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.

box score

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.

 

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Comments

Why do I get the feeling that we're going to be watching Guz's progress a lot more intently over the coming weeks/months?

AZ Phil, good comments. Given the trade deadline is approaching, what players do you feel would have the greatest trade value to other teams?

We seem to have very little close to ML-Ready trade value. Even Jose Ascanio, who started the year strong in AAA and MLB, has been shelled since going back to Iowa. Randy Wells has not pitched well lately. The top performer at AAA is retread Jason DuBois.

That leaves lower-level prospects (or suspects?). I don't feel we have the depth to get a Sabathia-esque deal done, but I would love it if you disagreed.

It seems to me that are best trade chips at the moment would be:

1. Wellington Casillio (C-AA): Catchers who can hit and play solid defense are hard to find, Casillio looks like one who canso he will be the guy I imagine most Gm's will want to include in deals.
2. Sean Gallagher (SP-MLB): He has had quality starts in all but 2 of his starts and he is 22 with a good minor league track record.
3. Felix Pie (CF-AAA): He is only 23 and has shown he has 5 tools in the minors. Somebody thinks they can fix him.
4. Jose Ceda (RP-AA): Good back of the bullpen guys are almost as imporant as 1-2 starters now of days and Ceda has the stuff to be that.
5. Jose Ascanio (RP-AAA): See above
6. Tony Thomas (2b-Hi A): solid hitter with good speed, he is a Epat clone I would rate higher than Epat in terms of trade value since he is 4 years younger than him and could improve with the glove at 2b.
7. Eric Patterson (UTIL-MLB): I agree with Phil's assement of him that he will be a good top of the order guy, once somebody finds a postion for him and leaves him their.
8. James Russell (SP-AA): Put up good numbers in Hi-A, but looking at his stats he seems a bit homer happy in AA that will likely scare off teams who dont play in pitcher's parks.
9. Josh Vitters (3b- SS A ball): Alot of potential but very raw, needs to learn to play 3b.
10. Donald Veal (SP-AA): As good as his stuff is his control is that bad.

Would this be close to how you would rate our trading chips AZ Phil or am I off?

It looks like OF Drew Rundle was promoted from Boise to Peoria yesterday making room for OF Kurt Calvert to be promoted from AZL to Boise.I have noticed there have been several pitching meltdowns by the AZL pitchers.It sure looks like the pitching coach has his work cut out for him.

Who's the genius who drafted these bums??

nevermind

Arizona Phil.......is it true that the AZL Cubs have a 2 1/2 hour practice every morning before they're playing these 4 hour games? I would think that these players would be "dropping like flies" out in that 100 plus degree heat for 6 1/2 hours.I guess about 2/3 of the roster are from Latin American countries so they may be used to those conditions.Are the American players holding up ok from your vantage point?

yeah what are the coaches expectations of the team after putting them through 3 hrs of practice in that heat before the game. I dont know how those kids have any energy to play. Not only letting the heat get to them but how are the bodys holding up after so much demand from them each day.

Also if thats true about rundle going to peoria, what are your thoughts about that. how many chances does that kid get?

AZ Phil,

Do you think it would be a good move to bring Rick Peterson in to fix Rich Hill? He has a reputation for being the Phil Jackson of MLB for being able to put players in a good mental state of mind to play. Oliver Perez was just as much a mess as Hill is now when the Mets traded for him in 06 and after the trade that year and last year he was a solid pitcher. Or that this point would it be a bad move because it would be another cook in the kitchen?

RF Fukudome
LF Derosa
1b Lee
DH Ward
3b Ramirez (Yes, for some stupid reason he is hiiting 5th)
CF Edmonds
C Soto
2b Fontenot
SS Cedeno (I wonder what Theriot did to get benched 2 days in a row)

V.

SS Cabrera
C Jackass
LF Quentin
RF Dye
DH Thome
3b Crede
1b Swisher
2b Ramirez
CF Wise

I'll give you the reason Aramis is hitting fifth. You be the judge on how stupid it is:

L, R, R, L, R, L, R, L, R

Theriot hasn't done anything, his hand is swollen. He's available to pinch hit today so there's a good chance he may be back in the regular lineup tomorrow night.

