Cubs Use Long Ball to Reach the High Life
Nelson Perez smashed a gargantuan three-run homer high over the RF fence with no outs in the bottom of the 4th and John Contreras followed with a two-run shot over the LF fence and onto 8th Street later that same inning, giving the EXST Cubs all the runs they needed en route to an 8-4 kreusening of the EXST Brewers this morning at Fitch Park Field #3. The win was dedicated to the Chicago Cubs, who dropped two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers this week at Wrigley Field
RHPs Billy Petrick (on the AAA Iowa DL with shoulder weakness) and Grant Johnson (on the AA Tennessee DL with a sprained elbow ligament) continued their rehab, each throwing one inning of shutout ball in today's game. Both appear to be fairly close to returning to their respective clubs.
The other pitchers who had outings today came back with mixed reults.
19-year old Dominican RHP Dionis Nunez gave up two runs on four hits before getting yanked out of the game mid-inning, and then he got chewed-out by one of the coaches on the bench before being allowed to go to the clubhouse. Not a good day for Dionis.
But 17-year old Dominican LHP Jeffry Antigua threw the ball very well again today while racking up four strikeouts in two innings of work, and 18-year old Dominican RHP Rogelio Carmona dropped some high octane yeast on Brewers hitters over his two innings.
And RHP Kevin Kreier (who has pitched sparingly this Spring) threw the ball as well as I've ever seen him throw, throwing strikes and keeping the Brewers hitters off-balance with a nice assortment of pitches. Kreier was a 20th round pick of the Cubs in the 2006 June draft out of Foothill HS in Henderson, NV, but he had a horrible pro debut in 2007, going 0-1 with an 11+ ERA for the AZL Cubs (Mesa).
In addition to the N. Perez and Contreras long-balls, Carlos Perez had a nice day, going 3-4 (all singles) with two RBI at the plate, while throwing out three of the six base-runners who tried to steal against him. C. Perez, a 20-year old catcher from Venezuela with three years of pro experience (one in the DSL and two in the AZL), is a definite prospect. He would probably be the #1 catcher at Peoria right now if Josh Donaldson wasn't in his way.
In EXST Cubs roster news, RHP Todd Blackford (2007 TJ surgery) has completed his rehab and has been assigned to Peoria, following RHP Billy Muldowney who was moved up to Peoria from EXST earlier this last week. (Some of you may remember Blackford as one of the two pitchers acquired by the Cubs from Atlanta in the Todd Hollandswoth deal a couple or three years ago).
In addition, RHPs Francisco Acosta and Jose Severino were sent home to the Dominican Republic after being involved in an off-the-field fight (with each other), and RHP Scott Taylor (at Fitch Park while serving a 50-game prohibited substance suspension) was sent home after violating a team rule. Acosta and Severino will likely pitch for one of the two DSL Cubs teams (although hopefully not both on the same one!), while Taylor's future is less clear, although I can say almost absolutely, positively for sure that Taylor will NOT be pitching in the Dominican Summer League .
On the injury front, Iowa 1B Micah Hoffpauir (on the DL with an oblique strain suffered just prior to Openng Day) and Tennessee 1B Matt Craig (on the DL with a leg injury) are both at Fitch Park. Hoff-POWER! is still in the early stages of rehab and is not yet swinging a bat (at least he's not taking BP), and Craig is limping around Fitch Park in shorts and flip-flops, so I wouldn't expect to see him getting into any game action for a while, either.
Both 2B Jeffrey Rea (strained quad) and LF Brandon Guyer (fractured elbow) are taking BP, but neither are playing in EXST games at this time Rea (at EXST rehabbing a sore arm) was all set to go to Peoria last week before straining a quad while running the bases the day before he was scheduled to depart, so he is probably on suicide watch right now.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)
1a. Cesar Salazar, DH #1: 1-2 (R, HBP)
1b. Roberto Sabates, PH: 0-1
2. Gian Guzman, 2B-SS: 1-3 (2 R, BB, SB, K)
3. Carlos Perez, C: 3-4 (2 RBI, R)
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-4 (HR, 3 RBI, R, K)
5. Luis Bautista, 1B: 0-3 (R, HBP)
6. Kevin Soto, CF: 0-3 (R, BB, 2 K)
7a. Luke Sommer, LF: 0-3 (K)
7b. Andres Quezada, LF: 0-1
8. John Contreras, 3B: 1-2 (HR, 2 RBI, R, 2 BB, K)
9. Junior Lake, DH #2: 2-3 (3B, RBI, BB)
10a. George Matheus, SS: 1-2
10b. Starlin Castro, 2B: 0-2 (K)
1. Billy Petrick - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP
2. Grant Johnson - 1.0 IP, 0 H. 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
3. Jeffry Antigua - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K
4. Dionis Nunez - 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR
5. Rogelio Carmona - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
6. Kevin Kreier - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Carlos Perez: 3-6 CS
WEATHER: Hot & sunny, and not quite as breezy as it was the last couple of days.
ATTENDANCE: 17, including 14 adults, two children (both appeared to be pre-schoolers), and one dog. There also was a curious absence of the usual coterie of pigeons, which remains unexplained at this time.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
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!!!!!!