Hill Begins Long Climb Back
2008 33rd round pick Sean Hoorelbeke (Central Michigan) roped a two-run double into the left-centerfield alley on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, driving in the tying and winning runs and giving the AZL Cubs a 4-3 victory over the AZL Giants at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.
The AZL Cubs are now 1-2 in AZL league play.
3B Junior Lake gave the AZL Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning when he blasted a towering HR onto 8th Street, but the lanky 18-year old Dominican infielder got yanked out of the game by Manager Franklin Font after he failed to run out a ground ball in a later AB.
Just a typical Day in the Life of AZL baseball.
Prior to the AZL game, LHP Rich Hill threw a two-inning (35 pitches - 22 strikes & 13 balls) simulated game on Field #1 under the watchful eye of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins (who stood at various vantage points around the infield and home plate area during the session, including behind the mound).
Hill was sent to Fitch Park from the AAA Iowa Cubs as a "special project" after the left-hander was unable to throw strikes consistently at Iowa (as was also the case at Spring Training in February and March and with the Cubs in Chicago earlier in the season).
Riggins had Hill slow down his delivery and work on being consistent with the part of his mechanics where he rocks back and pulls his right shoulder up, before rocking forward again and reacquiring his target. Apparently that's where Hill's mechanics are out of whack. He has been unable to replicate that part of his delivery from pitch-to-pitch. Riggins also videotaped the session for later analysis.
Whether Riggins and Hill will be able to fix the lefty's mechanical problem so that he will be able to replicate his delivery and find a consistent release point from pitch to pitch remains to be seen, but Hill will be working with Riggins at Fitch Park until the problem is fixed, however long that might be. Hopefully increased self-confidence will follow the hoped-for successful mechanical repair.
In addition to the Hill sim game, LHP (ex-OF) Leon Johnson threw at 20-pitch "live" BP session (also on Field #1) as the ex-outfielder continues to try and make the conversion to throwing off the mound, and RHP Rafael Dolis (2007 Tommy John Surgery) and RHP Cedric Redmond (labrum tear rehab) squared off in a two-inning sim game on Field #3 prior to the AZL game.
Dolis, who can throw 96 MPH when healthy, suffered from a sore shoulder at Extended Spring Training in April-May while rehabbing from the '07 TJS, but (barring any further medical setbacks) he will supposedly be activated and get into AZL Cubs game action later this week. He is Jose Ceda Lite.
Redmond, a 2006 27th round draft pick who was signed as a "Draft & Follow" out of Oakton Community College a year ago, is expected to be activated next week (again, provided there is no medical setback in the meantime). Redmond has a nice riding fastball and a very effective change-up that dives downward and away from left-handed hitters like a splitter/screwball.
In AZL Cubs roster activity, catcher (and Cuban Defector) Roberto Sabates (2007 39th round draft pick) has been released. Sabates has below-average receiving skills and throwing arm, and is only a so-so hitter (albeit with plus-power). He hopes to hook-up with an independent league team. Sabates is the 8th Cubs 2007 Rule 4 Draft pick to get released (another retired, and 24 remain members of the Cubs organization).
Also Iowa OF Felix Pie (hand injury) has arrived at Fitch Park for physical rehab, although he can't swing a bat.
Here is the current AZL Cubs roster:
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Jeffry Antigua
* Jeffrey Beliveau
* Luke Sommer (ex-OF)
* Matt Cerda
Robinson Chirinos (also IF-OF)
# Alvaro Sosa
Starlin Castro (SS-2B)
John Contreras (3B-1B)
Sean Hoorelbeke (1B)
* Bryan Jost (1B)
Dwayne Kemp (2B-OF)
Junior Lake (SS-3B)
George Matheus (SS-2B)
* Kurt Calvert
* Nelson Perez
FITCH PARK INFIRMARY (REHAB or LIMITED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY):
Ryan Acosta, P
Alberto Alburquerque, P
Alberto Cabrera, P
* Tony Campana, OF
* Jeff Culpepper, OF
Rafael Dolis, P
Jose Guevara, C
Angel Guzman, P
* Clark Hardman, OF
Jim Henderson, P
* Rich Hill, P
* Leon Johnson, P (ex-OF)
Kitt Kopach, P
Tarlandus Mitchell, P
Jon Nagel, P
Billy Petrick, P
* Felix Pie, OF
Cedric Redmond, P
Larry Suarez, P
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.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.