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.
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
It is remarkable how my mood has become uplifted with one game against the Cards.
That is sick.
But, I have been an addict for a long time.
A W tomorrow and it will be a .500 road trip.
Also, to keep the losses in perspective, if the Cubs were to lose 10 games a month - a lot at this current pace - they still end up 102-60. Six months of the ride!
So, the Mesa Cubs should be solid this summer in the AZL Rookie League?
And, I like the, "But did you know" lead in there. Something a little different.
I can tell really like this group of hitters in AZ right now.
What pitchers out there, other than Cease, should we be excited about?
Thanks as always for the info.
back on the Run Differential hunt... (aka The Hunt for Blue October)