Camargo Sharp as AZL Cubs Defeat AZL Snakes
Andruw Monasterio drilled a two-run triple, walked twice, scored a run, and collected a third RBI on a bases-loaded walk, Wladimir Galindo belted a two-run double and knocked-in a third run with a sacrifice fly, Roberto Caro reached base on a bunt single, walked, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in a run with a sacrifice fly, and RHSP Jesus Camargo hurled five innings of three-hit one-run ball with no walks and a 11/1 GO/FO, helping the AZL Cubs defeat the AZL Diamondbaks 8-4 in AZL action last night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.
The 2014 VSL HR champion, 18-year old Wladimir Galindo (2013 IFA - Venezuela) missed the last five weeks of Extended Spring Training with a left wrist injury, and while his wrist is still wrapped, he has been driving the ball in AZL games. Tonight was no exception, as he hammered a line-drive SF to LF in his first AB, crushed a two-run double into the LF corner his second time up, and lofted a fly ball to the warning track in CF in his third PA. He is still a raw player defensively at 3rd base, but he shows off a strong arm when given the opportunity. Galindo is a big kid (not quite as imposing as Eloy Jimenez, but close), and he is the #1 AZL Cub player to watch right now, at least until some of the 2015 draft picks are activated.
18-year old Venezuelan SS Andruw Monasterio was shaky offensively for most of Extended Spring Training (hitting 167/200/208 in 11 games and 25 PA), but he has settled down lately and is hitting the ball with more confidence and authority. He drove-in two runs with a sinking liner to left that the D'backs left-fielder played into a triple (thanks to an ill-advised diving attempt at a catch), and then walked twice in his final two AB, one of which was a two-out bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch. He also started a nifty 6-4-3 DP that got struggling RHRP Jesus Castillo out of a jam in the 6th. Monasterio was a switch-hitter last season, but he gave up switch-hitting when he arrived at EXST and is now hitting only RH.
19-year old RHP Jesus Camargo (ex-Mexico City Red Devils) was outstanding last night, with four strikeouts and an 11/1 GO/FO. The thing is, Camargo was an extreme fly ball pitcher throughout Extended Spring Training, alternating a mediocre 87-88 MPH fastball with THE best change-up seen down here in a long time, so getting so many ground balls would seem to indicate that he is changing his approach (which is good).
The single most diffiicult pitch for most young pitchers to master is the change-up, and Camargo has done that and then some. In fact his change-up is so good that he wants to throw it on every pitch. Camargo struggled in Extended Spring Training (5.91 ERA and 1.88 WHIP, with 13 walks allowed in just 10.2 IP), and Cubs pitching coaches had to to convince him that the change-up is most-effective when mixed with a fastball (even a mediocre one). .
Last night also marked the game debut (as a pitcher) of 21-year old 6'4 LHP Ariel Ovando, who was signed by the Houston Astros as a 16-year old strong-armed slugging outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. Ovando received a $2.6M bonus when he signed (the largest signing bonus ever given to an IFA by the Astros up to that point in time) and was described by scouts who saw him back then as a young Darryl Strawberry. But Ovando struggled in four minor league seasons (2011-14) in the Houston organization, unable to advance past Lo-A while hitting just 233/299.335 in 261 games (1,026 PA). The Cubs selected Ovando in the AAA Phase of the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft with the intention of converting him to a pitcher, but he was shut-down during Minor League Camp and did not pitch at Extended Spring Training at all. He only began throwing bullpen sessions within the last couple of weeks. While he is a big dude with the "projectable" frame MLB clubs are always looking for, Ovando is the classic "soft-tossing lefty," mixing a mid-80's sinker with a slow curve. It worked well last night, though, as he worked a 1-2-3 9th with a 4-3 GO and two strikeouts (both swinging).
19-year old RHP Jesus Castillo continues to struggle, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk (plus two WP) and no strikeouts in 1.2 IP (36 pitches, including a 29-pitch 7th inning inning) last night. Castillo was one of two teenaged Venezuelan pitchers acquired from the Diamondbacks for OF Tony Campana prior to the 2013 season (RHP Erick Leal was the other one), and Castillo was supposed to have the most-upside of the two pitchers the Cubs acquired. But right now Castillo is throwing a 85-86 MPH two seamer and a so-so breaking ball and isn't fooling anybody in the AZL, while Leal is in the starting rotation at South Bend.
21-year old Miguel Rico missed the last five weeks of Extended Spring Training with a left knee injury, but he returned to the lineup last night as the AZL Cubs DH (he went 2-4 with two singles and a run scored). Rico was a 3B-1B for the VSL Cubs the last couple of years (hitting 241/344/375 in 174 games 2012-14), but was converted to catcher at Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training this season (interrupted by the knee injury). He is catching bullpen sessions, but he has yet to return to game action behind the plate. I think in Rico's case, the conversion to catcher is more a matter of adding greater versatlity to a guy who projects as a "four corner" utility player going forward, rather than the idea that he will become a front-line catcher.
Here is the abridged box score from last night's game (Cubs players only):
1. Roberto Caro, CF: 1-4 (1B, BB, F-8 SF, K, 5-U FC, 2 R, RBI, SB)
2. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-5 (3-U, 1B, 6-3, 1B, K, R)
3. Wladimir Galindo, 3B: 1-4 (L-7 SF, 2B, F-9, 5-3, K, 3 RBI)
4. Joey Martarano, 1B: 0-5 (6-3, K, K, 1-3, 4-3)
5. Jose Paniagua, LF: 2-4 (E-6, F-8, 3B, 2B, R, CS)
6. Jhonny Pereda, C: 1-3 (2B, 6-3, E6+E6, BB, R)
7. Jenner Emeterio, RF: 1-3 (6-3, 1B, 4-3, BB, R)
8. Miguel Rico, DH: 2-4 (F-7, 1B, 1B, K, R, RBI)
9. Amdruw Monasterio, SS: 1-2 (3-U, 3B, BB, BB, R, 3 RBI)
1. Jesus Camargo: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 11/1 GO/FO, 70 pitches (45 strikes)
2. Jesus Castillo: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 4/0 GO/FO, 36 pitches (22 strikes)
3. Francisco Carrillo: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 3 pitches (2 strikes)
4. Trey Masek: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 5 pitches (4 strikes)
5. Ariel Ovando: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 12 pitches (6 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
P Jesus Camargo: E-1 (errant throw on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 2nd)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Jhonny Pereda: 1 PB
CUBS BASERUNNING MISADVENTURES:
Jose Paniagua was thrown out 9-4-5 when he overran 3rd base after two-out triple in the 5th