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
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
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!!!!!!