Junior Lake Back in Action at Fitch Park
James Sneed roped a two-run single and Ryan Dalton followed with an RBI single to highlight a two-out three-run rally in the top of the 3rd inning, and Tyler DeLoach tossed 3.2 IP of one-hit shutout relief with seven strikeouts, helping the Angels defeat the Cubs 4-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.
Junior Lake (fractured rib cage rehab) saw his first game action since March 6th, playing 3rd base for five innings and getting five AB.
Lake batted once in each of the first five innings, going 1-3 with a single and two walks. He also was retired on a 1-3 comebacker to the mound and was called out on strikes. In addition, he was caught stealing after reaching base on the single.
Ex-Minnesota Twins switch-hitting C-1B-3B-PH Jose Morales also returned to action today after missing almost six weeks with a strained hamstring. He went 0-3, and knocked-in the Cubs lone run with a F-7 sacrifice fly.
The 30-year old Morales was signed as a minor league free-agent last month and reported to Extended Spring Training to get into playing shape, but promptly pulled a hammy in his very first EXST game on April 19th. He has been restricted to limited activity (essentially just BP and "sim" games) ever since. Once he is deemed ready to move up, he will likely be assigned to AAA Iowa.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
X. Junior Lake, 3B: 1-3 (BB, 1B, K, BB, 1-3, CS)
NOTE: Lake batted five times, hitting third in the bottom of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings
1. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: 1-4 (4-3, 3-U, K, 2B)
2a. Justin Marra, DH #1: 0-2 (K, K)
2b. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 0-2 (K, K)
3a. Erick Castillo, C: 0-2 (3-U, K)
3b. Rony Rodriguez, C: 0-2 (F-7, F-7)
4a. Dong-Yub Kim, LF: 1-2 (3B, BB, 1-3, R)
4b. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FOURTH TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
5. Jose Morales, DH #2: 0-3 (F-7 SF, F-8, K, K, RBI)
6. Garrett Schlecht, RF: 1-3 (2B, F-9, K)
7. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 0-2 (BB, F-7, 6-3)
8. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-3 (P-3, L-4, K)
9. Trevor Gretzky, 1B: 0-1 (BB, BB, K, SB)
1. Paul Blackburn: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HBP, 1 PO, 67 pitches (41 strikes), 3/2 GO/FO
2. Erick Leal: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 1 PO, 47 pitches (29 strikes), 2/5 GO/FO
NOTE: Top of 7th inning was stopped with two outs when Leal reached his pre-planned max pitch limit for the game
3. Carlos Martinez: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 28 pitches (20 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: NONE
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Erick Castillo; 0-1 CS
Rony Rodriguez: 1-1 CS
WEATHER: Sunny and breezy with temperarures in the 90's
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.
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.