Peoria Chiefs Invade Arizona
D. J. LeMahieu singled, doubled, and tripled, and scored two runs, Ryan Flaherty reached base four times (double, two singles, and a walk), scored twice, and drove-in a run, Michael Brenly doubled and tripled and scored twice, Dong-Yub Kim singled and tripled, scored one run, and knocked-in another, and Rebel Ridling had four RBI, but it wasn't quite enough offense to provide a victory, as the Cubs and Brewers played to a 9-9 tie in Arizona Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon in sunny and VERY hot Mesa, Arizona.
The Instructional League features a virtual all-star team from each organization, which for the Cubs means most of their best prospects from Peoria, Boise, and AZL Cubs (Mesa), plus a few older prospects at Instructs to work on specific aspects of their game. Other players are there to learn a new position (3B-1B Jovan Rosa and IF-OF Brandon May are being converted to catchers).
All of the Cubs minor league coordinators and instructors are present at Fitch Park each day (Monday through Saturday), as are many of the minor league managers, pitching coaches, and hitting instructors, so the kids get a lot of intense instruction on a daily basis. The players work out for several hours before each game, and then the players who are not in the lineup that day work with instructors on adjoining fields during the game. .
The Cubs got off to an early 5-1 lead today, as starting pitcher Alberto Cabrera threw two-hit one-run ball over three innings while the Cubs scored a run in the 1st on a double by Flaherty and a two-out RBI single by Ridling, and then four more in the 3rd that featured two-run RBI doubles by Hak-Ju Lee and Ridling.
But the Cubs relief corps couldn't hold the lead, as the Brewers scored seven runs on four hits, three walks, two wild pitches, and a balk in innings 4-5-6-7 off Rafael Dolis, Jose Rosario, and Austin Kirk (although Dolis and Kirk did combine to strike out eight Brewers in just four innings of work).
But the Cubs offense kept the pressure on the Brewers, scoring single runs in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th to take a 9-8 lead into the 9th, as LeMahieu doubled and scored on an RBI FC in the 5th, Brenly doubled and scored on an RBI FC in the 6th, LeMahieu tripled and scored on an RBI single by Flaherty in the 7th, and Brenly tripled and scored on a one-out infield single by Runey Davis in the 8th (and then Davis promptly got picked-off 1st).
Corey Martin entered the game in the top of the 9th with a save opportunity, but he surrendered three hard hit singles, allowing the Brewers to tie the game. Martin was saved from further damage thanks to a fine running catch by CF Kyung-Min Na that the little Korean turned into a nifty 7-6 DP to end the inning and give the Cubs a chance to win the game in their half of the inning, but the Cubs left LeMahieu stranded on the base in the bottom of the 9th.
Outfielders Dong-Yub Kim and Kyung-Min Na are the latest Korean teenagers signed by the Cubs to big bucks bonus contracts, and it's pretty obvious why Kim was rated by many scouts as the top high school player in South Korea. He is a big kid, a right-handed hitter with plus-speed and plus-power, the protypical five-tool outfielder.
Na is a litlle guy, maybe 5'6 130. He is a left-handed slap hitter who uses a toothpick for a bat, but he is fast runner (although Hak-Ju Lee is faster), and an outstanding defensive CF with s plus-arm. Na is so small he makes Tony Campana look like the Incredible Hulk. I understand Na was lost for several hours last week until the Fitch Park ground crew could mow the lawn and give the kid a chance to see over the tops of the blades of grass and find his way to the clubhouse.
While fellow Koreans Su-Min Jung, Hak-Ju Lee, and Jae-Hoon Ha were playing at Boise and Dae-Eun Rhee was rehabbing from TJS at Fitch Park, Kim and Na spent the summer at the MLB Australian Baseball Academy while waiting for their H2B visas to get processed.
The Cubs also signed three Taiwanese players this year (RHPs Tzu-An Wang and Yao-Lin Wang and 2B Pin-Chieh Chen), and they are supposed to participate in the AZ Instructional League, although they hadn't reported as of last week.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 1-5 (F-7, 2B, 4-3, 6-3, 6-3), R, 2 RBI
2. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 3-5 (6-3, F-9, 2B, 3B, 1B), 2 R
3. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 3-4 (2B, BB, 1B, 1B, F-8), 2 R, RBI
4, Rebel Ridling, 1B: 2-4 (1B, 2B, FC, F-9), 4 RBI
5. Kyler Burke, RF: 0-4 (FC, F-8, K, K)
6a. Jovan Rosa, C: 0-2 (K, 5-3)
6b. Michael Brenly, C: 2-2 (2B, 3B), 2 R
7. Justin Bour, DH #1: 1-4 (K, F-7, 1B, 4-3)
8. Runey Davis, LF: 1-4 (L-7, K, K, 1B), RBI, PO
9. Dong-Yub Kim, DH #2: 2-4 (1B, 3B, FC, K), R, RBI
10. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 0-3 (BB, 6-3, K, 3-U), R
1. Alberto Cabrera - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP,1 GIDP, 6/2 GO/FO, 44 pitches (25 strikes)
2. Rafael Dolis - 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 1/0 GO/FO, 50 pitches (30 strikes)
3. Jose Rosario - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 17 pitches (8 strikes)
4. Austin Kirk - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GO/FO, 37 pitches (24 strikes)
5. Corey Martin - 1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (11 strikes)
CATCHERS DEFENSE No stolen base attempts and no passed balls
OUTFIELD ASSISTS: Kyung-Min Na (2) - 1) threw out runner trying to stretch single into a double, and 2) doubled runner off 2nd base on line drive to CF
WEATHER: 106 hot & sunny
ATTENDANCE: 19 (mostly scouts)
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.