Soriano Plays in Peoria
Hitting lead-off and serving as the DH, Alfonso Soriano got into his first game action in almost six weeks, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 6-3 at Padres Field #1 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ this morning.
Soriano arrived shortly after the rest of the AZL Cubs team, apparently getting a ride to the game from the team hotel in central Phoenix without stopping first at Fitch Park.
Soriano participated in the usual pre-game on-field stretching exercises, and then the Padres kindly allowed him to take some swings in their enclosed batting cages located adjacent to the field, since Soriano did not have an opportunity to take pre-game BP with the rest of the team at Fitch Park.
Hitting lead-off in three different innings, Soriano went 0-2 with a F-9 fly out, a strike out (swinging), and a walk. He also scored a run.
Soriano left the game after his 3rd AB in the top of the 5th, presumably headed back to the Ritz Carlton for lunch. I would think Soriano will then accompany his Chicago Cubs teammates to Chase Field, where he will possibly take some additional pre-game BP prior to tonight's Cubs-D'backs game.
If he is so inclined, he could be the DH in tomorrow morning's AZL Cubs game at Fitch Park, and still have time to hitch a ride down I-10 to Tucson in the afternoon where he could play LF and hit lead-off for the Iowa Cubs in their game versus the Tucson Sidewinders at Tucson Electric Park tomorrow night.
It's always a thrill for the AZL Cubs (who are mainly teenagers) when there is a big leaguer in their midst, but having Soriano around was especially exciting for the young Cubs Dominican players, who hold Soriano up as a national hero. And since AZL Cubs RF Nelson Perez is (like Felix Pie) a protege of Soriano's, he was REALLY stoked.
Here is the pitch-by-pitch log of Soriano's three at-bats this morning in Peoria.
(All three ABs were against AZL Padres RHP Junior Veras).
1ST AB (leading off 1st inning):
PITCH 1: Ball one (fastball up & in, chin music)
PITCH 2: Ball two (fastball up)
PITCH 3: Strike one (called, right down the middle of the plate)
PITCH 4: Strike two (fouled straight back)
PITCH 5: Ball in play (lazy fly ball caught by right-fielder in front of warning track in straight-away RF)
2ND AB (leading off 3rd inning):
PITCH 1: Strike one (right down the middle of the plate)
PITCH 2; Strike two (fouled straight back)
PITCH 3: Foul (line drive hooked into LF bullpen)
PITCH 4: Ball one (outside)
PITCH 5: Foul (fouled straight back)
PITCH 6: Foul (line drive hooked into LF bullpen)
PITCH 7: Strike three (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)
OUTCOME: Strike out (swinging)
3RD AB (leading off 5th inning):
PITCH 1: Strike one (pop foul over 1st base dugout)
PITCH 2: Strike two (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)
PITCH 3: Ball one (high fastbal)
PITCH 4: Ball two (breaking ball outside)
PITCH 5: Ball three (fastball up)
PITCH 6: Ball four (fastball outside)
OUTCOME: Walked, and then scored on a two-run HR by the next batter, Starlin Castro.
Generally, Soriano looked somewhat rusty and his timing was a bit off, but at least he did get to face some "live" pitching in a game action setting.
And I'm glad he agreed to do his "rehab" in the minor leagues this time, instead of trying to come back "cold" to the big leagues with no minor league ABs like he did the last time he was on the DL.
Today also marked the 2008 debut of Cubs 2006 12th round draft pick RHP Kitt Kopach (Illinois State), who hadn't thrown in a game for nearly two years after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery prior to last season, and the professional debut of Cubs 2008 3rd round draft pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State). Kopach and Shafer worked one scoreless/hitless inning a piece, each issuing one walk. Shafer also had an inning-ending strikeout.
Only 1st round pick RHP Andrew Cashner (TCU) has yet to make his pro debut from among the pitchers signed by the Cubs out of last month's draft, and I would think Cashner will probably get into his first game action sometime this week.
Starlin Castro and Nelson Perez provided most of the AZL Cubs offense today, with Castro going 3-3 with two walls and a two-run HR, and N. Perez adding a garagantuan solo HR over the CF fence in the 9th (albeit after Soriano had already left). Perez presently leads the AZL in slugging (822) and triples (8), and is second in HR (6) and OPS (1.208), trailing only teammate John Contreras in HR and teammate Jericho Jones in OPS
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.