I am a little late to the party on this. It was another day at the backfields. A little on that later.
The Cubs have optioned top catching prospect Willson Contreras to AAA and Jeimer Candelario to AA. Candelario, you may remember, did not play a full season at Tennessee. He’s also just 22 and the Cubs have two star players blocking him, so there is no need to rush him to AAA just yet.
LHRP CJ Riefenhauser, 2B Arismendy Alcantara, RHRP Carl Edwards, Jr., and P Pierce Johnson were also optioned to AAA. Johnson had his struggles but Edwards was having a solid spring. The good health of Neil Ramirez likely factored in as did perhaps the surprising spring of Spencer Patton, who has at times sat at 96 and has touched as high as 98.
Patton was a surprise to me when I saw him in camp, because he was just more athletic than I thought. And now, after throwing in the low 90s early, he appears to have a chance as a power reliever in the back of the bullpen. While the struggles of incumbent closer Hector Rondon mean nothing right now, it is a reminder that bullpen performance can sometimes be volatile and teams should be prepared. The Cubs will need all the power arms they can get for depth.
Also reassigned to camp was Felix Pena, who also showed good velocity at 96 mph but lack of command contributed to a poor spring. Minor league free agents Stephen Fife, Drew Rucinski, and Edgar Olmos were reassigned to minor league camp, as was veteran minor league catcher Taylor Davis.
On the backfields it was Carson Sands on the mound. The lefty pitched at 89-91 mph with his fastball while mixing in some curves and change-ups. The velocity isn’t up to it’s usual standards, but Sands pitched well overall.
Eric Leal pitched in the high A game and was also 89-91 and a curve that looked good at times and a bit loopy on others.
DJ Wilson hit the ball well today, including a double and ringing line drive right at the CFer. He also showed his good speed on the bases again and with a nice running catch in CF.
Blake Headley hit an inside the park HR when the CFer lost the ball in a sunny, cloudless sky. Headley is another player who has surprised me a bit with his athleticism. He has made some good plays on infield drills and showed enough speed today to circle the bases. He is a 3B who will likely be at South Bend.
Miguel Amaya who just turned 17 a little over a week ago got a chance to play with and against older competition and held his own defensively and offensively, where he put together a couple of solid ABs. I asked if he might start the season by skipping the DSL and was told it was possible, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Alex Bautista hit a HR in the high A game.
Erling Moreno, who has had an injury plagued start to his career was back on the mound and while his velo wasn’t where it was at this point last year, it was better than it was before he was put on the DL. Moreno was at 90-91 but didn’t quite get the feel for that good curve just yet, though there is some promise there.
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