Cubs & Angels Play Pretend World Series Game 7 at Fitch

In what may be a preview of the World Series, the Cubs defeated the Angels 3-2 in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.

Robinson Chirinos was the primary offensive force for the Cubs today, reaching base four times on a solo HR, a double and two walks.

Of course Chirinos also is something of a "ringer," since he has played eight seasons in the Cubs organization, including the first two months of 2008 at AA Tennessee. The only reason Chirinos is even at "Instructs" is because he is making the conversion from infielder to catcher (although he played RF today), so he certainly is not at Fitch to work on his hitting, especially when he is primarily facing 19 and 20-year old kid pitchers.  

Chirinos is eligible to be a minor league FA after the conclusion of the 2008 World Series, but the fact that the Cubs went to the trouble to convert him to catcher and then invited him to attend the AZ Instructional League probably means Chirinos has (or will) "re-up" with the Cubs for 2009. If that is the case, he would probably project as a "super-sub" C-IF-OF at AA Tennessee in '09, and he could conceivably even get an NRI to Spring Training with the big club as a reward for his hard work and his willingness to remain in the organization.  

In addition to the big day at the plate for Chirinos, 2008 25th round pick Rebel Ridling (Oklahoma State) had two hits including a triple and a two-out RBI single, 2008 6th round pick 2B-LF Josh Harrison (U. of Cincinnati) had his third double in two days, and SS Starlin Castro rapped out two hits, giving him a total of five over his last two games. 

CF Brandon Guyer (who homered Monday and Tuesday) returned to the lineup and went 0-4 with two strikeouts out of the "clean-up" slot. 

Just like Opening Day last Monday, 2008 2nd round draft pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State) and 3rd rounder RHP Chris Carpenter (Kent State) each worked two innings of shutout ball. Effectively mixing up his pitches, working both sides of the plate with his fastball, and throwing quality strikes, Shafer "pitched to contact" the way your supposed to do it, as the right-hander needed only 20 pitches to complete his two innings of work. And Carpenter's 93 MPH sinker had good action today, too.

LHP James Leverton (2008 8th round pick out of Texas Tech) also worked two innings, and he surrendered his second HR in two games as Roberto Lopez took Leverton deep in the top of the 5th.   

RHP Erik Hamren (37th round pick out of Saddleback CC by way of the University of the Pacific) made his first appearance in an Instructs game and did not last an inning, as he struggled with his control (24 pitches, only 12 strikes) while allowing one run on one hit and two walks in 2/3 of an inning.

RHP Dan McDaniel (who likely will be the closer at Peoria in 2009), ex-catcher Jake Muyco, and Daytona LHP Jayson Ruhlman worked one shutout inning a piece, with Ruhlman absolutely carving up the Angels' youngsters in his one inning.

Pitching in the "Advanced-A" Florida State League for a full season in 2008, Ruhlman and RHP Brian Schlitter (acquired from the Phillies for Scott Eyre) are the two most experienced Cubs pitchers at Instructs, and so they have a natural advantage over the some of the opposition's younger hitters. (Both Ruhlman and Schlitter will almost certainly be in the AA Tennessee bullpen in 2009).

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):

NOTE: While the Cubs won the game 3-2 in nine innings, the game was extended an extra inning (top of the 10th) to allow Jayson Ruhlman to get his pre-scheduled one inning of work. 

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):

1. Josh Harrison, LF: 1-3 (2B, BB)
2. Matt Cerda, DH-C: 0-4
3. Robinson Chirinos, RF: 2-2 (2 R, RBI, HR, 2B, 2 BB)
4. Brandon Guyer, CF: 0-4 (2 K)
5. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 2-4: (RBI, 3B, K)
6. Jake Opitz, 2B: 0-4
7. Starlin Castro, SS: 2-4 (R)
8. Junior Lake, 3B: 1-3 (BB, K)
9a. Michael Brenly, C: 0-1 (BB)
9b. Carlos Morales, DH: 0-2
10. Hak-Ju Lee, DH #2: 0-3 (RBI GO)

1. Aaron Shafer - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 PO (2/3 GO/FO) - 20 pitches (14 strikes)
2. Chris Carpenter - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K (3/0 GO/FO) - 29 pitches (16 strikes)  
3. James Leverton - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR (4/1 GO/FO) - 28 pitches (19 strikes)
4. Dan McDaniel - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1/1 GO/FO) - 16 pitches (11 strikes)
5. Erik Hamren - 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 0 K (1/0 GO/FO) - 24 pitches (12 strikes) 
6. Jake Muyco - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2/2 GO/FO) - 9 pitches (6 strikes)
7. Jayson Ruhlman - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (1/0 GO/FO) - 13 pitches (11 strikes)

1. Starlin Castro, E-6, dropped pop fly in LF foul territory  
2. Junior Lake, E-5, misplayed ground ball allowing batter to reach base
3. Jake Muyco, E-1, overthrew pick-off attempt at 1st base allowing runner to reach 2nd base
Michael Brenly: 1-3 CS
Matt Cerda: 1-3 CS

WEATHER: 100+, sunny, hot, hot hot
ATTENDANCE: 17 (mostly scouts)


Az Phil

Great post. Any feel for how Josh Harrison compare to Tony Thomas? And where is Josh Vitters?

Dempster is the official Game 1 starter:

Phil -

Thanks for the updates on the prospects. Just FYI - Shafer was the 2nd round draft choice this year not the 3rd. He was the Cubs 3rd pick because they had a supplemental round pick between rounds 1 and 2.

Submitted by skavoovee on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 7:35pm.

 Any feel for how Josh Harrison compare to Tony Thomas?

And where is Josh Vitters?


SKAVOOVEE: Tony Thomas is the better hitter, and Josh Harrison is the better defender and is more versatile. Both have plus-speed.

While Harrison could morph into an IF-OF utility guy (in fact that's how I would project him down the line), Thomas really will have to make it as an everyday 2B.

I don't know what's up with Josh Vitters. 

Submitted by GreenKnight on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 2:30pm.

Phil - Thanks for the updates on the prospects.

Just FYI - Shafer was the 2nd round draft choice this year not the 3rd. He was the Cubs 3rd pick because they had a supplemental round pick between rounds 1 and 2.


GREEN KNIGHT: Thanks. I have fixed that. For some reason I keep mixing up where Shafer and Carpenter were drafted. Hopefully I'll remember it now. 

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