Big Gun Balaguert Satisfies Need for Offense at Fitch Park
Shawon Dunston Jr reached base four times on three singles and a walk, scored twice, and drove-in a run, Yasiel Balaguert singled twice, tripled, and knocked-in four runs, and Jacob Rogers smacked a two-run triple and walked, leading one squad of Cubs to a 7-3 victory over one squad of Diamondbacks on Field #3, and Francisco Sanchez hammered a two-run triple and then scored on a WP in a three-run 5th, and Garrett Schlecht, Erick Castillo, and Wilfredo Petit punched-out consecutive singles with two outs in the bottom of the 7th, rallying the other squad of Cubs to a 4-4 tie with the other squad of D'backs on Field #2, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.
As is usually the case when they play an EXST doubleheader, both games were seven-inning affairs, and the games were played simultaneously on adjoining fields.
RHP Dayan Diaz saw his first 2013 game action today, starting and pitching one inning in the game on Field #3. Signed by the Cubs as a minor league free-agent last November, Diaz got an NRI to Spring Training, but never got to pitch in an MLB Cactus League game because of a sore arm. (In fact, he never even threw "live" BP while with the big club). He has been rehabbing at Fitch Park for the past six weeks.
The Cubs have signed 30-year old veteran switch-hitting C-1B-3B-PH Jose Morales to a minor league contract, and he was a DH in the game on Field #2. He went 2-3, roping two line-drive singles and striking out (swinging). With Steve Clevenger on the DL for at least 60 days with a strained oblique, it's possible that Morales was signed to eventually provide Manager Dale Sveum with the third catcher he seems to covet.
The Cubs have been working out Jose Dore (acquired from SD last month) at 3rd base this week, and he played there in yesterday's intrasquad game and then again in today's EXST game on Field #2. He looks like a "natural" at the hot corner, and although he probably will continue to see action at 1B-LF-RF, it looks like he wil be playing a lot of 3rd base in the coming days. (He also got three innings at 2nd base last week, as the Cubs apparently see him as a bit of a "super-sub").
Conversely, I doubt that 18-year old slugging INF Luis Acosta (signed on July 2, 2011 - $1.1M bonus) will be remaining at 3rd base. His throws have been consistently scatter-gun (in fact, about the worst I have ever seen), and he was worked-out at 2nd base in pre-game infield practice this morning (although he did not play in the game). He was signed as a ahortstop, but was moved to third-base at DSL Instrux post-2012 because of defensive struggles at SS. If second-base doesn't work out, he'll probably be moved to LF. (He also needs to learn how to hit breaking balls, or at least recognize a breaking ball and then not swing at it).
Here are the box scores from today's games (Cubs players only):
FITCH PARK FIELD #2
CUBS SQUAD "B" LINEUP:
1a. Bryant Flete, 2B: 0-1 (L-6, BB)
1b. Frandy de la Rosa, 2B: 1-1 (1B)
2. Kevin Encarnacion, RF: 2-3 (F-8, 1B, 1B)
3. Jesse Hodges, DH #1: 0-3 (K, F-9, F-8)
4. Jeffrey Baez, CF: 0-2 (HBP, K, 3-1)
5. Jose Morales, DH #2: 2-3 (1B, 1B, K, R)
6. Jose Dore, 3B: 1-3 (K, 2B, 4-3, R)
7. Francisco Sanchez, SS: 1-3 (F-9, 3B, K, R, 2 RBI)
8. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 2-3 (1B, 4-3, 1B, R)
9. Erick Castillo, C: 2-3 (5-4-3 DP, 1B, 1B)
10. Wilfredo Petit, 1B: 1-3 (5-3, 3-U, 1B, RBI)
11. Rashad Crawford, DH #3: 0-3 (K, P-6, K)
CUBS SQUAD "B" PITCHERS:
1. Duane Underwood: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 45 pitches (24 strikes), 5/1 GO/FO
2. Ethan Elias: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 1 GIDP, 29 pitches (18 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
3. Loiger Padron: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 35 pitches (18 strikes), 3/2 GO/FO
CUBS SQUAD "B" ERRORS: (1)
SS Francisco Sanchez - E-6 (throwing error on attempted 6-4 FC allowed baserunner to reach 2nd base safely - eventually scored unearned run)
CUBS SQUAD "B" CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Erick Castillo: 1-1 CS, 1 PB
FITCH PARK FIELD #3
CUBS SQUAD "A" LINEUP:
1. Shawon Dunston, Jr, CF: 3-3 (BB, 1B, 1B, 1B, 2 R, RBI)
2. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 0-1 (BB, BB, BB, 4-6-3 DP, 2 R)
3. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 3-3 (1B, 3B, F-8 SF, 1B, 4 RBI)
4. Jacob Rogers, 1B: 1-3 (K, BB, 3B, L-7, 2 RBI)
5. Reggie Golden, LF: 0-3 (1-2 FC, 6-3, K)
6. Trevor Gretzky, DH #1: 0-3 (1-U, 6-3, K)
7. Justin Marra, C: 0-2 (BB, F-9, F-8, R)
8. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-3 (F-9, 1-3, 3B)
9. Mark Malave, 3B: 0-2 (4-3, BB, P-1, R)
10a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES THRU BATTING ORDER
10b. Neftali Rosario, DH #2: 0-0 (BB, R)
CUBS SQUAD "A" PiTCHERS:
1. Dayan Diaz: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 17 pitches (11 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
2. Jose Rosario: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 40 pitches (19 strikes), 5/3 GO/FO
3. Chad Martin: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 33 pitches (21 strikes), 1/5 GO/FO
4. David Cales: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 18 pitches (11 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
CUBS SQUAD "A" ERRORS: NONE
CUBS SQUAD "A" CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Justin Marra: 1-1 CS
CUBS SQUAD "A" OUTFIELD ASSISTS:
CF Shawon Dunston - threw out baserunner 8-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a single
WEATHER: Sunny & VERY breezy with temperatures in the 70's
NOTE: It wasn't a Cactus League game, but there was a 3-1/2 inning intrasquad game played at FITCH PARK FIELD #3 yesterday morning.
RHP Josh Conway (Cubs 2012 4th round draft pick out of Coastal Carolina) was really on his game, striking out seven in 3.2 IP (64 pitches). And when he wasn't getting punch-outs, he was throwing ground balls (3/0 GO/FO).
Here is the box score from that game:
SQUAD "B" LINEUP:
1. Roberto Caro, CF: 0-2 (K, K)
2, Rashad Crawford, RF: 1-2 (1B, K, SB, CS)
3. Trevor Gretzky, 1B: 0-1 (K, BB, R, SB)
4. Jose Dore, 3B: 1-2 (4-3, 1B, RBI)
5. Erick Castillo, C: 1-1 (2B)
6. Francisco Sanchez, SS: 0-1 (K)
7. Alberto Mineo, DH #1: 0-1 (K)
8. Kevin Encarnacion, LF: 0-1 (K)
9. Bryant Flete, 2B: 0-1 (3-1)
10. Jesse Hodges, DH #2: 0-1 (5-3)
SQUAD "A" LINEUP:
1. Lance Rymel, C: 1-2 (1B, K)
2. Mark Malave, 3B: 1-1 (1B, R)
3. Dong-Yub Kim, LF: 0-1 (5-3)
4. Garrett Schlecht, RF: 1-1 (3B, RBI)
5. Xavier Batista, DH #1: 0-1 (K)
6. Reggie Golden, DH #2: 0-1 (K)
7. Jacob Rogers, 1B: 0-1 (K)
8. Frandy de la Rosa, SS: 0-1 (4-3)
9. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 0-1 (6-3)
10. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 0-1 (5-3)
SQUAD "B" PITCHERS:
1. Andrew McKirahan: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 29 pitches (21 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
2. Anthony Prieto: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BR, 0 BB, 1 K, 12 pitches (8 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
SQUAD "A" PITCHER
Josh Conway: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 7 K, 64 pitches (40 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
NOTE: Game was stopped with two outs in top of 4th when Conway reached his pre-planned max pitch limit
SQUAD "A" CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Lance Rymel 1-3 CS
SQUAD "B" OUTFIELD DEFENSE:
RF Rashad Crawford - threw out baserunner 9-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a single
I think while I get you're saying with moving around a lot of baseball is very rhythm based and for many players moving around a lot could disrupt that. It's the same reason many players aren't cut out for phing or dhing since they need to be in the rhythm of the game to hit.
Of course then you have players like LaStella who are terrible as starters and should only PH. Really hope Madden doesn't get enthralled with him starting too much.
KKVG: Among the players at Extended Spring Training, Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive position-player from the Cubs 2015-16 IFA class (I'm not including OF Eddy Julio Martinez, because he skipped EXST and began the season at South Bend). Paredes has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely eventually end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the Cubs 2015-16 IFA position players who could.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.