Not much news in the way of Cubs rumors or hot stove so here’s a look at winter league action with recaps of the position players.
Venezuelan Winter League
Nov. 29—LHP Joseph Ortiz earned his first win and matched his longest outing in La Guira’s 1-0 win over Caribes. Ortiz tossed 1.2 scoreless frames, allowing a hit with two strikeouts. The Cubs claimed Ortiz off waivers from the Rangers after he missed most of 2014 after his foot was broken when it was run over by a motorcycle during the off-season. After not being charged with a run in his first seven games, Ortiz had allowed runs in three straight appearances before Saturday’s outing. Ortiz, 24, is only 5-foot-7 but has a sinker in the low 90s. A member of the 40-man roster, Ortiz provides the Cubs left-handed depth in the bullpen with Zac Rosscup and Wesley Wright.
Willson Contreras is the only position player in the VSL and in 17 games, the 22-year-old has been impressive, hitting .298/.346/.596 with 4 HR and 13 RBI. He spent 2014 at Daytona and should begin 2015 at Tennessee.
Dominican Winter League
Nov. 29—Ivan Pineyro made his first start in the DWL after tossing 13.2 innings in seven games in the Arizona Fall League. The right-hander got the start for Estrellas and worked around doubles in the first and second, and then shook off a leadoff walk in the third. He finished the night with a line of 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Manny Ramirez (.294) went 2-for3 with a pair of singles, a walk, and a run scored in the 3-0 win.........CF Arismendy Alcantara went 0-for-1 in Licey’s 8-5 win over toros. Alcantara was hit by a pitch in the third and scored but was removed from the game for a pinch-hitter in the fourth. Alberto Cabrera was charged with two runs in an inning of work for Toros.
OF Arismendy Alcantara didn’t get his winter league action started until Nov. 15 and in 10 games, the 23-year-old is batting .324/.361/.500 with 2 HR and 2 SB for Licey. Alcantara has played primarily in center but has seen a few games at second.
OF Junior Lake has been one the stars for Estrellas with a league-leading 15 steals and a slash line of .260/.395/.360. He’s also fanned 34 times in 100 at-bats but has drawn 15 walks. Lake, who started in Chicago and was sent down to Iowa after he struggled, has 2 HR and 8 RBI in 29 games.
SS Marco Hernandez has played in 15 games for Licey (.235/.289/.353) but playing time has been limited as of late with only one game in last two weeks. Hernandez has been rumored as the player to be named later in the Felix Doubront deal. The 22-year-old was a Florida State League all-star for Daytona and hit .270/.315/.351 as he moved from a switch-hitter to the left side of the plate.
DH Manny Ramirez is technically a free agent but there’s a good chance the Cubs may bring him back as a player/coach. Ramirez is still attempting a comeback and is using the DWL as a showcase that he can still play. In 27 games for Aguilas, all at DH, Ramirez is batting .283/.398/.465 with 4 HR and 18 RBI.
Former Cub prospect Jake Fox is playing for Estrellas after hitting 38 Homers in 2014 between AA Reading (22) and the Mexican League (16). Fox, 32, is hitting .267/.389/.400 and hasn’t played in majors since 2011 with Baltimore. Fox played in 89 games with Cubs (2007 & 09) and hit .259/.311/.468 with 11 HR in 44 RBI in 82 games in ’09. The Cubs traded Fox to A’s in December of 2009 along with Aaron Miles for Ronny Moria, Matthew Spencer and Jeff Gray.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
Nov. 29—Christian Villanueva (.225) went 0-for-5 with two punchouts in Obregon’s 10-8 loss to Navojoa. Villanueva is hoping some success in winter league can help springboard him back into the conversation as one of the Cubs top prospects. After being named the top third baseman in AA in 2013, the 24-year-old couldn’t repeat that success in AAA in 2014. In 25 games for Obregon, the 24-year-old was batting .240/.363/.440 with 4 HR and 9 RBI entering Saturday night’s game.
Puerto Rican Winter League
Nov. 29—San Juan had the day off.
John Andreoli had a seven-game hitting streak for San Juan but is hitting .215/.297/.308 in 19 games in his first action since a wrist injury ended his ‘14 campaign back in June. The 24-year-old got off to a great start in AA with a .297/.411/.405 slash line after the first month but struggled in May and went on DL in June.
Jonathan Mota is a free agent but has spent the past 10 years in the Cubs minors, playing in 861 games. In 19 games for San Juan, Mota is hitting .235/.288/.294 with four RBI.