Cubs Rumors from Around the Globe
- Alfonso Soriano had a "scheduled" off day on Wednesday versus the Diamondbacks despite some gaudy career numbers against Ian Kennedy (6-for-13, 3 HR's, 7 RBI's, 3 BB's). The Twitter-verse was having none of it and the conspiracies flowed that the Cubs were just awaiting his approval on a deal. Soriano showed up though for a pre-game chat with the reporters and spilled the beans that he would accept the a trade to the Yankees and apparently gave TheJedi a list of a few other teams he'd be willing to say yes to...so it's Soriano waiting on the Cubs and the rest of the league. As of now, a trade has not been made, but somehow Soriano didn't manage to even get an at-bat in a 12-inning affair last night that the Cubs eventually won 7-6.
- Speaking of Wednesday's game, the bullpen is pretty taxed, wonder if they'll try and get someone up to the club by gametime. Carlos Villanueva is starting Thursday which could going to the pen early and they'll certainly be without Gregg and Rondon as you can see below (and possibly Guerrier if they don't want to go a 4th day with him although his pitch counts have been low). That leaves Russell, Parker, Strop and Bowden for the most part.
- The other major rumor was that the Pirates and Braves seem keen on James Russell.
- Matt Garza pitched a gem in his first start for Texas: 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the only unearned run courtesy of his own throwing error. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Also, the Yanks had Lyle Overbay batting cleanup and Vernon Wells is a regular batting 5th...so don't get too excited yet Ranger fans.
- In the minors, Kris Bryant got his first hit with Boise with a double, ending up 1-for-4 on the night. Javier Baez doubled and hit his 6th home run in AA (23rd on the season). Dae-Eun Rhee pitched for the Smokies in that game and went a solid 5 innings giving up a run and racking up 6 K's against 3 BB's. Mike Olt made his debut for Iowa and went 1-for-5 with 3 K's. Speaking of the minors, check out MLBFarm.com...cool stuff.
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.