Cubs Extended Spring Training

Ademan Blast Leads Cubs to Victory

Aramis Ademan (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $2M bonus) blasted a three-run home run high over the RF fence and onto the south bank of the Red Mountain Freeway to cap a four-run sixth inning, as the Cubs rallied to defeat the Diamondbacks 5-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #5 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

Acquired by the Cubs from the Oakland A's for OF Chris Coghlan after the Cubs re-signed CF Dexter Fowler in February, RHSP Aaron Brooks (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with a hip contusion) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance, throwing one inning  (12 pitches - 8 strikes), and allowing no runs on two hits (a single and a double). His fastball velocity was 91-92 MPH, and he displayed a hard breaking ball.   

RHP Dylan Cease followed Brooks to the hill and worked three innings (63 pitches - 63% strikes), allowing three runs (all three earned) on five hits (two doubles and three singles) and two walks, with four strikeouts, and a 2/3 GO/AO. He also committed a two-base throwing error attempting to pick a runner off 1st base.  

Cease's fastball velocity sat consistently at 96-98 MPH, but he touched 99 twice and 100 once in the top of the third when he struck out the side (his only 1-2-3 inning). He also threw about a dozen curves (79-81 MPH) and about a half-dozen change-ups (82-84 MPH). He had trouble commanding his change-up (he bounced most of them), he hung a couple of curves that were hammered for line-drive hits, and he had trouble keeping his fastball at knee level (which is when it's virtually unhittable), leaving too many of his high-velocity offerings belt-high.  

Dylan Cease combined 2016 Cactus League EXST line (thru 5/23): 
6 games
2.95 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .246 OppBA 
18.1 IP, 16 H, 6 R (6 ER), 9 BB, 25 K, 1 HBP, 0 HR, 2 WP, 2 PO, 1 BALK, 2 GIDP, 17/7 GO/AO, 307 pitches (61% strikes), 16.7 PITCHES-PER-INNING 

Prior to the EXST game on Field #5, RHSP Dallas Beeler (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with right shoulder inflammation) and RHRP P. J. Francescon threw "live" BP on Field #4 (one inning and 25 pitches each).

Beeler was throwing in Cactus League EXST games last month and appeared to be close to moving-up to AAA Iowa, but then he was shut-down (mid-AB) in what was supposed to be his next-to-last rehab start on April 30th. So now it's back to square-one, with today's "live" BP outing his first step to get back to where he was last month. Barring any further medical setbacks, Beeler and Brooks should be in the Iowa starting rotation within about three weeks. 

Francescon was the closer at AA Tennessee last year and it looked like he would get a shot at advancing to AAA Iowa in 2016, but then he received a 50-game Drug of Abuse suspension from MLB last January that has left him throwing "live" BP, "sim" games, and intrasquad games at Extended Spring Training while he completes his "sentence." Francescon reminds me a bit of Rod Beck, with a pedestrian 88-90 MPH fastball used to set-up a dive-bomb splitter (his "swing & miss" pitch).   

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only): 

All That Jazz at Talking Stick

Jazz Chisholm (2015 IFA - Bahamas - $200K bonus) drilled two triples and an RBI single and scored a run and RHSP Pierce Romero tossed three innings of shutout ball, as the Diamondbacks edged the Cubs 3-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action Saturday morning on Ramada Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Marcus Mastrobuoni doubled twice, walked, and scored a run and Kevonte Mitchell singled twice, stole a base, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause. 

Mitchell also turned-in the Defensive Play of the Game, an inning-ending run-saving diving catch on the warning track in right-centerfield in the top of the 3rd. He also started an 8-6-2 relay that cut-down a runner at home who was attempting to score from 2nd base on a double off the CF Batter's Eye (the runner went back to 2nd base to tag up before realizing that the ball was carrying over Mitchell's head, thanks to a nice catch-fake by one-time HS hoops star Mitchell). 

On the negative side, Mitchell was thrown out 7-5 attempting to advance from 1st to 3rd on a line-drive single to LF with two outs in the top of the 1st, thus making the third out of the inning at 3rd base.

