LeMahieu Shines in Pro Debut
Cubs 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) made his professional debut tonight at Fitch Park in Mesa, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action.
LeMahieu hit 3rd and was the DH, and in his very first pro AB he slammed an opposite-field triple off the RF fence, using his long-stride speed to make it to third base well in advance of the relay throw from the Brewers 2nd baseman. He then scored on a line-drive RBI single to CF by clean-up hitter (and 2009 10th round pick) Charles Thomas. (BTW, Thomas attended Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL, which is the same HBCU baseball legend--and one time Cubs coach--Buck O'Neil attended many years ago)
LeMahieu struck out (swinging) on a head- high fastball on his next trip to the plate in the third, and he bounced out on a two chopper to the first-baseman (unassisted) in the 6th.
In his final at bat, LeMahieu grounded an RBI single sharply through the box to CF, scoring Wes Darvill (2009 5th round pick out of Langley, BC & the Canadian Junior National Team) from 2nd base ,LeMahieu took 2nd on the throw to the plate and advanced to 3rd on a ground out, before scoring the Cubs 4th and final run on a wild pitch.
LeMahieu is supposed to either leave for or report to the Boise Hawks on Tuesday, so he won't be staying long in Mesa.
It's always interesting to watch a player make his pro debut, but especially a player with the relative fame of LeMahieu. He was one of the heroes of 2009 NCAA College World Series Champion LSU, and while I had seen him play on TV (and hitting with an aluminum bat), there is nothing like seeing the kid in-person with a wood bat in his hands. I could see that he was pretty stoked tonight, that's for sure.
LeMahieu went to LSU, but he attended HS in Michigan, and lived for several years before that in Las Vegas. He is quite familiar with the Cubs operation in Mesa, having attended a number of Cubs Spring Training games at HoHoKam Park in years past (his grandmother is a huge Cubs fan, and his father lives in Wisconsin and is also a Cubs fan). . .
2009 3rd round pick LHP Aaron Kirk (Owasso HS - Owasso, OK) has also signed with the Cubs, but he is in Chicago this weekend getting the "high draft pick courtesy tour" at Wrigley Field before reporting to Mesa next week.
Boise Cubs RHP Su-Min Jung got the start for AZL Cubs tonight, and pitched two shutout innings. A 19-year Korean bonus baby signed by the Cubs last September, Jung was making his second rehab start for the AZL Cubs (he was shut-down with a sore shoulder earlier this month in Boise), and he looked very good (he picked it up a notch and struck out the last two hitters he faced, stranding Brewers runners at 2nd & 3rd). He threw all of his pitches for strikes and had good velocity on his fastball. Unless there is some reason why the Cubs want him to remain at Fitch Park, I would think Jung will be back at Boise very soon.
In other news from Mesa, LHP B. J. Ryan reported to Fitch Park last Sunday, and has spent the past five days working one-on-one with Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins.They are starting with long toss, and working up from there to delivery, arm slot, and release point. Ryan does his work in the morning, many hours before game-time and out of sight of most fans.
Same goes for catcher Geovany Soto, who is on the Cubs 15-day DL wiith a strained oblique. He is running and hitting, so I would think that (barring any medical setbacks) he will be back with the Cubs in fairly short order.
Iowa OF Brad Snyder (broken wrist) is also rehabbing at Fitch Park, and he hopes to be back with the I-Cubs by the end of next week. A one-time #1 draft pick of the Cleveland Indians out of Ball State (he was a college teammate of ex-Cubs LHP prospect Luke Hagerty), Snyder was claimed off waivers last September and spent most of Spring Training with the Cubs before getting outrighted to AAA the last week of March (he was out of minor league options). He was en route to a career year at Iowa before he went on the DL in mid-May (319/353/667, with 12 HR in just 36 games and on a pace for 50 HR over a full-season) and appeared to be finally putting it all together (he was even raking against LHP), so if he can pick up where he left off pre-injury and not show any ill-effects from the broken wrist, he could conceivably get a September call-up to Chicago. (That's presuming the Cubs would be interested in a five-tool left-handed hitting right-fielder). If not, Snyder is a minor league FA post-2009, and I would think some MLB club would be more than willing to give him a shot at winning a big league job in 2010.
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.