The 2013 season
Back in the Venezuelan Summer League for the first time since 2007, the Cubs finished the 2013 campaign 36-32, taking second place in the five-team league and falling to the Mariners in the league championship playoffs in two games.
The Cubs' debut got off in an inauspicious start losing to all four teams—Rays, Phillies, Tigers and the Mariners—but they rebounded winning seven of their next eight. A five-game losing streak in early June put the Cubs under .500 and out of second place. They were 20-24 on July 6 and ran off 10 straight wins to take a firm hold of the final playoff spot. During the streak, their opponents scored two runs or less in nine games, including three shutouts. The Cubs played two-games below .500 the rest of the season and were caught by the Phillies in the final game but earned the playoff berth winning the season series.
The Mariners moved into first-place on May 21 and won the league by 12 games. In the best-of-three playoffs, the M's gabbed a 7-1 lead after four innings in the first game, winning 7-3. The Seattle affiliate clinched the title with a 11-8 victory in 12 innings after the Cubs tied the game with four runs in their final three at-bats to send the game into extra innings.
With only five teams in the league its not wise to read too much into the stats but at the same time, productive seasons both with the bat and on the mound should not be overlooked. SS Bryant Flete and 3B Roney Alcala were promoted and both started in the Dominican Summer League. The Cubs are also no strangers to Venezuelan prospects as 2B Gioskar Amaya, C Wilson Contreras, SS Carlos Penalver, OF Jeffrey Baez, P Erick Leal, and IF Mark Malave have joined the organization in the past four years. This summer, they signed the consensus top Venezuelan youngster, SS Gleyber Torres, who will make his Cubs' debut in Instructional League this fall.
At the Plate
The Cubs were second in the league in hitting (.269) but led in hits (616), HR (49), slugging (.410) and total bases (940) during their 68-game schedule. They also held some dubious league honors fanning 514 times and were caught stealing 53 times.
Switch-hitting Roney Alcala was one of the best hitters in the league leading the VSL with a .353 average and 49 RBI. He was also tops in hits with 85 and 2nd in total bases with 131. The 6-foot-1 223-pounder was one of the most versatile players fielding five different positions including 39 games at third base. He caught five games and played six in the outfield. He also showed some power, smacking nine homers and 15 doubles while slugging at .544. He only drew 13 walks and fanned 34 times. The 19-year-old hit .303/.341/.442 last year in 59 DSL games, his first pro season.
Delbis Arcila, 20, had the best year of his first four pro seasons, increasing his power numbers while splitting time between first base and the corner outfield positions. He blasted 10 homers, more than his previous three season combined, and finished with a .321/.394/.533 slash line with 42 RBI and team-high 21 doubles in 64 games. The 6-foot-3 190-pounder showed good discipline at the plate drawing 32 walks but only stole three bases and was caught six times.
Ricardo Marcano received a $400,000 signing bonus on July 2 of 2011 and the 18-year-old played in his second full season, spending 2012 in the DSL (.245/.350/.332). Marcano showed some pop in his bat this season as the 6-foot-2, 190 pound left-handed hitting corner outfielder had four homers and 19 doubles in 68 games. He finished the year hitting .279/.339/.450 with 13 SB and 45 RBI. Marcano was the Cubs best outfield defender with 13 assists and four double plays.
Bryant Flete spent his spring in Mesa and was looking to make the Arizona Rookie League team but was sent to the VSL a week before the season started. The 20-year-old stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 146 pounds but has a great eye at the plate leading the Cubs in walks with 41. He hit .271/.383/.356 in 67 games and swiped 17 bases playing primarily at shortstop where he committed 29 errors, a .891 fielding percentage.
One of the youngest and interesting players on the roster was 17-year-old catcher Jhonny Pereda who threw out 26 base runners at a 40 percent clip. He hit .213/.294/.293 in 59 games with two homers and 21 RBI. Cub fans need to keep an eye on this catching prospect.
Arnaldo Calero, a 19-year-old outfielder, had a solid season hitting .297/.347/.454 with five homers and 33 RBI. His strikeout to walk ratio 53:9 needs to improve and he showed some base running ability with 12 steals.
On the Mound
Cubs finished in the middle of pack with a team ERA 4.27 and a WHIP of 1.31 but did lead the VSL in innings pitched and hit batters. They tossed three combined shutouts and were second in strikeouts with 473.
Not only was 18-year-old pitcher Adbert Alzolay the best pitcher for the Cubs, he was tops in the VSL leading the league with a 1.07 ERA and 0.881 WHIP. The 6-foot right-hander tossed 67 innings and fanned 61, third in the league, finishing with a 5-3 record. Alzolay went at least five innings in his last eight appearances throwing 41 innings. During the 8-game stretch he fanned 47 with one walk. He did hit two guys. Should be no surprise when Alzolay is throwing in Mesa next spring.
Another pitcher who could make a push into the U.S. next spring is 19-year-old right-hander Greyfer Eregua. He appeared in 11 games compiling 43.1 IP with a 2-1 record, 1.45 ERA, and 0.845 WHIP. Like Alzolay, Eregua has great command of the strike zone with 42 punchouts and only three walks.
Look at the stats of Francisco Carrillo and you see a right-hander that went 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA with 53 strikeouts and five walks in 51.2 innings. While its only his second year of pro ball, Carrillo is 23 so it may be too late for stateside run at stardom. The same goes for Yomar Pacheco, who led the Cubs with 10 saves and a 2.61 ERA. The 23-year-old fanned 37 with six walks in 41.2 IP. Another ‘old' arm that threw over 40 innings was 22-year-old Alberto Diaz (3-0 2.18 ERA). The 5-foot-9 left-hander had 44K, BAA of .208, and 1.06 WHIP.
Victor Garcia (2-4 4.91) led with Cubs with 13 starts and was third in innings pitched with 51.1. In his fourth pro season, the 21-year-old had a WHIP of 1.34 and fanned 7.2 K/9. 18-year-old Enrique De Los Rios put up some good numbers in his first pro season throwing 43.1 IP with an ERA of 2.08. The 6-foot-1, right-hander had a BAA of .204 and BB/K ratio of 10:26.
Another prospect on the pitching staff was 18-year-old Ramon Valera, signed in December for $170,000. The 6-foot-2, right-hander appeared in eight games with a gaudy line of 4.2 IP, 11H, 22ER, 11BB 1K with a 42.43 ERA.
RHP Jesus Castillo was signed by the Diamondbacks for $250,000 in 2011 and traded to the Cubs as part of the Tony Campana deal. Castillo appeared in five games, going 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 19 innings, not pitching after June 25.