Trying to Read a Waffle Iron

I talked with Cubs Organizational Hitting Instructor Dave Keller today, and he admitted that he was the guy in the tower yelling at Felix Pie (in Spanish) after Pie left the AZL Cubs game on Sunday, but that the conversation had to do with Pie verbally being given the hitting schedule for Monday at Fitch Park (which otherwise was an off day for the AZL Cubs), and that there was no animosity involved in the exchange.

I will say this about Coach Keller. Both Felix Pie and the AZL Cubs (as a team) have apparently responded very well to the hitting guru's presence at Fitch, as the Cubs hitters banged out 21 hits on Sunday and had another big day today, and Pie drilled a double, took a bases loaded walk, and hit a grand slam HR over the CF fence in the AZL Cubs 18-1 victory on Sunday, before returning to Iowa yesterday and going 2-4 with a two-run HR, a walk, and two runs scored in the I-Cubs 10-4 victory over Omaha.      

Maybe Dave Keller should ask for a raise!

But Keller can't coach the pitchers, too, and contrary to some early reports in the "traditional" media that Rich Hill had been showing improvement since arriving at Fitch Park last week (I didn't see any), the fact is nothing appears to have changed (at least so far) as far as getting Hill out of his season-long funk.  

Hill got the start yesterday at Peoria versus the AZL Padres and lasted just 1/3 of an inning before being removed from the game, with the following game log:

HBP, BB, BB, E5-RBI, BB-RBI, and 1B-RBI.

Today, Chris Huseby (who has been struggling to throw strikes since Minor League Camp in March) got the start for the AZL Cubs, and he also lasted just 1/3 of an inning before getting the hook, with the following game log:


That's right. Huseby hit the first three batters of the game (ding, dong, dang). 

But Miguel Sierra came into the game in relief of Huseby with one out and the bases loaded, and immediately induced a DP grounder to end the inning.

The AZL Cubs then unloaded, scoring seven runs against the AZL Mariners, including a mammoth HR over the CF fence by 3B John Contreras, his third dinger of the young AZL season (today was game #9). The Cubs then hung-on for a 7-6 victory. 


The 21-year old Contreras was born in New Jersey but grew up in the Dominican Republic, and he is the prototypical third-baseman (although he plays 1B, too). He has a heavy lower body and "Popeye" powerful forearms, just perfect for hitting bombs away

Besides Contreras's missile, the other offensive hero today was LF Jericho Jones (2008 20th round pick out of Louisiana Tech), who reached base three times on a single, a double, and a walk, stole a base, and scored two runs.  

Best play of the day was a picture-perfect hit & run pulled off by the Cubs in the bottom of the 1st inning. With one out and the Cubs trailing 1-0, Bryan Jost at bat, and Starlin Castro on 1st base, Castro broke for 2nd. The second-baseman left his position to take the anticipated throw from the catcher, and Jost hammered a single right where the second-baseman had been stationed, sending Castro to 3rd base. Castro would later score on a FC ground out. That HAD to make Dave Keller happy.   

Later that same inning, Nelson Perez absolutely CRUSHED a ball off the CF green metal hitting background 400+ feet from home plate, but was thrown out (albeit just barely) trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. He did get an RBI out of it, though.

Today's game marked the pro debut of Cubs 2008 4th round draft pick Matt Cerda (Oceanside HS - Oceanside, CA). The 18-year old Cerda served as the DH and hit lead-off, going 0-2 with two walks before being removed for a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 8th.

Cerda played SS in HS, but the Cubs are moving him to catcher (with his consent). Actually, the young man is being moved BACK to catcher, because he was the starting catcher on the 2001 Oceanside LLWS team that went all the way to Williamsport.

AZL Cubs coach Danny Fatheree is mentoring Cerda in the art of catching. And the youngster couldn't ask for a better teacher.   

In AZL Cubs roster news, 2008 24th round pick RHP David Cales (St. Xavier by way of UIC, the U. of Missouri, and Mt. Carmel HS) has arrived at Fitch Park, and he joined the other pitchers sitting in the grandstand about midway through today's game. I hope David is enjoying the 114 degree heat!

I don't know when Cales will get into a game, but it probably won't be too long because he was pitching for the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League (a collegiate "wood bat" league) up until the middle of last week, so his arm should be fairly close to "game ready" right now.

The AZL Cubs are still awaiting the arrival of 21st round pick SS Logan Watkins, who has agreed to a $600K bonus (that's a $500K signing bonus plus $100K in college tuition) to give up his chance to play college baseball at Wichita State. The left-handed hitting Watkins was a star baseball and football player at Goddard HS in Goddard, KS, and it took an offer of "2nd round money" from the Cubs to get him to turn pro. 

With the signing of Cales and Watkins, the Cubs have inked 29 of their 51 2008 draft picks, including 24 of their first 27. The only three still unsigned among the Cubs top 27 picks (with August 15th the signing deadline) are 1st round pick RHP Andrew Cashner (TCU), 2nd round pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State), and 10th round pick RHP Alex Wilson (Texas A&M).

