Emeralds win Northwest League title

Ems not only had the best winning percentage of any stateside minor league team, they captured the NWL crown

Eugene’s season ended with a dog pile at P.K. Park as the Emeralds fan celebrated their first outright title since 1975. The NWL crown capped off an impressive season that saw Eugene win both halves of the division and post the best winning percentage of any stateside minor league affiliate. The season included a  Northwest League record 15-game win streak (Aug. 5-19).

Pitching was the key to the Ems success as they led the league with a 3.24 ERA, nine shutouts, 30 saves, 576 hits allowed, and 680 strikeouts. Eugene hit .250 as a team and were in the middle of the eight-team league in most offensive categories.

In the playoffs, the Ems faced Hillsboro, who finished second in both halves and were 11.5 games behind Eugene in the overall standings. The Hops took the opener 4-3 on a walk-off in the 10th inning  but the Ems evened the series at home scoring five times in the first two frames en route to a 6-2 win. In the deciding game, Wladimir Galindo knocked in both runs and Erling Moreno fanned seven over five solid innings as the Ems won 2-1.

In the NWL finals for the first time since 2000, Dylan Cease and three relievers kept Everett in check while Darryl Wilson, Yeiler Peguero and Chris Pieters all homered in a 3-1 win. The Aqua Sox tied the series with a 7-1 win in Game 2 at PK Park. In the winner take all Game 3, Kevonte Mitchell knocked in a run and threw a runner out at home as the Ems won 2-1. Wyatt Short worked a 1-2-3 ninth to start the celebration.

Here’s a look at the players that suited up for the Ems.

Position Players

Wladimir Galindo, 3B—After battling a wrist injury last year that limited the Venezuelan native to 19 games, Galindo had a breakout season leading the Ems  in runs (44), doubles (19), triples (4), home runs (9), RBI (40), total bases (114), walks (33) strikeouts (81), and slugging  (.462). In 66 games, the 19-year-old hit .243 with a .337 on-base average and was named the NWL player of the week on Aug. 14. Although he did lead the team with 16 errors at third, Galindo improved his defense and range. Invited to fall instructs. 

Yeiler Peguero, 2B—The 19-year-old made the jump from the DSL to the Northwest League and was up to the challenge, leading the Emeralds in games played (68) and hits (68). The Dominican Republic native batted .260/.326/.336 and split his time between second (42 G) and short (24 G). In the playoffs, he slashed .286/.360/.429 with a homer and five RBI. Invited to fall instructs.

Chris Pieters, 1B—Making 37 starts at first and 28 in left field, the 22-year-old Curacao native started his career on the mound and made the switch in 2015. Pieters hit .246/.324/.337 with three homers, 36 runs, 30 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Invited to fall instructs.

Darryl Wilson, OF— Starting in center for most of the season, the 19-year-old held his own and led the team with 21 steals. The Cubs fourth-round pick in 2015  hit .257/.320/.371 with three homers, 29 RBI and 37 runs scored. Wilson started the season 9-for-50 but had a six-game stretch in late July when he went 14-for-23 with two homers and eight RBI.

Kevonte Mitchell, OF—After struggling last year in the NWL and being sent back to Mesa, the 21-year-old played in 62 games for the Ems and smacked five homers after not homering his first two pro seasons. The Cubs 13th round pick in 2014 hit .243/.318/.378, swiped 15 bases, and was second on the team with 44 runs.

Robert Garcia, OF—The 22-year-old missed nearly three weeks in August but returned to finish out the year and slashed .283/.345/.418 with 2 homers and 29 runs scored. Batting leadoff for part of the season, the switch-hitting outfielder only swiped five bases after stealing 17 last year in the AZL.

 Trent Giambrone, IF—The iron man of the 2016 draft class, Giambrone appeared in 51 games after getting selected in the 25th round out of Delta State. The 22-year-old led the Ems with a .404 on-base average and hit .292 with four homers, 22 RBI and 33 runs scored.

Jose Paniagua, 1B—In his fifth season, the 22-year-old started the year in South Bend and hit .204/.244/.278 in 44 games for Eugene. The Dominican Republic native made 22 starts at first and also spent time as the DH. 

