Cubs in the Off-Season Leagues – Week 5

Good morning! Week 5 in the off-season leagues saw a couple of Cubs middle infield prospects begin to assert themselves. Meanwhile a few pitching prospects had some dazzling efforts. For more, take a look inside!

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox

As the week began on Monday, pitching once again was the undoing for Mesa as they lost 9-5 to Glendale. After an impressive first two innings, starter Keegan Thompson fell apart. Thompson would go on to allow 3 earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 2 batters in 3.2 innings. Scott Effross relieved and performed better. Effross fanned 4 and gave up only one hit in 1.1 scoreless innings. Shortstop Zack Short continued his stellar play in the field and was 2-for-4 in the loss.  Glendale 9- Mesa 5

Zack Short (by Stephanie Lynn)

Zack Short (by Stephanie Lynn)

The Solar Sox were unable to overcome an early deficit on Tuesday and lost to Glendale 4-3. Zack Short is starting to lock down the shortstop position for Mesa, as he went 1-for-2 with 2 walks and a stolen base. Miguel Amaya started at catcher and Jared Young at first base, with both going 0-for-4 for the day. Glendale 4- Mesa 3

Wednesday was a quiet day for both Mesa and their Cubs prospects, as they lost 3-0 to Scottsdale. Erich Uelmen was the only player for the Cubs to appear, as the right-handed pitcher allowed only one hit in a scoreless sixth inning. Scottsdale 3- Mesa 0

After an off-day on Thursday, the anemic Solar Sox offense failed to produce once again in losing 4-0 to Scottsdale on Friday. The lack of production of his teammates has not seemed to affect shortstop Zack Short, who was 1-for-3 with a double, walk, and stolen base in the loss. Catcher Miguel Amaya was 0-for-4, while first baseman Jared Young went 0-2 with a walk. Lefty Jordan Minch entered in the seventh and set down the side in order. Scottsdale 4- Mesa 0

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Mesa closed out the week by finally having their pitching and offense in sync as they defeated Peoria 5-1. The Solar Sox had the answer for Houston's super pitching prospect Forrest Whitley in Keegan Thompson. In a masterful performance, Thompson dealt for 5 scoreless innings, fanning 5 batters and allowing only one hit. Also solving the Whitley puzzle was first baseman Jared Young, taking the Astr0 deep with a solo home run as he was 1-for-4. Zack Short once again played great defense at shortstop while going 0-for-4. Scott Effross close the door with a scoreless ninth inning. Mesa 5 - Peoria 1

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas

On Sunday, it was all-Aguilas as Cibaenas pounded out 10 hits in a 7-0 shellacking of Orentales.  Robel Garcia started at second base and went 1-for-3 with a double and walk, 2 RBI and a run scored. Cibaenas 7 - Orientales 0

The Aguilas survived a late inning scare on Monday as they held on to defeat Este 5-3. Robel Garcia was once again at second base and moved up to third in the order, going 1-for-4 with a walk in the win. Cibaenas 5 - Este 3

Gigantes del Cibao

The Gigantes began the week by not getting enough out of their offense on Sunday as they bowed 3-2 to Escogido. Left fielder Roberto Caro was 1-for-4, but centerfielder Donnie Dewees went 0-for-4 in the loss. Escogido 3- Cibao 2

Roberto Caro takes his place in right field / photo Tom Usiak

Roberto Caro takes his place in right field / photo Tom Usiak

In a tight contest on Monday, Cibao was able to score in the bottom of the ninth to eek out a 3-2 victory over Licey. Roberto Caro was moved to lead-off and the left fielder was 1-for-4. Centerfielder Donnie Dewees was not a fortunate in going 0-for-4. Cibao 3- Licey 2

On Thursday, the Giants went toe-to-toe with Escogido for five innings, only to let a 5-run seventh spoil things as they lost 5-0. Donnie Dewees moved up to second in the batting order and to left field and was 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. Escogido 5 - Cibao 0

