Venezuelan Trio Plus Alamo Too Much for A's

Arnaldo Calero (solo HR, two walks, and an HBP) reached base four times, Gleyber Torres (two walks and an RBI single), Bryant Flete (RBI triple, RBI double, and a single), and Tyler Alamo (RBI single, a walk, and an HBP) reached base three times a piece, and the foursome combined to collect five RBI and score five runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-5 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Baseball Complex in Phoenix, AZ.

Seongmin Kim belted a bases-clearing three-run double for the A's. 

Tennessee Smokies RHP Matt Loosen (on the Restricted List since 5/22 and hasn't pitched since 5/17) got the start for the Cubs today and worked 3.2 IP (69 pitches), allowing three runs (all ER) on two hits and four walks. He retired 11 of the first 13 men he faced before running out of gas (temperature 100+) in the bottom of the 4th.

RHP Trey Lang (Cubs 2012 6th round draft pick - Gateway CC) walked four consecutive batters in the bottom of the 7th before being relieved. Lang has now appeared in 11 Cactus League EXST games so far in 2014... COMBINED LINE: 16.1 IP, 23 H, 18 R (17 ER), 21 BB, 16 K, 2 HBP, 8 WP, 314 pitches (49% strikes), 9.37 ERA, 2.69 WHIP, .338 OppBA. 

In 18 Cactus League EXST games (55 PA), Cubs infielder Bryant Flete is hitting a robust 372/491/442, with one double and one triple, 11/10 BB/K, 8 RUNS, 9 RBI, and two SB (two CS), and has committed four errors (two at SS and two at 2B). The 21-year old Venezuelan has played both 2B and SS at EXST (although 2B is his best position), and he presently leads the team in both AVG and OBP (minimum 48 PA to qualify). So don't be too surprised if Flete wins a spot on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster, especially if the Cubs opt to keep 17-year old SS Gleyber Torres in Mesa (AZL Cubs) for the summer. 

Meanwhile, Torres is hitting a very respectable 272/374/359 in 27 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (108 PA), with 13/20 BB/K, four doubles, two triples, two SB (two CS and two  PO), 12 RUNS, and 10 RBI, but he has committed 11 errors. 

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):

CUBS LINEUP:
1. Gleyber Torres, SS: 1-3 (BB, K, 5-4 FC, 1B, BB, R, RBI)
2. Bryant Flete, 2B: 3-5 (3B, 6-3, 2B, 1B, K, R, 2 RBI)
3. Charcer Burks, CF: 0-4 (L-8 SF, E-5, K, 6-4 FC, F-8, R, RBI)
4. Tyler Alamo, C: 1-2 (BB, 1B, 4-3, HBP, R, RBI)
5. Mark Malave, DH #1: 1-4 (F-9, 2B, F-8, K, RBI)
6. Roney Alcala, 1B: 1-4 (1B, P-3, 4-3, K)
7. Adonis Paula, 3B: 0-3 ((K, K, E-5, 5-3, R)
8. Ricardo Marcano, RF: 2-4 (F-8, F-8, 1B, 1B)
9. Eufran Vargas, DH #2: 0-3 (K, BB, 6-4-3 DP, 6-4 FC, R)
10. Arnaldo Calero, LF: 1-1 (HR, HBP, BB, BB, 2 R, RBI)
  
CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Matt Loosen: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 4 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 69 pitches (40 strikes)
2. Hector Perez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/4 GO/FO, 20 pitches (13 strikes)
3. Trey Lang: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 0/1 GO/FO, 27 pitches (8 strikes)
4. Francisco Carrillo: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 34 pitches (25 strikes)

CUBS ERRORS: 2
3B Adonis Paula - E-5 (throwing error on infield single allowed batter to advance to 2nd base)
SS Gleyber Torres - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)

ATTENDANCE: 18

WEATHER: Mostly sunny and a bit breezy with temperatures 100+

Comments

INTRASQUAD GAME AT RIVERVIEW PARK THIS MORNING:

Josh Conway and Ryan McNeil threw two innings a piece and Ben Wells (battling "Steve Blass Disease"), Jesus Castillo, and Yomar Morel threw one inning each.  

Pierce Johnson and James McDonald threw pre-game "live" BP.

Position players at Cubs Extended Spring Training have apparently been divided into two squads ("Boise" and "Mesa"), with Gary Van Tol managing Boise and Jimmy Gonzalez managing Mesa (as they will be once the short seasons start next month)...

