Cease Makes Snakes Desist Scoring Runs at Sloan Park
Alex Bautista slugged a two-run HR over the bullpen and onto the LF berm and Dylan Cease tossed three innings of shutout ball, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Diamondbacks 2-1 in Arizona League action Thursday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.
A Brooklyn native, 21-year old Victor Alexis "Alex" Bautista was the Cubs 22nd round draft pick out of Lindsey Wilson College (located in rural Kentucky, just down the road from the Dreamland Motel), and was a first-team NAIA All-American at LWC in 2015 after hitting a slick 371/466/728 with 19 HR & 72 RBI, 13 doubles, and 27 SB (9 CS) in 60 games (251 PA) for the Blue Raiders.
Bautista hit the game-winnig HR, but Robert Garcia went 4-4 for the Cubs, collecting four singles (including two bunt singles) to raise his batting average to .403 (good for second-best in the AZL). The 21-year old speedy switch-hitter almost always bunts once each game, but this time he decided to do it twice (and was successful both time). He is a real pain-in-the-ass to the opposition. Not satisfied with the four hits, Garcia also made two nice running catches in CF (he is an outstanding "flyhawk").
While AZL Cubs SP Dylan Cease did throw three shutout innings, he also continued to struggle a bit with command, throwing over 90% fastballs (35 out of his 38 pitches were fastballs) but only 53% for strikes, Still, he managed to work out of trouble in all three innings (he allowed a single, a double, two walks, and a wild pitch over the course of his outing), and was able to induce a high-percentage of ground balls (6/1 GO/FO) as well. He worked his fastball at 92-95 MPH in his first inning, and then got serious and elevated the FB velocity up to his more-typical 95-97 in his second and third innings.
RHP Trey McNutt (2014 shoulder surgery) had a poor outing (16 pitches - only 7 strikes), allowing a solo HR to the first man he faced (Ismael Pena) and then hitting two batters later in the inning. Now 25 (he turns 26 next month), McNutt's fastball continues to top out well below his one-time 96 MPH heater (it's 90-91 MPH at-best these days) and his once wipe-out slider is now a low-80's "show-me" breaking ball. McNutt is eligible to be a Rule 55 Minor League Free-agent (6YFA) post-2015, unless the Cubs offer him a 2016 minor league successor contract (and he accepts).
LHP (ex-OF) Ariel Ovando followed McNutt to the mound and worked ar 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. The 6'4 240+ Dominican was signed by the Houston Astros as a 16-year old slugging outfielder in 2010 (he received a $2.6M bonus, an Astro club-record IFA bonus at the time), but failed to develop as a hitter and was selected by the Cubs in the AAA Phase of the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft after Houston left him unprotected. The Cubs converted Ovando to a LHP at Minor League Camp this past March, but he did not pitch in any Minor League Camp games or Extended Spring Training games. He made his pro game debut as a pitcher versus the AZL Diamondbacks on June 23rd, and since then has allowed just one run on five hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts in 7.0 IP. But he doesn't rack-up the punch-outs with gas. Rather, Ovando mixes a mid-80's fastball with a slow curve (and a bit of decption), and in the process drives opposing hitters into raving, drooling, incontinent lunatics, crawling back to the bench with incredulous expressions on their faces that can best be described as grotesque.
Two more 2015 Cubs draft picks (both pitchers) made their pro debut in the game, as RHP Kyle Miller (19th round - Florida Atlantic) and RHP Scott Effross (15th round - Indiana U.) hurled an inning a piece. Effross throws harder than Miller (low 90's for Effross, upper 80's for Miller), and Effross also features a more-polished repertoire. While both pitchers are 21 (Miller is a week older than Effross), Miller appears to be more of a "project" at this point (he's a beanpole 6'2 165), while Effross should move quickly up the pipeline.
RHP Luis Hernandez collected the fairly rare two-inning save by protecting a narrow one-run lead in the 8th & 9th, easily retiring all six men he faced (striking out the last two). The 20-year old 6'5 Hernandez had a mediocre year last season with the AZL Cubs (5.11 ERA and 1.42 WHIP while moving back & forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation), and he did not pitch at Extended Spring Training this year. (He just began to throw bullpen sessions in mid-June). But since returning to game action earlier this month, Hernandez has thrown harder & harder each time, to where his fastball now runs the rails at 94-96 MPH. He mixes the upscale heater with an OK curve that keeps hitters off-balance, and so far he has been very effective in AZL games (he has yet to allow a run). This recent uptick in fastball velocity is especially noteworthy (and a bit odd), because Hernandez was throwing only 90-92 at Minor League Camp in March, before being shut-down for three months.
