NSR takes a look at 7th round pick Michael Cruz, Cubs add a new sponsor, and a playoff recap.

Michael Cruz was the only position player the Cubs took in the first 16 rounds and spent first year in Mesa. Jim Beam was added as a new Cubs sponsor and your daily Winter League playoff recap.

A shot and a beer

The business side of the Cubs baseball operations already has Anheuser-Busch as a legacy sponsor, now they’ve added Jim Beam Bourbon to complete Joe Maddon’s Shot and a Beer request.  As part of the partnership, Jim Beam will have long-term naming rights to the new first base club at Wrigley Field, as well as a new left field bar concept at Sloan Park in Mesa. Beam Suntory becomes the 11th Legacy Partner of the Chicago Cubs, joining Advocate Health Care, American Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, ATI Physical Therapy, Nuveen, Sloan Valve Company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Toyota, Under Armour and Wintrust.

2016  Draft Class Update—Michael Cruz, C

This story will get you caught up on the Puerto Rican native before the Cubs drafted him. The first player to sign after the 2016 draft and the only position player taken in the first 16 picks, Cruz played his entire first pro season in the Arizona Rookie League. Making his debut on June 22 before most of his draft class even signed, Cruz doubled and knocked in a run against the D-Backs. He got off to a solid start as the left-handed hitting backstop had a seven-game hitting streak and upped his average to .299 in early August but finished the year hitting .238/.370/.331 in 40 games. The 21-year-old made 20 starts behind the plate and threw out 5-of-34 base runners, committed eight errors and had eight passed ball in 174 innings. His defensive numbers will have to improve if he expects to get out of Mesa in 2017. 

Venezuelan Winter League

Zulia took a 1-0 series lead with a 3-2 win over Caribes.  La Guaira scored five times in the first and hung on and beat Lara 7-6 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series. Cubs prospect Jhondaniel Medina tossed two scoreless frames for Lara, retiring all six hitters he faced, one on strikes. 

Dominican Winter League

Licey improved to 6-7 with a 4-1 win over Gigantes (4-8). Aguilas (10-2) and Escogido (5-8) had the day off. 

Mexican Pacific Winter League

Los Mochis went up 2-0 in it series with Culiacan with a 14-2 win behind four homers. Mexacali pounded Hermosillo pitching for 21 hits and took a 2-0 series lead with a 16-6 win. A pair of former Cubs farmhands played for Hermosillo as 3B Tim Torres (Iowa-2013) was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and C Sergio Burrel (Daytona-2012)  went 1-for-2. 

Puerto Rican Winter League

Santurce faces Caguas in the finals that begin Jan. 14. Cubs pitching prospect Miguel Mejia works out of the bullpen for Caguas. 



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