Final Cashner AFL Start Simply Indefensible
Nick Evans (NYM), Mike Moustakas (KC), and Colin Curtis (NYY) each crushed two-run homers, and Ian Kennedy (NYY) threw five innings of one-run ball, leading the Surprise Rafters to a 9-2 drubbing of the Mesa Solar Sox in Arizona Fall League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, in what was Andrew Cashner's final AFL start.
Cashner allowed three runs (two ER) on four hits and a walk, with three strikeouts, over his three innings of work, but he actually looked very good. He threw a shutout top of the 1st, issuing a one-out walk to Daniel Descalso (STL) and allowing an Ike Davis (NYM) two-out single through the box to CF (the ball went off a diving Starlin Castro's glove and trickled into CF, as Castro ranged far behind the 2nd base bag) around a ground out, a strikeout, and a fly out.
Cashner should have had an easy 1-2-3 2nd inning, getting an infield pop up, a weak ground ball to second, and a strikeout. But his defense let him down.
Third-baseman Casey Kelly (BOS) insisted on calling Starlin Castro off the infield pop up, and then proceeded to drop the ball behind the mound, allowing Mike Moustakas to reach base on an E-5. So with Moustakas at 1st and nobody out, Daryl Jones (STL) hit a routine ground ball to Solar Sox second-baseman Steve Singleton (MIN), who figured instead of taking the sure-out at 1st, maybe he should try and get the lead runner (Moustakas) at 2nd base. Unfortunately, it was a hit & run play, so Moustakas beat the throw to 2nd, allowing Jones to reach base on a FC
An exasperated Cashner decided he probably needed to get the outs himself, so he reared-back and threw a couple of 96 MPH heaters and a wipe-out slider past Bryan Anderson (STL), striking out the Rafters catcher. However, the next two batters (Ruben Tejada and Jarrod Dyson) ripped RBI hits, resulting in three runs scoring.
Cashner got out of the 2nd on a DP fly out to CF (Dyson was running on the pitch and he never stopped running), and then threw a shutout 3rd inning (lead-off single by Colin Curtis, followed by an Ike Davis strikeout and two pop ups). But because of the extra pitches he had to throw in the 2nd, Cashner was removed from the game after only three innings of work (63 pitches - 41 strikes).
Starlin Castro played SS and hit 2nd for the Solar Sox, and went 2-4 (raising his batting average to .387).
In his first AB in the bottom of the 1st inning, Castro laced a line-drive single to CF on the 1st pitch he saw, stole second, advanced to third on a bloop single to center, and scored on a bloop hit to LF. He was swinging first pitch again when he ripped an opposite-field single to RF with one out in the bottom of the 3rd, stole second (again), and advanced to third on a fly ball to CF, before being left stranded. He was retired on a lazy fly ball,(F-9) and topped out to third (outstanding barehand pick-up and throw by Rafters 3B Mike Moustakas, just barely nipping Castro at 1st) in his other two plate appearances.
Besides his activity at the plate, Castro also made the defensive play of the day, coming in full-speed behind the mound to grab a ball that was deflected by the pitcher, and then throwing out the batter (Nick Evans) by half-a-step.
Michael Brenly was the catcher today (with father Bob once again in attendance), and batted 9th. He fisted an RBI bloop double down the LF line in the bottom of the 7th, but grounded out weakly 3-U, 6-3, and 4-3 in his other three plate appearances.
LHP James Russell worked the top of the 9th for the Solar Sox and pitched another shutout inning, allowing just a lead-off 1st pitch opposite field single to Ike Davis, before retiring the side on a ground out (Castro's defensive gem) and two strikeouts (and both of Russell's strikeout victims were left-handed hitters). Russell has looked VERY good so far.
Josh Vitters did not play again today (he was a last-minute scratch yesterday), and RHP Blake Parker and LHP John Gaub are scheduled to work out of the bullpen tomorrow night at Scottsdale. Both Parker and Gaub are waiting to find out if they will be added to the Cubs 40-man roster (the deadline is Friday).
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!!!!!!
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.