Baez Helps AZL Cubs Drub-Blank the Brew Crew

Javy Baez doubled, singled, walked, reached base on an HBP, and scored two runs, Roberrt Garcia singled twice, walked twice, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Carlos Sepulveda knocked-in four runs with a pair of two-run singles, and RHSP Austyn Willis hurled five innings of two-hit shutout ball and combined with three relievers to toss a five-hit shutout with eleven strikeouts, as the AZL Cubs whitewashed the AZL Brewers 11-0 in Arizona League action Saturday night at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, AZ. 

Baez (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL - broken left ring finger) continued his AZL Cubs rehab, serving as the DH and batting five times: 

1. Lined a double off the CF Batter's Eye on an 0-2 pitch with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the 1st inning; 

2. Fisted a broken-bat single over the shortstop's head and into the 6-7-8 triangle in short left-centerfield on a 2-1 pitch with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the 3rd inning, advanced to second base on a Michael Foster walk, and scored on a Jose Paniagua single, swiping his left hand (the one with the now-mended broken ring finger) across the plate as he slid home safely with the AZL Cubs second run of the game;

3. Drew a one-out four-pitch walk with a runner at 1st in the top of the 4th, and then went in hard at 2nd base to break-up what should have been an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP (Baez and Brewers second-baseman Daniel Leonardo exchanged a mutual "bro-pat" after the play, so apparently there were no hard feelings, even though Baez dumped Leonardo on his ass);  

4. Hit a towering pop-up that was caught by the Brewers second-baseman in short right-field on a 2-2 pitch with one out and the bases empty in the top of the 6th inning; The pop-up was hit so high that Baez was half-way between 1st & 2nd when the ball was caught. 

5. Was hit by a pitch on the upper back (between the shoulder blades) on a 3-0 pitch leading off the top of the 9th (so it would have been another four-pitch walk if he hadn't been hit by the pitch), and then he reached second base safely on an E-4 (missed catch by second-baseman) on what should have been an easy 6-4 FC... think maybe the second-baseman "heard footsteps," remembering Baez's hard-slide in the 4th?). Baez then moved up to third base on a walk, and scored on a wild pitch. He did not show any residual negative effect from the HBP as he ran the bases.    

Figuring it was his last AB of the night, the Rays and Red Sox scouts who are "birdogging" Baez left after he scored in the 9th, but as it turned out the Cubs sent 11 men to the plate in the inning and Baez's turn came up again. However, Varonex Cuevas pinch-hit for Baez, probably because Brewers pitcher Connor Baits (2015 33rd round draft pick - UCSB) had already hit two batters (including Baez leading-off the inning), walked three, and uncorked five wild pitches without retiring the side, and AZL Cubs Manager Carmelo Martinez probably didn't want to get blamed in case Baits hit Baez for a second time in the inning, maybe next time in the head. So Cuevas was sent up to hit as the "sacrificial lamb," except it so happened Baits was (finally) replaced at the same time that Cuevas was announced as the PH, so Baez could have safely squeezed-in a 6th AB after-all. (Connor Baits was the closer at UCSB this season prior to getting drafted by Milwaukee, but he has had Daniel Bard-like yips since signing. He was all over the place in the 9th inning. He could not find the strike zone, but he did find the screen behind home plate and a couple of Cubs hitters, and several of his pitches bounced halfway to home plate, or were sailed over batters heads, or even behind them a couple of times).  

A smiling and friendly Baez stood patiently on the concourse above the 1st base stands after the game and signed about a dozen autographs (everybody who asked for one), including bats, caps, baseballs, and cards. 

Word is Baez will play in one more AZL game (presumably Sunday night), and then head to Iowa. 

M. I. A. CF D. J. Wilson (Cubs 2015 4th round draft pick - Canton South HS - Canton, OH) has retuned to the AZL Cubs. While he did participate in pre-game drills (he played catch in the outfield), he was not in uniform (he was wearing a Cubs cap, t-shirt, and shorts). Then he sat on the bench during the game, but again, he was not dressed to play. The circumstances surrounding his ten-day absence remain elusive. 

Saturday night's game marked the conclusion of the "first-half" of Arizona League play. The AZL Cubs finished 14-13, 1.5 GB the AZL Angels in the AZL East.

