Cubs Sweep Giants at Fitch Park

Larry Suarez threw four shutouts innings and struck out seven, and Jose Made smacked a bases-loaded triple, leading the EXST Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the EXST Giants at Fitch Park Field #1, in one-half of an Extended Spring Training simultaneous doubleheader played this morning in Mesa under partly cloudy skies.

In the other game on Field #3, ex-OF (now RHP) Andres Quezada threw three shutout innings and the Cubs rode the extra-base hitting of John Contreras en route to an 8-3 victory over a second squad of EXST Giants.

By throwing four innings today, the 19-year old Suarez became the second Cubs pitcher at EXST to go beyond three innings (RHP Marco Carrillo was the other one, but he was at Fitch Park on an injury-rehab assignment from Daytona).

Throwing a two-seam fastball that breaks bats and is clocked consistently at 94-96 MPH, a nasty breaking ball, and an occasional change-up (just to keep the opposition honest), Suarez is unquestionably the top pitching prospect at EXST. And at 6'4 255+, he bears a resemblance to another Venezuelan Cubs pitcher by the name of Carlos Zambrano.

Signed by Cubs scout Hector Ortega as a 16-year old out of Venezuela for $350,000 the first day of the International Signing Period in 2006, Suarez has been held back a bit by injuries (he had elbow surgery a year ago, and spent most of 2008 rehabbing and getting back into pitching shape), but he's 100% now. He should be the ace of the Boise Hawks pitching staff, unless he gets promoted to Peoria before Boise's season starts next month.      

In EXST Cubs roster news, OF Jericho Jones (2008 20th round pick out of Louisiana Tech) finally got his Letter of Transit out of Casablanca and has been promoted to Daytona, meaning probably either Tyler Colvin or Jonathan Wyatt (or even both, if Brandon Guyer were to get demoted to Daytona) will be moving up to AA Tennessee. 

I was only able to catch bits & pieces of the game on Field #3, but here is the abridged box score for the game played on Field #1:

1. Jose Valdez, CF:       0-5  (F-7, 4-3, K, 1-3, K)
2. Juan Medina, C:        2-4  (1-3, 5-3, 1B, 1B - 1 R)
3. Logan Watkins, 2B:   1-3  (3-U, 1B, BB, K - 1 PO)
4. Chris Weimer, LF:     1-4  (K, 1B, F-7, E-9 -  1 R, 1 SB)
5. Alvaro Sosa, 1B:        0-3  (5-3, BB, 4-3, E-6 - 1 R)
6. Robert Bautista, SS:  3-4  (1B, 1B, 1B, K - 1 R, 1 SB)
7. Jose Made, 3B:          1-4  (K, 3B, 5-4 FC, 6-3 - 3 RBI, 1 PO)
8. Jae-Hoon Ha, RF:       0-0 (BB - 1 PO)  
NOTE: Jae-Hoon Ha is nursing a sore wrist, so although he played RF for the entire game, he took only one AB (and his left wrist was heavily taped). Also, what with Jericho Jones having departed for Florida, the Cubs didn't have enough position players available to have a DH in the game on Field #1, so the #9 spot in the batting order was skipped entirely.  

1. Jeffry Antigua -  3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 1/5 GO/FO
2. Larry Suarez -    4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 4/0 GO/FO 

Throw bounced off the glove of 2B Logan Watkins on an attempted pick-off play at 2nd base for an E-4, allowing the runner to advance to 3rd base (runner did not score, however).

Juan Medina:  0-3 CS


So glad to hear that Jericho Jones got this long overdue promotion and will get his career jump started in Daytona Beach. The Cubs minor league system is lacking in young righthand hitting power hitting outfielders, and hitting co-ordinator Dave Keller is pulling for this young man to succeed.Wish him the best.

AzPhil - How has Antigua looked this year? What was his velo today? IIRC, he was a low 90's fastball guy last year, but with some expectation that he might build up some more as he gets older?

Daytona sure could use any sort of offense. I gotta think it's the Colvin bump - he's been in the field already, and has had enough time since, um, whatever his injury was a few weeks ago. If it's a Wyatt bump, I guess it might be a last chance to succeed bump, because Campana's been more intriguing and at least has the plus speed. Funny how 2 years ago Wyatt was about to break with AA, IIRC, but since then has struggled in A ball.

Well, Cales got sent back to Daytona. He was struggling in Tennessee.

Is there any news on our pursuit of the DR kid? Sano (sp?)?

