Ademan Blast Leads Cubs to Victory
Aramis Ademan (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $2M bonus) blasted a three-run home run high over the RF fence and onto the south bank of the Red Mountain Freeway to cap a four-run sixth inning, as the Cubs rallied to defeat the Diamondbacks 5-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #5 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.
Acquired by the Cubs from the Oakland A's for OF Chris Coghlan after the Cubs re-signed CF Dexter Fowler in February, RHSP Aaron Brooks (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with a hip contusion) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 8 strikes), and allowing no runs on two hits (a single and a double). His fastball velocity was 91-92 MPH, and he displayed a hard breaking ball.
RHP Dylan Cease followed Brooks to the hill and worked three innings (63 pitches - 63% strikes), allowing three runs (all three earned) on five hits (two doubles and three singles) and two walks, with four strikeouts, and a 2/3 GO/AO. He also committed a two-base throwing error attempting to pick a runner off 1st base.
Cease's fastball velocity sat consistently at 96-98 MPH, but he touched 99 twice and 100 once in the top of the third when he struck out the side (his only 1-2-3 inning). He also threw about a dozen curves (79-81 MPH) and about a half-dozen change-ups (82-84 MPH). He had trouble commanding his change-up (he bounced most of them), he hung a couple of curves that were hammered for line-drive hits, and he had trouble keeping his fastball at knee level (which is when it's virtually unhittable), leaving too many of his high-velocity offerings belt-high.
Dylan Cease combined 2016 Cactus League EXST line (thru 5/23):
2.95 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .246 OppBA
18.1 IP, 16 H, 6 R (6 ER), 9 BB, 25 K, 1 HBP, 0 HR, 2 WP, 2 PO, 1 BALK, 2 GIDP, 17/7 GO/AO, 307 pitches (61% strikes), 16.7 PITCHES-PER-INNING
Prior to the EXST game on Field #5, RHSP Dallas Beeler (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with right shoulder inflammation) and RHRP P. J. Francescon threw "live" BP on Field #4 (one inning and 25 pitches each).
Beeler was throwing in Cactus League EXST games last month and appeared to be close to moving-up to AAA Iowa, but then he was shut-down (mid-AB) in what was supposed to be his next-to-last rehab start on April 30th. So now it's back to square-one, with today's "live" BP outing his first step to get back to where he was last month. Barring any further medical setbacks, Beeler and Brooks should be in the Iowa starting rotation within about three weeks.
Francescon was the closer at AA Tennessee last year and it looked like he would get a shot at advancing to AAA Iowa in 2016, but then he received a 50-game Drug of Abuse suspension from MLB last January that has left him throwing "live" BP, "sim" games, and intrasquad games at Extended Spring Training while he completes his "sentence." Francescon reminds me a bit of Rod Beck, with a pedestrian 88-90 MPH fastball used to set-up a dive-bomb splitter (his "swing & miss" pitch).
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
1. D. J. Wilson, CF: 1-4 (K, F-8, 1B, F-8, R)
2a. Aramis Ademan, SS: 2-3 (F-7, 1B, HR, R, 3 RBI)
2b. Jhonny Bethencourt, 3B: 0-1 (K)
3. Chris Pieters, 1B: 1-3 (3-U, 1B, L-4, HBP, RBI, SB)
4. Wladimir Galindo, DH #1: 0-3 (K, 6-3, BB, L-5)
5. Alex Bautista, DH #2: 1-3 (K, 1B, K, HBP, PO)
6. Ricardo Marcano, RF: 0-4 (6-3, F-9, K, K)
7. Yonathan Perlaza, 2B: 0-3 (F-8, F-8, BB, 4-3)
8. Andruw Monasterio, 3B-SS: 2-3 (4-3, 2B, BB, 1B, R)
9a. Tyler Pearson, C: 0-1 (F-8)
9b. Gustavo Polanco, PH-C: 0-3 (6-3, K, F-8, RBI)
10. Luis Ayala, LF: 2-3 (1B, 1B, 5-3, 2 R)
1. Aaron Brooks: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 12 pitches (8 strikes)
2. Dylan Cease: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 2/3 GO/AO, 63 pitches (40 strikes)
3. Jared Cheek: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/AO, 20 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Enrique de los Rios: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 27 pitches (18 strikes)
5. Yapson Gomez: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GO/AO, 10 pitches (9 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
P Dylan Cease: E-1 (two-base throwing error on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 3rd)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Tyler Pearson: 1-3 CS
CUBS BASERUNNING ADVENTURES:
Aramis Ademan - thrown-out 9-5 attempting to advance from 1st to 3rd on ground single to RF with one out in 4th
WEATHER: Sunny and a bit breezy with temperatures in the 80's