Tyler Payne, C—A 30th round pick out of West Virginia State in 2015, Payne hit .246/.335/.391 with three homers and 19 RBI in 41 games. Threw out 10 of 44 bases stealers in 33 starts behind the plate.

Marcus Mastrobuoni, C—The other half of the Ems catching platoon, Mastrobuoni batted .227/.314/.356 with three homers and 19 RBI. The 22-year-old threw out 14 of 48 base runners in 31 starts. 

Zack Short, SS—The Cubs 17th round pick in June out of Sacred Heart arrived in town on July 17 and became the Ems starting shortstop, 37 games. The 21-year-old slashed .236/.401/.323 with a homer, 23 RBI, swiped 10 bases, and drew more walks (33) than strikeouts (24). Invited to fall instructs.

Matt Rose, 1B—After a tough start in South Bend, Rose was sent to Eugene and hit his way back to the Midwest League. In 23 games with Emeralds, the Cubs 11th round pick in 2015 smacked four homers and plated 16 runs while slashing .241/.344/.446. Rose ended the year with 17 homers.

Andruw Monasterio, SS—Earning NWL Player of the Week honors to open the season in Eugene, the 19-year-old only made 17 starts before being promoted to South Bend on July 6. The Venezuelan hit .324/.355/.437 with a homer and 12 RBI for the Ems. Invited to fall instructs. 

Samuel Tidaback, C—The Cubs 21st round pick out of North Georgia played in 14 games in Eugene, hitting .176/.237/.333, including his first pro homer. Invited to fall instructs.

Michael Foster,OF/P—The Cubs 16th round pick out of Northeastern in 2015 not only appeared in 20 games (.176/.276/.235) in the outfield and at DH, he also made three appearances on the mound, allowing three runs over three innings with six punchouts.

Jose Gonzalez, OF—The 20-year-old hit .211/.302/.289 in 13 games for Eugene after starting the year in Mesa and spending a week in Iowa.

Connor Myers, OF— The 22-year-old’s NWL career only lasted 10 games as the Cubs 27th round pick in June went 9-for-34, scored nine times and knocked in seven runs before a promotion to South Bend. 

Stephen Bruno and Taylor Davis spent time in Eugene to rehab from injuries they sustained in AA. Bruno went 7-for-19 in six games with five RBI while Davis was 3-for-17 in six games. IF Vimael Machin, the Cubs 10th round pick in 2015, played in four games (6-14, 5 RBI) between stops in Iowa and South Bend. C Alberto Mineo appeared in one game for the Ems and went 0-for-4 with a RBI.

Starting rotation

Manuel Rondon—Named the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year  and a post-season all-star—not bad for a guy that was traded for last summer for a AAA catcher. The 21-year-old left-hander was 6-1 in 12 starts and sported a 1.10 ERA over 57.1 innings. The Venezuelan native held hitters to a .233 mark and fanned 49 while issuing 22 walks.  Rondon got the win in the final game of the playoffs, holding Everett to one run over five innings. Invited to fall instructs. 

Dylan Cease—Considered by some as the Cubs top pitching prospect, Cease lived up to some of the billing but also showed some growing pains with his command.  The 20-year-old earned Player of the Week honors Sept. 4 and was named to the NWL post-season all-star team. Missing two starts with a cramp in his forearm, Cease took the hill 12 times for the Ems, posting a  2-0 record with a 2.22 ERA over 44.2 innings. The Cubs sixth-round pick in 2014 sported a 1.16 WHIP, a BAA of .175, 13.3 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9. Tossed four innings of shutout ball with six strikeouts in his only playoff start to help the Ems take a 1-0 lead in the NWL finals. Invited to fall instructs.

Bryan Hudson—The Cubs third-round pick in 2015 suffered through some growing pains in the NWL but ended the year with his best outing, a season-high seven strikeout performance over Tri-City with five shutout innings.  The 6-foot-8 lefty struggled with his command, issuing 41 walks over 58.2 innings (6.3 BB/9). Ending the season with a 5.06 ERA in a team-high 13 starts, the 19-year-old was 5-4 with a .262 BAA and a 6.3 K/9. Invited to fall instructs. 

