Rashad Crawford

Cubs & Pelicans Pitchers Give Bees & 66ers That Sinking Feeling

Chesny Young belted a two-run triple, singled, and walked, Jason Vosler doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, Jesse Hodges ripped an RBI double and a single, Rashad Crawford roped a line-drive RBI single, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Jeremy Null threw five innings of two-run ball with an amazing 12/1 GO/FO, as the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A  affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels) 4-3 on Field #5, and Daury Torrez threw six shutout innings with four strikeouts and an 11/2 GO/FO, Kevin Brown belted a two-run triple, singled twice, and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, and Danny Lockhart roped a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Cubs Hi-A affiliate) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.    

The 66ers had just scored four runs in the top of the 9th off Myrtle Beach lefty reliever Gerardo Concepcion to take a 6-2 lead, but the Pelicans came right back with four of their own. 

Both Daury Torrez and Jeremy Null had the sinker working to perfection, combining to produce a 23/3 GO/FO ratio over 11 innings of work, one of the most extraordinary groundball heavy minor league doubleheaders I have seen in some time. Torrez will join Duane Underwood, Tyler Skulina, Paul Blackburn, and Jen-Ho Tseng in the Myrtle Beach starting rotation, and Null will be part of a South Bend rotation that will also feature Jake Stinnett, Erick Leal, Trevor Clifton, James Norwood, and/or Zach Hedges (last slot still TBD)  

The defensive play of the day was turned-in by South Bend CF Trey Martin, who made a spectacular diving catch in right-centerfield after a long run at full speed. Martin is a "long-strider" who can make long distances seem shorter than they really are, but what was especially impressive about Martin's play was that he dived onto his left (non-throwing) shoulder to complete the catch, the same shoulder that was surgically repaired about a year ago.    

With the exception of Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs left town after last night's Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in anticipation of their MLB Opening Day game tomorrow night at Wrigley Field, leaving minor league players behind to be presented as the "Chicago Cubs" for this afternoon's MLB Cactus League finale. Most of the players assigned to the MLB game at Chase were pulled from the AAA Iowa Cubs roster, but a few came from the Tennessee and Myrtle Beach squads as well. Also, several members of the Myrtle Beach squad were moved up to the Iowa Cubs for this afternoon's Cactus League minor league game in Tempe against the Angels AAA Salt Lake City affiliate, and a number of players from the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent filled in for the missing Pelicans at Riverview, as well as providing roster depth in the South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa games.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Riverview Park (Cubs players only): 

Deep-Fried Snakes on Cubs Brunch Menu at Riverview Park

Alberto Mineo (a double and a run scored), Oliver Zapata (an RBI triple and a run scored), Jesse Hodges (an RBI double and a run scored), Kevin Brown (an RBI single and a run scored), and Rashad Crawford (RBI triple) sparked the Cubs to a four-run 2nd inning, Jeffrey Baez belted an RBI triple and a double and scored two runs, and Erick Leal threw five innings of one-run ball, as the Cubs hammered the Diamondbacks 8-2 on Field #5, and Trey Masek and four relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout and Gleyber Torres singled twice, walked, and drove-in the game's only run, as the Cubs whitewashed the D'backs 1-0 on Field #6, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.     

In EXST Cubs roster news, RF Eloy Jimenez has been assigned to the DSL Cubs. 

The 17-year old Jimenez (last year's top-rated July 2 international free-agent) hit 238/270/357 in 24 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (89 PA), with 4/22 BB/K. one HR, five doubles, a triple, and a team-leading 16 RBI. He had a sore arm in Minor League Camp that limited him to DH duty-only until mid-April, and even then he only started eight EXST games in RF. No question his defense needs a lot of work.

But Jimenez caught fire at the plate on May 14th, hitting 360/385/640 over his final seven games (26 PA). He hit his only Cactus League EXST home run in what turned out to be his last EXST game (versus the Angels in Tempe this past Tuesday), when he drove-in four runs with a three-run HR and an RBI single.   

Here are the abridged box scores from today's games (Cubs players only):  

Rockies Shad Have Known Better Than to Play So Shallow

Rashad Crawford belted an inside-the-park two-run home run (opposite-field line-drive smoked over the left-fielder's head) to highlight a three-run third, and the bullpen tossed 7.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

The home run was Crawford's second in Cactus League EXST game action (his first HR was hit over the RF fence on Field #5 at Riverview Park on April 21st), so Crawford has now tied Erick Castillo for the team-lead in HR with two (six others--Tyler Alamo, Jeffrey Baez, Zak Blair, Kevin Brown, Varonex Cuevas, and Rony Rodriguez--have one HR a piece). And the Cubs (as a team) have hit seven of their ten home runs in their last five games.  

Five Cub "rehab" pitchers saw work in today's game (including four who threw in the intrasquad game last Saturday), so Rehab Pitching Coordinator Rick Tronerud and Rehab Athletic Trainer Chuck Baughman made the trip up to Salt River Fields from Riverview Park (they did not bring their golf cart, however).  

* Cubs 2012 4th round draft pick RHP Josh Conway (2012 pre-draft TJS & May 2013 elbow stress fracture) got the start and breezed through the bottom of the 1st inning (allowing just a two-out single) before surrendering a run on two hits (including an RBI triple) and a walk in the bottom of the 2nd. The 23-year old needed 37 pitches to get four outs. 

* Veteran NPB & MLB RH reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (May 2013 TJS) retired all three men he faced (K-swinging, F-8, 3-1), although he was continually shaking and stretching his arm during the outing. 

