Geiger & Amaya Lead AZL Cubs to Victory at Talking Stick
Dustin Geiger and Gioskar Amaya drove-in three runs a piece, leading the AZL Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the AZL Diamondbacks in Arizona League action at Whirlwind Field at Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick east of Scottsdale his evening.
Geiger knocked-in his three runs on a two out two-run HR over the LF fence in the top of the 3rd, and a two out line drive RBI single in the top of the 7th. Another run scored on a Geiger 6-4-3 double play grounder in the top of the 1st, but of course there is no RBI credited on a GIDP.
Amaya had three hits (two singles and a double) and a walk in tonight's game, driving-in lead-off hitter Oliver Zapata (who reached base three times on a walk and two singles) three different times with three hits in three separate innings, including an opposite-field line-drive RBI double down the RF line in the top of the 1st (it would have been a triple except the ball rolled under the RF fence for a ground rule double), an RBI single to CF in the 5th, and another RBI single (this time to RF) with two outs in the top of the 9th. Amaya also stole a base, and played a solid defense at 2B, helping to turn two inning-ending double plays.
The Cubs eighth run scored on a Gregori Gonzalez solo HR over the LF fence leading off the top of the 3rd.
On the strength of tonight's performances, Oliver Zapata has taken over the Arizona League lead in runs scored and is tied for 2nd in walks, Gioskar Amaya has cracked the Top 10 in hitting, and Dustin Geiger is now 2nd in the league in RBI, tied for 2nd in HR and hits, 4th in SLG %, and tied for 6th in doubles and runs scored.
While the AZL Cubs offense had a good night, the pitchers (with one exception) also did very well.
21-year old Cuban defector LHP Frank Del Valle was masterful, allowing just one-hit (a harmless single) and a walk over his three innings (42 pitches - 26 strikes). He struck out only two, but that's a bit misleading because he got a lot of swings & misses early in the count (and broken bats when D'backs hitters did make contact) with his plus-fastball and filthy slider.
Like many Cuban players who have defected, Del Valle is polished and has obviously been well-coached. He is an excellent fielder, and he also has a really neat pick-off move (he picked two runners off 1st base tonight, but one of them got a reprieve when Del Valle was called for a balk). He was a member of the Cuban Junior National Team as a teenager, so he must have been given a lot of time and attention from the Cuban coaches over the years, and it shows. I doubt that Del Valle will remain in Mesa very long, and so it will be up to him to prove that he is more than just spit & polish once he hits the higher levels (Peoria or Daytona or wherever).
Del Valle is only 5'11, but his upper body is well-built. He looks like he has spent some serious time in the weight room. Fellow LHP Jeffry Antigua is probably the best comp for a current Cub minor league pitcher most like Del Valle, but at least physically Del Valle reminds me a lot of ex-Cub LHRP Felix Heredia.
18-year old RHP James Pugliese (Cubs 2011 18th round draft pick out of Mercer CC in New Jersey) made his third pro appearance, "piggybacking" with Del Valle and throwing three more shutout innings (40 pitches - 26 strikes). He did allow three singles and a walk, but he also struck out two and induced one inning-ending double play, and none of the runners got past second base. After tonight's outing, Pugliese is tied for the AZL league lead in ERA and is third in WHIP. As I have mentioned before, Pugliese throws with a max-effort over-the-top overhand delivery much like that of Arizona Diamondbacks rookie RHP Josh Collmenter.
2nd year RHRP Ryan Hartman (who is repeating the AZL) was wild (28 pitches - only 12 strikes) and was able to retire only two hitters (albeit both via the strikeout) in the bottom of the 7th before allowing three runs on two hits, two walks, and a HBP.
But Cubs 2011 32nd round draft pick RHP Pete Levitt (Mt. Olive College) relieved Hartman and did throw strikes (33 pitches - 25 strikes), working the final 2.1 IP to pick-up his first professional save. At 6'5 250+ Levitt looks more like an offensive tackle than a pitcher, but he works fast, throws strikes, and gets outs when he needs to get them. But he is really a load. When I say he's 6'5 250+ it's probably more like 6'5 270. He reminds me of Bobby Jenks.
But where are the rest of the Cubs draft picks? Time is a wastin'...
I don't hate Coghlan as a PHer but he's leading off today which is as bad as Austin Jackson doing so last year. He doesn't even have the speed.
TLS has options. He will be up again in Sept, and maybe earlier.
Very odd -- TLS .308/.419 in July (in 26 AB). Strange move for a team struggling to score runs. Hard to imagine Coghlan doing better than that. Maybe they like Coghlan better as a PH?
Sorry to nitpick -- but the first game wasn't a save.
Wow La Stella sent to Iowa and Coghlan brought up. I'm not a huge Stella fan but he has been hitting lately and is to me better than Coghlan. Neither are good defensively but I guess Coghlan can play the outfield allowing Bryant to stay at 3rd more where he's better.
Not 2nd to last but Cubs are definitely bottom of the pack in the 2nd half in oWAR and wRC+. #1 in dWAR though which is certainly a good sign for the playoffs.
I was going to say that you wouldn't want Heyward to achieve Soriano's OBP--.317 with the Cubs--but now I see that he's already done that. Pitchers have lost their fear of him.
Oh, well, at least Chapman seems to be as good as advertised.
Thanks to E-man and Quiet Man for the link on Chapman in a previous post. It's funny because I never really noticed Chapman's delivery until I saw him doing it in a blue uniform. Two saves in a Cubs uniform already. I hope they don't need him today, despite that smooth delivery.
Cubs are middle of the pack in average, 5th in OPS, 2nd in walks, 4th in runs scored in MLB. Their runs scored ranks 17th in the MLB in July.
Boston, leading everything, continues to rake in July.
Lester has given up one run or fewer in 11 starts this year. So I'd answer yes. Three of his last four starts were duds, yes. Not worried about him at all. Arrieta is concerning, to be sure. I look it at as, what he was doing was historic, so the regression was bound to happen. He showed in his start against the Mets that he's still capable, and I'd bet on him regaining his form.
marlins getting a.cashner and c.rea from SD
This is not an attack...But In what stat are the Cubs second from last in MLB, in hitting? I don't see this.
How odd the stats:
Cubs 1st in pitching in MLB
2nd to last in hitting.
In May they were 1st in both.
trevor clifton (high-A) could be interesting in a couple seasons...could even become a high/middle rotation guy. he's got a lot of pluses in his pitching except control.
eric leal's (high-A) progression through the minors should be worth watching even if only projects to be an mid/end-rotation starter.
we also gotta keep a long-distance eye on guys like jose paulino (ss-A) and preston morrison (A).
As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.
I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.
Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.