AZL Cubs

Higgins, Willis, and Dwyer Recipe for Success for AZL Cubs

P. J. Higgins (Cubs 2015 12th round draft pick - Old Dominion U.) drilled three singles, drove-in two runs, stole a base, and scored twice, leading the AZL Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the AZL Giants in Arizona League action Sunday night at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale, AZ.

AZL Cubs Check Out Small Ball Book at Sloan Park

Varonex Cuevas reached base four times (three singles and a walk), stole two bases, and scored a run, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the AZL Angels in Arizona League action Thursday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The Cubs did most of their damage in the bottom of the 6th inning, using "small ball" to plate three runs and take a 4-1 lead.

Jose Paniagua led-off the inning by drawing a rare (for him) walk, and advanced to 2nd base on a Varonex Cuevas bunt single. Roberto Caro laid down the first of what would be eventually two sacrifice bunts for him in the game to advance the runners to 2nd & 3rd,  and then 18-year old AZL Cubs shortstop Andruw Monasterio looped a single into short right to score Paniagua and move Cuevas up to 3rd. Monasterio and Cuevas then pulled-off a picture-perfect double steal, with Monasterio breaking for 2nd base to draw a throw (he was safe at 2nd), while Cuevas waited to break for home until he saw the throw go through to 2nd. Monasterio took off for 3rd base on the very next pitch (and he would have had 3rd base stolen easily, too), but Tyler Payne rocketed a line drive just past Monasteriio's ear into LF, as Monasterio continued around 3rd base to score the third run of the inning. Payne was then picked-off 1st base by the Angels pitcher (Payne was frozen like a deer-in-headlights two steps from 1st base, and so he took off for 2nd, but the slow-footed catcher was out by a mile).   

LHP Manny Rondon got the start for the Cubs, facing his former AZL Angels teammates for the first time. (Rondon was acquired from the Angels in a trade for catcher Rafael Lopez earlier this month). And not too surprisingly he came out firing from the gitgo, working his fastball consistently at 94 MPH (he hadn't thrown harder than 91-93 in previous ouitings) and mixing it with a hard-breaking curve. Being a bit hyped-up, Rondon did have some command problems, issuing three walks and hitting a batter, but he also struck out four while allowing only one run on four hits (all singles) in 5.0 IP. Rondon threw 85 pitches (52 strikes) over his five innings of work, the most pitches I have ever seen a non-rehabbing pitcher throw in an AZL game. 

To the best of my knowledge, Rondon is only the second pitcher acquired in a trade by the Cubs who went directly from one AZL team to the AZL Cubs during the AZL season. The last one (and the only other one I can recall) was 19-year old fireballing 6'3 280+ RHP Jose Ceda, acquired from San Diego for veteran INF Todd Walker on July 31, 2006. Ceda moved from the AZL Padres to the AZL Cubs after the trade.

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

Sloppy Defense, Mental Mistakes, Walks, and Silent Bats Doom AZL Cubs at Sloan Park

Evan Marzilli (on AAA Reno 7-day DL) singled twice, walked, stole a base and scored a run, and four pitchers combined to hurl a five-hitter, as the AZL Diamondbacks defeated the AZL Cubs 5-1 in Arizona League action Wednesday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

LHSP Eric Jokisch (on Iowa 7-day DL with a strained oblique) made his first game appearance in almost two months, getting the start and throwing 2.1 IP (38 pitches - 24 strikes - 4/1 GO/FO, with one GIDP). He allowed three runs (all three runs were unearned) on three hits, a walk, and two WP, but he was the victim of bad infield defense (three errors) and a fly ball that was misplayed into a double. 

RHP Dylan Cease had his worst outing of the year, getting just two outs in the 5th before being relieved. (He was scheduled to work three innings). He allowed two runs (both earned) on two hits and two walks and a WP, and could not throw strikes (28 pitches - only 11 strikes). His fastball velocity was OK (94-97 MPH), but he was unable to command his pitches (fastball or curve). Cease might need an extra bullpen side-session or two before he gets into another game.    

LF Angelo Amendolare (Cubs 2015 27th round draft pick - Jacksonville U.) had a night to forget, misplaying a routine fly ball into a double in the 3rd inning, grounding into an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP in the 7th, and getting thrown out attempting to steal 2nd base with two outs in the bottom of the 9th with his team down 5-1. (For some unknown reason, Varonex Cuevas decided to steal third-base--and he just barely made it there safely--earlier in the inning). In Amendolare's defense (at least as far as the misplayed fly ball is concerned), he was a second-baseman in college, and may not have ever played LF before this past week. 

AZL Cubs third-baseman Carlos Jimenez committed two more errors in the game (this time they were both throwing errors), for a total of four errors in two nights (his two errors Tuesday night were both fielding errors). 

Cubs Take Two from D'backs at Talking Stick

P. J. Higgins belted a two-run HR, a double, and a single, Roberto Caro reached base six times (a double, an RBI single, three walks, and an E-6), stole a base, and scored a run, Andruw Monasterio singled twice, walked, and scored three runs, and Enrique de los Rios tossed 4.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball, as the AZL Cubs pounded the AZL Diamondbacks 12-1 in the completion of a game suspended on July 5th, and Angelo Amendolare doubled, singled, and drove-in two runs and Jose Paniagua clubbed a two-run home run to lead the AZL Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the AZL Diamondbacks in the regularly-scheduled game that followed, in Arizona League action Tuesday night on Whilrlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Sciottsdale, AZ. 

