International Recruits Watch AZL Cubs Whitewash A's at Fitch Park

D. J. Wilson drilled an RBI triple, walked, stole a base, and scored two runs, Roberto Caro ripped a triple and an RBI single and scored a run, Robert Garcia collected three hits, stole a base, scored a run, and drove-in another, Carlos Sepulveda singled twice, walked, and collected two RBI, and Eric Jokisch and Austyn Willis combined to toss a shutout, as the AZL Cubs blanked the AZL Athletics 6-0 in Arizona League action Saturday night on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The Cubs got the scoring started in the top of 3rd inning, as D. J. Wilson drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on a Carlos Sepulveda RBI opposite-field single sliced down the LF line.

The Cubs added five more runs over the final three innings to seal the victory. 

Roberto Caro drilled a triple into the right-centerfield alley to open the 7th, and scored on a Yohan Matos line-drive RBI single over the shortstop's head (infield was playing "in"), and then after advancing to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, Matos scored on a Robert Garcia RBI single that ricocheted off the pitchers leg. P. J. Higgins (line-drive to left), Michael Foster (line-drive to center), and Roberto Caro (line-drive to right) stroked consecutive one-out singles to plate another run in the 8th, and then D. J. Wilson creamed an opposite-field RBI triple into the left-centerfield alley to drive-in Robert Garcia (who had singled leading-off the 9th inning), before scoring on a Carlos Sepulveda infield hit to complete the Cub scoring. 

LHP Eric Jokisch (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL - rib cage inflammation) made his third rehab start for the AZL Cubs and worked five innings (69 pitches - 41 strikes), allowing four hits (all singles) and two walks while striking out six (all six swinging), with a 5/1 GO/FO (including two GIDP). Unless there just isn't room for Jokisch in the Iowa starting rotation (and given the motley group that's there, I find that hard to believe), this positively should be Jokisch's last rehab outing before returning to the I-Cubs. (Actually, I'm surprised his previous AZL rehab outing wasn't his last one).  

LHP Bryan Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round pick - Alton HS - Alton, IL) threw "live" BP at Mesa CubTown Field #1 prior to the team leaving for Fitch Park, the first outing for Hudson where he actually faced hitters. There had been speculation that other than throwing a few bullpen sessions, Hudson would not make his mound debut (facing hitters) until post-season "Instructs" (AZ Instructional League), but now it appears possible that he might actually see some game action at some point prior to the conclusion of the AZL season.   

Nine members of the Cubs 2015 IFA class attended the game, under the supervision of Gian Guzman. The nine are in town to get more extensive physicals than the ones they received at the Cubs Dominican Academy, and to be introduced to "The Cubs Way." 

Some of you will perhaps remember Gian Guzman as a one-time Cub minor league infielder. He was at Extended Spring Training in 2007 and 2008 at Fitch Park, with Marwin Gonzalez in 2007, and with Junior Lake, Starlin Castro, and Josh Vitters in 2008. As it turned out, four of the five (Castro, Lake, Gonzalez, and Vitters) eventually graduated to the big leagues, but Guzman (who had every bit as much promise as the others) had his playing career cut short by injuries.

First he suffered a broken leg in a 1st inning collision with RHP Julio Castillo while playing shortstop for Peoria in July 2008. That was the game that later erupted into a wild "beanball" brawl, where Castillo (known by his teammates as "Animal," because he captured and then kept a desert rat as a pet in his motel room in Mesa the previous summer) was arrested by Dayton Police (and actually eventually served time in the county jail after being convicted for "felonious assault causing serious physical injury") when he intentionally threw a baseball at a fan in the stands (and hit the fan) during the fight (Castillo threw a 95 MPH fastball at the time).



As for Guzman, he was unable to continue his career as an infielder, so he was tried as a pitcher for about a year, but he blew-out his shoulder and was forced to retire. But the Cubs didn't just kick him to the side of the road. He was retained as an apprentice scout and player development assistant, and was so good at it that now he is the Cubs Scouting Coordinator in the Dominican Republic (at the ripe old age of 26!).

