A's Top Cubs at Papago/Hannemann HR Derby Champ/Vizcaino Throws in Intrasquad at Fitch

Yairo Munoz blasted a two-run home run, D'Arby Myers, Justin Higley, and Jesus Lopez clubbed RBI doubles, and Josh Miller and B. J. Boyd drilled RBI singles, leading the Athletics to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Arizona Instructional League action this morning at the Papago Park Baseball Facility Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix.  

Yasiel Balaguert belted a two-run double and a single for the Cubs.


RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua got the start for the Cubs and worked three solid innngs (fastball topped out at 96), allowing one run on two singles and a walk with two strikeouts. The one run he allowed scored in the bottom of the 2nd. After retiring the first two A's hitters easily, Paniagua got ahead two strikes on the third hitter. He thought he struck out the man three times on close pitches (he started walking off the mound each time), only to have the pitches called balls. He finally issued a walk on a 3-2 pitch, before allowing back-to-back two-out singles that resulted in a run scoring.

RHP Jen-Ho Tseng returned to game action today after being sidelined with a contusion of his lower leg, caused by taking a line-drive off the bat of an A's hitter at Papago Park in his pro game debut a week ago last Friday. Tseng looked better today than he did in his debut, throwing two shutout innings. He allowed two singles in the bottom of the 4th (his first inning of work), but got out of the mini-jam by inducing a timely inning-ending 5-4-3 DP. He then retired the side 1-2-3 in the 5th, finishing it up with two strikeouts - both swinging. The 18-year old Tseng was considered the #1 Taiwanese prospect this year, before signing with the Cubs in August ($1.625M bonus). 

24-year old ex-OF (now RHP) Johermyn Chavez did not look good, laboring through a 23-pitch inning and allowing a two-run HR that turned a one-run Cub lead into a one-run deficit. The Cubs need to decide soon whether they want to continue the Chavez Experiment, since the 6'3 220 right-hander can be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (so-called "six year minor league free-agent") after the World Series. The Cubs certainly will not add him to their 40-man roster to keep him from walking away, but they might offer him a 2014 minor league successor contract for first-year 40-man roster money (about $40,000) if they decide there is something there worth further investigation.

Chavez is a former Seattle Mariners Top Ten Prospect (as an outfielder) the Cubs signed as a minor league 6YFA last off-season. He was given an NRI to Spring Training with the Cubs, but was eventually assigned to AA Tennessee, where he hit just 206/306/270 in 24 Southern League games. He was sent to Fitch Park in May where he was converted to a RHP. He got into five AZL games in August and was not impressive, putting up an 8.53 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.       

Speaking of position players being converted to pitchers, 17-year old Dominican shortstop Frandy de la Rosa (signed by Cubs in 2012 - $700K bonus) continues to struggle mightily defensively and appears totally clueless at the plate as well. While it is probably too soon for the Cubs to give up on the idea that he can eventually succeed as a shortstop, de la Rosa does have a cannon for an arm, and so he could be a possible future RHP if the SS gig doesn't work out.  

On the other side of the conversion game could be RHP Trey Lang (Cubs 2012 6th round pick), who just can't seem to get it together on the mound, He was hammered for two runs on three hits (two doubles and a single) in one inning of work today (26 pitches). But he was a big-time HR hitter at Skyline HS in Mesa, AZ (set the single-season school HR record), and played outfield his freshman year at Northern Illinois before transferring back home to Gateway CC in Phoenix for his Sophomore year, where he was a two-way OF/RHP (closer). While he does have a strong arm, the command is just not there, so it's not inconceivable that he could possibly get moved back to the outfield at some point in the future.   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

