Szczur Triples Smokies to Victory
Matt Szczur tripled twice, scored twice and drove-in a run, Justin Bour had two hits and three RBI, and Matt Cerda reached base four times on a double, two singles, and a walk, leading the Tennessee Smokies to a 6-4 victory over the Midland RockHounds (Oakland A’s AA affiliate) on Field #2, but the Sacramento River Cats (A’s AAA affiliate) took advantage of seven walks and bested the Iowa Cubs 9-6 on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.
In addition to reaching base four times (in four plate appearances), Tennessee 3B Matt Cerda also committed three errors. So he had a full day.
Just moved up to the Tennessee squad from Daytona after two strong outings, LHP (ex-OF) Kyler Burke got the start for the Smokies, and allowed two runs on three hits (two singles and a double) and a walk in 2.1 IP.
After starring as a two-way player (LHP-RF) at Ooltewah HS and signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Vanderbilt University, Burke was signed by the San Diego Padres ($950K bonus) after they drafted him (as an outfielder) in the Supplemental 1st round of the June 2006 Rule 4 Draft (2006 35th overall pick). At the time, coaches and scouts who had seen Burke play were split as to whether he was a better pitcher or outfielder. (The University of Tennessee recruited him as a pitcher, Vanderbilt was going to let him do both).
After spending the last part of the 2006 season and the first part of the next season in "A" ball with San Diego, Burke was acquired by the Cubs in the Michael Barrett trade in July 2007. He struggled to establish himself as a prospect with the Cubs, until he had a breakout year in 2009 when he was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year after hitting 303/405/505 with 15 HR, 43 doubles, 14 stolen bases, and 14 outfield assists for Peoria. He could not sustain the success at Hi-A Daytona in 2010, however, hitting just .212. After he was unable to win a job at AA Tennessee in Minor League Camp last year, the Cubs approached him about trying pitching, and he agreed.
Burke spent two months at Extended Spring Training getting re-acclimated to the mound, and then was assigned to Boise the last two months pf the season. He attended the AZ Instructional League post-2011, and was the most-impressive pitcher on the Cub squad, showing a 94 MPH fastball, a plus-curve, and a solid change-up. (i had rated him as one of my in my Cubs Top 15 Prospects this past off-season).
The thing to keep in mind about Kyler Burke is that he will be an MLB Rule 55 Minor League free-agent (6YFA) after this season if the Cubs do not add him to their MLB 40-man roster by 5 PM (EDT) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2012 World Series.
So when the Cubs think about whether they should add Burke to their MLB 40-man roster post-2012, it's not a question of whether he is a candidate to be selected in the December 2012 Rule 5 Draft (and that they might get him back if he were to get selected), but rather it's that he could walk away as a minor league free-agent three weeks before concerns about the Rule 5 Draft are normally addressed.
The Cubs Boise/Mesa squad (which will morph into the Cubs Extended Spring Training team next month) played a contest against the Langley Blaze (a Canadian junior amateur team, and baseball alma mater of Cub minor league INF Wes Darvill) on Fitch Park Field #1 while the other games were being played on the other two fields.
Here are the abridged box scores from the two Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games played at Fitch Park (Cubs players only)
FITCH PARK FIELD #2
1. Zeke DeVoss, DH #1: 0-2 (HBP, 3-U, K, BB, 2 R, 2 SB)
2. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-3 (F-7, F-7, F-7, BB)
3a. Matt Szczur, CF: 2-3 (3B, 5-3, 3B, 2 R, RBI)
3b. Eliecer Bonne, CF: 0-1 (K)
4. Justin Bour, 1B: 2-4 (5-3, 6-3, 1B, 1B, 3 RBI)
5. Nelson Perez, RF: 0-4 (K, K, K, K)
6. Junior Lake, SS: 0-4 (K, 6-3, K, P-4)
7a. Rafael Lopez, C: 1-3 (HR, K, K, R, RBI)
7b. Chad Noble, C: 0-1 (6-3)
8. Matt Cerda, 3B: 3-3 (BB, 1B, 2B, 1B, R)
9. John Andreoli, LF: 1-2 (3B, K, BB, BB, RBI)
10. Taiwan Easterling, DH #2: 0-4 (L-6, F-9, K, 1-4-3 DP)
1. Kyler Burke: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 42 pitches (26 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
2. Ty’Relle Harris: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 37 pitches (19 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
3. Larry Suarez: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 35 pitches (16 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
4. Frank Batista: 2.0, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 1 GIDP, 30 pitches (21 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
5. Tony Zych: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 19 pitches (13 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
TENNESSEE ERRORS: 3
1. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (two base throwing-error allowed batter reach 2nd base)
2. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base)
3. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (errant throw to 1st base on infield single allowed batter to reach 2nd base)
TENNESSEE CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Rafael Lopez: 0-1 CS
FITCH PARK FIELD #3
1a. Leugem Barroso, SS: 0-2 (6-3, K)
1b. Nate Samson, SS: 1-2 (E-3, 1B, R)
2. Jonathon Mota, 2B: 2-4 (E-4, 1B, 1B, P-6, R, RBI, CS)
3a. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF: 0-2 (F-7, K, HBP, R, SB)
3b. Abner Abreu, CF: 1-1 (1B, RBI, SB)
4a. Josh Vitters, 3B: 1-3 (2B, K, P-4, R, RBI)
4b. Marquez Smith, 3B: 0-0 (BB)
5. Ty Wright, LF: 1-4 (1B, K, 6-3, 6-4-3 DP, 2 RBI)
6. Michael Burgess, RF: 1-4 (6-3, 1B, K, K)
7a. Jason Jaramillo, C: 0-2 (F-7, 4-3)
7b. Mario Mercedes, C: 0-2 (F-8, 6-3)
8. Jake Opitz, 1B: 1-4 (3-U, 1B, P-6, K, R, SB)
9. Greg Rohan, DH #1: 1-3 (1B, K, 5-3, PO)
10a. Micah Gibbs, DH #2: 0-2 (4-3, K)
10b. Rebel Ridling, PH: 1-1 (1B, R)
1. Brian Schlitter: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 PO, 25 pitches (15 strikes)
2. Jeff Beliveau: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 BALK, 32 pitches (20 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
3. Alberto Cabrera: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 35 pitches (24 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
4. Casey Weathers: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 31 pitches (14 strikes)
5. Oswaldo Martinez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 26 pitches (15 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
6. James Pugliese: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 18 pitches (8 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
IOWA ERRORS: 1
1B Jake Opitz - E-3 (errant throw attempting to complete 3-1 putout allowed batter to reach base safely)
IOWA CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Mario Mercedes: 2-2 CS
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 70’s
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
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!!!!!!