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.

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  • Wrigley Rat 12 min 58 sec ago (view)

    3 dots on this evening's Cubs-Dodgers game - makes sense & they do color in the 3rd dot as they're going to commericals (Spectrum Sportsnet).

     

  • crunch 2 hours 26 min ago (view)

    3 dot crew represent.  i didn't have an opinion, but now i'm 100% on board.

     

  • Charlie 2 hours 33 min ago (view)

    I agree on most of this, but I especially support three fillable dots for the outs--and fill in the third before cutting to a commercial!

    Not doing homework on the players in a Spring Training broadcast is pretty forgiveable, but ESPN is really bad about it pretty much all year. It would be nice if they made a habit of picking up a local color commentator and sort of interviewing them throughout games.

     

  • George Altman 6 hours 37 min ago (view)

    The single thing I want in a sports broadcast is to become smarter about the sport,  to learn something from the broadcast crew.

    Stone does that, Romo does that, Eddie O on hockey, and that's about it. I watch sporting events with the sound down very low or off. I forgot more about baseball than most broadcasters will ever know, and I'm always shocked when I see something in a football game that the crew doesn't,  and I know about NOTHING about football. 

     

  • First.Pitch.120 8 hours 57 min ago (view)

    Also... what is with only having 2 dots as the outs counter? I know that you don't really need the 3rd dot, but I find it counter-intuitive. If the dots fill in, then only having 2 throws me off b/c it's natural to subitize "3" associated with outs. You quickly see 0/3, 1/3, 2/3.  If the graphic does not have fill-in dots, then just put the #.  eg - OUTS: 1  It's minimalism for the sake of minimalism, not graphic design for effective communication.

     

  • crunch 9 hours 28 min ago (view)

    tight shots + insane amount of screen real estate being taken up with graphics is a bit of a plague...especially the ones with a non-stop bottom news ticker.

     

  • First.Pitch.120 9 hours 50 min ago (view)

    General comment on baseball broadcasting... I think that the color comentator (CC) needs to talk about 30% more & the PBP about 30% less. I would love a more stream of consciousness from the CC outlining what they would be looking for in a given situation. To that end, why not have 2 CC for national broadcasts - one a pitcher & one a position player. Would love for them to banter back & forth on micro strategy from their perspectives. I think this would turn the game's pauses between action into more of an asset.

     

  • crunch 11 hours 13 min ago (view)

    brews sign j.bradley 2/24m...decent deal for a quality CF'r.  he can opt out of the 2nd year.

     

  • crunch 11 hours 53 min ago (view)

    the national broadcasts on ESPN suffer badly from a lack of "homework" on the teams they're covering.

    yesterday i heard more riffing between the announcers about each other more than the players.  the only thing that saved them from more of that and dead air was in-progress action and player interviews (too many player interviews, but it's spring so whatever).

     

  • Hagsag 14 hours 29 min ago (view)

    Not impressed with ESPN's broadcast. I like Mendoza's work, but how many kids did we have to see rolling around the grass. Good day to see some young players ,but half the time you had no idea who was batting or pitching.

     

  • crunch 23 hours 21 min ago (view)

    cubs game totally not a delay broadcast for ESPN...thanks for that gem heyward.

    dunno if they'll be printing up any "You better have your shit in line" t-shirts, but it's as least as good as "Try not to suck"

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    Jason Adam is another who throws short arm. I don't think he was a position player, but maybe falls into the arm injury category?

     

  • Sonicwind75 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    Thanks Phil, these pitching summaries are great!

     

  • Eric S 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Thanks, AZ Phil.  Looks like a better use of the off-season by Maples than Carl Jr's hop-in-delivery was a few years ago - and not against the rules either. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    Even though he is signed to a minor lesague contract and is not on the MLB 40-man roster right now, I would think Eric Sogard is a virtual lock to make the Cubs Opening Day Active List 26-man roster. 

    The Cubs were reportedly looking to sign a left-handed hitting second-baseman, and Sogard certainly fits that description. And unlike Jason Kipnis, Sogard has the versatility to play 3B and SS as well as 2B. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    ERIC: Just as you said, the short-arm technique can improve command, hopefully without impacting the quality of a pitcher's stuff.

    Based on what I saw yesterday, Maples' stuff is as good as ever, and his command was better, too. Hopefully it will continue, because he probably has the best pure stuff on the staff. Command has always been the problem.