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
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.