EXST Cubs Have Helluva Time at Diablo

The EXST Angels collected 14 hits en route to a 7-2 victory over the EXST Cubs at the Angels Minor League Complex at Tempe Diablo Park this morning.

EXST Cubs 1B Matt Craig (leg) and 2B Jeffrey Rea (quad) continue to progress through their respective rehab assignments, getting four ABs a piece and playing defensively in the field for the entire game. Both appear ready to leave Arizona, with Craig headed back to AA Tennessee, and Rea likely going to Peoria. 

Although EXST Cubs starting pitcher Miguel Sierra pitched well (again), the game had several notable negatives, including C-1B Luis Bautista (brother of Pirates 3B Jose Bautista) getting an ill-advised start in LF, where he dropped one fly ball that resulted in two unearned runs scoring and misplayed two others into extra base hits, not to mention getting doubled off 1st base on a pop up to CF, and striking out swinging on three pitches in the top of the 9th. Not a good day for a player whose pro career is probably "on the bubble."

Also RF Drew Rundle earned the legendary "Golden Sombrero" after striking out four times in four AB (while looking totally clueless in the process), and the Cubs team failed to score despite loading the bases with no outs in the top of the 7th (5-2-3 GIDP and a 4-3 GO).
 
Here is today's abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):

NOTE: The EXST Angels batted in the bottom of the 9th even though they had already won the game 5-2, allowing EXST Cubs RHP Harol Tolentino to get his scheduled one inning of work (this is common practice in Extended Spring Training). 

LINEUP:
1. Jeffrey Rea, 2B: 1-4 (K) 
2. Drew Rundle, RF: 0-4 (4 K) 
3. Matt Craig, 1B: 0-4 (K) 
4. Luis Bautista, LF: 1-4 (K) 
5. Carlos Perez, C: 1-4 
6. Roberto Sabates, DH #1: 2-3 (R, BB, K) 
7. John Contreras, 3B: 1-3 (CS) 
8. Bryan Jost, DH #2: 1-2 (R, BB)
9. George Matheus, SS: 1-3 (2B, 2 RBI, GIDP) 
10. Kevin Soto, CF: 1-2 (BB)
 
PITCHERS:
1. Miguel Sierra - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K (5/3 GO/FO)
2. Jeffry Antigua - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP (3/5 GO/FO)
3. Arik Hempy - 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K (1/3 GO/FO) 
4. Harol Tolentino - 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K  (1/2 GO/FO)

ERROR: LF Luis Bautista dropped a fly ball for an E-7 with two outs in the bottom of the 4th, allowing two unearned runs to score.

CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Carlos Perez: 1-3 CS 

OUTFIELD ASSIST: Kevin Soto threw out a runner 8-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a base hit to CF

WEATHER: Overcast (with an occasional sprinkle of rain), cool (for Arizona), and VERY breezy.  

ATTENDANCE: 9

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NO DRAFT & FOLLOW 

This is the point in Extended Spring Training when, in years past, reinforcements would arrive in the form of 5th year seniors and players signed as a so-called "Draft & Follow" (DNF). But with last year's change in MLB Rule 4, there will be no such reinforcements coming to Fitch Park in 2008.  

It used to be a club retained exclusive negotiation rights for all unsigned players selected in the previous June draft (with the exception of high school players who enrolled in a four-year college) up until a week prior to the next year's draft). These players were known as a "Draft & Follow" (DNF), because a club could continue to scout (or "follow") the player for another baseball season after the player was drafted, allowing the player to mature, and/or allowing the drafting club to acquire more information about the player before making a financial commitment.

Likewise, a player in his 5th year of college (resulting from having red-shirted sometime during his college career) who was not selected in the previous Rule 4 Draft was considered a NDFA (Non-Drafted Free-Agent) and could be signed after the conclusion of his school's baseball season and extending from that point up until a week prior to the June draft.

A year ago, the Cubs signed four DNF players they had originally selected in the 2006 Rule 4 Draft (3B Jovan Rosa out of Lake City CC in Florida, OF-RHP Marcus Hatley out of Palomar JC in California, RHP Jordan Latham out of the College of Southern Idaho, and RHP Cedric Redmond out of Oakton Community College in suburban Chicago), and two 5th year college seniors (SS-RHP John Muller out of St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York, and RHP Michael Bartek out of Nicholls State University in Louisiana).

Muller (for example) was not selected in the 2006 Rule 4 Draft, but after being moved from shortstop to closer in his senior (5th year) at Aquinas he suddenly became a prospect, and the Cubs were able to outbid the St. Louis Cardinals and sign him (albeit for a substantial bonus) without having to spend a 2007 draft choice on him. 

Bartek has since been released, but Rosa was moved to 1B and is presently the best hitter at Peoria as well as one of the Cubs better position-player prospects, and Latham, Muller, Hatley, and Redmond all show promise on the hill (with Hatley and Muller having been moved to full-time RHP after signing with the Cubs last year).

Unfortunately for the Cubs and the other 29 MLB clubs, it is no longer possible to sign a DNF or a 5th year senior, and this is especially unlucky for the Cubs in 2008, because last June they drafted RHP Andrew Cashner out of Angelina JC in the 29th round, and Cashner has subsequently turned into one of the best closers in college baseball after transferring to TCU. And because of the change in Rule 4, the Cubs will not be able to sign Cashner unless they select him again in this year's draft, and you can be sure that there is no way he will last to the 29th round this time around!  

Being able to sign a pitcher like Cashner in years past would be like getting an extra #1 draft pick in the following year's June draft. That's exactly how the Arizona Diamondbacks felt last year, after they signed RHP Max Scherzer a week prior to the 2007 Rule 4 Draft after they had been unable to sign him after drafting him in 2006.

 But those days are over.

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Comments

I believe I read from Jim Callis at Baseball America that Cashner was a likely top 5 rounder with a solid chance of being a sandwich pick.

Of course the big loss from last year's draft was 3B Victor Sanchez who's amongst the best freshmen in college this year. It did look like he wasn't signable, but still...

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