So I guess you have to take the good with the bad.  

EXST Cubs RBI leader Isaac Paredes (2015 IFA - Mexico - $800K bonus) started his second consecutive game at 3B (he also played there in the intrasquad game on Thursday). It's very likely that he will eventually move to 3B (one scout who has been following the EXST Cubs projects Paredes as a catcher!), so the process to move him from SS to 3B may already have started. Paredes (who just turned 17 in February) is a VERY slow runner, but he has plus-HR & XBH power, he doesn't strike out a lot for a power-hitter (10% K-rate), and he has soft hands and a strong arm at SS (committing only one error so far in 15 Cactus League EXST games).   

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only): 

Angel Five-Run 3rd Sinks Cubs at Riverview

Alexis Rivera hammered a two-run home run to key a five-run 3rd inning that turned a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 lead, and the Angels held-on to edge the Cubs 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #5 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

17-year old SS Aramis Ademan (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $2M bonus) ripped a double and a bases-loaded bases-clearing three-run triple, 17-year old 2B Yonathan Perlaza (2015 IFA - Venezuela - $1M bonus) drilled an RBI triple and a single, walked, and scored a run, and 19-year old CF D. J. Wilson (Cubs 2015 4th round draft pick - Canton South HS - Canton, OH) singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored three runs for the Cubs in a losing cause.

Ademan also made a nice play in the field on an L-6 that he turned into an inning-ending DP in the top of the 1st. (This was Ademan's first Cactus League EXST game action since April 16th, although he did play in yesterday's intrasquad game). 


RHSP Pedro Silverio got the start for the Cubs and threw ten straight balls to start the game, before settling down and retiring eight of the last nine men he faced (K, L-6 DP, 6-3, BB, K, F-7, K, F-9, 4-3). 

Recently signed RHRP Nick Sarianides (ex-AZ) was the victim of the five-run explosion in the top of the 3rd, allowing all five runs on two hits (including the Rivera HR), two walks, a HBP, and two WP (he threw only 39% srikes and he could not complete the inning). The strikeout and save leader in the California League in 2015, Sarianides was released by the D'backs earlier this month because he could not throw strikes at AA Mobile. He posted a 1-2-3 nine-pitch inning in his first EXST outing on Tuesday. 

RF Michael Foster fouled a ball off his left ankle mid-AB in the bottom of the 7th and had to be carted off the field (Yohan Matos finished the AB), the third Cub outfielder to leave a game due to a leg, ankle, or foot injury in three days (Jose Gonzalez and Robert Garcia were injured in Wednesday's SS-DH versus the Rockies).  

Prior to the game on Field #5, RHSP Aaron Brooks (March 2016 hip contusion) and LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) threw "live" BP on Field #6 (one inning - 25 pitches each), so if there are no medical setbacks, both pitchers should be ready for Cactus League EXST or intrasquad game action within a week or so. This was Leathersich's first time throwing from a mound on a field since his TJS, but Brooks threw in an intrasquad game at Riverview on April 26th (he was shut-down after just two innings, and he hadn't thrown on a field since). 

Among Cubs 40-man roster pitchers who are on the DL, LHRP Zac Rosscup has had season-ending left shoulder-surgery, RHRP Andury Acevedo has had season-ending knee surgery (torn ACL), and RHSP Dallas Beeler (right shoulder inflammation) was shut-down mid-AB while throwing in a Cactus League EXST game on April 30th, and he hasn't pitched since. RHSP Pierce Johnson (lat strain) is at the Cubs UAPC in Mesa, but he is not throwing "live" yet. And I have not seen Joe Nathan. 

RHSP Stephen Fife (oblique strain) is not on the Cubs 40-man roster but he was an NRI to Spring Training, and he has completed his EXST rehab assignment (he threw 81 pitches in a Cactus League EXST game on Wednesday) and he will be re-joining the Iowa Cubs when they return home on Monday. 

