Grizzlies Like Marmolade for Lunch
Carlos Marmol allowed three first-inning runs, facing five batters and retiring only one (BB, 2B, HBP, F-7, 2B), and a four-run 8th inning Iowa Cubs rally fell one run short (the potential tying run was left stranded on 3rd base), as the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants AAA affiliate) almost blew a 6-1 lead but held-on to edge the I-Cubs 7-6 on Field #3, while over on Field #2, Steve Clevenger “celebrated” his assignment to AA (for the third year in a row!) with an RBI single and a double, but two baserunners were thrown at key points in the game (Josh Vitters trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a hit & run single to CF in the 4th, and D. J. Lemahieu trying to score from 1st on double in the 8th), as the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA affiliate) edged the Tennessee Smokies 4-3 in Cactus League Minor League action at Fitch Park this afternoon
Marmol was at Fitch Park to get work, as the Cubs obviously wanted him to throw two days in a row at least once prior to Opening Day (Marmol threw an inning yesterday at HoHoKam Park). The same thing was done with Sean Marshall on Saturday, throwing him in a minor league game the day after he had thrown in an MLB Cactus League game. Managers sometimes want their one-inning guys (set-up men and closer) to throw more than one inning once and throw in back-to-back games at least once toward the end of Spring Training.
Tennessee RHP Rafael Dolis struggled once again with his control, laboring through a three-run 29-pitch 1st inning, before settling down to throw a bit better in his second and third innings. Dolis has quality stuff and he throws in the mid-upper 90’s, but he just throws too many pitches-per-inning to be an effective starting pitcher. While the Cubs may continue to use him as starter for a while longer (to get him more innings of experience and to force him to use his secondary stuff), I suspect his future probably lies in the bullpen.
Conversely, Iowa Cubs RHP Hung-Wen Chen threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball (following Marmol to the hill on Field #3), and he needed only 30 pitches to do it.
Tennessee Smokies IF-OF David Macias finally got to see some game action behind the plate, catching the 8th and 9th innings. And he looked every bit like a utility infielder back there, too, throwing himself at pitches in the dirt and catching balls like they were "live" hand grenades
After playing a three-inning intrasquad "sim game" on Field #1 (with rehab pitchers including Angel Guzman and Jon Nagel throwing an inning a piece), several players from the Boise/Mesa (Extended Spring Training) squad (SS Wes Darvill, 3B Dustin Geiger, 2B Gioskar Amaya, catchers Johan DeJesus and Brian Inoa, and outfielders Blair Springfield and Xavier Batista) saw some late game action with Iowa. (Players from the Boise/Mesa Extended Spring Training group are often used as late inning replacements in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games).
In Minor League Camp roster news, with catcher Welington Castillo getting optioned to Iowa today, Steve Clevenger was moved down from Iowa to Tennessee (for the third year in a row), Luis Flores was moved down from Tennessee to Daytona, and Sergio Burruel was moved down from Daytona to Peoria.
Also, infielder Marwin Gonzalez was moved down from Iowa to Tennessee, infielders Junior Lake, Jake Opitz, and Logan Watkins, and outfielder Nelson Perez were moved down from Tennessee to Daytona, infielders Pierre LePage and Elliot Soto were moved down to Peoria from Daytona, and infielder Dustin Harrington and RHP Ben Wells were assigned to Boise/Mesa (Extended Spring Training) from Peoria.
And finally, OF Kyler Burke has been moved from Tennessee to the Boise/Mesa squad, where he will be converted to a LHP at Extended Spring Training. This is really not too surprising, since Burke is considered to have the best outfield arm in the organization, he was two-way player (LHP/OF) in high school, and some clubs supposedly had him rated higher as a pitcher than as an outfielder going into the 2006 June Draft.
The San Diego Padres selected Burke in the Supplemental 1st round of the 2006 draft (35th overall) as an outfielder, and traded him to the Cubs (along with catcher Rob Bowen) for Michael Barrett in June 2007. Burke struggled to hit “A”-ball pitching for three years (2006-08), before finally having what appeared at the time to be a breakout season in 2009 at Peoria, when he hit 303/405/505 with 15 HR and 43 doubles, and was named Cubs 2009 Minor League Player of the Year. But he was unable to follow-up on his 2009 success at “Hi-A” Daytona in 2010, hitting a dismal 212/279/328 with only seven HR and 131 K, and there was just no room for him in the Tennessee Smokies outfield in 2011.
