Almora v. Buxton: Showdown at High Noon
Here’s a grab bag from recent days in the Iowa bush leagues:
*Junior Lake looks like a ballplayer but needs polish. He’s been getting on base a lot but his hits have included a swinging bunt here, a deflected ball there, a well-placed bloop, etc. With the glove his best game was in right field where he made multiple good plays. At 3B he’s made some diving and leaping stops but the arm’s erratic to the tune of five errors in less than a week. Still, he looks the part of a prospect.
*Took me a while to notice but The Cub Way no longer includes knickers in the farm system. Apparently the short pants look left town along with Oneri Fleita.
*Status quo with Brett Jackson. The other night his first three at-bats went as follows: solo homer, struck out swinging with the bases loaded, walk (stolen base). Also saw him throw a guy out on the fly tagging up at 2nd on a fly ball to medium depth CF.
*Took the day off today and roadtripped the hundred miles to Cedar Rapids to eyewitness the battle of AA vs. BB, last year’s #’6 and 2, respectively, overall draft picks. This round went decidedly to Byron Buxton who led the hometown/first-place Kernels to a 6-2 win over visiting Kane County. Not only did he single, double and triple at the plate, he also made an astounding Superman circus catch in the top of the 2nd; back-to-the-plate, full sprint, all-out dive robbery of extra bases as he skidded across the warning track to a stop against the wall. Proving he’s a nineteen year-old human in his first full season of pro ball, he was picked off first after his single.
Almora went 1-4, hustling a seeing eye single into a pants-ripping double when the Kernel infield left the bag at 2nd unprotected in pursuit of his bouncer up the middle. He also drove Buxton to the track in deep center on his hardest hit ball of the day but that running catch was ho-hum compared to the earlier highlight reeler. Almora was not tested defensively but I did notice how he positioned himself for a routine catch with a man at 2nd in such a way that he was perfectly aligned for the throw to 3rd.
Has it been mentioned previously how much Vogelbomb resembles Chris Farley? From my seat several rows behind the Cougar dugout it appeared that he, AA and Rock Shoulders are three amigos. Several times when Kane County was hitting and none of them was at the plate, on deck or in the hole, there they were; side-by-side on the top step with their elbows resting on the dugout railing. Almora was doing most of the talking. Far, er, Vogey laughed a lot.
The kid Amaya who plays 2B and bats leadoff ahead of Almora? Don’t know much about him but he made a sparkling play to snuff out a threat when the game was still scoreless and drew three walks, each of which included multiple foul balls. In his other AB the count went full before he lined out.
Pierce Johnson started for KC and looked good until Buxton busted the game open with his bases-clearing double in the 5th.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.
First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.
Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.
Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.
"Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."
In the comments here: http://www.thecubreporter.com/05242016/cub-power-d...
Per FanGraphs, Cubs have a 72.5% chance of winning today. Jinx! Next highest percentage on today's games is D-backs with a 64.7% chance (Greinke vs. Cesar Vargas, in Arizona.)