One Angel throws "live" BP, others drop "live" game
Kyler Burke lined a game-tying RBI single to CF with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, and Roberto Sabates followed with a line-drive game-winning RBI single to LF, as the EXST Cubs rallied to edge the EXST Angels 9-8 this morning in a "Rush Hour Special" (9 AM start) at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
The Cubs won despite committing five errors, including two by pitcher Israel Camacaro on consecutive sacrifice bunt attempts in the top of the 9th inning (Camacaro also hit two Angels batters with pitches, including one on the neck just below the lower jaw), and one each by 3B Junior Lake (overthrow), SS Jose Made (bobble), and 3B Josh Vitters (overthrow).
Vitters actually entered the game as a "defensive replacement" (he still has some pain when swinging the bat), and had a total of two chances at 3B, both ground balls.
He air-mailed the throw over the first-baseman's head for an error on the first one, and the second one almost turned out to be an error, too, except for an outstanding play by 1st baseman Drew Rundle, who caught the Vittersation while crossing the bag such that he had to drag his right foot over the base as he fell into foul territory.
Vitters reminds me of another top Cubs 3rd base prospect from the recent past by the name of David Kelton. Like Vitters, Kelton also had a scatter-gun arm, the only difference being Vitters still might improve, while Kelton (I believe) is out of baseball.
That said, the Cubs really might want to start to think a little bit about moving Vitters to 1B or maybe RF (unless his arm becomes a hindrance in the outfield, too). The Cubs probably waited too long to move Kelton to another position, because by the time they did, his defensive problems had affected his hitting, too. Hopefully they won't make the same mistake with Vitters.
On the offensive side of the ball, Kyler Burke, Junior Lake, and Jose Made had three hits a piece, and Lake also had three RBI. Additionally, Roberto Sabates had two RBI hits, and mighty mite Dwayne Kemp slammed two doubles off the LF fence (and both were near-home runs).
While the EXST Cubs were playing the EXST Angels on Field #3, RHP Angel Guzman and ex-OF (now LHP) Luke Sommer were throwing "live" BP on Field #2 to some of the hitters who weren't in the EXST Cubs starting lineup (Nelson Perez, John Contreras, and Bryan Jost).
Guzman threw 20 pitches, once again hitting 94 MPH with his fastball. The main difference between this outing and the last one was that this time Guzman threw about 2/3 strikes (13 strikes and 7 balls), while last Monday he threw only 50% strikes.
Although Luke Sommer was converted to pitcher just a couple of weeks ago, it's not like he hasn't done it before. Sommer was a two-way player (P-OF) in high school in Canby, Oregon, and so he already had a feel for pitching. He just hadn't done it in a while. (He played OF at the University of San Francisco and last year at AZL Cubs).
I guess Sommer would probably be best-described as a "soft-tossing lefty," but you can see he has a really nice curve ball (his slider sucks, though), he knows how to throw a change-up, and his fast ball has some sink to it. But it's still way too early to tell if he has what it takes to be a pitcher in pro ball.
While Alvaro Sosa caught Guzman's "live" BP session, newly-minted catcher Robinson Chirinos (who was a utility infielder at AA Tennessee just a week ago) had the honor to catch Luke Sommer's first "live" BP. I'm sure it was a thrill for both of them, something they will not soon forget.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. George Matheus, DH #1: 1-3 (R, BB, HBP)
2. Kevin Soto, RF: 1-5 (R, SB, CS)
3. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 2-4 (R, 2 2B, HBP, CS)
4a. Kyler Burke, 1B-LF: 3-5 (RBI, 2 R, 3B, K)
4b. Nelson Perez, PR: 0-0 (R)
5. Roberto Sabates, DH #2: 2-5 (2 RBI, 2B, R, K)
6. Drew Rundle, LF-1B: 0-2: (R, BB, HBP, 2 K)
7a. Junior Lake, 3B: 3-4 (3 RBI, 2B)
7b. Josh Vitters, 3B: 0-0
8. Carlos Perez, C: 0-3 (RBI-SF, K)
9. Jose Made, SS: 3-4 (R)
10. Cesar Salazar, CF: 1-3 (BB)
1. Julio Pena - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (1/7 GO/FO)
2. Dionis Nunez - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP (1/2 GO/FO)
3. Jake Muyco - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP (3/2 GO/FO)
4. Israel Camacaro - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2 HBP, 1 WP (3/2 GO/FO)
1. Junior Lake (E5 overthrow to 1st base)
2. Jose Made (E6 bobble at SS)
3. Josh Vitters (E5 overthrow to 1st base)
4. Israel Camacaro (E1 overthrow to 3rd base on sac bunt attempt)
5. Israel Camacaro (E1 overthrow to 1st base on sac bunt attempt)
Carlos Perez: 1-1 CS, and picked runner off third base 2-5.
OUTFIELD ASSIST: Kevin Soto, threw out runner 9-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a single to RF.
WEATHER: Overcast with temperature around 70, breezy, and with rain imminent. (In fact the rain started about an hour after the game ended, and it's supposed to rain for about 36 hours, with snow expected on the Mogollon Rim between Flagstaff and Show Low).
ATTENDANCE: 4 (the crowd was probably kept down due to the threatening weather conditions).
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
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.