Cubs Pitchers Loosen Up Rockies with 19 Strikeouts

Doug Davis threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball, Todd Wellemeyer threw a 1-2-3 13-pitch inning, and Matt Loosen struck out eight in just 2.2 IP, as five EXST Cubs pitchers struck out 19 EXST Rockies batters en route to a 3-2 victory in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


Although the Cubs were ahead 3-0 after the end of the Rockies 9th, the game was extended to 11 innings so that additional Cubs and Rockies pitchers could get their pre-scheduled work.


Making his second start since signing a minor league contract with the Cubs last week, Davis (post-2010 elbow surgery rehab) made quick work of the Rockies, needing just 24 pitches (20 strikes) to retire nine of the ten men he faced. The only blemish was a two-out triple in the right-center gap in the top of the 1st inning, and that runner was left-stranded. Davis struck out two (both swinging), and had a 6/1 GO/FO rate, as his sinker was working very well. The veteran soft-tossing lefty kept the young Rockies hitters off-balance throughout his three-inning stint, mixing an 84 MPH sinker with a curve and a change-up.


Todd Wellemeyer (sore hip rehab) followed Davis to the mound, and had an easy 1-2-3 4th inning (F-8, 4-3, K), retiring the side on 13 pitches (nine strikes).


Because they threw so few pitches in the EXST game on Field #3, both Davis and Wellemeyer moved over to Field #2 to pitch in a “sim game” that was already in progress (Dustin Fitzgerald and Ramon Garcia had just completed their two innings), and threw an additional inning (15 pitches) each on top of their EXST game work.


RHP Matt Loosen (Cubs 2010 23rd round pick out of the U. of Jacksonville) took the mound to start the top of the 5th, and had an outstanding outing, striking out eight (seven swinging) in just 2.2 IP. Loosen did allow a double and he hit a batter, but he was mostly just plain unhittable. In two EXST outings so far, Loosen has thrown 6.1 IP of shutout ball, allowing three hits, one HBP, and no walks, with 10 strikeouts. He would likely be at the top of the list should the Cubs look to promote a pitcher from Extended Spring Training to Peoria.


RHP Yao-Lin Wang also threw 2.2 IP of shutout ball today, allowing a single and a walk, with three strikeouts (two swinging).


LHP Casey Harman was the one Cub pitcher who did allow runs today, giving up two (both earned) on three hits (two triples and an inside-the-park HR), although he did strike out five (four swinging).


The Cubs scored single runs in the 1st, 5th, and 8th innings. Kyung-Min Na led off the bottom of the 1st by scalding a single through the box, and scored on a one-out Wilson Contreras RBI double. Jesus Morelli reached base on an error to start the 5th, advanced to 3rd base on a two-base throwing error (errant pick-off attempt), and scored on a line drive SF to left by Johan DeJesus. Morelli then finished the Cubs scoring with a solo HR over the LF fence and onto 8th Street to open the bottom of the 8th.


Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):


LINEUP:
1. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 1-4 (1B, P-6, L-9, 4-3, R)
2. Dustin Harrington, SS: 1-4 (6-3, 6-3, F-9, 1B)
3. Wilson Contreras, 1B: 2-4 (2B, 5-3, 5-3, 1B, RBI, CS)
4. Dong-Yub Kim, DH #1: 1-4 (1B, F-7, K, K)
5. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 1-4 (P-2, K, 1-3, 1B)
6. Jesus Morelli, RF: 1-4 (5-3, E-6, HR, 4-3, 2 R, RBI)
7a. Johan DeJesus, C-DH: 0-2 (5-3, L-7 SF, K, RBI)
7b. Max Kwan, PH: 0-1 (5-3)
8. Eduardo Gonzalez, LF: 0-3 (K, 3-1, 6-3)
9. Hector Suarez, DH-C: 0-3 (3-1, K, 4-3)
10. Gregori Gonzalez, 2B: 0-3 (K, 3-1, P-4)