Submitted by falcon on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 12:09pm.

Arizona Phil.......is it true that the AZL Cubs have a 2 1/2 hour practice every morning before they're playing these 4 hour games?

I would think that these players would be "dropping like flies" out in that 100 plus degree heat for 6 1/2 hours.I guess about 2/3 of the roster are from Latin American countries so they may be used to those conditions.

Are the American players holding up ok from your vantage point?

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

FALCON: Playing (or just sitting) in the hot sun when it's 105-110 can melt anybody's brain, no matter where they're from. How do you think I got the way I am?

For home games at Fitch Park (10:30 start), the AZL Cubs have about an hour of BP on two fields (eight players hitting on the two fields in two groups of four) from maybe 8:30-9:30. Sometimes the pitcher have PFP or PBP simulaneously on an adjacent field, and other times the pitchers just shag fly balls at BP.

The AZL Cubs take BP at Fitch Park prior to road games, too. Depending on where the road game is, BP at Fitch Park would run from around 8:00-9:00 and then the team leaves in two maxi-vans at about 9:30 for games in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Phoenix Papago Park, and BP would run maybe 7:30-8:30 with the team leaving no later than 9:00 for games on the west side at Surprise, Peoria, and Phoenix Maryvale.

Beginning on July 27th, AZL games are played at night (7:00 PM start time).

Personally, I think ALL AZL games should be night games starting on Opening Day!

Two quick ones for ya, Phil. Does Fatheree have an official job title with the Cubs or does he just instruct for the fun of it?

Also, who is the hitting instructor for the Az Cubs? I'm thinking both Don Buford and Ricardo Medina.

Submitted by Hook on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 5:10pm.

Two quick ones for ya, Phil. Does Fatheree have an official job title with the Cubs or does he just instruct for the fun of it?

Also, who is the hitting instructor for the Az Cubs? I'm thinking both Don Buford and Ricardo Medina.

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

HOOK: Ricardo Medina is the hitting coach at AZL Cubs. Don Buford hasn't been in the Cubs organization since the 2006 season. 

Catchers Danny Fatheree (at AZL Cubs) and Leonel Perez (at Daytona) and OF Min Kyu Sung (at Peoria) are signed to 2008,minor league player contracts, although they are actually functioning as de facto minor league coaches (or mentors would probably be a better description). 

The 29-year old Fatheree throws BP and hits ground balls and fly balls for AZL Cubs fielding practice, and is the 1st base coach for most of the AZL games. He also is mentoring 2008 4th round pick Matt Cerda, as the youngster tries to learn the art of catching, a position he hasn't played since Little League. Fatheree also has been working a lot with Robinson Chirinos at Fitch Park, as the infielder learns to be a catcher.  

Fatheree was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS, and he was a catcher in the Astros system for several years (never getting higher than AA) before suffering season-ending injuries two years in a row and then a life-threatening illness. I don't know this for sure, but I strongly suspect Kerry Wood had something to do with the Cubs signing Fatheree.

But even if KW might have made the recommendation, this wasn't just some kind of charity case. Fatheree is a very impressive individual. I would say Fatheree has everything you would want in a minor league manager. He relates really well to the kids, he is a tireless worker, and he really knows his shit. If Ryne Sandberg or Jody Davis ever get sick of managing in the minor leagues, I would hope the Cubs would give Fatheree a chance to try his hand at it.

Now 24, Leo Perez was a Cubs minor league catcher who was converted to pitcher about three years ago, but he suffered what appears to be a career-ending shoulder injury that has kept him from playing the last couple of years. He can barely throw the ball 50 feet. So he has gone back to catching (at least as far as mentoring is concerned), and was assigned to Daytona to help Welington Castillo develop as a catcher and as a person. (Castillo has since been promoted to AA Tennessee).  

Like Danny Fatheree, I wouldn't be surprised if Perez ends up as a minor league manager sometime in the not-too-distant future, perhaps as skipper of one of the two DSL Cubs teams.

