Kyler Burke Shows Rockies He Can Pitch
Reggie Golden had three hits, scored a run, and knocked-in another, and LHP (ex-OF) Kyler Burke threw a 1-2-3 inning in his debut as a pitcher, as a split-squad of EXST Cubs played the EXST Rockies to a 6-6 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
The game was stopped after eight innings with the score tied at six when both teams ran out of available pitchers. (The Cubs and Rockies played a doubleheader at Fitch Park yeterday, and the Cubs were playing a split-squad DH today).
The Cubs 2009 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting 303/405/505 with a league-leading 43 doubles at Peoria, Burke had a dismal year at Daytona in 2010, hitting just 212/279/328 with 131 K. He came into Minor League Camp vying for a spot on the AA Tennessee Smokies roster, but after being sent back to Daytona toward the end of March, he agreed to make the move to pitcher.
And Burke looked VERY sharp today, striking out the first Rockies batter he faced (swinging), and then easily retiring the next two hitters on a fly out to LF and a 4-3 ground out.
My immediate impression of Burke as a pitcher is that with his breaking ball being as good as it is, he should at the very least have a future as a lefty relief specialist. But he also has a quality fastball (he was throwing in the mid-90’s in bullpen sessions last month), and so if he can develop the stamina and endurance needed to throw 100 pitches in a game, he could possibly be a rotation starter. He just turned 23 last month, so he still has time on his side.
Burke was a two-way player (OF/LHP) in HS, and while the Padres drafted him as an outfielder (he was traded to the Cubs in 2007 in the Michael Barrett deal), some scouts had him rated higher as a pitcher. So it’s not too surprising that he looks like he knows what he’s doing out on the mound. Also, he had what was considered the #1 OF arm in the Cubs organization prior to making the move back to pitcher.
RHP Jon Nagel (post-2010 non-TJS elbow surgery) continued his rehab in today’s game, following Burke to the mound and throwing one inning. Nagel is not yet cleared to throw breaking balls, so his repertoire at present consists of a fastball and a change-up.
19-year old Korean bonus baby RHP Jin-Young Kim followed Nagel, allowing four runs on five hits (three singles, a double, and a triple) and an HBP, with no walks and three strikeouts, in four innings of work (50 pitches – 36 strikes). While he struggled to keep his fastball down early in his outing, he did recover nicely and retired the last nine men he faced.
After a lackluster performance by the EXST Cubs in yesterday’s doubleheader, AZL Cubs Manager Juan Cabreja (who was in charge at Fitch Park today) had the boys take a spirited infield practice prior to today’s game, and it seemed to pay off, as the Cubs kids hit the ball (12 hits), showed patience at the plate (four walks), ran the bases aggressively (three stolen bases), and made some nice plays in the field, showing considerable improvement over yesterday’s effort.
DH Dustin Harrington doubled to drive-in two runs in a three-run Cubs 2nd inning, but had to leave the game (with help) in the bottom of the 4th after fouling a ball off his left instep. He was transported to the clubhouse on a cart, and looked to be in considerable pain.
While one squad of EXST Cubs played the Rockies at Fitch Park, the other squad (managed by Boise Manager Mark Johnson) traveled to Diablo Park in Tempe to take-on the EXST Angels. Because the games were played simultaneously ten miles apart, I am unable to provide an eyewitness report for the game at Diablo Park.
Here is today’s abridged box score for the game played at Fitch Park (Cubs players only):
1. Jose Valdez, LF: 1-4 (F-7, K, P-5, 1B, 2 SB)
2. Wes Darvill, SS: 1-3 (6-3, 1B+E-4, K, BB, R, SB)
3. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 2-3 (K, 3B, 1B, BB, 2 R, RBI)
4. Reggie Golden, RF: 3-4 (1B, 1B, 1B, L-6, R, RBI)
5. Brian Inoa, C: 2-4 (1B, 4-6-3 DP, 1B, 3-U, R, RBI)
6. Xavier Batista, 1B: 1-3 (1B, K, P-6, BB, R, RBI)
7a. Dustin Harrington, DH: 1-1 (2B, 2 RBI)
7b. Johan DeJesus, PH-DH: 0-3 (F-8, E-5, 6-3)
8. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 1-3 (1B, BB, 4-3 DP, P-5)
9. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 0-4 (F-7 DP, 6-4-3 DP, K, F-9)
1. Kyler Burke: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 9 pitches (7 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
2. Jon Nagel: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 12 pitches (9 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
3. Jin-Young Kim: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 50 pitches (36 strikes), 5/4 GO/FO
4. Yilver Sanchez: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 34 pitches (26 strikes), 0/3 GO/FO
1. C Brian Inoa - E2 (errant throw on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner at 2nd base to score unearned run)
2. 1B Xavier Batista - E3 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
Brian Inoa: 0-3 CS, 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80’s