Young, fellow prospects hone skills at winter ball

Cubs' Maddon encourages players to soak it all in

Young, fellow prospects hone skills at winter ball

CHICAGO -- Joe Maddon is a proponent of winter ball. The Cubs manager encourages prospects to get at-bats and innings, as well as immerse themselves in other cultures and cuisines. A few of the club's prospects have taken advantage of that.

Chesny Young, a 14th-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, was batting .329 in 21 games with Escogido in the Dominican Republic. Young won the Carolina League batting title in 2015 and this past season, the infielder, ranked 28th on MLBPipeline.com's list of top 30 Cubs prospects, batted .303 for Double-A Tennessee. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-3 and scored a run.

Corey Black, acquired from the Yankees in the Alfonso Soriano trade in July 2013, was pitching for Santurce in Puerto Rico and in 20 games for Santurce, and has 17 strikeouts and walked eight over 21 innings with 12 saves. He gave up one earned run for a 0.43 ERA. Last season, Black, ranked 27th on MLB.com's top 30 list, posted a 4.25 ERA in 48 games at Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa combined.

Carlos Penalver is able to get some home cooking and play baseball. The shortstop was batting .267 in 11 games for his hometown team, Aragua, in Venezuela, including a three-hit game Nov. 23. He batted .211 in 118 games at Tennessee this past season.

Other Cubs who played this winter included:

Pitcher Seth Frankoff: The Cubs project the right-hander to start for Triple-A Iowa in 2017. He made eight starts for Carolina in Venezuela, and after a rough opener Oct. 7 when he served up five earned runs on four hits and one walk over one-third of an inning, he settled down. Frankoff had a solid four-game stretch from Oct. 18-Nov. 4 in which he did not give up an earned run and scattered seven hits and walked six over 22 innings. He signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs.

First baseman Gioskar Amaya: He batted .338 in 22 games for Aragua in the Venezuelan League, finishing up Nov. 23. Amaya batted .215 at Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee combined, where he played infield and caught.

Outfielder Yasiel Balaguert: After batting .263 in 135 games at Class A Myrtle Beach, with 19 homers, 25 doubles and 96 RBIs, Balaguert played for Carolina in Puerto Rico, and batted .269 in 27 games, including a 4-for-4 game Nov. 27. He played his last game with Carolina on Dec. 9.

Outfielder Jacob Hannemann: A third-round pick in 2013, Hannemann batted .247 in 74 games at Tennessee, then played 22 games for Santurce (CK) in Puerto Rico, but struggled, batting .120 (9-for-75). He wrapped up his winter ball season Dec. 9.

Third baseman Christian Villanueva: After missing the 2016 season because of a broken ankle, Villanueva played briefly for Obregon in Mexico. In 15 games in October, Villanueva batted .278 with three home runs, including two on Oct. 23 when he went 4-for-5 with four RBIs against Hermosillo.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.