for the playoffs.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'd like to see them sign him to a contract with an affordable 2019 option.

  • MLB free agency has now officially begun.

  • Perhaps this is a significant development? On Sunday, Yasiel Balaguert played a full game at third base.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    Boy, do I just not see that. He isn't a terrible athlete, but first step quickness is not the first thing that springs to my mind with him. Arm would be fine over there though if I am remembering his OF arm properly.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I know he lumbers a bit in the outfield. That's why I wasn't surprised to see Balaguert move to first base. But third? Can't see why the Cubs would want to try this unless they really don't think that Jesse Hodges can make the jump to Double-A and the only options for Tennessee at third would be Vimael Machin and Trent Giambrone.

  • Are any of the 2 pitchers the Cubs just picked up any good?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Carasiti was already in the system. He was acquired from the Rockies for Zac Rosscup at midseason. He had some (unsuccessful) MLB time with them in 2016 after being a top reliever in their system prior to that. He was a PCL All-Star last year and led the circuit in saves.

    I was on the fence about the club adding him to the 40 man. He would have been a MiLB FA had they not, and likely would have gotten a contract elsewhere, but frankly Carasiti reminds me a lot of Pena, Johnson and some of the other fringe AAA/MLB arms we've seen the past few years. He can effective when he throws quality strikes, but he wasn't particularly consistent at doing that. Like all of those guys if he can turn the corner and lock it in, he can be an effective middle relief or set up man though. But for a FO that has stated they wanted to focus on strike throwers for the pen, I thought there was a chance they would look elsewhere.

    Can't say I know much about Mazzoni, beyond his numbers at this point (see posts above). He did throw strikes at AAA this year but boy are his MLB numbers ugly. It isn't just a couple of bad outings inflating things either. He has a handful of 6-8 run outings as well as plenty of 2-4 run outings. He has been hammered both times he has received opportunities. But he was really effective at AAA and in El Paso, which plays in a ton of hitter friendly environs. So maybe there is still some upside. He is a former 2nd rounder and has decent velo in the mid 90s.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    They are depth and guys with enough stuff to play at the MLB level. Reliever performance is so tough to predict though.

    Look at a guy like Blake Parker. Similar mold as these guys, great at AAA, struggles his first chance in MLB, then has a good 2/3 year with Cubs, then struggles next year and goes back to minors. Gets DFA year later, and then again before season is over. Struggles again in MLB. Waived and claimed by a 4th team. DFA again. Goes unclaimed and gets ST invite. Has strong spring, makes Angels club, goes on to have a great 2017, even gets a chance as a closer for a while.

    You just have to hope that a guys like this find their groove in the season that they are with you. If they do, you have a cheap middle relief innings eater. If they don't, they get waived and move on to the next team and the cycle starts itself over.

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    Nice story on MBLTR about the Cubs offseason outlook.

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