AZL Cubs Relentless Attack too Much for A's

Robert Garcia (two singles, a double, and a home run) reached base four times, scored three runs, and drove-in three more, Wladimir Galindo and Joey Martarano collected three hits a piece and drove-in three runs between them (Martarano with a sharply-hit opposite-field RBI ground single to right through the 3.5 hole in the top of the 1st inning to get things started, and Galindo with a line-drive two-run single drilled to center to cap a five-run 3rd), and 13 of the first 15 Cubs batters reached base (although two were thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double and another was CS), helping the AZL Cubs take an 8-4 lead through three innings en route to a 10-4 victory over the AZL Athletics in Arizona League action last night at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ. 

Robert Garcia has been like a man possessed over the first two weeks of AZL play, hitting 400/447/557 and leading the team in BAvg, OBP, SLG, triples, runs, and RBI, running the bases with elan (albeit perhaps sometimes with just a bit too much elan), and making outstanding plays in the outfield (both in RF and CF). He's probably the fastest player on the AZL Cubs, and he usually tries to bunt for a hit at least once each game. But he also has occasional HR power (as displayed last night), and with his speed he can turn a single into a double or a double into a triple without a lot of strain.

Garcia was signed by the Cubs in July 2013, and led the DSL Cubs in hitting (.316) last season. He struggled in Extended Spring Training at the outset of this season, however, hitting just 214/250/333 with no walks and 12 K in 44 PA. Despite the EXST struggles, it appeared that the 21-year old switch-hitter would make the Eugene roster as the Emeralds "4th OF" just on the strength of his speed and outfield defense alone, but then he was left behind at the last minute when it was decided that the Emeralds would carry a third catcher (Alberto Mineo) instead of a fourth outfielder. 

RHSP Austyn Willis got the start for the Cubs and struggled to throw strikes. He worked only three innings before he was relieved, allowing four runs (all earned) on three hits (two singles and a double), four walks, and an HBP. Willis needed 72 pitches (only 50% strikes) to get through the three innings, including a 25-pitch bottom of the 1st, a 29-pitch bottom of the 2nd, and an 18-pitch bottom of the 3rd. Willis struggled similarly last Saturday night versus the Giants in Scottsdale, and the sudden diffuculty he has throwing strikes is inconsistent with the excellent strike zone command he displayed throughout Extended Spring Training and in his first AZL start on Opening Day on June 18th.

LHP Carlos Rodriguez followed Willis to the mound and worked four shutout innings, after allowing ten runs over 3.2 IP in his previous outing. Rodriguez is the classic soft-tossing lefty "dart-thrower" (mid-80's fastball  curve, and change-up) who tries to paint the corners and change the eye-level of the hitters, but always by throwing strikes. In fact, Rodriguez throws a very high-percentage of strikes (70% last night, and 73% in the game in which he allowed ten runs), and hitters often make hard contact against him. Despite not allowing a run, there were several "loud outs" last night, and it's not unusual for him to get whacked around in one inning and then sail through the next one 1-2-3. (In his last outing, Rodriguez allowed six runs on two singles, a double, a triple, and a home run and a walk in his first inning, then he retired nine men in a row, and then he allowed four more runs on three singles and a home run before being relieved),

I have seen every single outing by Mark Malave since he became a pitcher at the start of Minor League Camp ("live" BP, "sim" games, intrasquad games, Cactus League EXST games, and AZL Games), and last night's was the best I have seen so far (two shutout innings, no hits, one walk, and five strikeouts). Malave doesn't throw especially hard (his fastball tops out at 90-91 MPH), but when he can spot his fastball and use it to set-up his breaking ball, his plus-curve is a swing & miss pitch.  

Two 2015 Cub draft picks made their professional game debut last night. 

Donnie Cimino (37th round pick - Weslyan U.) got the start in LF, hit 8th, and went 1-5. He swung late and fisted an opposite-field bloop single into short-right his first time up, then flied out to center, struck out twice (both times swinging), and grounded out 4-3. Truth be told, the two-time NESCAC batting champion looked a bit overmatched. Perhaps he hasn't found his rhythm yet. He can play LF just fine, but it appears that he doesn't have enough speed to play CF or the arm to play RF (at least not from what I have seen in work-outs or in last night's game). 

After working as a bullpen catcher for the past week or so, Marcus Mastrobuoni (25th round pick - Cal State Stanislaus) finally got to play in a game, getting the start behind the plate and hitting 9th in the batting order. He went hitless in four Plate Appearances, but with two walks and two runs scored. He is a patient hitter with a good eye, and he's a fly ball hitter without HR power. He has below-average speed on the bases, so it's probably good that he tends to hit balls in the air rather than on the ground. He has a slightly above-average arm and OK receiving skills behind the plate, but nothing extraordinary.

Both Cimino and Mastrobuoni were drafted as college seniors from D-2 (Mastrobuoni) or D-3 (Cimino) schools, so while they are mature and polished, they will likely have a tough climb up the ladder.  

Speaking of Cubs 2015 draft picks, 24th round pick Sutton Whiting (U. of Louisville), who had to leave Thursday night's game after crashing into the LF fence whiling chasing a fly ball, did not lose consciousness and tested negative for a concussion. The 23-year old speedy switch-hitter was rewarded for his gritty max-effort by getting bumped-up to Eugene, so congratulations to Sutton Whiting, and try not to run into any more outfield fences.   