The three "first half" division winners (AZL Angels, AZL Royals, and AZL White Sox) have qualified for the AZL post-season play-offs, with the three "second-half" division winners (TBD) also qualifying. If a team finishes first in its division in both the "first half" and the "second half," the team with the best overall record (both halves) that did not finish first in a division in either the "first half" or "second half" qualifies.

When the second half of the AZL regular season concludes on August 29th, the two teams with the best overall record (both halves) get a bye, and the other four teams play a single-elimination game (quarter-finals). The winning teams from the two quarter-final games then play a single-elimination game versus the two teams with the best overall records (semi-finals), and the two survivors play in a championship game.

There are no multi-game series in the AZL playoffs, just single-elimination games. So unlike the MLB post-season, the entire process takes three days to complete... it's just wham, bam, thank you ma'am. 

Here is the abridged box score from Saturday night's game (AZL Cubs players only): 

1. Robert Garcia, RF: 2-4 (1B, 1-3, 1B, 4-3, BB, BB, 2 R, RBI, SB)
2. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-6 (L-6 DP, 4-3, 1B, 6-3, 3-U, 1B, 4 RBI)
3a. Javy Baez, DH: 2-3 (2B, 1B, BB, P-4, HBP, 2 R)
3b. Varonex Cuevas, PH: 1-1 (2B) 
4. Michael Foster, CF: 0-5 (5-3, BB, 6-4 FC, K, E-4, F-9, R, SB)
5. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 1-5 (P-3, 1B, P-6, K, K, RBI)
6. P. J. Higgins, 3B: 1-4 (3B, K, P-6, P-4, BB, 2 R)
7. Angelo Amendolare, LF: 1-2 (1B, HBP, BB, E-6, HBP, 2 R, RBI, CS)
8. Tyler Payne, C: 1-5 (2-U, 6-3, 1B, F-7, P-3)
9. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 0-3 (L-7, HBP, 1-5 FC, F-9, BB, 2 R)

1. Austyn Willis: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 6/3 GO/FO, 61 pitches (40 strikes)
2. Luis Hernandez: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 17 pitches (9 strikes) 
3. Craig Brooks: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (9 strikes)
4. Ariel Ovando: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (9 strikes) 


Tyler Payne: 1-2 CS 


I still believe that Baez will wind up being the best of the Cubs young stable.

Wow, bold statement.

i agree with him...and i'll double down and say mike olt will eventually be the cubs career leader in saves after he converts to a pitcher...and milton bradley will become manager after joe leaves the job in 2055...and kyle schwarber will win a gold glove at C. seriously, though...if he ever gets consistent with his bat anywhere but his power he has the potential to be one of the best of the crew, but with what he's shown so far a lot of us would be happy with simply average skills combined with his power+D. i see him more as a greater-K/greater-power jj hardy type right now, but at least there's room for him to be something more as a ceiling.

Frankly, I would kill for a Javy Baez who puts up only a 14.9% K rate over his career. Averaging a 3.4 WAR over the next four seasons (Hardy's WAR over the last four years) wouldn't be bad, either.

and then went in hard at 2nd base to break-up what should have been an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP --- AZ Phil: Feet first slide I presume. Did he slide feet first into home? Still fearless, yes. But did he learn a lesson from his broken finger?

CUBSTER: Baez slid feet-first all three times (twice at 2nd & once at home). The slide at home was the one where a player slides toward the 3rd base bench side of the plate and drags his left hand across the plate. The slide where he took-out the Brewer second-baseman was perhaps a trifle late, but Leonardo didn't seem too upset (although he did drop a catch for a crtical E-4 the next time Baez was on 1st base and headed for 2nd). I think the head-first slide is used more when a player is trying to steal a base, and Baez has not tried to steal any bases down here (yet).  

Even though he was the DH, Baez was unusually intense (even for him) last night and he played really hard, like he was a man possessed. He sat on the bench alone during pre-game warm-ups and only came out at the very end for a couple of minutes of stretching and wind sprints. Otherwise he sat quietly on the bench alone before the game, like he was praying or meditating or putting himself into a trance. Also, his mother was at the game, sittring in the front row behind the 1st base dugout. 

Looks like Javy now pulled out the missing stolen base from his toolbox. Stole 3rd after a single and advancing on a single. Head or Feet first on his slide? I think most stolen 3rd base attempts are head first, no? Go Javy Go.

Thanks, Phil. You answered in the new thread.

