Brewers Edge Cubs Split Squad in Mesa
Taylor Green singled, doubled, drove-in a run, and scored another, Carlos Gomez crushed a tape-measure home run, and Marco Estrada tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with five relievers to throw a two-hitter, as the Milwaukee Brewers edged a Cubs split squad 4-3 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ
Javier Baez drove-in all three Cubs runs with a two-run HR and a bases-loaded walk.
Edwin Jackson got the start for the Cubs and labored through two innings of work (50 pitches - 27 strikes), allowing two runs on two hits (both singles), two walks, and a HBP, in a 38-pitch 1st inning. E-Jax walked another batter and threw a potential DP ball into CF for an E-1 in a 12-pitch 2nd, but was able to retire the side without any further damage.
NRI RHP Drew Carpenter entered the game an inning earlier than expected and threw three innings in relief (42 pitches - 27 strikes), allowing two runs on the Gomez HR and two doubles in the 3rd inning (his first inning of work) before settling down and retiring the last seven men he faced in a row (with four strikeouts). Carpenter is an extreme long-shot to make the Cubs MLB bullpen and it would be an even longer shot for him to make the Cubs MLB starting rotation, but he is in contention for a starting rotation slot or relief job at AAA Iowa.
Japanese imports LHP Hisanori Takahashi (battling for a bullpen job) and RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (who will likely be the Cubs primary 8th inning set-up man) each worked an easy 1-2-3 inning in relief.
The Cubs did virtually nothing against Brew Crew SP Marco Estrada.
Luis Valbuena walked to lead-off the bottom of the 1st and stole second before eventually being left-stranded at 3rd, and Nate Schierholtz doubled leading off the 2nd but was immediately picked-off by Estrada, who then retired eight of the last ten men he faced.
The Cubs broke through in the bottom of the 5th against Milwaukee RHRP Brandon Kintzler when Brett Jackson drew his second walk of the day and then scored on a Javier Baez two-run HR over the LF fence.
The Cubs scored another run in the bottom of the 6th when Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston walked and Brett Jackson was hit by a pitch, and Javier Baez drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch to force-in the run. But Dan Vogelbach (up from Minor League Camp) struck out swinging to leave three runners stranded.
While the Brewers were defeating the Cubs in Mesa, the other squad of Cubs was playing the Angels in Tempe.
I wasn't at that game, but Brian Bogusevic singled, doubled, and homered, Brad Nelson singled and homered, and SP Nick Struck threw three innings of shutout ball to lead the Cubs to a 4-2 victory.
Barring an injury or a trade, there doesn't appear to be room for Bogusevic on the Cubs 2013 Opening Day 25-man roster, but he's had a great start anyway (615/688/1231). It doesn't happen very often, but every now & then you will see an NRI player (a veteran signed to a minor league contract) get traded before Opening Day, and if Bogusevic keeps hitting, he might be one of them. He could be a nice LH PH and/or platoon corner OF for a team in need of such an animal.
Rule 5 Draft pick (and one-time Indians Top 10 Prospect) Hector Rondon threw another 1-2-3 inning, as he tries to cement a spot in the Cubs bullpen.
As I've mentioned here before, Rondon is not your typical Rule 5 Draft pick. He has been outrighted previously in his career so he can elect to be a free-agent if he is outrighted, and he is out of minor league options, so even if waivers are secured and Cleveland declines to re-claim him, the Cubs cannot option him to the minors, and if they outright him, he can be a free-agent. But for that same reason, the Indians are unlikely to re-claim him if given the chance because they probably wouldn't want to spend $25,000 (half the Rule 5 Draft price) to reacquire Rondon if he can elect free-agency (a Rule 5 pick who is re-claimed by the organization from which he was drafted MUST be outrighted to the minor league affiliate from which he was drafted).
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.