Vogel-Jack Bomb Not Quite Enough to Overcome Giant Attack
Cubs 2011 2nd round draft pick Dan Vogelbach crushed a tape-measure three-run HR over the RF fence to cap a five-run 4th, doubled and scored to key a five-run 8th, and reached base four times to lead the Cubs back from 8-2 and 14-7 deficits, only to see the AZL Giants score twice in the top of the 12th on two consecutive two-out balks and go on to defeat the Cubs 17-15 at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning, as the AZL Cubs were officially eliminated from contention in the AZL Wild Card standings.
Vogelbach (called "Fat Boy" by the Giants when they first saw him) showed his hitting skill throughout the game, as the opposing pitchers mostly tried to work him away. While he pulled (tomahawked) a high, hanging breaking ball out for the monster HR onto the roof of the batting cages in the 4th, he also hit opposite-field ropes in four other ABs when the Giants tried to stay away from his pull-power (line-drive single to LF in the 1st, L-7 line-drive out in the 3rd, hard-hit 6-3 ground out in the 6th, and a ground rule line-drive double that sliced into the LF corner before going out of play in the 8th). Vogelbach also displayed plenty of patience in his six plate appearances, showing that he is not afraid to go deep into counts and hit with two strikes (the lead-off walk in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied 15-15 was vintage Rickey Henderson).
It's hard to explain Vogelbach's baserunning, because he is certainly is not fast, but while Rock Shoulders (for instance) is bottom-heavy and runs like a 350-pound nose tackle, Vogelbach runs more like a pulling-guard. Again, he is not fast, but he runs hard, is light on his feet, and gets down the line OK. He is most-definitely faster than Shoulders.
In addition to Vogelbach's big day, Cubs 2011 9th round pick LF Garrett Schlecht (Waterloo HS - Waterloo, IL) reached base five time (four walks and a single) and scored three runs. The 18-year old lefty-swinging Schlecht has (at best) average speed, and is a below-average defender with an average arm, but he is a solid spray hitter with power potential, and (as evidenced by the four walks) is EXTREMELY patient and choosy at the plate. Three of his four walks today happened after he was initially down 0-2. Schlecht had signed an NLI with Middle Tennessee State before opting to turn pro and sign with the Cubs for a reported $235K (about equivalent to "4th round money").
Two pitchers recently drafted and signed by the Cubs made their pro debut today, with somewhat opposite results.
20-year old 26th round draft pick RHP Michael Jensen (Hartnell JC) had a rocking-chair easy nine-pitch 1-2-3 top of the 1st (F-7, K-swinging, and an F-9), while 19-year old 5th round pick RHP Tayler Scott (Notre Dame Prep - Scottsdale, AZ) allowed three runs on three hits (a single, a double, and a triple) and a walk, with one strikeout and a 1/3 GO/FO, in 1.2 IP (25 pitches - 14 strikes). Both pitchers threw nothing but fastballs, but Jensen's sat at 94, while Scott's was topping out at 91.
Jensen gave up a chance to pitch at USC when he signed with the Cubs for $225K ("4th round money") and appears like he could maybe be another one of those McNutt-Struck-Kurcz JUCO finds, while Scott is the South African baseball & soccer prodigy whose parents moved to the U. S. just so Tayler could work with pitching guru Tom House. Scott gave up a chance to both pitch AND play soccer at the University of Arizona when he signed with the Cubs ($279,950 bonus).
Kudos should go out to AZL Cubs closer Yilver "San-Cheese" Sanchez, who threw five innings and 70 pitches in relief after Tayler Scott, Hunter Ackerman and Felix Pena got pounded for 14 runs in innings 3-4-5-6. The Cubs have a rule where AZL Cubs pitchers are not permitted to throw more than five innings or 75 pitches (whichever comes first), so Sanchez milked the "five innings or 75 pitches rule" for all it was worth. The Cubs scored three in the 7th and five more in the 8th while Sanchez was in the game, but they just could not manage to push across the winning run before Sanchez had to depart. (The Cubs had runners on 2nd & 3rd with two outs in bottom of the 9th, and runners at 1st & 2nd with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, but the runners were left-stranded).
Two Cubs players had on-field tantrums that got them unceremoniously yanked out of the game.
18-year old Venezuelan hitting sensation Gioskar Amaya was pulled from the game by Manager Juan "Pee-Pee" Cabreja after smashing his bat to smithereens when he struck out (swinging) in the bottom of the 5th, and LHP (and losing pitcher) Luis Villalba was kicked out of the game by the home plate umpire after vehemently protesting the second consecutive balk called against him in the top of the 12th (which directly resulted in the Giants scoring what would be the eventual winning run and an "insurance" run). Fact is the Giants baserunners just absolutely screwed with Villalba's head with two outs and runners at 2nd & 3rd in the top of the 12th, causing him to make unnecessary movements while standing on the pitching rubber in response to two different baserunners faking a steal of home... TWICE IN A ROW...
A sad end to a very long (and very hot) day.
KKVG: Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive of the 2015-16 IFA. He has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the 2015-16 IFA position players who could. To accommodate Paredes at SS, the Cubs have been moving Andruw Monasterio (who was the #1 SS at AZL Cubs in 2015 and the presumptive Eugene SS going into Minor League Camp) around the infield (SS-2B-3B) at EXST.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.