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).