LeMahieu Shines in Pro Debut
Cubs 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) made his professional debut tonight at Fitch Park in Mesa, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action.
LeMahieu hit 3rd and was the DH, and in his very first pro AB he slammed an opposite-field triple off the RF fence, using his long-stride speed to make it to third base well in advance of the relay throw from the Brewers 2nd baseman. He then scored on a line-drive RBI single to CF by clean-up hitter (and 2009 10th round pick) Charles Thomas. (BTW, Thomas attended Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL, which is the same HBCU baseball legend--and one time Cubs coach--Buck O'Neil attended many years ago)
LeMahieu struck out (swinging) on a head- high fastball on his next trip to the plate in the third, and he bounced out on a two chopper to the first-baseman (unassisted) in the 6th.
In his final at bat, LeMahieu grounded an RBI single sharply through the box to CF, scoring Wes Darvill (2009 5th round pick out of Langley, BC & the Canadian Junior National Team) from 2nd base ,LeMahieu took 2nd on the throw to the plate and advanced to 3rd on a ground out, before scoring the Cubs 4th and final run on a wild pitch.
LeMahieu is supposed to either leave for or report to the Boise Hawks on Tuesday, so he won't be staying long in Mesa.
It's always interesting to watch a player make his pro debut, but especially a player with the relative fame of LeMahieu. He was one of the heroes of 2009 NCAA College World Series Champion LSU, and while I had seen him play on TV (and hitting with an aluminum bat), there is nothing like seeing the kid in-person with a wood bat in his hands. I could see that he was pretty stoked tonight, that's for sure.
LeMahieu went to LSU, but he attended HS in Michigan, and lived for several years before that in Las Vegas. He is quite familiar with the Cubs operation in Mesa, having attended a number of Cubs Spring Training games at HoHoKam Park in years past (his grandmother is a huge Cubs fan, and his father lives in Wisconsin and is also a Cubs fan). . .
2009 3rd round pick LHP Aaron Kirk (Owasso HS - Owasso, OK) has also signed with the Cubs, but he is in Chicago this weekend getting the "high draft pick courtesy tour" at Wrigley Field before reporting to Mesa next week.
Boise Cubs RHP Su-Min Jung got the start for AZL Cubs tonight, and pitched two shutout innings. A 19-year Korean bonus baby signed by the Cubs last September, Jung was making his second rehab start for the AZL Cubs (he was shut-down with a sore shoulder earlier this month in Boise), and he looked very good (he picked it up a notch and struck out the last two hitters he faced, stranding Brewers runners at 2nd & 3rd). He threw all of his pitches for strikes and had good velocity on his fastball. Unless there is some reason why the Cubs want him to remain at Fitch Park, I would think Jung will be back at Boise very soon.
In other news from Mesa, LHP B. J. Ryan reported to Fitch Park last Sunday, and has spent the past five days working one-on-one with Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins.They are starting with long toss, and working up from there to delivery, arm slot, and release point. Ryan does his work in the morning, many hours before game-time and out of sight of most fans.
Same goes for catcher Geovany Soto, who is on the Cubs 15-day DL wiith a strained oblique. He is running and hitting, so I would think that (barring any medical setbacks) he will be back with the Cubs in fairly short order.
Iowa OF Brad Snyder (broken wrist) is also rehabbing at Fitch Park, and he hopes to be back with the I-Cubs by the end of next week. A one-time #1 draft pick of the Cleveland Indians out of Ball State (he was a college teammate of ex-Cubs LHP prospect Luke Hagerty), Snyder was claimed off waivers last September and spent most of Spring Training with the Cubs before getting outrighted to AAA the last week of March (he was out of minor league options). He was en route to a career year at Iowa before he went on the DL in mid-May (319/353/667, with 12 HR in just 36 games and on a pace for 50 HR over a full-season) and appeared to be finally putting it all together (he was even raking against LHP), so if he can pick up where he left off pre-injury and not show any ill-effects from the broken wrist, he could conceivably get a September call-up to Chicago. (That's presuming the Cubs would be interested in a five-tool left-handed hitting right-fielder). If not, Snyder is a minor league FA post-2009, and I would think some MLB club would be more than willing to give him a shot at winning a big league job in 2010.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.