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
Cubster 4 hours 42 min ago (view)
per Tribune: Kimbrel's OK, just working on his changeup (formerly his fastball).
Arizona Phil 17 hours 2 min ago (view)
The Cubs have released RHRP (and their erstwhile closer) Brandon Morrow. There is no indication that they plan to re-sign him to another (different) 2020 minor league contract without the Article XX-B $100K retention bonus provision (as happened with Jason Kipnis last week).
crunch 20 hours 28 min ago (view)
rizzo takes another day off (lower back). ross says the club is "exercising caution."
klye ryan is expected to join the team tomorrow after some mysterious holdup.
Ryno 21 hours 6 min ago (view)
Has anyone seen Darvish's pitch "The Supreme"? Isn't it just a sinker?
Ryno 21 hours 14 min ago (view)
In other words: This lineup sucks.
Arizona Phil 21 hours 31 min ago (view)
Jason Kipnis was released on June 29th and then he was re-signed to a new (different) 2020 minor league contract that does not require a $100K retention bonus if he is not added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 2020 MLB Opening Day (7/23).
Brandon Morrow remains on his original 2020 minor league contract which pays him a $100K retention bonus if he is not released by 7/18 or added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 7/23.
Eric S 21 hours 35 min ago (view)
There is that re Kimbrel - at worst, just another year on the books.
July 1st is Bobby Bonilla Day - the day that check is cut and paid annually.
Cubster 21 hours 41 min ago (view)
On the bright side regarding Kimbrel. It doesn't have the lasting bad side as the Mets arrangement with Bobby Bonilla. Unless they want to re-negotiate Kimbrel's terms.
Eric S 23 hours 8 min ago (view)
Watching the last night's highlight clip was not encouraging either as discussed here: https://www.bleachernation.com/cubs/2020/07/08/craig-kimbrels-intrasquad-performance-is-a-reminder-of-the-concerns-that-already-existed/
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
i still can't believe this front office paid anyone 16m a year to throw 60-70ip...
Eric S 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
Unfortunately, Kimbrel in Cub mid season form as well, giving up a two out, two run oppo homer to Willson.
Kimbrel Cub stats which I tried to bury but were dug up again: gave up a career high 9 home runs in only 20 2/3 inning, averaged a career high 9.1 hits allowed per 9 innings and served up a 6.53 ERA for his troubles. And no full spring training build up period again. Still hopeful he's got something left in the tank this year and next but man, he's got my full attention going into the season
BobbyD 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
Hmm. Never thought about it that way. Maybe it is a very stable genius?
crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
maybe he's hoping it'll be bad enough to flip the population odometer over to 0 after humanity is wiped from the planet. let's give him more time to see if he's right before we get too down on him.
crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
"Shohei Ohtani threw just 15 of his 50 pitches for strikes in an intrasquad game Tuesday. Trent Rush had him at eight walks, a hit by pitch and six wild pitches before he was shut down for a day. "
crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
anthony rizzo is in mid-season form.
he sat out today with lower back tightness.
BobbyD 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
Well, back in February (I think; that was about 17 years ago now), our diaper staining commander in his own mind declared we had 15 cases in the U.S. and that would quickly go to zero. 130k dead and rapidly rising now 4 months later I still have brain dead neighbors in SoCal saying if Biden gets elected we're screwed. I wonder what they think screwed looks like.