Angel Guzman Throws Simulated Game at Fitch Park

Marcus Hatley threw four shutout innings (thus becoming the first EXST Cubs pitcher to throw four), and George Matheus drove in two runs with a triple, scored the third run later that same inning, and made two outstanding defensive plays in the field, as the EXST Cubs defeated the EXST Giants 3-1 this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa. 

Prior to the EXST game, Chicago Cubs RHP Angel Guzman (on the 60-day DL after undergoing TJ surgery last September) continued his rehab, throwing a two-inning "simulated game" on Field #2.

Facing six of the position players not in the EXST Cubs starting lineup (Brandon Guyer, Bryan Jost, Josh Vitters, John Contreras, Gian Guzman, and Dwayne Kemp), Gooz threw two innings, with 15 pitches each inning (30 pitches total). As far as I could tell, his velocity was good, but he was off with his control, throwing only about 50% of his pitches for strikes.

Barring any setbacks, Guzman should be on target for EXST game action sometime next week, with a 30-day (maximum) minor league rehab assignment to begin sometime after that. The Cubs will probably not want to send him out on the minor league rehab until August, though, so they can seemlessly recall him from the rehab and activate him from the DL when rosters expand on September 1st.    

Ex-catcher Jake Muyco (converted to pitcher a couple of weeks ago) and newly-arrived Venezuelan RHP Israel Camacaro were the "opposing" pitchers in the simulated game on Field #2, each throwing one inning (20 pitches each). Muyco was pumping his fastball over the plate for strike after strike, but (not unexpectedtly) he tended to bounce his breaking balls and left his off-speed pitches up in the strike zone a bit too much. 

In EXST roster news, the Cubs have decided to convert still another position player to pitcher. This week's victim is OF Luke Sommer, the Cubs 2007 30th round draft pick out of the University of San Francisco. Sommer does have experience as a pitcher, as he was a combination LHP-OF in high school before being converted to a full-time outfielder at USF.

Like fellow ex-outfielder Andres Quezada (who was converted to pitcher a few days ago), Sommer was probably a potential candidate for release at the end of Extended Spring Training, so having the chance to try his hand at pitching (again) is probably an attractive alternative to unemployment.  

Rehabbin' 2B-OF Jeffrey Rea (quad) and 1B Matt Craig (leg) played in today's EXST game, and Rea even played defensively at 2B (Craig was a DH). This would tend to indicate that barring any further medical setbacks, the two players should be moving out of Fitch Park within a few days (possibly as soon as early next week, but of course that's still TBD), with Craig rejoining AA Tennessee (where he is presently on the DL), and Rea likely to be assigned to Peoria (where he will probably be Ryne Sandberg's everyday 2B and #2 hitter).

Here is today's abridged EXST box score (Cubs players only):

LINEUP:
1. Cesar Salazar, CF: 1-4 (RBI, SB)
2a. Jeffrey Rea, 2B: 1-3 (2B)
2b. Gian Guzman, 2B: 1-1
3. Matt Craig DH #1: 0-4 (3 K)
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-4 (K)
5. Luis Bautista, 1B: 0-4
6. Drew Rundle, LF:  0-4 (2 K, GIDP)
7. Junior Lake, 3B: 0-3 (K)
8. Alvaro Sosa, C: 0-2 (R, BB, K)
9. Starlin Castro, DH #2: 1-2 (R, BB)
10. George Matheus, SS: 2-3 (3B, 2 RBI, R)

PITCHERS:
1. Kevin Kreier - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K (5/0 GO/FO)
2. Marcus Hatley - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP  (6/5 GO/FO)
3. Harol Tolentino - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K (1/3 GO/FO)

ERRORS: None!

CATCHERS DEFENSE: Alvaro Sosa: 1-3 CS

WEATHER: Partly cloudly and not as hot as yesterday

ATTENDANCE: 10 (We tend to see significantly larger crowds on Fridays and Saturdays than we do on the other days of the week)

NOTE: The Cubs travel to the Peoria Sports Complex tomorrow for a game with Team China, as Jim Lefebvre's club continues to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  (BTW, that's Peoria, Arizona, not Peoria, Illinois). What's significant about the Peoria Sports Complex is that, unlike the Papago Sports Complex where the EXST Cubs played the EXST A's yesterday, the Peoria Sports Complex is not the site of a former WWII POW camp.

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Comments

AZ Phil, thanks as always. Keep up the Angel updates, though lately you could say he has had a simulated career.

I know he's not in AZ, but what are your notes on Jose Ascanio? He is pitching well at AAA, and I wonder if he is legit ML right-handed help.

How often do those position-pitcher conversions work? I suppose you don't need many Carlos Marmols to keep trying, curious on success rate.

Angel joins other Cub greats Prior and Wood as ones who launched their careers via the simulated game.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:56pm.

 AZ Phil, thanks as always. Keep up the Angel updates, though lately you could say he has had a simulated career.