PITCHERS:
1. Doug Davis: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 24 pitches (20 strikes), 6/1 GO/FO
2. Todd Wellemeyer: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 13 pitches (9 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
3. Matt Loosen: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 47 pitches (35 strikes)
4. Yao-Lin Wang: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 46 pitches (29 strikes), 2/3 GO/FO
5. Casey Harman: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 33 pitches (26 strikes)


ERRORS: 1
3B Dustin Geiger E5 – fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely


ATTENDANCE: 11


WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 80’s 

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Comments

much better 1st inning for Russell

Thanks for the update AND the enviable weather report.

not that bad a pitch Ludwick hit out, low and inside curve

haven't seen the Maybin one yet...

back to .500 looming once again

saw the Maybin one, fastball right over the plate meant to be low and outside...meh

70 pitches through 4

might try one more inning out of him.

if it was any other lineup, I'd say a decent outing for your 7th starter.

Yeah, I was going to write that this is what usually happens when a 1 and a 7 square off.

Imo, Harang could have been nice for the Cubs on a short deal.

I have been at games where the ball never left the infield against the "good-hitting" recent Cubs.

fwiw, Harang is a SD native and with Petco had a lot of motivation to try and get his career back on track there. Considering I picked him up in 2 fantasy leagues, I'm not surprised by the early performance (and they have been against bad offenses). But odds are the cost of getting him to go with the Cubs would not have made sense compared to what Padres got him at.

The only thing that sucks for Harang is, if he has a good year the Padres almost certainly won't pony up to resign him.

shouldn't have made that 71st pitch...

not bad location either, he's just James Russell.

WSox on verge of losing their 7th straight...

schadenfreude at its finest

IRS investigating Dodgers owners for taking $145 million for personal use and paying no taxes, and for having their kids on team salary.

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/04/20/...

I say treat them under Islamic law and stone them to death. That should be the punishment for all money-related crimes. Stoning. Woohoo!

"I say treat them under Islamic law and stone them to death. That should be the punishment for all money-related crimes. Stoning."

well, it is 4/20.

4/20, the date potheads celebrate Hitler's birthday. :)

LA reaction to McCourt ouster:

Both the Thoughtful Old Guy
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke-...

and the Local Hot Head
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-simers-20...

are pretty happy about this.

(I think it will let you look a couple of links without registration.)

PWSullivan Soriano not running hard on fly to center that Maybin dropped over his shoulder for a double. If he's that tired, maybe he should rest. 32 minutes ago

twitter buzz is that Q-Ball said Russell is better suited as situational lefty from here on out.

They'll need a starter for Tuesday.

thank gawd.

"In my heart of hearts, he's a bullpen guy," Quade said of the left-hander. "He gives you everything he's got and throws strikes. He seems better suited overall to bullpen stuff. If you left him in this kind of role, his changeup would get better, his whole game would get better, especially to right-hand hitters. It's a tough assignment."

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index...

In MY heart of hearts, he's a AAA guy.

The quote from Russell directly above the Quade quote in Rob's link is the interesting one...

"There were a couple pitches I would like back but overall, I did what I wanted to do and kept us in the game," Russell said. "We had a chance to win out there. That's all you can ask for."

He kept us in the game? He pitched 4 innings and put us in a 4-0 hole. That's not keeping his team in the game.

b.jackson 3/4 tonight with a double, triple, and HR.

.419 average, 18 hits, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 12bb, 10k, 6sb (2cs)

It's really nice to see Jackson (.389/.509/.564), Vitters (.333/.391/.595), and Flaherty (.368/.435/.737) off to good starts at AA. Those guys look like the best and closest to contributing hitting prospects in the system, as far as I can tell, and (between the three of them) they could get playing time at every position but Catcher.

Actually a catcher conversion for Flaherty may not be a bad idea. He's the one guy on that list who's "projected" bat may not be able to hold down a corner spot. He's probably best at third, and depending on how you feel about LeeMayWho he may be the #5 3rd basemen on the organizational depth chart.

