Sol-Era Begins with a Whimper at HoHoKam Park
Making his professional debut after signing a reported nine-year $30M contract with the Cubs, Cuban defector Jorge Soler went 0-3 as the DH, and the AZL Mariners pushed across a run in the top of the 12th to edge the AZL Cubs 4-3 in Arizona League action tonight at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
Soler hit a two-bouncer to the shortstop on a 2-1 pitch leading-off the bottom of the 2nd, a one-bouncer back to the pitcher on the first pitch he saw leading off the bottom of the 5th, and lined-out to the pitcher on a 3-2 pitch with no outs and a runner at 1st in the bottom of the 7th (the runner was doubled off 1st base for a DP) after taking a close 2-2 pitch just off the outside corner for ball three. Soler was removed for a PH in the bottom of the 9th. (He was pre-scheduled to get just three AB in the game and then be replaced).
There is (surprise) a mistake in tonight's "official" milb box score (see link above).
Cubs 2012 1st round Supplemental draft pick RHP Paul Blackburn (selected by the Cubs with 2012 Rule 4 Draft slot #56, the slot awarded to the Cubs when Article XX-B Type "B" FA Carlos Pena signed with TB last off-season) did indeed start the game for the AZL Cubs, but he pitched only one inning (20 pitches - 11 strikes), allowing one run on two hits (both doubles) and a walk. (The second double was a two-out RBI double that was actually a routine pop up that RF Yasiel Balaguert apparently lost in the twilight sky).
Then Cubs 2012 12th round pick RHP Justin Amlung (who is not presently listed in the box score) worked the 2nd & 3rd innings (22 pitches - 14 strikes), allowing a single and no runs, with one strikeout.
Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita was at the game tonight.
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
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.