EXST Cubs Showcase Infield Defense at Fitch Park

With Cubs Roving Minor League Infield Instructor Bobby Dickerson at Fitch Park this past week to help the young infielders improve their defensive technique, the EXST Cubs apparently decided to give Bobby D. an appropriate going away present by playing stellar defense that included a sharp 5-4-3 triple play in the top of the 7th, en route to a 5-2 victory over the EXST Mariners at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning. 

In addition, Iowa 1B Micah Hoffpauir (on the DL with a strained oblique since before PCL Opening Day) had such a great pre-game BP session hitting against Dickerson and Boise manager Tom Beyers on Field #1 that he was penciled into the starting lineup of the EXST game, and (hitting 3rd in both the 1st and 2nd innings) got two ABs, flying out 400 feet to the warning track in dead center in his first PA, and striking out on four pitches in his second AB. But he says he feels great and expects to be out of Fitch Park and on his way back to Des Moines to rejoin the I-CUBS ASAP.

2005 #1 draft pick LHP Mark Pawelek, who has struggled with his mechanics and control for much of the past three seasons, got the start today, and threw two innings. In his last outing he struck out the side in one inning of work, but he wasn't anywhere near as sharp today, showing the control lapses that have plagued him since 2006. 

Pawelek worked two innings, throwing 28 pitches (but only 13 strikes). The Mariners didn't hit the ball hard off him (he gave up only one hit), but he had one four-pitch walk and he also hit a batter (HBPs seem to be one of his biggest problems). He benefitted from two outstanding throws by catcher Alvaro Sosa to gun-down potential base-stealers, one to end the 1st inning and the other to help Pawly get out of a jam in the 2nd. So while he didn't allow a run, he wasn't sharp, either.  

RHP Marcus Hatley followed Pawelek to the hill, and had a mediocre outing, giving up a run on two hits before he got an out in his first inning of work, and then walking the bases loaded with two outs in his third inning.

But AA Tennessee RHP Jim Henderson (rehabbing at Fitch Park) came into the game in relief of Hatley, and got the third out, leaving the bases loaded.

LHP Arik Hempy pitched the final three innings for a rare "three-inning save," and he was helped by the 5-4-3 triple play after surrendering a solo HR, a walk, and a SH-FC to start the 7th inning. Hempy ended up retiring seven of the last eight men he faced.

Shortstop Starlin Castro had a big day in the field and at the plate, making a spectacular diving catch to his right with the bases loaded to end the 5th and an excellent stop & throw from the hole to start the 9th, while also clubbing a two-run HR over the LF fence in the bottom of the 7th.

LF Luke Sommer reached base all four times he batted, walking three times, and driving in a run with a 5th inning single before also scoring a run that same inning.

For the day, the EXST Cubs drew eight walks.
 
Here is today's abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only).

And remember... Hoffpauir was permitted to hit 3rd in both the 1st and 2nd innings...  
 
LINEUP:
1. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 1-2 (R, BB, SH, K, CS)
2. Luke Sommer, LF: 1-1 (RBI, R, 3 BB)
3a. Micah Hoffpauir, DH #1: 0-1 (F-8 - advanced runners to 2nd & 3rd)
3b. Roberto Sabates, PH-C: 1-3 (2B, RBI) 
4. Nelson Perez, CF: 0-4 (RBI, 2 K)
5. Carlos Perez, DH #2: 0-3 (HBP, K)
6. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2 (BB)
7. Junior Lake, 3B: 0-2 (BB, K)
8a. Micah Hoffpauir, DH #3: 0-1 (K)
8b. NONE
9. Andres Quezada, RF: 0-2 (R, BB, 2 K)
10. Starlin Castro, SS: 1-2 (HR, 2 RBI, R, BB, CS)
11. Alvaro Sosa, C-DH: 1-3 (R, K)

PITCHERS:
1. Mark Pawelek - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (3/0 GB/FB)
2. Marcus Hatley - 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K,  2 WP (4/1 GB/FB)
3. Jim Henderson - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2/2 GB/FB)
4. Arik Hempy - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 1 GITP (4/4 GB/FB)
 
CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Alvaro Sosa 3-4 CS, but with one error (totally unnecessary attempted pick-off at 2B was thrown into CF)

WEATHER: High in the upper 80's with nary a cloud in the sky

ATTENDANCE: 9 (including the EXST Mariners bus driver) 

BEE REPORT: AZ Phil noted another hive of Africanized (killer) bees located in a tree behind the home team bench at Field #3, so the ground crew put up warning tape around the area until an exterminator can respond to remove the hive.

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Comments

another hive of Africanized (killer) bees...
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Bagwell and Biggio on safari in Arizona after a visit in Botswana?

Az Phil
How good a prospect is Nelson Perez?

Submitted by Hagsag on Sun, 05/04/2008 - 5:12am.

Az Phil How good a prospect is Nelson Perez?

============================

HAGSAG: Nelson Perez was signed as a RHP, but was moved to the outfield after the Cubs saw his power bat/rifle arm/speed combo. (This is the exact opposite of what the Cubs usually do when they have a player change positions).

