Breakfast with the Cubs
The Angels edged the Cubs 8-7 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, in what was the final 2009 Instructs game for the Cubs.
Because it was the last game and several players were scheduled to depart home from Sky Harbor Airport at mid-day, the game started at 9 AM, and was called after eight innings.
Only 11 Cubs position players and five pitchers were dressed for the game (others left town last night or early this morning, while a dozen more left a week ago), and two of the players in today's starting lineup (Jovan Rosa and Richard Jones) had to leave for the airport at 10:30 AM, so the Cubs used a nine-man batting order (only one DH today), and played with no extra men available in case of injury once Rosa and Jones left.
20-year old RHP Trey McNutt (Cubs 2009 32nd round pick out of Shelton State CC, who got over-slot money to sign) got the start for the Cubs today, and threw three shutout innings. He did allow five hits (four singles and a double) in those three innings, but he didn't issue any walks, and he picked a runner off 2nd base to get out of one jam, and benefiited from a baserunning gaffe by the Angels to get out of another.
RHP Thomas Diamond followed McNutt to the hill, and had his best outing since being acquired from Texas off waivers last month, throwing three innings of one-hit shutout ball, while striking out five in a row at one point. The 26-year old Diamond (the Rangers 1st round draft pick in 2004 out of the University of New Orleans, who underwent TJS in 2007) was absolutely dominating today, throwing hard and pitching with a lot of confidence. .
The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the 6th, but Logan Watkins led-off the frame with a sharply-struck single through the box to CF, followed by a D,. J. LeMahieu RBI triple smashed off the RF fence that scored Watkins from 1st base. Brett Jackson then lined an opposite-field single to LF to score LeMahieu with the second run of the inning.
However, the Cubs lead was short-lived, as the Angels pummeled RHP Tarlandus Mitchell and LHP (ex-OF) Drew Rundle to the tune of eight runs on seven hits (five singles and two triples), two walks, and a WP, in a nightmare top of the 7th.
The Cubs did come back in the bottom of the 7th to score four runs and cut the Angels lead to 8-6, as Sergio Burruel led-off with a bloop single to CF, advanced to 3rd on a Rebel Ridling double that was crushed off the Green Monster "batter's eye" in dead CF, and then both runners scored on an opposite-field two-run RBI double lined into the RF corner by Brandon May. D. J. LeMahieu lined a one-out RBI single to center to plate May, and, after taking 2nd on the throw to the plate and advancing to 3rd on a WP, LeMahieu scored on a Brett Jackson sac-fly to left.
The Cubs came close to tying the game in the bottom of the 8th (which was understood by both teams to be the last inning). Ryan Flaherty and Justin Bour walked to open the frame, and advanced one base each as Sergio Burruel bounced out 4-1 (2nd baseman to the pitcher covering 1st). Then Flaherty scored and Bour (representing the tying run) moved up to third when Rebel Ridling reached base on an RBI E-6 (errant throw to 1st base by the SS). However, Brandon May struck out swinging for the second out, and then Logan Watkins was retired for the final out of the game (and the final out of Instructs) on a spectacular diving catch by the Angels right-fielder on what looked like a sure-fire game-tying (or possibly even game-winning) bloop hit into right-center.
Several of the Cubs who attended Instructs at Fitch Park will be playing Winter Ball in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic, and eight more will be en route from Phoenix to the Cubs Dominican Academy in Boca Chica for six weeks of Dominican Instructional League, where the American kids will get a chance to see how their Latin brothers live and play ball at Baseball City.
Last year, Matt Cerda, Brandon Guyer, Nate Samson, and Josh Vitters spent a month at the Cubs Dominican Academy after attending AZ Instructs, and it worked so well that Player Development Director Oneri Fleita decided to expand it and send even more U. S. kids down there this year. (The Dominican Instructional League runs through November).
Meanwhile, Fitch Park will continue to be used throughout the off-season by players rehabbing from injuries.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only): .
1. Logan Watkins, 2B: 1-5 (2-3, 3-2 FC, 1B, 4-3, P-9), R
2. D. J. LaMahieu, SS: 2-4 (6-3, 4-3, 3B, 1B) 2 R, 2 RBI
3. Brett Jackson, CF: 1-3 (K, K, 1B, L-7 SF), 2 RBI
4. Brandon Guyer, RF: 0-4 (F-8, K, L-5 DP, F-8)
5. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 1-3 (L-9, 2B, E-4, BB), R
6. Justin Bour, 1B: 0-3 (E-6, 4-3, K, BB)
7a. Jovan Rosa, C: 0-1 (L-8)
7b. Sergio Burruel, C: 1-3 (4-3, 1B, 4-1), R
8a. Richard Jones, DH: 1-1 (2B)
8b. Rebel Ridling, PH-DH: 1-2 (BB, 2B, E-6), R, RBI, PO
9. Brandon May, LF: 1-4 (6-3, F-9, 2B, K), R, 2 RBI
1. Trey McNutt - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 4/2 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)
2. Thomas Diamond - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/3 GO/FO, 44 pitches (27 strikes)
3. Tarlandus Mitchell - 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R (5 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 28 pitches (13 strikes)
4. Drew Rundle - 0.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 19 pitches (16 strikes)
5. Corey Martin - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R,0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 8 pitches (5 strikes)
CATCHERS DEFENSE: No SB attempts, PB, or errors involving Cubs catchers.
OUTFIELD ASSIST: Brandon Guyer
WEATHER: 90's & sunny
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
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!!!!!!