Big 5-Run Cubs 6th Starts & Ends with Balaguert
Yasiel Balaguert laced a double into the left-centerfield alley and scored on a Ben Carhart single to get the inning started, and then ripped an opposite-field line-drive RBI single to right to drive-in Jacob Rogers with the final run of the frame, as the AZL Cubs sent 11 men to the plate and scored five times in the bottom of the 6th en route to an 8-2 victory over the AZL Royals in Arizona League action this evening at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
The 19-year old Balaguert was a teammate of recently signed Cubs OF Jorge Soler on the Cuban Junior National Team before defecting in 2011 and signing with the Cubs last December ($400K bonus), and while he is not the offensive force that is Soler, he does occasionally show some upside at the plate. However, he has a long swing and is kind of a lug on the bases and in the field (he's not in the best of shape), so I think there probably is some doubt in some circles about whether he will ever be anything more than a AA player.
20-year old 6'3 235 RHP Trey Lang (Cubs 2012 6th round draft pick by way of Mesa Skyline HS, Northern Illinois University, and Gateway CC) got the start for the Cubs and threw four shutout innings (50 pitches - 37 strikes, 6/1 GO/FO), allowing four hits (three singles and a double) and a walk with five strikeouts.
The husky ex-Huskie throws a mid-90's fastball and a hard slider when employed as a one-inning closer and profiles as a two-pitch late-inning reliever at the higher levels (he was a full-time slugging OF and part-time closer in HS and college), but it's not unusual for a Pitcher with Promise to be used as a starter early in his career in order to get as many innings as possible under his belt as soon as possible.
Cubs 26th round draft pick RHP Jasvir "Jazz" Rakkar (SUNY - Stony Brook) made his professional debut, throwing a scoreless top of the 5th. He allowed a lead-off single and a walk, but he also notched a strikeout. He labored a bit to throw strikes (16 pitches - 9 strikes), but then he hadn't pitched in a game since working in relief at the College World Series in Omaha more than six weeks ago.
A member of the National Honor Society in Secondary School and the America East All-Academic team in college, Rakkar's pro debut was delayed while he applied for a work visa (he is a Canadian, and had been in the U. S. on a student visa while attending Stony Brook).
While Lang and Rakkar were throwing goose eggs, Royals starter Miguel Almonte was doing likewise, as the teams were scoreless through the top of the 6th. But then the Cubs erupted for a five-spot, and never looked back.
Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick Albert Almora played CF and hit lead-off (he struck out swinging in his only AB), but he left the game after only two innings with an apparent leg injury.
Jorge Soler played LF, hit clean-up, and went 0-5 (struck out swinging, three ground outs, and a pop fly out), although he did collect an RBI on a FC in the 6th and later scored a run in that same inning.
Everytime I recall Szcur's bne marrow donation to a stranger, it makes me smile:
If Matt is out will Kawasaki get the call-up? Or "Shane"?
"Matt Szczur will undergo an MRI on his right hamstring on Tuesday."
One of the reasons I think Maddon is a great manager -- he has changed the conversation on Baez from HR & strikeouts to great defense, versatility and an all-around good ballplayer. He rarely talks about his offense, which is the only thing anybody used to talk about with Javy. He took a lot of pressure off the kid, and he seems to have responded.
Good pitching and some nifty D tonight -- nice win.
In case you didn't see it -- it was the Little League play where the guy on first gets caught in a rundown on purpose and the guy on third tries to score. It worked.
Gotta love the Pirates pitcher intentionally hitting Zobrist, then allowing Zobrist to score on a 2-out wild pitch.
Also, glad to see Zobrist coming around with RISP after my remarks last week. Heh!
ESPN reporting heyward day-to-day with an injured wrist
ESPN game tonight, btw.
Cardinal way #48
"negligent transmission of STDs"
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.