Giants Hitters Teach Cubs Pitchers a Thing or 12
The Giants battered four Cubs pitchers to the tune of 12 runs on 17 hits, en route to a 12-6 victory in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.
2009 4th round pick LHP Chris Rusin (U. of Kentucky) got the start, and had an easy ten-pitch 1-2-3 1st inning (two strikeouts and a ground out). The Giants then scored twice in the second on two singles and a double, although Rusin only had to throw 12 pitches (total) in that inning. Rusin had another easy 13-pitch 3rd, striking out two more around a single, while catcher Jae-Hoon Ha gunned down a potential base-stealer with a picture-perfect throw to shotstop Hak-Ju Lee's glove as the base-runner tagged himself out for the 3rd out of the inning. (BTW, Hak-Ju Lee was named the top prospect in the Northwest League by Baseeball America today).
Jae-Hoon Ha was a catcher in high school in South Korea, but the Cubs moved him to the outfield immediately after signing him to take advantage of his speed and athleticism. But he (Ha) looks OK behind the plate--certainly better than recent converts Jovan Rosa or (especially) Brandon May have looked so far, and it will be interesting to see if the Cubs used Ha more as a catcher now that Matt Cerda has apparently been moved to 2B full-time
As for Chris Rusin, the 22-year old is a polished college lefty, with a full array of pitches in his arsenal and an ability to work fast and throw strikes. Rusin is the type of guy who should move quickly through the Cubs system at least until his stuff gets challenged and tested at AA. So I would not be surprised one bit if Rusin jumps from Boise to Daytona on Opening Day 2010, with a possible mid-season promotion to AA if he proves that he has mastered Advanced-A by that time.
Peoria RHP Chris Archer (one of three young pitchers the Cubs acquired from Cleveland for Mark DeRosa last off-season) pitched the 4th & 5th innings, and while he didn't walk anybody, he did labor through both innings, throwing 29 pitches in each inning while allowing four runs on six hits. Not a good outing for Archer.
Dominican RHP Julio Pena threw the next two innings and had an OK outing, but then Venezuelan RHP Eduardo Figueroa got clobbered in the 8th and 9th (allowing five runs on three singles, a double and a home run, a walk, and an HBP), as the Giants salted the game away
AA Tennessee Smokies 2B Tony Thomas and CF Brandon Guyer got starts today, and Guyer had a nice game, reaching base three times, including a double and a triple, plus a sacrifice fly RBI. Thomas went hitless, but did score a run after reaching base on a FC.
It's unusual for AA guys to get assigned to Instructs, but in the case of Guyer and Thomas, it's to work on parricular aspects of their game. In the case of Guyer, it's a Strength & Conditioning Program designed to help him develop more strength and power, and for Thomas, it's a crash course in base-stealing with Organizational Base-Running Instructor Bobby Derrnier.
Guyer showed some signs of driving the ball today, as he slammed a double and a triple, while also making an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch while running full-bore toward dead-center. Guyer reminds me of Reed Johnson or Eric Byrnes (pre-torn hamstring), playing all-out on every play and leaving it all on the field. If he could add some XBH to his gear bag, he could be an MLB OF.
Tony Thomas reached base only once today (on a FC), and he did attempt to steal 2nd once he did reach base, but Guyer fouled the pitch off. Then Thomas advanced to 2nd on a Wild Pitch before he could take another shot at stealing 2nd base.
20-year old LF Runey Davis had a nice day at the plate today, with a single, a double, and a triple, and a hard line-drive out to RF in his last AB. Davis was the Cubs 12th round pick out of NJCAA National Champion Howard JC (which beat fellow Cub Trey McNutt's Shelton State club to win the 2009 National JC title), but he struggled at the plate at both Mesa and Boise this Summer. Davis started his college career at the University of Texas before transferring to Howard JC, and would have transferred to Mississippi State if he hadn't signed with the Cubs
And Bobby Wagner smacked a solo home run over the RF fence with one out in the bottom of the 5th. The 23-year old Wagner was the Cubs 38th round draft pick this past June. A native of British Columbia, Wagner played JC ball in at Panola JC in Texas in 2009. The 6'3 left-handed hitting 3B-LF has plus-power, but he strikes out a lot and is a poor defender no matter where he plays (he is a "natural" 3B, but LF is his best position if he can't DH). Because of his age, he could (like Rusin) jump past Peoria and move from Boise to Daytona in 2010.
