Angels Rally in 9th to Edge Cubs at HoHoKam
Down to their last out, the AZL Angels rallied for three runs in the top of the 9th to defeat the AZL Cubs 6-4 in Arizona League Opening Day action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this evening.
2010 34th round pick Dustin Harrington and 2009 19th round pick Sergio Burruel had three hits a piece for the Cubs, and both Aaron Kurcz and Dustin Fitzgerald had impressive (albeit brief) pro debuts, as both of the 2010 Cub draft picks threw 1-2-3 innings with two strikeouts. Kurcz throws a fastball in the mid-90's, and was the closer for College of Southern Nevada this past season where he was a teammate of overall #1 draft pick Bryce Harper (and Cubs 27th round draft pick Bryan Harper). And at 6'4 225, Dustin Fitzgerald looks a lot like Thomas Diamond.
AA Tennessee LHP Casey Lambert got the start for the AZL Cubs in what is supposed to be his final rehab outing before leaving Mesa for (presumably) Tennessee, and threw two shutout innings (20 pitches - 14 strikes), allowing a lead-off single in the top of the 1st before striking out the side, and then allowing another lead-off single in the top of the 2nd before retiring the side on three fly outs, one of which ended up being a 7-4 FC at 2nd base after Melvin Camarena just missed a diving catch try in short LF.
BTW, there are two errors in tonight's game BOX SCORE (and GAME RECAP) that appears in minor league baseball.com (see box score link below).
One occurred in the bottom of the 7th inning, when the Cubs took a 4-3 lead. Sergio Burruel and Blair Springfield (after failing to lay down a sac bunt) singled, and then Melvin Camarena--NOT PINCH HITTER Vismeldy Bieneme--laid down a bunt and beat it out for a base hit, with a run scoring on an overthrow by the Angels pitcher at 1st base. Camarena suffered an apparent ankle injury when he landed on the 1st base bag awkwardly and had to leave the game, being replaced by PINCH-RUNNER Vismeldy Bieneme, who was subsequently left stranded after advancing to 2nd base on a WP. Bieneme then did have one AB (but only one) later in the game, striking out leading off the bottom of the 9th. So the official scorer incorrectly gave Bieneme credit for the Camarena bunt single in the 7th, cheating Camarena out of a hit, and instead crediting Bieneme with a hit when he hadn't even entered the game yet at that point.
The other box score error occurred in the top of the 8th, when Angels 3B Michael Bolaski reached base on Catcher's Interference. While AZL Cubs catcher Sergio Burruel was (correctly) charged with an error, Bolaski was also charged with an AB. However, when a batter reaches base on Catcher's Interference, the batter is NOT supposed to be charged with an AB, so Bolaski should be listed as having three AB in the game, not four.
Otherwise, the box score is accurate.
There is another error in the Minor League baseball site, where they list Boise pitcher Marcos Perez as a RHP when he actually throws left-handed. There also are some obvious height/weight discrepancies, showing some players two inches taller than they really are, or 15-20 pounds over or under their actual weight, but those are just too many to list.
It probably would be a good idea for someone at minor league baseball.com to maybe at least correct tonight's box score (giving Camarena an extra AB and hit, and taking away one of Bieneme's AB and his hit, and taking an AB away from Bolaski), and to show Marcos Perez as a LHP at Boise, just for the sake of accuracy, if nothing else.
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.