Min Kyu Sung is a 25-year outfielder from South Korea who played college ball in the U. S. at Nebraska-Omaha before returning to Korea to try his luck at pro ball in his homeland. Sung was signed to a standard minor league player contract by Oneri Fleita (who sometimes dabbles as a "scout") last December, ostensibly to get a chance to play minor league ball in the Cubs system, but really to be mentor and "best friend" to 18-year old prized Korean RHP prospect Dae-Eun Rhee. (Having gone to college in Omaha, Sung can help Rhee adjust to Middle-American culture). So Sung goes wherever Rhee goes, And since Rhee is presently assigned to Peoria, Sung is there too. (I believe Rhee's parents were living with their son for a while, but they may have returned to South Korea). 

I haven't seen the Peoria Chiefs since Minor League Camp in March, but at that time Sung was doing the same sorts of things Fatheree and Perez were doing with their clubs, namely throwing some BP, hitting grounders and fly balls in fielding practice, coaching 1st base, and generally helping out the manager as needed.

Because they are signed to minor league player contracts, Fatheree, Perez, and Sung technically could be activated as players if the organization suffers a rash of injuries during the season, but in the case of Fatheree and Perez, it would appear their playing days are over. (Perez can't throw, and Fatheree must weight 300 pounds).

Basically, they were signed to 2008 player contracts simply because all the available coaching positions in the minor league budget were filled, so Oneri gets around that by signing them to player contracts and then having them function as coaches (or mentors). 

Submitted by Chifan on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 12:34pm.

AZ Phil, Do you think it would be a good move to bring Rick Peterson in to fix Rich Hill? He has a reputation for being the Phil Jackson of MLB for being able to put players in a good mental state of mind to play.

Oliver Perez was just as much a mess as Hill is now when the Mets traded for him in 06 and after the trade that year and last year he was a solid pitcher.

Or that this point would it be a bad move because it would be another cook in the kitchen?

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

CHIFAN: Other than Alan Dunn (who is otherwise occupied as bullpen coach for the Orioles), probably the only person who can help Rich Hill right now is Rich Hill.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 11:03am.

AZ Phil, good comments. Given the trade deadline is approaching, what players do you feel would have the greatest trade value to other teams?

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

Q-BALL:

TOP TEN TRADING CHIPS:

PITCHERS:

1. Sean Gallagher (cheap MLB-ready rotation starter);

2. Sean Marshall (cheap MLB-ready rotation starter);

3. Kevin Hart (cheap MLB-ready rotation starter);

4. Jose Ascanio (could be an MLB middle reliever right now, or a set-up man or possibly a closer eventually);

5. Jose Ceda (VERY raw, but has the gas to be a closer eventually);

6. Donald Veal (a lot of scouts from other organizations still like Veal because he's a lefty and because of his potential).

POSITION PLAYERS:

1. Felix Pie (23-year old CF with a high ceiling who can "catch the ball," needs to go somewhere where he can play everyday);

2. Ronny Cedeno (cheap MLB-ready SS);

3. Eric Patterson (MLB-ready #1 or #2 hitter, needs to go somewhere where they don't care too much about defense);

4. Welington Castillo (very raw defensive catcher with a plus-bat who has the potential to eventually be another Flying Molina Brother).

Submitted by cubiesjohn on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 7:12pm.

Also if thats true about rundle going to peoria, what are your thoughts about that. how many chances does that kid get?

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

CUBIESJOHN: Drew Rundle just plain lucked out.

Peoria needed a left-handed hitting corner OF who can play RF to replace Dylan Johnston (who went on the DL), and given the choice between Drew Rundle and Kyler Burke (both were playing at Boise), Rundle is hitting best (of the two) right now. He didn't really deserve a promotion, though.

There really weren't any other options. 

Ranking of Cubs Pitching in the System

Unranked Pitchers in the System with MLB experience/no longer prospect
1.Jose Ascanio (RP) - Age 23 NDFA
2.Sean Marshall (SP) - Age
3.Kevin Hart (SP/RP) - Age 25 2004 11th Round
4.Randy Wells - Age 25 2002 38th Round 3.61 ERA in 15 games, 9 starts at Triple A. Recently selected in Rule 5 draft.
4.Rich Hill (SP) - Age 28 2002 4th Round
5.Mike Burns (RP) - Age 29 2000 30th Round by Houston
6.Carmen Pignatiello - Age 24 2000 20th Round
7.J.R. Mathes (SP) - Age 26 2004 16th Round
8.Hector Carrasco (SP/RP)

Pitching Prospects in the System

1. Jose Ceda - Age 21 2004 NDFA 4.43 ERA in 19 games, 7 in relief overall. Acquired in Todd Walked trade. Promoted to Double A

2. Andrew Cashner - Age 21 2008 1st Round Huge potential to be a significant factor soon. He is likely a potential closer.

