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
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.