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.
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!!!!!!