Harry Canary Unmasked
Knowing the end of his reign here is near, I braved the heat and the Zooperstars today and went to Principal Park in search of something to remember Anthony Rizzo by.
Normally I perch behind the plate in the shade of the mezzanine. Today I transplanted myself to the rightfield bleachers where I'd be positioned to fetch long balls aimed in that direction. There's a fountain out there that was spraying those young enough to frolick in it without drawing stares. I was tempted.
Rodrigo Lopez retired the first 11 hitters he faced but a scoreless tie was broken when Round Rock's Brad Nelson connected on his 12th career homer against the I-Cubs in the top of the 6th, this one a granny. Despite that it wasn't Rizzo who hit it, I gave chase out the rightfield gate just to test my route of pursuit. Homers to center at PP are automatically out of there since there are no seats in that area. Sure enough, when I arrived at the scene the ball was waiting for me just shy of the street that runs between the wall and the river. Unfortunately, a couple of young ballhawks who watched me from their seats in right center beat me to the ball when Brett Jackson brought the home team within two with a solo blast to the same area in the bottom of the 7th.
Jackson's day was a synopsis of his scouting report. He drew a walk, stole a base, hit a homer and fanned, among other things. His walk came after getting down in the count 0-2. He doesn't whiff so much because he's a chaser. He just misses a lot of strikes he swings at.
Alas, Rizzo was hitless for the second consecutive game. Today was the first time I've seen him that he didn't hit at least one ball hard. He did draw a walk in his first trip.
Before I segue to the dreaded Zooperstars I should mention that Josh (JV) Vitters hit third today and singled once to extend his modest hitting streak to seven games. Earlier in the year he'd dropped as low as eighth in the lineup. He's been on a steady burn this month but I still ain't buying.
As for the extra-curricular entertainment, the dressing room for those zany inflatables was beneath the section where I was sitting. When I saw Shark McGwire, Mackerel Jordan, Tiger Woodchuck, Harry Canary, et. al changing costumes between innings I felt like a kid watching Bozo have a smoke. They're really just young guys, carneys working the summer circuit. Oh, the disillusionment!
I've got another day off to use up before the fiscal year ends next week so I think I'll cash it on tomorrow's matinee. Will Scrabble Rizzo be in the lineup? All I know for sure is the Zooperstars will still be in town. They're worth the price of admission only because there is none, not counting the last of my discretionary days. I can't imagine that I'll end up wishing I'd gone to the rock pile. Until tomorrow afternoon...
CHILDERS: Dylan Cease and Bryan Hudson are probably the Cubs 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'sslider), but has trouble commanding his stuff.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17, and his fastbball 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.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.
For some reason