Here is the abridged box score from Thursday night's game (Cubs players only):
AZL CUBS LINEUP:
1. Robert Garcia, CF: 4-4 (1B, 1B, 1B+E5, 1B, SB)
2. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 0-4 (6-3, 6-4-3 DP, 4-3, 3-U)
3. Michael Foster, LF: 1-4 (L-9, 1B, F-9, K, R)
4. Alex Bautista, RF: 1-4 (K, HR, 5-3, 3-1, R, 2 RBI)
5. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 1-3 (1B, 5-3, 3-U)
6. Tyler Payne, DH: 0-3 (E-5, K, K)
7. Jhonny Pereda, C: 0-3 (6-4-3 DP, L-8, P-3)
8. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 0-3 (6-3, F-9, L-4)
9. Carlos Jimenez, 3B: 1-3 (K, 6-3, 1B)
AZL CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Dylan Cease: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (20 strikes)
2. Trey McNutt: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP, 1 HR, 0/2 GO/FO, 16 pitches (7 strikes)
3. Ariel Ovando: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (7 strikes)
4. Kyle Miller: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 2/0 GO/FO, 13 pitches (7 strikes)
5. Scott Effross: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 10 pitches (8 strikes)
6. Luis Hernandez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/3 GO/FO, 31 pitches (20 strikes)
AZL CUBS ERRORS: NONE
AZL CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Jhonny Pereda: 1-1 CS
JustSayin' 11 hours 54 min ago (view)
I think what your saying applies to all franchises in all big-time team sports. The virus is asymptomatic in many carriers. The national positive test % rate is mid/high single digits. If your pro sports franchise does 3-4 x better than that, it still means some players and coaches will test positive and things will grind to a partial or complete halt. At least baseball didn't try to "bubble" in AZ and FL, which are looking like two of the worst (and worst-led) states in which to be located at the currrent stage of the pandemic.
crunch 12 hours 54 min ago (view)
rizzo took BP and did some field work today. also, almora is good to go...he ran into a wall on friday and got a little banged up.
Cubster 20 hours 13 min ago (view)
Aroldis Chapman is now Covid positive with mild symptoms
crunch 1 day 8 hours ago (view)
the COVID-Division should be fun.
teams from TX, AZ, CA, WA, and CO exclusively playing each other... CO is all "wtf, really?"
Cubster 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
...and so it goes (per Roto): Astros general manager James Click wrote in a statement that a member of the staff "was potentially exposed to a COVID-positive individual outside the organization.” The team is working with MLB and team doctors on testing protocol and cleaning before resuming workouts.
Does the visiting team bring a Covid positive bio-weapon to the player's parking lot?
Charlie 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
I've been wondering how this would proceed. Since teams will have to figure out how existing contracts will be paid, I thought there was a *chance* they would proceed with free agency as usual and plan for payment under potential shortened seasons would just be figured out in negotiations with the MLBPA. But that was probably an overly optimistic thought.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
Meanwhile Theo shoots down any potential of extension talks. I get that it's a crazy time financially in baseball, but it's really gonna suck when all these players leave after 21 and 22.
Cubster 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
WSox Michael Kopech has opted out of 2020. I didn't see a disclosed reason yet but he is recovering from TJ S
crunch 2 days 16 hours ago (view)
buster posey (SF) opting out of 2020...recently adopted twin daughters who were born premature.
Cubster 3 days 20 hours ago (view)
per Tribune: Kimbrel's OK, just working on his changeup (formerly his fastball).
Arizona Phil 4 days 9 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have released RHRP (and their erstwhile closer) Brandon Morrow. There is no indication that they plan to re-sign him to another (different) 2020 minor league contract without the Article XX-B $100K retention bonus provision (as happened with Jason Kipnis last week).
crunch 4 days 12 hours ago (view)
rizzo takes another day off (lower back). ross says the club is "exercising caution."
klye ryan is expected to join the team tomorrow after some mysterious holdup.
Ryno 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
Has anyone seen Darvish's pitch "The Supreme"? Isn't it just a sinker?
Ryno 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
In other words: This lineup sucks.
Arizona Phil 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
Jason Kipnis was released on June 29th and then he was re-signed to a new (different) 2020 minor league contract that does not require a $100K retention bonus if he is not added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 2020 MLB Opening Day (7/23).
Brandon Morrow remains on his original 2020 minor league contract which pays him a $100K retention bonus if he is not released by 7/18 or added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 7/23.
Eric S 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
There is that re Kimbrel - at worst, just another year on the books.
July 1st is Bobby Bonilla Day - the day that check is cut and paid annually.