Angels Bedevil Cubs at Extended Spring Training

The EXST Angels hammered the EXST Cubs 11-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


The Cubs managed only three hits in the game, a 1st inning two-out RBI triple by Xavier Batista, a two-out Sergio Burruel single in the 5th, and a one-out single by Jesus Morelli in the 9th.


The pitchers also struggled, as RHP Yao-Lin Wang (five runs surrendered on three doubles, a triple, a walk, and two wild pitches in the top of the 2nd after a 1-2-3 1st inning), LHP Marcos Perez (four runs—three earned—on five singles and two doubles in three innings of work), and RHP Jadel Mendez (two runs allowed on two singles, a double, and a home run in two innings) were ineffective. RHP Corey Martin did throw two perfect innings once the game was no longer in doubt, but even he did not escape unscathed, as he was struck on the shin by a batted ball.


In ten EXST games played against the Angels so far, the Cubs are 1-7-2. (The EXST Cubs are 4-11-3 in games against the EXST Giants, 4-1-1 in games versus the EXST A's, and 1-1-1 in games played with the EXST Brewers).  


Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):


LINEUP:
1. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 0-3 (1-3, BB, 4-3, 5-3)
2. Arismendy Alcantara, SS: 0-3 (E-5, E-4, K, HBP, R, SB)
3. Jesus Morelli, LF: 1-3 (K, K, BB, 1B)
4. Xavier Batista, RF: 1-4 (3B, K, K, K, RBI)
5. Luis Flores, C-DH: 0-4 (K, F-7, F-9, F-9)
6. Sergio Burruel, DH-C: 1-3 (L-1, 1B, F-7, CS)
7. Runey Davis, CF-DH: 0-2 (HBP, K, K)
8. Albert Hernandez, 1B: 0-3 (6-4-3 GIDP, 6-3, 6-3)
9. Rafael Disla, 3B: 0-2 (P-5, BB, K)
10. Cody Shields, DH-CF: 0-3 (P-4, 3-U, 4-3)


PITCHERS:
1. Yao-Lin Wang – 1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 2 WP, 1/0 GO/FO, 39 pitches (24 strikes)
2. Marcos Perez – 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 3/3 GO/FO, 57 pitches (37 strikes)
3. Jadel Mendez - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 2/3 GO/FO, 41 pitches (28 strikes)
4. Corey Martin - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/3 GO/FO, 22 pitches (14 strikes)


ERRORS: 2
1. 2B Pin Chieh Chen E-4 (overthrow at 1st base on infield single allowed batter to reach 2nd base – eventually scored unearned run)
2. P Marcos Perez E-1 (errant pick-off throw at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 2nd base)


CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Luis Flores: 1-2 CS


ATTENDANCE: 6


WEATHER: Sunny and cloudless with temperatures in the 80’s

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Comments

Thanks for the updates Arizona Phil. It seems to me that this is the weakest group of players that the Cubs have had in extended spring in a couple of seasons. Does it seem like the coaches are excited about anyone? Do you have diamond in the rough feeling about anyone? I remember reading your reports about a kid named Castro a couple of years ago. If I recall right weren't you torn over who would project better Junior Lake or Castro because Lake killed the ball that spring. Thanks

Submitted by The Stick on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 4:22pm.
Thanks for the updates Arizona Phil. It seems to me that this is the weakest group of players that the Cubs have had in extended spring in a couple of seasons. Does it seem like the coaches are excited about anyone? Do you have diamond in the rough feeling about anyone? I remember reading your reports about a kid named Castro a couple of years ago. If I recall right weren't you torn over who would project better Junior Lake or Castro because Lake killed the ball that spring. Thanks

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STICK: When Junior Lake and Starlin Castro made their U. S. debuts at Fitch Park in 2008, it was pretty obvious that they were both talented 18-year olds. Lake showed more power, more range, and a better arm, while Castro was the better and more-versatile defensive player and the better hitter. At the time, I thought Lake had more potential, but Castro turned out to be the more coachable of the two, and that helped him advance very quickly and improve the best parts of his game to get him to where he is today. A higher degree of emotional maturity also helped Castro advance more quickly than Lake.

But Junior Lake actually has progressed through the system fairly quickly, skipping Boise and spending the 2009 season at Peoria, and then making the Daytona roster this year. If Castro and Barney were not around, Lake would stand out more than he does right now. It's just that he doesn't seem to understand what his deficiencies are and how to go about polishing his natural raw talent. He plays mainly on instinct, and doesn't seem to pay much attention to the coaches and instructors. Castro is exactly the opposite.

As for the current EXST Cubs, I would say this is overall probably the weakest group I've seen in many years. Ping-Chieh Chen and Jesus Morelli are probably the best position-player prospects. I would compare Chen to Logan Watkins offensively, and to Eric Patterson defensively. Like E-Pat, Chen has enough arm to play SS, but it's scatter-gun to where he has to play 2B. But even at 2B he makes off-line throws. He is a defensive liability no matter where he plays, although he would seem to profile as a second-baseman. He actually got some innings in CF yesterday, so apparently the Cubs are themselves not yet sure where Chen will play. This question could continue for some time.

Morelli has put on some muscle over the last year (he was downright scrawny last season), and looks like he could develop into a decent RF prospect. He can play all three OF positions, but he has a RF arm so that's probably where he will play. He also runs well, and although his HR power hasn't emerged yet, he is slamming lots of line-drive doubles into the gaps and down the lines. Just a slight elevation in his swing could net him some dingers, because he does have power. Morelli actually had a really good Minor League Camp and made the Peoria Opening Day roster, but he struggled there until the last two games when he had four hits. Then he was sent to EXST.

Sometimes players are sent to Extended Spring Training for reasons not specifically related to performance on the field. You have to remember that the "Fitch Park Experience" is very regimented. The players stay at the team motel, there is a curfew, they have to be at the park at 6 AM, their day is very structured, and and a shuttle van drives the players to the park and back to the motel.

At Boise, players stay with "host families," who are responsible for taking care of "their" player, where the player essentially becomes a member of the "host family." (If you haven't already done so, see the movie "Sugar" when you get a chance).

But at Peoria (and Daytona, Tennessee, and Iowa, too), the players are completely on their own. They live in apartments (usually shared with teammates) and have to make sure that they get to the ballpark on time and ready to play. For some players, that is just too much to ask. There are temptations there that some players can't resist. Some guys just don't have the maturity to handle the freedom and lack of structure, and so that's why sometimes players are held back or get sent back to Extended Spring Training (or sometimes get summarily released) when they might appear to be ready to play at that level.

As for the pitchers, LHPs Austin Kirk and John Mincone are probably the most talented. Kirk is more of a fly ball pitcher, while Mincone is more of a ground ball pitcher. RHP Frank Batista is the best of the Latin pitchers. (He was also the #1 Cubs pitcher at DSL last season). RHP Luis Liria has a really good change-up, and he looks like he can advance up the pipeline. And LHP Marcos Perez has pitched effectively, although he has struggled in his last two outings. So Kirk, Mincone, Batista, Liria, and Perez will likely be rotation starters/"piggyback" pitchers at Boise, although any one of them could get promoted to Peoria at any time.

Older guys like 3B-1B-2B Brandon May and RHP Danny Keefe (who has 2/24 BB/K in 16.1 IP) are probably next in-line for promotions to Peoria, and Rogelio Carmona might be an OK one-inning type (he struggles when he throws more than one inning), but they are not the best prospects.

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