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.