Mr. Rogers Not So Friendly at Fitch Park
On an injury rehab assignment in the Arizona League, veteran AAA 3B Ed Rogers doubled twice and drove-in two runs, leading the AZL Diamondbacks to a 7-1 victory over the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Beefy Cubs 2011 2nd round draft pick Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS - Ft. Myers, FL) made his pro debut in the game, serving as the DH and batting clean-up.
Famous for winning the 2010 International Power Showcase at Chase Field in Phoenix with a towering 508-ft HR, the 18-year old lefty swinging Vogelbach--who gave up a chance to play college ball at the University of Florida when he signed with the Cubs last week--flied out to the warning track in right-centerfield in his first pro AB, struck out swinging (and looked bad doing it) his second time up, popped out to left in his 3rd AB, and grounded an opposite-field single through the 5.5 hole in his final AB in the bottom of the 9th. He reminds me a bit of ex-KC Royals 1B Bob Hamelin.
Both Cubs 2011 25th round pick Rock Shoulders ($294K signing bonus = "4th round money") and Vogelbach ($1.6M signing bonus) were in the lineup (Shoulders played 1B), hitting 3-4. Like Vogelbach, Shoulders also went 1-4, ripping a single down the LF line in the 7th. Shoulders is bottom-heavy and can barely run, stopping at 1st base on what should have been an easy double. The switch-hitting Shoulders led Florida JUCO in HR this season, and clearly has plus-power from both sides of the plate (his rope-single down the LF line today was hit RH).
While Vogelbach and Shoulders will probably be competing with each other for playing time at 1B as they work their way up through the Cubs system in coming years, it is conceivable that Shoulders could (if he can get into better physical shape) eventually end-up at another position (he was a catcher in HS, and has the arm to play 3B). He has the body-type normally associated with a catcher.
LHP Brian Smith (Cubs 2010 40th round draft pick - Canadian Junior National Team) got the start for the Cubs and threw three shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 3.40 (8th best in the AZL). While Smith did not surrender a run, he did allow two hits (a double and a single), three walks, a WP, and a balk, and was fortunate to escape unscathed (the D'backs stranded six runners over the course Smith's three innings of work). The 18-year old southpaw labored throughout his outing, throwing 59 pitches (only 33 strikes), including a 26-pitch 2nd inning. He did strike out four (three swinging), however.
While the Cubs offense was mostly quiet today, Gioskar Amaya had two more hits. The 18-year old Venezuelan is 6-12 over his last three games, and is now hitting a robust 359/401/495. He is 3rd in the AZL in triples, and 5th in the league in both AVG & RBI.
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
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?