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)
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.