RHRP Aaron Crow (April 2015 TJS) is also not on the Cubs 40-man roster but (like Fife) he was an NRI to Spring Training, and he was active and pitching in Cactus League EXST games regularly (one inning every two or three days) up until ten days ago (5/10), when he was shut-down while warming up to come into a game versus the Giants in Scottsdale, and he hasn't pitched since.

And as I've mentioned here before, but in case you missed it, LHRP Manny Parra (another NRI to Cubs MLB Spring Training) had TJS last month and is out for the year. 

John Arguello has notes from the game at Cubs Den: 

link 

And here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only) : 

Cubs Sweep Rockies as Fife Completes Rehab

Kevonte Mitchell doubled, walked twice, and drove-in a run and Erling Moreno and two relievers combined to hurl a four-hit shutout as the Cubs blanked the Rockies 3-0 on Field #4, and Chris Pieters singled, tripled and scored a run, Alex Bautista singled twice, stole a base, scored two runs, and knocked-in another, and Eric Gonzalez smacked a solo home run, leading the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Rockies on Field #5, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.  

Alex Castellanos (ex-LAD) belted a two-run HR for the Rockies in a losing cause on Field #5. 

The game on Field #4 was called by mutual consent after seven innings of play, and the game on Field #5 was called by mutual-consent after six innings of play. 

Speedy waterbug Edgar Rondon laid-down a picture-perfect two-out squeeze-bunt hit to get the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the 2nd inning on Field #4, after practicing his bunting in pre-game BP. (I guess that's why they say "practice makes perfect"). 

Cubs outfielders Jose Gonzalez (knee or ankle injury after tripping over 1st base on two-run RBI single on Field #5) and Robert Garcia (hit on foot by pitch on Field #4) left their games with injuries. 

RHSP Stephen Fife (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL with strained oblique since 4/15) made his final EXST rehab start, working four innings (81 pitches - 69% strikes). He was not particularly effective, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits (four singles, a triple, and the Castellanos two-run bomb). He also hit a batter, threw a WP, and struck out six, with a 3/3 GO/AO. His next start will likely be for the I-Cubs next Monday or Tuesday, but don't be surprised if he gets released sooner rather later.    

RHRP Nick Sarianides made his Cubs debut, throwing a 1-2-3 inning (F-8, P-2, K). The 26-year old Sarianides was released by the Diamondbacks earlier this month after struggling to throw strikes at AA Mobile, but he led the Hi-A California League (an extreme hitters league) in both saves and strikeouts last season after being acquired by the D'backs from Tres Rivieres (Cam-Am League) in 2014. He was mentioned by Baseball America prior to last December's Rule 5 Draft as a likely candidate to get selected, although he was not. Sarianides features a 91-92 MPH fastball and a dive-bomb change-up (which is his strikeout pitch). He probably won't be at EXST very long, because he was in "game shape" when the Cubs signed him. He looked very good today.   

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only): 

Paredes Saves the Day at Riverview

Isaac Paredes rifled a two-run single into LF with two outs in the bottom of the 9th as the Cubs rallied to tie the Diamondbacks 2-2 on Field #4, and LHSP Jose Paulino and four relievers combined to toss a two-hit shutout as the Cubs blanked the D'backs 2-0 on Field #5, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.

The 17-year old Paredes (2015 IFA - Mexico - $800K bonus) is hitting 306/390/583 (7% BB-rate / 10% K-rate) in 13 games (41 PA), and leads the EXST Cubs in RBI with 14 (in just 13 games) and is second in HR with two (Jose Paniagua has four). He has made one error (it was a fielding error) in 13 games played at SS.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):  

Cease to Exist - Submission is a Gift

Sam Koenig lofted a two-run double over the centerfielder's head with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, as the Angels rallied to tie the Cubs 2-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, AZ. 

Kevonte Mitchell tripled, walked, and scored a run for the Cubs.  

