Back to School

Brandon Guyer slammed a two-run homer and had three hits, and six pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs defeated the A's 6-2 in AZ Instructional League Opening Day action at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix this afternoon.

The Cubs got on the board almost immediately versus A's starter LHP Pedro Figueroa, putting up a four-spot in the top of the 1st.

Cubs 2008 13th round pick Tony Campana (U. of Cincinnati) led-off the game with a ground single to center, and alertly moved up to 2nd base when A's CF Rashun Dixon bobbled the ball.

Shortstop Starlin Castro (recently rated a Top 20 AZL prospect by Baseball America) advanced the speedy Campana to 3rd base on a ground out to SS,  and then Campana galloped home on an RBI infield single by ex-2B Robinson Chirinos (who is at Instructs to further learn his new position of catcher).  

2007 5th round pick CF Brandon Guyer (UVA) followed the Chirinos RBI hit with a two-run HR off the scoreboard in right-center, making it 3-0.

But the Cubs weren't done yet. 

2008 25th round pick 1B Rebel Ridling (Oklahoma State) roped a double down the left-field line, and after a walk and a HBP loaded the bases, the Reb scored the fourth  run of the inning on a ground ball base hit to left by 3B Junior Lake (another BA 2008 AZL Top 20 prospect).  

The Cubs scored their 5th run in the top of the 6th on a walk to Lake, a WP, a ground out, and a balk, and 2B Jake Opitz (2008 12th round pick out of U. of Nebraska) accounted for the 6th and final Cub run with a  line-drive home run off the foul pole in RF in the top of the 8th.

Cubs 3rd round pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State) got the Opening Day start for the Cubs and threw two shutout & hitless innings (30 pitches - 21 strikes), and Cubs 2008 2nd round pick RHP Chris Carpenter (Kent State) followed with two more shutout frames (32 pitches - 19 strikes).

Shafer displayed good control, mixing his high-80's moving fastball with a curve and a change (all of which he consistently throws for strikes), while Carpenter alternated a 93 MPH two-seamer, a change, and an effective breaking ball to keep the A's hitters off-balance. 

And hard-throwing RHP reliever Dan McDaniel (2008 14th round pick out of Chabot JC) hit 94 MPH consistently and touched 95 in his two innings of work (36 pitches - 22 strikes), mixing his plus-fastball with a knee-buckling bender and a straight-change, as he struck out four. He wasn't quite as sharp as Shafer or Carpenter, but he was bringing some heat to the dish. (One of the scouts in attendance mentioned that McDaniel fell to the 14th round only because he was considered a tough sign, a virtual "lock" to transfer to Oklahoma State).   

The only runs allowed by the Cubs scored in the bottom of the 6th, when A's catcher Juan Nunez took LHP James Leverton (Cubs 8th round pick out of Texas Tech) deep to LF. Ex-1B Leverton struggled with his command today (23 pitches, but only 12 strikes). 

LHP Dustin Sasser (15 pitches - 10 strikes) and converted catcher (now RHP) Jake Muyco (15 pitches - 8 strikes) each threw a shutout & hitless inning. 

Here is the abridged box score (Cubs players only):

1. Tony Campana, RF: 2-4 (R, HBP, SB, PO)
2. Starlin Castro, SS: 1-5 (K, PO)
3a. Robinson Chirinos, C: 1-3 (R, RBI, K)
3b. Matt Cerda, PH-DH: 0-1 (BB, K)
4. Brandon Guyer, CF: 3-4 (TWO-RUN HR, SB)
5. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 1-4 (2B, R)
6. Jericho Jones, DH #1: 0-3 (BB, K)
7. Jake Opitz, 2B: 1-2 (SOLO HR, BB, HBP, K)
8. Junior Lake, 3B: 1-2 (R, RBI, 2 BB, K)
9. Logan Watkins, LF: 0-4 (K)
10. Michael Brenly, DH-C: 0-3 (BB, K, GIDP)

1. Aaron Shafer - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP (2/0 GB/FB)
2. Chris Carpenter - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K (4/1 GO/FO)
3. James Leverton - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP  (2/1 GO/FO)
4. Dan McDaniel - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K (1/1 GO/FO)
5. Dustin Sasser - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (1/1 GO/FO)
6. Jake Muyco - 1.0 IP,  0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K (1/2 GO/FO)

1. Starlin Castro (fielding miscue at SS)   
2. Dan McDaniel (errant pick-off throw at 2nd base)

Robinson Chirinos: 0-2 CS
Michael Brenly: 0-1 CS

WEATHER: Mostly sunny, upper 90's, with a southwest breeze
ATTENDANCE: 12 (mostly scouts)

Here is the up-to-date Cubs 2008 AZ INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE roster

