I-Cubs Get Thumped by River Cats
Nate Spears and Brad Snyder smacked home runs, but it wasn't enough, as the Sacramento River Cats (the Oakland A's AAA affiliate) scratched out a 10-5 victory over the Iowa Cubs this afternnon at the Papago Park Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Spears missed several games after being hit on the hand with a pitch last Saturday, but he returned to the scene of the crime (and the lineup) with a bang today, hitting the first pitch of the game over the RF fence.
The first three I-Cubs pitchers struggled, as Randy Wells and Dumas Garcia had difficulty throwing strikes, while Ken Kadokura was just plain awful (five runs on eight hits--including three doubles and a triple, in just two innings of work), but Justin Berg and Jeff Stevens retired the last six batters they faced, Berg with an easy 1-2-3 nine-pitch 7th (eight strikes and only one ball, resulting in a 6-3, Ks, and P-3), and then Jeff Stevens struck out the side in the 8th.
In Iowa Cubs roster news, hard-throwing 26-year old RHP Rocky Roquet (who has been terrible since reporting to the Iowa Cubs) has been traded to the Oakland A's for a PTBNL (Roquet was an NRI to big league camp), LHP Edward Campusano (another NRI to big league camp who got sentt back to Iowa) has been released (couldn't throw strikes, never really recovered from April 2007 TJS), and OF Richie Robnett (acquired from OAK in the Michael Wuertz trade, and then outrighted off the 40-man roster last week) and IF-OF Matt Camp have been demoted to AA Tennessee. So the Iowa Cubs roster presently stands at 33 (16 pitchers, four catchers, eight infielders, and five outfielders), with nine cuts left to make by the end of the week (the AA and AAA regular season roster limits are 24, not 25).
Here is today's abridged box score (Iowa Cubs players only). Randy Wells batted twice (including once after he had already been replaced on the mound) because he is being prepped as a rotation starter for Iowa, and the Cubs wanted him to get a couple of ABs in addition to extending his pitch count up past 50 (he was used as a one-inning reliever in Cactus League games before he was optioned to Iowa from big league camp).
1. Nate Spears, DH #1: 1-3 (HR, 6-3, 4-3, BB - 1 R, 1 RBI)
2. So Taguchi, RF: 0-4 (F-8, F-9, 5-3, 4-6-3 DP)
3. Esteban German, 3B: 1-3 (1B, 5-3, BB, 6-3 - 1 R)
4a. Randy Wells, P-DH #2: 0-1 (3-U SH, F-8)
5. Jake Fox, 1B: 0-2 (Kc, HBP, BB, F-8 - 1 R)
6. Brad Snyder, CF: 1-3 (4-3, 3-U, BB, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI)
7. Jason Dubois, LF: 2-4 (1-3, 2B, Ks, 2B - 1 R)
8. Mark Johnson, C: 2-3 (1B, F-8, BB, 2B - 2 RBI)
9. Andres Blanco, SS: 0-4 (P-4, 6-3, 4-3, Kc -1 RBI)
10. Luis Rivas, 2B: 0-3 (6-3, 5-3, L-8)
1. Randy Wells - 2.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP, 1 WP, 51 pitches (26 strikes), 6/1 GO/FO
2. Ken Kadokura - 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R (6 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 43 pitches (27 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
3. Dumas Garcia - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 46 pitches (22 strikes) , 1/4 GO/FO
4. Justin Berg - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, nine pitches (eight strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
5. Jeff Stevens - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 17 pitches (10 strikes)
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.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.