Pedro Silverio—The 22-year-old right-hander did his best work in the playoffs, blanking HIllsboro for five innings with a season-high eight strikeouts in the semi-finals win that tied the series.  In 11 starts, the right-hander was 3-2 with a 4.50 EA with 46 K in 44 IP. He held opponents to a .233 BAA but issued 30 free passes.

Jose Paulino—Nobody in Eugene had better numbers than the 21-year-old left-hander who was named NWL pitcher of the month after being named pitcher of the week twice in July. In six starts for the Ems, Paulino was 4-0 with a 0.50 ERA and a 0.63 WHIP. He fanned 37 and only issued three free passes. Paulino was promoted to South Bend and made seven starts (3-1, 3.15 ERA, 40 IP, 10 BB, 32K, .234 BAA, 1.15 WHIP). 

Erling Moreno—The 19-year-old didn’t garnish any awards or post-season honors but the Columbian native should be someone for Cubs fans to get excited about. Pitching his first full-season since having Tommy John surgery, the right-hander fanned 55 hitters in 62.1 innings and only issued nine walks. He had a 1.88 ERA between Mesa and Eugene, and went 2-1 with  0.90 ERA in six starts for the Emeralds. Moreno fanned seven and held Hillsboro to one run over five innings in the deciding Game 3 of the Division Series—his only playoff appearance. 

Tyson Miller—The Cubs fourth-round selection led all draft picks with 28.2 innings between Mesa and Eugene. Miller made his pro debut July 23 and went three innings, allowing two unearned runs with two punchouts. After another three inning outing, Miller was promoted to Eugene and was 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in six games, 22.2 IP, 4 BB, 14 K, 1.32 WHIP. The 21-year-old right-hander made one start in the playoffs, allowing four runs in 3.1 innings in a Game 2 loss to Everett. Invited to fall instructs.

Oscar De La Cruz—The 21-year-old only made two starts in Eugene, fanning 14 over 8.1 innings while allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. A post-season all-star for the Ems last year, De La Cruz ended the year at South Bend (1-2, 3.25 ERA, 27.2 IP, 8 BB, 35 K).

Bailey Clark—The Cubs fifth-round pick out of Duke only pitched in four games after signing, two in Mesa and two more in Eugene. Clark’s last start was Aug. 10 for the Ems. The 6-foot-4 right-hander recorded 13 K in 11.2 innings between the two levels.


M.T. Minacci—After only throwing 11.1 innings last year in his debut season in Mesa, the 21-year-old Florida native led Eugene with 23 appearances and tossed a team-high 44.2 innings of relief. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 4.03 ERA and 31K, 20 BB, 1.48 WHIP.

Michael Knighton—The Cubs 17th round pick in 2014 out of junior college, the right-hander was impressive for the Ems, sporting a 1.72 ERA over 36.2 innings (18 games. He was 4-for-4 in save opportunities and had a 1.01 WHIP while holding NWL hitters to a .215 average. Knighton, 22, fanned 27 while walking nine. He was just as effective in the playoffs, tossing 4.2 scoreless frames.

Alex Santana—The 22-year-old right-hander appeared in 18 games for Eugene but was 3-1 with a 7.57 ERA. The Dominican Republic native issued 25 walks in 27.1 innings and ended the ’16 campaign with a 1.94 WHIP.

Mark Malave—The former infielder turned pitcher was second on the team with 21 relief appearances and led the Ems with eight saves before a promotion to South Bend. The right-hander fanned 33 over 26 innings while issuing 13 walks and sporting a 1.35 WHIP.

Enrique De Los Rio—Command issues returned the 21-year-old Venezuelan back to Mesa after issuing 25 free passes over 25.2 innings in his NWL debut. De Los Rio went 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA  and a 1.83 WHIP. He had better success in the final games at Mesa, fanning 14 while walking five over 13.2 frames.

