Crosstown Classic, Instructs Style
In the AZ Instructional League, Chicago's "Crosstown Classic" is West-Side versus East-Side rather than North-Side versus South-Side, but it's still Sox versus Cubs, and such was the case today, as about 20 White Sox youngsters boarded a couple of maxi-vans at Camelback Ranch in Glendale and traveled 30 miles east down the Papago and Red Mountain freeways to meet the Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
And the Cubs probably wish the West Side Hit Men had just stayed home at the ranch, too, because the Cubs surrendered 12 runs on 15 hits, five walks, two HBP, a balk, four stolen bases, two errors, a passed ball, and 11 wild pitches.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense could muster just four runs on only five hits (albeit three of the hits were for extra bases), four walks, and two stolen bases (plus the aid of two Sox errors). And the White Sox pitchers didn't throw anywhere near 11 wild pitches, either. In fact, they didn't throw any.
2009 1st round draft pick Brett Jackson (Cal) got the start in CF for the Cubs, and went hitless, although he did draw a walk in his 4th and final AB. Jackson has been nursing a sore right wrist for the past six weeks, and he played today with a pressure sleeve on his right forearm and a tightly wrapped right wrist (he bats left-handed, but throws right-handed). He looked rusty at the plate.
Lanky 6'6 Taiwanese RHP Tzu-An Wang made his Cubs debut today, and the 18-year old really struggled, allowing three runs on four hits, while also throwing three wild pitches and committing a balk, in 1.2 IP. He was unable to finsh his second inning of work. Wang received a reported $350K signing bonus earlier this year. T. A. Wang has a similar frame as fellow lanky Cub minor league right-handers Chris Huseby and Toby Matchulat.
2009 3rd round pick LHP Austin Kirk (Owasso HS - Owasso, OK) worked 2.1 IP and struck out three, but he also allowed two runs on three hits (two triples and a double), as he had trouble keeping his pitches down. But when the stocky left-hander puts the ball where he wants to put it, he can be filthy.
3B-turned-catcher Jovan Rosa had another tough day behind the plate, allowing a PB and four SB, while gunning down only one runner (and that was on a pitch-out). Rosa was also absolutely helpless to block the many wild pitches uncorked by the Cubs pitchers. Rosa needs to work on both his throwing AND his receiving (and ball blocking) skills, and he has a long way to go to that end.
Plus, now Rosa appears totally lost as a hitter, too, probably because his mind is jammed with all of the things he needs to learn and remember as a catcher. Hopefully Rosa will turn the corner in time for the 2010 season.
IF-OF Brandon May (2009 36th round pick out of U. of Alabama) also has had lots of problems (so far) learning the art of catching, and Jae-Hoon Ha has had some difficulty re-learning the position (the Cubs signed Ha as a catcher, but then immediately moved him to the OF). And youngster Sergio Burruel (2009 19th round draft pick out of Trevor Browne HS in Phoenix) is a promising power-hitting lefty swinger, but he is raw behind the plate. Same goes for "HR or Bust" lefty swinging Richard Jones (2009 9th round pick out of The Citadel), who looks more comfortable at 1B (or DH).
Among the six Cubs catchers at Instructs (not counting Welington Castillo, who is at Fitch Park to prepare for the start of the AFL season next week, and Matt Cerda, who has been moved back to the infield), only Michael Brenly looks like a real, legitimate catcher. (And Brenly will almost certainly be the #1 catcher at Daytona next season).
Logan Watkins (triple, walk, and a stolen base) and D. J. LeMahieu (a single and a stolen base, two runs scored, plus one RBI) provided most of the Cubs offense today. Ryan Flaherty also had an RBI on a double that just missed going over the RF fence for a HR.
LeMahieu is the best pure hitter at Instructs, ripping line drives all over the yrard (although he has yet to demonstrate a HR swing), and if he can master the DP turn at 2B (the position the Cubs would prefer he play), he could move VERY quickly through the system.
2B Logan Watkins and SS Hak-Ju Lee (the likely 2010 Opening Day 2B-SS combo at Peoria) have also had impressive showings, Rebel Ridling has provided a reliable RBI bat and OK defense at 1B, and Ryan Flaherty displays lefty plus-power (probably annual 20+), with the versatility to play almost anywhere on the diamond except pitcher and catcher.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Logan Watkins, 3B: 1-2 (BB, K, 3B), 2 R, SB
1b. Brandon May, 3B: 0-0 (BB)
2a. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 1-3 (FC+E4, 3-U, 1B), R, 2 RBI, SB
2b. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 0-1 (4-6 FC)
3. Brett Jackson, CF:0-3 (3-U, F-8, F-9, BB), RBI
4a. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 0-3 (L-6, F-8, 5-3)
4b. Richard Jones, 1B: 0-1 (K)
5. Ryan Flaherty, SS: 1-4 (2B, 1-3, 6-3, 5-3), RBI
6a. Jovan Rosa, C: 0-2 (P-4, K)
6b. Michael Brenly, C: 0-2 (F-9, 6-3)
7. Bobby Wagner, LF: 1-3 (P-5, 2B, K, BB)
8a. Wes Darvill, DH #1: 0-3 (6-3, 4-3, E-3), R
8b. Runey Davis, PH: 0-1 (K)
9. Sergio Burruel, DH #2: 1-3 (6-3, 4-3, 1B)
10. Kyung-Min Na, RF: 0-3 (1-U, 4-3, K)
1. Alberto Cabrera – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 1 K, 2 WP, 4/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (22 strikes)
2. Tarlandus Mitchell – 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 2/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes)
3. Tzu-An Wang – 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 3 WP, 1 BALK, 1 GIDP, 4/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Austin Kirk – 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 2/2 GO/FO, 36 pitches (22 strikes)
5. Jose Rosario – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3 WP, 1/0 GO/FO, 23 pitches (10 strikes)
6. Corey Martin – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (18 strikes)
1. Rebel Ridling (E-3) – batted ball caromed off glove into RF with runner on 2nd base and two outs in the top of the 2nd inning, allowing the runner at 2nd base to score an unearned run.
2. Ryan Flaherty (E-6) – overthrow at 1st base on infield single (H+E) leading off top of the 4th inning, allowing batter to advance to 2nd base.
Jovan Rosa: 1-5 CS, 1 PB
WEATHER: 80, partly cloudy, some scattered showers
ATTENDANCE: 14 (mostly scouts)
Good thing the Cubs have 4 left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties
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.