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  • crunch 1 hour 24 min ago (view)

    3 dot crew represent.  i didn't have an opinion, but now i'm 100% on board.


  • Charlie 1 hour 32 min ago (view)

    I agree on most of this, but I especially support three fillable dots for the outs--and fill in the third before cutting to a commercial!

    Not doing homework on the players in a Spring Training broadcast is pretty forgiveable, but ESPN is really bad about it pretty much all year. It would be nice if they made a habit of picking up a local color commentator and sort of interviewing them throughout games.


  • George Altman 5 hours 35 min ago (view)

    The single thing I want in a sports broadcast is to become smarter about the sport,  to learn something from the broadcast crew.

    Stone does that, Romo does that, Eddie O on hockey, and that's about it. I watch sporting events with the sound down very low or off. I forgot more about baseball than most broadcasters will ever know, and I'm always shocked when I see something in a football game that the crew doesn't,  and I know about NOTHING about football. 


  • First.Pitch.120 7 hours 55 min ago (view)

    Also... what is with only having 2 dots as the outs counter? I know that you don't really need the 3rd dot, but I find it counter-intuitive. If the dots fill in, then only having 2 throws me off b/c it's natural to subitize "3" associated with outs. You quickly see 0/3, 1/3, 2/3.  If the graphic does not have fill-in dots, then just put the #.  eg - OUTS: 1  It's minimalism for the sake of minimalism, not graphic design for effective communication.


  • crunch 8 hours 26 min ago (view)

    tight shots + insane amount of screen real estate being taken up with graphics is a bit of a plague...especially the ones with a non-stop bottom news ticker.


  • First.Pitch.120 8 hours 48 min ago (view)

    General comment on baseball broadcasting... I think that the color comentator (CC) needs to talk about 30% more & the PBP about 30% less. I would love a more stream of consciousness from the CC outlining what they would be looking for in a given situation. To that end, why not have 2 CC for national broadcasts - one a pitcher & one a position player. Would love for them to banter back & forth on micro strategy from their perspectives. I think this would turn the game's pauses between action into more of an asset.


  • crunch 10 hours 12 min ago (view)

    brews sign j.bradley 2/24m...decent deal for a quality CF'r.  he can opt out of the 2nd year.


  • crunch 10 hours 52 min ago (view)

    the national broadcasts on ESPN suffer badly from a lack of "homework" on the teams they're covering.

    yesterday i heard more riffing between the announcers about each other more than the players.  the only thing that saved them from more of that and dead air was in-progress action and player interviews (too many player interviews, but it's spring so whatever).


  • Hagsag 13 hours 27 min ago (view)

    Not impressed with ESPN's broadcast. I like Mendoza's work, but how many kids did we have to see rolling around the grass. Good day to see some young players ,but half the time you had no idea who was batting or pitching.


  • crunch 22 hours 19 min ago (view)

    cubs game totally not a delay broadcast for ESPN...thanks for that gem heyward.

    dunno if they'll be printing up any "You better have your shit in line" t-shirts, but it's as least as good as "Try not to suck"


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 19 min ago (view)

    Jason Adam is another who throws short arm. I don't think he was a position player, but maybe falls into the arm injury category?


  • Sonicwind75 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    Thanks Phil, these pitching summaries are great!


  • Eric S 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    Thanks, AZ Phil.  Looks like a better use of the off-season by Maples than Carl Jr's hop-in-delivery was a few years ago - and not against the rules either. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Even though he is signed to a minor lesague contract and is not on the MLB 40-man roster right now, I would think Eric Sogard is a virtual lock to make the Cubs Opening Day Active List 26-man roster. 

    The Cubs were reportedly looking to sign a left-handed hitting second-baseman, and Sogard certainly fits that description. And unlike Jason Kipnis, Sogard has the versatility to play 3B and SS as well as 2B. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    ERIC: Just as you said, the short-arm technique can improve command, hopefully without impacting the quality of a pitcher's stuff.

    Based on what I saw yesterday, Maples' stuff is as good as ever, and his command was better, too. Hopefully it will continue, because he probably has the best pure stuff on the staff. Command has always been the problem.  


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    CUBSTER: Unless there is a wave of pitcher injuries in Spring Training I would think Shelby Miller will probably begin the season at AAA (or at the ATS, since the start of the AAA season is supposely going to be delayed) where he can get stretched out.