Crosstown Classic, Instructs Style
In the AZ Instructional League, Chicago's "Crosstown Classic" is West-Side versus East-Side rather than North-Side versus South-Side, but it's still Sox versus Cubs, and such was the case today, as about 20 White Sox youngsters boarded a couple of maxi-vans at Camelback Ranch in Glendale and traveled 30 miles east down the Papago and Red Mountain freeways to meet the Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
And the Cubs probably wish the West Side Hit Men had just stayed home at the ranch, too, because the Cubs surrendered 12 runs on 15 hits, five walks, two HBP, a balk, four stolen bases, two errors, a passed ball, and 11 wild pitches.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense could muster just four runs on only five hits (albeit three of the hits were for extra bases), four walks, and two stolen bases (plus the aid of two Sox errors). And the White Sox pitchers didn't throw anywhere near 11 wild pitches, either. In fact, they didn't throw any.
2009 1st round draft pick Brett Jackson (Cal) got the start in CF for the Cubs, and went hitless, although he did draw a walk in his 4th and final AB. Jackson has been nursing a sore right wrist for the past six weeks, and he played today with a pressure sleeve on his right forearm and a tightly wrapped right wrist (he bats left-handed, but throws right-handed). He looked rusty at the plate.
Lanky 6'6 Taiwanese RHP Tzu-An Wang made his Cubs debut today, and the 18-year old really struggled, allowing three runs on four hits, while also throwing three wild pitches and committing a balk, in 1.2 IP. He was unable to finsh his second inning of work. Wang received a reported $350K signing bonus earlier this year. T. A. Wang has a similar frame as fellow lanky Cub minor league right-handers Chris Huseby and Toby Matchulat.
2009 3rd round pick LHP Austin Kirk (Owasso HS - Owasso, OK) worked 2.1 IP and struck out three, but he also allowed two runs on three hits (two triples and a double), as he had trouble keeping his pitches down. But when the stocky left-hander puts the ball where he wants to put it, he can be filthy.
3B-turned-catcher Jovan Rosa had another tough day behind the plate, allowing a PB and four SB, while gunning down only one runner (and that was on a pitch-out). Rosa was also absolutely helpless to block the many wild pitches uncorked by the Cubs pitchers. Rosa needs to work on both his throwing AND his receiving (and ball blocking) skills, and he has a long way to go to that end.
Plus, now Rosa appears totally lost as a hitter, too, probably because his mind is jammed with all of the things he needs to learn and remember as a catcher. Hopefully Rosa will turn the corner in time for the 2010 season.
IF-OF Brandon May (2009 36th round pick out of U. of Alabama) also has had lots of problems (so far) learning the art of catching, and Jae-Hoon Ha has had some difficulty re-learning the position (the Cubs signed Ha as a catcher, but then immediately moved him to the OF). And youngster Sergio Burruel (2009 19th round draft pick out of Trevor Browne HS in Phoenix) is a promising power-hitting lefty swinger, but he is raw behind the plate. Same goes for "HR or Bust" lefty swinging Richard Jones (2009 9th round pick out of The Citadel), who looks more comfortable at 1B (or DH).
Among the six Cubs catchers at Instructs (not counting Welington Castillo, who is at Fitch Park to prepare for the start of the AFL season next week, and Matt Cerda, who has been moved back to the infield), only Michael Brenly looks like a real, legitimate catcher. (And Brenly will almost certainly be the #1 catcher at Daytona next season).
Logan Watkins (triple, walk, and a stolen base) and D. J. LeMahieu (a single and a stolen base, two runs scored, plus one RBI) provided most of the Cubs offense today. Ryan Flaherty also had an RBI on a double that just missed going over the RF fence for a HR.
LeMahieu is the best pure hitter at Instructs, ripping line drives all over the yrard (although he has yet to demonstrate a HR swing), and if he can master the DP turn at 2B (the position the Cubs would prefer he play), he could move VERY quickly through the system.
2B Logan Watkins and SS Hak-Ju Lee (the likely 2010 Opening Day 2B-SS combo at Peoria) have also had impressive showings, Rebel Ridling has provided a reliable RBI bat and OK defense at 1B, and Ryan Flaherty displays lefty plus-power (probably annual 20+), with the versatility to play almost anywhere on the diamond except pitcher and catcher.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Logan Watkins, 3B: 1-2 (BB, K, 3B), 2 R, SB
1b. Brandon May, 3B: 0-0 (BB)
2a. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 1-3 (FC+E4, 3-U, 1B), R, 2 RBI, SB
2b. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 0-1 (4-6 FC)
3. Brett Jackson, CF:0-3 (3-U, F-8, F-9, BB), RBI
4a. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 0-3 (L-6, F-8, 5-3)
4b. Richard Jones, 1B: 0-1 (K)
5. Ryan Flaherty, SS: 1-4 (2B, 1-3, 6-3, 5-3), RBI
6a. Jovan Rosa, C: 0-2 (P-4, K)
6b. Michael Brenly, C: 0-2 (F-9, 6-3)
7. Bobby Wagner, LF: 1-3 (P-5, 2B, K, BB)
8a. Wes Darvill, DH #1: 0-3 (6-3, 4-3, E-3), R
8b. Runey Davis, PH: 0-1 (K)
9. Sergio Burruel, DH #2: 1-3 (6-3, 4-3, 1B)
10. Kyung-Min Na, RF: 0-3 (1-U, 4-3, K)
1. Alberto Cabrera – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 1 K, 2 WP, 4/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (22 strikes)
2. Tarlandus Mitchell – 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 2/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes)
3. Tzu-An Wang – 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 3 WP, 1 BALK, 1 GIDP, 4/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Austin Kirk – 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 2/2 GO/FO, 36 pitches (22 strikes)
5. Jose Rosario – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3 WP, 1/0 GO/FO, 23 pitches (10 strikes)
6. Corey Martin – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (18 strikes)
1. Rebel Ridling (E-3) – batted ball caromed off glove into RF with runner on 2nd base and two outs in the top of the 2nd inning, allowing the runner at 2nd base to score an unearned run.
2. Ryan Flaherty (E-6) – overthrow at 1st base on infield single (H+E) leading off top of the 4th inning, allowing batter to advance to 2nd base.
Jovan Rosa: 1-5 CS, 1 PB
WEATHER: 80, partly cloudy, some scattered showers
ATTENDANCE: 14 (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.