RHSP Dylan Cease got the start for the Cubs and was dominating, easily retiring the first eleven Angels he faced (K, 3-U, K, 5-3, K, 3-U, 1-3, 4-3, K, K, 3-U) and firing four innings of one-hit shutout ball (the one hit being a ground single to CF with two outs in the bottom of the 4th). He issued no walks, struck out five, and posted a 7/0 GO/AO (seven weak-contact GO). None of the Angel batters hit the ball in the air against him. 

Cease's fastball sat consistenly at 98-99 MPH from the gitgo, and he threw his 79-81 MPH curve for strikes time-after-time, mixing it effectively with his heater. He also threw one or two change-ups.

Cease threw 64% strikes (the highest percentage of strikes thrown in a game by Cease so far in his pro career - minimum 30 pitches), and not only did he not walk anyone, he went to three balls on only three of the 13 batters he faced. (I've actually seen Cease outings where he went to three balls on every batter he faced). 

Today's outing may have been the most-dominating performance of Cease's pro career, rivaling his eye-popping ("Is that Arrieta?") outing versus the Brewers a couple of weeks ago.  

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):  

Sierra and Paniagua Long-Balls Help Cubs Gain Split with Giants

Jonathan Sierra (two-run home run), Alberto Mineo (RBI triple), Kwang-Min Kwon (RBI single), and Roberto Caro (RBI triple) contributed run-scoring hits to highlight a five-run 2nd, Jose Paniagua clubbed his team-leading 4th HR in the 6th, Edgar Rondon drilled two doubles, walked, and scored a run, and Marcus Mastrobuoni doubled, singled , and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 7-3 win over the Giants on Field #2, and Chase Compton belted a solo HR and an RBI single, Richard Amion Jr rifled an RBI single and walked twice, and RHP Hengerber Medina and four relievers combined to toss a four-hit shutout, as the Giants blanked the Cubs 3-0 on Field #1, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ.  

Both games were called by mutual-consent after 7-1/2 innings of play. 

Now 17, Jonathan Sierra (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic- $2.5M bonus) was invited to AZ Instructs as a 16-year old last September, and he made a favorable impression, even drawing comparisons to a (very) young Darryl Strawberry (lanky teenaged LH hitting & throwing corner OF with potential to mash). But Sierra has struggled at Extended Spring Training so far, hitting just 152/243/303 (16% K-rate - 11% walk-rate) in 13 Cactus League EXST games (37 PA), and his second-inning home run today (which was his 1st Cactus League EXST HR) broke an 0-13 skid that goes back ten days. So while his future is bright, he will likely be assigned to one of the Cubs DSL squads (DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2) in the coming days.     

Here are the abridged box scores from the games (Cubs players only): 

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  • If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.

    billybucks 6 hours 32 min ago view
  • Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."

    billybucks 7 hours 15 min ago view
  • This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.

    Charlie 7 hours 26 min ago view
  • I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.

    They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.

    However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.

    The E-Man 7 hours 32 min ago view
  • I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
    - They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
    - Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.

    billybucks 7 hours 36 min ago view
  • new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup

    crunch 7 hours 47 min ago view
  • Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.

    .500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.

    blockhead25 7 hours 53 min ago view
  • ...i hate espn.

    nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.

    oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.

    crunch 8 hours 8 min ago view
  • I'm liking this rookie Nathan.

    CTSteve 8 hours 9 min ago view
  • Richard DFA'd. Meh...

    The E-Man 11 hours 35 sec ago view
  • Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.

    Charlie 13 hours 33 min ago view
  • The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.

    chitownmvp01 14 hours 5 min ago view
  • If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.

    If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.

    Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.

    chitownmvp01 14 hours 7 min ago view
  • The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.

    billybucks 16 hours 4 min ago view
  • I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.

    JoePepitone 18 hours 24 min ago view
  • Been quite the roller-coaster the past two days -- both games, plus the Chapman kerfuffel. How about a couple of nice, comfortable wins before facing Sale? Cubs should definitely wear throwbacks for that game.

    billybucks 19 hours 19 min ago view