Brooks Looking Good at Diablo

Sam McDonnell drilled two RBI singles including one that drove-in the tying run, as the Angels rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th to upend the Cubs 5-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, AZ. 

Rafael Mejia belted a two-run double and a single, scored a run, and knocked-in a third run with a 6-3 GO and Alberto Mineo tripled, walked twice, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause.

RHSP Aaron Brooks (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with a hip contusion) made a rehab start for the Cubs and tossed three shutout innings (32 pitches), allowing a lead-off single in the bottom of the 1st (erased on a CS) before easily retiring the next eight in a row (3-U, K, K, L-8, P-3, 4-3, 1-3, K). A healthy Brooks (and hopefully a healthy Pierce Johnson and a healthy Dallas Beeler) should help upgrade the Iowa starting rotation once the trio have completed their rehab work at EXST within the next week or two.

LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) continued his EXST game rehab work, following Brooks to the hill and hurling a scoreless inning (1B, K, F-7, 6-3). The ex-NYM lefthander who was claimed by the Cubs off waivers last November looked a lot better today than he did in his first rehab outing last week, needing 15 pitches (11 strikes) to record three outs. (He struggled to throw strikes and could not complete his assigned inning in his previous outing). The Cubs are hoping Leathersich can rehab successfully from the TJS and offer some lefty relief help down the stretch drive, and today's outing certainly provides some reason for optimism.

6'8 LHP Bryan Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round draft pick - Alton HS - Alton, IL) got "piggy-back" duty today, following Brooks and Leathersich to the mound. Like Dylan Cease yesterday, Hudson was supposed to stretch-out a bit today and throw five innings and/or about 75 pitches (whichever came first), but he hit 71 pitches after only 2.0 IP, and so I guess he'll have to try and make it through five innings next time out. The 19-year old lefthander allowed three runs on six hits (two doubles and four singles) and four walks (and a WP) and was lucky to surrender only three runs given the ten baserunners he allowed, but he benefited from four well-timed strikeouts (his stuff wasn't all bad, he just couldn't command it) and an Angel batter thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple. This was definitely Hudson's worst outing as a pro.  

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

CUBS LINEUP:
1. Roberto Caro, CF: 1-4 (E-6, 3B, 3-U, K, SB)
2. Robert Garcia, DH #1: 1-4 (K, P-5, 2B, 4-3, R)
3. Kevonte Mitchell, RF: 1-4 (K, F-9, 1B, K, R, SB)
4. Isaac Paredes, SS: 0-4 (6-3, F-8, L-7, K)
5. Alberto Mineo, 1B: 1-2 (3B, BB, K, BB, R)
6. Rafael Mejia, 3B: 2-4 (6-3, 4-3, 2B, 1B, R, 3 RBI)
7. Jhonny Pereda, C: 1-4 (3-U, 3-1, 1B, F-8, RBI)
8. Vimael Machin, 2B: 0-3 (HBP, K, 4-3, 4-6-3 DP)
9. Ruben Reyes, LF: 0-3 (F-7, L-5, K)
10. Eric Gonzalez, DH #2: 1-3 (L-8, 1B, K)

CUBS PITCHERS
1. Aaron Brooks: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 B, 3 K, 3/2 GO/AO, 32 pitches (24 strikes) 
2. Jack Leathersich: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 15 pitches (11 strikes) 
3. Bryan Hudson: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GO/AO, 71 pitches (37 strikes) 
4. Andry Rondon: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 2/0 GO/AO, 36 pitches (21 strikes) 

CUBS ERRORS: 1 
P Andry Rondon - E-1 (dropped catch attempting 3-1 put-out allowed batter to reach base safely) 

CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE
Jhonny Pereda: 2-4 CS, 1 PO 

CUBS OUTFIELD ASSISTS
LF Ruben Reyes - batter thrown out 7-6-5 attempting to stretch double into triple

ATTENDANCE: 8 

WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's 

Comments

Looks like Bryan Hudson is the new Randy Johnson: his height will always be part of his name.

Phil, I think I read an earlier take that you don't see much of an ML career for Brooks? I kinda thought when he was acquired it was as depth for this year, but with an eye on the Cahill type swing role next year? Then again he did get hit around pretty bad in his big league time last year.

KOYIES BANSAW: I would say Aaron Brooks is comparable to Dallas Beeler. When healthy, they both provide AAA starting pitcher depth until somethng better comes up through the pipeline. Maybe the "26th man" when the Cubs need a 6th starter for a doubleheader. 

Probably best case scenario is that Brooks could ultimately be included as part of a package of players used to acquire missing parts at the trade deadline or next off-season, but I don't think there is a long-term future for Brooks with the Cubs. Same goes for Beeler. Both will be out of minor league options in 2017, and once that happens whatever value they may have now will be diminished.  

One of the potential problems the Cubs have is the lack of quality starting pitching depth at AAA in 2016. As long as Arrieta-Lester-Lackey-Hammel-Hendricks remain healthy the lack of AAA starting pitching depth isn't noticed and doesn't matter much, but it might be a lot to ask that the five starters all stay healthy for the entire season with no DL stints. I would think that if a starter goes down, that either Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood, or Adam Warren will be temporarily moved to the starting rotation (at least until the Cubs can acquire another starter via trade), because the Cubs aren't likely to get much SP help from the minors this year or maybe even next year. 

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