Rhee Keeps Laying Goose Eggs
Dae-Eun Rhee tossed three shutout innings as the Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 4th at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe, but the Angels came back to win this afternoon's AZ Instructional League contest by a score of 5-1.
Rhee's three shutout innings followed his last start on the very same field last week, when the young Korean threw three perfect innings at the Angels. Rhee, who is in the final stages of rehab from 2008 Tommy John Surgery, once again did not throw any of his killer splitter/change-ups (his strikeout pitch), instead mixing a sinking fastball with a curve, throwing both for strikes and pitching to contact. The Angels hitters did not get good wood on the ball, and Rhee was able to get seven ground outs (he had no strikeouts). Both of the hits he allowed were singles.
The key for Rhee in his last two starts at Diablo Park has been control, something he lacked in his rehab outings at Mesa and Boise over the last few weeks of the 2009 minor league regular season. I would presume that Rhee will add the splitter back to his repertoire next season, giving him the array of stuff needed to once again be a Top Ten Prospect. Kudos should go to Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins and pitching coaches Rick Tronerud and Jeff Fassero for getting Rhee to the point where he can once again throw strikes consistently and be successful on the mound.
Hard-throwing RHP Trey McNutt (2009 32nd round pick out of Shelton State CC) followed Rhee to the mound and gave up an opposite field game-tying home run to the first batter he faced in the 4th, and then RHP Nick Struck (2009 39th round pick out of Mt Hood CC) was the victim of an Angel rally in the 7th, as the Halos turned a walk, two singles, and a stolen base into two runs, giving the boys from the O. C. a 3-1 lead.
The Angels led 3-1 after the Cubs went down in the 9th, but the game was extended an extra half-inning to allow 18-year old Taiwanese RHP Yao-Lin Wang to get his pre-scheduled inning of work. Wang was not very impressive, showing just pedestrian stuff while allowing two runs on two hits and a walk.
The Cubs signed not one but two Wangs out of Chinese Taipei this year (Yao-Lin and Tzu-An), and both were invited to Instructs, where they join fellow countryman 2B Pin-Chieh Chen making their U. S. debut.
Yao-Lin is a stocky kid, with the same body-type as Sean Gallagher and Ryan Searle, while Tzu-An is a lanky 6'6 with a body more like Chris Huseby or Toby Matchulat. Tzu-An is (supposedly) the better prospect of the two, and I would expect him to get a shot at throwing an inning or two sometime later this week.
The Cubs offense was mostly dead today. They scored their only run in the top of the 1st, as D. J. LeMahieu lined a single to CF with one out, and, after LeMahieu advanced to second on a PB and to third on a WP, Brandon Guyer got the only RBI of the day with a run-scoring ground out.
The Cubs did get the potential tying run to 2nd in the top of the 9th with no outs (Blair Springfield and Hak-Ju Lee ripped singles, and then both runners advanced a base on a PB), but LeMahieu and Guyer fanned, and Kyler Burke popped out to the shortstop in shallow LF to end the threat, as the Cubs came up empty.
2008 4th round pick Matt Cerda returned to the lineup after a three-month absence due to a broken hand suffered at Boise, and played 3B. He made one nice play on a slow chopper, but on a couple of others he was slow to react to hard-hit balls that skipped past him for base-hits. Cerda may not have the split-second reaction time and one-step quickness needed to play the hot corner.
Josh Vitters and Welington Castillo are working out at Fitch Park in preparation for the Arizona Fall League, and they might get an AB or two in an Instructs game to help them get ready for the start of the AFL season next week.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 1-4 (4-3, L-8, K, 1B)
2. D. J. LeMahieu, DH #1: 2-4 (1B, 1B, 1-4-3, K), R
3. Brandon Guyer, CF: 0-4 (6-3, K, F-9, K), RBI
4. Kyler Burke, RF: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, K, P-6), PO
5. Richard Jones, DH #2: 0-3 (3-1, K, 4-3)
6a. Jae-Hoon Ha, C: 0-2 (4-3, 5-3)
6b. Brandon May, C: 0-1 (5-3)
7. Justin Bour, 1B: 0-2 (K, L-5, BB)
8. Matt Cerda, 3B: 1-3 (F-7, 3-1, 1B)
9. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 1-3 (1B, 4-3, 4-3)
10. Blair Springfield, LF: 2-3 (6-4-3 DP, 2B, 1B)
1. Dae-Eun Rhee - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 7/2 GO/FO, 31 pitches (21 strikes)
2. Trey McNutt - 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 1/3 GO/FO, 34 pitches (23 strikes)
3. Julio Pena - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 13 pitches (9 strikes)
4. Nick Struck - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 PO, 2/1 GO/FO, 33 pitches (19 strikes)
5. Yao-Lin Wang - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 16 pitches (10 strikes)
1. Jae-Hoon Ha - E-2 (overthrow at 2nd base on stolen base attempt, allowing runner to advance to 3rd)
2. Hak-Ju Lee - E6 (bobble allowing batter to reach base).
Jae-Hoon Ha - 0-2 CS, E (see above)
Brandon May - 1-2 CS
WEATHER: 80's, sunny, breezy
ATTENDANCE: 14 (mostly scouts)