Cubs Instructs Olympics at Riverview Park
The Cubs held their annual Instructs Olympics at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa Monday morning.
Coaches (seated at tables on the field) served as judges in events related to their particular coaching specialty.
As usual, Eugene Hitting Coach Ty Wright (located atop the tower between the four fields) provided the running play-by-play and background color on each contestant over the P. A. during the competition, and there was lots of music, too.
1. EVENT: CATCHERS COMPETITION (Field #6)
CONTESTANTS: Carlos Diaz, Michael Cruz, Jhonny Pereda, Gustavo Polanco, and Sam Tidaback
Each catcher had to block several pitches in the dirt, then field a throw from the outfield and tag a "baserunner" coming into score (the baserunner represented by a stuffed duffel bag pulled across home plate by a coach), then field three bunts in front of home plate and make an accurate throw into a small net stationed at each base, and finally catch a pop-up, all within 90 seconds.
GOLD MEDAL: Jhonny Pereda (it wasn't even close, so no other medals were awarded)
2. EVENT: OUTFIELDERS COMPETITION (Field #3)
CONTESTANTS: Luis Ayala, Jose Gutierrez, Fernando Kelli, Kwang-Min Kwon, Connor Myers, Chris Pieters, Jonathan Sierra, and D. J. Wilson
Each outfielder had to catch six fly balls and attempt to throw the ball into a small net set-up at home plate, then each outfielder had to lie face-down in the outfield and get to his feet when ordered to do so and locate and catch two fly balls launched into the outfield within two seconds of each other, completing all tasks within 90 seconds.
GOLD MEDAL: Kwang-Min Kwon (a performance so unique no other medals could possibly be awarded)
3. EVENT: INFIELDERS COMPETITION (Field #4)
CONTESTANTS: Aramis Ademan (SS), Luis Diaz (SS), Wladimir Galindo (3B), Rafael Mejia (1B), Andruw Monasterio (SS), Christopher Morel (3B), Rafael Narea (SS), Yeiler Peguero (SS), Yonathan Perlaza (3B), Zack Short (SS), and Delvin Zinn (SS)
Each infielder had to field four ground balls (one hit directly at the fielder, one hit to the infielder's right, one hit to the infielder's left, and one slow chopper) and make an accurate throw to 1st base (or to 3rd base for the contestant playing 1st base), and then each infielder had to receive two relay throws in short-CF and throw the first ball into a net stationed at 3rd base and the second into a net stationed at home plate, then each infielder had to catch a pop-up, all within 90 seconds.
GOLD MEDAL: Rafael Narea
SILVER MEDAL: Yonathan Perlaza
BRONZE MEDAL: Zack Short
4. EVENT: PITCHERS FIELDING PRACTICE (Field #6)
CONTESTANTS: Tyson Miller, Chad Hockin, Wyatt Short, Nathan Sweeney, Duncan Robinson, Bryan Hudson, Tyler Peyton, Jed Carter, Holden Cammack, Hector Garcia, Matt Swarmer, Javier Assad, Junior Marte, Dakota Mekkes, Eury Ramos, Carlos Ocampo, Yunior Perez, Fauris Guerrero, Ho-Young Son, Alfredo Colorado, Faustino Carrera, and Brailyn Marquez
Each pitcher had to make three pick-off throws (each one into a net stationed at each of the three bases), then field a bunt and make an accurate throw to the net stationed at whichever base was called by the coach at the time of the bunt, then cover 1st base on a 3-1 put-out, then catch an infield pop-up, all within 90 seconds.
GOLD MEDAL: Javier Assad
SILVER MEDAL: Ho-Young Son (ex-INF)
BRONZE MEDAL: Fauris Guerrero
5. EVENT: HOME RUN DERBY (Field #5)
With a coach throwing BP, each contestant had 90 seconds to hit as many balls over the fence as possible, the last three pitches being gold balls that were worth extra points. Each batter was allowed to take one 30-second "time-out" during each round to receive a drink of water and a toweling-off from his designated "second."
FIRST ROUND: D. J. Wilson, Chris Pieters, Christopher Morel, Jonathan Sierra, Michael Cruz, Wladimir Galindo, Rafael Mejia, and Yonathan Perlaza (switch hitter - took all of his swings batting left-handed);
SEMI-FINAL ROUND: 1) D. J. Wilson vs Yonathan Perlaza and 2) Rafael Mejia vs Chris Pieters
CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND: Rafael Mejia vs Yonathan Perlaza
GOLD MEDAL: Rafael Mejia (won by a very large margin, wasn't even close)
Then Mejia took a victory lap around the bases and received a Gatorade shower from his teammates as he arrived at home plate, and 2015 Home Run Derby Champion Kwang-Min Kwon came onto the field carrying a golden bat and wearing a crown and flowing robe (which he had been required to wear throughout the Olympics, except when he was participating in the Outfielders Competition), all of which was ceremoniously transferred to the newly-crowned 2016 Home Run Derby Champ at home plate.
Kwon wasn't allowed to participate in this year's Home Run Derby because he won last year, and Eloy Jimenez wasn't allowed to participate in last year's Home Run Derby not because he won the year before (he didn't), but because he was clearly so much better than everybody else that it wouldn't have been fair to the other contestants to let him compete.
NOTE: Jake Hannemann defeated Yasiel Balaguert in the Championship Round of the Home Run Derby in 2013, and Billy McKinney bested Scott Frazier (the RHRP who was a two-way player in college) in the Championship Round for the crown in 2014. There also was a Home Run Derby at Instructs in 2012, but it was Dan Vogelbach versus Jorge Soler (no other participants), and Soler won.