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Cubs, Zambrano continue series vs. D'Backs

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Cubs, Zambrano continue series vs. D'Backs

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 12:17 p.m.

Associated Press

Ryan Dempster had a first-inning meltdown during the Chicago Cubs' series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Carlos Zambrano's personal-best winning streak came to an end thanks to a similar situation during his most recent outing.

Looking to bounce back, Zambrano takes the mound for the visiting Cubs as they continue a four-game set with the Diamondbacks on Friday night.

Dempster gave up seven runs and lasted a career-low one-third of an inning in Thursday's 11-2 loss at Arizona (11-13) - Chicago's season-worst fourth straight and sixth in seven games.

"That was not how I drew it up," said Dempster, as the ERA of the Cubs' starting rotation increased to a major league-worst 6.39.

Chicago, (10-14), averaging 2.8 runs during its skid, has scored three runs or fewer in seven of 10 games.

Aramis Ramirez had hit safely in 11 of 12 contests prior to going 0 for 3 Thursday, dropping his average to .314. Carlos Pena, signed in the offseason to provide some power in the middle of the lineup, went hitless in four at-bats and is 1 for 21 (.048) over his last seven games.

Pena, who had averaged 36 home runs over the previous four seasons with Tampa Bay, has failed to go deep in his first 21 games.

Meanwhile, Zambrano (2-1, 5.28 ERA), who went 10-0 from Aug. 14-April 18, saw his impressive run end with Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed season worsts of six runs - five in the first frame - and eight hits over five innings.

"Pitching in the first inning wasn't good. My sinker was not good, but other than that I was able to throw five innings," Zambrano said. "I knew sooner or later I was going to lose a game, unfortunately it was (Friday).

"I enjoyed the winning streak a lot, but it's over with. Let's get another win on my next time and I'll be ready for that."

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA over five career starts against Arizona, all on the road. While Zambrano has won eight straight starts as the visiting pitcher dating to last season and recorded a 2.56 ERA, he's given up nine runs in 11 2-3 innings over two outings away from Wrigley Field in 2011.

He'll also face a Diamondbacks offense thriving at home.

Arizona has won four of five at Chase Field and leads the NL with 81 runs at home. They reached double digits for the fourth time Thursday thanks largely to Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero.

Drew went 3 for 5 and hit his first-career grand slam en route to a career-best five RBIs. Montero also homered and drove in three.

Drew is batting .333 in his last 12 games against the Cubs while Montero is hitting .391 over a six-game hitting streak in the series.

Diamondbacks scheduled starter Armando Galarraga (3-1, 6.00), whose eight home runs allowed are the second most in the NL behind Dempster's nine, had won his first three starts of the year before surrendering six runs - two earned - and a season-worst four walks in three innings of Sunday's 8-4 loss at the New York Mets.

"Armando didn't throw the ball like he wanted to," manager Kirk Gibson said of the right-hander, who is 2-0 lifetime against the Cubs despite a 5.54 ERA.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

4 Cubs crack MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list

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MiLB

4 Cubs crack MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list

MLB Pipeline unveiled its annual top 100 prospects list on Saturday, and four Cubs minor leaguers made the cut.

Nico Hoerner (SS; No. 51), Brailyn Marquez (LHP; 68), Brennen Davis (OF; 78) and Miguel Amaya (C; 95) cracked the list for the North Siders. It’s the first time the Cubs have had four players on the list since 2016: Ian Happ (No. 21), Eloy Jimenez (23), Albert Almora Jr. (82) and Dylan Cease (98).

So yeah, it’s been a minute.

Cubs fans are most familiar with Hoerner; the 22-year-old made his big-league debut last September in an emergency spot after Javy Báez and Addison Russell got hurt. Hoerner hit .282/.305/.436 in 20 games and held his own defensively.

Hoerner is ranked as the No. 9 overall shortstop prospect, and he’ll get an opportunity to make the 2020 Opening Day roster. With Báez entrenched at shortstop, Hoerner will shift to second base and potentially play some center field, though he's still learning the latter.

Marquez, 20, is Pipeline’s No. 9 left-handed pitching prospect. The Cubs have struggled to develop homegrown starting pitching under Theo Epstein. In fact, Marquez is the first Cubs pitcher (LHP or RHP) to crack MLB Pipeline’s top 10 pitchers list during Epstein’s tenure on the North Side.

Marquez sported a 3.13 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 22 starts between Single-A South Bend and advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2019. The 20-year-old struck out 128 batters in 103 2/3 innings, walking 50.

Cubs senior director of player development Matt Dorey said the club has “really high expectations” for Marquez this season.

“Brailyn, his last half of last year in Myrtle was an epic run, just in terms of the raw stuff, the strikes, the breaking ball development,” Dorey said Sunday at Cubs Convention. “I think it’s a little early to decide where he’s going to start [the season], but I would guess Double-A.

“But I wanna see how he comes into camp — especially with our new pitching infrastructure — that we’re not missing anything with his delivery or anything from a pitch data perspective. We want to make sure that’s really tied before we send him out [for] a long, full season. It’s such a big year for him. But I think it would be foolish to put any cap on what he can do this year.”

Marquez allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his final 10 starts (he allowed three earned runs on Aug. 26 — the lone exception). The Cubs promoted him to Myrtle Beach on Aug. 6, where he posted a 1.71 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks in five starts (26 1/3 innings).

The Cubs drafted Davis out of high school in 2018 (second round, No. 62 overall). The 20-year-old was more of a basketball player and had some Division I offers, but he ultimately signed with the Cubs and received a $1.1 million bonus.

Davis is considered to be a raw, athletic talent. He hit .305/.381/.525 with eight homers and a 160 wRC+ in 50 games with South Bend last season. He missed time after getting hit on the hand on two separate occasions.

Although Davis is listed as a center fielder (199 innings in 2019) he played left almost as frequently (193 2/3) in 2019. Pipeline projects him to make his big-league debut in 2022.

Amaya spent all of 2019 with Myrtle Beach, slashing .235/.351/.402 with a 122 wRC+ in 99 games. His defense has always been ahead of his bat, and he’s known to be an advanced catcher for his age.

The Cubs added Amaya to the 40-man roster in November in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. However, he won’t make his big-league debut until 2021, at the earliest.

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Cubs agree to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs agree to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Cubs and outfielder Steven Souza have agreed to a one-year, big-league deal. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported Friday the two sides were nearing an agreement.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions. The Diamondbacks non-tendered him last month.

Souza is a career .233/.323/.417 hitter with 70 home runs in five seasons. His best campaign came with the Rays in 2017: .239/.351/.459, 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+ — all career-bests, excluding his average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than average (23).

Signing Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

He's coming off a serious knee injury, but Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. If he's healthy, he’ll add power to the middle of the order and add another bat to an outfield group with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another option in case those two slump again, with room for a larger role.