The Hill at Fitch Park

Starting for the AZL Cubs versus he AZL Angels at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, Rich Hill worked five shutout innings (68 pitches, 47 strikes, 8/0 GO/FO), allowing three hits (all three singles) and a walk, with five strikeouts. He really had his roundhouse curve and efficient two-seamer working today, as he went to a three ball count on only two of the 17 Angels hitters he faced.

Hill was supposed to start yesterday's game versus the AZL Rangers, but the game was canceled due to wet grounds (a severe monsoon storm hit the Phoenix area Thursday night and Fitch Park was still flooded Friday morning).

If he doesn't get promoted to Iowa this coming week, his next AZL start should be Thursday at Fitch Park versus the AZL Padres. If he does stay in Arizona for one more start, it's possible that Hill will rejoin the Iowa Cubs when the I-Cubs play at Tucson the week of July 21st (the same week the Cubs play the Diamondbacks in Phoenix).  

Coupled with his previous outing last Sunday when he worked four innings of one hit ball with six K, Hill has now gone 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB and 11 K over his last two outings since modifying his delivery under the auspices of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins and AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud.       

Hill almost certainly could have gone longer today, but there is a limit of five innings or 75 pitches (whichever comes first) for AZL pitchers, including rehabbers.

Hill left with a 3-0 lead after five innings, and the AZL Cubs managed to just barely hang-on for a 6-5 victory.

2008 20th round draft pick LF Jericho Jones (Louisiana Tech) had three more hits (he's now hitting 452/500/690) before leaving the game with cramps. (Jones is a slow runner, but he sure can hit). Matt Cerda (4th round pick out of Oceanside HS) reached base three times on two singles and a walk and scored three runs, and Nelson Perez hit a monster solo HR over the right-centerfield fence.

Cerda, who hasn't been a full-time catcher since his Little League days, has made great strides behind the plate since arriving at Fitch Park last month, working daily with player-coach (mentor) Danny Fatheree, who was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS. 

At the plate, Cerda is an advanced hitter with an eagle eye at the plate, especially for a kid one month removed from high school. He reminds me of a young left-handed hitting version of Craig Biggio.  

Ryan Acosta, Toby Matchulat, Carlos Rojas, and Luke Sommer followed Rich Hill to the mound, but only Sommer (who was an outfielder as recently as two months ago) was effective, earning the save with 1-1/3 innings of shutout relief. Acosta allowed three runs in the 6th and left the game with one out in the top of the 7th with an injury (exact nature unknown). 

In AZL roster news, the Cubs have signed their fourth Non-Drafted Free-Agent (NDFA) and first NDFA position player of 2008, IF-OF-C Pat Mahoney (University of Connecticut).

A 22-year old right-handed hitter from Des Moines, Mahoney is the younger brother of ex-Cubs and ex-Iowa catcher Mike Mahoney. The younger Mahoney was originally an infielder, but was converted to catcher in his senior year at UConn, and I would expect him to serve as a "super-sub" utility player for the AZL Cubs. He supposedly can play just about anywhere.

Comments

Phil,
Is Rafael Dolis close to throwing in some games?

I still think that Hill returns to the Cubs before this season is over, and starting for the Cubs down the stretch.

Z
Harden
Dempster
Lilly
Hill

That is pretty damn good.

Who does Sean Marshall have to kill to get a spot in the rotation?

Don't get me wrong. I like Marshall.

And I would be content with him in the rotation.

But I am also content with Marquis in that role right not.

BUT... if Hill can come back and pitch like he did last year, he is and will be a better option than either Marquis or Marshall.

Great news about Hill.

That would be quite the comeback if Hill comes back to start for the Cubs..the question is will he be any better than Marquis? I'm intersted to see how he does in alot higher levels than Arizona Rookie League.

As long as he has his control back, we already know that Hill is good enough to get major league hitters out, and is much much better than Marquis.

Sure the 'old Hill' could get major league hitters out and was better than Marquis. From what I understand he was totally changed his delivery? Thats not a minor change that you can just put him right back in there. Maybe he can come back like nothing ever happened, but I don't see that scenario as likely.

Well... even the bad Hill was moderately effective, and was still difficult to hit. He just struggled to throw strikes.

If he can now continue to throw strikes, he should be back in the bigs sooner than later, and he should be effective.

That is one hell of a rotation, provided Lilly gets back on track as well.

AZ Phil, I read in the Des Moines Register that the plan for Mahoney was to have him head to Boise soon.

Any word on the arrival of Cashner or Shafer? Thanks for the report, it's great to see something optimistic to follow up on the box score.