CUBS LINEUP:
1a. Jacob Hannemann, CF: 1-3 (6-3, K, 1B, SB)
1b. Rashad Crawford, CF: 0-1 (F-7)
2. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 1-3 (K, 1B, 6-3, BB, R, SB)
3. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 2-4 (4-3, 2B, F-8, 1B, 2 RBI)
4. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 0-2 (HBP, BB, K, F-7)
5a. Trey Martin, LF: 0-1 (BB, 5-3, SB)
5b. Charcer Burks, LF: 0-2 (K, 1-3)  
6. Shawon Dunston Jr, DH #1: 0-3 (L-6 DP, 1-3, K, BB, SB)
7. Ben Carhart, C: 2-4 (1B, 6-3, K, 1B, SB)
8a. Giuseppe Papaccio, SS: 0-2 (F-8, E-5) 
8b. Frandy de la Rosa, SS: 0-2 (K, K)
9. Kelvin Freeman, 1B: 0-4 (E-5, 6-3, F-8, K, R)
10. Will Remillard, DH #2: 0-3 (L-9, L-6, F-7)

CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Juan Carlos Paniagua: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 4/3 GO/FO, 42 pitches (29 strikes)  
2. Jen-Ho Tseng: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 3/1 GO/FO, 26 pitches (19 strikes)
3. Johermyn Chavez: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 2/1 GO/FO, 23 pitches (13 strikes)  
4. Paul Blackburn: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 PO, 1/0 GO/FO, 46 pitches (25 strikes)
5. Trey Lang: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 26 pitches (15 strikes)  

CUBS ERRORS: 1
SS Frandy de la Rosa - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely - eventually scored unearned run) 

CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Ben Carhart: 0-4 CS, 1 PB

ATTENDANCE: 14 (mostly scouts)

WEATHER: Sunny & a bit breezy with temperatures in the 80's 

It wasn't an AZIL game, but the Cubs did play a brief three-inning intrasquad game at Fitch Park yesterday afternoon that featured RHP Arodys Vizcaino on the hill. 

Vizcaino is presently on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL rehabbing from elbow woes that extend back to Tommy John Surgery a year ago last April. He worked 1.1 IP in the intrasquad game, allowing three runs on three hits (two singles and a triple), and while he really wasn't fooling anybody (although he did strike out one batter looking), at least he's pitching in a game. 

Yasiel Balaguert belted a two-run HR (off Jefferson Mejia) and Gioskar Amaya roped an RBI single and an RBI triple and scored two runs for Squad "B." 

Here is the box score from yesterday's intrasquad game:  

SQUAD "A" LINEUP: 
1. Jacob Hannemann, DH #1: 0-2 (K, K)
2. Trey Martin, CF: 0-1 (K+WP, R, SB) 
3. Jordan Hankins, 3B: 0-0 (BB, R, SB) 
4. Jeffrey Baez, RF: 0-1 (K)
5. Giuseppe Papaccio, SS: 1-1 (2B, RBI)  
6. Rashad Crawford, LF: 0-1 (K)
7. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 0-1 (3-1)
8. Cael Brockmeyer, 1B: 0-1 (5-3)
9a. Erick Castillo, C: 0-1 (4-3)
9b. Alberto Mineo, C: NO AB
10. Eloy Jimenez, DH #2: 0-1 (F-9)  

SQUAD "B" LINEUP:
1. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 1-2 (1B, 4-3, R, RBI, SB)
2. Gioskar Amays, 2B: 2-2 (1B+E8, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI)
3. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 1-2 (1B, 4-3, R, 2 RBI)
4. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-2 (HR, K, R, 2 RBI)
5. Will Remillard, DH : 0-1 (HBP, F-7)
6. Gleyber Torres, SS: 0-2 (F-8, 1-3)
7. Charcer Burks, LF: 1-2 (1B, K)
8. Kelvin Freeman, 1B: 1-2 (1B, K, R)
9. Wilfredo Petit, C: 1-1 (1B, R)

SQUAD "A" PITCHERS:
1. Jefferson Mejia: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 0/1 GO/FO, 19 pitches (10 strikes)  
2. Arodys Vizcaino: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (12 strikes)
3. Scott Frazier: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (8 strikes)
 
