A Variety of Winter League Updates and Other Bullets
I assume most of you are out Black Friday’ing among the crowds, so these Bullets are relatively limited. (Actually, there’s just very little news, what with yesterday being Thanksgiving and all.) I used to do the Black Friday thing every year at 4/5/6 a.m., mostly for the fun of it. But, with the crowds getting bigger, the hours getting earlier, and the family getting family-er, I couldn’t do it anymore. So, instead, I hit up Amazon’s Black Friday sale last night and got the first four seasons of ‘Breaking Bad’ and the first two seasons of ‘The Walking Dead’ for $60. Boom. Self-gifted.
Given the aforementioned lack of news, perhaps this is a good time to update the Winter League performances of a handful of Cubs players (plus a non-Winter-Ball Bullet at the end):
- Shortstop prospect Junior Lake leads the Dominican Winter League in batting average, hitting .345. His overall line has fallen off a bit, as his .879 OPS (95 plate appearances) is sixth in the league (he was previously right up at the top).
- Third base prospect Christian Villanueva, recently added to the 40-man roster, isn’t doing quite so well in the Mexican Winter League – he’s hitting just .205/.304/.410 (though that’s a nice IsoD and IsoP). It’s a fairly offense-heavy league, too. He’s had just 45 plate appearances, though.
- Outfield prospect Jae-Hoon Ha is scuffling in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting just .246/.310/.292 over 71 plate appearances.
- Luis Valbuena is having the most impressive Winter of all, hitting .341/.455/.593 over 113 plate appearances (he’s so feared, he’s been intentionally walked twice). He leads the VWL in just about everything, and it remains one of the better Winter Leagues, featuring a number of big leaguers. How much stock can you put in that line? Well, not a huge amount, but it’s certainly better than struggling.
- Yoanner Negrin, the 28-year-old Cuban defector whom the Cubs signed and then had pitch almost all of last season in Mexico for some reason, has cooled off. After dominating in the VWL for a few weeks, he’s pulled back to a more modest 3.49 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 38.2 innings of work.
- Interestingly, Johermyn Chavez – the more prospect-y of the three players the Cubs recently signed to minor league deals – was raking in the VWL at the time the Cubs signed him. You don’t usually find too many super prospects on minor league deals, but 23-year-old outfielder might be worth watching next year. He takes a ton of walks, if nothing else.
- The Vine Line Blog offers a humorous and interesting new stat: the “turkey,” which is essentially when a pitcher throws a three-pitch strikeout. The best Cubs pitchers in that arena in the bullpen? Scott Maine, Shawn Camp, and Alberto Cabrera, all of whom turkey’d more than 6% of the batters they faced. In the rotation, it was Travis Wood, at 4.5%. Matt Garza was next at 3.8%, and Jeff Samardzija came in at 3.6%. Give the article a read.