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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):

LINEUP
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)

PITCHERS:
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)

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

CATCHERS DEFENSE:
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

PITCHERS (23):
* 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

CATCHERS (5):
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

INFIELDERS (7):
Rebel Ridling
Josh Harrison
* Jake Opitz
Starlin Castro
Junior Lake
Carlos Morales
(2008 DSL Cubs making U. S. debut)
Josh Vitters

OUTFIELDERS (5): 
* 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.

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Comments

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!!

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