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
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.