Josh Vitters

Mike Leake (CIN) threw four innings of shutout ball and Lance Zawadzki (SD) had three hits, including a solo home run and a two-run double, leading the Peoria Saguaros to an 8-1 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox at HoHoKam Park this afternoon.

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With two of the AFL's top starting pitchers on the hill, naturally the game turned into a slugfest, as the Mesa Solar Sox scored eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit, only to blow a four-run 8th inning lead, before scoring the game-winning run on a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th, en route to a 9-8 victory over Surprise Rafters in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

(And next time you come by, bring my stomach!)...  

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Starlin Castro jacked-up his AFL league-leading batting average to .423 as he ripped two singles, knocked-in two runs, and scored one, Josh Vitters tripled and scored, and John Gaub tossed a 1-2-3 7th, leading the Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, Angels, and Twins) to a 7-2 victory over the Peoria Saguaros (Padres, Reds, Indians, Braves, and Astros) in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at sunny HoHoKam Park in Mesa. 

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Andrew Cashner threw four innings of no run, no hit ball, and Starlin Castro had two hits, drove in a run and scored two more, and made the defensive play of the day, as the Mesa Solar Sox exterminated the Scottsdale Scorpions 12-5 in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.  

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-- Tigers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Astros; that's your complete list of the teams which ranked lower than the Cubs in Kevin Goldstein's organizational rankings at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required).

Goldstein's comments about the Cubs, who stood 16th in his '08 rankings:

"Josh Vitters is one of the best pure hitters in the minors; 2008 top pick Andrew Cashner's post-draft struggles were a fluke and his stuff will play; Jeff Samardzija finally began figuring things out."

"Other than Vitters, there is
really not a single hitter in this system that excites anyone; the
weakness in terms of the organization's depth is the key reason that
the long-rumored Jake Peavy deal never went down."

"Samardzija is the only player who is likely to lose his prospect status; there's no reason to see (the Cubs) moving up considerably (in the rankings)."

--We all know that spring training numbers mean next to nothing, but since Opening Day is, what, another 11 weeks away?, they're the only numbers we have, so let's enjoy them, dammit!

I love baseball newsy days in January. I love roster moves. You can see that I don't even mind listening to a baseball guru or two.

Fox's Baseball analyst, Ken Rosenthal was on WGN Radio's "Sports Central" show hosted by David Kaplan tonight. For those not able to listen, here's a summary of his take on all things recently swirling in Cubsville. He takes on Milton Bradley vs Lou Piniella (a dangerous mix). Could these two ever be as lovable as Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in the 2003 film, Anger Management? Somehow, I just can't see LouPa getting Bradley to sing, "I Feel Pretty".

Plus a bit more on the shrinking odds to acquire some guy named Jake.

On to the details, after the jump...

The weekly radio baseball gabfest known as "Talking Baseball" (ESPN AM 1000, Chicago) hosted by Bruce Levine (and frequently Chet Coppock, in the role of sidekick) is a nice source of Cub information. Of course you have to wade through lengthy questions that often take minutes to unfold. Interviews with management are usually cloaked in generalizations, clichés and unrequited hope.

This saturday's show featured an interview with Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel, Oneri Fleita, as well as some discussion on the management's thinking behind the recent Mark DeRosa for prospects trade.

Fleita was not going to short change us on clichés like  "You've got to play the games" and  "Everybody starts in first place." Still it was good to hear about prospects in the news like Josh Vitters and the 3 newest pitching prospects acquired from Cleveland.

Bruce Levine updated and opined about the state of the Cubs roster changes including keeping the roster flexible as well as the progress on acquiring a sense of left handedness with attitude (feisty Milton Bradley, scrappy Aaron Miles and the even scrappier Mike Fontenot).

He also has an opinion about Jake da Ace, aka he-who-must-not-be-named.

The incredibly wordy play by play after the jump...

Matt Downs clubbed a grand slam home run to cap a nine-run 2nd inning, and the Giants coasted to a 9-4 victory over the Cubs in AZ Instructional League action this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa. 

Tony Campana had four RBI, Logan Watkins scored three runs, Josh Vitters had two doubles and a walk, and Jake Optiz smashed a double and a triple, as the Cubs rallied from a 7-3 deficit to defeat the Angels 9-7 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa. 

There apparently was a change in the itinerary for the Boise Hawks, as the roster will not be announced until after today's workout, and the team will not leave for Idaho until after tomorrow's work-out.

Therefore (naturally), there was another intrasquad game today.

In addition, Cubs 1B Daryle Ward, who is on the 15-day DL with a back problem, has finally arrived at Fitch Park.

Nelson Perez went 2-3 with a triple, an RBI, a walk, and two runs scored and 17-year old Dominican LHP Jeffry Antigua pitched four strong innings, leading the EXST Cubs to a 9-4 sinking of the EXST Mariners in a Beat-the-Heat "Rush Hour Special" (9 AM start) at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

The EXST Giants smacked 14 hits off four EXST Cubs pitchers, en route to an 8-2 stomping of the Cubs at Indian School Park Field #2 this morning in Scottsdale.

Josh Vitters went 3-4 with a single, a double, and a triple, a walk, one RBI, and two runs scored, Kyler Burke went 3-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and Carlos Perez had four singles, as the EXST Cubs banged-out 19 hits en route to an 8-6 victory over Team China at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

With VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita and about a dozen Cubs scouts in attendance, LHP Mark Pawelek threw three shutout innings of one-hit ball and Las Vegas Durango HS SS Niko Vasquez crushed a two-run homer onto 8th Street, leading the EXST Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the EXST A's at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

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