Estrellas Orientales

Orientales did not have an answer for Cibaenas on Sunday, as they were battered 7-0. Right-handed pitcher Oscar De La Cruz was called on by the Stars and gave up an earned run on 3 hits as he struck out a batter in one inning. Orientals 0 - Cibaenas 7

Mexican Pacific League

Aguilas de Mexicali

As the week opened on Sunday, it took 11 innings for Mexicali to finally dispatch Monterrey 4-3. Phillip Evans started the game at third base and was 1-for-2 with a double, 2 walks, and a run scored before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the ninth. Mexicali 4 - Monterrey 3

On Tuesday, the Aguilas could not survive a big fourth inning by Monterrey as they ended up losing 4-3. Phillip Evans moved across the diamond to first base and was 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI. Monterrey 4 - Mexicali 3

The Mexicali offense was stagnant on Wednesday, managing only 4 hits in a 2-0 loss to Monterrey. Phillip Evans was back at third base and was one of the few contributors, going 1-for-3 in the game. Monterrey 2 - Mexicali 0

Thursday, the Eagles built a 5-3 lead over six innings against Monterrey and held on for a 5-4 victory. Third baseman Phillip Evans went 1-for-4 in the contest. Mexicali 5 - Monterrey 4

Mexicali broke open a 2-2 tie on Friday with a 3-run eighth inning as they defeated Navojoa 5-2. First baseman Phillip Evans was apart of that action, as he singled and scored a run in the eighth as part of a 2-for-4 night. Mexicali 5 - Navojoa 2

Mayos de Navojoa

Navojoa notched their first win of the season on Tuesday night as they blanked Mazatlan 3-0. Chih-Wei Hu started for the Mayos and scattered 5 hits as he struck out 5 in 6 scoreless innings. Navojoa 3 - Mazatlan 0

Yaquis de Obregon

On Sunday, Obregon flexed their muscles once again as they destroyed Jalisco 11-3. Batting second and playing second base, Carlos Sepulveda once again was a catalyst. Sepulveda was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored in the victory. Obregon 11 - Jalisco 3

Carlos Sepulveda (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Carlos Sepulveda (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Tuesday saw the Yaquis stumble for the first time this season as they were humbled by Culiacan 9-3. Second baseman Carlos Sepulveda saved some face for Obregon by cracking a solo home run in the ninth, as he went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in the game. Culiacan 9 - Obregon 3

Obregon was not able to keep up with Culiacan for a second straight day, as they fell 6-3 on Wednesday. Carlos Sepulveda continued to be one of the bright spots, as he was 1-for-2 with a double, 2 walks and a sacrifice, along with a two-out RBI. Culiacan 6 - Obregon 3

The Yaquis bounced back on Thursday and took it to Culiacan, tallying 4 runs in the first and they won 8-6. Second baseman Carlos Sepulveda keeps on hitting, as 1-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored in the win. Obregon 8 - Culiacan 6

Saturday, the Tribe closed out the week by using a 5-run seventh to get past Hermosillo 6-4. Second baseman Carlos Sepulveda drove in the Yaquis first run of the game in the third, as he was 1-for-5 for the night. Obregon 6 - Hermosillo 4


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  • Just some updates:

    For all you Robel Garcia fans out there, he is not on a good streak. Garcia has gone without a hit in his last four games and committed an error at second base.

    And here's a blast from the past. Picking up his fourth save of the season in Mexico was Trey McNutt of Hermosillo.

  • Is today the day the cubs make their announcement or does the silence mean they are leaning towards Espada?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Baseball doesn't allow announcements during the WS, so I would think it's going to be today whether it's Espada or Ross. If it's Espada, does he continue with the Astros through the WS?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The bigger question is: If it is Espada, will the front office allow him to build the club in a similar way to the Astros?

