The biggest stories in the WBC so far have been former Hawks that the Cubs’ gave up on. Working out of the bullpen for the surprising Netherlands squad is Mark Pawelek (pictured left), the Cubs’ top-pick in the 2005 draft. The lefty has thrown an inning and two thirds in the WBC, retired all five men, and struck out three.
Another former Hawk on the Italian team is Alex Maestri, who was a reliever in Boise during the 2006 season. The native of Italy is 1-0 in the WBC with a 3.00 ERA, striking out three batters in three innings of work.
The other big story has been the play of 2004 Hawk Anthony Granato (pictured right) – who was released by the Cubs’ following the 2005 season and spent the majority of the next decade playing in Italy. Granato has led Italy to the semifinal round, including an RBI double against the United States – going 5-for-11 in his first four games.
Others in the WBC included Ryan Searle (Team Australia – 3 IP, 4 ER, 2 K), Yoanner Negrin (Team Spain – 2.1 IP 5 ER 4 BB 3 K), Hung-Wen Chen (Team Taiwan – 3.1 IP, 2 ER 3 K, 1 SV), and Yao-Lin Wang (Team Taiwan – 1.1 IP 3 ER 3 K).
In MLB camps – a total of 22 former Hawks have seen action with the Cubs’ this Spring, with many having great performances. Position player wise, Steve Clevenger looks to be a lock at one of the utility positions (catcher, first-base, outfield) and has hit 8-for-23 so far this Spring, while Javier Baez, the 2011 first-round pick, has a pair of homers and is 9-of-29 at the plate (though he’ll probably begin the season at either Daytona or Tennessee). On the mound, Chris Rusin has had a great spring, tossing eight innings of one-run ball, striking out seven, as he makes a bid for the No. 5 starter or a reliever out of the pen. Same goes for Blake Parker, who missed a lot of 2012 due to injury, has tossed three shutout innings this Spring.
Elsewhere, Rich Hill has a new life with the Cleveland Indians, having already earned a spot on the 40-man roster after being signed with an invite to Big League camp. The 2003 Hawk has tossed five and two-thirds innings of shutout relief for the Tribe. Both Detroit Tiger hurlers Darin Downs and Al Alburquerque have been solid – Downs allowing a run in eight innings, striking out seven, with Alburquerque allowing a run in seven innings, fanning 11. Marwin Gonzalez is 9-for-28 at the plate for the Houston Astros, Ryan Flaherty has hit two homers for the Baltimore Orioles, while Ronny Cedeno is battling for the starting shortstop spot with the St. Louis Cardinals and is 6-for-23 this Spring.