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.




The Superman circus catch:

every year that that ballpark ages in looks about 5 years due to lack of's hard to believe it's only 11 years old.

i bet the concrete there hasn't seen a power washer since it opened...and the numbers flaking off the OF wall is embarrassing.

...nice catch, btw. =p

castro finally gets a hit (deep RBI double, 1-4 on the day)

2nd hit of the month...both doubles (2 walks) 30 PA.

Interesting article, thanks.

I'm kinda thinking Ian Stewart should get on a plane w Buddy Holly, jim Croce and Payne Stewart.

Cubs brass seems highly annoyed with his BS to say the least.

already banished to 1B & the 8-hole - maybe they make him drive the cart for the hot dog gun on next homestand...

Recent comments

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  • deno ended the season well even though ajax heavily cut into a lot of his chances to play. it's either him or ajax. i'm a bit partial to deno, but least ajax isn't hitting 2nd.

  • Agreed. And, with Hendricks on the mound, Cubs will probably need to score some runs to win -- why not start Soler for his bat and bring in Ajax for defense later?

    NEVER MIND....just re-read the lineup.

  • If the Cubs have the lead in the 8th, who pitches? Rodney? Travis? Yikes.

  • The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.

  • I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.

  • Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.

  • Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell

  • if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.

  • I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth

  • Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.

    Wtf is up w/that?!

  • Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...

  • I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.

  • Awesome stuff, Phil.

  • listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.

    That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.

  • it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
    should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?

    sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.

  • HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).  

    Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.