The Cubs will receive compensation picks in next year's Rule 4 Draft if they are unable to sign Cashner and/or Shafer (#20 overall if they don't sign Cashner, and/or #66 overall if the can't sign Shafer).  



Thanks Phil. By the way, the author name is so small, I read "John Contreras" and thought all the way through that he was the writer of the article. I kept thinking, who is this dude and who the hell does he think he is? Then I started picturing an oiled-up wrestling match between him and Phil. Not sure why there was oil involved. Then, upon finishing the article, I looked back at the top and realized Phil wrote it, after all. My mind was again at peace. But maybe an enlarged "submitted by" is in order?

Tyler Colvin was named Southern League player of the week earlier and Rebel Ridling (1b) of Boise named Northwest Player of the Week. Josh Vitters with a 919 OPS so far in Boise, which is good for only third best on the team behind Ridling and supplemental first rounder Ryan Flaherty (1.061 OPS). Vitters does have 4 errors already, which leads the team.

rebel ridling and jericho jones? between them and rocky cherry, now rocky roquet, and buck coats, the cubs have had some great minor league names the last few years. out here in SF for the week....pretty city, weird ass people, and the park is gorgeous but damn cold. all as expected, all a good trip (no pun intended) and all hoping that dempster can continue the cubs mastery of the NL west. if ted lilly played in a huge park like this one in SF he would be a perennial cy young candidate.

Top 3 in OPS with a healthy amount of AB's (kind of an arbitray cutoff by me) AAA Andre Torres .945 Bobby Scales .848 Josh Kroeger .834 AA Matt Craig 1068 Doug Deeds (acquired in the Craig Monroe trade) 907 Nate Spears (I believe the C-Pat trade) 803 Hi-A Blake Lalli .878 James Adducci .762 Tony Thomas .732 A Marquez Smith .889 Dylan Johnston .797 Jovan Rosa .772

AZ - Watkins was rated as the #25 prospect in the state of Kansas (per Baseball America). Any idea why the Cubs value him so much to give him that much money? There seems to be a big disconnect between their value of him and the "draft rankings" done by BA. For our sake, I hope their is a story behind this kid. Thanks,

Cubs Win, I've seen articles on Watkins (in reference to Wichita State, the school he was headed to) that said he was rated as more of a top 5 round prospect but a really difficult sign. Maybe BA just missed on him in terms of potential. Not sure. Here is the link: "Watkins said professional scouts tell him he could go in the first five rounds or so. He said he will not be an easy player to lure away from college, which could affect his desirability. "Tough signs" with a real commitment to college baseball sometimes drop in the draft. " - quote from link AZ Phil, I know you compared Starlin Castro to Daytona's Jonathan Mota in the past as more of a utility guy. Is that still true (because he sure seems intriguing when he's doing pretty well at 18 in Mesa and getting so much playing time)? Hopefully tomorrow's Mesa pitcher (I believe it's Antigua and his 0.00 ERA)can get that all important second out of the first inning...

RAISIN: Thank you for answering Cubs Win's inquiry regarding Logan Watkins. That was excellent.

As for Starlin Castro, I see him as being most comparable (in the Cubs organization, anyway) to Jonathan Mota, but yet not exactly the same. Maybe I should have said that Castro is more like a young Ronny Cedeno (as I remember him), but I would say something like Cedeno-Castro-Mota as far as talent/potential when comparing the three.

Of Castro and Mota, Castro is faster and a better hitter with more power (more like Cedeno), while Mota is a somewhat more consistent defensive player, although Castro should get more consistent with more experience. Both Castro and Mota have the versatility to play 2B-SS-3B.

Long-term I would take Castro over Mota, but I would project both as MLB utility infielders (if they make it that far), with Castro more-likely (of the two) to make it to the big leagues because of his speed and power potential.

Also, AZ Phil, what type of stuff does Jeffry Antigua have? He racks up the groundballs, so I assume his FB has some sort of sink on it. Thanks.

Thanks, AZ Phil. You can never tell with raw, teenage Latin American-born SS in terms of which one will develop the bat to be a big league starter. I do have hope for Hak-Ju Lee, Logan Watkins and Ryan Flaherty giving some nice starting SS depth in the system.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 5:40pm.

Also, AZ Phil, what type of stuff does Jeffry Antigua have? He racks up the groundballs, so I assume his FB has some sort of sink on it. Thanks.


RAISIN: Jeffry Antigua throws a two seamer, a curve and change. He has good command of all three pitches and appears to be more polished than the other Cubs Latin pitchers making their AZL debut, especially considering he just turned 18 last week. 

When Antigua has had problems it's when he gets mad and overthrows his fastball or when he hangs a curve. But he generally throws strikes.

Jeffry Antigua, Miguel Sierra, and Julio Pena are the three best Latin starting pitcher prospects with the AZL Cubs, and Rogelio Carmona is the best Latin relief prospect. There is no Jose Ceda, Robert Hernandez, or Alberto Cabrera at AZL Cubs this year.

But presuming they can stay healthy, Antigua, Sierra, Pena, and Carmona should move up the ladder to Boise or Peoria next year.

