Billy Goat Kurcz Alive & Well at Papago Park
Michael Gilmartin laced a double off the right-field fence with one out in the bottom of the 9th, knocking-in the tying run and the winning run, as the A’s Split Squad #2 rallied with three runs in the 8th and two in the 9th to edge the Cubs 7-6 in AZ Instructional League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.
The Cubs were in control early, as starter Aaron Kurcz (Cubs 2010 10th round pick out of the College of Southern Nevada) threw three shutout innings, allowing just one broken-bat single and no walks while striking out three. The 20-year old RHP started his college career at the Air Force Academy, before resigning after his freshman year and enrolling at CSN, where he was a teammate of the Washington Nationals #1 draft pick (and 2010 overall #1 pick) Bryce Harper. Kurcz had the misfortune of allowing a walk-off HR in the JUCO World Series that eliminated Southern Nevada, but then he had a very impressive debut pro season after signing with the Cubs, going 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, with 48 strikeouts in just 27.1 IP combined between AZL Cubs and Boise.
Although Kurcz likely projects as a closer or 8th inning set-up guy at the MLB level (he features a mid-90’s heater and a hard-breaking slider), he has been used as a starter so far at Instructs (two GS), as the Cubs are apparently doing with him what they sometimes do with pitchers they project as late-inning relievers, and that is use them as starting pitchers at the lower levels of the minor leagues to force them to use (and hopefully develop) their secondary pitches, and to accumulate as many innings as possible as soon as possible.
While Kurcz was shutting out the A’s, the Cubs scored one run in the 2nd on a two-out RBI ground single to CF by Max Kwan, and then another run in the top of the 3rd on a one-out single by Marco Hernandez (his first of three hits today), a HBP, and a two-out RBI bloop single to right-center by Justin Bour.
After the A’s tied the game in the 5th, the Cubs scored three times in the 6th as Cubs 2010 3rd round pick Micah Gibbs (LSU) crashed a one-out solo HR over the RF fence, and Cubs 2010 2nd round pick Reggie Golden (Wetumpka HS - Wetumpka, AL) ripped a two-out two-run RBI double down the LF line, scoring Dustin Geiger and Xavier Batista with the Cubs 4th and 5th runs of the day. The Cubs finished their scoring (and took a 6-2 lead) in the top of the 8th, as Geiger, Batista, and Kwan stroked three consecutive two-out singles to plate one run.
But the Cubs bullpen could not hold the lead, as 19-year old Dominican RHP Amaury Paulino surrendered three runs (but only one ER) in the bottom of the 8th on a lead-off double and a walk, two errors, and a passed ball. Then RHP Kevin Rhoderick (Cubs 2010 9th round draft pick out of Oregon State) came into the game in the bottom of the 9th trying to protect a 6-5 Cub lead and rack up the save, but he didn’t fool anybody, as the A’s strung together two singles and Gilmartin’s walk-off double to win the game 7-6. Rhoderick had an impressive pro debut last Saturday at Fitch Park, but he didn’t appear to have the same velocity on his fastball or control of his slider in today’s outing.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Evan Crawford, RF: 1-4 (E4, F-8, 1B, K, SB)
1b. Oliver Zapata, CF: 0-1 (5-3)
2a. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-2 (6-3 GIDP, HBP, L-6 DP)
2b. Wes Darvill, 2B: 0-2 (L-8, K)
3a. Justin Bour, 1B: 1-3 (6-3, 1B, K, RBI)
3b. Ryan Cuneo, 1B: 0-2 (4-3, 3-U)
4a. Micah Gibbs, C: 1-2 (F-8, BB, HR, RBI, R)
4b. Engel Santana, C: 0-1 (3-U)
5. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 2-4 (P-4, 5-U FC, 1B, 1B, 2 R, SB)
6. Xavier Batista, DH-LF: 2-3 (1B, K, BB, 1B, 2 R, SB)
7. Max Kwan, DH #2: 2-4 (1B, 3-1, K, 1B, 2 RBI)
8. Reggie Golden, CF-RF: 2-3 (K, 1B, 2B, BB, 2 RBI)
9. Chris Huseby, LF-DH: 0-4 (F-9, K, 4-3, 4-3)
10. Marco Hernandez, SS: 3-4 (1B, 4-3, 1B, 2B, R, PO)
1. Aaron Kurcz: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 36 pitches (21 strikes), 3/3 GO/FO
2. Tarlandus Mitchell: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 38 pitches (22 strikes), 4/0 GO/FO
3. Luis Liria: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 27 pitches (19 strikes), 3/2 GO/FO
4. Amaury Paulino: 1.0 IP, 1 H 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 21 pitches (12 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
5. Kevin Rhoderick: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 17 pitches (11 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
3B Dustin Geiger E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base – eventually scored unearned run)
SS Marco Hernandez E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base – eventually scored unearned run)
CF Oliver Zapata E-8 (errant throw from CF on play at the plate allowed batter-runner to advance an extra base – eventually scored unearned run)
Engel Santana: 1 PB
ATTENDANCE: 14 (mostly scouts)
WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy, with temperatures in the 90’s
2010 CUBS INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE ROSTER:
ACTIVE LIST (47):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Hunter Ackerman
* Brent Ebinger
* Cam Greathouse
* Casey Harman
* Jeff Lorick
* Brian Smith
Alvaro Sosa (ex-C)
Charles Thomas (ex-3B)
* Sergio Burruel
# Micah Gibbs
# Engel Santana
* Justin Bour
* Ryan Cuneo
* Pin-Chieh Chen
* Wes Darvill
* Marco Hernandez
* Hak-Ju Lee
D. J. Lemahieu
* Logan Watkins
* Delbis Arcila
Chris Huseby (ex-P)
* Kyung-Min Na
# Oliver Zapata
deno ended the season well even though ajax heavily cut into a lot of his chances to play. it's either him or ajax. i'm a bit partial to deno, but whatever...at least ajax isn't hitting 2nd.
Agreed. And, with Hendricks on the mound, Cubs will probably need to score some runs to win -- why not start Soler for his bat and bring in Ajax for defense later?
NEVER MIND....just re-read the lineup.
If the Cubs have the lead in the 8th, who pitches? Rodney? Travis? Yikes.
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.