Higgins, Willis, and Dwyer Recipe for Success for AZL Cubs
P. J. Higgins (Cubs 2015 12th round draft pick - Old Dominion U.) drilled three singles, drove-in two runs, stole a base, and scored twice, leading the AZL Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the AZL Giants in Arizona League action Sunday night at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale, AZ.
Ben Carhart (on Myrtle Beach 7-day DL) made his first game appearance since May 31st, playing 1B for five innings and going 2-3 at the plate, He ripped a line-drive RBI single over the shortstop's head to drive-in the AZL Cubs first run in his first AB in the top of the 1st, and doubled off the centerfield fence and scored a run in the top of the 5th.
RHP Austyn Willis got the start for the AZL Cubs, working five innings and allowing one run on four hits (including a routine fly ball that was misplayed into a double by leftfielder Jose Paniagua). Willis did not rack up any strikeouts, but he did have one of the most efficient outings by an AZL starter I have seen in a long time, getting through five innings on just 52 pitches (only 10.4 pitches-per-inning) while throwing 40 strikes (that's 77% strikes, way above average). He worked quickly, effectively mixing his fastball, curve and change-up. He also showed-off a nice pick-off move, hanging a Giant baserunner out-to-dry at 1st base to end the bottom of the 3rd.
LHRP Heath Dwyer (2015 NDFA - Virginia Commonwealth U.) earned the save, retiring seven of the eight batters he faced (four on strikes). Dwyer threw 31 pitches (26 strikes) over his 2.1 IP, which is an amazing 84% strikes, including 18 swinging strikes, all on a slow curve that the young AZL Giants hitters could not touch, even though they knew it was coming. Dwyer has a mediocre mid-80's fastball that he shows every now & then, but he throws his plus-curve over and over and over again (about 80% of the time, even to right-handed hitters), and why not if you get the numbers of swings & misses he gets with Uncle Charlie. It might not play at the upper levels (time will tell), but in the AZL, Heath Dwyer is "Captain Hook."
Here is the abridged box score from Sunday night's game (AZL Cubs players only) :
AZL CUBS LINEUP:
1. Robert Garcia, CF: 1-3 (1B, BB, K, 4-3, BB, R, CS)
2. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-5 (3-U, K, F-8, 1B, 1B, 2 RBI, SB)
3a. Ben Carhart, 1B: 2-3 (1B, 3-1, 2B, R, RBI)
3b. Angelo Amendolare, PH-LF: 0-2 (P-3, 1-2 FC)
4. Jose Paniagua, LF-1B: 1-4 (K, 2B, BB, 1-3, F-8, R, CS)
5. P. J. Higgins, 3B: 3-5 (P-4, 1B, 1B, 1B, 4-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB)
6. Michael Foster, RF: 0-4 (4-3, BB, K, 4-3, 1-3)
7. Varonex Cuevas, DH: 0-3 (3-1, BB, BB, K+WP, K)
8. Yohan Matos, C: 0-3 (5-3, HBP, 4-6 FC, K, R, RBI)
9. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 0-3 (K, K, HBP, 1-3, R)
AZL CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Austyn Willis: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 PO, 6/7 GO/FO, 52 pitches (40 strikes)
2. M. T. Minacci: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 35 pitches (22 strikes)
3. Heath Dwyer: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GO/FO, 31 pitches (26 strikes)
AZL CUBS ERRORS: 1
C Yohan Matos: E-2 (overthrow at 1st base on bunt single allowed batter to advance to 2nd base)
AZL CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Yohan Matos: 1 PB, 1 E (see above)
AZL CUBS OUTFIELD ASSISTS:
CF Robert Garcia - threw out baserunner 8-5 attempting to advance from 2nd to 3rd on F-8 fly out
Charlie 3 hours 58 min ago (view)
Honestly, Urias guessed wrong on that one. But he stilled managed to make contact despite being way out in front, so that breaker must have rolled.
Charlie 4 hours 12 sec ago (view)
KB having a perfectly adequate KB stretch and it's a highlight. Sigh.
Chafin may be reconsidering that jalopie after being the man on the mound when the wheels fell off in this one.
crunch 4 hours 59 min ago (view)
i know we're only 10 games in and you can't get good numbers on that, but this is a full-team hitting slump aside from marisnick and his 12 PA.
no one on this team is this bad, but all of them doing it at once is crazy. bad ABs, tons of swings and misses, crap contact...
upon reflection (and another hit in the 9th) i need to give props to k.bryant...he's a 1-man show right now for the regulars.
Eric S 5 hours 46 min ago (view)
I can pause it for pinch hitting - otherwise I'm locked in as there's nothing else to see here
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 hours 50 min ago (view)
Me too, Eric Sogard
Eric S 5 hours 57 min ago (view)
Well, Chafin ... not your night I guess ... looks like its time to catch up on the latest installment of Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Dolorous Jon Lester 6 hours 18 sec ago (view)
It's kinda starting to feel like this team sucks? But yes this game definitely sucks.
crunch 6 hours 3 min ago (view)
justin steele warming...seems like his debut is on tap.
also, this game sucks.
Eric S 6 hours 5 min ago (view)
Luis Urias is not impressed 😩
crunch 8 hours 42 min ago (view)
steele, wieck, and strop called up.
btw, strop is a "replacement player" in this move and isn't subject to 40-man roster waiver rules
crunch 9 hours 8 min ago (view)
cubs covid...chris young tested positive. j.adam, d.winkler, and b.workman are now on the "injured list"
Charlie 9 hours 33 min ago (view)
Sorry that I couldn't access things for opening day and then got busy for the next couple series. Glad to have a baseball routine to share with you all again!
Sonicwind75 10 hours 5 min ago (view)
Guessing I'm a little late to the game on this; but just read Chafin's twitter about wanting to buy a cheap car to drive around Chicago. He seems like a good dude.
Arizona Phil 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
RHSP Duncan Robinson (June 2019 TJS) has retired.
Arizona Phil 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
Rex Brothers and Tony Wolters reached five years of MLB Service Time this weekend, so Brothers now cannot be sent outright to the minors without his consent (he is out of minor league options) and Wolters (who has a minor league option left) now cannot be optioned or outrighted to the minors without his consent.
Arizona Phil 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
It's not good to play bad teams early because they have the confidence and energy they won't have later in the season after they realize they suck and all is lost.