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

1. Robert Garcia, RF: 4-5 (1B, 1B, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, CS)
2. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-5 (1B, 1B, E-4, F-8, L-6, 2 R, RBI, 2 SB)
3. Wladimir Galindo, 3B: 3-5 (1B, 1B, F-9, 1B, 6-3, R, 2 RBI)
4. Joey Martarano, 1B: 3-6 (1B, K, 1B, K, 1B, RBI)
5. Alex Bautista, DH: 1-5 (6-3, 1B, P-4, K, F-9, RBI)
6. Roberto Caro, CF: 1-4 (1B, BB, F-8, 6-3, 4-3) 
7. Carlos Jimenez, SS: 0-5 (E-7, P-4, 4-3, P-4, K, R)
8. Donnie Cimino, LF: 1-5 (1B, F-8, K, K, 4-3, R)
9. Marcus Mastrobuoni, C: 0-2 (BB, F-9, BB, F-8, 2 R)

1. Austyn Willis: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 3/5 GO/FO, 72 pitches (36 strikes) 
2. Carlos Rodriguez: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 5/4 GO/FO, 53 pitches (37 strikes) 
3. Mark Malave: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 BALK, 0/1 GO/FO, 40 pitches (24 strikes) 


1. Joey Martarano was thrown-out 9-6 trying to stretch a single into a double 
2. Robero Caro was thrown out 9-6 trying to stretch a single into a double


Does anyone know what injuries Blackburn and Skulina are dealing with?

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  • crunch 16 hours 15 min ago (view)

    kolten wong rumors heating up for the cubs, too.  i could live with that.  giving nico hoerner 600 ab's a year sounds absolutely terrible after what little he did last year.


  • Cubster 18 hours 31 min ago (view)

    WSCR online reporting that the Cubs are going to watch lefty Carlos Rondon pitch. They desperately need another lefty that breaks down with the regularity of my Comcast service. 


  • crunch 18 hours 45 min ago (view)

    imagine being so toxic that you go from a no-doubt 1st or 2nd year HOF'r to having to try for it in your 10th year...and then imagine doubling down on the toxicity every chance you get a chance to redeem yourself.

    every time he's called out, even for minor stuff, he piles on more and then complains that people that have an issue with him are "cancelling" him for no good reason.

    he deleted a slew of "those people that stormed the capital are great people" posts pre-election so he has some kind of self-awareness in that skull of his somewhere.


  • Cubster 19 hours 20 min ago (view)

    I'm all for removing him from the ballot. His bloody sock already made it. That was enuf.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 51 min ago (view)

    Ranting about how the elections (both his and the other clown's) were stolen.

    I hope he ends up one vote short next year, just to really rub it in.


  • crunch 21 hours 51 min ago (view)

    currently he's throwing a tantrum and demanding to be removed from the HOF ballot for 2022.


  • Hagsag 23 hours 52 min ago (view)

    Will Schilling storm the HOF with a mob?


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    schilling denied (71.1%, 16 votes short).

    some people did nazi that coming.

    no one inducted this year...aram got 1% of the vote so he found more than 1 vote out there (4 votes).  latroy hawkins got 2 votes for being a solid dude to other people (very friendly with the press and pretty much everyone)...sosa got 17% of the vote...

    schilling/bonds/clemens are going in their last eligible class in 2022...could be a hell of a "controversial" class...but bonds/clemens need to find 50+ votes.


  • Sonicwind75 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    Arizona is allowing fans in the stands for indoor NHL hockey games but it's too dangerous to let players following protocals; at least more so than hockey fans, to practice outside in a controlled environment.  Wonder how much of that is coming from MLB ownership trying to get a late start and pro-rating player salaries. Stall and save some money until more fans are allowed to attend later in the year. 


  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    few hours away from HOF announcements (6pm EST, unless leaked early).

    schilling seems to be the only guy with a legit shot this year and i wouldn't be surprised to see no one get elected...

    big up aramis rarmirez getting at least 1 known vote on publically shared ballots.


  • crunch 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    "MLB will hold its first-ever pre-draft combine from June 20-28 in Cary, North Carolina.

    The combine will take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, with top draft-eligible college and high school players invited. As part of the combine, the top-88 prep players will take part in a tournament through June 26th consisting of eight games."


  • crunch 2 days 16 hours ago (view)

    cactus league officials are requesting MLB delay spring training because of elevated COVID cases + deaths.

    their summer peak was 70-80 deaths a week and they're currently at 140-160 deaths a week.

    things should be trending down now that most of people that wanted to kill relatives in order to have turkey dinners in NOV/DEC seems to have peaked.


  • Hagsag 3 days 13 hours ago (view)

    $$$$ for trump's defense fund.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 13 hours ago (view)

    But they got $600 a few months back. Each! That was an unexpected windfall.

    Can't wait to see us acquire a 17 year old, 16 year old, 11 year old (all in the 15-30 range of Blue Jays prospects) and one of the shitty Jays surplus OFs. Randal Grichuk jerseys will be the new hot item among Cubs fans.


  • crunch 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    things are a little tight, we have to be patient with the ricketts family finances.

    when TD Ameritrade was fully/completely sold in october they expected to get 26 billion dollars of value on the transaction, but it only got 22 billion dollars.  the massive slew of millions that didn't fully come to realization on the ricketts side of that sale stings.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Trade Hendricks? Cant be true. We're "going to be competitive this year."

    Sell the team, Ricketts family.