Berg and Carrillo Get Rehab Work at EXST

Sean Hoorelbeke slammed a double off the right-centerfield fence with two outs in the top of the 8th, scoring Chris Weimer from 1st base with the go-ahead run, as the EXST Cubs edged the EXST A's 3-2 in a rematch at the A's Minor League Complex Field #2 at Papago Park in Phoenix this morning.   

RHP Larry Suarez was scheduled to start, but he was bumped to three innings of middle-relief to allow rehabbing Iowa Cubs RHP Justin Berg and Tennessee Smokies RHP Marco Carrillo to get some game action.

Berg, who was added to the Cubs 40-man roster in November 2008, was placed on the Iowa Cubs DL last month with a sore shoulder and has been at Fitch Park rehabbing for the past couple of weeks. His best pitch is a power-sinker, and when he's right, he gets a lot of ground balls. Well, he got ground balls today (four hitters, four ground balls), but only two outs, thanks to a leaky infield defense.

Berg worked one inning (16 pitches - 12 strikes) today, and looked very good. He did allow one unearned run, and his inning was terminated early (with only two outs) when he reached his pre-determined pitch limit, but he actually should have gotten four outs in the inning (all on ground balls) with no base-runners. But the first two A's batters reached base on errors by Cubs infielders (one by 3B Jose Made, and the other by 1B Chris Weimer), and then with runners at 1st & 3rd and no outs, 2B George Matheus bobbled a "rrom service" easy 4-6-3 DP ball, and was only able to get the batter out at 1st base, further prolonging the inning. 

The only question about Berg is how his arm bounces back over the next couple of days, but if it does bounce back normally and there are no further medical setbacks, I would think the 24-year old should be back in the Iowa Cubs bullpen in relatively short order.

Fellow-rehabber (and Culiacan, Mexico native) Marco Carrillo followed Berg to the mound, and the little right-hander (he's only 5'11) pitched four innings of one-hit shutout ball, allowing a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, and then throwing 34 out his next 47 pitches for strikes, retiring 12 of the last 13 men he faced, striking out four. He also picked a runner off 1st base (he has an OUTSTANDING pick-off move for a RHP). Carrillo went a combined 9-8 between Daytona and Tennessee as a 21-year old last season, and based on his performance today, he looks to be ready to rejoin either the Daytona Cubs or Tennessee Smokies starting rotation immediately.

Both Berg and Carrillo were watched closely by Cubs "Rehabilitation Pitching Coach" Brad Kelley (ably assisted by videographer Billy Muldowney, who is rehabbing at Fitch Park after undergoing elbow surgery in March). Prior to this season, AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud was responsible for both the 20+ AZL Cubs pitchers AND the rehab guys (including injured pitchers assigned to Fitch Park and position players being converted to pitcher), but the Cubs decided during the off-season to split the duties between two coaches, resulting in the Kelley hire.   

19-year old 6'4 255 Venezuelan bonus baby (and Carlos Zambrano clone) Larry Suarez was pushed back to the 6th inning to accomodate Berg and Carrillo, but once he got into the game, he pitched three solid innings (42 pitches - 30 strikes), allowing one run on three hits, while walking none and striking out five. Suarez has really nasty stuff, and with the improved command he has shown this Spring (he was rehabbing from elbow surgery most of last year), he could be in line for a big year at Boise (or possibly even at Peoria or Daytona, if the Cubs opt to move him out of Fitch Park before mid-June). Suarez has been one of the top pitchers (so far) at EXST (RHPs Julio Pena and Su-Min Jung being the other two). 

LHP Melvin Vasquez had an interesting bottom of the 9th. Protecting a 3-2 Cub lead, Vasquez gave up a single and a walk, and then the next batter reached base on a Juan Medina brain-fart (the catcher fielded a bunt and tried to get the lead runner out at 3rd base when he should have taken the out at 1st). With the bases loaded and no outs, Vasquez proceeded to induce two weak infield ground outs that resulted in force plays at the plate, and then after running the count to 3-0 on the next hitter (remember, the bases are loaded), he fired three consecutive strikes (the last two swinging) to secure the victory.  

