Shark Sharp at Fitch, Prior Throws Four at Peoria

Mark Prior threw four solid innings at Peoria in his best outing of the Spring, and Jeff Samardzija threw four shutout innings in a minor league game at Fitch Park today, before the next round of thunderstorms crashed through the Valley of the Sun. Making his first appearance in a big league ST game in almost two weeks, Prior gave up four hits and one run (earned), one walk, and two strikeouts in four innings (2/8 GB/FB). Rich Hill, who was scheduled to pitch the last four or five innings at Peoria in relief of Prior, was only able to throw one inning (one hit, two K) before a downpour ended the game after five innings, with the Padres on top 1-0. The Cubs could do absolutely nothing with Greg Maddux (five innings, three hits, no runs, no walks, no strikeouts), getting only three hits against their ex-teammate, the loudest of which was a double by Derrek Lee. Ryan Theriot was 1-2 (single) with a SB. Mark Prior had the other hit. Meanwhile Jeff Samardzija threw four innings (44 pitches) for the Daytona Cubs against the Stockton Ports (OAK A+) at Fitch Park (minor league camp) in Mesa, as the D-Cubs defeated the Ports 2-0. The Shark gave up six hits (three infield singles, two ground singles to the outfield, and one broken bat bloop) in his four innings of work, as he pounded the strike zone with sinkers and sliders (no walks, one K, 9/2 GB/FB, with three GIDP) that kept the young A's off balance and constantly chopping balls into the ground. After throwing 22 pitches in his first inning of work (two infield hits, K, FO, and GO), Samardzija threw only 22 pitches over his last three innings, and he got about 95% ground balls. He is definitely wise beyond his years. Bob Howry, Cliff Floyd, and Henry Blanco did not make the trip to Peoria, and instead stayed in Mesa and played in the Daytona game at Fitch. Howry threw one inning (25 pitches), giving up a ground single and a walk, with one K. Floyd was 2-2 with a line single off the third-baseman's glove, and an RBI double off the top of the high Fitch Park outfield fence in right-center. Floyd seems to run OK once he gets a head of steam going, but it's painful to watch him limp and wince when he's walking. He is NOT 100%, that's for dang sure. Blanco was 1-4 with a line single two left, plus two infield ground outs and a fly out to LF, and Tyler Colvin was 1-2 with a ground single to CF. With the need to get his pitchers work, Lou Piniella may have several of his hurlers throw in minor league games at Fitch Park over the next couple of days.
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Hey AZ, any info on Prior's velocity? Still in the 80's?

Thanks - TOM C

Prior was in low 90s with fast ball, i think tops was 93.

TOM C: According to those who watched the game on mlb.com, Prior touched 93 MPH today. I wasn't there (I was at Fitch), so I can't say how he looked.

Thanks, Phil.

It is REALLY interesting to read the game thread at BCB in regards to Prior.

MikeC in chat was saying that he was 86-89 most of the time with occasionally getting up to 90-91.

At least his arm did not fall off, at least yet. But his velocity not really being back yet is still a worry.

Again, according to the TV gun... which has been rather unaccurate at times this spring:

The velocity really wasn't there in the first inning, manny. Mostly in the mid-high 80's.

The second inning was a litte better, but the third and fourth innings, however, he was routinely in low 90's and did hit 93 once.

Wes-
I was not there, nor did I see it on TV, so I can only go by what I read from others. This is a blurb from Cubs.com after the game:

"According to some scouts' radar guns, Prior topped at 89 mph, and averaged 86-87 mph."

If that is true, it is nice he got guys out throwing that low, but I don't see that happening very often and to me is not a good sign he couldn't get in the 90's consistently.

I second what Wes says. In his last two innings, Prior was consistently 90 + topping out at 93 to get Green swinging after feeding him 2-3 good breaking balls. I would say there was definitely progress made. The fastballs had good movement, he was starting to hit his spots with the breaking ball, and he even mixed in a change or two. His arm angle still seems a little lower than I remember. There was a stretch in the second I believe where he threw 3 or 4 straight balls while walking Cameron and it looked like he was getting the yips a little bit and not finishing his pitches. Barrett came out and talked to him and he was great after that. FWIW Plesac was also giving the performance (post 1st inning) a rave review.

