OK. So it was the Arizona Instructional League Cubs. But, hey, they ARE Cubs, and they DID win 8-1 today at Fitch Park Field #3, defeating the Giants with a 15-hit attack that featured the professional debut of Korean RHP Dae-Eun Rhee.
Signed by Cubs Pacific Rim Scouting Coordinator Steve Wilson last July, the 18-year old Rhee was considered one of the top pitching prospects in South Korea this past year.
Rhee's parents traveled from South Korea to Arizona with Dae-Eun, and have been attending Instructional League games for two weeks, hoping for a chance to see their son to pitch in a game. And today, they fiinally got their wish.
With their mini-video recorders in hand recording their son's debut from different POVs, Rhee showed-off a 90 MPH two-seamer with movement and a virtually unhittable splitter that left Giants hitters waving their bats like fly swatters. I can tell you that scouts from rival teams who were in attendance at the game today were VERY impressed with Rhee.
Another positive is the continued improvement in Donnie Veal
The only AA pitcher at Instructs, Veal arrived at Fitch Park last month with his mechanics totally messed up. But he has managed to smooth-out his delivery and straighten-up his body (he's now "pitching tall") to where he is an almost completely new (and better!) pitcher than the one who arrived three weeks ago. And he was at his best today, throwing two pristine perfect innings (22 pitches), and striking out three. He was as sharp as a tack.
I have questioned whether Veal could remain a starter, what with his consistently high pitch counts and poor command, but based on his last couple of outings, things might be coming around for Donnie. He looked great today, that's for sure.
got the start for the Cubs, and had another fine outing, throwing two shutout innings (25 pitches). Veal followed Huseby with his two perfect innings, and then 24-year old Colombian RHP Dumas Garcia
followed, throwing two more blanks.
Garcia pitched for the Georgia Peanuts in the independent South Coast League in 2007, and was signed by the Cubs just last month. He cocks his head to the side, and then brings a 94 MPH fastball and killer change-up to the plate.
Rhee pitched the 7th, and then 25-year old Venezuelan RHP Rafael Cova
worked a 1-2-3 8th (with two strikeouts).
Some of you may remember Cova as a hotshot pitching prospect with the Mets a couple of years ago (he even got an NRI to ST with the big club in 2006), but he got himself suspended during the'06 season, and then was released. He pitched for Tijuana (Mexican League) in 2007, and was one of three Tijuana pitchers signed by the Cubs recently (RHP Alan Guerrero
and LHP Marco Tovar
being the other two). And there is nothing wrong with Cova's arm (mid-90's fastball and a plus breaking ball), either.
At the plate, the Cubs scored a run in the 3rd on an RBI double hit high off the left-field fence by Brandon Guyer
following back-to-back two-out singles by Marwin Gonzalez
and Steve Clevenger
, and then four more in the 5th.
and Drew Rundle
led off the 5th with singles, and then Gian Guzman
walked to load the bases with nobody out. Jonathan Wyatt
then smoked a double off the center field hitting background to plate Rosa, Rundle, and Guzman, and Clevenger knocked-in Wyatt with a line single to CF.
The Cubs scored again in the bottom of the 6th on an RBI single by Guzman following a lead-off double by Kyler Burke and a one-out single by Rundle, and then scored two more runs the 7th.
Carlos Perez led off the 7th with a single, and advanced to third on a double by Guyer, his second two-bagger of the game. After Cliff Andersen walked to load the bases with nobody out, Marquez Smith hit a sac fly onto the warning track in RF to score Perez, and then Jovan Rosa singled to drive-in Burke.
The last inning featured a 35-pitch performance by Jose Ceda that was worthy of Satchel Paige, as he walked the bases loaded and then struck out the side. Unfortunately, before he walked the bases loaded, Ceda gave up an infield single to the lead-off hitter, so he lost the shutout.
On the injury front, the two catchers knocked out of yesterday's intrasquad game (Carlos Perez with a hamstring tweak and Mark Reed with a blow to the groin) have returned to action. Perez relieved Steve Clevenger behind the plate to start the sixth inning, and Reed worked out on Field #2 with rest of the postion players who did not play in the game, although his voice was about an octave higher today than it was yesterday.
Having Perez and Reed able to return to action was good for Steve Clevenger and Josh Donaldson, because otherwise the Cubs would have been down to just two catchers. (The 5th catcher in camp--highly regarded Welington Castillo--had his Instructional League season cut-short after undergoing season-ending knee-surgery).
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Jonathan Wyatt, CF (1-5, R, 3 RBI, 2B)
2. Marwin Gonzalez, SS (2-4, R, 2B)
3A. Steve Clevenger, C (2-2, RBI, BB)
3B. Carlos Perez, C (1-1, R)
4. Brandon Guyer, DH #1 (3-4, R, RBI, 2 2B, K)
5. Cliff Andersen, LF (1-3, BB)
6. Marquez Smith, 2B (0-3, SF-RBI, 2 K)
7. Kyler Burke, RF (1-4, R, 2B, 2 K)
8. Jovan Rosa, 3B (2-4, R, RBI, K)
9. Drew Rundle, 1B (2-4, R, K)
10. Gian Guzman, DH #2 (1-3, R, RBI, BB)
1. Chris Huseby - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (25 pitches)
2. Donald Veal - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (22 pitches)
3. Dumas Garcia - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (24 pitches)
4. Dae-Eun Rhee - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (11 pitches)
5. Rafael Cova - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R,0 BB, 2 K (11 pitches)
6. Jose Ceda - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 3 K, 2 WP (35 pitches)
ATTENDANCE: 50+ (a collection of scouting trainees from the MLB Scouting Bureau were crawling all over the place... it was hard to breath!).