The 2013 season
The Cubs finished 27-28, 14 games behind the first-place Giants. They missed the first-half playoffs by 10 games and were four games out when the second half ended. The Cubs finished 2.5 games behind the Angles for the final playoff spot as the Giants won both halves of the Arizona League East.
The Cubs had a five-game winning streak from June 29-July 4 but lost their next four and hovered around the .500 mark the rest of the season. In the second half, they won five-of-six late in the season but another four-game losing streak kept them from the playoffs.
Mesa was the favorite rehab spot for not only major leaguers but minors leaguers looking to rejoin their teams. Pitchers Marcos Mateo, Chang-Young Lim, Rafael Dolis, Starlin Peralta, Jose Arias, Ryan Searle, Dae-Eun Rhee, Dayan Diaz, Andrew McKirahan, and Trey McNutt all spent time on the mound in Arizona as well as hitters Luis Valbuena, Brian Bogusevic, David DeJesus, Ryan Sweeney, Greg Rohan, Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson.
At the Plate
Not much hitting from the team in blue at Fitch Park. The Cubs were last in average (.238), slugging (.322), and OPS (.645); and were next to last in OBP (.323). Somehow they finished 10th in runs in the 13-team league and had 25 triples but only seven homers in 55 games. They were fifth in SB, ninth in RBI, and 10 other teams fanned more.
Jeffrey Baez was the Cubs most consistent hitter batting .287/.357/.384 in 45 games with a homer, 12 RBI, and a team-high 31 runs. Baez posses great speed as evident by his 25 steals in 28 attempts and also a decent arm with 11 assists from center and right. The 19-year-old Venezuelan earned a late season promotion to Boise playing in four games for the Hawks (2-13, both triples, 2 RBI).
Another Venezuelan prospect making an impression was Mark Malave, a 6-foot-3 switch-hitter still looking for a position. Malave hit .270/.381/.339 but doesn't show much power, 0 homers in 3 pro seasons. He has a good eye at the plate and had a OBP of .438 the final 20 games of the season. The 18-year-old played everywhere on the infield, except pitcher, playing 18 games at first, 10 at third, and 11 at second. He will work as a catcher at fall instructs.
Francisco Sanchez, 19, played his first season in the states after spending his first two pro seasons in the DSL. The July 2, 2010 signee played 41 games at shortstop hitting .208/.242/.369 and led the team with 22 RBI and 11 doubles. He fanned 53 times with six walks and made 20 errors.
Signed as a free agent out of Canada last fall, third baseman Jesse Hodges, 19, was second on the team in runs (26), hits (35), and RBI (20) and led the Cubs with two homers. He hit .210/.272/.293 in his first pro season and was promoted to Boise for their trip to Vancouver and returned for the Hawks' playoffs. He will participate in the fall instructional league.
Ninth-round pick Charcer Burks, 18, completed his first season hitting .269/.344/.296 with six stolen bases in seven attempts. The fleet-footed outfielder will continue his development at the fall instructional league. Another 2013 draft pick, Kelvin Freeman, the Cubs' 17th rounder, hit .262/.357/.292 with 19 RBI in 40 games at first base. 2013 draft picks OF Kevin Brown (34 G, .230/.370/.336), IF Zak Blair (30 G, .226/.297/.283) and C Tyler Alamo (11G, .111/.167/.111) all had their debut seasons in Mesa. Brown played two games for Boise (2-7, RBI) in Vancouver due to travel restrictions for some players.
After only getting in nine games last year, 11th round pick, OF Rashard Crawford hit .210/.299/.275 with 10 stolen bases in 42 games. OF Garrett Schlecht, a 2011 fourth-round pick, hit .176/.250/.235 in 29 games. Free agent Trevor Stevens, a 2013 grad of Northwestern, impressed with a OBP of .388 in 26 games, playing second and shortstop. SS Giuseppe Papaccio didn't stay long in Mesa hitting .313/.395/.406 in 32 at-bats before being promoted to Kane County.
All eyes were on Mesa on July 21 when first-round pick Kris Bryant made his pro debut going 0-3 with a strikeout. He doubled in a run with his first pro hit the following night and added another RBI with sacrifice fly. He was sent to Boise the next day.
On the Mound
The Cubs walked the fewest hitters in the Arizona Rookie League in their 55 games. They finished fourth in team ERA at 3.83 and WHIP at 1.37 and were third in strikeouts with 490 in 484.1 innings. Forty-one different pitchers took the mound for the Mesa Cubs in 2013 but only five tossed 25 innings or more.
The work horse of the staff was 20-year-old Daury Torrez, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, who earned an end of the season promotion for one start at Kane County (5IP, 5H, 3ER, 1BB, 2K). Torrez led Mesa with 49 IP going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA. He fanned 49 and walked only five with a BAA of .255 in his third pro season. The Dominican spent his first two pro seasons in the DSL going 6-3 with a 1.21 ERA in 74.2 innings last year.
Erick Leal was part of the Tony Campana trade and the 6-foot-3 right-hander held his own in his first pro season in the U.S. He appeared in 13 games with a 9.6 K/9 and a 1.5 BB/9 going 3-2, 2.77 ERA in 48.2 IP. The sun of Mesa was not as kind to fellow Venezuelan Carlos Rodriguez as the 18-year-old went 1-4 with a 6.97 ERA in 31 innings. He fanned 30 and walked 15 but had a BAA of .331 with a BABIP of .427.
In his second trip back to Mesa, left-hander Luis Villalba made 16 relief appearances tossing 25 innings and left-handers were just 5-28 against the 20-year-old. He went 1-2 with a 2.52 ERA and sported a 11.5 K/9. Other International pitchers making their stateside debuts were LHP David Villegas, 20, (0-4 3.68 ERA, 22 IP); RHP Alex Santana, 19, (0-1 4.58, 17.2 IP); RHP Orbandy Rodriguez, 24, (3-1 1.26, 14.1 IP, 22K), and RHP Luis Guillen, 19, (0-0 6.91 14.1 IP).
Johermyn Chavez got hit by a pitch and broke his left hand on May 8 for AA Tennessee. The right-hander was sent to Mesa for rehab but instead of spending time in the cage, he went to work on the mound after 702 minor league games as an outfielder. He pitched in five games in Mesa with a line of 6IP, 6H, 6ER, 4BB, 0K.
Last spring, all eyes were on Cuban prospect Gerardo Concepcion but after an injury-plagued season, he finally got back on the mound this summer in Mesa. He pitched in two games (3.2 IP, 1H, 1UER, 4BB, 2K) and according to one scout was 88-91 with his fastball and threw a decent curve.
Left-handed 23rd-round pick Tyler Ihrig was outstanding in his 12 games for Mesa allowing two earned runs in 25 innings for a 0.72 ERA. He fanned 30 and walked four with a 0.80 WHIP and a .184 BAA. 13th-round pick Trevor Graham appeared in 11 games including four starts as the right-hander logged 22.1 innings in his first pro season. He finished with a 2.01 ERA and a .222 BAA with 17 K and 5 BB.
Other 2013 draft picks pitching in Mesa included David Garner (7th round), Trevor Clifton (12th round), Brad Renner (28th round) and Zak Hermans (30th round). Free agent Josh Davis, a two-way player at Belmont College, was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings. Also seeing action were RHP Trey Lang (2012 6th round pick), LHP Anthony Prieto (2012 5th round pick) and RHP Ethan Elias (2011 20th round).