Dodger Miscues Just Keep On Giving
Xavier Batista rapped out three singles and an RBI double and scored four runs, and his teammates took advantage of six errors, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Dodgers 11-5 in Arizona League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.
RHP Hector Mayora got the start for the Cubs and had a strong outing, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and two walks over the course of four innings (63 pitches - 40 strikes) while striking out five. Mayora struggled during Extended Spring Training, but he has pitched very well so far in four AZL appearances (13.1 IP), racking up a 1.35 ERA and 0.71 WHIP.
18-year old RHP Austin Reed (2010 12th round pick out of Rancho Cucamonga HS - Rancho Cucamonga, CA) followed Mayora to the mound, and had major control problems in his two innings of work (38 pitches - 19 strikes), walking four. He was the beneficary of two line drive DPs that got him out of jams in both innings, the latter a spectacular diving catch & throw by CF Anthony Giansanti (2010 NDFA - Siena U.) that doubled a brain-dead Dodger runner off 2nd base. Reed is a big, strong kid with electric stuff, but he was behind on every hitter and at one point threw 12 consecutive balls. He reportedly had issues with his mechanics in HS, and you can see why. Once he gets out of whack it's hard for him to recover.
The Cubs offense scored in five of their eight ABs.
With the Cubs trailing 1-0, Giansanti laid down a beautiful bunt single up the 3rd base line to open the 2nd inning, stole 2nd base, and scored on a one-out RBI double to right by Xavier Batista. Then with two outs, Dustin Harrington split the gap in right-center with an RBI triple, scoring Batista. Harrington has been playing mostly SS (the position he played in college at East Carolina) so far, but (like Brandon May) he has the thick lower-body of a 3B or catcher, and I would think he will be moved to the hot corner once a true SS arrives (assuming one does actually arrive before the end of the AZL season).
Albert Hernandez and X. Batista opened the bottom of the 4th with line drive singles and advanced a base a piece on a WP, before both runners scored on a Vismeldy Bieneme two out RBI single plus an E-9 errant throw to the plate, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
Up 4-2, the Cubs scored five more runs in the bottom of the 6th, as X. Batista rapped out a lead-off single, and advanced to 2nd on an infield hit by Dustin Geiger (2010 24th round pick out of Merritt Island HS - Brevard County, FL). Geiger just reported to Mesa last week, and while the Cubs drafted him as a RF, he has been playing only 3rd base so far (3B being the position he played in HS, and where he feels most-comfortable right now). Harrington then laid-down a sac bunt that the Dodger pitcher proceeded to throw into right field, scoring Batista, with the other runners advancing to 2nd & 3rd on the overthrow. Bieneme then looped an RBI single to CF to score Geiger, and Harrington came around to score when the CF over-ran the ball, which also allowed Bieneme to move up to 2nd base. Pin-Chieh Chen walked, and after Bieneme advanced to third on a fly out, Chen stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on the catcher's E-2 overthrow that also allowed Bieneme to score, and then Chen scored the fifth and final run of the inning on a Chad Noble one-out F-8 SF.
The Cubs scored their 10th run in the 7th when X. Batista ripped his third single (and fourth hit) of the night, advanced to 3rd base on an errant pick-off throw, and scored on a WP.
2010 20th round draft pick Ryan Cuneo (U.of Delaware) hit a solo HR over the RF fence (his 2nd AZL HR) with two outs in the bottom of the 8th to complete the Cubs scoring. Cuneo is now hitting 348/400/580 in 17 AZL games (he's 6th in the AZL in SLG, and 10th in BA).
Besides Anthony Giansanti's outstanding diving catch in CF that helped save Austin Reed's night, Dustin Geiger made a fine stop & throw at 3rd base, throwing out the Dodger lead-off hitter in the top of the 3rd.
In AZL Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP (and ex-OF) Drew Rundle has been released. Rundle was the Cubs 14th round pick in 2006 out of Bend HS - Bend, OR, but received "over-slot" 3rd round money to give up his baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona. He was converted to a LHP at the AZ Instructional League last October after failing as a hitter (227/338/380 in 941 minor league PA 2006-09), but he just did not develop on the mound as was hoped. (Prior to October 2009, he had last pitched when he was a junior in HS).
Rumor has it that the Cubs are looking to move their Hi-A affiliate from the Florida State League to the more hitter-friendly California League. The weather in Florida is very erratic, especially once hurricane season starts in August (at one point last season the Daytona Cubs had about a week's worth of games rained out). And playing in more of a hitter's league might help the Cubs young sluggers develop more of a HR stroke than is the case for those toiling in the cavernous parks of the FSL (where long fly balls go to die).
At present there are ten teams in the California League, 12 teams in the Florida State League, and eight tems in the Carolina League (the third Hi-A league), so the Cubs moving their Hi-A affiliate from the FSL to the Califiornia League would require either expanding the California League to 12 teams (with the FSL losing two teams), or else the Cubs could replace another MLB club with an affiliate presently in the California League (perhaps the Astros in Lancaster?), with that club then transferring it's Hi-A affiliate to the Florida State League.
FWIW, the Cubs are one of only two MLB clubs with a Hi-A affiliate in the Florida State League where the MLB club does not have its Spring Training base and Minor League HQ in Florida (the Milwaukee Brewers are the only other one), and the Houston Astros are the only MLB club with a Hi-A affiliate in the California League that does not have its Spring Training base and Minor League HQ in Arizona.