Final Tune-Up for Garza Sucks Gas
A. J. Pollack reached base five times on four singles and a walk, Kelly Johnson had four hits including a double and a three-run HR, ex-Cub Xavier Nady had four hits (including a grand slam HR) and scored three runs, and David Winfree had three hits including a solo HR and a three-run HR, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 15-8 drubbing of the Cubs in what was the final Cactus League game for the Cubs (although they will be playing what's billed as an "intrasquad charity game" tomorrow morning at Dwight Patterson Field before flying to Chicago later in the day).
RHP Matt Garza got the start for the Cubs today, his final Spring Training tune-up. And he did not have a good day, allowing seven runs on 11 hits (including one double and one HR) and two walks in 3+ innings of work (92 pitches - 63 strikes). The one positive note was seven strikeouts in just 3.0 IP, and he did make some good pitches every now & then, but he was mostly pitching out of the stretch all day.
Four of the first five D'back hitters singled in the 1st, but Arizona could only plate one run thanks to a diving stop by 2B Jeff Baker behind 2nd base that kept the bases loaded ("Keep it in the infield!" as the coaches say), allowing Garza to pitch out of the jam by striking out the side, although he did throwc 24 pitches (17 strikes) in the process.
After throwing a scoreless 2nd inning (two two-out singles around an F-7, a K, and and an L-7), Garza had troubles again in the top of the 3rd, as Xavier Nady and Ryan Wheeler singled and David Winfree lined a three-run HR over the LF fence to give the Diamondbacks a 4-0 lead.
The Cubs came back in the bottom of the 3rd against AZ starter LHP Joe Saunders, putting up a five-spot and taking the lead. With one out, Reed Johnson was hit on the foot by a pitch, and moved up to third when Starlin Castro ripped a double down the LF line (it hit the 3rd base bag). Jeff Baker grounded a single to left to score Johnson, and then Aramis Ramirez roped a line-drive single to score Castro. Geovany Soto grounded a single to left to load the bases, before Carlos Pena came through with a bases-clearing three-run double into the left-center alley to give the Cubs the lead.
But the D'backs came right back in the top of the 4th, loading the bases against Garza on a Kelly Johnson double and two walks (Garza was obviously tiring once he hit 80 pitches). LHP Scott Maine (up from Minor League Camp) relieved Garza and had a REALLY bad inning, giving up a towering grand slam HR to Nady, another long ball (solo shot) to David Winfree, and finally, after Aramis Ramirez made a lazy throw to 1st base resulting in an E-5 that prolonged the inning, a three-run HR over the right-centerfield fence to Kelly Johnson (batting for the second time in the inning). In just 1.0 IP, Maine allowed five runs (although technically only two were earned) and four hits (including three HR). Maine also threw 31 pitches (20 strikes) to get through the one inning, an inning he will likely try very hard to forget.
Now down 12-5, the Cubs back again in the bottom of the 4th against Joe Saunders, as PH Nate Samson (up from Minor League Camp) reached base on an E-5, Starlin Castro drew a one-out walk, and Jeff Baker lined an RBI single to left. Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases, Geovany Soto hit a sacrifice fly to CF to score Castro from 3rd, and after LHRP Joe Paterson hit Carlos Pena with a pitch to re-load the bases, all the runners moved up (and PR Darwin Barney scored) when Paterson committed a bases-loaded balk (something you don't see everyday).
So the Cubs were back in the game, down just 12-8, going into the 5th.
RHP Jeff Samardzija (who had been pitching better lately) relieved Maine to start the 5th inning, and immediately got into trouble, allowing back-to-back lead off ground ball singles to Miguel Montero and Xavier Nady. Ryan Wheeler walked to load the bases, but Samardzija struck out David Winfree, who had already hit two HR in the game. However, The Shark's control just wasn't there when he needed it, and he walked Cody Ransom with the bases loaded to force-in a run, before surrendering a SF to plate a second run. Samardzija then walked the bases loaded again, before retiring Kelly Johnson on a line drive to CF.
Samardzija threw a whopping 42 pitches (only 23 strikes) in just one inning of work, and Geovany Soto caught 177 pitches through just the first five innings! (Give that man a Dr. Pepper, please).
RHP Esmailin Caridad (up from Minor League Camp threw two decent innings (6th and 7th), allowing a run on two hits and an HBP with one strikeout (28 pitches - 21 strikes, 2/3 GO/FO), and both Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood threw 1-2-3 innings (both with one strikeout and a 1/1 GO/FO).
But the Cub offense went silent after scoring in the 4th, getting shut down on just one hit (a Matt Spencer line-drive single to right-center with two outs in the bottom of the 9th) over the final five innings. Even though they scored eight runs, the Cubs did so on only seven hits, although they did draw six walks along the way.
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!!!!!!
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.