Cubs Pitchers Now Know How Custer Felt
Nick Swisher singled twice, homered, and drove-in four runs, Lonnie Chisenhall singled, doubled, and homered, and collected three RBI, Drew Stubbs singled and tripled and drove-in three runs, and Mark Reynolds homered and doubled and knocked-in two runs, leading a 20-hit attack as the Cleveland Indians scalped the Cubs 13-5 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Meaa, AZ.
RHP Alberto Cabrera got the start for the Cubs and was battered to the tune of five runs (all earned) on seven hits (three singles, two doubles, and two home runs) and a walk in 2.2 IP (52 pitches - 29 strikes).
Because he has a three-pitch arsenal (mid-90's fastball, hard slider, and change), the Cubs would like to move Cabrera back to the starting rotation in 2013 (he was converted to a reliever after the 2011 season), but he has struggled to throw strikes in both the Dominican Winter League post-2012 and at Spring Training 2013. And today when he did throw the ball over the plate, he was consistently and relentlessly hammered by Tribe hitters. Cabrera is a lot like Carlos Marmol, in that he has electric stuff but has a tendency to always be pitching from behind in the count. Today he seemed intent on not walking the world (as he has in the recent past), so when he got behind, he tried to pitch to contact, and it just didn't work. Cabrera is a strikeout pitcher, and to try and be something else is probably not a good strategy.
LHP Brooks Raley followed Cabrera to the mound and he fared poorly, too. Once again Raley had a long inning (a 28-pitch 4th inning), and he also surrendered five runs (four earned) on six hits (a triple, a double, and four singles) and a walk in 2.1 IP. Raley has labored in every outing so far this Spring (one intrasquad game and two Cactus League outings), and has been unable to get through an appearance without at least one high-pitch inning.
RHP Ty'Relle Harris was called up from Minor League Camp for the second time in a week, and he had a lugubrious 34-pitch (only 13 strikes) 6th inning where he allowed three runs on three hits and three walks. Harris was one of the players acquired from Atlanta in the Derrek Lee trade in 2010, and he suffered near-career ending injuries when struck by a hit & run driver outside a Knoxville nightclub in 2011. It's been a long road back and it's a miracle that he's even pitching again, but Harris will have to do a lot better in Minor League Camp than he did today at HoHoKam Park to avoid getting released.
Casey Coleman threw two scoreless innings, and RHP Marcus Hatley (brought up for the day from Minor League Camp) worked a scoreless 9th, although he did allow a hit and a walk.
A converted JC outfielder who was one of the last "Draft & Follow" signings by the Cubs before DNF was eliminated per the 2006 CBA, Hatley was ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs #29 prospect going into the 2013 season, and while he does have some upside as a hard-throwing reliever, he has yet to establish himself at the AAA level, and he will be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (Six-Year Minor League free-agent) post-2013 if he is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2013 World Series. So the Cubs will have to watch him carefully this season so that they can make an informed decision by the deadline.
Today's Cub offensive output might have been enough to win most days, but not when the opposition scores 13 runs.
Alfonso Soriano led-off the bottom of the 2nd with a HR over the LF fence off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, and after Steve Clevenger drew a walk, Brad Nelson drove him home from 1st base with an RBI double. Soriano (who doubled in his second AB) appears to be in great shape, and I would not be surprised if he matches or even exceeds his 2012 numbers this season.
Down 13-2, the Cubs scored two runs off Indians #1 pitching prospect Trevor Bauer (acquired from Arizona during the off-season) in the bottom of the 7th. Jorge Soler drew a one-out walk and scored on a Logan Watkins double, and then after advancing to 3rd base on an error, Watkins scored on a Javier Baez 5-3 GO RBI (Baez's fourth RBI in two days).
Johermyn Chavez slugged a solo HR off Bauer in the bottom of the 8th for the Cubs fifth and final run of the game.
It was another small crowd at HoHoKam Park today (5,465),
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!!!!!!
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.