Hernandez Extends Hit Streak to 15, Kim Throws Blanks
Marco Hernandez extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Jin-Young Kim threw five shutout innings, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Dodgers 2-1 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Hernandez is hitting 426/453/639 with four doubles, three triples, a HR and 16 RBI, with only six strikeouts in 65 PA over the course of the 15-game hit streak, and is hitting 354/391/497 for the season. The 18-year old Dominican leads the AZL in RBI, and is tied for 3rd in the league in doubles. And (not too surprisingly) Hernandez was in the middle of the Cubs two-run 4th today, looping a single to CF that advanced Gioskar Amaya (who is hitting 366/401/486) to 3rd base with no outs. Both Amaya and Hernandez scored later in the inning.
Kim received a reported $850K bonus (equivalent to "2nd round money") when he signed with the Cubs as a 17-year old out of South Korea last year, and after struggling at AZ Instructs (7.20 ERA & 1.30 WHIP) last fall and at Extended Spring Training (4.91 ERA & 1.68 WHIP) and at Boise (7.66 & 2.15 WHIP) earlier this year, the 19-year old right-hander has (finally) put together a couple of decent outings, throwing 8.1 IP of shutout ball for the AZL Cubs. He allowed five hits and a walk in his five innings (61 pitches - 45 strikes, 3/5 GO/FO) today, and probably could have thrown at least another couple of innings, but there is a limit of 75 pitches or five innings (whichever comes first) for pitchers in the AZL.
18-year old RHP James Pugliese (Cubs 2011 18th round draft pick out of Mercer CC in New Jersey) piggy-backed with Kim, and threw three shutout innings of one-hit ball with no walks and four strikeouts (48 pitches - 30 strikes). Pugliesse is the guy with the max-effort extreme over-the-top delivery that would seem best-suited for a pitcher working out of the bullpen.
RHP Yilver Sanchez pitched the 9th and picked up the save. The 21-year old Dominican did allow a two-out RBI double before recording the final out, but only because the Cubs defensively-challenged 2B-SS combo (Brian Inoa & Gioskar Amaya) failed to turn what should have been a game-ending DP on the previous AB. Working as the AZL Cubs primary closer since getting sent-down from Boise, Sanchez now has a 3/22 BB/K in 15.0 IP for the AZL Cubs.
FWIW, the AZL Cubs currently trail the AZL Giants by 4-1/2 games in the AZL East, but have a 1-1/2 game lead over the AZL Athletics, the AZL Indians and the AZL Reds in the Wild Card race. (The three division winners and the 2nd-place team with the best record qualify for the AZL playoffs).
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
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.