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.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.