Promotion of the Roster Snatchers
Slowly, the infiltration has begun.
Marlon Byrd’s banishment from the nest cleared the way for Tony Campana’s
temporary custody of the roster spot reserved for Brett Jackson. If Soriano’s
reinvention as a singles hitter who doesn’t even manage many of those goes on,
how long might it be until LaHair takes his team-leading [no, it’s not saying
much] slugging totals to the outfield and defers to Raker Rizzo, the scourge of
PCL pitchers, at first base? We shall see.
In the meantime, today at Principal Park the Cubs-in waiting
wrapped up a four-game set with their Cardinal counterparts from Memphis, dropping a 4-0 yawner in front of a sun splashed crowd that couldn't have cared less. On
the mound for the Redbirds was their prized pitching prospect, Shelby Miller.
Miller’s stumbled a bit out of the PCL gate so far but remains highly touted [#8 prospect in baseball per BA last time I looked] and eagerly awaited in St. Lou as shadows lengthen on the careers of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
Oneri Fleita's been in town for this series. I passed him on the concourse just before the anthem and asked if he were here for any particular reason just so he could feel recognized outside of the team offices. He smiled and said it's a routine trip.
Travis Wood took the mound opposite Miller and acquitted hinself nicely. He was saddled with the loss despite yielding only one earned run in six innings while walking two and fanning eight.
After four innings the linescores were identical at 0-4-0. The I-Cubs had a crack at Miller in the bottom of the first when they loaded the bases on two walks and a bloop single by Rizzo that came on Miller's 22nd pitch of the frame. It was the first one put in play and one of only two out of the 33 he threw in laying that first goose egg.
Miller needed just 58 more to hang four more zeroes before leaving after five scoreless innings and giving way to a violent bastard named Maikel Cleto who throws in the upper 90's and reminds of Bob Gibson, maybe 20 pounds heavy. It's not hard to imagine Miller facing a few of these I-Cubs many more times in the years to come. Today he got the best of them. Besides Rizzo's blooper, Wellington Castillo grounded a single to left and Josh [Junior Varsity] Vitters also dinked one safely and softly into the outfield, his fifth hit in his last almost 40 AB's. Brett Jackson drew a walk and fanned twice. He also stole a base and drew another free pass later from one of Miller's successors. He took himself into a couple of 0-2 counts and never stroked a ball fair until his fifth plate appearance when he grounded out in the 9th. He remains tied for the team lead in extra base hits with 10.
Rizzo made a careless error, his fourth, in the middle of a sequence in the top of the 5th that saw Memphis load the bases without nudging the ball beyond the infield grass. His miscue was sandwiched by a walk and Miller getting hit by a pitch while trying to sacrifice. All it took was a glancing single over a drawn-in infield to put the Redbirds in front 2-0 and send the I-Cubs to their seventh loss in eight tries.
Rizzo's splits are as wide as the aisle in Congress. He's now 4/23 against southpaws and hitting righties at damn near a .500 clip!
As for JV, jeez, when's the last time a touted prospect hit eighth in the lineup? It may be early yet in the season but his development is getting on now. Maybe Oneri can take him aside before he leaves town.