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
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.