Results tagged ‘ Albert Almora ’
It was one inning in the Cubs’ second Cactus League game, but Friday’s seventh was a sign of things to come. Kris Bryant belted a two-run homer in his first spring at-bat, driving in Albert Almora, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Cubs lost, 15-3, to the Angels.
All of the so-called core four of Almora, Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez had at-bats in the seventh. Arismendy Alcantara, another highly touted prospect, popped up to lead off the inning, and Almora, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2012, then doubled. Soler struck out and Bryant followed with a lengthy at-bat that resulted in a 420-foot shot just left of the batter’s eye off a 3-2 slider from the Angels’ Jarrett Grube.
Brett Jackson, another Cubs’ No. 1 pick, walked and Baez, a first-round selection in 2011, lined out sharply to third base to end the inning.
“It was kind of cool — Albert got on with a double, Jorge, he had some good swings, and then I drove in Albert,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, we can do that a lot in the future.”
The Cubs certainly hope so.
Bryant’s career has been on the fast track since the third baseman was selected second overall in last June’s First-Year Player Draft. After he signed with the Cubs, Bryant played two games with the Rookie League team, then was bumped up to short-season Boise for 18 games. His debut there wasn’t nearly as impressive as he struck out in all five at-bats. But Bryant batted .354 and was promoted to high Class A Daytona, where he hit .333 in 16 games with five home runs and five doubles plus 14 RBIs.
And he wasn’t done. The winner of the Golden Spikes award as the top college baseball player of the year, Bryant, 22, played in the Arizona Fall League, and batted .364 with six more home runs, eight doubles and 17 RBIs.
He may be familiar with playing in the desert but this is his first big league camp, and the seventh inning was his first at-bat.
“I felt good up there, I was not nervous at all, and saw a lot of pitches, which was good,” Bryant said. “Home runs don’t mean anything if you don’t win the game, so that’s a little disappointing. For myself, it was a good performance.”
Cubs fans will see a lot of Bryant, Almora, Soler and Baez this spring as new manager Rick Renteria takes advantage of the Cactus League games to gauge the talent in the system. All are projected to open the season in the Minor Leagues. All have seemed very much at home in big league camp.
“It was a good first at-bat, and all the nerves are gone now,” Bryant said.
How can he be so calm?
“It’s just a game,” he said. “You’ve got to go out there and have fun and don’t put pressure on yourself and put a smile on your face and good things usually come from that.”
It worked at San Diego, where he led the nation with 31 home runs.
“I’ve just been blessed with power,” Bryant said. “I’m putting it to use. Hopefully, I can go out there tomorrow and give it all I’ve got and hopefully get a win.”
– Carrie Muskat
The 15 prospects taking part in the Cubs’ Rookie Development Program took a break from their baseball studies to attend a Blackhawks’ game on Tuesday. For many of them, it was their first NHL game, and also a chance to see how rabid Chicago fans are about their team.
“Being at the stadium and watching all the people go crazy during the national anthem, that was awesome,” pitcher Pierce Johnson said Wednesday of the rousing performance before every home Blackhawks game. “I can just imagine what it’ll be like when we turn it around and actually win a World Series. I’m excited. It gives me chills.”
The Cubs are counting on the talent participating in this week’s program to get them that championship.
Joining Johnson were pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch, C.J. Edwards, Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino; outfielders Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Rubi Silva; and infielders Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Christian Villanueva, Mike Olt, and Arismendy Alcantara. Eleven of the players rank among the Cubs’ top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com. Hendricks, who completed his economics degree at Dartmouth, was the Cubs’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The week-long program includes drills, a hospital visit, and seminars, and will end with the Cubs Convention this weekend. The guest speakers included Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, manager Rick Renteria and former player Rick Sutcliffe.
“It prepares us for what’s coming,” Almora said. “They’re teaching us about what to get ready for, what to expect, what they expect from us. We’re taking it to heart, we’re taking notes. We’re in this for the long run.”
* Jason McLeod, head of scouting and player development, said Baez will open the season at Triple-A Iowa along with Villanueva and Alcantara. Bryant could be at Double-A Tennessee, and it was still to be determined where Almora and Soler will start the year.
* Two of the five Cubs prospects injured in a car accident Jan. 6 in the Dominican Republic remained hospitalized. Kevin Encarnacion and Jose Zapata were both doing well but still receiving treatment. Encarnacion played at Class A Boise last year.
* Jorge Soler is 100 percent healthy after a leg injury shortened his season. Soler played in the Arizona Fall League but was told to take it easy, McLeod said. The outfielder has been impressive in his approach at the plate. On Wednesday, Soler said he missed too many games last year, and was eager to get back to playing.
* C.J. Edwards is trying to gain weight. At the Blackhawks game, the skinny pitcher ate an Italian sausage, cheese fries, and a hot dog with cheese on it. Said Edwards: “Anything I see, I eat.”
* Javy Baez knows fans are clamoring for him to get to the big leagues. He’s doing everything he can but everyone wants to know when.
“As soon as possible,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
Fifteen of the Cubs top prospects are taking part in the Rookie Development Program this week, and had a workout on Wednesday at Northwestern University. Among the players taking part are infielders Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, and Arismendy Alcantara; outfielders Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Rubi Silva; and pitchers Pierce Johnson, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch, Kyle Hendricks, C.J. Edwards, Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino. The week is filled with seminars plus the players had a chance to watch Tuesday night’s Blackhawks’ NHL game.
Jason McLeod, Cubs player development and scouting director, did say Baez would open at Triple-A Iowa and Bryant most likely at Double-A Tennessee.
I’ll have more from the workout a little later today.
