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
The floor is more valuable than the ceiling. It's the same reason we drafted Kris Bryant instead of Jon Gray.
Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...