5th Inning Funny Business Afoot at Fitch
Just missing a grand slam HR, 18-year old Korean OF Jae-Hoon Ha clubbed a bases-loaded triple high off the left-centerfield fence to cap a five-run 5th, and fellow 18-year old Korean Hak-Ju Lee (presently rehabbing from 2008 TJS at Fitch Park) doubled twice and drove-in two runs, as the EXST Cubs outlasted the EXST A's 10-7 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.
19-year old RHP Tarlandus Mitchell had the most-impressive outing of the four Cubs pitchers who worked today, tossing 2.2 IP of hitless ball. Mitchell may be only 5''8, but his mid-90's fastball really packs a wallop. The young Texan was an all-state football player (QB/DB) as well as a two-way star baseball player (P/OF) at Alto HS before getting drafted by the Cubs in the 22nd round of the 2008 Rule 4 Draft. He fell to the 22nd round only because he was considered a "tough sign" who was more-likely to play college football than pro baseball, but the Cubs are no doubt glad he chose a career in baseball.
Converted 3B Josh Lansford (son of Carney Lansford) also got an inning of work today and looked good, retiring the side 1-2-3 with one strikeout. Although his father and uncles were MLB third-basemen, his brother is a pitcher in the A's organization, and so maybe it's not surprising that Josh looks like a natural on the mound.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Francisco Guzman, DH #1: 2-4 (L-5, K, 1B, BB, 2B - 1 R)
2. Jose Valdez, CF: 1-4 (F-8, BB, 1B, K, L-6 - 2 R)
3a. Matt Cerda, C: 1-1 (BB, 1B, BB - 2 R, SB)
3b. Juan Medina, C: 0-2 (L-8, 4-3)
4. Ryan Keedy, 1B: 1-3 (1B, BB, BB, 4-3, 1-3 - 1 R, 1 RBI)
5. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-3 (K, FC, BB, F-9 - 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 CS)
6. Jesus Morelli, RF: 0-4 (6-3, 6-3, K, F-9)
7. Jae-Hoon Ha, LF: 1-3 (HBP, 6-3, 3B, 5-3 - 1 R, 3 RBI)
8. George Matheus, 3B: 1-4 (F-9, 1B, K, 6-3 - 1 R)
9. Robert Bautista, SS: 1-3 (1B, F-8 SF, K, 4-3 - 1 R, 1 RBI)
10. Hak-Ju Lee, DH #2: 2-4 (2B, K, 2B, 4-3 - 2 RBI)
1. Jon Nagel - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 2 GIDP, 1 WP, 1 PO, 5/3 GO/FO
2. Josh Lansford - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO
3. Tarlandus Mitchell - 2.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 3 WP, 1/4 GO/FO
4. Eduardo Figueroa: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1/2 GO/FO
NOTE: Figueroa's innings in both 8th & 9th were stopped before three outs after he reached the maximum pitch count for that inning ("roll it!").
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.