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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  • Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run

    For the first time in a year, 33 starts.

    /nervous
    //not really

    jacos 44 min 29 sec ago view
  • Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-

    J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
    http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/chicago-cubs-ja...

    Ryno 1 hour 22 min ago view
  • Sigh.

    Ok... maybe.

    Ryno 1 hour 48 min ago view
  • With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?

    bradsbeard 1 hour 50 min ago view
  • Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.

    Hagsag 1 hour 53 min ago view
  • This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.

    The E-Man 1 hour 56 min ago view
  • This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.

    johann 3 hours 17 min ago view
  • CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now. 

    LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.  

    RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.   

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 26 min ago view
  • AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).

    I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):  

    * bats or throws left 
    # bats both

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 54 min ago view
  • Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.

    Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)

    VirginiaPhil 4 hours 15 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season  either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.

    Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.  

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 22 min ago view
  • Rob Richardson 4 hours 51 min ago view
  • Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.

    Send Soler down!

    Old and Blue 5 hours 45 min ago view
  • Awesome thanks AZ

    Old and Blue 5 hours 47 min ago view
  • Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.

    John Beasley 6 hours 37 min ago view
  • Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!

    Hagsag 9 hours 25 min ago view