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):
AZL CUBS LINEUP:
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)
AZL CUBS PITCHERS:
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)
AZL CUBS ERRORS: NONE
AZL CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Tyler Payne: 1-2 CS
Arizona Phil 7 hours 26 min ago (view)
For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.
As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later.
Arizona Phil 8 hours 17 min ago (view)
In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:
RHP Josh Burgmann
RHP Chris Clarke
LHP D. J. Herz
RHP Michael McAvene
Charlie 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 1 day 10 hours ago (view)
I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump.
crunch 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
iapoce expected to stay. i'm surprised. i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.
crunch 2 days 34 min ago (view)
i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 44 min ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 51 min ago (view)
Cubs fire asst. hitting coach Terrmel Sledge. I knew it was his fault!
crunch 2 days 51 min ago (view)
shout out to 1999 1st base gold glove winner rafael palmeiro. 25 starts (28 games total) at 1st...128 starts at DH.
Charlie 3 days 2 hours ago (view)
Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.
crunch 3 days 4 hours ago (view)
RF Jason Heyward, SS Javier Baez, 2B Nico Hoerner, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, and Ps Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills gold glove finalists
bradsbeard 3 days 8 hours ago (view)
Thank you, sir! Sounds like a nice get for the Cubs, and a good project for (what's left of) the new development infrastructure.
Arizona Phil 3 days 9 hours ago (view)
There have been some holes in the AZIL east-side schedule, with one team canceling games last week (although they are back playing this week) and another canceling game this week due to CoViD-19 issue, so the other teams (like the Cubs) are making up some of the "lost" games with intrasquad and in-house "sim" games.
Arizona Phil 3 days 10 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: From what I have seen of Jacob Wetzel so far (BP, fielding practice, base-running drills, sim games, AZIL games, and yesterday's intasquad game), I would say he looks like a football running back playing baseball in that he has a high motor and plays with a bit of an edge.
He has a thick body but he also has plus speed (very much like a football running back in that respect), he runs the bases aggressively, makes hard contact, has HR power, a decent arm, maybe can use some work in the outfield as far as tracking balls.
bradsbeard 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
Phil, curious if you've seen enough of Jacob Wetzel to offer an initial scouting report. Just from watching some prep video he looked pretty strong and fairly athletic (HS football player and all). Impressive numbers albeit in community college, but he was a division 1 recruit before that so he's pretty intriguing to me.
KingKongvsGodzilla 5 days 21 hours ago (view)
AZPhil, thank you for these updates! It's a nice little pick me up during this dumb year. If you have anything to say on Yohendrick Pinango, Joel Machado, Rafael Morel, or Richard Gallardo, I would love to hear it! Thanks again!