I know he's not in AZ, but what are your notes on Jose Ascanio? He is pitching well at AAA, and I wonder if he is legit ML right-handed help.

How often do those position-pitcher conversions work? I suppose you don't need many Carlos Marmols to keep trying, curious on success rate.

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

Q-BALL: Jose Ascanio is a definite MLB prospect. In fact, in the my projection for 2009 that I posted here a week or two ago, I had Ascanio replacing Howry as the Cubs 7th inning guy next year.

As for the success rate for converting position players into pitcher, I'd say maybe 33%.

Certainly ex-catcher Carlos Marmol is the "poster boy" for success in that endeavor.

And ex-catcher Randy Wells (selected by TOR in last December's Rule 5 Draft and then returned to Iowa last month) could very well be in the big leagues as a long-reliever next year, if not with the Cubs, then with somebody.

And 2006 16th round draft pick Blake Parker, who was a C-1B-3B and the clean-up hitter at EXST Cubs this time last year, is pitching VERY well at Peoria. (What's kind of funny about Parker's conversion is that the day before they switched him, he hit a game-winning grand slam at Fitch Park!).

Other Cubs who have been switched to pitcher with lesser success are ex-SS Adalberto Mendez (selected by FLA in the Minor League Phase of the 2007 Rule 5 Draft and currently pitching for the Marlins in "A" ball) and ex-3B Federico Baez (who pitched in the WBC for Team Puerto Rico in 2006 before blowing out his elbow at AAA Iowa last year).

Cubs minor leaguers who have not made the conversion successfully include ex-catcher Oscar Bernard (released), ex-SS Junniol Lami (back at the Cubs Dominican Academy after getting a trial with the AZL Cubs last year), ex-3B Brandon Taylor (blew out his elbow and got treleased), ex-OF Randy Brown (released), and ex-catcher Leonel Perez (blew out his elbow, now a coach with the Daytona Cubs).

The Cubs have also drafted and/or signed several "combination" amateur players in recent years, turning most of them into full-time pitchers after they signed pro contracts. Included in this group are Palomar JC OF-RHP Marcus Hatley (who pitched four shoutout innings for the EXST Cubs today), former St. Thomas Aquinas College SS-RHP John Muller (who is the closer for the EXST Cubs), and SS-RHP Ryan Acosta (the son of the the late Cubs pitching coach Oscar Acosta and currently a rotation starter for Peoria).

And RHP Tim Lahey, a Rule 5 pick who was with the Cubs in Spring Training 2008 (and who is now back with the Twins) is a converted catcher.

I'm sure I'm forgetting others.

I'm sorry, 10 may be a crowd at a Barry Manilow concert but not at a professional baseball game, Phil.

10 is just the number of male "companions" he has around him.

AZ Phil, what's the word on Israel Camacaro? Does he have any significant potential?

Also, I know Kevin Kreier got an over-slot bonus in 2006 and looked horrid in the AZL last season. What's the reason for improvement and is there a chance he's progressed enough to head to Boise in the summer?

Thanks as always.

Oh, love the groundball rate for Kreier to go with those strikeouts.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Fri, 05/09/2008 - 3:46pm.

AZ Phil, what's the word on Israel Camacaro? Does he have any significant potential?

Also, I know Kevin Kreier got an over-slot bonus in 2006 and looked horrid in the AZL last season. What's the reason for improvement and is there a chance he's progressed enough to head to Boise in the summer?

Thanks as always.

 =============================

RAISIN: I don't know much about Camacaro, other than that the Cubs just signed him in February and consider him to be a very good prospect (hence his being invited to EXST).

As for Kevin Kreier, he seemed to be pitching scared last year, but now he's MUCH more aggressive on the mound and he also is working a lot faster than he did last year, too. You wouldn't know it was the same pitcher. And yes, I would say he has a good chance to go to Boise next month.

And I also think Marcus Hatley has a good chance to go to Peoria even before that, especially if Alberto Cabrera continues to struggle.

Mark Pawelek might get promoted to Peoria pretty soon, too, but he apparently re-aggravated his ankle injury yesterday in Phoenix (although it didn't keep him from completing his three innings of work), so I don't know when exactly he will be pitching again. Hopefully it's no big thing and he can keep going forward with no further interruptions. The ankle especially bothers him when he has to cover 1st base. But who knows, maybe he's pitching better BECAUSE of the ankle problem... (The mohawk haircut might help, too).

Thanks, AZ Phil. Hope that ankle injury isn't serious - that would be awful timing considering how well he's thrown of late.

Good point on Israel Camacaro - Larry Suarez was at extended spring training last year too after signing the year before; and both Dae-Eun Rhee and Suarez were at instructs state-side right after they signed. Those 2 were pretty big UDFA signings (not wanting to imply how big a prospect Camacaro is there, just noting that he's in some signficant bonus company).

Do you know how old Camacaro is?

I'm tenuously awaiting the way when the Cubs have to start converting pitchers to position players in order to fill all the required positions at EXST and in the minor league system.

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