I had something that looked like a Wyatt bump last week... My wife told me to go and get it looked at...

Submitted by toonsterwu on Sat, 05/30/2009 - 3:13pm.
AzPhil - How has Antigua looked this year? What was his velo today? IIRC, he was a low 90's fastball guy last year, but with some expectation that he might build up some more as he gets older?


TOONSTER: Jeffry Antigua still throws in the low 90's, but his breaking ball has improved a lot. He struggled with his command today, though, but last time out he was just unhittable. Of course he's only 18, so I hardly expect to see a polished pitcher throw when Antigua is out there, but he does have unusual poise for kid that young. He should be a rotation starter at Boise in 2009.

BTW, the Cubs have a nice collection of pitching prospects at EXST this year. Besides Suarez and Antigua, there's Su-Min Jung, Jon Nagel (looks like he's going to be a rotation "horse"), ex-OF Andres Quezada (three more shutout innings today), and hard-throwing Julio Pena, and I like what I have seen of Melvin Vasquez as a lefty reliever. And as I mentioned yesterday, ex-OF (now LHP) Ryan Sontag is looking VERY good, and ex-INF (now RHP) Gian Guzman is showing some promise, too.

And don't rule out The Animal (Julio Castillo). He has more lives than a cat, and I could see him morphing into a really nasty power-closer (presuming he can stay out of jail).

I'm really pleased with our develop pitching depth up and down the system. I'd like to see a few more power arms, and our lefties seem to be thinned out a bit right now (relatively speaking).

Here's hoping some of those bats develop. I had been thinking that this draft would be more like 2007 for us due to our developing pitching depth, but considering this is a draft that's stronger on pitching, I'm not sure anymore.

AzPhil - Here's a question for you, or anyone else for that matter. How close do you think we are to replicating our 2003 pitching depth, if that can be quantified? IIRC, several publications had us as one of the top 3 pitching systems that year, even though most of the talent was, like it is now, in the lower levels. I'm really pleased with our developing arms, though I'm not crazy enough to think that we're actually near 2003.

Actually, another question if you have the chance - considering how well Jay Jackson is pitching, is he getting to the point of being the top arm in the system? I tend to think so, but I'm curious what others think.

Great to hear about Sontag and the other pitching prospects in EXST. Animal definately has big league stuff. I heard that he grew up in a very poor backwoods invironment so is lacking in many social skills.I don't know if the Cubs system is set up to help this guy adapt here. Hope so.

In addition to signing minor league FA OF John-Ford Griffin to replace the released Richie Robnett at AAA Iowa, the Cubs have also acquired 28-year old veteran Venezuelan switch-hitting IF-OF Anderson Machado (the poor man's Jose Macias) from the Pirates for "future considerations" (which could be almost anything, like maybe cash, or perhaps a PTBNL, or possibly a Best Buy gift card or a dinner for two at Olive Garden).

Machado has been assigned to Iowa, where an additional infielder was needed after Andres Blanco and Bobby Scales got called up to Chicago. Machado has hit 221/333/324 in 24 big league games over several seasons (PHI, CIN, and COL 2003-05).

Machado = "a poor man's Jose Macias" - sign me up!

How destitute do you have to be to have a poor man's Jose Macias? I thought if you had the real Jose Macias, you were already quite poor.

our leadoff hitter with the bum leg for the 3rd season in a row who happens to be the biggest power hitter on the team is nearing that .300 ob% mark.

on the flip...he's only had 1 xbase hit (double) the past 2 weeks.

best offense in the league has scored 2,1 and 0 so far this series...go pitching.

Bullpen hasn't given up a run since Monday.

hell yeah bullpen.

It did irk me when Heilman pitched the 9th and was untrustworthy again even in a 7-0 game.

He let the first two men on, including a walk...which in itself wasn't what pissed me off...Heilman is the lead candidate for the 2009 Bob Howry Sucking Sound Replacement Award.

What upset me is that Heilman's badness led to Marmol getting up and throwing 20 + pitches in the pen, in a game he clearly didn't need to warm up

Marmol warming up in the 9th with a 7-0 lead... and the bullpen hasn't given up a run since monday. Something just doesn't seem right.

Submitted by toonsterwu on Sat, 05/30/2009 - 3:56pm.
AzPhil - Here's a question for you, or anyone else for that matter. How close do you think we are to replicating our 2003 pitching depth, if that can be quantified? IIRC, several publications had us as one of the top 3 pitching systems that year, even though most of the talent was, like it is now, in the lower levels. I'm really pleased with our developing arms, though I'm not crazy enough to think that we're actually near 2003.

