James Pugliese, P
Age: 21 (8/12/1992)
2013 Teams: Boise Hawks, Northwest League, (SS); Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, (A)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking —Not rated
How acquired —Drafted in the 18th round in 2011, # 549 overall
Prior to Cubs
Pugliese was not the star of his high school team as he served as the team's relief pitcher, going 3-0 with seven saves his senior year at Steinert High School in New Jersey. He attended Mercer County Community College and went from a relatively unknown to being scouted by over 15 major league teams. Pugliese went 6-1 with a 1.27 ERA during his only season at Mercer, fanning 71 in 56.2 innings. After pre-draft workouts with the Reds and Yankees, the Cubs selected Pugliese, who turned down an offer from St. John's to turn pro.
Pugliese signed shortly after the draft and made his pro debut on June 20, fanning four in two scoreless innings vs. Giants in the Arizona Rookie League. He earned his first pro win on June 24, tossing 3.1 scoreless frames agains the D-Backs. Appearing in 15 games, Pugliese threw 39 innings with 12 BB and 32 K. He went 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA and a .296 BAA. 2012 was a learning experience for Pugliese as he struggled in the Northwest League with Boise. He went 1-5 with a 5.37 ERA and surrendered eight homers. The NWL hit .307 against him as he logged 60 innings in his second pro season in 15 games.
Pugliese has his sights set on Kane County to start 2013 but stayed behind at extended spring training to change his delivery. No longer a max-effort guy, Pugliese refined his mechanics and concentrated his efforts on pitching, not throwing. The change dropped a few clicks off the fastball but improved his command and the ability to repeat his delivery. The New Jersey native was the wining pitcher on opening night for Boise, blanking Eugene for five innings with seven strikeouts. The NWL All-Star was second in the league among qualifying starters with a 2.32 ERA and fourth with a 1.08 WHIP. Northwest League hitters batted .231 against the right-hander with 6.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. Pugliese kept the ball in the park this time around, allowing two homers after giving up eight long balls in 2012. He was named NWL Player of the Week July 15-21. The 21-year-old tossed a team-high 62 innings before being promoted to Kane County, where he made three starts (0-2, 7.71 ERA, 14 IP, 22H 2 BB 12 K). In his MWL debut vs. Beloit, he allowed 10 hits and five runs in 5.1 innings with six punchouts but didn't figure in the decision.
Pugliese should start the season in Kane County barring any setbacks in spring training as the right-hander looks to build on his success from 2013. He's also looking to rack up over 100 innings as he grinds through his first full-season. His fastball sits in the 88-92 range, mixing in a change-up and an occasional slider.
Juan Paniagua, P
Age: 23 (4/4/1990)
2013 Teams: Dominican Cubs, Dominican Summer League (R); Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League (R); Boise Hawks, Northwest League (SS), Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, (A)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 35
How acquired—Signed as a free agent July 9, 2012
Prior to Cubs
Not only does Paniagua have a career before finally signing with the Cubs, he pitched two years in the Dominican Summer League with the Diamondbacks under the name of Juan Carlos Collado. In two seasons in the DSL, he appeared in 21 games, throwing 35.2 innings with 41 strikeouts. After the 2010 season, MLB terminated the contract due to fraudulent paperwork. Following a one-year suspension, he signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million but MLB nixed that deal for falsified documents, and suspended him for another year.
The right-hander was the Cubs' top 2012 International prospect as the North Siders signed a reported $1.5 million deal with the Dominican native. He made his U.S. debut with Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League, appearing in two games (3.2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB 4K). He then joined Boise for the NWL playoffs, recording two strikeouts in the final game of the playoffs in 2/3 inning. According to one report, Paniagua hit 100 mph on the gun while with Boise.
Not sure what was tougher, getting a visa to pitch in the states or throwing strikes once he got here. Unable to gain access to the states, Paniagua pitched in four games in the Dominican Summer League, throwing 12.1 innings, with 13 K and 2 BB. After arriving in the U.S. in July, Paniagua made one start in Mesa and was sent to Kane County in the Midwest League. He struggled at Kane County with his command, walking 12 hitters in 8 innings while surrendering 10 hits and nine runs in three outings. The right-hander was sent to Boise, appearing in six games in the NWL. After 2.1 innings of shutout ball in his first game, Paniagua threw 11.2 more innings and allowed 29 hits and 11 walks.
Armed with a 95+ fastball along with a change-up and slider, Paniagua could start 2014 anywhere from extended spring training to Daytona. The Cubs haven't even made up their mind whether the right-hander's future is out of the pen or as a starter. Paniagua will turn 24 in April but has only thrown 76.1 innings since turing pro in 2009, so a rush through the minors is unlikely.
Carlos Penalver, SS
Age 19 (5/17/1994)
2013 Teams: Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League, (R); Boise Hawks, Northwest League, (SS)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—40
How acquired—Signed as a free agent on July 2, 2010
The Cubs signed several Latin American teenagers in 2010 but none received more money than Penalver's reported $550,000. The Venezuelan made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, hitting .272/.364/.341 with 21 SB in 72 games. He drew 35 walks and fanned 42 times. Penalver spent his first season stateside in the Arizona Rookie League in 2012, appearing in 49 games with a slash line of .273/.341/.322.
