Socorro Pro Debut Should Make Marshall Proud
Making his professional debut, Cubs 2011 46th round draft pick Kenny Socorro (Marshall U.) had three hits and drove-in three runs, and Oliver Zapata drew four walks and scored twice, leading the AZL Cubs to an 8-5 victory over the AZL Athletics in Arizona League action at Connie Mack Field at the Papago Park Sports Complex in Phoenix this evening.
The AZL Athletics defense graciously committed five errors to aid the Cubs cause.
Cubs 2010 4th round draft pick LHP Hunter Ackerman got the start for the Cubs and continued to struggle to throw strikes, just as he has throughout his short pro career. He worked three innings (61 pitches - 35 strikes, including a 33-pitch first-inning), allowing three runs on three hits, three walks, and an HBP, while striking out four. Sometimes Ackerman will look like a world-beater against one hitter, and then can't throw strikes to next one. If he can't get his pitches-per-inning down to a reasonable number, he will likely be limited to being a minor league reliever (presuming he ever gets out of Arizona).
Cubs 2011 40th round draft pick RHP P. J. Francescon made his pro debut and had a much better night than Ackerman did, working two shutout innings (21 pitches - 14 strikes) to record the save. The 22-year old Francescon allowed a lead-off infield single to the first man he faced, and then easily retired the next five in a row (6-4-3 DP, K-swinging, F-7, K-swinging, and a 6-3 GO). Francescon does not appear to have anything exceptional in his repertoire, but he works fast and has four years of college experience (most recently at Trevecca Nazarene University, and at Middle Tennessee State before that) under his belt to aid him in his adjustment to pro ball.
NOTE: There is one very obvious mistake in the box score as it presently appears in MiLB.com, and that is that Johan DeJesus PH for Jose Guevara in the top of the 8th and popped up to the second baseman, and then remained in the game as the catcher. The box score shows Guevara playing the entire game.
Also, Kenny Socorro hit an RBI double in the top of the 8th (Socorro's second double of the game) to drive-in Eduardo Gonzalez from 2nd base. I guess the official scorer could have called it a single where Socorro took second on the throw, except there was no throw home on the play, and in the play-by-play account (as it presently appears) it does not mention Socorro advancing to 2nd base at all.
And in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Boras grounded out 6-3, Baez walked, Solano struck out swinging, and Stafford grounded into a 6-4 FC to end the inning. (This is different than what presently appears in the "play-by-play").
And here is what happened in the top of the 7th on the pop-out by Hernandez that resulted in Zapata being thrown out at the plate: A's first-baseman Leyland caught an infield pop-up and tried to double Zapata (who broke with the pitch) off second-base, but instead threw the ball over the shortstop's head into left-center field. Zapata advanced to third on the overthrow, but then got greedy and tried to score, getting caught in a rundown between 3rd and home, before being tagged-out for the third out of the inning...
For those of you who religiously read the box scores and play-by-play at Milb.com and presume the stuff you read there to be accurate, here is how the information you read is transmitted...
The official scorer who is present at the park calls the milb office every half inning and verbally recites what happened the previous half-inning and notes any lineup changes that might have occurred. This call is often made after the next half-inning has started, and so (quite obviously) it can lead to mistakes being made due to the official scorer being distracted, and these mistakes are then reflected in both the "official" box score and in the "official" play-by-play. When the official scorer does get distracted and realizes he missed something, he will usually ask the player who is running the scoreboard to tell him what he missed, but that presumes the player was actually paying attention, and it also depends on the official scorer realizing he might have missed something.
There has to be a better way to do this. The way it's done now is not working. Incorrect information is appearing in what are supposed to be "official" box scores and play-by-play accounts. The practice of official scorers calling the milb.com office every half-inning to recount the previous half-inning must be stopped, because it distracts the official scorer from doing his job. Maybe the scorer could just wait until the game is over before making the call, or maybe the information could be transmitted contemporaneously-electronically as it occurs (after each AB) instead of verbally by phone after every half-inning.
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.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.