Tyler Peitzmeier—Starting the season at extended spring training, the Cubs ninth-round pick in 2015 began his year in South Bend and tossed 8.2 scoreless frames over six games. After 11 games and a 3.31 ERA with a save, the left-hander was assigned to Eugene for the rest of the season. In 10 games for the Ems, Peitzmeier posted a 2-1 mark with a 2.53 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. He recorded 18 strikeouts in 21.1 innings with seven walks.

Andin Diaz—After six games in the Arizona Rookie League, the 24-year-old left-hander was promoted to Eugene on July 19 and made 12 appearances (2-0, 4.50 ERA, 20 IP, 8 BB, 23 K, 1.30 WHIP).

Duncan Robinson—The 22-year-old right-hander made his pro debut in Mesa on July 16 with a scoreless inning and was shipped to Eugene. Selected in the ninth-round out of Dartmouth, the 6-foot-6 right-hander tossed 19.1 innings of relief over seven games, posting a 2-1 record with a 4.19 ERA. Invited to fall instructs. 

Jared Cheek—Back in Eugene for his second season, the Cubs 21st round pick out of Georgia in 2015 appeared in 13 games for the Ems, recording seven saves in seven opportunities. In 18.1 innings, the right-hander was 1-0 with a 0.98 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. The 23-year-old was promoted to South Bend on July 27 and appeared in 13 games in the MWL (2-0, 3.18 ERA, 4 SV, 17 IP, 5 BB, 17 K, 1.29 WHIP).

Dakota Mekkes—The 6-foot-8 right-hander made his pro debut in the Arizona Rookie League but after two games was on his way to Eugene. In nine games for the Ems, Mekkes went 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA and fanned 21 in 17 relief innings. The Cubs tenth-round pick out of Michigan State fired four scoreless frames in two playoff games and earned a save. Invited to fall instructs.

Marc Huberman—The left-hander out of USC got the win in his pro debut on July 18, fanning two in a scoreless inning. After two more games in the Mesa, the Cubs 18th round pick was promoted to Eugene, where he went 3-0 with 1.72 ERA, 15.2 IP, 10 BB, 17 K, .185 BAA. Invited to fall instructs.

Wyatt Short—Selected in the 13th round out of Mississippi in June, Short made his pro debut July 10 with the Ems with a scoreless inning. The left-hander only allowed one run—and it was unearned—over 15 innings, converting all seven save opportunities. He added two more saves in the post-season and held NWL hitters to a .104 average. Striking out 14 with seven walks, the 21 year-old sported a 0.80 WHIP. Invited to fall instructs. 

Chad Hockin—The Cubs sixth-round pick in June out of Cal-State Fullerton made his pro debut July 13 for Eugene  and spent the entire year in the NWL. In 11 appearances, the 21-year-old right-hander fanned 14 in 14 innings while allowing a .298 BAA and a 6.00 ERA. Invited to fall instructs. 

Tommy Nance—After signing as a non-drafted free agent, Nance made his Cubs debut on June 18 for Eugene, fanning two over a pair of scoreless frames. After not allowing a run over 6.2 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander was assigned to Iowa. He also pitched for South Bend (2 games) and ended the year as part of Myrtle Beach’s title team. 

Jed Carter —After making his debut in the Arizona Rookie League (3G, 3.1 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K), the Cubs 15th round pick out of Auburn-Montgomery appeared in eight games for Eugene (3-1, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 5 BB, 11 K)  and tossed a scoreless inning of relief in the playoffs. Invited to fall instructs.

Michael Rucker—The Cubs 11th round pick out of Brigham Young arrived in Eugene after making his first four pro appearances for Mesa in the AZL. Rucker made his NWL debut on Aug. 27, allowing an unearned run over two innings, and then fanned five in two frames on Sept. 1. In the playoffs, Rucker made two appearances, striking out three in 3.2 relief innings.

Jordan Brink—Promoted to Eugene on July 10, Brink only made two appearances and allowed two runs over 3.1 innings. The Cubs 11th round pick in 2014 pitched in 10 games for Mesa.

Daniel Lewis (Myrtle Beach) and Josh Conway (Tennessee) spent time in Eugene on rehab assignments. Lewis appeared in three games in early July and Conway pitched in four games.


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