Cubs Organizational Infield Instructor Franklin Font continues to work with 2009 #2 draft pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) on Field #5 (the "half field" located north of the clubhouse), as the Cubs try to teach LeMahieu the proper way to turn the DP, especially from the 2B position. He was apparently never forced to learn this at LSU, so now he has to learn the technique at the pro level. It's fairly obvious that the Cubs would prefer that LeMahieu play either SS or 2B (preferably 2B), since he has not (yet) displayed the power required of a third-baseman or a corner outfielder, and since be doesn't have any experience playing CF (the other position for which he might have some aptitude).
And speaking of CF, #1 draft pick Brett Jackson (Cal) is progressing with his rehab (sore wrist) and should return to the lineup sometime next week, joining 2009 11th round pick LHP John Mincone (missed three months after June shoulder surgery) and 2008 4th round pick 2B Matt Cerda (missed three months with a broken hand) as recent additions on the Instructs Active Roster. (While Hak-Ju Lee was named the Northwest League's #1 best prosprect by Baseball America today, BA named Jackson the 3rd best prospect in the NWL).
RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (2008 TJS) is still not throwing in Instructs games, although he is participating in daily PFP drills. Rhee made a few rehab appearances at Mesa and Boise at the end of the season, but struggled with his control and got hammered when he did throw strikes (9.35 ERA and 2.08 WHIP). Hopefully Rhee will be back close to 100% in 2010.
Fellow Korean RHP Su-Min Jung returned to South Korea in August to attend college so he is not at Instructs, but he is expected back at Fitch Park next Spring.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only): .
1. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 2-4 (1B, 3-U, L-4, 1B)
2. Tony Thomas, 2B: 0-4 (K, F-8, 6-3, 4-6 FC), R
3. Brandon Guyer, CF: 2-3 (K-WP, 3B, 2B, F-9 SF), R, RBI
4. Jovan Rosa, 1B: 2-3 (6-4-3 DP, HBP, 1B, 1B), R, 2 RBI
5. Justin Bour, DH #1: 1-4 (4-3, 4-6-3 DP, L-6, 2B), RBI
6a. Jae-Hoon Ha, C: 0-1 (P-1)
6b. Sergio Burruel, C: 0-3 (P-6, 3-1, K)
7. Bobby Wagner, 3B: 1-4 (P-5, HR, K, K), R, RBI
8. Runey Davis, LF: 3-4 (2B, 1B, 3B, L-9), R
9. Dong-Yub Kim, DH #2: 0-4 (6-3, 6-3, 6-3, K)
10. Blair Springfield, RF: 1-3 (K, K, 1B), R
1. Chris Rusin - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 35 pitches (27 strikes)
2. Chris Archer - 2.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R (4 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 58 pitches (43 strikes)
3. Julio Pena - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 44 pitches (31 strikes)
4. Eduardo Figueroa - 2.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 1 GIDP, 38 pitches (26 strikes)
ERRORS (2) -
1. Chris Rusin (E-1) - overthrow at 1B on pick-off atemnpt with no outs in top of the 2nd, allowing runner to advance from 1st to 3rd.
2. Bobby Wagner (E-5) - bobbled chopper hit to 3B, allowing batter to reach base with two outs and runners at 1st & 2nd in the top of the 6th.
Jae-Hoon Ha - 1-2 CS, 1 PB
Sergio Burruel - 0-1 CS
Blair Springfield - threw out batter-runner 9-3-4 trying to advance to 2nd base after throw to plate was cut-off by first-baseman on RBI single to RF
WEATHER: breezy & sunny, mid-90's (cold front moved through town)
ATTENDANCE: 17 (mostly scouts)
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.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.