AZ Phil: What's the latest on Angel Guzman? Is he close to a rehab assignment yet? Thanks.

Submitted by Hagsag on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 3:36pm.

Phil, Is Rafael Dolis close to throwing in some games?

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

HAGSAG: Dolis was supposed to pitch in an AZL game a couple of weeks ago but he got shut down again. He is at Fitch Park rehabbing from 2007 TJS, but his problems this year are all shoulder-related. I don't know when or if he will be getting into any AZL game action.

Submitted by Timmer on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 3:48pm.

AZ Phil: What's the latest on Angel Guzman? Is he close to a rehab assignment yet? Thanks.

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

TIMMER: Angel Guzman probably could have gone out on a minor league rehab six weeks ago, but the Cubs are apparently waiting until at least July 14th.

If they start the rehab no earlier than July 14th, and if he spends the maximum 30 days on the rehab assignment, and then he spends no more than 19 days on optional assignment to the minors, and then gets recalled on September 1st, his 4th minor league option will be preserved for 2009.

If he were to begin his minor league rehab earlier than July 14th, it would mean the Cubs would have to add him to their 25-man roster prior to September 1st, or else Guzman will be out of minor league options in 2009.

And I suspect the Cubs want to keep that last minor league option in their pocket for next season, in case Gooz isn't ready coming out of Spring Training or in case the Cubs get caught in a roster numbers crunch. 

Submitted by Raisin101 on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 3:45pm.

AZ Phil, I read in the Des Moines Register that the plan for Mahoney was to have him head to Boise soon. Any word on the arrival of Cashner or Shafer? Thanks for the report, it's great to see something optimistic to follow up on the box score.

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

RAISIN: I believe Aaron Shafer is at Fitch Park, but I haven't seen him throw "live" BP yet. He's probably still throwing bullpen side sessions, but he should be fairly close to being ready for game action soon.

Chris Carpenter (ankle) is finally healthy and he got into an AZL game this past week.

Andrew Cashner was supposed to arrive this weekend, but I haven't seen him.

Tarlandus Mitchell (sprained ankle) is close to being ready for AZL game action, and Kitt Kopach (2007 shoulder surgery) is throwing side sessions and will supposedly be cleared for full activity (including AZL game action) in August.

May he rest in peace.

AZ Phil: Have you seen Hill do that sidearm thing he had so much success with last season?

As always, thanks AZ Phil!

Have you heard of the Cubs signing anyone in Latin America with the July 2nd date passing? Seems like most of the news surrounded the A's, Padres and Yankees (and the bonus skimming by the Nationals and the White Sox).

crunch's buddy homered in the first. 3-0 Reds Bottom 1.

adam who?

adam dunn just took gagne deep...huge shot.

slo-mo replays show him chewing gum with his head slightly bobbing with the chewing motion.

solid no-doubt contact...what a weird hitter.

Is he there?If he is ,how does he stack up?

Great news about Hill.

Can he pitch the 8th?

Going to be really interesting to see how Lou handles the late innings tomorrow. No Wood. Marmol threw 36. He couldn't go even if Lou trusted him. So you've got probably Howry at the end, Gaudin, Cotts, Hart, and the long guys - Marshall and Lieber. Not a lot of dependability there.

Z and Lilly are also rested enough to use in the pen. Lets hope Demp can get us 7 so we can go straight to Gaudin and Howry.

Yeah, Z could throw an inning. Lilly could, but I doubt Lou & Larry would want to since he threw on the side/warmed up in the bullpen/both today.

ha!

walkoff 2 run homer for pitt...down by 1 in the bottom 10th. pitt wins. mil/stl lose.

there was another walkoff tonight with KC beating SEA...it was KC's first walkoff HR win since April 05 according to their announcer.

they were up 6 in the 8th...brutal bullpen work in the NL central today.

Way to go Bucs!! Nice scrappy performance tonight. You listen to the Pit announcers on Glaus' homerun and they sound just as convinced as the rest of us that the game was over.

Don't look now but the Cubs have the best record in baseball again. If we add a Hill that can once again throw strikes back onto this roster we're in pretty damn good shape heading into the 2nd half. Once Soriano's back I have a hard time figuring out what we need to trade for before the deadline. Maybe another lefty out of the pen? I don't ever remember feeling this stacked at this point in the season (no whammies!).

