Javier Baez makes debut
Cubs second baseman Javier Baez made his Puerto Rican League debut on Thursday night, batting third and playing second for Santurce. Baez went down swinging his first three at-bats and then hit a sacrifice fly to drive in a run in the bottom of the 8th. Baez handled all five chances in the field without an error in the 2-0 win.
Rule 5 Draft
I’ll start with the additions and its only one player—Ariel Ovando—a 21-year-old outfielder that hit .237/.287/.289 for Tri-City (Astros) in the New York Penn League’s short season. A career .233 hitter in four minor league seasons, including 49 games for Quad Cities in the Midwest League, the Cubs will switch the 6-foot-4 left-hander to the mound. The Cubs selected Ovando in the AAA stage of the minor league phase.........In the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Marlins used their first-round selection to take LHP Andrew McKirahan, the Cubs 21st round pick in 2011 out of the University of Texas. McKirahan had Tommy John surgery and only threw 10 innings in 2012 and 29 in 2013. He earned Florida State League all-star honors for Daytona in ’14 and sported a 0.99 ERA in 36.1 innings with eight saves. McKirahan earned a promotion to AA Tennessee and appeared in 21 games with 24 K and 6 BB in 28.2 innings. The loss of McKirahan hurts the Cubs left-handed bullpen depth at the upper levels and he was impressive in his comeback from surgery.
The Cubs used their first-round pick to select SS Tayler Featherston (Rockies) and promptly traded him to the Angels for cash considerations........The Cubs lost two players in the minor league phase—1B/OF Rock Shoulders (Rangers) and C Luis Flores (Astros). Shoulders, a 25th round pick in 2011, had to share time at first base with Daniel Vogelbach the last three seasons and a new organization could help his career. The 23-year-old hit a career-high 18 homers in 2013 for Kane County and earned post-season all-star honors with a .258/.352/.445 slash line. Shoulders had a OBP of .341 last season but only hit .223 with 12 HR and 42 RBI in 91 games. Shoulders saw plenty of time in the OF but also played IB and was the team’s primary DH.......Flores has spent the past seven seasons with the Cubs after being selected in the 7th round in 2008. The 28-year-old started the year in AAA Iowa but was demoted to Tennessee when Rafael Lopez was promoted. Cubs may need to sign a free agent minor league catcher to replace Flores.....Former Cub Brett Jackson (Diamondbacks) was selected by the Giants in the minor league phase.
The Cubs front office hasn’t made any comments on the Cubs free agent signings of Jon Lester and Jason Hammel as neither deal has been made official......The Cubs have until Monday to complete a pair of trades. The Cubs need to send a player to Boston to complete the Felix Doubront trade and the A’s still need to send the Cubs a minor leaguer for the Jeff Samardzija trade.
Venezuelan Winter League
2B Luis Valbuena continues to struggle, going 0-for-3 in the 12-0 loss to Margarita. Expected to start at third until Kris Bryant is called up after the projected Super 2 date, Valbuena is just 7-for-34 in nine games. Former Cubs prospect and current free agent Eduardo Figueroa surrendered two runs in 4.2 frames for Lara. He allowed two hits, walked one, and recorded a strikeout.
Dominican Winter League
Ivan Pineyro made his third start, lasting 3.1 innings. The right hander, who also pitched in the Arizona Fall League, allowed a run on two hits and two walks. He fanned three and has 8 K in 8.2 IP. Junior Lake went 1-for-5 in Estrellas’ 6-1 win.
Manny Ramirez (.280) slugged his 6th homer, a solo shot, and finished 1-for-5 in Aguilas 6-4 loss to Gigantes. Frank Batista tossed two scoreless frames for Aguilas despite allowing two hits and two walks. After making seven starts, Batista has been used out of the bullpen the last three games. The 25-year-old has thrown 37.1 innings and sports a 3/86 ERA with 15 BB and 26 K.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
No Cubs prospects saw action.
Puerto Rican Winter League
San Juan, with John Andreoli on the roster, had the day off.
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