Martarano & Loux See Game Action at Riverview Park

It wasn't a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game, but the Cubs did play an intrasquad game this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

Some of you may notice that when there is an EXST intrasquad game or a Cactus League EXST split squad doubleheader, that (with the exception of the pitchers and catchers, who move back & forth between the squads) one squad (Squad "A") is essentially the proto-Euguene Emeralds, and the other one (Squad "B") is essentially the proto-AZL Cubs. The squad rosters change slightly every now & then, but what you see now is probably pretty close to what will likely be the case next month when the two teams are officially separated.

Three position players assigned to Squad "B" -- 3B-1B Wladimir Galindo (left wrist injury),  IF-OF Carlos Jimenez (left elbow injury from HBP yesterday), and 1B-C Miguel Rico (left knee injury) -- are out indefinitely, so the AZL Cubs may have to "run short" for a while at the start of the AZL season. (Rico is being converted to catcher, but also plays 1st base).

RHP Barret Loux (on Iowa Cubs 7-day DL with a right triceps strain) made his first game appearance in a month, getting the start for Squad "B" in the intrasquad game. While he did throw 3.2 IP (44 pitches) and allowed no runs, he also surrendered five hits (and a walk), struck out only one, and his fastball velocity topped out at 86 MPH.

The 26-year old Loux was the 1st round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, but then was declared a free-agent by MLB after the D'backs reduced their original bonus offer after a post-draft physical showed a pre-existing shoulder problem. (The Loux Case was one of the factors that led to draft slotting in the 2012 CBA).

So Loux signed with the Texas Rangers in November 2010 after being declared a free-agent, and then was traded to the Cubs as the PTBNL in the Geovany Soto deal post-2012. He made it through the 2011-13 seasons OK, but then he had shoulder surgery post-2013 and TJS at the start of last season, so he has been through the sports medicine wars over the past couple of years. He made a fairly rapid recovery from the 2014 TJS, however, and actually was a member of the Iowa Cubs starting rotation at the begining of the 2015 season, before being shut-down last month.

18-year old RHP Austyn Willis (Cubs 2014 18th round draft pick - Barstow HS - Barstow, CA) started the intraquad game for Squad "A", and had a lot of difficulty throwing strikes in his three innings of work (61 pitches - only 28 strikes). For a guy who is 6'6, Willis does not throw especially hard (his fastball tops out at 89 MPH), but he usually is able to spot his fastball effectively and throw all of his pitches (including his curve and change-up) for strikes, with the stamina to throw multiple innings. At 6'6 205, Willis has the size & frame scouts call "projectable," because it is presumed that he will add velocity as he matures and fills-out. Along with Carson Sands, Justin Steele, Jose Paulino, and Oscar de la Cruz, Willis is being primed to be one of the rotation starters at Eugene when the Northwest League season commences next month.  

6'7 RHRP Scott Frazier (Cubs 2013 6th round draft pick - Pepperdine) threw an inning in the game (12 pitches - 7 strikes) and retired the side uneventfully (4-3, BB, 4-6 FC, K), although the Squad "A" lineup was adjusted so that he only had to face left-handed hitters (something the Cubs can't do in a Cactus League EXST game). His fastball velocity usually sits at 95-97 MPH and has touched 98-99 previously this Spring, but he apparently has dialed it down a bit, because he threw only 96 (max) today, working mostly at 94-95.

Boise State's Joey Martarano saw his first game action of 2015, serving as a DH for Squad "B." He was hitless in four plate appearances, but he did reach base on an HBP and scored a run his first time up. He ran through a "stop sign" as he rounded third and headed home, but when you've got a 6'4 235 D-1 college linebacker coming through, you just have to get out of the way and let him roll. I half-expected him to tackle the catcher at home plate, but he did not. Martarano projects to be the first-baseman and sometimes DH for the AZL Cubs once the AZL season starts next month.

