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
Arizona Phil 18 hours 2 sec 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 18 hours 15 min ago (view)
Cubs minor league RHRP Ben Hecht (Cubs 2017 12th round pick - Wichita State) had TJS a couple of days ago.
videographer 21 hours 14 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 13 hours ago (view)
The rush to 70 players.
Arizona Phil 1 day 13 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 16 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 17 hours ago (view)
Jay Jaffe has a timely argument against the runner on second rule over at fangraphs: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-runner-on-second-i...
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 20 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 20 hours ago (view)
well that sucked.
2-game sweep, 2 games under .500
crunch 1 day 21 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 23 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 10 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. https://www.bleachernation.com/cubs/2021/05/11/cub...
crunch 2 days 16 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 16 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 19 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 19 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.