40 players

* bats or throws left

* Jeff Beliveau
Alberto Cabrera
David Cales
Chris Carpenter
Miguel Corletto (2008 DSL Cubs making U. S. debut)
Diego Encarnacion (2008 DSL Cubs making U. S. debut)
Erik Hamren
* James Leverton
Oswaldo Martinez
Toby Matchulat
Dan McDaniel
Tommy Mejia
Tarlandus Mitchell
John Muller (ex-SS, was converted to RHP in 2007)
Jake Muyco (ex-catcher, was converted to RHP in 2008)
Andres Quezada (ex-OF, has returned from DSL Cubs)
* Jayson Ruhlman
* Dustin Sasser
Brian Schlitter (acquired from PHI for Scott Eyre)
Aaron Shafer
* Luke Sommer (ex-OF, was converted to LHP in 2008) 
Larry Suarez
Steve Vento

Michael Brenly
* Matt Cerda
(played SS in HS, Cubs envision him as a catcher)
Robinson Chirinos
(ex-2B, was converted to catcher in 2008)
Juan Medina  (2008 DSL Cubs making U. S. debut)
Carlos Perez

Rebel Ridling
Josh Harrison
* Jake Opitz
Starlin Castro
Junior Lake
Carlos Morales
(2008 DSL Cubs making U. S. debut)
Josh Vitters

* Tony Campana
Brandon Guyer
* Dylan Johnston
(was moved from SS to OF in ST)
Jericho Jones
* Logan Watkins
(drafted as SS, played mostly 2B in AZL)

NOTES: 2008 #1 pick RHP Andrew Cashner returned home to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike and it is unknown exactly when or if he will be returning to Instructs.  

RHP Ryan Acosta, catcher Luis Flores (2008 7th round pick out of Oklahoma State)  and 3B-1B Jovan Rosa (led MWL in doubles with 43) were on the AZ Intructional League roster released by the Cubs earlier this month, but they have been scratched (unknown why).

Catcher Carlos Perez (played at Boise in 2008) was a late addition.

Besides Cashner, Acosta, Rosa, and Flores, other notable absentees include 3B-1B John Contreras, 2008 Supplemental 1st round pick (also ex-Team USA) SS-2B Ryan Flaherty, SS-3B-2B Marwin Gonzalez, 2B-LF Dwayne Kemp, SS Nate Samson, 1B Ryan Keedy and Sean Hoorelbeke, outfielders Cliff Andersen, Kyler Burke, Nelson Perez, Drew Rundle, and Jonathan Wyatt, and pitchers Jeffry Antigua, Casey Coleman, Chris Huseby, Jay Jackson, Kevin Kreier, Mark Pawelek, Cedric Redmond, Ryan Searle, and Josh Whitlock (to name a few) 

In the case of the MIA pitchers, it is usually just a matter of the Cubs not wanting a youngster to throw any additional innings, but it is unknown why the position players listed above aren't in attendance. .  

Daytona 2B Tony Thomas, 3B Marquez Smith, LHP Jeremy Papelbon, and RHP Blake Parker might have been expected to attend the Instructional League, but all four will be playing in the Hawaiian Winter League instead.

And Daytona SS Darwin Barney will be joining fellow Cubs prospects RHPs Esmailin Caridad, Jesse Estrada, and Rocky Roquet, LHP Donald Veal, C-1B Steve Clevenger, 2B Nate Spears, and OF Tyler Colvin (and Peoria manager Ryne Sandberg) in the Arizona Fall League (Mesa Solar Sox) starting next month.   

All of the Cubs roving minor league instructors and several of the minor league managers and coaches are working with the prospects attending the Cubs Instructs at Fitch Park, so the youngsters are probably getting as much (or more) expert instruction compressed into three weeks as they might otherwise get over a full season. 

The AZ Instructional League continues play through October 11th.


Cubs 2007 #1 draft pick 3B Josh Vitters was named the Northwest League's #1 prospect by Baseball America today, and 2008 Supplemental 1st rounder SS Ryan Flaherty was ranked #12 (and BA expects the Cubs to move Flaherty to 2B). 

Last week, Baseball America ranked infielders Starlin Castro and Junior Lake among the Top 20 prospects in the AZL (Castro checked in at #14 and Lake was #16).  

BA bases their rankings on input from scouts and rival league managers.

Thanks as always, AZ Phil! As a heads up, in the Baseball America chat for the NWL, the writer said that RHP Dan McDaniel was amongst the next 5 who didn't make their top 20 list. Pretty good for a guy who was a reliever all season.

Great article. The Cubs do have prospects, probably a lot are under recognized. I'm really excited about Josh Harrison. How does he compare to Tony Thomas?

Great insight!! I think that Jake Opitz is really special, LH hitter who can play any infield position. Keep an eye on him in instructs. What do you think?

AZ Phil, do you know anything about any of the guys who are coming up from the DSL this year? I'd guess they were some of the better prospects down there last year since they're already in the U.S. (side note: I'm disappointed Jesus Morelli isn't up at instructs; he had great numbers in the DSL and is only 18).

Also, I know Ryan Acosta was hurt earlier in the season? Could it be he's still hurt and that's why he isn't at instructs?

Thanks as always for the great insight!

By the way, no Cubs made the top 20 Midwestern League prospects. In the chat, Jim Callis did say Dae-Eun Rhee woulda made the top 10 if he stayed healthy.

How depressing!!

Recent comments

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  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.