Welcome to our newest feature here at North Side Bound where I take a look at what happened with the three teams in the rookie leagues. The Cubs currently have two teams in the Dominican Summer League, the Red team and the Blue team. Then they also have one team in the Arizona Complex League stationed in Mesa and playing their home games at Sloan Park.
Just a reminder, all of the stats should be taken with a grain of salt and are not predictive of future success at the next level. The stats can be exciting in the sense that a player is doing well at this level. But it does not mean that they will succeed going up to Myrtle Beach either in August or next year.
Let’s get to it.
The Mesa Cubs
The young Cubs went 2–3 on the week. They have a lot of kids who are making their stateside debut both on the mound in the field. Some players are going to take some time to develop while others will do so quickly. It’s clear from early box scores that the pitching will need to come a long way over the next year to get ready for Myrtle Beach. Hitting, on the other hand, it’s looking pretty decent.
Cristian Hernandez did pretty well this week hitting .313 while Moises Ballesteros got off to a slow start for a couple games and then came on strong in the second half of the week and wound up hitting .308 with 1 HR and 4 RBI for the week.
OF Christian More did a little better than everyone else as he hit .538 on the week. The 20-year-old from Cuba spent two years in the DSL before coming stateside. Reminder – it’s just one week but he could be someone who might move up to Myrtle Beach pretty quickly.
3B Alejandro Rivero hit a grand slam yesterday and he is tied for the team lead in RBIs with 4.
Another good sign is that Ronnie Quintero is doing okay. Have her a rough year off the field in 2021, hopefully he can get things back on track in 2022. As for Reivaj Garcia, the 20-year-old (Yes, you read that right!) is off to a good start too hitting .333 as he looks to finally make the jump to full season baseball. Fellow infielder Pedro Ramirez is also doing well hitting .385.
When it comes to pitching, I don’t know where to begin because it was pretty rough. It’s going to be an up and down season for many pitchers as they learn to adjust and harness their gifts. Although, my breakout pitcher of the year pick, Oliver Roque, did throw a couple scoreless frames in relief. As well, 21-year-old right-hander Yovanny Cabrera threw 4.1 IP this week and struck out 7 while allowing 1 run. Yovanny Cruz, in a rehab stint, struck out 9 in 3.1 innings. Wowzers!
The big pitching news out in Mesa actually comes from Arizona Phil of The Cub Reporter who stated that both Yovanny Cruz and Elian Almanzar were both throwing 100 miles an hour. We first came in contact with Mr. Cruz back in 2018 when he made a brief appearance at Eugene and flashed a plus changeup. Everybody was excited that he was going to be at South Bend in 2019 but injuries have sidelined his career for quite a while. Now, he’s back sitting at 100 according to Phil. Almanzar is still a work in progress but he does have a live arm which helps. He just needs to work on commanding what he has. That’s what rookie league is for and it’s OK to repeat rookie league twice which he is doing in 2022. .
DSL Red and Blue
Both teams went 2–4 on the week and both flashed similar successes and struggles. Just like Mesa, the hitting did well. Adan Sanchez and Jefferson Rojas, two of the Cubs top signings this past winter, both did very well at the plate. Sanchez hit .429 with an OPS over 1.000 while Rojas hit .500 as he went 7-for-14 with an OPS of 1.206.
Other players that did well this week include the returning Andrws Cruz (not a typo) and my guy Oferman Hernandez who seemed to be holding his own in the first week of play. Other players who had a good week at the plate include Darlyn de Leon, Sandy Sanchez, Daniel Benschop, Raul Guzman, and Geuri Lubo. The highly touted Alexis Hernandez has yet to get a hit.
The weirdest part of the week was watching the Mets/Cubs game on YouTube. Cub prospect hit a HR in his first AB and was plunked on the elbow in second AB. He did not return (You can watch the game down below and it is pretty crude but informational except for player names).
When it comes to pitching, I think I’m just going to let things settle for two or three weeks before I start to get into who is doing well and who is not. If you look at the team ERA, it’s not good at all. They involve a lot of crooked numbers and that’s quite understandable as many of these guys lack gameplay. A lot of the pitchers are also late bloomers who are signed at 18 or 19 who have recently grown into their bodies and their velocity is fairly new to them. They’re learning how to control and command it.
I usually find the second and third weeks of rookie leagues to be much more exciting than the first as some of the nerves have worn off now that they’ve gotten in the routine of playing games. It’s a season that goes by quickly as there are only 10 weeks. And I’m excited to see what happens this week and maybe will have a little bit more detail on some of these players along with some Instagram video next week.
Look for this post on Sunday afternoons over the next two months. It will probably come out at noon next week.