BOISE:   
CATCHERS: Erick Castillo, Mark Malave (also 1B-3B), Justin Marra (also 1B), and Alberto Mineo (also 1B) 
INFIELDERS: Zak Blair (2B), Varonex Cuevas (SS-2B-3B), Jesse Hodges (3B), and Rony Rodriguez (1B-LF-RF)  
OUTFIELDERS: Jeffrey Baez (RF-CF), Kevin Brown (LF-RF-3B-2B-1B), Rashad Crawford (CF-LF), Shamil Ubiera (RF-CF-LF), and Oliver Zapata (LF-CF-RF)

MESA:
CATCHERS: Tyler Alamo (also 1B), Antonio Valerio, and Eufran Vargas
INFIELDERS: Roney Alcala (1B-3B), Bryant Flete (2B-SS), Dalfis Ortiz (2B-3B), Adonis Paula (3B), and Gleyber Torres (SS)  
OUTFIELDERS: Charcer Burks (CF-LF), Arnaldo Calero (LF-CF-RF), Eloy Jimenez (RF), and Ricardo Marcano (LF-RF-1B)

Which pitchers go where will be decided next week, and even the position player assignments in evidence today are fluid and are subject to change at any time.

With the Dominican Summer League (DSL) beginning play this weekend, it is possible that one or more of the Dominican players presently assigned to Cubs Extended Spring Training could be moved down to the DSL Cubs after today's intrasquad game.     

SS Elliot Soto has completed his 50-game "Drug of Abuse" suspension, and so he is eligible to be reinstated from the Restricted List and can be assigned wherever the Cubs feel he might be needed (probably either Tennessee or Daytona). Or if the Cubs have no use for him, he could get released. In 18 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (68 PA), Soto hit 333/397/417 with 6/9 BB/K, one double, two triples, 3 SB (0 CS), 12 RUNS, and 5 RBI, while playing outstanding defense at SS.   

HOU won their 6th in a row tonight...because baseball.

cubs have a 1.5 game "lead" over ARZ for the #1 pick next season.

What are the Cubs going to do with Bryant? He's pretty clearly not being challenged where he is. Villanueva is the 3B guy at Iowa, and although his stock is probably down a bit I doubt they've given up on him. Olt is obviously a fixture at third on the big club (insert sarcasm font and a Capt Happy smiley icon). I guess they don't want to put him in the outfield yet because they don't want to throw off that rhythm he's got going. It's an interesting dilemma.

I don't think anyone will block Bryant. At said, it wouldn't surprise me if he moved to the outfield in Iowa if they don't think he will stick at third.

expect a near the end of June move to Iowa I'm guessing for Bryant

New Friday morning mock draft from Baseball America:
http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/mock-draft-4-...

1. Aiken 2. Jackson 3. Kolek 4. Rodon - This would be the ideal situation for the Cubs, who covet a fast-moving pitcher with upside. Aiken and Rodon are their top targets, and if both are gone, they remain in play for a deal with the likes of Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost.

What is the issue with Kolek? Is it that high school pitchers are generally more of a wild card and have a longer development time?

He's allegedly 6' 5" and a frumpy 270 lbs. So some teams are put off by his body. And some studies suggest that throwing so hard at his age are going to lead to injuries down the line. And what you said. Each team evaluates things differently. So who knows.

BP has some video breakdown of Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, & Hoffman (free). Kolek doesn't look huge to me but it may be older video.
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?arti...

Thanks for sharing. Looks like a big ole Texas boy that just enjoys a second helpin' of BBQ every now and then.

I could have overstated the frumpiness. I've read where he's going to a personal trainer 3 times a week.

how many times a week to Sizzler?

Can somebody tell me if it is weird/ a warning sign that Carlos Rodon tends to hyper-extend his front knee as he finishes his delivery? Because that seems weird to me.

"He finishes upright in his follow-through, though his linear energy appears to hit an invisible wall immediately after release point, suggesting that he has room for improvement during the late phases of his delivery." <--Yup. Because he's driving his front heel into the ground and stopping all his weight with a locked front knee. Seriously, this is weird, right?

can't say I study mechanics enough to know and there are so few left-handed power pitchers. The way his head and arm snap at delivery was odd to me, seems like too much arm and not enough hips to get his velocity, but I'm hardly an expert.

I would just worry that if he's using his lower body poorly, and stopping his momentum like that, he might be headed for shoulder problems. But I'd love to hear from someone more familiar with this mechanical quirk, if that person exists.

it's part of his command/control. there's been efforts to smooth it out, but it hasn't stuck.

part of his value is his command/control and i don't know if it's comfort, a desire to not try to "fix what not's broken," or if efforts to smooth out his end-delivery affected his command/control and it is keeping him from improving that end-delivery.

