Cub Power on Display in Maryvale

Jose Paniagua belted a solo home run, singled twice, walked, and scored three runs, Isaac Paredes doubled twice, singled, drove-in two runs, and scored three more, Marcus Mastrobuoni belted an RBI triple and a single, walked, and scored three runs, Yeiler Peguero drilled an RBI single and a two-run double, Vimael Machin collected three singles, a walk, and an RBI, Roberto Garcia ripped two doubles, scored a run, and drove-in another, and four pitchers combined to fan 17 opposing batters, helping the Cubs demolish the Brewers 15-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") at the Maryvale Baseball Park Complex in Phoenix, AZ.  

Nicolas Pierre (RBI triple), Gilbert Lara (RBI double), and Yeraldy Martinez (RBI single) contributed run-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 3rd that gave the Brew Crew a short-lived 4-1 lead, before the Cubs scored the final 14 runs of the game.  

Game 43 Recap: Cubs 3, Cardinals 4

A(nother) tough loss.

Box Score, Play Log, Game Graphs

W - Rosenthal (2-1), late-inning drama, Cubbery, Cardinals pinch-hitting

L - Warren (3-1), wasting great starts, confidence

Things to Take from This Game

1. Lackey makes it look easy, until...

 Lackey worked briskly, threw strikes, and had a good fastball and swing-and-miss slider--he K'd five consecutivey, early in the game. This was the sort of bulldog or workhorse mentality, take your pick, that we were promised with his off-season signing. For the first 6.3 innings it looked like RBI singles by Montero and Rizzo, and an RBI fielder's choice by Russell would hold up. Lackey finished with 4 hits and 1 walk allowed, and 9 strikeouts.

2. ... Adams continues Cards pinch-hit heroics

Take a look at the game graph, which nicely illustrates the late-inning drama. See that jagged move upward? Adams's pinch-hit game-tying home run moved the Cards' Win Expectency from 15.8% to 52%. It was really quite stunning, in the context of how effortlessly Lackey had been cruising along.

3. Grichuk saddles Warren with the loss.

Continuing the theme set by Lackey, Warren looked dominant for his first five batters, only to jar us out of whatever remaining sense of confidence we might have had. He rolled a slider, and the badly slumping Grichuk hit out to right for the game-winning home run.

Ademan Blast Leads Cubs to Victory

Aramis Ademan (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $2M bonus) blasted a three-run home run high over the RF fence and onto the south bank of the Red Mountain Freeway to cap a four-run sixth inning, as the Cubs rallied to defeat the Diamondbacks 5-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #5 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

Acquired by the Cubs from the Oakland A's for OF Chris Coghlan after the Cubs re-signed CF Dexter Fowler in February, RHSP Aaron Brooks (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with a hip contusion) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance, throwing one inning  (12 pitches - 8 strikes), and allowing no runs on two hits (a single and a double). His fastball velocity was 91-92 MPH, and he displayed a hard breaking ball.   

RHP Dylan Cease followed Brooks to the hill and worked three innings (63 pitches - 63% strikes), allowing three runs (all three earned) on five hits (two doubles and three singles) and two walks, with four strikeouts, and a 2/3 GO/AO. He also committed a two-base throwing error attempting to pick a runner off 1st base.  

Cease's fastball velocity sat consistently at 96-98 MPH, but he touched 99 twice and 100 once in the top of the third when he struck out the side (his only 1-2-3 inning). He also threw about a dozen curves (79-81 MPH) and about a half-dozen change-ups (82-84 MPH). He had trouble commanding his change-up (he bounced most of them), he hung a couple of curves that were hammered for line-drive hits, and he had trouble keeping his fastball at knee level (which is when it's virtually unhittable), leaving too many of his high-velocity offerings belt-high.  

Dylan Cease combined 2016 Cactus League EXST line (thru 5/23): 
6 games
2.95 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .246 OppBA 
18.1 IP, 16 H, 6 R (6 ER), 9 BB, 25 K, 1 HBP, 0 HR, 2 WP, 2 PO, 1 BALK, 2 GIDP, 17/7 GO/AO, 307 pitches (61% strikes), 16.7 PITCHES-PER-INNING 

Prior to the EXST game on Field #5, RHSP Dallas Beeler (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with right shoulder inflammation) and RHRP P. J. Francescon threw "live" BP on Field #4 (one inning and 25 pitches each).

