Sappelt starring in Venezuelan Winter League


Sappelt starring in Venezuelan Winter League

Dave Sappelt has enjoyed success this offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League.

The Cubs outfielder is currently playing for Bravos de Margarita (which sounds like a delicious drink, by the way) and is leading the team in average to date with a .336 mark. The Bravos boast several guys who have spent time in the MLB, including former first round pick Sean Burroughs, Twins infielder Brian Dozier, Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera and good, ole Hank White (Henry Blanco), the former Cubs backup catcher.

Sappelt got the start in center and hit leadoff in the Bravos' last game Thursday, clubbing his fifth home run in the victory. He boasts a .378 OBP and .526 slugging percentage -- good for a .904 OPS -- with five doubles, 15 RBI, 23 runs and five steals in 30 games and 116 at-bats. The downside is the three errors in the outfield.

The diminutive outfielder -- he's listed as 5-foot-9, 195 pounds -- came over to the Cubs in the Sean Marshall deal last winter. He appeared in 26 games late in 2012, batting .275.351.449 with two homers and six doubles.

Sappelt, who turns 26 on Jan. 2, can play all three outfield positions and could open the season on the 25-man roster. With Nate Schierholtz signed to play right field, Sappelt could be in line for a platoon, getting the occasional start against a left-hander in place of Schierholtz or David DeJesus in center. Of course, there is still almost two months left in the offseason and the Cubs may still make a move to further bolster the outfield rotation.

Cubs infielder Ryan Court had a special night in Iowa


Cubs infielder Ryan Court had a special night in Iowa

The farm system doesn't have the big names it once did, as the majority of the top prospects have graduated to the Major League roster, but that doesn't mean the minor league clubs aren't having fun. 

Take 29-year-old Ryan Court, a minor league infielder who has bounced around from Arizona and Boston's systems and found a home this year with the Cubs triple-A affiliate in Des Moines, IA. Court has had a solid season in Iowa, slashing .272/.347/.410 in 74 games, but might have had his finest game as I-Cub Friday night against the New Orleans Baby Cakes. 

Court came up in the 8th inning last night needing just a triple to hit for the cycle, but his club was on the verge of taking the lead in the after scoring three runs prior to his at-bat.

With Bote on 1st, the game tied at 8 runs apiece, Court placed a ball in front of the right fielder who overplayed the ball and allowed Bote to score from first and Court to scamper to third to complete the cycle. 

The I-Cubs would tack on another run to polish off a 5-run 8th inning and take home the win in a 10-8 victory over the Baby Cakes, and according to Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch, it was the first time in two decades an Iowa player has hit for the cycle. 

It's unlikely Ryan Court will make his way to the big leagues with the Cubs already carrying plenty of infielders, but for one night he played the hero and got his team the win, finishing the night 4-5 with 2 RBI, 4 runs scored and one massive smile on his face. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: