DeVoss Walk-off Debut a Hit for AZL Cubs
Making his pro debut, Cubs 2011 3rd round draft pick Zeke DeVoss (U. of Miami) laced a two-out walk-off RBI double off the RF fence in the bottom of the 10th inning to score PR Gregori Gonzalez with the winning run, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Rangers 4-3 in Arizona League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park last night.
A speedy switch-hitting 2B-CF, DeVoss is the only Cubs 2011 draft pick selected in the first 15 rounds to sign so far. (He was a so-called "draft-eligible sophomore," because he turns 21 within 90 days of the draft).
DeVoss was the DH in his first professional game, hitting 7th in the order. He struck out (swinging) in his 1st and 3rd ABs, grounded out to short in his 2nd AB, and flied out to the warning track in RF in his 4th AB, before crushing his game-winning walk-off double off the RF fence in the 10th. DeVoss displayed more power and loft in his swing (at least hitting LH) than I had thought he would show.
Meanwhile, Cubs 2011 27th round draft pick Taiwan Easterling (Florida State) lined a single with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to extend his hitting streak to six games (he is now hitting 500/517/714 through his first seven pro games covering 29 PA). The 22-year old FSU Seminole also made a slick diving catch in CF for the first out in the top of the 3rd, and threw out a runner trying to advance from 2nd base to 3rd base on a pick-off attempt overthrow to end the top of the 3rd.
Easterling is clearly more advanced than might have been expected, considering he did not play baseball his first two years at Florida State. But he was named "Mr. Baseball" in Mississippi in his senior year at Oak Grove HS and played on several post-season HS All-Star teams and in showcase games, and was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 6th round of the 2007 June Draft, before deciding to enroll at FSU. So it's not like he's just now learning how to play baseball.
Easterling received a reported $200K signing bonus (about equivalent to "4th round money"), which can be spread over five years since he is a two-sport player (he is also a WR on the Seminole football team). It is unclear at this time whether Easteling will return for his senior season at FSU to play football (and if he does, he would be a 5th year redshirt senior).
The AZL Cubs actually should have won the game in regulation, which would have ended Easterling's hitting streak and left DeVoss with an 0-4 pro debut. But the defense fell apart with the Cubs leading 3-2 with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the 9th, as SS Marco Hernandez bobbled a ground ball (which the official scorer generously ruled a hit), and then 2B Gioskar Amaya fell down fielding what should have been the 4th out of the inning (also ruled a single), before throwing the ball past the first-baseman, after-which catcher Yaniel Cabezas recovered the ball near home plate and proceeded to fire the ball into LF trying to nab the Ranger base-runner who was trying to advance from 2nd to 3rd, thus allowing the runner to score (Keystone Kubbery at its best!). Inexplicably, the only error charged in the inning was Amaya's bad throw, although it should have been obvious (even to the official scorer) that the only reason the runner scored from 3rd base with the tying run was because of the Cabezas errant overthrow at 3rd base.
AZL Rangers pitchers struck out 15 AZL Cubs in the game, with 13 out of 14 outs between the 4th and 8th innings coming via the punch-out, including Gioskar Amaya and Dustin Geiger three times a piece. One Cub hitter the Rangers pitchers could not get out (until striking him out with one out in the bottom of the 10th) was 19-year old Venezuelan LF Eduardo Gonzalez, who singled in each of his first four AB, scoring a run and driving-in another, while also stealing three bases (one CS).
The lefty swinging E. Gonzalez is a slash hitter who sprays the ball all over the field (he also had a bunt single last night), but he has no HR power (unless he manages to line the ball over the fence). While he's not a "burner" he does run well and seems to get a pretty good read when stealing bases, and he plays a passably-adequate defense at all three OF positions with a so-so arm.
18-year old LHP Brian Smith (Cubs 40th round draft pick - Canadian Junior National Team) got the start for the AZL Cubs and threw four innings of one hit shutout ball (57 pitches - 33 strikes), with two walks and a HBP (and no strikeouts and 4/7 GO/FO). Smith breezed through three of his four innings, but he labored in the top of the third, needing 29 pitches (while throwing only 14 strikes) to get through the inning.
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.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.