3. Jeff Samardzija - Age 23 2006 5th Round 4.00 ERA through 9 IP at Triple A. He has tools, but needs to put them together.

4. James Russell - Age 22 2007 14th round 3.69 ERA overall, 4.37 in 11 games/10 starts at Double A, 37K/16BB

5. Donald Veal - Age 23 2005 2nd Round 3.22 ERA in 89.1 IP. 33K/18BB in May

6. Jesse Estrada - Age 24 2004 31st Round 4.81 ERA overall in relief through 22 games. 20k/3BB at Triple A with opp BA .216

7. Casey Lambert - Age 22 2007 6th Round 3.07 ERA in 34 relief appearances. Lefty with late inning potential. Promoted to Double A

8. Greg Rheinhard - Age 24 2005 6th Round 4.04 ERE in 28 games, 49 IP. Acquired in Jae Kuk Ryu trade

9. Justin Berg - Age 24 2003 43rd Round 5.42 ERA in 16 starts overall. Acquired from the Yankees in the Matt Lawton trade. He has been compared to Brandon Webb. He is in his 5th year of minor league ball.

10. Dae-Eun Rhee - Age 19 2007 NDFA. 1.22 through 37 IP in 9 starts in his first pro season at Low A

11. Blake Parker - Age 23 2006 16th Round 1.33 ERA in 23 relief appearances at Low A, Opp BA .193 Promoted to Triple A

12. Mitch Atkins - Age 22 2004 7th Round 4.05ERA/1.25WHIP in 16 starts at Double A. 77K/26BB in 95 innings

13. Jordan Latham - Age 21 2006 29th Round 2.05 ERA/0.99 WHIP/ 48K in 48 innings in 24 relief appearances at Low A

14. Bill Muldowney - Age 23 2006 8th Round 2.74 ERA/.173 OppBA in 11 starts at low A/High A (4)

15. Alex Maestri - Age 23 2007 NDFA First italian born played. 3.84 ERA in 12 starts at high A

16. Marco Carillo - Age 21 2005 NDFA 3.29 ERA/1.15 WHIP in 17 games/11 starts at High A

17. Harol Tolentino - Age 19 2005 NDFA 2.25 ERA/0.88 WHIP in 3 relief appearances at Short Season A

18. Jay Jackson - Age 20 2008 9th Round 14K/1B in 9 innings at Short Season A

19. Jeffry Antigua - Age 18 2007 NDFA 0.00 ERA/0.86 WHIP 5K/1BB in 7 innings at rookie ball

20. Marcus Hatley - Age 20 2007 NDFA 0.79 ERA/.220 OppBA 11K/5BB in 11.1 Innings 3 games, 2 starts at Short Season A

21. James Leverton - Age 22 2008 Round 3.00 ERA/1.17 WHIP in 2 starts at Short Season A

22. Mike Perconte - Age 22 2008 NDFA 2.25 ERA/.222 OppBA in 8 innings 3 games, 1 start at Short Season A

23. Robert Hernandez - Age 19 2005 NDFA Suspended for PEDs, has looked strong at EXST so it is difficult to assess.

24. Mark Pawelek - Age 21 2005 1st Round - Lots of injuries but still very young. This is a huge year for him and he could move up on the rankings.

Any thoughts?

if your prospect ranking is in order i think some might have issue with a lotta your bottom 1/2 picks being early stats based over tools based.

i don't think there's a person around who would take jay jackson, bill muldowney, or harol tolentino over mark pawelek or robert hernandez for instance.

btw...jessie estrada #6? him even being on a prospect list is kinda weird. tall guy, but pretty hittable. could use a little movement.

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