– Carrie Muskat
Arizona Fall League
Matt Loosen gave up two hits over two scoreless innings and Jorge Soler hit a double in a 3-2 win over Glendale on Wednesday in Arizona Fall League play. Albert Almora started and also had a hit. The Solar Sox play the final regular season game Thursday at Glendale and it’s a must-win if they want to get to the championship game.
Salt River rallied to win Wednesday with an 8-5 victory over Scottsdale, which means the Rafters trail Mesa by a half game in the East Division. To win the division, Salt River needs to beat Scottsdale on Thursday and for Mesa to lose to Glendale.
* Junior Lake was 3-for-5 with a home run for Estrellas in a 5-4, 10-inning win over Aguilas.
* Daniel Bard had another rough outing. In his second game in relief for Caguas, he walked three of the four batters he faced, and all three scored. Caguas rallied for a 6-5, 13-inning win over Ponce.
– Carrie Muskat
* Albert Almora and Jorge Soler each drove in a run to help the Mesa Solar Sox beat Peoria, 8-1, on Tuesday in Arizona Fall League play. Kris Bryant also started, and went 1-for-4. It was the Solar Sox’s fourth straight win and they improved to 17-11-1 with two games to play. On Wednesday, the Solar Sox play host to Glendale at HoHoKam Stadium, and they wrap up the regular season Thursday at Glendale. The AFL championship game will be played Saturday at Scottsdale Stadium. The Surprise Saguaros have clinched the West Division. The Solar Sox have a slight edge in the East over the Salt River Rafters.
* Christian Villanueva went 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and one RBI in Obregon’s 7-4 win Tuesday over Mexicali in Mexican Winter League play.
* Junior Lake was 2-for-4 with one RBI in Estrellas de Oriente’s 3-2 loss Tuesday to Toros del Este in Dominican Winter League play. Lake was batting .314 in nine games.
– Carrie Muskat
Albert Almora had three hits, including a double, and drove in a run with a RBI single in the sixth, and Kris Bryant hit two doubles in Mesa’s 4-0 victory over Peoria in Arizona Fall League action on Monday. Cubs prospect Dallas Beeler threw five shutout innings, scattering five hits and striking out two. On Tuesday, Mesa plays host to Peoria at HoHoKam Stadium. This is the AFL’s final week of games.
Jorge Soler was 1-for-5 and scored a run in Mesa’s 6-1 victory over Surprise on Friday in Arizona Fall League play. Kris Bryant also started and was hitless in three at-bats, but drew two walks, and Albert Almora was 1-for-4 with a run scored. On Saturday, the same teams meet in Surprise. The Arizona Fall League wraps up its season next week.
Arizona Fall League
* Albert Almora was 2-for-5 with one RBI in Mesa’s 5-4, 11-inning loss to Glendale on Thursday in Arizona Fall League play. Travis Mattair hit a walkoff RBI single off Cubs prospect Matt Loosen with one out in the 11th. On Friday, Mesa plays host to Surprise at HoHoKam Stadium.
* Junior Lake was 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and one RBIs for Estrellas which lost 8-4 to Aguilas on Thursday in the Dominican Winter League. Former Cubs outfielder Felix Pie homered with one out in the fourth, and Lake followed with his first home run.
* Daniel Bard is pitching in Puerto Rico this winter, and had a rough outing in his first appearance on Tuesday. The right-hander hit three batters, walked another and threw a wild pitch. Two runs scored off Bard, who failed to retire a batter.
– Carrie Muskat
Albert Almora was 1-for-4 but five errors by the Mesa Solar Sox led to an 8-0 loss to Salt River on Tuesday night in Arizona Fall League play. Cubs prospect Dallas Beeler started, and was charged with seven runs, none earned, in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out one. On Wednesday, Mesa plays host to Glendale at HoHoKam Stadium. Kris Bryant continues to rank among the AFL leaders with a .375 batting average, six home runs and 17 RBIs.
* To no one’s surprise, the Cubs did not make qualifying offers to their four free agents Monday. Now, the team has to decide whether to try to re-sign Scott Baker, Kevin Gregg, Matt Guerrier and Dioner Navarro.
Baker, 32, spent all of the 2013 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but when he signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Cubs last November, the team held a news conference at Wrigley Field and made it clear the right-hander was the type of pitcher they’d like to have in the rotation.
Guerrier, 35, was acquired from the Dodgers in the Carlos Marmol deal, and the right-hander’s season ended Aug. 8 after 15 games with Chicago because of right elbow soreness. He could sign a Minor League deal, and compete for a spot in the bullpen.
Gregg, 35, saved the Cubs, who were scrambling to find a closer when Marmol struggled and Kyuji Fujikawa was injured. Gregg posted his third season of at least 30 saves, yet the year ended on an ugly note after some miscommunication about the right-hander’s role and the Cubs’ desire to look at Pedro Strop in the closer role.
Navarro, 29, was probably the only backup catcher to hit fourth in the Major Leagues. He batted .300 with a career-high 13 home runs, and filled the No. 4 spot in the batting order after Alfonso Soriano was traded. Navarro accepted his role but may try to lobby for more playing time. The Cubs are commited to Welington Castillo as their regular catcher.
* Junior Lake hit a game-winning RBI single in the 10th Sunday night to lift Estrellas to victory in Winter League play in the Dominican Republic.
* If you missed Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant on Saturday in the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, you can watch them on Tuesday night when the Mesa Solar Sox’s game will be broadcast on MLB Network at 7 p.m. MT/Arizona time. On Monday, the Solar Sox play host to Salt River at HoHoKam Stadium.
* Several Minor League players will be the first to work out at the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility in Mesa this week. The players were invited to take part in the sessions, conducted by strength and conditioning coach Doug Jarrow.
* Congrats to David DeJesus, who signed a two-year contract with the Rays with an option for a third year on Monday.
– Carrie Muskat