Angel Gonzalez

Cubs Blow Lead Then Rally to Edge A's at Sloan Park

Moises Ballesteros smacked an RBI double into the right-centerfield alley and scored and David Bote hammered an RBI triple into the LF corner and scored to highlight a three-run Cub 1st inning, Reivaj Garcia belted a two-run HR into the RF bullpen to plate two runs for the Cubs in the 2nd, and then after Hansen Lopez (RBI single), Jose Escorche (two-run single), and Darlyn Montero (two-run double) contributed run scoring hits in a five-run A's 5th that tied the game, Cristian More drilled an RBI single in the 6th and Bryan Serra laced an RBI single in the 7th, as the Cubs blew an early 5-0 lead and then came-back to edge the Athletics 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Saturday morning at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

In addition, Jose Bonilla singled twice and scored twice and Angel Arevalo walked twice, lined an RBI single, and scored a run for the A's. 

Moises Ballesteros ended up collecting two doubles for the Cubs in the game as well as throwing out a runner trying to steal, while Frank Hernandez singled, doubled and scored, and drove-in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Signed by the Cubs for a $1.5M bonus as a 16-year old out of Venezuela in 2021 the same day the Cubs signed Christian Hernandez, Moises Ballesteros has thrown out 67% (6 of 9) of baserunners atempting steal against him in Cactus League EXST games, as well as picking a runner off 2nd base. In 46 Cactus League EXST plate appearances, he is hitting 216/348/297, with a 17% BB-rate and a 17% K-rate. 

A native of Cuba who migrated with his twin brother Omar to Spain where they played together on the Team Spain 18U squad, Frank Hernandez is a high-contact hitter, with a 14% K-rate but only a 3% walk-rate. He is hitting 303/333/394, and leads the team in RBI and AVG (minimum 30 PA). He was a two-way player (RHP / OF) in Spain prior to signing with the Cubs in December 2019, and you can see he has a pitcher's arm when he uncorks throws from the outfield. Twin brother Omar is a catcher, and he was signed by the Kansas City Royals in 2018. Omar is presently playing in Lo-A.  

Cubs RHRP Angel Gonzalez continues to impress, mixing his high-octane 96-98 MPH FB with an 87-89 MPH SL. His command isn't necessarily quite where it needs to be yet, but it's a lot better than it was.      

Although the game was played in Sloan Park, the A's played as the home team because the Cubs did not have enough pitchers available to cover more than seven innings. As a resuilt, the game was called after 7-1/2 innings of play.

In EXST Cubs roster news, 1B Felix Stevens has completed his rehab and he has rejoined Myrtle Beach. 

Here is the abridged box score for the game (Cubs players only): 

D'backs Black Blank the Cubs at Sloan Park

Deivi Estrada belted a solo HR, Luis Rubio singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored a run, Jose Fernandez singled twice, scored a run, and drove-in another, Grayson Greiner drilled a single and a double, and Sean Poppen, Ricardo Yan, and Miguel Gil combined to toss a four-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, as the Diamondbacks Black squad blanked the Cubs 4-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Tuesday morning at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was pre-planned as a seven inning affair.  

EXST Cubs top pitching prospect RHP Michael Arias (ex-SS) got the start for the Cubs, but had to leave the game after recording only one out when he suffered a lower body injury while covering home plate after a bases-loaded wild pitch. He also had a blister issue earlier in the inning, which may be why his usual upper 90's FB velo was down a couple of clicks (94-97 MPH instead of 96-99).      

RHP Dakota Mekkes (on AAA Iowa 7-day IL) made his first game appearance of the season, working 2.1 IP (30 pitches - 18 strikes) in relief. He allowed a run on two hits (the Estrada HR and the Greiner double), walked one, and struck out three (all swinging). He  displayed his usual 89-92 MPH FB, 85-88 CH, and 76-79 MPH CV in the game, had decent command of all of his pitches, and threw 60% strikes. Mekkes will be an MLB Rule 9 minor league 6YFA post-2022 if he isn't added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or signs a 2023 minor league successor contract. He would appear to profile as a "once-through-the order / multi-inning" reliever at this point, and that's exactly how he was used in the game today.  

The best EXST Cub pitching performance of the day was by RHRP Angel Gonzalez, who mixed his high velo 96-98 MPH FB with a 86-87 MPH SL  - AND - with much better FB command than seen previously. His FB velo and command seem to be better when he can focus on throwing just one inning, instead of working two innings as he sometimes has been used in EXST games. Known as "Angel Gonzalez-Martinez" when he was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year old NDFA out of Puerto Rico in 2020, he now just goes by the name Angel Gonzalez. If he can command his hard stuff going forward and stay healthy, he will move quickly through the system, with a ceiling of a high-leverage one-inning reliever.   

In EXST roster news, INF Jake Slaughter has been moved-up to Hi-A South Bend. He was left behind in Mesa when the four full season affiliates left town last month and appeared to be a potential release candidate sooner rather than later, but he didn't pout, and has hit the ball very well while providing stellar defense at 3rd base in Cactus League EXST games over the past three weeks. If anybody "deserved" another chance, it was Jake Slaughter.   

Also, LHRP Wyatt Short has been assigned to AA Tennessee. Like Jake Slaughter, Short was left behind at EXST when the four Cubs full-season affiliates left town last month.Short is scheduled to be an MLB Rule 9 minor leaguer 6YFA post-2022. 

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):