Fitch Park Filler
In what may have been the worst professional baseball game I ever saw, the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 16-15 yesterday in a four-hour nine inning game in 108 degree heat at Fitch Park Field #3.
Bad fielding, bad pitching, bad everything.
The game got off to a dubious start when struggling RHP Chris Huseby (who throws the ball away even when he's playing catch in the outfield) hit a batter with the first pitch of the game.
Throwing mainly change-ups and breaking balls (his fastball is too dangerous to throw in anger), Huse lasted just 2/3 of an inning, throwing 34 pitches (only 13 strikes), while allowing four runs (all earned) on one hit, three walks, and a HBP, plus a WP. But this actually was an improvement over his first start, when the 6'7 20-year old right-hander didn't record any outs while walking all four batters he faced.
Forget cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. We need to find a cure for Steve Blass Disease NOW.
And the pitchers who followed weren't a whole lot better. In fact, it got so bad that frustrated AZL Cubs pitching coach Rick Tronerud had catcher Jose Guevara (who had been warming up pitchers in the bullpen all afternoon) go to the mound in the top of the 9th, and Che induced a 6-4-3 DP ball to end the inning. (And in case you're wondering, Guevara has NOT been converted to pitcher... yet). The Cubs then came back to score in the bottom of the 9th on a botched 1-6-3 DP ball (one of five AZL Padres errors) that allowed the winning run to score from 3rd with one out.
Man, I sure was disappointed that the game didn't go into extra innings!
Angel Guzman and Rich Hill faced off in a two-inning (30 pitches each) sim game before the AZL Cubs departed for Maryvale (AZL Brewers) Thursday morning. Guzman continues to look sharp, throwing 94 MPH fastballs, knee-buckling curves, and deceptive change-ups, while Hill still can't find a consistent release point. I don't quite understand why Gooz hasn't moved up to to a higher level for rehab work, but I guess the Cubs are just being cautious.
The Iowa Cubs reported Hill was placed on the DL and sent to Mesa with a "left hamstring" injury, but unless Hill's hamstring is located inside his head, I haven't seen any evidence of a hamstring problem.
The AZL Cubs are supposed to reactivate several rehabbing pitchers from the DL this weekend, including Ryan Acosta, Cedric Redmond, and Rafael Dolis. This means some of the Latin pitchers who have struggled (like Carlos Rojas, Dionis Nunez, Yohan Gonzalez, and/or Jose Severino) might get sent to the DSL to make room on the roster, while other AZL Cubs pitchers (like Huseby) might get placed on the DL with a "hamstring" injury.
The AZL Cubs are expecting the arrival of Goddard (KS) HS (and 21st round round draft pick) SS Logan Watkins at Fitch Park sometime in the next couple of days. The 18-year old left-handed hitting Watkins, who was also a star quarterback on the Goddard High football team, supposedly got a $600K bonus (which is "2nd round money") to forgo a chance to play college baseball at Wichita State. Watkins fell to the 21st round only because it was presumed that Watkins going to WSU was a virtual lock.
The fact that the Cubs were willing to give Watkins 2nd round money might be an indication that negotiations with 2nd round pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State) might not be going too well. But if the Cubs don't sign Shafer, they will get a compensation pick (#66 overall) in next year's Rule 4 Draft.
Nothing new to report on the Cubs #1 draft pick RHP Andrew Cashner (TCU), but based on his slot he should get a $1.5M bonus. He supposedly wants the Cubs to offer a bit more than that, however.
Also note that the Cubs still have NOT officially reported the signing of 4th round pick Matt Cerda (Oceanside, CA HS), even though Cerda has been at Fitch Park for about two weeks, taking BP, catching pitchers in the bullpen, and working closely with mentor Danny Fatheree (who was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS). Cerda has not played in an AZL game, however, and neither is he on the AZL Cubs official roster. It's possible that there is a hang-up in getting Cerda's contract approved, either related to the way the bonus is to be paid, or possibly there was a problem with his physical or with his blood test.