Flaherty's power is looking more legit. He hit 20 HRs in 2010, and he's got 4 already this year. If he is capable of 25+, can play good defense at 3B, fill in at 2B, 1B, LF and RF, and he can play SS in a pinch, then he's DeRosa, right?

I doubt a conversion to Catcher is in the plans for Flaherty. He's 6'5" and he's hit well if not spectacularly.

If he is capable of 25+, can play good defense at 3B, fill in at 2B, 1B, LF and RF, and he can play SS in a pinch, then he's DeRosa, right?

Sure, but lets make two lists. Mine is going to be guys who had careers like DeRosa, and yours is going to be guys who had 20 HR's in low A at age 22 who never amounted to anything. Which list is longer? Don't get me wrong, I'll be happy if his career works out that well for the Cubs, but even the Braves only got one good year out of DeRosa.

Flaherty's numbers have also gone down with each promotion.
OPS
.880
.814
.756
.740

BR has him at 6-3" and yeah, he's not going to catcher. Cubs have played him (in order of most games played) at 2B, LF, SS, 3B

so we can see where that's going...

maybe he shows enough to get the regular 2b job, which would be great, but more likely his best chance at the majors is the utility role. His power drop last year could be easily be explained by his HR's turning into doubles in the more pitcher-friendly FSL.

also his drop from 2009 was .814 to .793 from A to Hi-A, there was 84 poor AA PA's that make it look a lot worse.

Anyway, I don't know if he'll ever be a regular, but he's basically got 2 years to get there...certainly the early returns are promising right now.

FYR - There are two 6'5" catchers in MLB right now that I can think of off the top of my head, and another at 6'3".

You guys know it's not 1971, right?

you know it's not gonna happen, right? I've never heard of his arm being all that strong.

the height thing doesn't matter to me, there's just no reason for it. Guys that move to catcher are generally position players with strong arms, good instincts and no hope of being a useful bat.

Never say never and all, but Flaherty looks well on his way to getting a shot as a utility player.

No, I don't know that. He's Lemehieu with a slower development record, a thick body and an arm that should be strong enough to play there, and he's stuck behind two guys on his own team and one in AAA at his best position... and he can't hit righties.

What are the arguments against it, other than the one it took 17 seconds to shoot down? How do his chances at the majors look right now? How do they look when his competion is the Koyie Hills and Humberto Quinteros of the world?

Your assuming 1) he could play catcher, and 2) the Cubs would be interested in moving him to catcher rather than having a super utility guy with a good bat (or starter at some position).

The other problem with the argument is that even if 1 and 2 are met, moving him to catcher likely delays his reaching the majors for 2-3 years, minimum, while he learns the position.

"[Flaherty] can't hit righties."

Seriously, Neal, you know everybody's xFIP but you don't know that Flaherty--the 41st player drafted in June '08--bats left-handed?

It also makes a difference to his prospect status. A guy who plays every infield position including shortstop and hits with power from the left side should have some value.

Serious Phil, are you unable to read post #33 and #36?

A guy who plays every infield position including shortstop and hits with power from the left side should have some value.

3rd basement, Josh Vitters, Shorstop Starlin Castro, first basemen Prince Fielder, right field Colvin, left field Soriano.

Based on what we've seen thus far, he may hit just well enough to play second, but if he can't field there, he's not going to get a lot of starts ahead of those other guys, with the exception possibly of Soriano, so we'll have a converted infielder playing left without the bat to support it... and LeMehieu may already have claimed the same super-sub spot by that time.

Meanwhile, our backup catcher is Chris Robinson.

I am not saying it's a slam dunk or anything, but to me it's certainly an intriguing idea. Now if he hits 30 HR's this year, then he becomes a legitimate starting prospect, and you think of his downside as a bench bat. But typically guys who are 4th and 5th outfielders and super utility players hit the bigs with the expectations of winning full-time jobs.