Actually, another question if you have the chance - considering how well Jay Jackson is pitching, is he getting to the point of being the top arm in the system? I tend to think so, but I'm curious what others think.


TOONSTER: I have Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner, Jose Ascanio, Jake Fox, Dan McDaniel, Casey Coleman, Welington Castillo, Larry Suarez, Chris Carpenter, Darwin Barney, Randy Wells, Esmailin Caridad, and Steve Clevenger (in that order) in my Cubs Top 15 Prospects for June (using the Baseball America criteria for "prospect" which is 50 MLB IP cut-off for pitchers and 130 MLB AB cut-off for position players, disregarding service time, so for instance Micah Hoffpauir no longer qualifies), so that's ten pitchers in my Top 15.

Interesting. Same top 3 for me, but I imagine it's that way for most Cubs fans.

I was having a debate with someone, forget who, about where to place Dan McDaniel. I thought a case could be made for him to be top 5, although anywhere from 4-8 or so was fine for me. I just love the arsenal, production, performance, and upside, and think he's the type of arm that could have a shot to develop into a solid "2" type guy.

Coleman in the top 8 is interesting. I had him on the outside, 11 I think, last time I went through it a couple days back. I was having a tough time with him. I really like him, but unless he develops that cutter/slider he was working on, he seems like an end of the rotation arm.

My question with Barney is, what's up with the errors? He just isn't consistent enough, it seems. With Caridad, his walks concern me. A couple weeks ago, Tony Thomas would've been close to a top 10 slam dunk, but since then, his plate discipline has horribly collapsed.

Has Flaherty disappointed you that much, or are there things you are hearing? From statistics alone, doesn't seem like a huge concern, although disappointing. But if there's something else going on ...

As a side note, I wouldn't be surprised if Randy Wells passes the 50 ip mark by July. He has to be one of the better stories this year, going from a possible rubber/all-purpose arm to an effective end of the rotation option.

Oh, no Starlin Castro?

It is time for soriano to sit on sunday then a off day monday lou needs to give him a rest and there is no way
that rest should be in atlanta where he has hit at a .362
clip. He has had a 3 homer game there and i do believe was
hit in first next night, in which ted lilly retaliated
and got kicked out, on a sunday nite

Soriano is what he is... a streaky hitter. You never know when he'll heat up, so you just put him in the lineup every day.

Fonty our "semi-perm" 3rd baseman:

Dempster dealing with blister all season according to South Bend Tribune, (I'm on vacation).

10 points if you can name the Beatle who screamed that at the end of "Helter Skelter".

Wait: you're on vacation in South Bend?!?

Richard Starkey

Wasn't this your sig for a while?

Veal to DL with strained right groin...

I imagine after that, they'll put him on rehab and stall this out as long as possible. Not that anyone expected him back, but this about does it.

I'm just jealous because I only have one central groin.

Mmmmm... veal.

if Veal goes on the 60 day DL...we can hope boy scout badge winner for mastery of the 60 day DL (Hendry for his use of Chad Fox) can find this option appealing for young Jedi, D. Patton Leathershoes. In fact, it might lead to consideration for an Eagle Scout badge.

No way, dude. If Patton were a Jedi he would've mind-tricked Lou into using him more often. He also could've gotten Cotts sent down earlier: "This is not the left-hander you're looking for."

Very nice play - lol

Clearly none of us at TCR is a jedi since we've all been screaming that at our TV/radio/computer for the last two months with no effect on Lou.

Larry Suarez? Great name...

At times the turnover on minor league baseball rosters rivals that seen @ fast food joints...

Jericho Jones is right up there too...

Rebel Ridling is an awesome name. Reminds me of awesome sports names in the past like God Shammgod and Majestic Mapp (whose brother was Scientific Mapp, IIRC, but not an athlete I think).

Soriano is looking really shitty in the field. He is throwing a leg to the side when fielding grounders. Either his knee must be bothering him

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  • Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.

    VirginiaPhil 4 hours 24 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 19 hours 35 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 19 hours 40 min ago view

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 19 hours 45 min ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 19 hours 57 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 20 hours 8 min ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 20 hours 33 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 21 hours 13 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 22 hours 26 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 22 hours 43 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 22 hours 47 min ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 23 hours 31 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 5 hours ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 5 hours ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 1 day 6 hours ago view