    If so, look for all of those players with 100+ strikeouts to be on the trading block.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    I think it's more about better balance. Springer, Correa and Alvarez are high K guys after all. I do think that you'll see more of an emphasis on K rate though and nobody who the guy is they'll lose one of the K guys and pick up a contact guy.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I sure hope so. Houston leads MLB in walks, OBP and OPS - and is dead last in strikeouts. Replacing a "K guy" would help, but some individual player improvement wouldn't hurt.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yeah, you're going to have to get that. a guy like Schwarber, who may or may not be back, reducing his K rate to 21% in his second half is what you would like to see. Houston's 18% K rate is a pipe dream, but dropping from 23.6% to the 21% or so the top teams in the NL have should be a real goal.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    Tom, logic suggests that the front office would hire a manager who is on the same page with the type of roster construction they are seeking. Thus, there would be absolutely no need to "allow" the manager to build the club in a way the front office would not.

    Plus, I find it highly doubtful the Cubs will seek to trade all of the players with 100+ strikeouts. That would be Bryant, Baez, Contreras, Schwarber and Heyward (not that there'd be any takers on Heyward without eating much of his contract).

    If they were trade away some guys, I expect one or more of Bryant, Contreras, Quintana and Bote will go.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    That is why I feel that Espada may not be the right fit.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    Right fit? Espada was one of two people given a 2nd interview.

    Do you actually think if he had such large philosophical differences with the front office they wouldn't have discovered that during the 1st interview?

    Where do you get this stuff?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    From over 35 years of experience as an interviewer.

    The hiring process typically consists of a small sample size, so finding someone who is a perfect fit is pretty much luck. Practically all candidates have some flaws.

    We don't know the specific criteria the Cubs front office used. What we do know is that both Espada and Ross "checked off enough boxes" to warrant a second interview.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Cora did in the same situation so I don't see why not.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    The 'silence' may be due to Espada having a few offers of interest. It may not be the Cubs choosing to drag this out.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Could be although you would figure the Cubs job would be the most attractive of the three he’s a candidate for with the others being the Giants and Pirates. Also could be, even though he could have taken the job today, that he chose not to be. Or maybe the team wanted another interview with Ross. In any case we won’t hear anything official until the conclusion of the Series

  • Sepulveda is looking good for the Yaquis. He's pretty young yet, so I could see him starting back at Myrtle Beach to build that OPS but it would be nice to see him get some ABs at AA this year.

  • Keegan Thompson has had some encouraging starts this fall coming back from injury this year. Should start at AA and hopefully he will rise quickly in the next two seasons. Minor league numbers have looked good to date and he is an older prospect (25). Would love to add him to the rotation in 2021 or 2022.

  • What, no announcement yet?

  • Intrigued by the Japanese cf akiyama the cubs apparently have been scouting.31 years old , great defender . .388 obp %, high contact guy 89 walks , 90 k’s

    That’s your potential cf/lead off hitter. Shouldn’t break the bank because he can’t be posted and because of age.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Agreed, bolla.

    Shogo Akiyama is potentially the perfect fit for the Cubs. An above average CF who gets on base in front of their power hitters is exactly what this roster is lacking. He's 31, which isn't ideal and has already showed signs of regression in his CF defense, but he's far from old and should fit with the window of contention the Cubs currently have.

    While his age and lack of a posting fee (making him an international free agent) might drive costs down a bit, there is a great need for good CFers in the MLB right now. I count about half the teams in the league are looking for an upgrade at that position. That might more than counteract any potential savings his age and lack of posting fee might bring.

    If the Cubs miss out on him, I'm hoping they're able to acquire a good CF with OBP skills via trade.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Akiyama's numbers in the NPB are pretty close to Kosuke Fukudome's numbers. He doesn't have a lot of stolen bases, but if he could maintain close to his career OBP (.376 according to BR) he might be worth picking up, as long as no one believes he'll be Ichiro II once he faces MLB pitching. The question will be what he's willing to sign for. If the bidding gets crazy, the Cubs will back out in a hurry.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Fukudome got a bad wrap in his few years with the Cubs. He actually did have solid numbers - just maybe not worth what they ended up paying him for. That was about $48MM for four years if I recall.

    If Akiyama is comparable when he translates to US MLB balseball, and if he can still cover CF well - and the Cubs don't overpay for a 31-year old aging OF,... that's not a bad option IMO.

