Jesus and DeJesus Are Just Alright
Jesus Morelli lined an RBI single to left to knock-in the tying run and Johan DeJesus roped a two-run double off the LF fence to plate the go-ahead runs, as a split squad of EXST Cubs rallied with five runs in the bottom of the 8th to defeat the EXST Angels 6-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Recently signed 27-year old Cuban defector INF Rafael Valdes made his U. S. debut at Fitch Park today, playing shortstop and hitting 4th. Valdes made one error, booting a hard hit grounder in the 4th, but he also handled several other chances smoothly, including a couple of nifty turns on two key DP grounders. The lanky 6’2 165 right-handed hitting Valdes went 1-5 at the plate, reaching base on an infield hit in his first AB, then flying out to CF (once to the warning track) in his next three PA, before popping out weakly to the 1st baseman in his final AB. Given his age and experience (he played in international tournaments with Team Cuba and several seasons for Pinar Del Rio in the Cuban National Series, hitting 310/386/543 in his final season before defecting in 2009), I would think Valdes will likely be moved up to a full-season team once Extended Spring Training has concluded.
Also making his 2011 debut in today’s game was 3B Brandon May, who spent the first 2-1/2 months of the season on the DL while recovering from Valley Fever. May played 3B for five innings and got two at-bats, striking out (swinging) both times. May looked very rusty, and could not catch-up to any of the fastballs he saw today.
Peoria RHP Manolin DeLeon continued his EXST rehab assignment, throwing 2.1 IP of shutout ball. He has been throwing the ball very well since returning to game action, and based on that I would think DeLeon will be moved up to Peoria (if not to Daytona) sooner rather than later.
Reggie Golden broke an 0-23 slump (including ten strikeouts) today with a single in the Cubs five-run 8th. Golden had gone hitless since smashing a home run in a game at Salt River Fields last Tuesday.
And in addition to driving-in what proved to be the winning run with his 8th inning double, catcher Johan DeJesus threw-out another base-runner trying to steal. DeJesus has now thrown out 54% of the opposition runners trying to steal against him (13-24 CS) in Extended Spring Training games (after 46% CS for DSL Cubs #2 in 2010), and looks like he will probably be the #1 catcher for the AZL Cubs this summer. (Of the three DSL catchers brought up to Fitch Park for Minor League Camp this past March, DeJesus remained with the Peoria squad the longest before being moved-down to the Boise/Mesa group).
In EXST Cubs roster news, 1B Ryan Cuneo has (finally) actually reported to Peoria, and C Chad Noble and INF Dustin Harrington have been moved up to Daytona from Extended Spring Training. And LHP Jeffry Antigua has arrived at Fitch Park from Peoria.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Pin-Chieh Chen, CF: 0-5 (2-3, F-9, 4-6 FC, K, 6-4 FC, RBI, SB)
2. Gregori Gonzalez, 2B: 2-5 (6-3, 6-3, 1B, 1B, 6-3, R)
3. Wilson Contreras, 1B-3B: 3-5 (1B, 1B, K, 1B, P-3, R)
4. Rafael Valdes, SS: 1-5 (1B, F-8, F-8, F-8, P-3)
5. Jesus Morelli, DH: 1-4 (K, BB, 6-3, 1B, 5-3, R, RBI)
6. Reggie Golden, RF: 1-4 (K, K, 5-3, 1B, R)
7. Johan DeJesus, C: 1-4 (L-4, 1-3, F-7, 2B, R, 2 RBI)
8a. Brandon May, 3B: 0-2 (K, K)
8b. Max Kwan, 1B: 1-1 (3B, HBP, R)
9. Blair Springfield, LF: 0-2 (F-9, BB, 6-3, BB, 2 RBI)
1. Hunter Ackerman: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 60 pitches (39 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
2. Jose Rosario: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 GIDP, 46 pitches (25 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
3. Manolin DeLeon: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 32 pitches (19 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
4. Colin Richardson, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 25 pitches (15 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
1. P Hunter Ackerman - E1 (errant throw on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 2nd base)
2. SS Rafael Valdes - E6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
3. 3B Wilson Contreras - E5 (throwing error on attempted force play at 2nd base allowed runner to reach 2nd base safely & advance to 3rd)
Johan DeJesus: 1-1 CS
WEATHER: Partly cloudy and breezy with temperatures in the 80’s
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.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.