Here is the abridged box score from today's intrasquad game: 

1a. Kevonte Mitchell, CF: 1-2 (1B, P-4) 
1b. Calvin Graves, PH-DH: 0-2 (K, P-3)
2. Frandy de la Rosa, 2B: 1-5 (E-4, 1B, K, F-7, K)
3. Eloy Jimenez, RF: 0-3 (P-4, F-8 DP, BB, 6-3, PO)
4. Kevin Encarnacion, DH #1: 1-4 (1B, F-9, 4-1, 4-3)
5. Adonis Paula, 3B: 1-3 (K, 1B, K)
6. Yohan Matos, C: 0-3 (6-3, 5-3, F-8) 
7. Ho-Young Son, SS: 1-3 (F-9, L-9, 1B)  
8. Ricardo Marcano, LF: 1-1 (BB, 1B, BB, BB, 2 R, SB)
9. Roney Alcala, 1B: 1-4 (6-3, K, 1B, 4-6 FC, RBI)
10. Danny Gutierrez, DH-CF: 2-3 (1B, 3B, K, RBI, CS)

1. Robert Garcia, RF: 0-3 (K, 4-3, BB, 6-3, R)
2. Roberto Caro, CF: 0-3 (1-3, F-9, BB, 6-3, CS)
3. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-3 (BB, 1B, 1B, K, 2 RBI, 2 SB)
4. Alberto Mineo, C: 1-2 (P-6, BB, BB, 2B) 
5. Joey Martarano, DH #1: 0-3 (HBP, 5-3, 6-3, F-9, R)
6. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 1-3 (2B, 5-3, F-7, RBI, PO)
7. Varonex Cuevas, 3B: 1-2 (BB, F-7, 1B)
8. Jenner Emeterio, LF: 0-3 (P-4, 1-3, 6-3 DP)
9. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 0-3 (6-3, L-8, K)
10. Jhonny Pereda, DH #2: 0-2 (BB, E-4, K, R)

1. Austyn Willis: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 PO, 4/3 GO/FO, 61 pitches (28 strikes) 
2. Corbin Hoffner: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2/2 GO/FO, 38 pitches (18 strikes) 
3. Pedro Araujo: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 3/1 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4. Greyfer Eregua: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 19 pitches (12 strikes) 

1. Barret Loux: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/5 GO/FO, 44 pitches (30 strikes)
2. Sam Wilson: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 PO, 1/1 GO/FO, 34 pitches (21 strikes) 
3. Jordan Brink: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 0/2 GO/FO, 17 pitches (8 strikes) 
4. Alexander Santana: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (10 strikes)
5. Scott Frazier: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 12 pitches (7 strikes) 

2B Frandy de la Rosa: E-4 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely) 

2B Carlos Sepulveda: E-4 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)

Yohan Matos: 1-3 CS 

Alberto Mineo: 1-2 CS 


1. CF Roberto Caro - threw out runnner (Frandy de la Rosa) 8-4 trying to advance to 2nd base on fly ou 
2. LF Jenner Emeterio - threw out batter (Ho-Young Son) 7-4 trying to stretch single into double

WEATHER: Sunny withy temperatures in the 80's



AZPhil: First off, thank you for the recaps you provide. I've been reading them for years and the first hand accounts, stats and scouting reports on the more obscure prospects is stuff you just can't get anywhere else. Thank you. Now for a question. LHP Jose Paulino, one of my deep sleeper favs, is listed as being Rule 5 eligible this coming fall. However he's been in the organization only 3 seasons and was younger than 18 when he signed. The rules state: "A minor league player who was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract is eligible for selection starting with the 5th Rule 5 Draft after he signs..." Why is Paulino eligible after what will be only his 4th season?

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In reply to by K Dub

K-DUB: Jose Paulino signed his first contract on 7-20-2011 at age 16, so he absolutely, positively will be elgible for selection in the December 2015 Rule 5 Draft, because he was 18 or younger on the June 5th prior to signing his first contract, and the December 2015 Rule 5 Draft it is the 5th Rule 5 Draft after his signing date. 