Oh yeah, when I got my season tickets last week from the Cubs, they included a ST roster with service time for all players. So if you are interested in what officially a player has, service time wise, let me know.

I didn't see Manny's comment before I posted mine, but my numbers came from the CSN gun which had Maddux at about 85-86 which seems about right. Whatever...I still think he made some progress.

WOW, more injuries...

Furcal busted up his ankle. He had to be carted off, but results were negative. This after he missed 10 days of ST with the bum shoulder he had from last year.

Chone Figgins ibroke his right middle finger and will be out an undetermined amount of time.

I feel lucky none of these big injuries hurt my fantasy team.

Well if the same gun had Maddux at 85-86 and Prior at as high as 93, there you go.

Silent Towel must have had a sudden attack of vaginits triggered by Prior's performance today. Hopefully a couple shots of penicilin will get that cleared up for him.

On the previous thread where someone asked how hard Maddux threw when he was in his prime.

The question is really irrelevant because Prior has never had the movement on his fastball or the changeup that Prior had, but Maddux was topping off at '92 when he was racking up his Cy's.

Silent's probably over on the Cardinals blog talking about how great Carpenter was today.

Sports Illustrated says 89 MPH tops,

"Prior threw 59 pitches, walked two and struck out three. He whizzed a fastball by Khalil Greene for the final out in the third. He hit 89 mph with his fastest pitch"

Well, let's go ahead and jump tp the conclusion that Sports Illustrated doesn't have their own scout, nor their own radar gun.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070...

cubs.com version.....

TV said one pitch hit 93...some scouts guns topped at 89 and he averaged 86-87.

Prior said he felt good and was happy, thinks he could be ready by April 7th. I hope the Cubs don't think the same.

We're settled now that radar guns are horribly innaccurate...right?

Well, let’s go ahead and jump tp the conclusion that Sports Illustrated doesn’t have their own scout, nor their own radar gun. -- 15 Real Neal

---------

they clearly don't have anyone who reads cubs blogs ....

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...

talks about roster moves left...

pretty much Guzman vs Wood for the pen at this point

and as mentioned leaning towards Cedeno for the bench.

in regards to Guzman and whether AAA or the pen is better...

"I've had that discussion a couple times with [general manager Jim Hendry]," Piniella said Thursday. "I think the posture here is to pick the best staff that we possibly can.

Ward had the flu twice during spring apparently...

Heard Samardja was throwing gas again today hitting 98mph. Wonder what the organizations thoughts are on this kid...

"Wonder what the organizations thoughts are on this kid…"

quick/fast/steady progression and ready within 1-2 seasons is probably safe to assume. gave him a big league contract with a nice chunk of loot attached to it for the next 5 seasons with little chance to see him in the 1st season.

let's not compare his trek to prior's...no matter what we think of him now, he was and performed like an ace before he even became a cub. him walking up on the team so quickly didnt surprise too many.

samninja's got nice tools, but he doesnt have the polish prior had.

"We’re settled now that radar guns are horribly innaccurate…right?"

worst news ive heard all evening...woo false hope.

but with that we got maddux's #s supposedly okay, but prior's jumping every 1/2 inning.

this opens up a new round of questions that probably wont get answered and will linger til forgotten...like say, next week or so.

"samninja’s got nice tools, but he doesnt have the polish prior had."

Let's hope the polish he does have will not rub off for a long time.

prior was awesome :/

not in the "kerry wood" kind of way where he's got "that pitch" that's just amazing and gets it done.

prior was a craftsman pitcher...a real oldschool 2-3 "plus" pitch pitcher who could get an out on any of his pitches, not just an "out pitch".

sometimes i wonder if it was a downside that he never experienced real failure or injury until he wore a MLB uniform.

Now instant replay is ruining college basketball....WOO!!!!

Let's play basketball for christs sake!!!

