Hoff-POWER! Completes Rehab, Is Iowa Bound
Micah Hoffpauir completed his injury rehab today, driving in the EXST Cubs first run in a 9-7 victory over the EXST Angels at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa, before heading back to Des Moines to rejoin the Iowa Cubs. .
The 28-year old Hoffpauir, who has been on the I-Cubs DL since suffering a strained oblique just prior to Opening Day, was one of the Cubs top hitters in Spring Training, leading the team in several offensive categories and impressing Cubs manager Lou Piniella with both his stick and his glove.
In other EXST roster news, three pitchers who had been at Fitch Park rehabbing from injuries or physical problems over the past month moved up to full season clubs this past weekend.
RHPs Billy Petrick (shoulder stiffness) and Grant Johnson (sprained elbow ligament) have been assigned to Daytona, and RHP Jim Henderson (sore back) has been assigned to AA Tennessee. Petrick is still on the Iowa DL, so he will likely eventually end up at Iowa.
In addition, 2007 24th round draft pick RHP Scott Meyer (Lamar) has been released. Meyer is the 6th player drafted and signed by the Cubs last June to get cut. Given his D-1 college experience, Meyer should be able to hook-up with an independent league team if he wishes to continue his baseball career, as many ex-Cubs minor leaguers have done previous.
The Cubs will also be converting still another position player to pitcher at Fitch Park, as 22-year old switch-hitting Dominican OF Andres Quezada will be trading his bat for a change-up and breaking ball.
Quezada was always a little short on hitting, but he was a very good defensive outfielder with a plus-arm. We'll have to see how he makes the transition to throwing off a mound. (I suspect the Cubs probably told him: "You have two choices, Q... you can become a pitcher, or you can go home").
Also, 17-year old Korean bonus baby SS Hak-Ju Lee (who has been compared by one Cubs scout to a young Derek Jeter) will be reporting to the MLB Australian Baseball Academy next month, along with LHP Cody Hams (who will be leaving Fitch Park on May 21st) and recently-signed RHP Adam Spencer (who is still in high school in Australia).
It is not yet clear if Lee will be attending the AZ Instructional League in September (as fellow Korean Dae-Eun Rhee did last year), or if he will make his U. S. debut next March at Minor Leagie Camp at Fitch Park. But he will definitely NOT be playing for the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park this Summer
In injury news, 2007 #1 draft pick Josh Vitters (who just returned to Fitch Park from Peoria) and EXST Cubs 4th-string catcher Jose Guevara are sidelined with hand injuries, while 2B Jeffrey Rea (quad) and LF Brandon Guyer (fractured elbow) are improving albeit still restricted to BP only at this time.
As for today's game, once again Micah Hoffpauir played a "compressed" game, playing 1st base in the field and batting 3rd in each of the first three innings, before saying "adios" and heading for the Fitch Park clubhouse.
In Hoffpauir's first AB, the strapping Texan flew out to the warning track in RF, followed by a 6-3 ground out in the bottom of the 2nd, and then a ground RBI single back up through the middle in his 3rd AB in the 3rd inning.
SS Junior Lake had a big day at the plate, going 4-5 with three RBI (Lake is one of the Cubs top position player prospects at EXST), and RHP Julio Pena (who started the game for the EXST Cubs) threw three shutout innings and was VERY sharp, striking out four without allowing a walk.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only). And remember, Micah Hoffpauir batted third in each of the first three innings, and then left the game...
1. Kevin Soto, LF: 1-4 (3B, R, BB, CS)
2. Drew Rundle, CF: 2-4 (3B, RBI, 2 R, HBP)
3a. Micah Hoffpauir, 1B: 0-1 (F-9)
3b. NONE - SKIPPED
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-5 (2 R, 2 K)
5a. Luis Bautista, C: 2-3 (K)
5b. Alvaro Sosa, C: 1-2 (K)
6a. NONE - SKIPPED
6b. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-3 (R, BB, K)
7. Junior Lake, SS: 4-5 (2B, 3 RBI)
8a. Micah Hoffpauir, DH #1: 0-1 (6-3 GO)
8b. NONE - SKIPPED
9, John Contreras, 3B: 2-5 (2 R)
10. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 1-4 (3B, R)
11a. Micah Hoffpauir, DH #2: 1-1 (RBI SINGLE)
11b. NONE - SKIPPED
12.Carlos Perez, DH #3: 0-4 (RBI, GIDP)
1. Julio Pena - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 GIDP (3/2 GO/FO)
2. Dionis Nunez - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1/7 GO/FO)
3. John Muller - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2/4 GO/FO)
4. Kevin Kreier - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
ERROR (1): Kemp (bobble)
CATCHERS DEFENSE: Sosa 1-1 CS
WEATHER: High in low 80's and breezy
KILLER BEE UPDATE: The African (killer) bee hive in the tree adjacent to Field #3 has been removed by an exterminator, but there were a few stragglers who apparently didn't get the memo who were buzzing the general area in search of (what used to be) their home. Very sad. A stinger is a terrible thing to waste.
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.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
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.
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.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.