Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A look at Cubs news and prospects playing in Winter Leagues

Cubs add four pitchers, awards for Tennessee and winter league update.

Cubs add four arms

Its that time of year to stock the upper levels of the minors. According to Baseball America, the Cubs have signed four right-handed pitchers to minor league deals— Maikel Cleto, Daniel Corcino, Jhondaniel Medina and Miguel Mejia. These righties provide depth at the upper levels as the Cubs lost several minor league arms to free agency after the 2016 season. None of these pitchers should get you excited and hopefully they won’t be needed at Wrigley Field. 

Ranked by Baseball America as a Top 100 prospect before the 2013 season, Corcino was signed by the Reds in 2008 and worked his way through the system as a starter, making his MLB debut against the Cubs in 2014. The Dominican native made three starts for the Reds in September, including one at Wrigley, allowing two runs in five-plus innings and took the 3-1 loss as he was out-dueled by Kyle Hendricks. Claimed off waivers by the Dodgers in April of 2015, Corcino re-signed with Los Angeles for the 2016 season and made 27 relief appearances at AA Tulsa (1-1, 3.53 ERA, 35.2 IP, 10 B, 31 K). 

Originally signed by Mets in 2006, Cleto only spent two years in the organization before being traded to the Mariners in a three-team deal with the Indians. He reached High A with the M’s and pitched in the AFL in 2011 before being shipped to the Cardinals for infielder Brendan Ryan. Making his big league debut with the Red Birds in 2011, Cleto only appeared in 12 games over three years before being claimed on waivers by the Royals in 2013. The White Sox grabbed the 6-foot-3 Dominican  off the waiver wire before the start of the 2014 season and he pitched in 28 games for the South Siders (0-1, 4.60 ERA, 29.1 IP). The 27-year-old spent 2015 in AAA with the White Sox and re-signed for the 2016 season but was released in March. After pitching in the Mexican League, Cleto was signed by the Braves and went 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA with four saves in 20 games for AAA Gwinnett.

Signed by the Orioles in 2009, Medina spent three years in the Baltimore system as a starter and was traded to Pittsburg before the start of 2013. In two levels of A ball with the Pirates as a reliever, Medina went 2-2 with a 1.96 ERA, working 46 innings with 68 punchouts and was 13-for-13 in save opportunities in low A. After posting a 0.72 ERA in 35 games in the Florida State League in 2014, Medina recorded 12 saves and was 3-6 with a 2.76 ERA in his AA debut in ’15. Last year, the 23-year-old split the year between AA (2-2, 3.70 ERA, 56 IP, 60 K) and AAA (1-1, 2.63 ERA, 13.2 IP, 10 K). In 10 games this winter for Lara in Venezuela, Medina is 3-0 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 IP, 11 BB, 14K, .231 BAA.

The Cuba re-signed Miguel Mejia, who’s spent the off-season pitching for Caguas in Puerto Rico. In 15 games, the 28-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA with 10 K and 2 BB in 15 IP. Mejia signed with the Cubs in 2016 after being out of baseball for three years, pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Mejia started last year in Iowa, was sent to Tennessee in mid-May and then returned to Des Moines for the final two months of the season. Between the two levels, Mejia  logged 60.2 innings and one save, going 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA and 60 K/18 BB.

Other free agent minor league deals singed earlier include right-handed pitchers Seth Frankoff, Andury Acevedo and Cole Brocker. Several former Cubs farmhands have new teams for 2017—RHP Stephen Fife (Marlins), OF Lane Adams (Braves), C Tim Federowicz (Giants), LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (Astros), and C David Freitas (Braves).

Smokies garner awards

Tennessee Smokies President and COO Chris Allen was named Ballpark Digest’s Executive of the Year for 2016 while Smokes Stadium and head groundskeeper Anthony Defeo were named the 2016 Field of the Year for Professional Baseball by Sports Turf Managers Association. Allen, who was also named the Southern League’s Outstanding Employee of the Year for 2016, completed his fourth year and first as team president. Defeo finished his third year in Tennessee and its the second award he’s been part of as they earned the Tennessee Sports Field of the Year in 2015 presented by the Tennessee Turfs Association.

Venezuelan Winter League

SS Carlos Penalver went 0-for-3 in Aragua’s 5-1 loss to Zulia. 

Dominican Winter League

1B Chesny Young was 1-for-4 in Escogido’s 6-3 loss to Aguilas. Juan Perez, a free agent who played last season in Iowa, knocked in a run for Aguilas and leads the DWL with 24 RBI.

Puerto Rican Winter League

RH Miguel Mejia earned his ninth hold for Caguas during their 1-0 win over Carolina. 


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