    I'm still curious if Hoerner can stick at CF, and as long as the Cubs can limit Heyward's at bats against tough lefties, his bat plays better at CF - even though he's still a better choice defensively in RF. Both of those two appear to have some decent OB skills - with the aforementioned disclaimer about Heyward.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Hoerner has primarily played the infield and has not started much in Center. I think it is a reach he could be a starting center fielder.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Perhaps Yu Darvish could help the Cubs deliver their sales pitch to Akiyama.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Where do you get your stat numbers from?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Baseball Reference has stats for the NPB, KBO and just about every league that ever existed. Here's a link to Shogo Akiyama's stats.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Quedub:

    I’d take a look at him. What are we looking for? A CF, lead off man with a high OBP and speed. He checks all the boxes.
    3 years ago today the Cubs won against LA and got their first WS appearance since 1945. I give credit to Silvy on am1000 for that—I forgot.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I agree that the Cubs should take a look. I just don't want to see them overspend for statistics that may not translate well to MLB.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Thanks, Que. I saw the stats there. They did not match Bolla's stats that is why I made the post.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Ah, got it. His general description of Shogo was accurate, but yeah, now that I look the numbers he posted were a little off.

  • Jesse Rogers reported David Ross has emerged as the favorite , and could be named the new cubs manager Thursday.

  • In reply to bolla:

    ZZzzzzz - I thought Theo wanted to get away from 2016

  • David Kaplan is reporting that it is Ross who will be named the Cubs manager.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I think either one would have been a good hire actually.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I was kind of hoping for Espada. But I agree. I think both will be good hires and managers

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I was hoping for Espada too but Ross will be just fine. He’s a smart guy and in no way will be the pushover to the players the meatballs think he will.

  • Terrible hire. Ross is a dope . Rickets needs to fire Theo. Next to the heyward signing, this will be theo’s worst decision. This is the end of the road for this squad.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I'm somewhat feeling the same way, but who knows, Ross may be a good manager. With Ross there's more negative than positive reasons for his hire. I say give him a season to evaluate his performance before saying it's a horrible signing.
    Like when Theo traded Nomar. Boston thought it was BS. But that worked well for them. And of course there's other moves Theo made that were horrible. Time will tell.

  • Was personally hoping for Espada just to get away from the old friends network , but whatever. The roster needs change more than anything

  • Ross is really just a name on the paper to me. I have no idea if he will be good, average, or bad. It is a little disappointing Cubs front office have chosen to rebuild the player development department with mostly in-house people, and then Ross the in-house manager candidate. Is the front office is saving up their energy to remake the 3rd place roster? I'm having real doubts that the Cubs will be bold this offseason when it comes to the roster.

  • I really, really hope we're not one day watching a Joe Espada-managed team in the World Series and wondering what might have been. Good luck to David Ross. I hope he shines in his new role.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    If his choices are Pittsburgh and SFO, I feel pretty good you won't be seeing him in the World Series.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Cubs roster is currently better than SFG. Cubs had a lot of things go right for them this year, and they finished 3rd. They also had some things go wrong. I love the Cubs, but see lots of issues with this 3rd place roster.

    SFG is a great job in a large market, They are 4th in MLB team revenue! They currently bring in more revenue than the Cubs. The new TV contract should change that.

    I think the Giant roster needs help, but the organization, revenue, & front office well above average.

  • Supposedly the final decision came down to mock spring training speeches on the 2nd interviews. I believe Ross gave the best speech because he has more knowledge of what the FO wants the players to hear. Jmo. Hopefully someone leaks the speeches.

  • I already have the Ross jersey, so that's handy!

  • I can't see the Cubs making more than one major core change. It's so difficult to put good trades together anyway and this team has been to the post four of the last five years. Changing managers is a big deal for starters and it appeared to me that many players had stopped listening to Joe (a common thing after years of the same voice). There are problems with the roster, but add/subtract with caution. This is still a solid core.


  • In reply to Wrigley09:

    It's a link about KB service time grievance. Sounds like KB & Boras have a slim chance of winning grievance.

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