The Cubs continue to have two Dominican League Cubs squads this season. I refer to them as the Cachorros (DSL1) and the Potros (DSL2). On occasion, players will play for both over a season. However, usually, they play for one or the other. Today is a time to update the progress for both sides.
Some treat the international squads as “needle in a haystack” types. I take a completely different view. My view starts with a rather solid belief in Cubs scouts, Cubs coaches, and a reasonably snug meshing of the two.
International talent might accurately fit into one of three categories. The top 80 annually, of which all the teams are aware of these talents. The next 80, of which most teams are aware of all the talents. Then, the rest of the field, which teams have less awareness.
For instance, some teams have very little coverage in Venezuela, for safety concerns. Some teams don’t employ all that many international scouts. They can still throw money around, though, when they see what they like.
Quite a few of the Cubs playing in the Dominican now are either from the second “list of 80” or the final “other” list. Quite a few seem to be fringe selections a scout happened to like “on a whim.” These types, who may have been signed for a reasonably scant five-figure signing bonus, won’t get another big payday until and unless they reach MLB, which is rather unlikely. Until that point, they are Cubs assets, learning from Cubs coaches in the Boca Chica facility, on one of the Cubs affiliates.
All stats below are through Thursday’s games.
Tied for first place in the Dominican Summer League North, the 7-4 Cachorros are an offensive-minded team. Seven players have 30 or more at-bats. Five of them have an OPS over .700, three are over .800, and two over .900.
Here are the offensive headliners.
Ervis Marchan - Right Field
Listed as a right-fielder, Marchan usually plays first base, because the Cubs rarely sign first base-only types. Marchan is a 5’11” lefty-lefty type that is in his second DSL season. He struggled last season, but looks ready for the USA in 2019. He looks to have doubles (5) and triples (2) power so far. It’s difficult to quibble much with Marchan’s production, with his 1.006 OPS and league-leading 17 RBI through 11 games.
Fabian Pertuz - Shortstop
Signed off the Top 30 list last year, despite the Cubs being limited to $300,000 per player in bonuses, I’m still unsure how that was pulled off. Sent to the Dominican so he could get regular time, Pertuz has taken to patience recently. The 17-year-old from Colombia has only one extra base hit so far, but has 12 walks and 37 at-bats. He’s successfully stole eight of nine bases.
Rochest Cruz - Second Base
Cruz turns 19 later this month. As such, he might be considered “old” for the level. However, in his second season in the DSL, his average is .351. His base-stealing is much improved over last season (8/9 compared to 4/10), and improvement is what is sought at this level. Cruz should reach Mesa next season. Upward progression is the goal.
Ricardo Verenzuela - Center Field
Another “much improved” player is Verenzuela. Born in January 2000, Verenzuela debuted last season with a .188 batting average. He’s up to .279 with six-of-seven thefts this year. It’s tough to argue with 14 runs in 11 games, regardless the level. He belongs in Mesa next season.
The starting pitching here has been good. The relievers could be generously described as a mixed bag of results. Of the primary starters, no ERA is above 2.84. No primary reliever has an ERA below 3.18.
Jorge Remon, Saul Vazquez, and Luis Gonzalez have a WHIP below one. All might belong in Mesa in 2019.
While only 3-8, this squad has some talent of its own.
Alexander Ovalles - Outfield
A 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic, Ovalles had hits in his first seven games. He’s been stifled since, but given his age and likely low signing bonus, he has plenty of time to learn. His OPS is currently .749.
Carlos Morfa - Outfield
Another 17-year-old from the Dominican, Morfa has four homers (tied for the league lead), but only six RBI. Toss in four doubles and a triple, and that’s a splash first ten games. Morfa has walked once, and fanned 13 times, if you wonder what he needs to work on.
Keiber Arrenado - Right-handed pitcher
A name I remember from the box scores last season, Arrenado is the long-reliever type. Last year, he started 12 games, but is much better this year out of the bullpen, From Venezuela, Arrenado has an early 2.03 ERA after a mark over double that last season.
Three starters (Freddy Tineo, Elias Herrera, and Jose Gomez) have a W/hip below 1.00, but all three are “a bit older.”
By all rights, this should be a “down” year for both sides, coming off of two years of international sanctions. The DSL1 side is leading the league in batting average, and top-five in slugging, on-base percentage, and OPS.
Some of these players will play full-season ball. Some will get traded, eventually. And, likely, at least one will play for the parent club. Which will justify the scant bonuses paid to the lot of them.
Both teams usually play six days a week, getting off Sundays only. Feel free to join me in tracking the results, posted as half-innings complete, starting shortly after 9:30 every morning.
The process is about development. As liong as you remember that, the DSL is a fun follow.