The Range of Scales & Other Things
And we thought his range was limited! Sayonara, Bobby, and thanks for the memories.
Again yesterday the Iowa Cubs had a worthy replacement for recently departed fan favorite Bobby Scales in the person of Darwin Barney. Barney, braced for impact by the contraption adorning his injured knee, logged six more full-tilt innings and pronounced himself ready to return to Chicago. He leaves behind a sizzling team that’s now won seven straight. I suppose trappings await to offset the change in barometric pressure he’ll notice as he segues from one clubhouse to the other.
Not far behind him on the road to full recovery will be Marlon Byrd who walked, doubled, homered and made a terrific gap-plugging, running catch that should have resulted in a double play except the first baseman at the other end, Tyler Colvin, failed to catch an accurate relay. No matter, the I-Cubs still advanced to 2-0 when Colvin mans that post.
The Iowa lineup started Byrd, Barney, Colvin. Apparently one of the perks that traveled with the first two to Des Moines was the prerogative to wear their pant legs at their shoetops, pajama style. Colvin, here rehabbing a swing and a psyche instead of a body part, tucks his just beneath the kneecaps like all the Cub farmhands do. Is that how he sees himself or how he is seen?
Barney intrigues me. After reaching on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat he was doubled off on Colvin’s liner to short despite that he wouldn’t have advanced past 2nd even had the ball landed safely. So where was he off to in such a hurry? In less than three full innings his uniform was clay-caked from multiple dives and slides and as he stood on 3rd awaiting deliverance home he looked down and realized that his blouse had come untucked, something he quickly corrected before trotting home with one of the 10 runs the I-Cubs put up in support of Casey Coleman. No one would accuse Barney of mailing in his rehab assignment, but not all of his instincts are as endearing as his obvious zest for ballplaying.
Speaking of Coleman, he was efficient if not dazzling throughout his seven inning stint. Of his 86 pitches 62 were strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 28 hitters he faced. I am also glad to report that his only walk came in his last inning of work and that he turned in two fine defensive plays off the mound, once starting a slick 1-6-3 DP and later rounding out a 3-4-1 that caromed from the chest of Colvin to the gloves of first Barney, then the hustling pitcher.
The shortstop yesterday was Marwin Gonzalez, recently promoted from Tennessee where he was hitting .301. Besides looking fluid defensively he stroked three hits and may bear closer inspection.
Colvin could use more work at 1st. Besides the bobbled relay and the ball he ricocheted to Barney he also short-stretched a slightly elevated pivot throw from Barney that cost Coleman an inning-ending DP. I did see him make a fine running catch in the right field corner Friday night as an outfielder and his bat is warming in concert with the weather. His 32 hits have amounted to 65 total bases, 19 of them being more than mere singles.
The other name that bears mentioning here is Scott Maine. Each of his last two outings have lasted three innings and both of them merit adjectives like dominant and overpowering. Combined they have totaled but two hits allowed against 13 strikeouts. I mean, he may be no John Grabow, but – yeah…
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.