AZ Phil, I noticed (finally), some Cub prospects showing us something. What do you think of these guys: DUMAS GARCIA: Promoted to AAA after raking in AA. Two weeks ago we were asking "Who is this guy?", and now he is close to ML-ready? WELLINGTON CASTILLO: The line on him was "good glove, no hit". Now he is hitting. Fluke, or the next Geo Soto? JOSE CEDA: Maybe the Cubs know what they are doing. He goes from so-so as a starter working on pitches, to Marmol-esque at AA on promotion. On paper, starting to look ML-Ready. Also, what is the 411 on Marquez Smith? Having a great year, but a little old to be at Peoria.

Thanks for the report on Antigua. Sounds promising...I was going to mention that he sounded advanced/polished like Robert Hernandez did at 18 but I guess he's not that far along. Does Antigua throw hard? As always, thanks for the fantastic reports.

Raisin, are you the same Raisin who frequents the minor league forum over at NSBB?

The one and the same, 10man.

Recent comments

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  • Hagsag 32 min 9 sec ago (view)

    The Cubs have no starting pitching right now with Carl in a funk.


  • Eric S 7 hours 22 min ago (view)

     Cubs were Nootbaar'ed to the tune of 12-4 in Game 2


  • Cubster 8 hours 23 min ago (view)

    With a Doubleheader loss, the Cubs are back on track for a better draft choice. Right now at 67 wins they pick #7, just ahead of KC and Minnesota who have 68-69 wins. 


  • crunch 9 hours 52 min ago (view)

    the shit sandwich that is zach davies is a 6 foot party sub.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 9 hours 55 min ago (view)

    I am celebrating the day he signs with another team this offseason. I didn't know I could hate him more than I did when he was in Milwaukee but here we are!


  • crunch 10 hours 14 min ago (view)

    wisdom can hit some bombs when he does

    also davies still sucks.


  • tim815 10 hours 49 min ago (view)

    McAvene is struggling against hitters in Instructs. He's not ready for the AZ Fall League. I'd expect to see Juan Gamez otr Aneuris Rosario first. Vazquez, I agree with, entirely.


  • bradsbeard 12 hours 40 min ago (view)

    On the position player side, Amaya if he's healthy. Chase Strumpf makes a lot of sense (missed some time early and late, missed all of last year). Nelson Velazquez maybe as a Rule 5 guy if they're on the fence. Cam Balego and Andy Weber are two other candidates if healthy. Luis Vazquez could also use more upper level PAs and would make sense.

    Lots of potential pitchers. Ideally Marquez but not sure they'll let him pitch this year. McAvene is probably another one. Would be awesome if Kohl Franklin could participate. 


  • First.Pitch.120 13 hours 58 min ago (view)



  • Arizona Phil 18 hours 31 min ago (view)

    Cubs select contract of RHRP Jason Adam from AAA Iowa and he will be the "29th man" in today's DH with STL. Also,.C Robinson Chirinos to 10-day IL with oblique strain, and OF Greg Deichmann has been recalled from Iowa.  


  • Arizona Phil 19 hours 41 min ago (view)

    FP120: The Cubs have been working on pick-off plays, baserunning including rundown ("pickle") drills, amd bunt defense in pre-game and Camp Day instructional work, so it's kind of a "Point of Emphasis." Apparently it's still a work-in-progress for a lot of the guys.And it's not just pick-off plays, either. At least two or three guys have been picked-off in the first three games and there have been a couple of other baserunning gaffes as well. But that's what instructs is for, right?


  • First.Pitch.120 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    So what's the deal with 5 pick off attempt errors in 3 games?


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    Because the Cubs play only the Angels, A's, and Rockies in Instructs this year, I would not be surprised if the Cubs make a trade or two with one or more of those clubs, most especially the Angels, who might be interested in acquiring Kyle Hendricks (since they certainly can't do a rebuild with Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon on the roster). 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    The pitching-starved Angels established an MLB (and probably Ripley's Believe It or Not) record by selecting - ONLY - pitchers in the 2021 draft. That's twenty pitchers. No position players. They signed 19 of the twenty, and five of them pitched in today's game (2021 15th round pick Glenn Albanese Jr started the game, followed by 18th round pick Nick Mondak, 7th round pick Ryan Costeiu, 8th round pick Nick Jones, and 16th round pick Nick Dufault). 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    Cubs 2020 4rh round draft pick 6'8 220+ LHSP Luke Little threw mainly a 93-97 FB with an occasional CV and CH mixed-in but pitched mostly from behind in the count, issuing two walks, hitting a batter, and throwing a WP (and surrendering a towering three-run HR) in 2.1 IP of work, LHP Angel Rodriguez was able to throw strikes with a 90-91 MPH FB, CH, and CV mix, but was pounded to the tune of five singles, a double, and a triple in just 2.2 IP, Cubs 2021 14th round draft pick RHRP Frankie Scalzo featured a 93-95 MPH FB but sometimes hung his SL and was hit hard and allowed a HR and five sing


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    chris clarke could use the work.

    brennen davis...bryce ball and casey opitz, maybe.  *shrug*

    i'd like to see ethan roberts in the mix.