...and though it has a whole lot of nothing to do with his delivery...i gotta say, he's got a sweeeeeet slider complimenting the fastball he can change speed on. he's supposedly got a kickass changeup, but he so rarely has to actually use it because the FB/slider combo gets it done at the college level.

what Quietman said, some worries about his athleticism and if he can repeat his delivery, secondary stuff...

oh please, please, please

WSox won't deal with Boras I believe, so that scenario could happen.

Another Friday mock from Scout/McDaniel:
http://sbb.scout.com/story/1407185#/story/1407185

Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, then Nola to the Cubs.

ANALYSIS: This is where th draft really opens up, with rumors of Nola, Pentecost, Gordon, Hoffman, Finnegan, Conforto and Freeland all coming up here. I think it's down to Nola, Pentecost and Gordon with the two college players as the real decision in the room. I think Chicago ignores price and take the guy it wants, which I believe is Nola.

Plus one from Mayo:
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/mock-draft-bra...

Aiken, Jackson, Rodon, Kolek to Cubs

Leave it to Mayo to pick the guy that Cubs seem to have no interest in...

"Chicago Cubs Double-A third baseman Kris Bryant has moved up to No. 8 overall in ESPN.com's new prospect rankings from Keith Law released on Friday while Triple-A shortstop Javier Baez checks in at No. 9."

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/244...

I understand the organization wants Bryant to learn to deal with the grind of a pro season, to cut down on the K's, and to improve his defense at 3b, but his AA numbers are just nuts. He's leading the league in just about everything, and his SLG is 150 points higher than the #2 guy. I looked at his splits for any red flags, and across the board-- day/night, home/road, bases empty/runners on, lefty pitcher/righty pitcher-- his numbers are pretty much the same. Saving the best for last. Last ten games: .484/.610/1.097. Might we say he's shown he can handle the Southern League?

I would be surprised if the Cubs don't promote him in June, and wouldn't be surprised if they left him at third base. That would suck for Christian Villanueva, but it's a harsh business. Depending on how the Olt/Baez/Alcantara situation shakes out, Bryant might very well end up in the outfield, but I would think a position change would wait till spring training and then a stint at Iowa in 2015 up to the magic service time date.

Could be a fun road trip to Des Moines in July.

his K rate was alarmingly at first (everyone remember Brett Jackson)? He's cut that down though and needs to keep improving there.

Something in the 20% range would be ideal, but I think a June call-up to Iowa is going to happen.

BP writeup on 10 prospects from 5-27-14...

Albert Almora, CF, Cubs (High-A Daytona)
After taking in Daytona's series against Bradenton, I came away impressed with Almora—even though he didn't rake like he has lately, there was still plenty to like. At the plate he's patiently aggressive: Almora knows where he wants the ball and when he sees a pitch in his zone he lets his bat eat. The bat speed is above-average and his swing gets into the zone quickly and stays level. There aren’t a lot of moving parts before the swing. His stance is open and sports excellent balance. His hands and head are very quiet throughout the entire swing. His pitch recognition skills are advanced. This kid is able to recognize spin quickly, which allows him to make some very nice in-bat adjustments. Throughout the entire series he only had one bad at-bat, which came against another top prospect, Tyler Glasnow. Almora chased three elevated fastballs at the letters or higher—pitches he had no shot at catching up to. It was rare to see him get that aggressive at pitches out of his zone.

He's got an athletic frame that has room to add more muscle. He is an average runner and this has some questioning his future ability to stay in center. From what I saw, I think there is a legit chance he can stick there. What he lacks in natural speed, he makes up for with excellent reads off the bat and sound routes to the ball. There were a few balls smoked into the gaps that he was able to cut off, holding the batter to long singles. Almora's arm also impressed. He unleashed an absolute laser from the right center gap on a line to home plate. His release was quick and the throw was not only of the plus variety, but accurate too. Overall, he's a fun kid to watch. –Chris King

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?arti...

Marcus Stroman scratched from Triple-A start tonight...man the rumor towers!!!!

(story says he's probably going to start for Toronto tomorrow)

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  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 8 min 17 sec ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 10 min 51 sec ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 20 min 42 sec ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 1 hour 3 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 5 hours 48 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 5 hours 49 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 15 hours 31 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 18 hours 28 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 18 hours 41 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 18 hours 50 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 18 hours 55 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 19 hours 13 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 19 hours 49 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 20 hours 7 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 20 hours 9 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 20 hours 27 min ago view