Baez Can Do Whatever the...
Javier Baez belted a three-run home run and Yasiel Balaguert stroked an RBI triple and scored on a Jair Bogaerts RBI single, as the Cubs plated five runs in the bottom of the 4th en route to a 5-1 victory over the Angels in Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.
The Baez HR was not without controversy.
Baez stood at home plate for a couple of seconds after absolutely walloping the gopher ball 400+ feet and off the roof of a house on the north side of 8th Street (Baez did the exact same thing on Tuesday when he launched a three-run homer over the LF fence at Indian School Park in Scottsdale), at which point one of the Angel coaches yelled, “Run the bases!”
Baez initially took the “advice” and he did run the bases (albeit a bit of a “Cadillac” trot that probably further irritated the opposition), but upon reaching home plate Baez stopped and yelled back at the Angel bench, “I can do whatever the fuck I want!”
Trey Martin and Gioskar Amaya (who were on base in front of Baez) and on-deck hitter Rock Shoulders pulled Baez back to the Cubs bench, avoiding a potential bench-clearing brawl on the field. (BTW, having a big dude like Rock Shoulders on the field might be the best deterrent to violence since Mutually Assured Destruction).
It was one of the only times I can remember something like this happening in an Extended Spring Training game. Sometimes players get upset, but this was more like what you see in the big leagues. I kind of expected Baez to get pulled out of the game and sent to the clubhouse to cool off, but he stayed in the game, and in fact he played all nine innings at shortstop.
LHP Sheldon McDonald had an outstanding outing, throwing three hitless-shutout innings (40 pitches), with six strikeouts. He now has 11 strikeouts in five innings of work over the last four days, and would seem to be on the top of the EXST Cubs list for promotion to Peoria or Daytona.
McDonald is no hotshot young prospect, however. He was a 22-year old “5th year senior” when drafted by the Cubs in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft out of the University of British Columbia (by way of Northeastern University). McDonald has considerable experience in international play, pitching for the Canadian Junior National Team as a teenager, and then for Team Canada while in college..
Now 23-years old, McDonald appears to be much too advanced to remain at Extended Spring Training. I would think he could possibly be a very useful lefty reliever for one of the Cubs full-season minor league affiliates.
20-year old switch-hitting Dominican OF Kevin Encarnacion made his U. S. debut today, coming into the game as a late-inning replacement in CF. He bounced-out to the pitcher in his only AB.
Encarnacion played in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) the past two seasons (2010-11), hitting 268/382/368 with 13 doubles, 12 triples, 71/67 BB/K, and 43 SB (21 CS), in 129 DSL games.
Mark Malave has also arrived and made his 2012 debut in today’s game, entering the contest as a late-inning replacement at 3B. Although he was signed as a catcher, the 17-year old switch-hitting Malave has been working-out exclusively at 3rd base since arriving at Fitch Park earlier this week.
This is not Malave’s first time in Arizona. The youngster attended the AZ Instructional League as a 16-year old last fall, hitting 143/250/143 for the Cubs in 10 AIL games, while playing both catcher and 3rd base. And he did show more promise (defensively) at 3rd base than at catcher at that time.
Malave received a reported $1.6M bonus (equivalent to “1st round money”) when he was signed by the Cubs at the start of the International Signing Period last July 2nd.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
1a. Trey Martin, CF: 0-2 (6-3, BB, 6-3, R)
1b. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: 0-1 (1-3)
2a. Gioskar Amaya, 3B: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-9, R)
2b. Mark Malave, 3B: DID NOT BAT
3. Javier Baez, SS: 1-3 (P-5, HR, 5-3, R, 3 RBI)
4. Rock Shoulders, 1B: 2-3 (K, 1B, 2B, R)
5a. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (K, 3B, 5-3-5 DP, R, RBI)
5b. Delbis Arcila, RF: DID NOT BAT
6. Trevor Gretzky, DH #1: 1-3 (1B, K, 5-3)
7. Jair Bogaerts, DH #2: 1-3 (6-4-3 DP, 1B, F-8, RBI)
8. Brian Inoa, 2B: 1-2 (F-7, BB, 1B)
9a. Neftali Rosario, C: 0-2 (K, P-6)
9b. Yaniel Cabezas, C: 0-1 (F-8)
10. Dong-Yub Kim, LF-DH: 0-3 (4-3, 6-4 FC, 6-3)
11a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
11b. Wilfredo Petit, DH #3: 1-1 (1B, PO)
11c. Jeffrey Baez, LF: 0-1 (L-5)
1. James Pugliese: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 2 PO, 38 pitches (23 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
2. Ramon Garcia: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 40 pitches (27 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
3. Sheldon McDonald: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP, 40 pitches (29 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
4. Felix Pena: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 13 pitches (10 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
SS Javier Baez - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
CUBS OUTFIELD ASSISTS:
CF Trey Martin threw out runner 8-2 trying to score from 2nd base on line-drive single to CF
WEATHER: Sunny & a bit breezy with temperatures in the 70’s
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!!!!!!
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.