10 minutes to figure a second went off the clock? Come on!! (TEX A&M/MEMP game)

By the way, one final thing on the radar gun deal. After watching the game again, CSN's gun also had Prior at 99 once and had Maddux at 116 once and 96 once.

anyone else watching csn flamethrowers, or torchers, or whatever the hell it is? it is good stuff.

Boys and girls, Mark Prior topped out in the high 80's with his velocity today. He didn't pitch consistently in the low 90's as some of you report. But that's okay. All indications are that Prior pitched reasonably well today. It is alarming that his velocity still sucks, especially since he told everyone his whole winter was devoted to rehab and that things went swimmingly. Oh well. Me thinks there is major arm surgery to be announced within 6 weeks.

I hope Prior can help this ballclub. I have no vendetta against the man. Only unbelievable disbelief.

So because a scout and SI reports it, it is thusly concrete fact in your mind?

I mean unless of course the gun was +6 mph or so, in which case Maddux didn't throw a single pitch over 78. Feasible, but not likely.

Or perhaps it's that the CSN crew was jacking up the gun for the visitor's half. Maddux's were right, and then they'd just tack a few on when #22 was throwing. It's a conspiracy. I see where you're going with this.

Maddux's pitches were all around his norm, so the gun was fairly accurate.

Prior was hitting 79-80 tops 1st inning.

2nd inning he consistently hit 90, 91, and flashed one up to 93 to SO a guy to end the inning.

3rd and 4th innings he played around with his curve more but his fastball was 86-89 range. He did supposedly flash one up to 97, but he was rarely in the 90's in the 3rd and 4th inning.

First 2 innings also he threw nothing but fastballs and the Padres hitters were sitting back and waiting on those.

Wes: You're arguing with a brick wall. If Prior threw the ball hard enough to knock the mitt out of Barrett's hand, Towely would still be arguing that Prior was throwing in the mid-80's...

Fact is that no one knows exactly how hard Prior was throwing. Bottom line is that he was effective, throwing more pitches, innings, and strikes than in his previous Cactus League outings. I don't think he's ready for the regular season, but he's making progress, and that's good for him, the organization, and us as fans.

That was the point I was making, Ryan.

Whenever there's a sign of any discrepancy, do not worry! For, Silent Towel is here with all the facts, regardless of whether or not their true. He's still got 'em.

By the way, how about Maddux today? Carved our guys up big time. Looked like he's in mid-season form.

Radar guns lie, coaches lie, even stats lie. What don't lie are a bunch of batters making outs and failing to score more than one run against a pitcher over four innings.

As Jack Black once said, "That just happened."

Hmmm... I would go so far as to say "no one" knows how hard Mark Prior was throwing. While there seems to be some disagreement, I'll bet there are at least a few scouts & coaches who were there who feel like they have a pretty good idea of what went down today.

Anyway, this is encouraging, but I tend to agree with everyone who says: "Cool. Now let's talk about something that's relevant to our plans as they currently stand..."

Comic relief from prior claiming that he's "ready to rock an roll."

One decent outing, and he thiunks he's ready to be in the rotation right off the bat. Hahahhaaa..oh...you was serious about dat???

One of Rich Hill's last pitches registered 95 on the gun that the TV broadcast was referencing. I think Hill would probably top out at about 92. So subtract 3 from all those TV numbers (including Maddox's, who left his fastball in Atlanta).

I don't want to go too far out on a limb here, but I suspect that hitters gauge the speed of a pitch in large part from the arm motion. Something about Hill's and Prior's deliveries have always made hitters swing late.

Cub fans, in particular, should know that miles per hour is not that big a deal. Farnsworth used to throw 101 and he couldn't miss their bats.

Real Neal, is BRUCE MILES a credible witness? How about LOU PINIELLA? He weighed in today with this (from the Daily Herald),

"Radar-gun readings on TV that showed Prior hitting 93 mph with his fastball were generous. The more accurate readings were 86-87 consistently, with Prior topping out at 89 mph.

“Ooh, I don’t know about that,” Piniella said about the 93. “The TV said that? And you believe everything you hear on TV?"

