Let the Desert games begin
The Arizona Fall League opened play on Tuesday afternoon under sunny skies in Arizona and after 11 innings, Mesa and Glendale played to a 8-8 tie. Cubs prospects were on display in the AFL opener.
Jorge Soler was playing his first full game since suiting up for Daytona back on June 13 before a shin injury shelved his season. Soler went 1-6 but on three of his outs, worked the count full. He ripped a RBI double in the eighth to give the Solar Sox a 8-7 lead. Soler finished 1-6, grounding out to the pitcher in the 10th.
Kris Bryant has been hit or miss in his pro debuts. He made three errors in his pro debut in Mesa and followed that up with an 0-5 with five strikeouts in his first game at Boise. He homered in his Daytona debut and he evened the score on Tuesday, going 3-6 with 2 RBI. He delivered a RBI single in his first AFL at-bat and then stroked a RBI double in the eighth. He also singled in the ninth on a pop to third. According to a tweet from Jessica Delp, Bryant’s girlfriend, the Cubs first-round pick is wearing his dad’s old baseball number, #17, in the AFL.
Three Cub pitchers made their debuts in the season opener but didn’t get much help from their defense as each one was victimized by an error, allowing five unearned runs to score.
Armando Rivero was the only one able to shake it off after the leadoff hitter reached as the Cuban right-hander fanned the next three batters in the 8th, earning a hold. Rivero threw one inning, throwing 15 pitches, 12 for strikes. I really like RIvero and his 95 mph fastball, and think he has a great shot to be in the Cubs bullpen in 2014.
Matthew Loosen entered the game in the bottom of the third and allowed two unearned runs, throwing 25 pitches in the frame. Loosen needed only nine pitches to get out of the fourth, even with a leadoff walk that was wiped out on a double play. The right-hander finished his AFL debut with a line of 2IP, 2H, 2R 0ER, 1BB, 1K.
Lendy Castillo made his AFL debut but like Loosen was a victim of an error, allowing three unearned runs in a 25-pitch sixth. He allowed three hits and fanned one in his inning of work.
According to reports, the Cubs have signed OF Ryan Sweeney today to a two-year contract. Sweeney will get $1.5 million in 2014 and 2015, with a $2.5 million option for 2016 or a $500,000 buyout. Sweeney, 28, was signed by the Cubs on April 2 after being waived by the Boston Red Sox. The left-handed bat started the year in Iowa, playing 23 games with six homers and 16 RBI (.337/.396/.627). Sweeney was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2003. After being called up to Wrigley on May 6, Sweeney appeared in 42 games before he fractured his left rib after running into the wall in Seattle on June 29. He missed two months due to the injury and returned for the final month of the season. Sweeney played in 70 games for Chicago, hitting .266/.324/.448 with 6 HR and 17 RBI. No surprise the Cubs signed Sweeney as MLB experience on their outfield roster is limited. Currently, Sweeney, Junior Lake and Nate Schierholtz have the inside track for the 2014 opening day outfield lineup.
The Cubs have added a few players since the end of the regular season. The Cubs claimed 1B Matt Gamel off waivers from the Brewers on Oct. 3. The 28-year-old missed the entire 2013 season after ACL surgery and only played 21 games for Milwaukee in 2012. Gamel is currently on the 60-day disabled list and is eligible for salary arbitration after the season.
The Cubs signed a pair of players out of the Independent Frontier League inking RHP Allen Oaks and C Danny Canela.
Oaks, 25, played for three seasons in the Marlins organization after being selected in the 8th round in 2012 out of the University of Michigan. Oaks only threw 90 innings in his minor league career reaching AA Jacksonville in 2012 before his release. He appeared in 37 games in the Frontier League in 2013 going 2-4 with a 1.99 ERA and 14 saves.
Canela earned rookie of the year honors in the Frontier League hitting .360/.455/.582 with 12 HR and 53 RBI in 67 games for River City. He only threw out 19 percent of base stealers in 68 attempts. Canlea, 21, was a 2009 draft pick of the Detroit Tigers but attended North Carolina State, where he played for three years. He hit .348 during his junior league at NC State but transferred to Lee University for his senior year, where he batted .335 with seven homers in 61 games for the NAIA school.
The Cubs re-signed RHP Marcus Hatley to a minor league contract and the relief pitcher will playing in the Mexican Winter League for Cullacan. RHP Eduardo Sanchez and RHP Michael Bowden, who both pitched for Chicago this year and were outrighted to Iowa, have declared free agency.
Several players were reinstated from DL including : RHP Daniel Adrian, RHP Dallas Beeler, RHP Marcelo Carreno, RHP Carlos Gutierrez, RHP Michael Jensen, RHP Trey Masek, RHP Trey McNutt, RHP Casey Weathers, RHP Ben Wells, LHP Austin Kirk, LHP Anthony Prieto, C Rafael Lopez, C Chad Noble, C Will Remillard, 2B Zak Blair, 2B Carlos Figueroa, 3B Stephen Bruno, SS Tim Saunders, OF Taiwan Easterling, OF Jacob Hannemann, and OF Jorge Soler.
Minor leaguers Trey McNutt, Neil Ramirez, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler, and Matt Szczur were all recalled to the Cubs 40-man roster on Sept. 30.