A VogelBomb, a VogelTrip, and Two VogelSongs Rx for Cub Victory at HoHoKam
Dan Vogelbach homered, tripled, and singled twice, drove-in three runs, and scored two more, leading the AZL Cubs to a come-from-behind 9-7 victory over the AZL Athletics in Arizona League action this evening at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
After hitting just 189/306/379 in 26 Extended Spring Training games (111 PA), Vogelbach has been on fire in AZL play, ripping a league-leading seven doubles and hitting a robust 471/514/824 through his first eight AZL games.
Although he has been an AZL "double machine"so far, Vogelbach had not hit a HR going into tonight's game. But he made up for it by blasting a 420+ foot HR to the right of the light-standard in right-centerfield in the bottom of the 5th.
And watching Vogelbach tear around the bases on his opposite-field RBI triple smoked into the left-centerfield gap in the bottom of the 6th reminded me of a man carrying a briefcase and an umbrella trying to catch a bus that's pulling away from the stop.
Vogelbach was really messed-up for most of Extended Spring Training (both at the plate and in the field--he committed a whopping ten errors at 1st base), and that's why he was left behind in Mesa, (Extended Spring Training is approximately equivalent to Boise, while the AZL is considered to be the next click below). And Vogelbach's frustration was clearly evident as EXST was coming to a close, too, as he was slamming his bat into the ground harder & harder with each out (and doing a fairly decent impression of somebody with Tourette's Syndrome) as he probably realized he wasn't going to Boise.
But he finally began to show some life in the intrasquad games played at Fitch Park between the close of Extended Spring Training and the start of the AZL, and it has carried over into league play. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now, and opposing teams are pitching him very carefully (albeit to no avail). This is the Dan Vogelbach I saw at Fitch Park last year.
INF Tim Saunders (Cubs 2012 32nd round draft pick out of NCAA D-III champion Marietta College) pumped out two more hits in tonight's game, and is now hitting a league-leading .483. (Vogelbach is 2nd in the AZL in BA, and Trey Martin-moved up to Boise last week--is 5th).
Both Vogelbach and Saunders will probably get moved up to Boise sooner rather than later (Saunders might even score a ticket to Peoria), with Vogelbach and Rock Shoulders likely alternating between DH and 1B in Boise once Vogelbach gets there.
Although the Cub offense produced nine runs on 13 hits and six walks, none of the AZL Cubs pitchers who threw in the game tonight showed much.
RHP Ethan Elias got the start and allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in three innings of work, RHP Ryan Hartman had trouble throwing strikes (again), and when he did get the ball over the plate he got hammered (including back-to-back-to-back doubles at one point), and LHP Nathan Dorris (Cubs 2012 17th round draft pick out of Southern Illinois) had command issues (26 pitches - only 11 strikes) and was pulled after throwing just one inning.
2012 21st round pick RHP Steve "Percolator" Perakslis (U. of Maine) also struggled with his control in the 7th and 8th innings, walking two batters before getting himself together just in time to strike out the last two men he faced on six pitches.
And while closer Alvido Jimenez did get the save, it was only after he hit the first batter he faced (on an 0-2 pitch), followed by a 1st degree brain fart.
Up by three runs in the top of the 9th, Jimenez decided to try and pick the A's runner off 1st base, except 1st baseman Dan Vogelbach was playing well behind the runner and about eight steps off the bag, resulting in a two-base error as the ball sailed past the baserunner and 1st base coach and into the 1st base box seats. What makes the play especially stupid is that after Jimenez hit the batter, the Cubs bench, catcher Carlos Escobar, and 1st baseman Vogelbach all yelled at Jimenez (with Vogelbach crossing his arms for emphasis) to let him know that Vogelbach would not be holding the runner. But Jimenez threw to 1st anyway.
Recently-signed 20-year old Cuban mega-defector Jorge Soler ($30M nine-year contract) is taking BP with the AZL Cubs, but he isn't quite ready for game action yet.
I think while I get what you're saying with moving around a lot of baseball is very rhythm based and for many players moving around a lot could disrupt that. It's the same reason many players aren't cut out for phing or dhing since they need to be in the rhythm of the game to hit.
Of course then you have players like LaStella who are terrible as starters and should only PH. Really hope Madden doesn't get enthralled with him starting too much.
The players are required to perform with minimal thinking, relying on reflex, reaction, and muscle memory (or, as you say, rhythm). I think this point of view doesn't lend itself well to changing things up. Wearing Zany suits, on the other hand, does sound like fun and definitely keeps things interesting.
Scared me for a minute with your anagram for "Almora".
KKVG: Among the players at Extended Spring Training, Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive position-player from the Cubs 2015-16 IFA class (I'm not including OF Eddy Julio Martinez, because he skipped EXST and began the season at South Bend). Paredes has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely eventually end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the Cubs 2015-16 IFA position players who could.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.