1st Round Pick Leads Cubs to Victory in 1st Pro Game
In his third AB in just his first professional game, Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick Albert Almora (Mater Academy - Hialeah Gardens, FL) blasted a two-run HR over the LF fence and onto the berm in front of the scoreboard to cap a three-run 5th, leading the AZL Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action tonight at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.
In addition to Almora's heroics, Ben Carhart had four hits (all singles) and scored a run, and Shawon Dunston Jr singled, doubled, and walked, and scored twice.
Almora played CF and batted 3rd in the lineup.
Hitting with a 0-1 count, the 19-year old RH hitter reached base on an E-3 (easy roller fumbled by the Brewers 1st baseman) with one out and a runner at 2nd in his first AB in the top of the 1st, and then he hit a soft line-drive back to the pitcher on an 0-2 pitch with a runner at 2nd base and two outs in the top of the 3rd, before connecting on his two-run blast off Brewers RHP Zachary Quintana on an 2-0 pitch with a runner at 2nd base and two outs in the top of the 5th.
Almora looked a bit shaky in the outfield, however, fumbling a line-drive hit to CF (the ball was retrieved by RF Yasiel Balaguert and the runner was thrown out trying to take the extra base, so no error was charged), and taking a bad route on a line drive hit to his left that turned what should have been either a long single or possibly a double (with perhaps a play at 2nd base) into a stand-up triple.
Almora was removed from the game after the 5th inning (after he got three AB).
One night after hitting his first pro HR and knocking the Reds third-baseman out of the game with a bouncing rocket off the youngster's nose, Jorge Soler was the DH and hit 5th, and went 0-5.
He struck out his first two times up (the first time swinging on a 3-2 pitch, and the second time looking on a 1-2 pitch), before grounding out three consecutive times to SS (all three high infield choppers) in his final three AB (first pitch swinging on the first one, then hitting with a 1-0 count, and finally on a 2-2 pitch).
Cubs 2012 5th round draft pick LHP Anthony Prieto (Americas HS - El Paso, TX) made his fourth pro start, and labored through one inning of work (30 pitches - only 14 strikes). He went to ball three on four of the five hitters he faced and walked two of them, but he also struck out two and did not allow a run,
Although he had difficulty throwing strikes, Prieto had no trouble turning a couple of nifty back flips (a la Ozie Smith) in the outfield before he began his pre-game warm-up in the bullpen. The East German judge only gave him a 6.5, but Prieto is obviously quite an athlete (for a pitcher).
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!!!!!!
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