Hot Stove News
The Diamondback have added their second Cuban of the off-season, signing 21-year-old Yoan Lopez to a record-setting $8.25 million signing bonus. Its the most money every paid to a Cuban under the international amateur rules that went into affect a few years ago. Arizona will be fined for going over their cap and will be penalized the next two years with spending limitations. Lopez played three years in Cuba’s professional league and throws a fastball in the mid-90s as well as a change-up, curve and slider. Lopez had been working out in the Dominican Republic, which explains chief baseball officer Tony La Russa’s recent visit to the island. Earlier in the offseason, the D-backs added Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. With the D-Backs now going over the cap, they may become serious players for Cuban SS Yoan Moncada when he’s cleared to sign. The Cubs are currently in their penalty phase and cannot sign any international amateur prospects for more than $250,000 until July 2.. The Cubs obliterated their spending limit last summer inking Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Jen-Ho Tseng, Erling Moreno, Jeferson Mejia and Yohan Matos. Mejia was traded last month to Arizona as part of the Miguel Montero deal.
Venezuelan Winter League
Caribes (7-2) and Magallanes (6-3) continue to separate themselves from the rest of the five-team field in the round-robin playoffs as both squads won on Tuesday night. Caribes downed Zulia (3-6) 4-3 and Magallanes whipped Aragua (3-6) 10-2. La Guaria (3-5) had the day off. Eight days remain in the round-robin schedule as play ends Jan. 22......Yoanner Negrin took the loss for Aragua (4.1 IP, 5 H 3 R, 1 ER 2 BB 1 K) and Rubi Silva went 0-for-1 and made a throwing error.
Dominican Winter League
Big news of the night was the debut of Robinson Cano for Estrellas (8-6) as the Mariners slugger knocked in three runs in Estrellas’ 7-2 win over Gigantes. The win kept the Stars two-games ahead of Aguillas, who beat Toros 5-4. CF Junior Lake (.283) had a big game for Estrellas with two hits, a walk, and two runs scored. Former Iowa starter Carlos Pimentel took the loss, allowing five runs in 3.1 innings. Former Cubs reliever Marcos Mateo pitched a scoreless ninth for the Stars. Mateo was reportedly headed to Japan for the 2015 season but recently signed a minor league deal with San Diego.......Aguilas (6-8) scored four runs in the 4th and held on to beat Toros. Manny Ramirez was 1-for-5 with a walk and Frank Batista got the win in relief. The right-hander fanned four in 3.1 innings......Four days remain in round-robin schedule with play ending Jan. 17.
Licey’s season is over and center fielder Arismendy Alcantara is on his way to the Cubs Convention this week but the 23-year-old gained valuable experience this winter. After hitting .200 in 17 games last year in the DWL, Alcantara was more comfortable at the plate, batting .324/.395/.544 with 4 HR and 3 SB in 19 games (68 at-bats). Needed reps in center were also on Alcantara’s agenda as he projects as the Cubs opening day starter. Despite hitting .205/.254/.367 in 70 games his rookie season, I look for Alcantara to make the adjustments and display his tools that got him to the big leagues. He may not become the leadoff hitter some hope for but does a good job squaring up baseballs and continues to improve in the field, as evident by his play this winter.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
It was a day off as both series are tied at 1-1. Obregon hosts Jalisco on Wednesday while Mexicali entertains Culiacan.
Puerto Rican Winter League
Santurce (6-3) fell to Carolina (4-5) 3-2 while Mayaguez (6-3) moved into a first -place tie with a 5-4 win Caguas (2-7)........Cubs prospect Fernando Cruz tossed 1.2 scoreless innings for Santurce despite allowing two hastens two walks. He did fan two. Javier Baez didn’t play for Santurce and may be on his way to Chicago for the Cubs Convention as he was listed for Cubs players attending the annual event this weekend.