Cubs Win Pitchers Duel at Diablo

Alexander Guerra drilled an RBI single and a double and LHSP Brailyn Marquez and three relievers combined to toss a four-hit shutout with eleven strikeouts, as the Cubs blanked the Angels 1-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Monday morning on Field #3 at the Diablo Stadium Complex in Tempe, AZ.   

The game was called after eight innings of play. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, OF Lane Adams has been moved-up to AAA Iowa. 

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):

1. Fernando Kelli, CF: 1-3 (5-3, 1B, BB, 6-3)
2. Reivaj Garcia, 2B: 2-3 (1B, 5-3 SH, 6-3, 1B, R)
3. Jonathan Sierra, RF: 1-4 (1B, 6-3, F-9, 3-U)
4. Alexander Guerra, C-DH: 2-3 (1B, 2B, P-5, RBI)
5. Yovanny Cuevas, DH #1: 0-2 (P-4, F-7, 1B, CS)
6. Luis Vazquez, SS: 0-3 (4-6 FC, L-7, K)
7. Yonathan Perlaza, 3B: 0-3 (3-1, 4-3, 3-1)
8. Cam Balego, 1B: 1-3 (F-9, F-8, 1B) 
9a. Henrry Pedra, DH #2: 1-1 (1B)
9b. Jose Alonso Gaitan, PH: 0-1 (E-6, CS)
9c. Raymond Pena, C: 0-1 (5-3)
10. Kevin Zamudio, DH #3: 0-1 (6-3, HBP, BB)
11a. Kevin Moreno, LF: 0-1 (P-5, BB)
11b. Luis Ubiera, LF: 0-1 (K) 

1. Brailyn Marquez: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/3 GO/AO, 41 pitches (26 strikes) 
2. Stephen Ridings: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GO/AO, 37 pitches (15 strikes) 
3. Nathan Sweeney: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1 PO, 1/1 GO/AO, 30 pitches (15 strikes) 
4. Eugenio Palma: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GO/AO, 40 pitches (24 strikes) 

3B Yonathan Perlaza: E-5 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely) 

Raymond Pena: 1 PO


WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 90's 


"Just because it isn't official doesn't mean it didn't happen" 


Guerra reads as advanced enough to be better than the AZL. However, a few others behind the plate are, as well.

TIM: In another organization or maybe in another year Alexander Guerra might have made the Lo-A affiliate's Opening Day roster, but with Cubs top catching prospect Miguel Amaya at South Bend, and with the Cubs wanting to give Guerra an opportunity to get adapted to the U. S., Extended Spring Training and then Eugene seems like the prudent path of choice.

But Guerra is definitely the most-polished and most-advanced catcher of the ten who are at EXST right now, although Jonathan Soto and Henderson Perez have higher ceilings (in fact Soto and Perez are the #2 and #3 catching prospects in the system).

BTW, catcher (M. Amaya, Soto, and Perez) and shortstop (Ademan, Morel, and Vazquez) are the Cubs two positions of depth in the pipeline, although it's very unlikely any of them will surface in Chicago before 2021-22. Which is why the Cubs might want to target college position-players in the draft (although taking the BPA is never really a bad approach in the higher rounds). 

Phil: Has J. Pereda have any upside, or is he just having a nice couple of months? Obviously, this is the best hitting stretch of his career, but he's been the best hitter in MBeach this year. Does he have any catch and throw skills? Thanks

CHILDERb3: Erick Castillo and Jhonny Pereda were considered the Cubs two best defensive catchers coming into the 2018 season, and like E. Castillo, it appeared that Pereda would move somewhat deliberately through the system as a defense-first back-up guy, maybe eventually topping out at AA.

When Pereda was at EXST a couple of years ago, he would usually catch the MLB and AAA rehab guys because his receiving skills were so polished. He also has a plus-arm.

But offensively he had a tendency to sort of punch the ball (the classic "singles hitter" stroke) and maybe take an occasional walk, but he has apparently had a break-out 2018 season (at least so far) offensively at Myrtle Beach. If this hitting improvement is genuine and continues going forward, he has "jumped the shark" and would project as an MLB back-up catcher. He could even be a candidate to get selected by a rebuilding team (MIA, SD, CHW, KC, DET, CIN, et al) in next December's Rule 5 Draft, although I don't see the Cubs adding him to the 40 to prevent that from happening. 

Just as an extra point regarding Cubs minor league catchers, they have several "bat-first" guys (T. Davis, Rice, Alamo, M. Cruz, and Polanco), but the best all-around catcher besides M. Amaya, Soto, and H. Perez is P. J. Higgins.

Even though he is repeating Myrtle Beach, Higgins' athleticism and competitive fire have been compared to J. T. Realmuto. And because Higgins was an infielder and only an occasional catcher in college, there has been a bit of a transition for him to full-time catcher. But he actually is a decent prospect.

PHIL: Where does Ademan’s bat project? Is he a top of the order possibility?

E-MAN: Because Aramis Ademan has been moved aggressively it might appear that his hit tool is lacking, but he actually is a high-contact hitter with some power potential (I would say a bit like Albert Almora Jr in that respect). He has good range and a solid arm defensively and should be able to stick at SS. And (also like Almora) Ademan is not particularly fast (especially for a SS), but he won't "clog the bases" (that was for Dusty).

Reports that Jose Albertos has been sent back to Arizona from South Bend.  They certainly gave him some rope to work with before pulling him back.