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.

box score

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:

AZL CUBS

* bats or throws left
# bats both

PITCHERS (19):
Francisco Acosta
Eric Allen
* Jeffry Antigua
* Jeffrey Beliveau
Justin Bristow
Rogelio Carmona
Chris Carpenter

Manolin DeLeon
Yohan Gonzalez
Chris Huseby
Oswaldo Martinez

Toby Matchulat
Dan McDaniel
Dionis Nunez
Julio Pena
Carlos Rojas

Jose Severino
Miguel Sierra
* Luke Sommer (ex-OF)

CATCHERS (3):
* Matt Cerda
Robinson Chirinos (also IF-OF)
# Alvaro Sosa

INFIELDERS (7):
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)

OUTFIELDERS (5):
* Kurt Calvert
Jericho Jones
* Nelson Perez
Kevin Soto 
TeWayne Willis

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 

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Comments

"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 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. "

as long as he dont tear up his shoulder it sounds good to me.

are they screwing with how he holds his arm/hand/ball during that part of the delivery?

im noting a lot more kids coming up that are adding a "hitch" to their delivery where they bring their shoulder/forearm/hand up really high, but stable/level, then "push" their delivery toward the plate. this is mostly in fastball/slider/sinker pitchers, though. don't know how that would translate (if at all) to a guy with an overhand-3/4 curve.

AZ Phil, what is Billy Petrick up to? I wonder if he will re-surface as a prospect or otherwise at some point.

Mitch Atkins looks like he is having a good year at AA. He is younger than Veal or Samardzija, and is posting better numbers. What is the 411 on Atkins, is he legit, or just reaching his ceiling?

Speaking of Jose Ceda, I noticed that upon his promotion to AA, he is back in the bullpen. I know that was the plan all along for him, why did the Cubs start him at Daytona, to build stamina, work on a particular pitch?

Finally, and sorry for all the questions but you know everything, who is DUMAS GARCIA? He has been missing bats in Daytona and now Tennessee, and all I can find is that he was in Indy ball last year, and was born in CHILE of all places. Has there been a MLB player born in Chile? I can't think of one.

Dumas is actually Colombian. This would still put him in select company if he made the big leagues - there have only been 6 or 7 Colombians to do so. The most notable have been Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria, who are from competing cities on the coast. There was actually an interesting article a few months back about how they hate each other now due to some sort of financial deal on Colombian baseball academies that fell through.

Colombia is interesting in that most of the populated parts of the country, including Bogota, the capital city, are in the Andean mountains. Those that live there are typically mestizo and soccer definitely holds sway. The coast, however, is very much caribbean and contains almost all of Colombia's Afro-Colombian population. Cartagena, for instance, might as well be Santo Domingo. Here baseball is popular and in recent years is beginning to thrive. The culture in the two parts of these countries could not be more different.

Even though Dumas is not actually from Chile, there was just an interesting article that I read a short while ago about baseball in Chile beginning to take hold as well. The Chilean Little League is in its 5th season and is now part of the international little league system. http://www.usembassy.cl/OpenNews/asp/pagDefault.as...

Baseball Cube has it wrong then. He's Colombian everywhere else, you're right.

Anyway though, who is that guy? Statistically, he has been impressive.

wait til you actually see him pitch.

fastball (low/mid 90s), slider, and a really odd unorthodox delivery with his upper body.

he's a little old...dunno if they'll let him keep his upper body motion (head cocked to one side, amazing he can even find the plate consistently).

Phil- What kind of impression have you gotten of Leon Johnson the pitcher? Like Q-Ball, I too have been wondering what happened to Billy Petrick, but also Jim Henderson. I seem to remember that Henderson had a very good year in Tennessee last year...

Submitted by Q-Ball on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 3:35pm.

AZ Phil, what is Billy Petrick up to?

I wonder if he will re-surface as a prospect or otherwise at some point.

Mitch Atkins looks like he is having a good year at AA. He is younger than Veal or Samardzija, and is posting better numbers. What is the 411 on Atkins, is he legit, or just reaching his ceiling?

