Let the games begin!
The World Series trophy may have started the celebration at Sloan Park but outfield prospect Charcer Burks made sure the fans went home winners with the go-ahead homer in the seventh and a diving catch to save a run in the eighth. Burks took a 0-2 pitch from Chris Smith over the centerfield fence to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead. In the top of the eight, Burks made a diving catch in left field with two runners on and one out. The 21-year-old wasn’t the only prospect to see action as the Cubs brought along plenty of minor leaguers for both games.
Ian Happ got the start at DH and went 1-for-3, hitting ninth in the order. Other Cubs prospects that played against the A’s included 1B Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-2), 3B Jason Vosler, (1-2), Elliot Soto (0-2), Carlos Sepulveda (0-2), Jacob Hannemann (0-2), and Bijan Rademacher (0-1). Darryl Wilson was used a pinch runner and Cael Brockmeyer caught the ninth.
Side-winder David Berg, the Cubs sixth-round pick in 2015 out of UCLA, got credit for the win with a scoreless seventh. Felix Pena fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth for the save. Jose Rosario had a rough outing, allowing a pair of homers and three runs in the fourth. RH Stephen Perakslis tossed 1.2 scoreless and LH Jack Leathersich worked a perfect sixth with two punchouts.
Over in Scottsdale, the Giants scored three times in the fifth and added four more in the sixth for the 8-6 win. 3B Jeimer Candelario got the start and ripped a RBI triple in the first inning. DH Mark Zagunis knocked in a run for a 2-0 Cubs lead in the second while C Victor Caratini walked and scored in the eighth and doubled home a run in the ninth. Top prospect Eloy Jimenez singled and scored in the third and finished 1-for-3. Other minor leaguers playing in the spring opener included 3B David Bote (1-for-1, 1 R), 1B Taylor Davis (1-1, 1 RBI), Eddy Martinez (0-1), and Chesny Young (0-2), and Chris Pieters (0-1).
LH Rob Zastryzny, RH Pierce Johnson, RH Dallas Beeler and RH Jhondaniel Medina all tossed a scoreless inning. RH Tommy Nance got roughed up for three runs on three hits and walk in the fifth and RH Jim Henderson surrendered four runs in the sixth, including a three-run homer.
The Cubs send right-hander Jake Buchanan to the mound on Sunday in a World Series rematch with the Indians at Sloan Park.