The Chicago Cubs are back in the Venezuelan Summer League for the second straight year, after not fielding a team since 2007. Last year, they placed second (36-32) and lost to the Mariners in two games in the best-of-three championship series. In the five-team league, the Cubs play four games in-a-row and then get the day off during the 64-game schedule. Other teams in the VSL are Phillies, Mariners, Tigers and Rays.
One of the top Cub prospects on the roster is 17-year-old corner infielder Wladimir Galindo, ranked by MLB.com as the 25th best international prospect and "someone to keep an eye on." No kidding. The 17-year-old didn't sign with the Cubs until December and played on the Cubs' team in the Venezuelan B League this winter hitting .341/.354/.500 in 16 games with 2 HR and 16 RBI. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder didn't take long to display his power with his first pro homer in the VSL Cubs second game against the Rays.
In an interview with Northsiders Report's Rob Willer, Galindo said he had a good relationship with fellow Cub prospect Gleyber Torres, as both are represented by the Ciro Barrios agency. Galindo said they formed a special bond, due to all the time they spent together working out for the July 2 signing period. The Mets, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Cardinals, Astros and Giants were all interested in him but decided the best opportunity to grow professionally was with the Cubs and he feels proud to be part of the Cubs family. "This is a great chance for me to develop as a professional, prove my talent and worth, so I can work my way towards the majors, so I can make the Cubs proud."
Seven position players and eight pitchers return from last year's runner-up squad including third baseman Miguel Rico (.231/.325/.436), who tied for the team lead with 10 HR. Stolen base leader Humberto Garcia (.246/.310/.314) played in 62 games while three catchers Leonardo Gonzalez (.209/.294/.396 3 HR, 11 RBI, 35 G), Roberto Vahlis (.41/.320/.379 3 HR, 14 RBI, 33 G) and Jhonny Pereda (.213/.294/.293, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 59 G) also return.
Victor Gomez didn't make his pro debut until late June but the 18-year-old outfielder had three hits in his first game and finished the year hitting .288/.360/.424 with four stolen bases. Infielder Jesus Gonzalez (.130/.259/.217 23G) returns for his second year after signing last summer.
Infielder Danny Gutierrez, who signed two years ago as a reported 17-year-old but is now 23, is on the roster along with infielders Andrews Monastery, a 16-year-old, and Henrry Pedra, 20. Also in the outfield are Luis Ayala, Moises Colasante, Jose Gonzalez and Fidel Matos.
Eight pitchers return to the VSL including 19-year-old Enrique De Los Rios, who logged 43.1 innings, fourth on the team, and was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA. 23-year-old RHP Yomar Pacheco, 10 saves, is back along with 18-year-old Mauro Vides, who made seven starts and was 0-1 with a 5.90 ERA in 29 IP. Others back in VSL include: RH Harrison Bermudez,19, (2-1 5.68 ERA, 12 G, 25.1 IP); LH Yapson Gomez (0-1 4.18 ERA, 12 G, 23.2 IP); RH Salvador Jerez (0-2 3.29 ERA, 6G 13.2 IP); LH Angel Mejias (3-0 2.45 ERA, 4G, 11 IP); and RH Ramon Valera (0-1, 42.43 ERA, 8 G, 4.2 IP).
Carlos Rodriguez, a 18-year-old left-hander, pitched last year in the Arizona Rookie League (1-4, 6.97 ERA, 31 IP) has been assigned to the VSL and is joined by other newcomers RHP Jesus Arias, 20; RHP Alejandro Colorado, 17; RHP Jose Leidenz, 19; RHP Gabriel Lima, 18; RHP Ivan Medina, 18; LHP Eugenio Palma, 17; RHP Moises Ramirez, 18; and RHP Julio Sanchez, 22. Arias (Indians) and Sanchez (Rockies/Tigers) have pitched for other organizations.
Several players from last year's team were invited to extended spring training. They include pitchers Adbert Alzolay, Francisco Carillo, Alberto Diaz, Greyfer Eregua, and Victor Salazar along with position players Roney Alcala and Bryant Flete. Both Alcala and Flete were promoted to the DSL after the VSL season ended, and both saw action during the playoffs.
After three seasons as a scout with the Cubs, 27-year-old Pedro Gonzalez gets his first managerial job. The Venezuelan signed with the Astros in 2004 and spent five seasons in the minors, never making it past A ball. He hit .255/.321/.292 in 198 games and never homered......Hitting coach Franklin Blanco is back for his 8th season in the organization, having managed the DSL club in 2008-09 and served as hitting coach in 2012......Former Chicago Cub Angel Guzman is the pitching coach. Guzman spent 10 seasons in the Cubs organization, four on the big league club (3-10, 4,82 ERA, 88 G, 157 IP, 143 K).
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