Hill could be that another lefty in the pen if he continues to produce. We are set right now in the rotation with Z-Harden-Demp-Lilly-Marquis-Marshall with Gaudin and Lieber strecthed out enough to be emergency starters. Marmol's struggles today are another sign we need to add a pen arm or two to be safe. We need another set-up guy and a LOOGY if the SU guy is a RHP, Hill could settle both roles if he is right and unlike Fuentes we dont have to give up two good young players to get him.

Arizona Phil......are they waiting for Jericho Jones to hit .500 before they move him up? The batting averages of the outfielders in Boise & Peoria aren't exactly tearing it up.Peoria only has 3 outfielders (with Johnston injured)

Just have to say it... best record in the major leagues ...again.

Submitted by Jumbo on Fri, 07/04/2008 - 7:36pm.

With Marmol coming down to earth and the so-so performances of Weurtz and Cotts & the "injury" to Eyre - the bullpen's smelling kinda shitty. So if Hill came back into form it would allow either Gallagher or Marshall to go to the pen. Gallagher would certainly be an upgrade over Ascanio, though he's done very well as a 22 year old MLB #5.

I'm sure Lou won't want to wait for Hill to prove himself before getting an extra pitcher, so if CC is a Brewer and Burnett or Harden becomes a Cub, the potential pitching staff is something like this: (If Hill comes back and pitches like last year, you can move Marquis to the pen. His family will starve, but Lou won't care.)

Z
Demp
Lilly
Burnett/Harden
Marquis/Hill

Wood
Marmol
Howry
Eyre/Cotts
Gallagher
Marshall/Weurtz/Marquis
Lieber

Down to minors: 2 of Weurtz/Cotts/Marshall (or all 3 if Hill is back)

Keep it up Rich. That would be a helluva rotation for the second half

--------------
Posted this on the last Hill Update. Harden came true and Marquis and Hill look to be legitimately fighting for the #5 spot. Marquis was terrific his last couple starts and Hill is capable of pitching like a #2 when he gets it together.

Obviously, if Marquis can continue as with his recent outings Hill will have to be out of this world to take it from him.

Marquis.
2nd half.
Hello Hill!

"So if Hill came back into form it would allow either Gallagher or Marshall to go to the pen. Gallagher would certainly be an upgrade over Ascanio, though he's done very well as a 22 year old MLB #5."

Gallagher is not on the team anymore.

BTW, Cubs got Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez from the Pirates.

"Gallagher is not on the team anymore."

Jumbo was quoting from a post he initially put up on 7/4.

OH! Sorry JUMBO. My bad.

Didn't catch it.

GO CUBS!

I said it before, and I will say it again...
Send marmol to the 15 DL, let him rest up, energize and lets see what happens.

I mean the old marmol over 15 games, accounts for what? 1 win?
The new marmol would account for 3 losses. No risk as I see it.

AZ PHIL: Friend. Fellow Cubs sufferer. DeFacto scout extraordinaire - since the Cubs have now traded their #1 pitching prospect for a pitcher who is either brilliant, or hurt and can't pitch, can you please tell us who is the next in line?

In your opinion, who in the minors, has the best shot of being a 1-4 slotted pitcher in the majors within the next year or two?

I had thought it was Pawelek, but it does not seem like it will happen that soon. Veal? Still has control issues. JEff Russell? The Notre Dame wide-out? Not enough pitches developed yet. Kevin Hart? From what I've seen in-person, he has no confidence against major-league hitters.

Gallagher at only 22 years old, had some terrific stuff, and a bright future in the majors.

Please tell us what's down the pike.

This doesn't help Cub fans reputation as a bunch of drunks-

http://deadspin.com/5024562/cubs-fans-drink-early-...

Marmol replaces Wood on All-Star roster

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_relea...

Because that's exactly what he needs.

Feh.

Can't say that's who I'd pick. Odd choice.

from the press release...

Wood will not play in the 2008 All-Star Game but will attend the
festivities. Marmol (2-3, 4.13 ERA, 3 Sv, 52.1 IP, 29 H, 70 SO) was
selected
because he was the relief pitcher who received the next
highest vote total on the Player Ballot.

Yeah, I saw that a little later. Hadn't seen or heard the reasoning when that post was made.

Recent comments

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  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 56 min 33 sec ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 59 min 7 sec ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 8 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 1 hour 51 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 6 hours 37 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 6 hours 38 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 16 hours 19 min ago view
  • 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.

    johann 19 hours 17 min ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 19 hours 29 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 19 hours 38 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 19 hours 43 min ago view
  • 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...

    crunch 20 hours 2 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 20 hours 38 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 20 hours 55 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 20 hours 57 min ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 21 hours 15 min ago view