9th Inning PH HR Drives Cubs to Victory
Richard Jones slammed a pinch-hit tie-breaking home run over the RF fence with one out in the top of the 9th, and the Cubs held-on to defeat the Angels 2-1 in AZ Instructional League action at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this morning.
Jones, the Cubs 2009 9th round selection out of The Citadel, was drafted as a catcher, but his #1 attribute is raw power. In fact, after signing with the Cubs in June, Jones hit seven HR in just twelve games for the AZL Cubs (Mesa), before moving up to Boise. (Jones ended up tied for 3rd in the AZL in HR, while playing there only two weeks!). And remember, he did all that while playing in the AZL's huge minor league complex ball parks with 25-ft high fences, where it's almost easier to hit a triple than it is to hit a HR.
While Jones was a catcher in college, he appears more comfortable at 1B (or DH) But if he can remain a catcher, his value will be greatly increased, since power-hitting catchers who bat left-handed are always in demand.
Besides working on his defense behind the plate, Jones is also at Instructs to try and learn to make better contact at bat (56 K in 174 PA at Mesa and Boise combined in 2009).
Today's game was scoreless through five innings, before the Angels broke-through with a run off RHP Nick Struck (Cubs 2009 39th round pick out of Mt. Hood CC) in the 6th, on a walk, a sac-bunt, and an RBI double. (Struck dropped to the 39th round only because he was considered a virtual "lock" to transfer to the University of Hawaii, but the Cubs came up with some additional money and were able to sign him just before the August deadline).
The Cubs came back to tie the score in the top of the 7th with two outs, when Brandon Guyer (yesterday's hero) lined a single to left (his second hit of the game), and scored on a near-HR RBI triple smashed high off the RF fence by Ryan Flaherty.
23-year old polished college LHP Chris Rusin (2009 4th round pick out of U. of Kentucky) got the start for the Cubs today, and he hardly broke a sweat, allowing just a lead-off bunt single in the 1st (and then he immediately picked the runner off), throwing just 15 pitches (12 strikes) combined over two innings of work. He was on the field maybe seven minutes.
RHP Chris Archer followed Rusin with three shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk on 43 pitches (26 strikes). while retiring the last five men he faced.
One of three pitchers the Cubs acquired from Cleveland for Mark DeRosa last off- season, Archer throws a 92-94 MPH fastball, a curve, and a change-up, and was 4th among Cubs minor leaguers in strikeouts in 2009 (trailing only Jay Jackson, Mitch Atkins, and Chris Carpenter). But he is at Instructs to work on his command & control (he led the Cubs minor leagues in walks in '09), and he has indeed shown some progress with his strike-throwing in his last two outings, allowing just one walk over six innings. Of course he also has only one strikeout in those six innings, but he's not down here to rack up the punch-outs. The Cubs already know he can do that. He's down here to improve his control and cut-down the number of pitches he throws per inning.
Today's game also featured three really nice defensive players by the Cubs, including a sliding catch of a pop up in short CF by 2009 #1 draft pick Brett Jackson in the 4th, a full-speed running shoestring catch by 17-year old Korean LF Kyung-Min Na on a pop up in short left-center in the 8th, and a probable game-saving running catch in RF foul territory (and then a flawless a spin & throw to 3rd to keep the base-runner at 2nd base) by 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu with no outs in the bottom of the 9th.
LeMahieu played SS at LSU, but I think it's fairly obvious that the Cubs think that the athletic LeMahieu's future is at 2B. He has spent many hours at Instructs working with minor league infield instructor Franklin Font on his DP footwork from the second-baseman's side of the bag (which requires different footwork and an altered rhythm than is the case when turning the DP from shortstop), and hopefully he will take what he has learned at Instructs into the 2010 season, where he will probably begin the year at Daytona.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Logan Watkins, DH #1: 1-3 (1B, L-9, L-1 DP)
1b. Richard Jones, PH: 1-1 (HR), R, RBI
2. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 1-4 (4-6-3 DP, 1B, F-9, L-8)
3. Brett Jackson, CF: 0-4 (F-8, F-8, F-8, F-7)
4. Brandon Guyer, RF: 2-3 (1B, F-8, 1B), R, CS
5. Ryan Flaherty, SS: 1-3 (F-7, 4-3, 3B), RBI
6. Michael Brenly, C-DH: 0-3 (P-3, P-6, P-8)
7. Jovan Rosa, DH-C: 0-3 (K, 6-3, K)
8. Matt Cerda, 3B: 1-3 (P-2, 1B, 4-3)
9. Justin Bour, 1B: 2-3 (1B, 1B, 4-3)
10. Kyung-Min Na, LF: 0-3 (F-9, K, L-6)
1. Chris Rusin - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 PO, 2/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (12 strikes)
2. Chris Archer - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 4/5 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)
3. Nick Struck - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1 BALK, 2/2 GO/FO, 30 pitches (19 strikes)
4. Jose Rosario - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
5. Steve Grife - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 2/1 GO/FO, 18 pitches (9 strikes)
Michael Brenly - 0-1 CS
Jovan Rosa - 1 PB
WEATHER: 70's & overcast first-pitch, then mostly sunny by noon
crunch 8 hours 13 min ago (view)
without fail, at the end of every minor league spring training period (which is extremely poorly paid, not at all for the most part) there comes some retirements that seem to be a bit "early" in their development when players slog through weeks of low/no pay only to find out they're being assigned to a low level that barely pays them. it's a real morale crasher after going through weeks of poverty that breaks some guys. that's no way to run things...