Beeler was throwing in Cactus League EXST games last month and appeared to be close to moving-up to AAA Iowa, but then he was shut-down (mid-AB) in what was supposed to be his next-to-last rehab start on April 30th. So now it's back to square-one, with today's "live" BP outing his first step to get back to where he was last month. Barring any further medical setbacks, Beeler and Brooks should be in the Iowa starting rotation within about three weeks. 

Francescon was the closer at AA Tennessee last year and it looked like he would get a shot at advancing to AAA Iowa in 2016, but then he received a 50-game Drug of Abuse suspension from MLB last January that has left him throwing "live" BP, "sim" games, and intrasquad games at Extended Spring Training while he completes his "sentence." Francescon reminds me a bit of Rod Beck, with a pedestrian 88-90 MPH fastball used to set-up a dive-bomb splitter (his "swing & miss" pitch).   

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

All That Jazz at Talking Stick

Jazz Chisholm (2015 IFA - Bahamas - $200K bonus) drilled two triples and an RBI single and scored a run and RHSP Pierce Romero tossed three innings of shutout ball, as the Diamondbacks edged the Cubs 3-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action Saturday morning on Ramada Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Marcus Mastrobuoni doubled twice, walked, and scored a run and Kevonte Mitchell singled twice, stole a base, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause. 

Mitchell also turned-in the Defensive Play of the Game, an inning-ending run-saving diving catch on the warning track in right-centerfield in the top of the 3rd. He also started an 8-6-2 relay that cut-down a runner at home who was attempting to score from 2nd base on a double off the CF Batter's Eye (the runner went back to 2nd base to tag up before realizing that the ball was carrying over Mitchell's head, thanks to a nice catch-fake by one-time HS hoops star Mitchell). 

On the negative side, Mitchell was thrown out 7-5 attempting to advance from 1st to 3rd on a line-drive single to LF with two outs in the top of the 1st, thus making the third out of the inning at 3rd base.

So I guess you have to take the good with the bad.  

EXST Cubs RBI leader Isaac Paredes (2015 IFA - Mexico - $800K bonus) started his second consecutive game at 3B (he also played there in the intrasquad game on Thursday). It's very likely that he will eventually move to 3B (one scout who has been following the EXST Cubs projects Paredes as a catcher!), so the process to move him from SS to 3B may already have started. Paredes (who just turned 17 in February) is a VERY slow runner, but he has plus-HR & XBH power, he doesn't strike out a lot for a power-hitter (10% K-rate), and he has soft hands and a strong arm at SS (committing only one error so far in 15 Cactus League EXST games).   

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

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  • Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!

    Hagsag 39 min 15 sec ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 1 hour 51 min ago view
  • 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.

    tim815 2 hours 15 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 2 hours 20 min ago view
  • Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?

    azbobbop 6 hours 20 min ago view
  • Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.

    Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.

    The E-Man 7 hours 7 min ago view
  • 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.

    billybucks 7 hours 41 min ago view
  • jacos 7 hours 41 min ago view
  • It is remarkable how my mood has become uplifted with one game against the Cards.

    That is sick.

    But, I have been an addict for a long time.

    A W tomorrow and it will be a .500 road trip.

    Also, to keep the losses in perspective, if the Cubs were to lose 10 games a month - a lot at this current pace - they still end up 102-60. Six months of the ride!

    The E-Man 7 hours 51 min ago view
  • So, the Mesa Cubs should be solid this summer in the AZL Rookie League?

    And, I like the, "But did you know" lead in there. Something a little different.

    I can tell really like this group of hitters in AZ right now.

    What pitchers out there, other than Cease, should we be excited about?

    Thanks as always for the info.

    Childersb3 8 hours 30 min ago view
  • back on the Run Differential hunt... (aka The Hunt for Blue October)

    Cubster 8 hours 59 min ago view
  • These are the 2016 Cubs I know and love. Also digging that Cardinals OF (lack of) defense.

    Charlie 9 hours 15 min ago view
  • Another day, another eight runs

    jacos 9 hours 31 min ago view
  • I'm not sure there was another team in baseball that would flip a Dansby Swanson type of prospect (plus Inciarte, plus Toussaint) for Miller.  That trade was just comically bad from the start, and getting worse... 

    Transmission 9 hours 33 min ago view
  • Zobrist just keeps squaring up - and Soler goes yard!

    Eric S 9 hours 33 min ago view
  • Pirates jumping all over Shelby Miller tonight - so glad the Cubs didn't flip a Dansby Swanson type prospect to the Braves for him. Two years of Lackey looking like a good alternative.

    Eric S 9 hours 37 min ago view