SQUAD "B" PITCHERS:
1. Trevor Clifton: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 2 WP, 27 pitches (16 strikes)
2. Sam Wilson: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (6 strikes)
3. Trevor Graham: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 8 pitches (7 strikes)  

SQUAD "A" ERRORS: 2
1. CF Trey Martin - E-8 (two-base fielding error on single allowed batter to reach third base)
2. 3B Jordan Hankins - E-5 (throwing error on infield single allowed batter and baserunner to advance an extra base)

SQUAD "B" ERRORS: 1
C Wilfredo Petit - E-2 (overthrow on SB at 2nd base allowed baserunner to advance to 3rd base)   

SQUAD "A" CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Erick Castillo: 0-1 CS

SQUAD "B" CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Wilfredo Petit: 0-2 CS, 1 PB, 1 E (see above)

SQUAD "A" OUTFIELD ASSIST:
RF Jeffrey Baez - threw out baserunner 9-2 trying to score on overthrow    

Prior to the intrasquad game, the Cubs instructors hosted a Skills Challenge & Home Derby for the position-players.

The players marched out from the clubhouse onto Field #1 at 9 AM to the strains of the Olympic March, and stood at attention for the Star-Spangled Banner (possibly the first-time it has ever been played at Fitch Park, which normally has no sound system). 

The players then moved to Field #4, where they competed in various drills. Three coaches seated at a table by the 1st base dugout scored the events. 

Catchers received a pitch from a pitching machine and then had to throw accurately to a target at one of the bases, then the catchers caught foul pop ups, had to block pitches in the dirt, were the "middle-man" on a 1-2-3 DP, fielded a bunt in front of home plate and then threw to the appropriate base (as called-out by the coach), and received a throw from the outfield and then blocked the plate as a rolled tarp was pulled into the catcher at the same time he was receiving the throw.    

Infielders were required to field grounders (one hit directly at the fielder, one ball hit to his left, one to his right, and one slow topper) and then make an accurate throw to 1st base. Also, infielders were required to turn a DP, go out into the outfield to catch a bloop pop up, and then fiinally receive a throw from the outfield and make an accurate relay throw home. 

Outfielders fielded grounders and caught fly balls and then had to throw accurately to a target at the various bases and home plate. 

The last event was the Home Run Derby on Field #3, featuring ten contestants representing ten countries (and don't ask me why Shawon Dunston Jr represented Haiti...):

Tyler Alamo (Samoa)
Jeffrey Baez (Venezuela)
Yasiel Balaguert (Cuba)
Ben Carhart (Mexico)
Shawon Dunston Jr (Haiti)
Kelvin Freeman (Puerto Rico)  
Jordan Hankins (Sweden)
Jacob Hannemann (USA) 
Jesse Hodges (Canada)
Eloy Jimenez (Dominican Republic)

Flags from the ten countries represented were hung on the outfield fence,

Each contestant was allowed seven outs (anything hit that wasn't a HR was an out), and a gold ball (with bonus value) was thrown once the player had six outs. 

Balaguert, Carhart, Hannemann, and Hodges advanced to the second round, and Balaguert and Hannemann advanced to the third round, with Hannemann the eventual champion (although I think Balaguert actually hit more home runs over the three rounds). "We Are the Champions" (Queen) blared as Hannemann raised his arms in triumph after Balaguert's final attempt fell short. (Jorge Soler defeated Dan Vogelbach in last year's Instructs Home Run Derby final, which was truly a Match for the Ages that we may never see again). 

Gioskar Amaya conducted the on-field interviews as each contestant completed his round, with Erick Castillo operating the video camera.

 

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Comments

angels "steal" don baylor off the FA market from the dbacks to be their new hitting coach.

he was wanted back and expected to stay with the dbacks...the angels came with a better offer.

rsox + astros assumed outbid for cuban jose abreu...wsox now the assumed leader in bidding.

also, n.ryan to retire as rangers CEO and sell his ownership stake...wants to go back home and chill with the fam.