Besides Hoorelbeke's clutch 8th inning double, the one other offensive item of note was a two-hit day (plus a SF-RBI and a stolen base) for Dwayne Kemp, who played shortstop today. Kempy has been on fire at the plate, and he looks a lot more relaxed this season in the field, too. He showed off his athleticism at SS today, making four fine stops & throws. If the Cubs can become convinced that Kemp can play SS in addition to 2B, he would be more-likely to get a promotion to Peoria a lot sooner. He brings a lot of positive energy to the field, and he has surprising power for a little guy (sort of like a right-handed hitting version of Mike Fontenot).      

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)   

LINEUP:
1. Jose Valdez, CF: 0-3 (K, E-2, SH, F-8 - 1 R)
2. Dwayne Kemp, SS: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-9 SF, L-7 - 1 RBI, 1 SB)
3. Chris Weimer, 1B: 1-4 (K, K, L-4, 1B - 1 R)
4. Sean Hoorelbeke, DH #1: 1-3 (1-3, BB, K, 2B - 1 RBI)
5. Jericho Jones, DH #2: 1-4 (1B, F-8, 6-3, F-7)
6a. Jose Guevara, C: 1-3 (1-3, F-8, 1B)
6b. Juan Medina, C: 1-1 (1B)
7. Kevin Soto, RF: 0-4 (L-6, 6-3, F-8, 4-6-3 GIDP)
8. Jesus Morelli, LF: 0-3 (BB, L-4, 2-3, 6-3)
9. George Matheus, 2B: 0-2 (K, BB, 6-3 - 1 R)
10. Jose Made, 3B: 1-3 (4-3, 1B, 4-3)

PITCHERS:
1. Justin Berg - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 16 pitches (12 strikes)
2. Marco Carrillo - 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 PO, 4/3 GO/FO, 51 pitches (34 strikes)
3. Larry Suarez - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 42 pitches (30 strikes)
4. Melvin Vasquez - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K,  2/0 GO/FO
5. George Pineda - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO
NOTE: Berg's inning was terminated early (with two outs) when he reached his proscribed pitch count, and an extra half-inning was played after the Cubs had already won the game 3-2 in nine innings, allowing Pineda to get his pre-scheduled inning of work   

ERRORS (4):
1. 3B Jose Made bobbled ground ball (E-5) allowing batter to reach base with no outs in 1st inning (runner eventually scored, resulting in unearned run)
2. 1B Chris Weimer bobbled ground ball (E-3) allowing batter to reach base and runner on 1st base to advance to 3rd base with no outs in 1st inning
3. C Jose Guevara fielded tapper in front of plate and then made errant throw (E-2) to 1st base allowing batter to reach base leading off bottom of the 3rd.
4. LF Jesus Morelli bobbled line drive single to LF (E-7) with runner on 2nd base and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning (the special extra half-inning tacked onto the end of the game), allowing runner who had stopped at 3rd base to score an unearned run.     

CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Jose Guevara 0-1 CS
Juan Medina 1-2 CS

ATTENDANCE: 8

WEATHER 100 degrees, hot & sunny (did I mention it was hot?)  

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Comments

Wow, glad to see Larry Suarez is doing that well. Arizona Phil, do you think Julio Pena and Su-Min Jung will also end up at Boise this season?

Thank you for the reports.

Love these great reports! I figure Vasquez is a DomRep signee, but it's the first I've seen his name. What's his background? Didn't see him listed among off-season recruits for the DSL.

Submitted by Hook on Thu, 05/14/2009 - 5:58pm.
Love these great reports! I figure Vasquez is a DomRep signee, but it's the first I've seen his name. What's his background? Didn't see him listed among off-season recruits for the DSL.

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

HOOK: Melvin Vasquez was signed by the Cubs last July (another Jose Serra find), and he pitched very briefly in the DSL in '08. He just turned 21 yesterday.

Marcos Perez is another lefty from the Dominican making his U. S. debut at EXST this year, but he spent two full seasons pitching in the DSL before getting an opportunity to pitch at Fitch.

Both Vasquez and M. Perez look like they have decent stuff. Nothing spectacular, but decent (and they are both left-handers, which is a plus).

Submitted by Raisin101 on Thu, 05/14/2009 - 5:55pm. Wow, glad to see Larry Suarez is doing that well. Arizona Phil, do you think Julio Pena and Su-Min Jung will also end up at Boise this season?

