Right-hander Justin Berg initially was one of the Chicago Cubs’ minor leaguers scheduled to report to the Arizona Fall League, but Berg will instead play winter ball in Venezuela, Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita said.
In Berg’s place, the Cubs will send right-hander Jesse Estrada to Arizona, Fleita said. Estrada, 24, appeared in 40 games this season, primarily between Class AAA Iowa and Class AA Tennessee. He was 7-3 with a 5.20 ERA in 76 2/3 innings.
Additionally, Fleita said that catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger and pitcher Esmailin Caridad had been added to the club’s Fall League roster, bringing the number of Cubs minor leaguers scheduled to participate in the Fall League to eight.
Clevenger, 22, batted .298 with 25 doubles and 54 RBI in 113 games between Tennessee and Class-A Daytona this season. He was in the Fall League a year ago.
“He’s going to get a chance to go there, and he might serve as a third catcher to start off with,” Fleita said. “But the fact that he’s on the team and he has an opportunity to gain experience at a very difficult position – which we all know catching is – should be a great opportunity for him to maybe get a lot closer” to the big leagues.
Caridad, 24, made 27 starts this season between Daytona and Tennessee and was 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA. The right-hander struck out 88 batters in 152 innings. Caridad previously pitched for the Hiroshima Carp’s Dominican Academy in 2007. Chicago signed him last December.
“He went through a different route,” Fleita noted. “He was a youngster signed in the Dominican by a Japanese team and spent at least the start of his career in Japan pitching in the industrial league. He played for the same (organization) as (Kosuke) Fukudome.
“At his age, he’s still got a great arm; it’s a fresh arm,” Fleita continued. “He had a great year, so we were able to move him along. From a maturity standpoint, he was ready for Double-A, and he went up there and showed that he was.”
The initial Fall League rosters announced by Major League Baseball last month listed six players from the Cubs’ organization that were scheduled to participate, but Chicago had planned to bring seven players, Fleita said.
“Somebody wasn’t announced at the time,” he said. “We had a pitcher that was a TBA.”
Outfielder Tyler Colvin, infielders Darwin Barney and Nate Spears, and pitchers Donald Veal and Rocky Roquet – all on the original Fall League roster – are still scheduled to participate. The Fall League is scheduled to begin play on October 7. The league’s Mesa Solar Sox will be home to the Cubs’ players.