O Mio Amaya!
Gioskar Amaya drilled two home runs and an RBI single and collected four RBI, Jesse Hodges doubled twice, singled, and drove-in two runs, and Kelvin Freeman belted a two-run HR, leading the Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the Athletics in Arizona Instructional League action this afternoon at the Papago Park Baseball Facility Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix.
Amaya also reached base on an HBP, stole a base, and made three diving stops & throws at 2B that resulted in run-saving put-outs (two of the stops made while going to his right, and one made while going to his left).
19-year old RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (the top rated international prospect out of Taiwan this year who received a reported $1.625M bonus when he signed with the Cubs in August) made his professional game debut today, and it was painful. After allowing an unearned run on no hits in a languorous 28-pitch bottom of the 3rd inning (the run scoring thanks to two walks and an Erick Castillo PB), Tseng was struck on the lower left leg by a line-drive off the bat of A's 1st baseman Ryan Huck on his very first pitch in the bottom of the 4th. Tseng was obviously in a lot of pain (he didn't even try to retrieve the ball and throw Huck out after being struck, even though the ball landed just a couple of feet from the mound), and he had to be helped off the field.
Tseng has a herky-jerky delivery where he snaps his head up into the air just before releasing the ball, and in the process he loses sight of the catcher & batter and really isn't in a position to see the ball when it comes off the bat.
RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua threw a couple of innings and was cranking his fastball up to 97 MPH, easily retiring the first five men he faced. But then he walked a batter on a 3-2 pitch with two outs, before hanging a slider that Jaycob Brugman hooked over the RF fence for a two-run HR, followed by a Kyle Wheeler double off the top of the left-centerfield fence (near HR).
RHP Duane Underwood had an impressive outing, striking out the first three men he faced on 11 pitches and then retiring four more in a row before allowing a couple of singles (the run charged to Underwood was an inherited runner who scored after Underwood had left the game). The young right-hander had command of all of his pitches (fastball, curve, and change-up), such that he was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes (which has been a problem for him in the past). He also worked quickly and seemed to be pitching with a lot of confidence (he didn't waste any time between pitches).
Despite the nine runs and 11 hits, Cubs hitters collectively struck out 14 times today, but 13 of the 14 strikeouts were racked up by just four hitters: Kelvin Freeman four times (all swinging), and Trey Martin, Jeffrey Baez, and Rashad Crawford three times each (Martin and Baez all swinging strikeouts, while Crawford struck out looking each time).
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only)
1. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 3-4 (HR, 1B, K, HR, HBP, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB)
2. Trey Martin, LF: 1-5 (6-3, K, K, K, 2B, RBI)
3. Jeffrey Baez, RF: 1-4 (K, BB, 1B, K, K, R, SB)
4. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 3-5 (2B, 2B, 5-3, 1B, P-3, R, 2 RBI)
5. Kelvin Freeman, 1B: 1-5 (K, K, K, HR, K, R, 2 RBI)
6a. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-2 (6-3, BB, 1-3)
6b. Gleyber Torres, SS: 0-2 (3-U, 4-3)
7. Rashad Crawford, CF: 0-5 (F-8, K, 4-3, K, K)
8a. Erick Castillo, C: 0-3 (6-3, 4-3, 1-3)
8b. Wilfredo Petit, C: 1-1 (1B, R)
9. Jordan Hankins, DH: 1-3 (BB, 5-3, 2B, 4-3, 2 R)
1. Paul Blackburn: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 42 pitches (19 strikes)
2. Jen-Ho Tseng: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (17 strikes)
3. Juan Carlos Paniagua: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 2/2 GO/FO, 37 pitches (19 strikes)
4. Duane Underwood: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes)
5. Tyler Ihrig: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (18 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
3B Jesse Hodges - E-5 (dropped pop fly in foul territory)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Erick Castillo: 2-4 CS, 1 PB
ATTENDANCE: 96 (including 80 students & instructors from MLB Scout School)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
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."
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