International Recruits Watch AZL Cubs Whitewash A's at Fitch Park

D. J. Wilson drilled an RBI triple, walked, stole a base, and scored two runs, Roberto Caro ripped a triple and an RBI single and scored a run, Robert Garcia collected three hits, stole a base, scored a run, and drove-in another, Carlos Sepulveda singled twice, walked, and collected two RBI, and Eric Jokisch and Austyn Willis combined to toss a shutout, as the AZL Cubs blanked the AZL Athletics 6-0 in Arizona League action Saturday night on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The Cubs got the scoring started in the top of 3rd inning, as D. J. Wilson drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on a Carlos Sepulveda RBI opposite-field single sliced down the LF line.

The Cubs added five more runs over the final three innings to seal the victory. 

Roberto Caro drilled a triple into the right-centerfield alley to open the 7th, and scored on a Yohan Matos line-drive RBI single over the shortstop's head (infield was playing "in"), and then after advancing to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, Matos scored on a Robert Garcia RBI single that ricocheted off the pitchers leg. P. J. Higgins (line-drive to left), Michael Foster (line-drive to center), and Roberto Caro (line-drive to right) stroked consecutive one-out singles to plate another run in the 8th, and then D. J. Wilson creamed an opposite-field RBI triple into the left-centerfield alley to drive-in Robert Garcia (who had singled leading-off the 9th inning), before scoring on a Carlos Sepulveda infield hit to complete the Cub scoring. 

LHP Eric Jokisch (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL - rib cage inflammation) made his third rehab start for the AZL Cubs and worked five innings (69 pitches - 41 strikes), allowing four hits (all singles) and two walks while striking out six (all six swinging), with a 5/1 GO/FO (including two GIDP). Unless there just isn't room for Jokisch in the Iowa starting rotation (and given the motley group that's there, I find that hard to believe), this positively should be Jokisch's last rehab outing before returning to the I-Cubs. (Actually, I'm surprised his previous AZL rehab outing wasn't his last one).  

LHP Bryan Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round pick - Alton HS - Alton, IL) threw "live" BP at Mesa CubTown Field #1 prior to the team leaving for Fitch Park, the first outing for Hudson where he actually faced hitters. There had been speculation that other than throwing a few bullpen sessions, Hudson would not make his mound debut (facing hitters) until post-season "Instructs" (AZ Instructional League), but now it appears possible that he might actually see some game action at some point prior to the conclusion of the AZL season.   

Nine members of the Cubs 2015 IFA class attended the game, under the supervision of Gian Guzman. The nine are in town to get more extensive physicals than the ones they received at the Cubs Dominican Academy, and to be introduced to "The Cubs Way." 

Some of you will perhaps remember Gian Guzman as a one-time Cub minor league infielder. He was at Extended Spring Training in 2007 and 2008 at Fitch Park, with Marwin Gonzalez in 2007, and with Junior Lake, Starlin Castro, and Josh Vitters in 2008. As it turned out, four of the five (Castro, Lake, Gonzalez, and Vitters) eventually graduated to the big leagues, but Guzman (who had every bit as much promise as the others) had his playing career cut short by injuries.

First he suffered a broken leg in a 1st inning collision with RHP Julio Castillo while playing shortstop for Peoria in July 2008. That was the game that later erupted into a wild "beanball" brawl, where Castillo (known by his teammates as "Animal," because he captured and then kept a desert rat as a pet in his motel room in Mesa the previous summer) was arrested by Dayton Police (and actually eventually served time in the county jail after being convicted for "felonious assault causing serious physical injury") when he intentionally threw a baseball at a fan in the stands (and hit the fan) during the fight (Castillo threw a 95 MPH fastball at the time).



As for Guzman, he was unable to continue his career as an infielder, so he was tried as a pitcher for about a year, but he blew-out his shoulder and was forced to retire. But the Cubs didn't just kick him to the side of the road. He was retained as an apprentice scout and player development assistant, and was so good at it that now he is the Cubs Scouting Coordinator in the Dominican Republic (at the ripe old age of 26!).

Here is the abridged box score from Saturday night's game (Cubs players only):

AZL CUBS LINEUP:
1. Robert Garcia, RF: 3-5 (L-4, 1B, 4-3, 1B, 1B, R, RBI, SB, CS)
2. D. J. Wilson, CF: 1-4 (K, BB, E-4, 5-2 FC, 3B, 2 R, RBI, SB)
3. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 2-4 (BB, 1B, 1-4-3, 1-3, 1B, 2 RBI)
4. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 0-5 (K, 5-3, F-8, K, 5-4-3 DP)
5. P. J. Higgins, 3B:  1-5 (F-9, K, F-8, 1B, P-6, R)
6. Michael Foster, DH: 1-4 (6-3, 4-3, F-7, 1B)
7. Roberto Caro, LF: 2-3 (BB, K, 3B, 1B, R, RBI)
8. Yohan Matos, C: 1-4 (P-6, K, 1B, F-9, R, RBI)
9. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 1-3 (P-4, 1B, 1-3 SH, P-3)

AZL CUBS PITCHERS
1. Eric Jokisch: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 GIDP, 5/1 GO/FO, 69 pitches (41 strikes) 
2. Austyn Willis: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 PO, 2 GIDP, 4/3 GO/FO, 44 pitches (27 strikes) 

AZL CUBS ERRORS: 1 
1B Jose Paniagua: E-3 (missed catch on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed baserunner to advance to 3rd)

AZL CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE
Yohan Matos: 2-2 CS 

Comments

AZ Phil, can you tell us who the nine IFA'ers are? I know of four who have been reported.