The Venezuelan native may be the best defensive shortstop in the Cubs organization and hit .341/.427/.477 the final month of the season in Boise. He was named to the Northwest League all-star team and was second in the league with 43 runs scored. Penalver finished with a slash line of .261/.338/.359 in 68 games and ended the year at fall instructs.
Penalver is the odds on favorite to start the season at Kane County as he embarks on his first full-season. While Penalver is known for his defense, he has a good approach at the plate, with quick hands and a compact swing. Cubs can be patient as he doesn't turn 20 until May and has yet to play more than 72 games in a season. The MWL will be a good test for the youngster as he deals with the grind of a long season.
Rest of the P's
Yomar Pacheco, RHP—The 24-year-old spent his first season with the Cubs after signing with the Pirates back in 2007. He went 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA and 10 saves for the VSL Cubs.
Jose Paniagua, 1B—Signed in July of 2012, the 6-foot-2, 19-year-old hit .206/.304/.306 in 60 games in his second season in the Dominican Summer League.
Giuseppe Papaccio , SS—The Cubs 18th round pick out of Seton Hall in June, Papaccio started his pro career in Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League and was then promoted to Kane County for the final 37 games of the season. The versatile infielder hit .279/.331/.364 with two homers and 13 RBI.
Loiger Padron, RHP—In his fifth minor league season with the Cubs, Padron, 24, threw 38 innings in the NWL, making five starts for the Hawks. He went 2-4 with a 5.87 ERA with 32 K and 20 BB.
Adonis Paula, 3B—After hitting .186 in his debut season, Paula, 19, rebounded for a solid season in the DSL, hitting .281/.387/.415 with three homers and 55 RBI, second in the DSL. He batted .407 with RISP and showed improved discipline at the plate.
Jose Paulino, LHP—Signed as a 16-year-old free agent in 2011, he made his pro debut in 2012 in the DSL, one of 15 appearances. Paulino made seven starts and tossed 60.1 innings with 60 K., sporting a 4.18 ERA. The 6-foot-2 left-hander (5-3, 2.33 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) may have punched his ticket for a spring visit to Mesa leading the team in starts, innings, and strikeouts. The left-hander fanned 71 (6th best in DSL) while walking 12 in 58 innings. In his last four regular season starts his line was 21 IP, 11H, 1R, 4BB, 22K.
Felix Pena, RHP—Pena threw a career-high 103.1 innings in the MWL for Kane County and earned mid-season all-star honors. The 6-foot-2 right-hander missed a month in early May with an arm injury but came back and made 12 starts to finish the year with a line of 4-7, 3.92 ERA, 21 G, 103.1 IP, 102 H, 32 BB, 77 K.
Jhonny Pena, 1B—The 21-year-old hit .232/.324/.328 in 40 games in the DSL, his third season with the Cubs.
Stephen Perakslis, RHP—The 22-year-old led Kane County with seven saves and appeared in 37 games in his first full season. He had two impressive streaks going 16.2 innings (8 games) without allowing a run and then tossed 12.1 scoreless frames in a 10-game streak. He tossed 58.1 innings with a 1.22 WHIP and a BAA .237. The 21st round pick in 2012 out of the University of Maine, he should head to Daytona for 2013 and is a bullpen arm to keep an eye on.
Starling Peralta, RHP—In his sixth season, Peralta started the year in Daytona but went on the DL in May, pitched in five games of rehab in the Arizona Rookie League, and finished the year at Kane County, making six starts. The 23-year-old tossed 13.2 scoreless innings in his first three games but got rocked the in his final 19.1 innings, yielding 26 H, 24 R, and 13 BB.
Jhonny Pereda, C—Signed as a free agent in 2013, Pereda made his pro debut in Venezuelan Summer League, playing 59 games as the starting catcher. The 17-year-old hit .213/.294/.293 with a pair of homers and was one of the younger players on the team.
Hector Perez, RHP—The 20-year-old fanned 62 hitters in 57.1 innings in his third season in the DSL. The slender right-hander made eight starts and finished the year with a 1.88 ERA and only walked 13.
Jesus Perez, LHP—Perez made his debut as a 17-year-old in the DSL, throwing 22.2 innings. The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder went 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA but walked 18.
Wilfredo Petit, C—Singed in 2010 out of Venezuelan, Petit spend his second straight tyre in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .209/.253/.233 in 30 games.
Chris Pieters, RHP—The Cubs signed the 16-year-old Curacao right-hander in 2011 for a reported $350,000 and he made his debut in 2012, going 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 33 innings in the DSL. Pieters couldn't find the strike zone in 2013 as he walked 42 hitters in 24.1 innings, going 1-5 with a 12.21 ERA in the VSL.
Carlos Pimentel, RHP—The Cubs signed Pimentel this winter as a free agent after the 25-year-old spent seven seasons in the Rangers system. Pimentel was invited to spring training as a non-roster player after being named the Dominican Winter League's Pitcher of the Year for Escogido (5-0 1.67 ERA).
Anthony Prieto, LHP—The Cubs fifth-round pick in 2012 out of Americas High School in El Paso, Texas, the 20-year-old has only pitched 40 innings in two seasons for Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League. He appeared in six games in 2013 (1-2, 4.29 ERA) and didn't pitch after July 27.