Dos Cabezas RBI Better Than Uno
Yaniel Cabezas lined a walk-off bases-loaded RBI single into the LF corner with one out in the bottom of the 9th, as the Cubs rallied for two runs in the final frame to edge the Giants 3-2 in AZ Instructional League action this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
Down 2-1, the EXTREMELY patient Garrett Schlecht led off the bottom of the 9th for the Cubs by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Rubi Silva then laid down what was intended to be a sacrifice bunt, but it turned out to be a bunt single as the Giants third-baseman could not make a play. Danny Lockhart followed by laying down another bunt, and this time the ball was fielded by the third-baseman, but the throw to 1st base ticked-off the second-baseman’s glove and into RF foul territory, allowing Schlecht to score from 2nd base with the tying run, Silva to advance to 3rd, and Lockhart to take 2nd base. The Giants opted to pitch to hot-hitting (429/551/857) Micah Gibbs, but he drew a walk anyway, loading the bases with no outs. Neftali Rosario then struck out swinging with the bases loaded, leaving it up to Yaniel Cabezas. And Cabezas came through, hammering a line-drive into the LF corner to score Silva from 3rd base and give the Cubs the victory.
Cabezas drove-in the first Cubs run as well, ripping an opposite-field RBI single over the second-baseman’s head with one out in the bottom of the 4th, driving-in Micah Gibbs from 3rd base. Gibbs had reached base on a lead-off triple (near HR) off the right-centerfield fence.
The 22-year old Cabezas was a Cuban defector who signed with the Cubs last December for a reported $500K bonus. Cabezas played on the Cuban Junior National Team and for Los Vaqueros de La Habana (Serie Nacional) with fellow Cubs minor leaguer 2B-OF Rubi Silva. Cabezas and Silva defected together, and both players signed with the Cubs on the same day (12-15-2010), with Silva getting a reported $1M bonus.
While Silva had a good first year in the U. S. (he hit 285/305/392 combined between Peoria & Daytona, and he was 4th in the MWL in triples), Cabezas struggled at the plate with the AZL Cubs and at Boise (combined 202/284/260). However, Cabezas did hit a team-leading 356/402/520 with a team-leading 17 RBI in 82 PA with the EXST Cubs in April & May prior to the start of the short-season leagues in June, and was arguably the EXST Cubs MVP. (Cabezas also threw out 27% of opposing base-stealers in 44 games behind the plate with AZL Cubs & Boise).
Cabezas is currently hitting 348/423/391 and playing solid defense behind the plate at Instructs (which is approximately equivalent to Boise), and despite his offensive struggles with the AZL Cubs and the Boise Hawks in 2011, I think it is likely that he will be the #1 catcher at Peoria on Opening Day 2012.
RHP Dillon Maples (Cubs 2011 14th round draft pick - $2.5M bonus) made his second Instructs appearance, throwing two shutout innings (28 pitches - 15 strikes). He allowed a single and a double, and he hit a batter (and almost hit two more). He was behind on almost every hitter, and the outs he did get were mainly ground balls on low-90's two-seamers (and he did not rack up any strike outs). He also benefitted from a CS. But at least he looked better than he did in his pro debut last week, when he walked three and couldn't retire the side before reaching his pitch limit.
Ex-Cubs Shawon Dunston, Sr and Lee Smith were at the game today (both are serving as instructors with the Giants), so Shawon Sr got a chance to see his son play (although Shawon Jr is presently buried deep in a 1-25 slump).
Here is the abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Rubi Silva, 2B: 2-4 (4-3, 1B, 5-3, 1B, R)
2. Danny Lockhart, 3B: 0-3 (L-1, 6-3, 4-3, SH-E4)
3. Micah Gibbs, 1B: 1-2 (BB, 3B, 1-4-3, BB, R)
4. Neftali Rosario, DH-C: 0-4 (K, K, 6-3, K)
5. Yaniel Cabezas, C-DH: 2-4 (K, 1B, 4-3, 1B, 2 RBI)
6. Shawon Dunston, Jr, LF: 0-2 (4-3, 1-3 SH, 3-1)
7. Trey Martin, CF: 0-3 (6-3, K, F-7)
8. Justin Marra, DH #2: 1-3 (1B, P-4, L-1)
9. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-3 (6-4-3 DP, 1B, F-8)
10. Garrett Schlecht, RF: 1-2 (1B, F-8, BB, R)
1. Zac Rosscup: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 21 pitches (10 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
2. Dillon Maples: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 28 pitches (15 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
3. Matt Spencer: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 30 pitches (18 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
4. Amaury Paulino: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 22 pitches (13 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
5. Felix Pena: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 23 pitches (18 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
6. Scott Weismann: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 13 pitches (9 strikes)
1. SS Carlos Penalver - E-6 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely)
2. C Neftali Rosario - E-2 (dropped pop foul fly)
1. Yaniel Cabezas: 1-3 CS
2. Neftali Rosario: 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny with a gentle breeze, and with temperatures in the 80’s
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.