Giansanti a Ringer Ding-Dinger for AZL Cubs
Anthony Giansanti slugged a two-run double off the CF Batter's Eye to cap a three-run 1st inning and Ryan McNeil and three relievers combined to throw a shutout, as the AZL Cubs whitewashed the AZL Diamondbacks 3-0 in Game #1, and then Giansanti hammered a lead-off walk-off HR off the base of the scoreboard in the bottom of the 7th that gave the Cubs a 1-0 victory in Game #2, as the Cubs took both ends of a twilight-night doubleheader at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ this evening.
The versatile multi-positional (C-1B-3B-RF-LF) Giansanti is on a rehab assignment from Peoria, after being placed on the Chiefs DL with a sprained ankle last month. He played 3B in Game #1 and 1B in Game #2 tonight, and with the depletion of the AZL Cubs roster in recent days and weeks thanks to call-ups and injuries, having Giansanti in the lineup (even if he is a "ringer") is just what the Cubs need right now.
Two position-players from DSL Cubs #1 have also been called-up this week to provide some much-needed roster depth for the AZL Cubs, although both OF Jeffrey Baez and C Wilfredo Petit were in Mesa previously (Baez at AZ Instructs last year and at Extended Spring Training this year, and Petit at both Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training this season). Both players were assigned to DSL Cubs #1 when the Dominican Summer League season began play in June (prior to the start of the AZL season) after spending two months at EXST.
Iowa Cubs RHP Rafael Dolis (placed on the I-Cubs 7-day DL in July with a sprained left knee) continued his rehab in Game #1 and threw 1.1 IP (24 pitches) of shutout ball (although he did allow a single and a double), and Peoria RHP Ben Wells (sprained elbow) opted to postpone TJS in the hope that his elbow would heal with rest, and it apparently has paid-off as the prized pitching prospect returned to action tonight after missing almost three months of action. The burly right-hander threw one inning of shutout ball, and while he did walk one and struggled with his command a bit (19 pitches - 11 strikes), he also struck out the side.
18-year old RHP Ryan McNeil (Cubs 2012 3rd round draft pick out of Nipomo HS - Nipomo, CA) got the start in Game #1 and threw four innings (58 pitches - 40 strikes), allowing no runs on five hits and no walks, with two strikeouts and a nifty pick-off at 1st base.
RHP Jasvir Rakkar (Cubs 2012 26th round draft pick) had the most-impressive outing of the night, getting the save in Game #1 after throwing 1.2 IP of shutout ball with four punch-outs. Rakkar has not allowed a run over the course of seven innings (and five AZL appearances) so far. The 21-year old Canadian attended SUNY - Stony Brook, and pitched for the Seawolves in the College World Series prior to signing with the Cubs.
With tonight's doubleheader sweep, the AZL Cubs extended their lead in the AZL Wild Card standings to three games over the AZL Giants with only five games left to play, although two of the five games remaining are against the Giants.
If the Cubs can hold their lead in the AZL Wild Card standings, they will qualify for the AZL playoffs as the Wild Card team and would play their 1st round game on the road versus the team with the best record (which right now is the East Division leading AZL Athletics). The winner of that game would then play the winner of the other semi-final game (probably AZL Dodgers versus AZL Rangers) in a winner-take-all (and loser-go-home) Championship Game the next day. (The AZL doesn't mess around).
In fact, the AZL Cubs and the Boise Hawks are the only two Cubs minor league affiliates likely to qualify for the playoffs this year, and both are in pretty good shape to do so. It's just too bad that the AZL Cubs (should they qualify) would be playing without a lot of the guys (Vogelbach, Soler, Almora, Saunders, Martin, et al) who put them in a position to qualify for the AZL playoffs in the first place.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.