Speaking of Jose Ceda, I noticed that upon his promotion to AA, he is back in the bullpen. I know that was the plan all along for him, why did the Cubs start him at Daytona, to build stamina, work on a particular pitch?

============================

Q-BALL: Billy Petrick has a sore shoulder.

Mitch Atkins has been moving steadily upward through the system. He has average stuff across the board. I would say right now he projects as a possible future MLB #5 starter (although probably not with the Cubs). He probably has a brighter future than Mark Holliman (for example), just because Atkins has displayed better stamina. J. R. Mathes is another guy who could eventually be an MLB #5 starter, although (like Atkins) probably not with the Cubs.

As I understand it, Ceda was used as a starter at Daytona to force him to use his secondary pitches more than he did at Peoria in 2007 and to get him more innings faster. But Ceda is a future closer or set-up man. The Cubs did the same thing with Carlos Marmol in 2006 even after Oneri Fleita said Marmol's future would be as a late-inning reliever, and they did the same thing with David Aardsma after he was acquired from SF a few years ago, too.

And don't be too surprised if the Cubs initially use #1 draft pick Andrew Cashner (if and when he signs) as a starter to help get him more innings and to force him to use his secondary pitches.

Thanks AZ Phil! You may not have seen my edit to ask who the heck is DUMAS GARCIA. There is NOTHING on him out there, other than he is from Chile, and played Indy ball last year. Oh yeah, and he is missing alot of bats.

Submitted by Jace on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 3:49pm.

Phil- What kind of impression have you gotten of Leon Johnson the pitcher?

Like Q-Ball, I too have been wondering what happened to Billy Petrick, but also Jim Henderson. I seem to remember that Henderson had a very good year in Tennessee last year...

============================

JACE: Leon Johnson has some nice sinking action on his fastball, but I don't think he's got a viable breaking ball or change-up yet. Of course he's only been pitching for two weeks.

Jim Henderson had a back problem in Minor League Camp that caused him to be left behind at EXST, and then after he finished his rehab, he developed a sore shoulder at Iowa. He's back at Fitch Park, but he's not throwing right now. I don't know what the exact diagnosis is, or if it will require surgery or just rest.

You know... I think that I really like the hitter/pitcher conversions that the Cubs do.

The Cubs have invested money into these players, but realized that they are never going to be big league players. So they may as well try to turn them into pitchers - you never know when you will catch lighting in a bottle and find the next Marmol.

Good for the Cubs for being willing to somewhat think outside of the box.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 3:43pm.

Finally, and sorry for all the questions but you know everything, who is DUMAS GARCIA? He has been missing bats in Daytona and now Tennessee, and all I can find is that he was in Indy ball last year, and was born in CHILE of all places. Has there been a MLB player born in Chile? I can't think of one.

==============================

Q-BALL: You mean Dumas Garcia, Man of Mystery?

Dumas Garcia pitched for the South Georgia Peanuts in the South Coast League (Indy) in 2007, and was signed by the Cubs as a FA last September and was invited to the AZ Instructional League where he had a very impressive showing.

He was a late arrival to Minor League Camp this past March due to "visa problems" (I have VISA problems, too, but a different kind).

A scout (who shall remain nameless) from another organization saw Garcia throw lights-out in Instructs last October and really liked him as an MLB middle-relief prospect (as in immediately). He asked me who this "Garcia" was and where he came from, saying he had never heard of the guy!

Well, Garcia pitched for the VSL Mariners as a teenager in 2002-03 before absolutely disappearing (maybe he was injured, or maybe he was in jail, or maybe he was a member of a Columbian rebel army, or who knows?) for the next three seasons. Then he resurfaced out of the blue in 2007 with the Peanuts (and how he ended up in Georgia, I have no clue).