Because he was only 16 when he signed with the Cubs, Paulino was "Signed for Future Service," meaning he could not play until he turned 17 (his birthday is 4-9-1995). So he did not (could not) make his debut with the DSL Cubs when he signed in 2011. He had to wait until the 2012 season. But the important date to remember as far as Rule 5 eligibility is concerned is his signing date (7-20-2011), not when he made his minor league game debut (2012). 

This applies to a lot of international players who sign when they are 16, including Mark Malave and Ricardo Marcano (like Paulino, both are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2015), and it's why Jeffrey Baez was Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2014, and why Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez were Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2013, when it might not have made sense (logically) that they could be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft that soon.  

An interersting exception is LHP Carlos Rodriguez, who (like Paulino, Malave, and Marcano) was 16 when he signed in 2011, but he signed later than the others (on 8-28-2011), which was AFTER the conclusion of the minor league season of the minor league club to which he was first assigned (DSL Cubs), so therefore 2012 (rather than 2011) is considered his "first season" for Rule 5 Draft eligibility purposes, and so he won't be Rule 5 Draft eligible for the first time until post-2016, even though it might appear at first glance that Rodriguez's situation is no different than the other three (except it is). 
Just as a further point of infornmation, while 16 year olds cannot play in the DSL, VSL, AZL, et al, they CAN attend Instructs and Extended Spring Training and play in AZIL and EXST games. 

BTW, an effect of a player being "Signed for Future Service" is that it delays minor league free-agency by a year (if it ever gets to that point). So although Paulino signed his first contract in 2011, his first season as far as minor league free-agency eligiblility is concerned was the 2012 season, so Paulino won't be eligible to be a minor league free-agent until after the 2018 season (presuming he hasn't been released or added to an MLB 40-man roster by that time). So for Paulino (and Malave and Marcano), the 2011 season does count for Rule 5 Draft eligibility purposes, but it does not count toward eventual minor league free-agency eligibility. 

One more thing. I believe the Rule 5 Draft rules should be changed, making players who are 15 or 16 on the June 5th immediately prior to signing their first pro contract and who are "Signed for Future Service" (as was the case with Jose Paulino, Ricardo Marcano, Mark Malave, Jeffrey Baez, Marco Hernandez, and Gioskar Amaya) Rule 5 Draft eligible starting with the 6th Rule 5 Draft after signing, rather than with the 5th one, because they aren't eligible to play in games the year they sign (again, other than Instructs or Extended Spring Training games).   

Something about the desert -- once again, we get a 2-run lead and blow it in the bottom half of the inning. Crap.

...and, we need to stop giving up home run to guys who never hit home runs. What the hell is going on out there?

It looks like there is a bit of a strategy on the part of teams to focus on low sliders to get Cubs' hitters out. Last night we saw how that looks in a game. Some guys were swinging at that wicked low slider Burgos throws and missing badly, or the ump was calling it for Burgos. Other times it seems that Cubs hitters are adjusting a bit, and focusing on that low pitch and beginning to add it to their suite of "hittable pitches". Rizzo reached down and pulled a hard liner foul just before he hit his home run, and his home run looked to me to be a slider that was *just* starting to break down as he mashed it. Fowler got one, too, to start off the festivities, but that one didn't seem to break. But he was ready for it. Soler, too, seemed to hit a breaking, low slider. I think I saw Byrant get one, too. I read somewhere that Mallee (excuse the spelling if it's wrong) has been preaching to the guys to wait for their pitch. That's what I mean by adding that pitch to their repertoire of hittable pitches. Of course, some of them have always swung at low sliders, but a lot of them have been taking them for strikes. Some of the ones who've been taking them for strikes seem to now be going after a few more of them. Last night it seemed like Rizzo bent his knees to go after that one he hit foul before he cranked his HR. Either way, that dude is amazing to watch at the plate. Each at bat is just artistry.

Just saw the replay of the Junior Lake strikeout with Soler on 3rd, Coughlin on 2nd (after the Soler game tying double) when he breaks his bat over his knee. Big Z needs to give him some lessons to perfect his technique. He swung at ball four well below the strike zone but I sense he's a little better at not automatically swinging at bad pitches this year.

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