The Cubs - Diamonbacks AZL game on July 5th at Whirlwind Field was suspended in the top of the 1st inning with one out and the Cubs leaduing 3-0 due to a medical enmergency. A person attending the game suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest, and the game was halted while the Cubs & D'backs trainers performed emergency CPR until Salt River Fire Dept paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, the person could not be resuscitated, and so AZL Cubs Manager Carmelo Martinez, AZL Diamondbacks Manager Mike Benjamin, and the two umpires met at home plate and decided it would be best to just suspend the game and send everybody home. The players, managers, coaches, umpires, scouts, and many of the spectators who were there that night knew the person who very suddenly passed away in front of their eyes, and so it really wasn't possible to continue playing the game that night. 

Even the completion of the suspended game once it got going again last night was further delayed another 25 minutes in the fourth inning after the home plate umpire took a foul tip off his mask and had to leave the game with concussion symptoms. So while the players, managers and coaches were basically just standing around, the base umpire hurried back to his car to retrieve his home plate umpire gear, and then he disappeared into the Diamondbacks clubhouse to change into the outfit (which took even more time), after-which he umpired the game by himself (from behind home plate) for the final five innings (and nobody gave him any shit, either). .   

Here is the abridged box score from the suspended game from July 5th that was completed last night (Cubs players only) 

Brewers Whitewash Cubs at Sloan Park

Trent Clark (Brewers 2015 1st round draft pick - Richland HS - North Richland Hills, TX) tripled and scored, walked twice, stole two bases, and drove-in a run with a sacrifice fly, and RHSP Miguel Diaz and three relievers combined to toss a four-hit shutout, as the AZL Brewers blanked the AZL Cubs 4-0 in Arizona League action Sunday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.

Javy Baez (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL - broken left ring finger) continued his AZL rehab, playing shortstop for seven innings and batting three times: 

Baez Helps AZL Cubs Drub-Blank the Brew Crew

Javy Baez doubled, singled, walked, reached base on an HBP, and scored two runs, Roberrt Garcia singled twice, walked twice, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Carlos Sepulveda knocked-in four runs with a pair of two-run singles, and RHSP Austyn Willis hurled five innings of two-hit shutout ball and combined with three relievers to toss a five-hit shutout with eleven strikeouts, as the AZL Cubs whitewashed the AZL Brewers 11-0 in Arizona League action Saturday night at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, AZ. 

Baez (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL - broken left ring finger) continued his AZL Cubs rehab, serving as the DH and batting five times: 

Baez Keeps on Rehabbin', but AZL Cubs Rally Falls Short at Fitch Park

Shane Conlon belted an RBI double and an RBI single and scored a run, and Mike Martin singled twice, reached base on an HBP, and scored two runs, helping the AZL Athletics edge the AZL Cubs 5-4 in Arizona League action Friday night at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.  

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  • Very bizarre game -- as you say, both Cubs pitchers were dominant until the one fatal pitch. It was like watching the Bears defense shut down a team, and then lose on 2 punt returns. Some better hitting with RISP would be a good idea, too.

    billybucks 26 min 31 sec ago view
  • Trouble Boys, the Replacements bio, is a great option. I'm sure Chad loved it.

    Tito 1 hour 41 min ago view
  • Amen Brick. What's the point of following early-season games if you can't over-react to them? What, we should be reading books now?

    billybucks 1 hour 48 min ago view
  • "Weren't the National considered a near lock last year?"

    No, I think you're thinking of Radiohead, The 1975, or Bowie's last album.

    Although The National's Greatful Dead tribute is pretty cool.

    The E-Man 1 hour 58 min ago view
  • I don't think they're any kind of lock, though I do expect they'll make the playoffs.

    It's not like I'm glad they've gone 4-8. I just don't think it's time to be all that worried -- just like I didn't think they were going to keep playing .730 ball.

    Tito 2 hours 12 min ago view
  • vegas isn't a fan of the game because of how erratic and unpredictable it is.

    SF has recently won 3 world series many thought they weren't supposed to win...BOS won a world series recently that they weren't even supposed to be in the playoffs for...favored teams with huge wins have seen 1st round exists...fun times.

    crunch 2 hours 20 min ago view
  • I think they'll be ok too. But having watched this team since the mid-60s, I never think it's time to conclude, well, thank god the drought is over. I've seen/heard way too many people who follow the Cubs say glad we're finally going to win the Series this year. Please. Weren't the National considered a near lock last year?

    BobbyD 2 hours 32 min ago view
  • Best record in baseball and largest division lead.

    I'm jumping right now!

    Tito 2 hours 48 min ago view
  • Can we please stop pointing out how ridiculous it is to panic and start panicking in earnest?

    Brick 4 hours 12 min ago view
  • ,571 winning percentage in May.

    I think they're gonna be OK.

    Tito 5 hours 34 min ago view
  • RAISIN: All I know is that Oscar de la Cruz is still shut down, and I don't know what his prognosis is, or what the plan is going forward.   

    Arizona Phil 7 hours 53 min ago view
  • Remember just two weeks ago, when "all" they had to do was play .500 ball the rest of the season and coast into the playoffs?

    BobbyD 7 hours 56 min ago view
  • Well I guess if pitchers can keep working the edges of the plate to perfection it will be a long season. But that doesn't seem likely. Rizzo finally, fully, snapping out of it would help.

    Old and Blue 10 hours 2 min ago view
  • If I didn't believe in coincidences (or science), I would apologize to Gordon Downie--one of my favorites. Sad news about a great talent.

    CTSteve 10 hours 9 min ago view
  • Hi Arizona Phil,

    Has there been any news on Oscar de la Cruz' health?

    Raisin101 16 hours 40 min ago view
  • bruh...

    crunch 17 hours 54 min ago view