Hernandez Free at Last, Niko Knocks a Nookie
With VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita and about a dozen Cubs scouts in attendance, LHP Mark Pawelek threw three shutout innings of one-hit ball and Las Vegas Durango HS SS Niko Vasquez crushed a two-run homer onto 8th Street, leading the EXST Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the EXST A's at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.
With a bevy of Cubs scouts hanging on their every movement, Cubs Extended Spring Training coaches worked-out Brookswood Senior School (Langley, B. C.) and Canadian Junior National Team 3B Brett Lawrie (rated pre-draft #37 by Baseball America) and Vasquez (rated #65 pre-draft by BA) in pre-game infield practice on Field #1 and then BP on Field #2, in preparation for this Thursday's Rule 4 Draft. Lawrie and Vasquez both showed a quick bat with plus-HR power in their BP sessions. Both are right-handed hitters.
While Lawrie and Vasquez have signed National Letters of Intent with big-time college baseball programs (Lawrie with Arizona State and Vasquez with Oregon State), both are considered "signable." And based on where they are rated by Baseball America, I would think the Cubs are looking at Lawrie for maybe their Supplemental 1st round pick (#41 overall, compensation for losing Jason Kendall to the Brewers), and Vasquez perhaps with their 2nd round selection (#65 overall).
Naturally, the Cubs are almost certainly looking at other players, too, especially some of the better college pitchers and position players who may be playing in NCAA Regionals as we speak, but the fact that Lawrie and Vasquez were invited to Fitch Park for a pre-draft work-out--and the fact that Vasquez actually played in an EXST game--makes it appear that the Cubs are fairly serious about both youngsters.
In EXST roster news, RHP Robert Hernandez has finally played his "Get Out of Jail - Free!" card and is headed for Peoria. Hernandez had been at EXST at Fitch Park for the past two months while serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for steroids just prior to Opening Day. He has been pitching great in EXST games, and so it was only a matter of time before he was back in the Peoria starting rotation. And he did nothing to discount his rating as one of the Cubs top pitching prospects while he was at EXST, either.
Headed the exact opposite direction from Hernandez is fellow-Venezuelan RHP Eduardo Figueroa, who received an unsatisfactory grade and has been sent back to the Cubs Venezuelan Baseball Academy. However, I suspect the 19-year old "Figgy" (as he was known at EXST) will actually be diverted to one of the two Cubs teams in the Dominican Summer League (DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2).
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)...
1. Cesar Salazar, CF: 2-4 (2B, K)
2. Marwin Gonzalez, DH #1: 1-4 (R, K)
3a. SLOT SKIPPED 1st TIME THROUGH ORDER
3b. Niko Vasquez, PH: 1-1 (HR - 2 RBI)
3c. SLOT SKIPPED AFTER PH BY VASQUEZ
4. Josh Vitters, 3B: 0-1 (R, 3 BB, K, SB, PO)
5. Nelson Perez, LF: 1-3 (3B. RBI, BB, K, SB)
6. Drew Rundle, RF: 0-4 (2 K)
7. Bryan Jost, 1B 0-4 (3 K)
8. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 0-4 (2 K)
9. Alvaro Sosa, C: 0-3
10a. Niko Vasquez, SS: 0-1
10b. SLOT SKIPPED AFTER 1st AB BY VASQUEZ (see 3b)
11. Jose Made, DH-SS: 2-3 (2B, K, SB)
1. Mark Pawelek - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP (57 pitches - 33 strikes, 5/3 GO/FO)
2. Israel Camacaro - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 GIDP
3. John Muller - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
4. Yohan Gonzalez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, (3/3 GO/FO)
1. Niko Vasquez, E-6, overthrow at 1st base
2. Jose Made, E-6, overthrow at 1st base
Alvaro Sosa, 0-2 CS and one PB
WEATHER: Temperature in the 80's, clear skies, light breeze
ATTENDANCE: 19 (plus about a dozen Cubs scouts and executives)
2008 CUBS EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING ROSTER (as of 5/30)
50 PLAYERS (38 ACTIVE)
36 ACTIVE ROSTER
2 ACTIVE REHAB
12 INJURY REHAB OR DISABLED LIST OR UNKNOWN
* throws or bats left
# bats both
PITCHERS (28 TOTAL – 20 ACTIVE):
Ryan Acosta (UNKNOWN – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Alberto Alburquerque (2008 SHOULDER SURGERY REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Jeffry Antigua
* Michael Bunton
Rafael Dolis (2007 TJS SURGERY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Angel Guzman (2007 TJS SURGERY - ACTIVE REHAB)
* Arik Hempy
Kitt Kopach (2007 SHOULDER SURGERY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Oswaldo Martinez (2007 TJS REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Mark Pawelek
Jose Pina (2007 TJS - ACTIVE REHAB)
Andres Quezada (UNKNOWN - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Cedric Redmond (LABRUM INJURY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Larry Suarez (2008 TJS REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Luke Sommer
CATCHERS (5 TOTAL – 4 ACTIVE):
Jose Guevara (HAND INJURY – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
# Alvaro Sosa
INFIELDERS (10 TOTAL – 9 ACTIVE):
# Marwin Gonzalez
* Bryan Jost
* Jeffrey Rea (QUAD INJURY REHAB – BP ONLY)
OUTFIELDERS (7 TOTAL – 5 ACTIVE):
* Kyler Burke
* Jeff Culpepper (SHOULDER INJURY – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Clark Hardman (UNKOWN - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Nelson Perez
* Drew Rundle
# Cesar Salazar
BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.