Marte the Master of Destruction at Fitch Park
Miguel Marte and Jensi Peralta clubbed back-to-back home runs to highlight a six-run 9th, as the Athletics rallied to sting the Cubs 7-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.
The 6'3 230 Marte belted two home runs in the game, a solo blast leading off the top of the 4th to give the A's a 1-0 lead, and then a grand slam in the 9th that turned a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead.
Rob Whitenack (June 2011 TJS rehab) got the start for the Cubs and retired the first nine men he faced (the first seven on strikeouts, including Manny Ramirez). He did allow a solo HR, but otherwise was perfect through his four innings of work (49 pitches). In his seven EXST games, Whitenack has allowed just two runs (both earned), 12 hits, and two walks, with 17 strikeouts, in 17.0 IP (1.06 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .200 Opp BA). A 6'5 23-year old right-hander, Whitenack was the Cubs 8th round draft pick out of SUNY - Old Westbury in 2009, and was probably the Cubs #2 starting pitcher prospect when he went down with the elbow injury last June. Hopefully he can eventually get back to where he was before the TJS.
RHP Arturo Maltos-Garcia (rehabbing from July 2011 TJS - was selected by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft out of Lamar CC) threw a hitless 5th inning, and then James Pugliese followed with three innings of one-hit shutout ball (retiring the first eight men he faced before allowing a single with two outs in the 8th), as the Cubs took a collective two-hitter (and 5-1 lead) into the 9th. (Pugliese now has a 0.95 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 6/16 BB/K in 18.2 IP at EXST).
But closer Roderik Pichardo, who had been "money" in his eight previous EXST appearances--0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .156 Opp BA, allowing no runs and just five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 11.1 IP--had an Outing from Hell in the top of the 9th, allowing six runs on four hits (including a double and two home runs) and three walks in just 1/3 of an inning (the inning was stopped--"ROLL IT!"--with only one out), as the A's took a 7-5 lead (the eventual final score).
After going 0-2 with two walks as a DH yesterday, Micah Gibbs continued his EXST rehab today, catching for five innings before moving to DH. He batted a total of six times in today's game, going 1-5 with a single and a walk. He also scored a run in the Cubs four-run 4th, and was the catcher for Whitenack's sterling four-inning performance.
The Defensive Play of the Game was a back-handed diving catch by SS Javier Baez in LF foul territory near the bullpen, one of the best catches I've ever eeen at Fitch Park. He had to run a mile just to get there, and then somehow was able to locate the ball and catch it.
In EXST Cubs roster news, C-IF-OF Anthony Giansanti has been moved up to Peoria. Giansanti was hitting 222/404/417 in 17 EXST games (47 PA), with one double and three triples. He also had displayed an eagle-eye at the plate (10/5 BB/K).
Giansanti has spent the 2012 season to date at Fitch Park (first at Minor League Camp, then at Extended Spring Training) learning to be a catcher. Signed by the Cubs as a Non-Drafted Free-Agent out of Siena College in 2010, Giansanti was already a versatile fellow (having played 3B-2B-1B-LF-CF-RF in the minors leagues 2010-11), but adding catcher to his resume should only increase his value as a "supersub."
The 23-year old Giansanti is a below-average hitter but with decent power (11 HR at Peoria in 2010) and one of the best outfield arms in the Cubs system (24 OF assists in 2011), and he has shown the arm off from behind the plate as well, nailing 36% of opposing base-stealers in EXST games. He played only catcher and DH in games until just recently, but got a start in RF on Thursday and at 3B on Friday, apparently in preparation for the move up to Peoria.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
X. Micah Gibbs, C-DH: 1-6 (F-8, 1B, F-8, 4-3, BB, 4-3, R)
NOTE: Gibbs batted six times, once in the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th
1a. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 1-2 (HBP, 1B, 6-3, R, RBI, PO)
1b. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-1 (1B)
2a. Javier Baez, SS: 1-3 (K, 2B, P-4, R, RBI)
2b. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: NO AB
2c. Wilfredo Petit, PH: 0-1 (F-8)
3. Xavier Batista, LF-RF: 0-3 (5-3, 4-3, 5-3, RBI)
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B: 0-3 (K, 6-3, 4-U FC, R, RBI)
5a. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (K, P-5, 1B)
5b. Rock Shoulders, 1B: NO AB
6. Dan Vogelbach, 1B-DH: 0-3 (P-3, F-8, 3-6 FC)
7. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 0-3 (F-8, 3-1, F-8)
8a. Trevor Gretzky, DH #1: 1-2 (K, 1B)
8b. Wilson Contreras, C: 1-1 (1B)
9. Dong-Yub Kim, DH-LF: 1-3 (2B, K, K, R)
1. Rob Whitenack: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, (1 ER), 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 49 pitches (35 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
2. Arturo Maltos-Garcia: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 14 pitches (9 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
3. James Pugliese: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 29 pitches (17 strikes), 5/3 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R (6 ER), 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2 HR, 24 pitches (9 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
NOTE: 9th inning was stopped with one out when Pichardo reached his pre-planned max pitch limit
CUBS ERRORS: NONE
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90'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!!!!!!