Cubs Drop Angels at Fitch Park
Logan Watkins had three hits and scored twice, leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the EXST Angels in a pre-planned ten-inning Extended Spring Training game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.
Now 19, Watkins was the Cubs 21st round pick in the 2008 draft out of Goddard HS (Goddard, KS), where he starred on both the football team (played QB) and baseball team (played SS), and the Cubs were able to convince him to give up his baseball scholarship to Wichita State only because they offered him "3rd round money" to turn pro.
While the left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing Watkins has played SS, 2B, LF, and CF since signing with the Cubs, he appears to be the protypical second-baseman, with a strong and accurate arm, but with an almost sidearm arm slot, perfect for slinging the ball to 1st base while straddling 2nd base as the middle-man in a DP.
The extra inning was added to the game to allow Cubs and Angels pitchers to get extra work, since weekly EXST "Camp Day" intrasquad games are no longer being scheduled.
Also, it turns out Iowa Cubs RHP Justin Berg (on the DL with a right shoulder strain since mid-April) did not leave town yesterday. He is still at EXST, rehabbing his shoulder, and in fact he pitched another inning today (24 pitches), as a follow-up to his one-inning (16 pitches) of work at Papago Park in Phoenix on Thursday. Berg got ground balls with his hard-sinker again today (per usual), but his command was off, resulting in him allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning (and the inning was terminated with only two outs when Berg reached his proscribed pitch count).
While the Cubs were battling the Angels on Field #3, RHPs Carlos Rojas and Julio Castillo faced-off in a two-inning simulated game on Field #2, facing Jose Valdez, Sean Williams, Jesus Morelli, and Jericho Jones,
Castillo (AKA "Animal") is from the back jungles of the Dominican Republic (near the border with Haiti), and he is a legend among Cubs minor leaguers as the guy who captured a wild desert rat at the Padres minor league facility in Peoria, Arizona, a couple of years ago, and then kept the rodent as a pet for the summer while he pitched for the AZL Cubs.
Presently on the Restricted List while awaiting final disposition of criminal charges filed against him in Ohio as the result of throwing a baseball at a fan during a brawl in Dayton last August while a member of the Peoria Chiefs. Castillo is one of the hardest throwers in the Cubs system (with a fastball that routinely clocks at 95+), so the Cubs are not necessarily in a hurry to discharge Animal from the organization. He has the type of power stuff (fastball & slider) that could make him a potential big-time set-up man or closer someday (that is, as long as he isn't otherwise occupied serving a lengthy term--and throwing the 9th inning--at the Ohio State Penitentiary).
The only other item of note is that C-3B-1B-DH John Contreras is missing from camp, perhaps because he has moved up to Peoria, which has only one healthy catcher available on its roster (that one being Michael Brenly). Contreras is already 23, and he was converted to catcher this season (he still plays 3B and 1B, too, however) after leading the AZL in home runs in 2008. So he would seem to be the type of player (probably too old for Boise, but needs an opportunity to play at a higher level) who would get the call as a mid-season injury replacement in Peoria or Daytona. (Daytona catcher Robinson Chirinos has a broken hand, and so Luis Flores has been moved up from Peoria to Daytona).
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)...
1. Hak-Ju Lee, DH #1: 1-5 (1B, L-4, 4-3, F-7 DP, K - 1 R, 1 SB)
2. Matt Cerda, C-DH: 2-4 (1B, 4-3, 2B, E-3 - 1 R)
3. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF: 0-4 (6-3, E-6, 6-3, K)
4. Chris Weimer, 1B: 0-4 (L-8, P-1, L-6, K)
5. Sean Hoorelbeke, LF: 2-3 (6-3, HBP, 1B, 1B - 2 R)
6. Jose Guevara, DH-C: 0-2 (5-3, K, BB, BB - 1 R)
7. Logan Watkins, SS: 3-4 (2B, 1B, 1B, 4-3 - 2 R)
8. Kevin Soto, RF: 2-3 (6-3, 1B, HBP, 1B - 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB)
9. Robert Bautista, 3B: 0-4 (1-3, K, 4-3, K - 1 RBI)
10. Jose Made, 2B: 0-3 (1-3, E-4, BB, 1-3)
1. Justin Berg - 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (16 strikes)
2. Miguel Sierra - 3.0 IP, 4 H,1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2 WP, 5/3 GO/FO
3. Toby Matchulat - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GO/FO
4. Su-Min Jung - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/3 GO/FO
5. Manolin DeLeon - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO
1. Matt Cerda - 0-2 CS, 1 PB
2. Jose Guevara - 1-2 CS
"Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.