JustSayin' 9 hours 32 min ago (view)
So true. The minors these days is an odd mix of the few who get big bonuses with Hispanic guys for whom $1,200/month might be good money and college guys being partly subsidized by middle or upper-middle class families. You don't hear much about minor league economics when the discussion turns to lower participation by black players but I believe it's a big factor. If you need to use sports to get ahead, would you rather have your "internship" involve a free college education, or $6,000 a year?
crunch 10 hours 2 min ago (view)
there are more than a few minor league players that have to "retire" from minor league ball in order to start making real money in the real world for their real lives while those from more wealthy families get to follow their dreams a bit longer.
that's a real shame.
JustSayin' 15 hours 8 min ago (view)
Theo got a good question at the conference on minor league salaries and went on record that they are unfair. That was followed by "keep your ear to the ground" or some similar cliche. I find this interesting. Fan dissatisfaction this offseason is maily focused on ownership being cheap but you have to admit there is a (slim?) chance that the baseball moves we want to see are not currently possible. It's hard to say the same about MiLB salaries. Those don't even factor in the luxury tax. You could raise every player in the system to middle class for the cos
Dolorous Jon Lester 15 hours 34 min ago (view)
As part of the 2019-2020 Cubs offseason dumpster diving extravaganza, I wonder if they will kick the tires on Zack Cozart. Can handle 2B SS 3B and isn't far removed from being a great defender and at least decent hitter. 2 years of injury is a concern, but he'd receive only ML minimum.
crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
WAS is now floating c.kieboom as a 3rd base option...along with asdrubal cabrera backing him up there.
the bryant service issue delay may end up lessening his trade value as teams (especially his #1 rumored suitor, WAS) prepare their teams in the offseason.
it's unfortunate that the cubs major offseason team building is based on waiting to find out how much getting rid of bryant is worth because of service time concerns.
Arizona Phil 1 day 10 hours ago (view)
Another possible unintended consequence of the new restriction on September call-ups is that contending clubs will send MLB-ready pitchers and position-players who in previous seasons would have been called-up to MLB in September to the Arizona Fall League, just to keep them in game shape in case the pitcher or position player is needed as an injury replacement in September or in the post-season.
Arizona Phil 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
One thing about Josh Phegley is that not only is he out of minor league options but he also has Article XIX-A rights (he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), so he can't even be outrighted to the minors without his consent if he were to be added to the 40.
Arizona Phil 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have reportedly signed veteran MLB catcher Josh Phegley (ex-OAK and ex-CHW) to a minor league contract and an NRI to Spring Training (contract is pending because it has not yet been filed with MLB).
CubbyBlue 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
Yeah but that person figured out a way to make a profit off of it, so... hey WAIT!
crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)
"Cubs' pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said Friday that Brandon Morrow (elbow) will be on the same schedule as the rest of the Cubs' pitchers during spring training."
that's cool. no restrictions unless the team chooses to be cautious, evidently.
Arizona Phil 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
The Danny Hultzen and Carlos Asuaje minor league contracts have been filed with MLB, but no Jason Adam or Tyler Olson contract filings (yet).
cubbies.4ever 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
My son's name is Tyler Olsen (obviously spelled different, and only 6 but a future Cub), so I am rooting for Tyler to make the team.
Arizona Phil 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
And Tyler Olson has a similar profile as Casey Sadler (out of minor league options and has Article XX-D rights if he is added to the 40), the only difference being (unlike Sadler) Olson will come to Spring Training not on the 40 so he can be sent to Iowa without restrictions, but if & when he's added to the 40 he isn't a Des Moines - Chicago shuttle-rider candidate.
Arizona Phil 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
Unfortunately (for the Cubs) Casey Sadler doesn't fit as a Des Moines - Chicago shuttle-rider because he is out of minor league options and he can elect free-agency if he is outrighted (he has Article XX-D rights because he been outrighted previously in his career).
cubbies.4ever 2 days 10 hours ago (view)
I agree, this offseason has been a disgrace. If I'm Theo I'm thinking I am in OAK or CHI? This ownership has given him nothing this year. Even the cheap Twins are willing to sign Josh Donaldson and the Cubs biggest transaction this offseason may be adding Miguel Amaya to the 40 man.