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
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.