With the Cubs new baseball academy serving as the backdrop, the Cubs Dominican Summer League team has opened the season at 6-7 in the Boca Chica South. The Cubs started the season winning four of their first five games but have dropped four one-run games since.
This year's roster is scattered with some of the Cubs top international signings including 23-year-old pitcher Juan Paniagua. The right-hander inked a $1.5 million bonus last July and pitched in the Arizona Rookie League in Mesa (2G, 3.2 IP, 0H, 0R, 1BB 4K). However, Paniagua is unable to get a VISA to come to the United Staes and is assigned to the DSL. He appeared in his first game on June 14 allowing a hit and two walks in 1.1 innings, that included two punchouts. Paniagua is no stranger to problems as he signed with the Diamondbacks as Juan Carlos Collado in 2009 but the contract was terminated due to fraudulent paperwork. One year later, he was declared eligible and signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million deal but MLB nixed that deal for falsified documents, and suspended him for another year. When on the mound, the 6-foot-1 right-hander throws a 95 mph fastball with a change-up and slider
Two of the Cubs top international signings the past two years, infielders Luis Acosta (2011) and Frandy Delarosa (2012) are both on the roster. Acosta, 18, received a $1.1 million bonus on July 2, 2011, and played in 61 games last season in the DSL hitting 197/.293/.300. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has played in one game this year and went 0-4 with four strikeouts. Delarosa received $700,000 last year and made his pro debut on June 1 going 0-3 with a run. The 17-year-old is 1-15 in four games with eight strikeouts. Both Acosta and Delarosa were at Mesa this spring and recently returned to the Dominican from extended spring training.
Another player who spent this spring stateside is outfielder Roberto Caro, 19. Signed in 2011, the speedy switch-hitter played 55 games last season for both Cubs teams hitting .314/.418/417 with 15 steals. In 13 games, he's swiped five bags and is hitting .261 with eight walks. Dalfis Ortiz, 21, a 5-foot-10 second baseman, leads the Cubs in all slash line categories .419/479/721 and 31 total bases with 9 RBI and 4 SB. 3B Adonis Paula, 18, (.255./296/.392) has a team-high 10 RBI and OF Jenner Emeterio, 20, (.270/.400/.351) has eight stolen bases in nine attempts.
Besides Paniagua, 2012 free-agent bonus pitchers Oscar De La Cruz, Wagner Disla, Luis Hernandez are DSL Cubs. De La Cruz, 18, made his pro debut on June 3 allowing three runs in 2.1 innings. The right-hander threw four innings of shutout ball with five punchouts in his second start but allowed four earned runs in his last game. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, De La Cruz has the size to develop into a power arm for the Cubs system. Hernandez, 18, signed last August and made his pro debut on June 3 hurling 3.2 shutout innings against the Yankees. In three games, the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has worked 11.2 innings with a 0.77 ERA, .94 WHIP and nine strikeouts. Disla, 17, hasn't pitched yet. Other arms off to a hot start include RHP Hector Perez, 19, (13 IP, .92 WHIP, 12 K) and 6-foot-5 RHP Jeffry Hernandez, 18, (8 IP, 0 ER, 1.00 WHIP)
Yudith Ozorio is in his fourth season as a manger for the Cubs in the DSL, leading the Cubs-2 team to the division crown in 2011. Leo Hernandez, a pitcher in the Angels and Brewers farm systems, begins his 18th year as the pitching coach for the Cubs Dominican team while Oscar Bernard returns to the Cubs organization as the team's hitting coach, after spending the last four seasons as a coach in the Rangers minor league system.