* 20-year old 2012 3rd round draft pick 6'3 RHP Ryan McNeil (May 2013 TJS) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance since April 15, 2013, and retired all five hitters he faced (F-8, 6-3, L-8, P-1, 3-U) on just 13 pitches (10 strikes), He looked very good in a two-inning stint in last Saturday's intrasquad game, too. For those of you who haven't seen McNeil this year, he is sporting the popular Jeff Samardzija look (they could be brothers).  

* 24-year old 6'5 240+ LHP Michael Heesch (Cubs 2012 8th round draft pick) had another fine outing (he's been throwing in Cactus League EXST games for about the last ten days, so he should be about ready to move up to the KC or Daytona bullpen), allowing a two-out single while striking out two (both swinging) and doing it all on just 11 pitches (10 for strikes), and lots of grunts.

* 18-year old RHP Jesus Castillo (the other pitcher acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with RHP Erick Leal in exchange for OF Tony Campana in February 2013) made his U. S. game debut and punched-out two in his one innng of work. Unlike Leal (a "curve-ball first" pitcher who uses his 88 MPH fastball to set-up his excellent breaking ball), Castillo has a "lively" fastball that rides 92-93 MPH and a decent change-up (especially for such a young guy) but no breaking ball. And, just like C. J. Edwards, Jose Paulino, and Hector Perez, Castillo is an all-legs "stringbean" (6'2 165). Castillo probably has a higher ceiling than fellow-Venezuelan Leal, but he is also clearly not anywhere near as polished, and so he will very likely be assigned to the AZL Cubs next month, while Leal will almost certainly be in the Boise starting rotation. 

With today's victory, the Cubs have won three in a row and are closing-in on the .500 mark (they are now 19-21-4 in 2014 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games).

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

A's Extra Bases Too Much for Cubs to Overcome at Riverview Park

Christhian Perez tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball in relief, Robert Martinez hammered an RBI triple and a double and scored a run, Chris Wolfe drilled two RBI singles, and Brett Vertigan smacked a solo home run, leading the Athletics to a 5-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Rashad Crawford belted an RBI triple and a single, stole a base, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause.

RHPs Trevor Graham and Erick Leal "piggy-backed" for the Cubs and threw a combined 7.2 IP, allowing all five runs (four earned), 10 hits (including two doubles, two triples, and a home run), and two walks, with nine strikeouts. 

The way things are playing out so far at EXST, it appears very likely that Graham and Leal will form 2/5 of the Boise starting rotation when the NWL season commences next month, with LHP Tyler Ihrig and RHPs Trevor Clifton and Zak Hermans being other 3/5 (at least until one or two of the better college pitchers selected by the Cubs in next month's First-Year Player Draft get stretched-out to start). 

The Cubs have now lost six straight Cactus League EXST games, and after thirty games (halfway through the Cactus League Extended Spring Training schedule), the Cubs record stands at 11-18-1. 

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

Cubs Drown in Brewer Beer at Maryvale

Chad Thompson and three relievers combined to toss a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts and Tucker Neuhaus singled, walked twice, scored a run, and drove-in another, as the Brewers celebrated "Cinco de Mayo" with a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Maryvale Baseball Park Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") in Phoenix, AZ.

Jorge Soler drove-in both Cub runs with a 1st inning F-8 sacrifice fly to the warning track in CF and a 3rd inning two-out RBI ground-single through the box, and Rashad Crawford reached base three times (two BB and an HBP), stole two bases, and scored both Cub runs. 

Soler also struck out (swinging) on a 2-2 breaking ball in the 5th and grounded out 6-3 in the 8th.

In 30 Plate Appearances over six Cactus League EXST games, Soler is hitting 200/267/240 with five hits (four singles and a double), five RBI, two sacrifice flies, no walks, three HBP, six strikeouts, and one stolen base.   

Soler Back in Action at Salt River Fields

Oliver Zapata ripped a two-run triple and an RBI single, Adonis Paula singled, doubled, and scored two runs, Rashad Crawford reached base on a double, a walk, and an HBP, and scored three runs, and Trevor Clifton and Hector Perez threw three shutout innings a piece, leading the Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on Jackrabbit Field, and Ryan Kinsella belted an RBI double and an RBI triple, helping the D'backs rally from a five-run deficit to edge the Cubs 7-6 on Whirlwind Field, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Gleyber Torres collected three hits, stole a base, and scored two runs in a losing cause for Squad "A" on Whirlwind Field.

Soto Shuts Up Talking Stick at Salt River Fields

Elliot Soto belted a bases-loaded triple in the 2nd, walked in the 4th, and singled and scored in the 6th, Varonex Cuevas drilled three singles and scored two runs, Rashad Crawford drove-in three runs with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly, and Jeffrey Baez singled and tripled and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.   

Baby Jordan Goes Yard at Riverview Park

Rashad Crawford walloped a game-tying solo home run over the RF fence in the bottom of the 6th and Luis Hernandez threw three innings of shutout relief, as the Cubs and Diamondbacks played to a 1-1 tie on Field #5, and Carlos Hernandez tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with four D'back relievers to blank the Cubs 2-0 on Field #6, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Cubs Whitewash Dodgers at Fitch Park

Four pitchers combined to toss a four-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Dodgers 2-0 in AZ Instructional League action this aftenoon at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa.

Both Daury Torrez and Jose Rosario threw three innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts, but Rosario was especially effective, retiring nine of the ten men he faced (allowing no hits and one walk as he recorded the rare three-inning save).  

Cubs Pitchers Punch-Out 17 Giants in 1-0 Whitewash

Five pitchers combined to throw a six-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts, as the AZL Cubs blanked the AZL Giants 1-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training post-season action this morning at Indian School Park Field #4 in Scottsdale, AZ.  

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