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 7 hours 48 min ago (view)

    don't worry, i'm sure even though he was spared from cuts there's some hardship he's being tortured with that he has to unfairly overcome.  #coreystrong #onthecross #yolo #swag #kony2012


  • crunch 7 hours 49 min ago (view)

    there's no way a system like that or something similar to that would work.

    "oh hi." - green bay packers

    *shoves out of way*

    like i said, there's no way that would work.


  • Hagsag 10 hours 45 min ago (view)

    Corey Black still has a job.


  • Charlie 10 hours 53 min ago (view)

    I am ready for MLB owners to give it a f***ing rest. I don't have any outrage to spare on them.

    If they can't afford this crisis, maybe they can surrender franchise rights to the players, grounds crew, concession employees, etc., and MLB teams can be employee owned.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 15 hours 7 min ago (view)

    Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.


  • JustSayin' 23 hours 35 min ago (view)

    These players weren't cut/released; laid off is more like it. Fifty-two minor leaguers let go before any real games played, in two waves. The draft will be five rounds this year, not forty.  This is industrial downsizing, anticipating no traditional season this year and capitulation to MLB demands for a much smaller minor league system in 2021.  Next year or 2022 could also see a labor stoppage in the big leagues, over what promises to be a very tough CBA negotiation.  The game will not be what it used to be after this.


  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    i don't blame the ownership/font office for doing what they did with bryant.  it was just kinda bad timing that bryant was the client that boras was finally "i'm sick of this" over.  the cubs were warned that boras was going to make a stand and it dragged on so long there has to be some kind of toll on the boras/cubs relationship.


  • bigsky33 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    Hi Phil, yes, hoping for an extended AZ Fall League.  Do you think there will be more cuts?  De La Cruz was the only big sureprise to me. I thought he had some upside. 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    It'll be more over when Kris leaves. Or whenever the same thing happens to another of his clients.

    He isn't wrong though...


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Presuming there is no traditional minor league season in 2020, expect an expanded Arizona Fall League (with potentially a new "Florida Fall League" as well) for the best prospects and expanded post-season instructs for other minor leaguers (all TBA). 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    My understanding is that the other two Cubs minor leaguers who are to be released are the two post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agents who signed 2020 minor league contracts, Brandon Morrow and Jason Kipnis. The Cubs will then supposedly re-sign them to new minor league contracts without the $100K retention bonus and 6/1 opt-out. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    CRUNCH: Agreed. Not counting the "4-A" guys, Oscar de la Cruz is the one legit MLB prospect on the list.  


  • crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view) la cruz had some decent looking spring outings (though late inning spring work isn't exactly challenging).  the years of injuries insanely slowed his progression.  totally wouldn't mind seeing him return in 2021 if the team would still be on his radar after getting cut at a time like this.


  • crunch 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    that whole "kris bryant thing" is over...but it's never going to be over as long as this ownership group and boras is around.

    boras could have focused this on 29 other teams, especially the more vocal ones because the cubs have been mostly silent.  the cubs aren't the only team out there paying off "creatively financed" loans, either.

    he chose the cubs.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Not looking forward to seeing that list. Hate to see it when a guy you've invested any sort of energy in is given up on.


  • Cubster 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Chi Tribune today. Boras picks, and focused on the Ricketts. 

    Headline writer, fun job: Agent won’t let Cubs get away Scott-free Matt York/AP and Paul Sullivan.

    Boras told his players “the game can not be played without you” and asked them to share the concept with teammates and opposing players when “MLB requests further concessions or deferral of salaries” during negotiations.