Ol' Times with Ronny Cedeno / Game #78 Preview
I watched the game intermittently last night, and one of my tune-ins happened in the top of the 7th. The Cubs were leading 3-1 but Pedro Alvarez had connected for a one-out single and then Ryan Doumit ripped a 3-1 pitch into the leftfield corner for a double that moved Alvarez to third. The visitors had the tying runs on base with just one out and roughly 100 pitches into the evening, Ted Lilly looked like he might be out of gas. Len Kasper surmised that this was probably the game's defining moment.
Then Ronny Cedeno stepped into the batter's box.
Cedeno swung at Lilly's very first pitch, a fastball inside, off the plate, and popped out to Starlin Castro. The runners remained planted at second and third.
According to FanGraphs, Cedeno's failed at-bat increased the Cubs' probability of winning by 11.3%, making it the most damaging Pittsburgh at-bat of the night (even more costly than the Ryan Church strikeout which followed). And it was all so Ronny.
Cedeno and his 59 OPS+ are back in the Pirates lineup against Tom Gorzelanny, who is returning to the Cub rotation this afternoon because he's the guy who does NOT have anger management issues.
The offensively-challenged Cubs are sitting Colvin (893 OPS) and Soto (.402 OBP, 862 OPS) in favor of Fukudome (.320 SLG with 1 HR since May 1st) and Hill (586 OPS) because...well, I don't know why.
Buccos vs. Tom Gorzelanny (2-5, 3.41; 1-0, 5.23 all-time vs. Pirates)
Tabata 7, LaRoche 4, McCutchen 8, Jones 3, Doumit 2, Alvarez 5, Milledge 9, Cedeno 6, Lincoln 1
Cubs vs. Brad Lincoln (0-2, 6.00; first appearance vs. Cubs)
Fukudome 9, Fontenot 4, Byrd 8, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Hill 2, Castro 6, Gorzelanny 1
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.
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?