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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  • Arizona Phil 16 hours 54 min ago (view)

    VIDEO: Zach Davis and Rochest Cruz are (were) probably the two fastest players (sprint-speed on the bases) in the Cubs system (though not Cruz anymore, obviously). 


  • Arizona Phil 17 hours 9 min ago (view)

    Cubs minor league RHRP Ben Hecht (Cubs 2017 12th round pick - Wichita State) had TJS a couple of days ago. 


  • videographer 20 hours 9 min ago (view)

    Rochest Cruz had some success in the DSL a couple of years ago.  Too bad he didn't pan out.  Carlos Pacheco showed power numbers in the DSL two or three years ago along with a high K rate.


  • tim815 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    The rush to 70 players.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have released OF Luis Berrelleza, INF Rochest Cruz, LHP Misael Garcia, OF Orlando Guzman, C-1B Brayan Mancilla, RHP Yander Montero, OF Carlos Pacheco, and OF John Rodriguez. 


  • crunch 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    it screws up stats.  i know you play for wins/losses, but real money is on the line for players and makes agent/player homework selling their client a bit harder.

    it also makes historical comparisons difficult.

    the amount of time i've seen a fresh inning starting out...bunt guy to 3rd for an out, IBB, IBB is too high.  what would amount to a leadoff single following that can easily turn into 2 runs (1 earned) with guys on the corner...which usually leads to another IBB.


  • Charlie 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    Jay Jaffe has a timely argument against the runner on second rule over at fangraphs:

    I still don't know why we don't just have ties. Obviously, the Cubs could have dodged most of these situations by simply hitting a little bit during the regulation innings.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 19 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed free-agent RHSP Adrian Sampson to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa, and RHP Michael McAvene, LHP Jack Patterson, and OF Donnie Dewees have been placed on the 60-day IL to open up slots for Sampson, Trayce Thompson, and Kyle Ryan on the Cubs minor league 180-man Domestic Reserve List. 


  • crunch 1 day 19 hours ago (view)

    well that sucked.

    2-game sweep, 2 games under .500


  • crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    stumbled onto this today...clip from a 2019 ESPN broadcast game with boog, chipper jones, and david ross in the booth...

    boog used to call games for ATL, btw...


  • tim815 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    Someone on social media was floating Yoelqui Cespedes to the Cubs in a Bryant trade.

    I was clueless if it was permitted. It is.


  • Wrigley Rat 2 days 9 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have traded for outfielder Trayce Thompson, who was with the Diamondbacks at Triple-A, but is formerly of the big league White Sox, Dodgers, and A’s. The Diamondbacks are getting cash in the deal, which is a reflection of the reality that Thompson, 30, is a depth outfielder at this point in his career. Thompson is the younger brother of NBA star Klay Thompson.


  • crunch 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    i'd like to point out ross feels more comfortable with j.pederson and k.bryant in CF over j.heyward.

    watching heyward not just look human in the OF, but having a bit of a hard time is rough.  he's just not getting to stuff like he used to.


  • crunch 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    bryant out of the game for no apparent reason...that...doesn't seem good...

    he's "under the weather" according the clubhouse.  that's better than screwed up oblique or similar, at least.


  • crunch 2 days 18 hours ago (view)

    this shane bieber guy kinda sucks.  1 run in, bases loaded 0 outs.

    i hope 4-5 innings of alzolay and the 5 pen guys after him hold it down.

    ...hey wow, bases loaded 0 out turns into 0 runs...very cubs.


  • George Altman 2 days 18 hours ago (view)

    Baseball wants more offense, fans want more action -- limit pitching staffs to 12, ideally transition to 11 over a 3 year period. 

    Teams are asking RPs to throw only 45 pitches a week. Think about that.

    SPs who throw 175 IP/Yr will be museum pieces in 5 years.

    It's not shifts. Oh....and electronic Strike zones as soon as possible.