As a rule of thumb - take what you hope the guy is gonna be in AA - down grade it one notch, and that's what he becomes.

I'd say that either Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger is the back up catcher of the future.

Yes, 25+ HR power was an optimistic projection, but as Rob and Phil have already noted, he's hitting well enough to keep the organization from considering moving him to Catcher. If his future is as a super-utility player (which, in combination with okay offensive ability--of the .750 OPS variety--makes him Mark DeRosa's rough equivalent), then he's not anymore blocked than he would be at Catcher by Castillo and Clevenger.

I assume that was a slip-up and you meant lefties, which is of course a big difference.

But yeah, I'm going with the Cubs and Flaherty probably don't want to waste 2-3 years while he figures out how to be a catcher which wouldn't start until this fall, while he's currently kicking AA pitching around and seemingly good enough to play a variety of infield and outfield positions.

I doubt he'll be a regular, although at 24, he still has a small window to improve and get in the conversation. And if he is 6'5" (or 6'3") that's probably one of the reasons why Wilkin drafted him and figured he'd grow into his frame and some power and not a guy they'd look to move to catcher even if there are some exceptions around the league.

I can't agree with the 2-3 year timeline. He's two years away right now, so you're saying it would take 4-5 years? You can start him converting him right now, you don't have to wait until the fall. You may not play him in a game, or a game that matters until the instructs, but you could start his learning. His ETA for the majors right now is Sept '12, so it would be maybe mid-season or Sept '13 . It's catching, not brain surgery. Isn't he also a coach's son?

He's two years away right now

at his current pace I guess, But let's say I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the majors next year, or even this September depending on how his season and the Cubs goes.

so you're saying it would take 4-5 years?
Chirinos started at age 24 with the catching thing and now at 28 is still not in the majors, so yeah, about that.

You can start him converting him right now, you don't have to wait until the fall.
you can, but that's not how it ever really works to my knowledge. Flaherty I'm sure still thinks of himself as still being a possible starter in the majors (as well he should), so he has to agree with the idea. That's the key issue imo. He also has to notice that Darwin Barney is the current 2b-men and Ramirez is gone next year or possibly two, so there's some openings or at least a chance to compete there.

It's catching, not brain surgery. Isn't he also a coach's son?
He is, but doesn't mean wants to do it. We can point to Chirinos as an example, but from Phil's report, Cubs thought of him as a future coach from the get-go and were probably on the verge of cutting him. .Also the Cubs have Soto, Castillo, Flores, Brenly, Robinson, Clevenger that he would fall behind because most organizations value defense from there backup catchers. At the moment, he's the Cubs best 2b prospect.

At the moment, he's the Cubs best 2b prospect.

I am OK with agreeing to disagree here. I think his playing 2B in the minors is a function of where Vitters plays, and not of where the Cubs project him to play, since 2B and SS require similiar footspeed and he has the arm to play SS. At this point his bat doesn't project to hit well enough to play anywhere lower on the defensive spectrum.

http://www.barrybonds.mlb.com/mlb/events/draf...

"Arm Strength: He's got plus arm strength from shortstop.
Fielding: He's got very good hands for an infielder.
Range: His range is below average and he'll likely have to move to third as a pro."

Which is pretty much what AZ Phil says. If the Cubs consdiered him a legitimate 2nd basemen, he wouldn't be screwing around with all these other positions.

It's catching, not brain surgery. Isn't he also a coach's son?

Oh my... seriously?

I would argue that defensively, catcher is probably the most difficult position to learn and play.

Most catchers in the MLB have been catching since they were a kid, and many of them still are pretty mediocre. You can't just throw on catchers' gear and start catching in professional baseball.

this whole conversation is f'n batshit crazy...besides being a non-issue.

catcher? really? yeesh.

Most catchers in the MLB have been catching since they were a kid, and many of them still are pretty mediocre

Make shit up much?

Submitted by Rob G. on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 9:12am.