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

RAISIN: Yes, unless the Cubs want to keep all of the Korean kids (and Coach Min-Kyu Sung) together at Fitch for the Summer. But otherwise, I would say Suarez, Pena, and Jung all have the chops to move up to Boise and be rotation starters and/or "piggyback" long relievers. (Actually, any one of the three could probably pitch at Peoria right now if there were openings for them).

And as I think I've mentioned previously, Justin Berg should be returning to the Iowa bullpen fairly soon, Marco Carrillo will likely get moved up to the Daytona or Tennessee starting rotation VERY soon, I would think Robert Hernandez should be back at Daytona within a week or two, and Manolin DeLeon and/or Josh Lansford could get promotions to the Peoria or Daytona bullpen at any time (both project as relievers, not starters).

Converted OF Andres Quezada is another pitcher who has pitched very well at EXST and (because he's 23) the Cubs might be looking to move him up to Peoria or Daytona ASAP, too. He's been a starting pitcher at EXST, so he could start or be used to "piggyback' at Peoria or Daytona. .

Also, RHP Cedric Redmond (rehabbing broken finger) is about ready to return to game action at EXST. He could get promoted quickly if he shows he's 100%  He projects as a reliever.

Of course a lot of these moves will depend on somebody getting hurt, demoted, or released.

Thanks, Arizona Phil. It sounds really impressive that they are doing well enough that they could be pitching at Peoria right now (especially considering their ages - Jung and Suarez are 19 and Peña just turned 20 in March).

Do you think Robert Hernandez be starting or relieving when he gets called up? He seems to have regressed since 2007, especially considering the PED suspension.

Thanks.

I am thinking that the injury occurred about 10 months ago, so the surgery came no more than a month later. If that is correct, he should be throwing these days, or not?

BTW, these updates you give are really appreciated. I know most of these guys come and go without much noise, but it most be cool to see them play everyday at such a young age. Please, keep the write-ups coming. Hey, if you see any draft prospects working out for the scouts, let us know. I think you wrote something last year about Victor Sanchez and a pitcher I can't remember working out in a EXST game.

Stay Cool

Don't look now, but if my calculations are correct, Iowa has scored 50 runs in the last 3 games.

That's ridiculous, even by PCL standards.

Iowa has scored 50 runs in the last 3 games.
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...and the i-Cubs have a (defensive) catcher hitting .390-something, and that's only the second highest BA on the team

Ex-prospect watch:

Orioles planning to start Rich Hill in Kansas City on Saturday.

Phil, what is your scouting report on Jeffry Antigua?

regarding Bradley's 1 day suspension...from the sun-times:

The Cubs were given no explanation for why the process took so long. But part of the reason for the length since last week's hearing in Houston was the weeklong deadline following the hearing given for the appealing party to submit any final arguments.

can anyone explain the above?

I thought the delay was just to yank Bradley's (and Hendry's) chain.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/15750...

It's Z, what more can you say. What's next, Standup comedy clubs?

Already ''100 percent'' and ''ready to pitch,'' Zambrano said he won't be running hard on the bases for about a month after his return -- per doctors' orders to protect his healing hamstring but against his playing nature.

''I'll be running like Geo Soto or Bengie Molina,'' said Zambrano, who took fielding practice without incident Thursday and is scheduled to make a Class A rehab start Sunday. ''I'll be running nice and easy and just taking my time and not hustling for now. And I apologize to the Cubs fans for [that]. But it's one thing to not hustle and another thing to not play good. I will still perform as good. I will try to do everything right.''

But after that first month back, he said, ''you will see me running like Juan Pierre or Jose Reyes.''

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/15752...

This is why we love Big Z.

Let's just hope that also means Lou stops using him as a PH.

I can't figure out why Lou let AramRam play the field when he got hurt. Had he not let him play, he would be available for pinch hitting, but now he's hurt.

Ever hear of this guy called 'Dwight Gooden'? He also pinch hit. What about CC Sabathia? What about Tom Glavine?

Having Z pinch hit effectively gives the Cubs a 26 man roster. Yes he can get hurt doing it. He's far more likely to get hurt pitching than he is as an occasional pinch hitter, but he can win a game with one swing of the bat as a pinch hitter, whereas as a pitcher it could take him 120 pitches.

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