What a Guy!-er
Brandon Guyer ripped a two-run home run over the LF fence in the 5th, made a spectacular run-saving diving catch in right-center in the 7th, and sliced a game-tying single to right with two outs in the top of the 9th, but the A's took advantage of a Ryan Flaherty error in the bottom of the 9th to score an unearned run and edge the Cubs 5-4 in AZ Instructional League action at the Oakland A's Papago Park Sports Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.
The 23-year old Guyer is one of the most experienced players at Instructs (he has a half-season of AA experience), and he was invited to Instructs specifically to work on improving his arm strength, HR power, and outfield play in CF and RF.
Guyer was a third-baseman in HS before enrolling at the University of Virginia in 2004, where he was moved to LF because some guy named Ryan Zimmerman had already staked-out 3B for the Cavs. The Cubs drafted Guyer in the 5th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft, and kept him in LF at Boise.
Guyer began to display HR power at Peoria in 2008, hitting 14 dingers in just 88 games (he missed the first half of the season rehabbing an elbow uinjury at Extended Spring Training),.and he was so impressive at Minor League Camp this past March that he was jumped to AA Tennessee to start the 2009 season.
But Guyer struggled at Tennessee and was demoted to Hi-A Daytona in May. Then after hitting 347/407/453 in 73 games for the D-Cubs, Guyer was moved back up to Tennessee again in August. Combined at Daytona and Tennessee in 2009, Guyer hit 282/339/385, with 28 doubles, five triples, 3 HR, and 30 SB (7 CS) in 130 games.
Even though he is not a "natural" outfielder, Guyer plays OF with the "crash & burn" spirit, energy, and enthusiasm of a football free-safety (like a Reed Johnson or an Eric Byrnes), which has (unfortunately) resulted in all too-frequent injuries But when healthy, Guyer can make the run-saving or game-saving spectacular catch, as happened today.
It's likely that Guyer will begin the 2010 season back at AA Tennessee (where he finished the 2009 season), probably playing all three OF positions to help him develop the versatility he will likely need once he reaches the big leagues. The fact that he has also played 3B in HS and both 3B and 1B occasionally in college could mean that he might morph into a super-sub IF-OF at some point, especially if he can learn to play 2B.
Although I have no specific reason to believe this will happen, it's possible that the Cubs will add Brandon Guyer to the "taxi squad" of the Mesa Solar Sox next week, once Instructs is over and the AFL season commences. They did this two years ago with Steve Clevenger, after he completed Instructs. (Players on an AFL team's "taxi squad" are permitted to play in games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, although taxi squad players often will end up being elevated to "full time" status to replace an injured player).
Besides Guyer's big day, 2009 6th round pick Brooks Raley got the start in this afternoon's game, and threw three shutout innings. The 21-year old lanky 6'3 lefty struggled with his command (throwing 56 pitches, but only 29 strikes), although he did get lots of ground ball outs, especially when he really needed them.
Raley is not overpowering (89-91 MPH sinker, with a decent breaking ball and an OK change), and while he is not as polished as fellow LHP Chris Rusin (Cubs 2009 4th round pick out of the U. of Kentucky), he does seem to understand the concept of mixing his pitches and working hitters. As things stand right now, I would expect Raley to begin the 2010 season in the Peoria Chiefs starting rotation, with Rusin probaly getting jumped to Daytona .
What's interesting about Raley is that he was probably the best "two-way" player in college baseball in 2009, a "draft-eligible" sophomore who played OF on days he wasn't pitching (Raley is a good hitter with plus-speed and an outstanding OF arm). Of the scouts out here who saw Raley play at Texas A & M, about half liked him better as an outfielder (CF), although (obviously) the Cubs see him as a pitcher (at least for now).
Raley's $750K signing bonus was more than what most 2nd round picks got this year, so his bonus was WAY above the slot where was selected (6th round, #200 overall selection in the draft). In fact, among the Cubs 50 draft picks in 2009, only 1st round pick Brett Jackson received a larger bonus than Raley,.But the Cubs had to pay over-slot to persuade Raley to turn pro (and he didn't sign until July), since he had two years of eligibility remaining at A & M. Now it's up to Raley to prove the Cubs weren't fools.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 1-4 (K, K, 4-3, 1B), R
2a. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 1-3 (L-4, 1B, 6-3), CS
2b. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-0 (BB), R
3. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, F-8, 1-3), R
4. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 1-4 (F-9, P-6, 1B, 5-3), RBI
5. Brandon Guyer, RF: 2-4 (4-3, HR, 5-3, 1B), R, 3 RBI
6a. Michael Brenly, DH #1: 0-2 (K, 5-3)
6b. Runey Davis, PH-DH: 2-2 (1B, 1B), SB, PO
7a. Brandon May, C: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Jae-Hoon Ha, C: 0-1 (K)
8. Blair Springfield, LF: 0-2 (K, L-9, BB)
9a. Wes Darvill, SS: 0-2 (K, 4-3)
9b. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 1-1 (1B)
10. Pin-Chieh Chen, DH #2: 1-3 (K, 2B, F-7)
1. Brooks Raley - 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 6/1 GO/FO, 56 pitches (29 strikes)
2. John Mincone - 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 33 pitches (18 strikes)
3. Yao-Lin Wang - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 28 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Julio Pena - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 16 pitches (13 strikes)
5. Corey Martin - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 1/1 GO/FO, 27 pitches (19 strikes)
ERRORS (1): Ryan Flaherty (E-5) - juggled ground ball allowing batter leading off the bottom of the 9th inning to reach base, and the runner moved up to 2nd base on a WP and to 3rd on a balk, before scoring the (unearned) winning run on a one-out line single to CF.
1. Brandon May: 1 PB
2. Jae-Hoon Ha: 0-2 CS
WEATHER: upper 80's & sunny (it's getting hot again!)
ATTENDANCE: 36 (SRO)
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible
I was hearing some talk that John Mallee is trying to change Heyward's swing. Wonder if that is lending itself to the slow start.
at least it wasn't a "nobody showed up" stomping.
anytime you wanna jumpstart your season would be nice, heyward.