He bears a physical and facial resemblance to Sammy Sosa post-1998. Perez is really cut. He could probably play running back or outside linebacker for the Bears. He has a flashy personality. He wears lots of wristbands and he uses special "Nelson Perez" bats that break constantly. He's a nice guy, very outgoing, very upbeat. He laughs a lot. But he's also super-confident and very cocky, and he has temper tantrums when he gets called out on strikes.

I guess a shorthand description of Nelson Perez is that he is a left-handed hitting version of Ryan Harvey. Very high risk, very high reward. Boom or bust. No middle ground.

Harvey and N. Perez are 1-2 in the Cubs farm system in terms of pure, raw power, and Harvey and N. Perez have the 1-2 best outfield arms in the Cubs minor league system. And like Harvey, Perez is a dead first-ball, fastball hitter who can hit a fastball and a hanging breaking ball a mile (450 ft), but he struggles mightily trying to hit decent sliders and curves, and he only hits a change-up if he knows it's coming.

Perez strikes out A LOT, and he is "dead meat" when hitting with two strikes. He has lots of trouble with LHP. I suspect he considers anything short of a HR to be a failed AB. He has above-average speed (especially for a big guy), but he is a dumb-ass on the bases, can't read a pitcher's pick-off move, and he frequently misplays line drives and fly balls in RF. (NOTE: Because of his speed, he occasionally plays CF).

Because he has such a powerful arm, he sometimes tries to make impossible throws he shouldn't try to make, missing the cut-off man in the process. But he can also throw lasers from the right-field corner to 3rd base on the fly. He likes to show-off his arm. (He had 11 outfield assists with the AZL Cubs last season, and that was in a short-season league that didn't begin play until June 20th).

In short, he needs to learn to play under control and (most importantly) he needs to play SMART. He doesn't do that now. To advance, he has to learn to use the entire field (he's a dead pull-hitter right now) and to shorten his swing when he has two strikes. He also needs to make throws that can be cut-off.

The main difference between Harvey and Perez is that Harvey is basically running out of time (he will be a six-year minor league FA after the 2009 season), while Perez still has lots of time to make necessary improvements (Perez cannot  be a minor league FA until after the 2013 season). But given his personality, I'm not too sure he can or will improve much. If he doesn't improve, at least he can always be moved back to pitcher. He definitely has a golden arm and he loves to show it off.

Nelson Perez is a protege of Alfonso Soriano. Like Felix Pie, Soriano has taken Perez under his wing and Sori gave the youngster a shitload of baseball gear during Spring Training.

Phil,

Thank you for all of your great work. Your reporting is a real gift to Cub fans.

Looking through some of the early numbers, a few minor leaguers have caught my interest. I wonder if you (or Mike Wellman if you're out there) can comment more on any of these guys and how they it into the organizational plans:

AAA-Iowa:

Josh Kroeger
After showing great promise b/w Tennessee and Iowa last year (.330/.401/.550 (.951)), he's putting up very average numbers this year in Iowa (.253/.333/.411 (.744). He's still only 25 years old and his numbers seem to be really weighed down by his lefty-splits (0 for 19 this year), but his power numbers are way down (1 HR in 95 ABs).

Does he have a future with the Cubs? Are he and Micah Hoffpauir up for Daryle Ward's job next year?

Andres Torres
Seems like this guy may have turned a corner, although it comes pretty late at age 30, in his career.

2007: combined AA/AAA numbers, .292/.363/.484 (.848)

2008: .364/.457/.545 (1.003) in 88 ABs.

Clearly his 2008 numbers will come down to earth a little. But if he comes close to duplicating his 2007 numbers (and depending on Pie's development), does Torres become 2009's 4th OFer?

Bobby Scales
He's not a "prospect" either (he's also 30), but his last three years in AAA have all been in the .280/.370/.450 (.820) range, playing OF and IF.

His numbers this year at Iowa are even better: 313/371/563 (933).

Are these guys, Torres and Scales just Roster insurance? If so, it seems like Hendry might actually be stacking the minor league rosters pretty well.

Matt Murton
He hasn't played at Iowa since being demoted. What's up?

Hi-A Daytona:

James Adduci
I've heard of him being a "pure" hitter, but his 2007 numbers weren't anything awesome: 279/329/346 (675) combined b/w Daytona and Peoria.

However, this year he's raking it: 343/450/435 (885). It seems his plate discipline has REALLY improved as his BB/PA rate is much higher than previous years. Still, he seems to have little extra-base power. He's still relatively young (turns 23 in May) but a little older than his competition.

What kind of player is he? What does he project into?

On Murton:

He was optioned on Thursday 5/1. The Iowa Cubs are on a road trip in California playing Fresno and then Sacramento. I assume Murton likely spent Friday packing up and flying out to join the team, and perhaps also received Saturday off to get rid of any jet lag from the trip. Whatever the case, he is the DH in today's (Sunday) Iowa-Fresno game.

Kroeger DH

murton didnt play today according to milb.com

-edit-

nevermind...he is and its corrected.

phew.

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