Cubs Trip(le) Up Angels at Riverview
Kevin Zamudio tripled, doubled, and scored a run, Delvin Zinn tripled, singled, and scored a run, Fernando Kelli belted a two-run triple, and four pitchers combined to hurl one-hit ball with eleven strikeouts over the first 6-2/3 innings, as the Cubs withstood a late rally and edged the Angels 5-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Tuesday morning on Field #6 on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.
The game was called after eight innings of play.
RHP Eury Ramos got the start for the Cubs and was outstanding, retiring the first six Angels hitters in a row (1-3, K, K, F-7, 3-U, K - all three strikeouts swinging, including Dustin Ackley on a 3-2 pitch) while mixing a high-octane 95-97 MPH FB with a plus-CV and a swing & miss CH. The Cubs still have six weeks left to decide, but it is pretty clear that Ramos has joined Brailyn Marquez, Jeremiah Estrada, Faustino Carrera, and Danis Correa as the front-runners for the five Eugene Opening Week SP slots. The 6'3 Ramos is starting to fill-out (he weighed only 150 pounds when he signed with the Cubs in 2014) and that could be at least one of the reasons behind his rather sudden and startling uptick in FB velo.
RHP Ryan McNeil (elbow, back, hip) followed Ramos to the mound and continued his EXST rehab with two perfect innings, striking out the last four men he faced (all four swinging - including Dustin Ackley again). Although he has been used as a reliever over the four seasons since 2013 TJS, McNeil still has a four-pitch SP-type repertoire that includes a 90-92 MPH FB, a mid-80's hard-slider, a CV, and a plus-CH. The 3rd round draft pick of the Cubs in 2012 out of Nipomo HS (Nipomo, CA), McNeil is eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league 6YFA post-2018, so the Cubs will need to decide sometime over the next few months whether to add McNeil to the MLB 40-man roster post-World Series, or offer him a 2019 Minor League Successsor Contract and hope that he accepts it (in which case he would be eligible for selection in next December's Rule 5 Draft), or let him walk away as a minor league FA.
Prior to the game, LHP Danny Hultzen (2016 shoulder surgery) threw "live" BP (one inning - 15 pitches) on Field #4. This was the first time the 28-year old Hultzen has faced "live" hitters in more than two years. Hultzen was the second overall pick (by the Seattle Mariners) in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft ($6.35M signing bonus and a major league contract) out of UVA, but his career was derailed by shoulder woes and he retired after the 2016 season. But then he decided to give it one more try, signing a minor league contract with the Cubs this past February. He has been in the Rehab Throwing Program at the UAPC in Mesa for the last two months. Once he has completed the "live" BP phase and if all is proceeding according to plan, he will likely throw in an EXST intrasquad game and then perhaps in a Cactus League EXST game.
In EXST Cubs roster news, C-1B-3B Cam Balego and OF Chris Carrier have been sent to EXST from South Bend, and RHSP Carlos Paula has been sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy in Boca Chica, so he will almost certainly begin the 2018 season back in the DSL. Paula did not pitch in any Cactus League or intrasquad games while at EXST.
Also, RHRP Aneuris Rosario was placed on the Disqualified List last week. I don't know why the Cubs did this, but the move had to be approved by the MLB Commissioner. (The Disqualified List is used when a player violates the terms of his contract, such as using a false identity, submitting fraudulent documents, circumventing a drug test, or signing with another professional baseball club before being released). Because A. Rosario has spent four seasons in the DSL he is ineligible to return there in 2018, and so he would have had to make the Opening Day roster of Eugene or one of the Cubs two AZL teams.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
1a. Luis Ayala, CF: 0-2 (L-3, BB, K, R)
1b. Jose Alonso Gaitan, LF: 0-1 (L-5)
2. Fernando Kelli, LF-CF: 1-4 (K, 3B, 4-3, 5-4 FC, 2 RBI)
3. Jonathan Sierra, RF: 0-3 (BB, 3-1, K, F-9)
4a. Kevin Zamudio, C: 2-3 (K, 3B, 2B, R, PO)
4b. Raymond Pena, C: 1-1 (1B)
5. Luis Vazquez, SS: 1-3 (K, F-8 SF, 1B, K, R, RBI)
6. Yovanny Cuevas, DH #1: 1-4 (4-3, K, 2B, F-9, R)
7. Yonathan Perlaza, DH #2: 1-2 (L-9, BB, 1B, RBI)
8. Luis Hidalgo, 1B: 0-2 (L-7, L-5, F-7 SF, RBI)
9. Fidel Mejia, 3B: 0-1 (2-3, BB, BB)
10. Delvin Zinn, 2B: 2-3 (3B, 5-4-3 DP, 1B, R)
1. Eury Ramos: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/AO, 24 pitches (15 strikes)
2. Ryan McNeil: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 31 pitches (25 strikes)
3. Manuel Rondon: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 25 pitches (15 strikes)
4. Eugenio Palma: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/1 GO/AO, 25 pitches (16 strikes)
5. Yan de la Cruz: 1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 2 HBP, 1 GIDP, 3/0 GO/AO, 34 pitches (21 strikes)
SS Luis Vazquez: E-6 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Raymond Pena: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with temperatures in the 70's
"Just because it isn't official doesn't mean it didn't happen"