Billy Goat Kurcz Alive & Well at Papago Park
Michael Gilmartin laced a double off the right-field fence with one out in the bottom of the 9th, knocking-in the tying run and the winning run, as the A’s Split Squad #2 rallied with three runs in the 8th and two in the 9th to edge the Cubs 7-6 in AZ Instructional League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.
The Cubs were in control early, as starter Aaron Kurcz (Cubs 2010 10th round pick out of the College of Southern Nevada) threw three shutout innings, allowing just one broken-bat single and no walks while striking out three. The 20-year old RHP started his college career at the Air Force Academy, before resigning after his freshman year and enrolling at CSN, where he was a teammate of the Washington Nationals #1 draft pick (and 2010 overall #1 pick) Bryce Harper. Kurcz had the misfortune of allowing a walk-off HR in the JUCO World Series that eliminated Southern Nevada, but then he had a very impressive debut pro season after signing with the Cubs, going 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, with 48 strikeouts in just 27.1 IP combined between AZL Cubs and Boise.
Although Kurcz likely projects as a closer or 8th inning set-up guy at the MLB level (he features a mid-90’s heater and a hard-breaking slider), he has been used as a starter so far at Instructs (two GS), as the Cubs are apparently doing with him what they sometimes do with pitchers they project as late-inning relievers, and that is use them as starting pitchers at the lower levels of the minor leagues to force them to use (and hopefully develop) their secondary pitches, and to accumulate as many innings as possible as soon as possible.
While Kurcz was shutting out the A’s, the Cubs scored one run in the 2nd on a two-out RBI ground single to CF by Max Kwan, and then another run in the top of the 3rd on a one-out single by Marco Hernandez (his first of three hits today), a HBP, and a two-out RBI bloop single to right-center by Justin Bour.
After the A’s tied the game in the 5th, the Cubs scored three times in the 6th as Cubs 2010 3rd round pick Micah Gibbs (LSU) crashed a one-out solo HR over the RF fence, and Cubs 2010 2nd round pick Reggie Golden (Wetumpka HS - Wetumpka, AL) ripped a two-out two-run RBI double down the LF line, scoring Dustin Geiger and Xavier Batista with the Cubs 4th and 5th runs of the day. The Cubs finished their scoring (and took a 6-2 lead) in the top of the 8th, as Geiger, Batista, and Kwan stroked three consecutive two-out singles to plate one run.
But the Cubs bullpen could not hold the lead, as 19-year old Dominican RHP Amaury Paulino surrendered three runs (but only one ER) in the bottom of the 8th on a lead-off double and a walk, two errors, and a passed ball. Then RHP Kevin Rhoderick (Cubs 2010 9th round draft pick out of Oregon State) came into the game in the bottom of the 9th trying to protect a 6-5 Cub lead and rack up the save, but he didn’t fool anybody, as the A’s strung together two singles and Gilmartin’s walk-off double to win the game 7-6. Rhoderick had an impressive pro debut last Saturday at Fitch Park, but he didn’t appear to have the same velocity on his fastball or control of his slider in today’s outing.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Evan Crawford, RF: 1-4 (E4, F-8, 1B, K, SB)
1b. Oliver Zapata, CF: 0-1 (5-3)
2a. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-2 (6-3 GIDP, HBP, L-6 DP)
2b. Wes Darvill, 2B: 0-2 (L-8, K)
3a. Justin Bour, 1B: 1-3 (6-3, 1B, K, RBI)
3b. Ryan Cuneo, 1B: 0-2 (4-3, 3-U)
4a. Micah Gibbs, C: 1-2 (F-8, BB, HR, RBI, R)
4b. Engel Santana, C: 0-1 (3-U)
5. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 2-4 (P-4, 5-U FC, 1B, 1B, 2 R, SB)
6. Xavier Batista, DH-LF: 2-3 (1B, K, BB, 1B, 2 R, SB)
7. Max Kwan, DH #2: 2-4 (1B, 3-1, K, 1B, 2 RBI)
8. Reggie Golden, CF-RF: 2-3 (K, 1B, 2B, BB, 2 RBI)
9. Chris Huseby, LF-DH: 0-4 (F-9, K, 4-3, 4-3)
10. Marco Hernandez, SS: 3-4 (1B, 4-3, 1B, 2B, R, PO)
1. Aaron Kurcz: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 36 pitches (21 strikes), 3/3 GO/FO
2. Tarlandus Mitchell: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 38 pitches (22 strikes), 4/0 GO/FO
3. Luis Liria: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 27 pitches (19 strikes), 3/2 GO/FO
4. Amaury Paulino: 1.0 IP, 1 H 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 21 pitches (12 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
5. Kevin Rhoderick: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 17 pitches (11 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
3B Dustin Geiger E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base – eventually scored unearned run)
SS Marco Hernandez E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base – eventually scored unearned run)
CF Oliver Zapata E-8 (errant throw from CF on play at the plate allowed batter-runner to advance an extra base – eventually scored unearned run)
Engel Santana: 1 PB
ATTENDANCE: 14 (mostly scouts)
WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy, with temperatures in the 90’s
2010 CUBS INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE ROSTER:
ACTIVE LIST (47):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Hunter Ackerman
* Brent Ebinger
* Cam Greathouse
* Casey Harman
* Jeff Lorick
* Brian Smith
Alvaro Sosa (ex-C)
Charles Thomas (ex-3B)
* Sergio Burruel
# Micah Gibbs
# Engel Santana
* Justin Bour
* Ryan Cuneo
* Pin-Chieh Chen
* Wes Darvill
* Marco Hernandez
* Hak-Ju Lee
D. J. Lemahieu
* Logan Watkins
* Delbis Arcila
Chris Huseby (ex-P)
* Kyung-Min Na
# Oliver Zapata
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.