Throughout the offseason, we'll check in with former and future Iowa Cubs playing winter ball. This week's segment highlights the Puerto Rican Winter League.
CRIOLLOS DE CAGUAS
RHP Zach Hedges (w/ Iowa 2017-18)
Hedges appeared in seven games (6GS) with the Criollos de Caguas from Nov. 16-Dec. 18, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.59 ERA (5ER/28.2IP). He's fanned 20 while walking nine. Hedges tossed a season-best 5.0 frames in four of his six starts.
The 26-year-old has played in Iowa each of the last two seasons, going 0-3 with an 8.57 ERA (40ER/42.0IP) in 11 games (7GS). He's split the balance of 2017 and '18, and part of 2016 with Double-A Tennessee where he amassed a 17-14 record in 59 games (31GS) with a 2.97 clip (79ER/239.0IP). Hedges was selected by the Cubs in the 26th round of the 2014 draft out of Azusa Pacific University (CA).
RHP Armando Rivero (w/ Iowa 2014-16)
Rivero has managed a slim 1.96 ERA (5ER/23.0IP) through 19 games in the winter league, and has dropped that mark to 0.79 (1ER/11.1IP) through his last 10 appearances. Rivero is holding his opponents to a .183 batting average, while he has walked 11 and fanned 21.
The now-30-year-old was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2013 and pitched 122 of his career 168 minor league games in an I-Cubs uniform. With Iowa, the righty is 11-7 with a 2.93 ERA (53ER/163.0IP) and is fourth all-time with 19 career holds. Rivero was claimed off waivers by Atlanta on Dec. 8, 2016, but ultimately missed the entire 2017 campaign due to a strained right shoulder and was later released. He appeared in eight games for los Piratas de Campeche in 2018, going 1-2 with a 7.88 ERA (7ER/8.0IP).
C Victor Caratini (w/ Iowa 2017-18)
Caratini started his winter league campaign strong by going 10-for-20 (.417) through his first eight games, but has regressed to go 4-for-25 through his last eight contests. The catcher has managed 12 walks with just five strikeouts and has amassed a .286 overall average and a .471 OBP.
Caratini made his first Opening Day roster with the Cubs in 2018 after joining the organization via trade from the Braves in 2013. Caratini spent the majority of the season with Chicago, save for a stint with the I-Cubs May 26-July 4. The switch-hitter batted .313 (36-for-115) with the I-Cubs and .232 (42-for-76) with Chicago.
GIAGANTES DE CAROLINA
LHP Giovanni Soto (w/ Iowa 2016)
Soto has dominated his opponents in the winter league, posting a 4-1 record with a 0.42 ERA (1ER/21.2IP). He has an active 10.1 scoreless inning streak and through 13 total games, has limited his opponents to a .171 average. Soto has given up just 12 hits, has walked 10 and fanned 20.
Soto was selected by Detroit in the 21st round of the 2009 draft but was traded to Cleveland just over a year later. Soto remained in Cleveland's system until he was traded to the Cubs for cash in April of 2016. Soto pitched to a 1-3 record and a 5.14 ERA (28ER/49.0IP) in 33 games with Iowa that season. The lefty spent the first half of 2017 with Triple-A Charlotte, a White Sox affiliate, before he was released in June. He is a free agent in 2019.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.