Burke will be joining the likes of Carlos Marmol, Randy Wells, Blake Parker, Luke Sommer, Jake Muyco, Adalberto Mendez, and Charles Thomas as position players successfully converted to pitchers by the Cubs. Burke is still only 23 years old (he will turn 24 next month), and he has the added advantage of having been a pitcher previously in his baseball career, so he may not require a lot of time to make the move and get comfortable.
Burke is eligible to be a Rule 55 Minor League Free-Agent (6YFA) after the 2012 season, so the Cubs will have two seasons to decide if Burke shows enough promise as a pitcher to get added to the club’s MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) before he has the option to leave as a minor league free-agent. (Burke became eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2010, and he will continue to be eligible for selection until he becomes a 6YFA post-2012).
Here are today’s abridged box scores (Cubs players only):
FIELD #2 (CLASS AA – Tennessee Smokies vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels)
1a. Brett Jackson, CF: 1-4 (F-7, 3B, 4-3, 3-U, R)
1b. Smaily Borges, RF: 0-1 (6-3)
2. D. J. Lemahieu, 2B: 2-3 (1B, K, 1B, BB, R)
3. Steve Clevenger, DH: 2-4 (P-5, 1B, 4-6-3 DP, 2B, RBI)
4. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 1-4 (2B, K, K, 6-3, RBI)
5. Josh Vitters, 3B: 1-4 (6-3, 1B, 4-3, 5-3)
6. Ryan Flaherty, LF: 0-4 (K, F-7, 3-U, E-5)
7. Jae-Hoon Ha, RF-CF: 2-4 (5-3, 1B, 6-3, 1B, R)
8a. Michael Brenly, C: 1-3 (F-8, 1B, L-3)
8b. David Macias, C: 0-1 (E-5)
9. Marwin Gonzalez, SS: 1-4 (K, 1B, 5-3, L-6, RBI)
1. Rafael Dolis: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 3K, 1 PO, 58 pitches (33 strikes), 2/3 GO/FO
2. Aaron Shafer: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 25 pitches (17 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
3. Chris Siegfried: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 33 pitches (23 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
4. Mike Perconte: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 8 pitches (6 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
5. David Cales: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 11 pitches (8 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
1. Josh Vitters was thrown out 8-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on hit & run single with one out in the 4th.
2. D. J. Lemahieu was thrown out 8-4-2 trying to score from 1st on a double with one out in the 8th.
FIELD #3 (CLASS AAA – Iowa Cubs vs Fresno Grizzlies)
1a. Tony Campana, CF: 1-3 (4-3, F-9, 1B)
1b. Brandon Watson, CF: 2-2 (1B, 1B, RBI)
2. Fernando Perez, DH: 1-5 (K, 2B, K, K, 6-3, R)
3a. Lou Montanez, LF: 1-3 (F-9, 1-U, 3B, R)
3b. Xavier Batista, LF: 1-2 (1B, 6-3, R)
4a. Matt Spencer, 1B: 0-1 (K, BB)
4b. Blair Springfield, RF: 0-2 (K, F-7)
4c. Brian Inoa, PH: 0-1 (K)
5. Blake Lalli, C-1B: 1-5 (K, 6-3, 1B, 6-3, K, RBI)
6a. Ty Wright, RF: 1-1 (1B, BB, CS)
6b. Johan DeJesus, C: 1-2 (4-6-3 DP, 1B, R, RBI)
7a. Bobby Scales, 3B: 0-2 (F-8, F-8)
7b. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 1-1 (1B, BB, R)
8a. Matt Camp, SS: 1-1 (1B)
8b. Wes Darvill, PH-SS: 1-2 (1B, P-4, BB, R)
9a. Jonathan Mota, 2B: 0-2 (6-4-3 DP, F-9)
9b. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 1-2 (F-8, 1B, 2 RBI)
1. Carlos Marmol: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 18 pitches (8 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
2. Hung-Wen Chen: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 30 pitches (20 strikes), 2/6 GO/FO
3. Blake Parker: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2 GIDP, 24 pitches (17 strikes), 5/0 GO/FO
4. Jake Muyco: 1.0 IP,1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 10 pitches (7 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
5. John Gaub: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 32 pitches (19 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
6. Jeff Stevens: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 10 pitches (4 strikes), 0/3 GO/FO
NOTE: 1st inning was terminated with runner on 2nd base and only one out ("Roll It!") when Marmol reached his pre-scheduled max pitch count
Blake Lalli: 0-4 CS
WEATHER: Sunny, with temperatures in the 70’s