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.
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.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.
For some reason