He has a funky-ass deceptive delivery with an unusual "out" pitch (I think it might be a splitter, but I can't remember exactly) that really fools hitters. He turns 25 next week, so he needs to move quickly. But the fact is, he gets outs, first at Daytona, and now at Tennessee. Next stop should be Iowa.

As I mentioned here a couple of months ago, I expect Garcia to be considered for the Cubs 40-man roster post-2008, because if he is not added to the Cubs 40 by the end of the World Series, he can be a minor league FA and could sign with another organization.

I googled and found a bit more, apparently he throws mid-90s and pairs it with some sort of changeup/sinking something that's pretty effective. I can't believe anyone throwing mid-90's would be in Indy ball, but there it is.

I like your rebel army theory, adds an element of mystery.

If he continues to rake at AA, I guess we have to add him to the legit prospect list. Yet ANOTHER RH relief prospect, is Hendry trying to corner the market in that?

He was born in Tulia Sofia, which is in the north by the coast and largely rebel free, so that theory won't likely bear any fruit. However, becoming a drug runner for an organized crime sindicate is entirely probable!

In actually, I found out that he played for one of the teams in Colombia set-up by Edgar Renteria. As I mentioned before he has set up a small league with some complexes for Colombian baseball players on the north coast (the same league that led to him and Orlando Cabrera hating each other - see this article http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3356524). After developing there under Renteria he played in various Colombian, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan leagues before moving to the Georgia Peanuts and subsequently the Cubs. See: http://www.elpais.com.co/paisonline/deportes2003/n...

Submitted by crunch on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 4:18pm.

wait til you actually see him pitch. fastball (low/mid 90s), slider, and a really odd unorthodox delivery with his upper body. he's a little old...dunno if they'll let him keep his upper body motion (head cocked to one side, amazing he can even find the plate consistently).

=============================

CRUNCH: Yes! That's it. Garcia throws a killer slider (not a splitter, my mistake) and 92-94 MPH fastball (all hard stuff).

And he pitches like he's throwing from a wheelchair. It's kinda goofy.

Or imagine Stephen Hawking throwing a 94 MPH fastball along with a hard slider as the Cubs closer at Wrigley Field.

Submitted by crunch on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 3:33pm.

as long as he dont tear up his shoulder it sounds good to me. are they screwing with how he holds his arm/hand/ball during that part of the delivery?

=================================

CRUNCH: As Hill brought his right leg up to where the thigh was horizontal to the belt, Riggins stopped Hill, and then had him progress through the next part of his delivery very slowly, section by section (like in a Tom Emanski instructional video), the part where he rocks backward and elevates his right shoulder to where he temporarily loses sight of the catcher and the hitter before rocking back forward again.

Somewhere in that part of the mechanic (rocking backward, raising his right shoulder, losing sight of the catcher, then rocking forward and reacquiring the target) Hill is losing his way and cannot seem to find a consistent release point or reliably replicate the rest of his delivery after that. 

Sometimes he gets it right and makes good pitches (he threw 22 out of 35 pitches for strikes today), but other times he totally loses his way and bounces the ball in the dirt or throws it over the catcher's head.

He sounds like the second coming of Luis Tiant, who had the kind of deliveries that could only be described as one of a kind. Tiant looked directly behind him during one version, on another used some kind of slipper kick, then he finished his repertoire with a falling - off - the - mound move for his curve/slider.

No Aubrey Huff tonight bodes well for young Cat Power.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/boxscore?gid=280624116

AZ PHIL:

"Or imagine Stephen Hawking throwing a 94 MPH fastball along with a hard slider as the Cubs closer at Wrigley Field."

Hawking is truly amazing, but this I'd love to see...

(I have VISA problems, too, but a different kind).

Line of the thread right there

Correction

Or imagine Stephen Hawking throwing a 94 MPH fastball along with a hard slider as the Cubs closer at Wrigley Field.

THAT is the best line of the whole thread. Well played sir

Cubs history is littered with players who play as if they're in a wheelchair. Maybe if the Cubs move the franchise to a "sitting" baseball league we'll get that ever elusive championship.

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