BR has him at 6-3" and yeah, he's not going to catcher. Cubs have played him (in order of most games played) at 2B, LF, SS, 3B

==============================

ROB: He's 6'5 now. Just his legs alone are 6'3.

Can Flaherty hit lefties?

I seem to remember hearing he'd have to end up in a platoon situation.

Anyone know?

http://mlsplits.drivelinebaseball.com/mlsplit...

No, it doesn't look like he can.

Submitted by Charlie on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 7:06am.

Flaherty's power is looking more legit. He hit 20 HRs in 2010, and he's got 4 already this year. If he is capable of 25+, can play good defense at 3B, fill in at 2B, 1B, LF and RF, and he can play SS in a pinch, then he's DeRosa, right?

I doubt a conversion to Catcher is in the plans for Flaherty. He's 6'5" and he's hit well if not spectacularly.

================================

CHARLIE: Ryan Flaherty is a left-handed version of Jeff Baker, but with more HR power. But like a reverse Baker, Flaherty murders RHP, struggles against LHP, and his best positions are 3B-1B-2B.

He seems to look most-comfortable at SS, because that's where he played in HS and college (Vanderbilt), even though he has very likely outgrown the position and lacks the range to play there at the big league level.

I have seen him try to play LF, and he really struggles to track fly balls in the outfield. I don't know why, but he does.

Flaherty would probably take Blake DeWitt's roster slot if he were to get called up to Chicago this year. (Flaherty is eligible for selection in next December's Rule 5 Draft, so he will very likely get added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 11/20 deadline, if not during the season).

AZ Phils Top 15 take on Flaherty

Flaherty does have HR power, and if he can learn to play a passable corner-OF, he could morph into a left-handed hitting version of Mark DeRosa. While he mashes right-handed pitching, he struggles big-time against lefties, and so he could end-up as a LH platoon guy if and when he reaches the big leagues. Son of a college baseball coach, Flaherty is a savvy and mature player who understands how to play the game the right way. I would expect Flaherty to begin the 2011 season at Tennessee and play various positions (1B-2B-3B-LF) for the Smokies.

obvious he yearns for a summer in des moines...

Hey Phil - Any Brian Schlitter sightings? I'm wondering if he is actually out for the year or if he could rehab and become a AAA arm by the end of the year. Hendry says he's happy to have him back, so I imagine he's hoping for more than just a roster exemption for the playoffs! Thanks!!!

Submitted by Wrigley Rat on Wed, 04/20/2011 - 10:04pm.

Hey Phil - Any Brian Schlitter sightings? I'm wondering if he is actually out for the year or if he could rehab and become a AAA arm by the end of the year. Hendry says he's happy to have him back, so I imagine he's hoping for more than just a roster exemption for the playoffs! Thanks!!!

==========================

W RAT: Brian Schlitter is supposed to be reporting to Fitch Park for his rehab, but I haven't seen him yet.

I figured it out; he started in last night's doubleheader nite-cap. Went 1-4, but was robbed by Maybin. Didn't see whether it wouldve been extra bases...

Deep gapper that maybin had to lay out for. Guaranteed triple for Castro if it drops

The law of averages says this is a bad idea.

On April 12 Byrd was hitting .391... since then he's hit .069

Phil, any info on Austin Reed? He looked very good last year, but I don't recall him being mentioned in any of your reports. Is he damaged goods?

Submitted by craig on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 12:10pm.

Phil, any info on Austin Reed? He looked very good last year, but I don't recall him being mentioned in any of your reports. Is he damaged goods?

==================================

CRAIG: Austin Reed is on the EXST Cubs Active List. He was supposed to have pitched last Thursday, but I wasn't at that game so you wouldn't have seen an abridged box score for it.

I think he's supposed to pitch tomorrow or Saturday.

The problem right now is that there are just too many pitchers at Extended Spring Training, and the younger ones keep getting bumped from their outings by the rehab guys, who always get first priority. So then some pitchers end up throwing sim games if they get pushed back too far.

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