AZL Cubs

Cubs 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) made his professional debut tonight at Fitch Park in Mesa, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action.   

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Dwayne Kemp ripped an RBI single to drive-in Robert Bautista with the game-wining run, as the AZL Cubs rallied with three runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat the AZL Angels 6-5 in Arizona League (AZL) Opening Day action at Fitch Park on Sunday. Kemp also clubbed an RBI triple earlier in the game, and Bautista drove in three runs with a squeeze bunt, a FC grounder, and a single, while also stealing three bases.

 

20-year old 2B D. J. Fitzgerald had a memoraable pro debut, going 4-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a stolen base. The Cubs 22nd round pick in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) out of Dyersburg State CC, "DJ Fitz" was a star baseball player at Ocean Lakes HS in Virginia Beach, VA. He signed an NLI with Georgia Southern, but ended up at a Tennessee JC instead.

20-year old RHP Toby Matchulat got the start for the AZL Cubs, and was stellar, throwing four shutout innings (7/1 GO/FO), while allowing just two harmless singles and no walks, with four strikeouts. Matchulat just missed making the Boise Opening Day roster, after having an impressive Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park. An 11th round pick out of Wabash Valley JC in 2008, the lanky 6'5 right-hander struggled big-time with his command in his pro debut last year (29 BB in 18.2 IP), but he has really turned it around this year. Kudos to AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud and Minor Leagure Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins for helping Matchulat find a better arm slot and a more consistent release point.

Cubs 2008 20th round draft pick and current AZL batting leader LF Jericho Jones (who is now hitting .437) rapped out four hits (three singles and a double), 1B Bryan Jost reached base five times (two singles, a triple, and two walks), and RHP Ryan Searle returned from Australia to throw three innings of no run/no hit relief (0/5 BB/K), as the AZL Cubs rallied from an early 8-0 deficit to edge the AZL Brewers 9-8 at Fitch Park Field #3 Saturday morning. 

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Jon Lieber and Scott Eyre threw in rehab outings with the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, as Larry Rothschild, Lester Strode, and Carlos Zambrano (who was visiting buddy Angel Guzman) watched from the bench, and a gaggle of Cubs brass watched from the observation tower.

Hitting lead-off and serving as the DH, Alfonso Soriano got into his first game action in almost six weeks, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 6-3 at Padres Field #1 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ this morning.

Starting for the AZL Cubs versus he AZL Angels at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, Rich Hill worked five shutout innings (68 pitches, 47 strikes, 8/0 GO/FO), allowing three hits (all three singles) and a walk, with five strikeouts. He really had his roundhouse curve and efficient two-seamer working today, as he went to a three ball count on only two of the 17 Angels hitters he faced.

The AZL Cubs defeated the AZL A's 3-2 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

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The game featured another fine outing by RHP Julio Pena, and the victory was probably saved by a nifty 6-4-3 DP to end the top of the 8th inning, started with a super stop by SS Junior Lake, then a quick flip with a fast turn by 2B George Matheus, and completed with a nice stretch by 1B Sean Hoorelbeke. Too bad AZL games aren't televised, because that one would have made the highlight reel!

Today's AZL Cubs offensive heroes were RF Nelson Perez (a double and an RBI single) and catcher Jose Guevara (a double and RBI single through a drawn-in infield).  

Prior to the game, Rich Hill threw a simulated game that featured his new delivery, and it looks like he may actually have found the cure for his version of Steve Blass Disease. 

I talked with Cubs Organizational Hitting Instructor Dave Keller today, and he admitted that he was the guy in the tower yelling at Felix Pie (in Spanish) after Pie left the AZL Cubs game on Sunday, but that the conversation had to do with Pie verbally being given the hitting schedule for Monday at Fitch Park (which otherwise was an off day for the AZL Cubs), and that there was no animosity involved in the exchange.

Felix Pie went 2-3 with a lead-off first-pitch double roped down the RF line, a bases loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch, a grand slam HR hammered over the CF fence, and a hard-hit 4-3 GO, as the AZL Cubs thumped the AZL Royals 18-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot and sunny Mesa. 

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So do I really think Pie was sent to Fitch Park to "rehab" a "sprained thumb"?

Well...

In what may have been the worst professional baseball game I ever saw, the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 16-15 yesterday in a four-hour nine inning game in 108 degree heat at Fitch Park Field #3.  

Bad fielding, bad pitching, bad everything.

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2008 33rd round pick Sean Hoorelbeke (Central Michigan) roped a two-run double into the left-centerfield alley on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, driving in the tying and winning runs and giving the AZL Cubs a 4-3 victory over the AZL Giants at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

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The AZL Cubs are now 1-2 in AZL league play.

3B Junior Lake gave the AZL Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning when he blasted a towering HR onto 8th Street, but the lanky 18-year old Dominican infielder got yanked out of the game by Manager Franklin Font after he failed to run out a ground ball in a later AB.

Just a typical Day in the Life of AZL baseball.  

Prior to the AZL game, LHP Rich Hill threw a two-inning (35 pitches - 22 strikes & 13 balls) simulated game on Field #1 under the watchful eye of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins (who stood at various vantage points around the infield and home plate area during the session, including behind the mound).

Daryle Ward went 2-3 and scored a run, and Sean Hoorelbeke and Dwayne Kemp drove in two runs a piece with RBI doubles, as the AZL Cubs and AZL Angels played to a 5-5 tie at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in what was a final tune-up for AZL Opening Day on Sunday.

Ward, who played 1B and hit 3rd in the order, left the game amidst the usual handshakes, hugs, and kisses that accompany a "rehabber" leaving for the airport in the middle of a game. Whether DW will end up in Iowa or Tennessee is apparently still TBD. But if all goes well at who knows where, Ward is supposed to rejoin the Cubs next week In Chicago.  

Angel Guzman threw two innings (25 pitches - 19 strikes, 3/1 GO/FO) in an AZL Cubs intrasquad game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, allowing two runs (one ER) on two hits, with no walks and two stikeouts (both swinging). 
 
Also, Daryle Ward continued his rehab at Fitch Park, with an extended pre-game BP session in which he clubbed bomb after bomb over the RF fence. He also shagged some fly balls in RF.

Angel Guzman (on the 60-day DL while rehabbing from 2007 TJS) threw two innings (28 pitches) in an intrasquad game, and Daryle Ward (on the 15-day DL while rehabbing from a back injury) took an extended BP session, as the AZL Cubs spent their first day home alone at Fitch Park. 

Also, three more players signed out of the recent Rule 4 Draft have reported to Fitch Park, bringing the count up to 22 drafted players signed (with 29 still unsigned), plus three non-drafted free-agents (NDFA) signed.

A few more of the recently drafted players arrived at Fitch Park today, including catcher Luis Flores (7th round pick out of Oklahoma State) and OF Tony Campana (13th round pick out of U. of Cincinnati). Both were immediately assigned to Boise.   

And speaking of Boise, the Boise Hawks roster was posted in the Fitch Park clubhouse today, with 27 players assigned.

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