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

AZL CUBS LINEUP:
1. Robert Garcia, RF: 3-5 (L-4, 1B, 4-3, 1B, 1B, R, RBI, SB, CS)
2. D. J. Wilson, CF: 1-4 (K, BB, E-4, 5-2 FC, 3B, 2 R, RBI, SB)
3. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-4 (BB, 1B, 1-4-3, 1-3, 1B, 2 RBI)
4. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 0-5 (K, 5-3, F-8, K, 5-4-3 DP)
5. P. J. Higgins, 3B:  1-5 (F-9, K, F-8, 1B, P-6, R)
6. Michael Foster, DH: 1-4 (6-3, 4-3, F-7, 1B)
7. Roberto Caro, LF: 2-3 (BB, K, 3B, 1B, R, RBI)
8. Yohan Matos, C: 1-4 (P-6, K, 1B, F-9, R, RBI)
9. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 1-3 (P-4, 1B, 1-3 SH, P-3)

AZL CUBS PITCHERS
1. Eric Jokisch: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 GIDP, 5/1 GO/FO, 69 pitches (41 strikes) 
2. Austyn Willis: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 PO, 2 GIDP, 4/3 GO/FO, 44 pitches (27 strikes) 

AZL CUBS ERRORS: 1 
1B Jose Paniagua: E-3 (missed catch on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed baserunner to advance to 3rd)

AZL CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE
Yohan Matos: 2-2 CS 

Comments

AZ Phil, can you tell us who the nine IFA'ers are? I know of four who have been reported.

Interesting that there had been no news on EJax hooking up with another team, including the minors or independent leagues. It's been more than 10 days since he was released. He's be a good candidate to upgrade the WSux rotation, replacing Shark for next weekend's series.

Is Shark injured or are you just thinking they would skip him because he has been horrible lately?

Shark not injured. Just pitching like EJax circa 2013-4.

Hmm. Buy-low option in the offseason?

I'd say Shark is getting what he deserves. He never has been the ace he thinks he is ... and now he's heading into his ballyhooed free agent period with major question marks. I don't see the Cubs going after him.

I had either completely forgotten or blocked from my memory the entire MLB career of Josh Vitters. When I read that, I thought Phil had made a mistake. Instead, it turns out that the Cubs organization is the one who made the mistake. Eeesh.

Interestingly, it doesn't appear Vitters is playing anywhere this year. Rockies signed him to a minor league deal in ST, but released him at the end of March. If he is playing baseball this year it must be abroad or independent ball of some sort, and I don't see it reported anywhere doing a quick search. Guy is still just 25.

I'm surprised, too, but we probably shouldn't be. Maybe Vitters is just smarter than the average 4A-type hitter who thinks he has a shot to make the majors as a righty-hitting 1B-LF. At age 25, he'll do better in the real world. Edit: Looks like Brett Jackson (age 26) has hung up his spikes, as well. Had brief stints with AZ last year and SF (AAA Sacramento River Cats) this year; but he's no longer on the Cats' roster, and Baseball Reference shows his last "teams played for" date as July 11th this year.
”He brings so much to the table” Sveum said. ”In my nine years of coaching he is the best young player I’ve seen in a major league camp. He is the full package. The swinging and missing, he has to work on and cutting down strikeouts. He just brings a lot to the table.”

after a while it's hard to keep plugging away in the minors unless you, your family, or some sponsor can support the quest for the dream. not only is minor league pay cruddy, it pretty much keeps you away from home for 1/2 year+ and that grind is too much for some people (especially when a wife/kid gets involved). guys like rex rundgren can spend a decade+ middling around in the minor/indie leagues without worrying about their "real life" after the game. this isn't a bad thing, it's just an advantage not everyone gets. the game has probably missed out of a lot of guys who could play in the bigs for a number of years only because the real world took control of their lives before their skills developed. some guys don't even last until age 25. that said, i have no idea what's going on with vitters. ...and yeah, he got $3m when he signed, but i dunno what he's done with it the past 8 years.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Arizona Phil 8 hours 18 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 9 hours 10 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 6 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 11 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 2 days 27 min 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 1 hour 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 1 hour ago (view)

    In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 1 hour ago (view)

    Cubs fire asst. hitting coach Terrmel Sledge. I knew it was his fault!

     

  • crunch 2 days 1 hour 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 3 hours ago (view)

    Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.

     

  • crunch 3 days 5 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 9 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 4 days 14 min 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 22 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!