...and dave martinez (rays bench coach) interviewed for the cubs manager position today.

rangers ruled out of the jose abreu bidding...wsox (or someone) seems to have blown the bidding out of the water.

he's expected to get $10-$12m a season, 5-6 years (6/68m being the hottest rumor).

well, that's that...

"MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports that a passed physical is all that stands in the way of Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million deal with the White Sox."

Whoever said it doesn't pay to be a communist is full of shit.

Wouldn't all of this make him an ex-communist?

AZ PHIL: Any news on Ceasar! Wondering if you have heard much (or seen) the Villanova ultra-back Matt Szczur? It seems like he had a very solid year in AA with his slash line, and had 22 SB, while playing a solid CF. With Almora right behind him, maybe he moves to RF? OR would they switch him to the IF?

E-MAN: I haven't seen Matt Szczur since Minor League Camp, but I saw him a lot in the AFL last year.

He has worked very hard to make himself a lead-off hitter, working counts and improving his OBP. That's his future if he wants to be an everyday player. Otherwise he should make a decent 4th or 5th OF.

There was talk when he was drafted that Szczur could be moved to 2B, and while that could happen, I don't see him moving to the infield from the outfield. It would be more a matter of pegging Szczur as a utility player and then getting him reps at 2B to increase his versatility.

Szczur should be at AAA in 2014 and will probably be the primary choice to ride the Chicago-Des Moines shuttle if a Cub outfielder goes on the DL. Otherwise I would expect him to get a call-up by September at the latest.

BTW, even with a 4th minor league option in 2015, Szczur will be out of options by Spring Training 2016. Same goes for Jorge Soler. So the Cubs can't afford to waste a lot of time with either of them. Essentially two more seasons of minor league develpment for Szczur and Soler, and then it's "sink or swim" for both of them in 2016. 

That's why I say Soler is a different class of uber-prospect than the other members of the "Big Four." While the Cubs can easily afford to take their time with Baez, Bryant, and Almora (if necessary), they can't do that with Soler. Unfortunately his minor league option situation puts pressure on both him and the Cubs to have him move through the system without delay and faster than the other three will need to move. Soler cannot afford to miss significant time again in 2014 and/or 2015 like he did in 2013. 

Sounds like a fun day for the Baby Baby Bears. Thanks for the report.

Muscat Eye-ing exercises for Olt

He's now doing exercises for his eyes and taking allergy medication.

"They explained it like when you have a hurt arm, you rehab your arm," Olt said. "Let's say my eye was hurt, and I wasn't training at all. That's part of it. Allergies were part of it. My eye wasn't producing enough fluid to flush out some of the allergies. We got a special allergy drop right now."

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/chc/fresh-start-fo...

Mooney on Davey Martinez...

“The game is changing and what I’ve learned from Joe is that you have to change with the game or you’ll fall behind,” Martinez said last year during a Q&A with FanGraphs. “I do everything Joe does, except I don’t have to deal with the media and I don’t get credit for anything. I help manage the game the way I see fit. I’m very opinionated and give Joe my opinions. Ultimately, he makes the final decisions, but I do the best I can to manage the games alongside him.”

http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-can-go-outside...

Fangraphs on Davey Martinez (a much better article)...

DL: Do you and Maddon differ on anything philosophically?

DM: I’d have to say no. We pretty much hit it on the nail. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot over the last five years with the way Joe thinks, and the way he does things. He’s opened my eyes to a lot of different things. From what I know from playing, from dealing with players, and from what he knows about basically everything in the game, we do a great job together.

If we disagree on something, it’s usually more about feel. When that happens, my first question is always, “Why?” I ask because I want to learn. He’s been an unbelievable teacher, so when he goes against something I think we would normally do, I want to know why.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/qa-dave-martinez-ta...

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