*Heard Samardja was throwing gas again today hitting 98mph. Wonder what the organizations thoughts are on this kid… *

Probably rush him to Wrigley and blow out his arm, if previous history is any indication.

FILE THIS AWAY for later use. Using BP's national league averages, here's how our outfield compares to the average NL outfield. Note: Matt Murton's numbers are his career figures. The numbers for Jones and Soriano are from 2006.

National League Averages between ( ).

Cubs OFers vs NL Average OFers 2006 season

#7 Murton ,303(.277) .370(.359) .462(.472)

#8 Soriano .277(264) .351(.335) .560(.418)

#9 Jones .285(.268) .334(.345) .499(.453)

The average NL outfield hit 68 home runs last year. Murton*, Soriano, and Jones alone combined for 86.

Whether he's "rushed" to the big leagues or spends seven years slowly and gradually working his way up to AAA, whether he's pitching in high school, college, minor leagues, or major leagues, ANY pitcher can suffer an elbow or shoulder injury at ANY time. It can happen anywhere. The list of Cubs minor league pitchers who suffered career-ending elbow or shoulder injuries without ever getting out of "A" ball could fill a big city phone book.

your confused AZ Phil, pitchers only blow out their arms once Dusty Baker has managed them. :)

The list of Cubs minor league pitchers who suffered career-ending elbow or shoulder injuries without ever getting out of “A” ball could fill a big city phone book.

I think the technical term for this is overseasoning.

Has BP or anyone similar done a study as to what percentage of prospects develop arm and/or shoulder problems by organization? Maybe going back 15-20 years or so. I would find that quite interesting.

There just isn't any readily available data on most minor league injuries. Going back in the record book you can't tell if a got got released for sucking or for being injured.

CWTP - Are you saying that the numbers show that Matt Murton's hitting was Above Average for a National League Outfielder?

Where have I heard that before?

Thanks for providing further proof to a statement I made a while back.

Matt Murton certainly hasn't put up dazzling numbers this spring. The best thing for the Cubs will be a healthy Cliff Floyd who can serve as quasi-platoon partner with Murton in left field. This offense needs the run production ability that Floyd brings, while maximizing what Murton can bring to the table.

CWTP - Are you saying that the numbers show that Matt Murton’s hitting was Above Average for a National League Outfielder?

Yep! That's the way I see it, B. Blue

Yeah we really need to see a lot more Cliff "let's turn an Iguchi single into a triple" Floyd in the outfield. Right now he makes Adam Dunn look like Ichiro in the field.

[...] According to AZ Phil, Jeff Samardzija was sharp yesterday at Fitch Park, going 4 innings, giving up 6 hits, no walks, and throwing just 44 pitches (22 in the first inning).  Samardzija’s repertoire is similar to Carlos Zambrano with a heavy sinker, although he doesn’t quite get the same movement as Big Z.  If Samardzija keeps this up, I expect him to be in Tennessee playing for the Smokies by mid-season.  I particularly enjoyed this comment: He is definitely wise beyond his years. [...]

Bleeding Blue:
"Where have I heard that before?"

From someone who was mistaken...

Last year Murton was a below average LF in terms of OPS.

Bleeding Blue:
"CWTP - Are you saying that the numbers show that Matt Murton’s hitting was Above Average for a National League Outfielder?"

So you are changing the argument now? Last year the argument was LF's, now you want it to be all OF's....NICE.

Just a refresher...

Matt Murton ranked 13th of 23 in OPS among NL LF's with 150 PA's or more in 2006. That is bottom half.

I didn't even know Greg Norman played baseball.

Manny - what is NICE is that you are the only one who ever limited the discussion to only left fielders.

No where in my original statement did I ever limit my comparison to ONLY left fielders (or even starting left fielders, or just qualifying LFers as you've also tryed to do).

I'm sorry to see that you are still trying to skew my original statements and I'm even more sorry to see that you still can't understand that you have to include everyone at a position when factoring an average, not just a small enough sample that would appear to make your argument hold water.

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