Dodger Miscues Just Keep On Giving
Xavier Batista rapped out three singles and an RBI double and scored four runs, and his teammates took advantage of six errors, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Dodgers 11-5 in Arizona League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.
RHP Hector Mayora got the start for the Cubs and had a strong outing, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and two walks over the course of four innings (63 pitches - 40 strikes) while striking out five. Mayora struggled during Extended Spring Training, but he has pitched very well so far in four AZL appearances (13.1 IP), racking up a 1.35 ERA and 0.71 WHIP.
18-year old RHP Austin Reed (2010 12th round pick out of Rancho Cucamonga HS - Rancho Cucamonga, CA) followed Mayora to the mound, and had major control problems in his two innings of work (38 pitches - 19 strikes), walking four. He was the beneficary of two line drive DPs that got him out of jams in both innings, the latter a spectacular diving catch & throw by CF Anthony Giansanti (2010 NDFA - Siena U.) that doubled a brain-dead Dodger runner off 2nd base. Reed is a big, strong kid with electric stuff, but he was behind on every hitter and at one point threw 12 consecutive balls. He reportedly had issues with his mechanics in HS, and you can see why. Once he gets out of whack it's hard for him to recover.
The Cubs offense scored in five of their eight ABs.
With the Cubs trailing 1-0, Giansanti laid down a beautiful bunt single up the 3rd base line to open the 2nd inning, stole 2nd base, and scored on a one-out RBI double to right by Xavier Batista. Then with two outs, Dustin Harrington split the gap in right-center with an RBI triple, scoring Batista. Harrington has been playing mostly SS (the position he played in college at East Carolina) so far, but (like Brandon May) he has the thick lower-body of a 3B or catcher, and I would think he will be moved to the hot corner once a true SS arrives (assuming one does actually arrive before the end of the AZL season).
Albert Hernandez and X. Batista opened the bottom of the 4th with line drive singles and advanced a base a piece on a WP, before both runners scored on a Vismeldy Bieneme two out RBI single plus an E-9 errant throw to the plate, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
Up 4-2, the Cubs scored five more runs in the bottom of the 6th, as X. Batista rapped out a lead-off single, and advanced to 2nd on an infield hit by Dustin Geiger (2010 24th round pick out of Merritt Island HS - Brevard County, FL). Geiger just reported to Mesa last week, and while the Cubs drafted him as a RF, he has been playing only 3rd base so far (3B being the position he played in HS, and where he feels most-comfortable right now). Harrington then laid-down a sac bunt that the Dodger pitcher proceeded to throw into right field, scoring Batista, with the other runners advancing to 2nd & 3rd on the overthrow. Bieneme then looped an RBI single to CF to score Geiger, and Harrington came around to score when the CF over-ran the ball, which also allowed Bieneme to move up to 2nd base. Pin-Chieh Chen walked, and after Bieneme advanced to third on a fly out, Chen stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on the catcher's E-2 overthrow that also allowed Bieneme to score, and then Chen scored the fifth and final run of the inning on a Chad Noble one-out F-8 SF.
The Cubs scored their 10th run in the 7th when X. Batista ripped his third single (and fourth hit) of the night, advanced to 3rd base on an errant pick-off throw, and scored on a WP.
2010 20th round draft pick Ryan Cuneo (U.of Delaware) hit a solo HR over the RF fence (his 2nd AZL HR) with two outs in the bottom of the 8th to complete the Cubs scoring. Cuneo is now hitting 348/400/580 in 17 AZL games (he's 6th in the AZL in SLG, and 10th in BA).
Besides Anthony Giansanti's outstanding diving catch in CF that helped save Austin Reed's night, Dustin Geiger made a fine stop & throw at 3rd base, throwing out the Dodger lead-off hitter in the top of the 3rd.
In AZL Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP (and ex-OF) Drew Rundle has been released. Rundle was the Cubs 14th round pick in 2006 out of Bend HS - Bend, OR, but received "over-slot" 3rd round money to give up his baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona. He was converted to a LHP at the AZ Instructional League last October after failing as a hitter (227/338/380 in 941 minor league PA 2006-09), but he just did not develop on the mound as was hoped. (Prior to October 2009, he had last pitched when he was a junior in HS).
Rumor has it that the Cubs are looking to move their Hi-A affiliate from the Florida State League to the more hitter-friendly California League. The weather in Florida is very erratic, especially once hurricane season starts in August (at one point last season the Daytona Cubs had about a week's worth of games rained out). And playing in more of a hitter's league might help the Cubs young sluggers develop more of a HR stroke than is the case for those toiling in the cavernous parks of the FSL (where long fly balls go to die).
At present there are ten teams in the California League, 12 teams in the Florida State League, and eight tems in the Carolina League (the third Hi-A league), so the Cubs moving their Hi-A affiliate from the FSL to the Califiornia League would require either expanding the California League to 12 teams (with the FSL losing two teams), or else the Cubs could replace another MLB club with an affiliate presently in the California League (perhaps the Astros in Lancaster?), with that club then transferring it's Hi-A affiliate to the Florida State League.
FWIW, the Cubs are one of only two MLB clubs with a Hi-A affiliate in the Florida State League where the MLB club does not have its Spring Training base and Minor League HQ in Florida (the Milwaukee Brewers are the only other one), and the Houston Astros are the only MLB club with a Hi-A affiliate in the California League that does not have its Spring Training base and Minor League HQ in Arizona.
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.
For some reason