Interesting that there had been no news on EJax hooking up with another team, including the minors or independent leagues. It's been more than 10 days since he was released. He's be a good candidate to upgrade the WSux rotation, replacing Shark for next weekend's series.

Is Shark injured or are you just thinking they would skip him because he has been horrible lately?

Shark not injured. Just pitching like EJax circa 2013-4.

Hmm. Buy-low option in the offseason?

I'd say Shark is getting what he deserves. He never has been the ace he thinks he is ... and now he's heading into his ballyhooed free agent period with major question marks. I don't see the Cubs going after him.

I had either completely forgotten or blocked from my memory the entire MLB career of Josh Vitters. When I read that, I thought Phil had made a mistake. Instead, it turns out that the Cubs organization is the one who made the mistake. Eeesh.

Interestingly, it doesn't appear Vitters is playing anywhere this year. Rockies signed him to a minor league deal in ST, but released him at the end of March. If he is playing baseball this year it must be abroad or independent ball of some sort, and I don't see it reported anywhere doing a quick search. Guy is still just 25.

I'm surprised, too, but we probably shouldn't be. Maybe Vitters is just smarter than the average 4A-type hitter who thinks he has a shot to make the majors as a righty-hitting 1B-LF. At age 25, he'll do better in the real world. Edit: Looks like Brett Jackson (age 26) has hung up his spikes, as well. Had brief stints with AZ last year and SF (AAA Sacramento River Cats) this year; but he's no longer on the Cats' roster, and Baseball Reference shows his last "teams played for" date as July 11th this year.
”He brings so much to the table” Sveum said. ”In my nine years of coaching he is the best young player I’ve seen in a major league camp. He is the full package. The swinging and missing, he has to work on and cutting down strikeouts. He just brings a lot to the table.”

after a while it's hard to keep plugging away in the minors unless you, your family, or some sponsor can support the quest for the dream. not only is minor league pay cruddy, it pretty much keeps you away from home for 1/2 year+ and that grind is too much for some people (especially when a wife/kid gets involved). guys like rex rundgren can spend a decade+ middling around in the minor/indie leagues without worrying about their "real life" after the game. this isn't a bad thing, it's just an advantage not everyone gets. the game has probably missed out of a lot of guys who could play in the bigs for a number of years only because the real world took control of their lives before their skills developed. some guys don't even last until age 25. that said, i have no idea what's going on with vitters. ...and yeah, he got $3m when he signed, but i dunno what he's done with it the past 8 years.

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  • Dolorous Jon Lester 11 hours 57 min ago (view)

    I think, in relation to the higher profile guys like Javy or Contreras, they're trying to put some pressure on to sign extensions.

    That said I do think they're listening on everyone with the only name I haven't seen being Rizzo.

     

  • crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    i wonder where the cubs will go with things.

    there's a lot pointing to the cubs being expected to listen to offers on almost anyone.  as it is, on paper, the cubs could roll right into 2020 with no changes whatsoever and still field a very competitive team.  the whole "shakeup" thing seems to be a very hot topic from a variety of sources, though.

    bryant, contreras, schwarber have all been linked to "cubs may be listening" rumors...probably listening to anything on happ, bote, almora, russell, too...

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    Even the Cubs should be able to out bid the Marlins!

     

  • crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    "According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins are "believed" to have interest in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos."

    by interest, i assume they mean they'd like to have some baseball rookie cards or his or maybe a hug from him.  i can't imagine they actually want to spend money on someone they could use to make their team better because that makes no sense.

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    Prior to joining the Cubs in 2012 Scott Harris was Director of Baseball Operations in the MLB office, which means he received, reviewed, and approved all major league and minor league contracts and transactions, as well as providing MLB clubs with schedules, rules updates, and draft information. 

     

  • Cubster 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Giants hire Scott Harris, from Cubs front office,  as GM

     

  • Charlie 3 days 7 hours ago (view)

    For anyone else who immediately wonders but is not invested enough to look it up, this is not Chris (Ryan) Young, former Padres starter and fisticuffs partner of Derrek Lee, but rather the two-years younger Chris Matthew Young.

     

  • crunch 3 days 18 hours ago (view)

    rev up those off-season rumor fryers...

    Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
    Multiple teams in search of catching help believe Cubs catcher Willson Contreras will be available this winter. The Cubs will get creative this winter, and with a deep catching free agent market, they could trade Contreras and begin retooling under new manager David Ross.

     

  • crunch 3 days 23 hours ago (view)

    former padres manager andy green is gonna be ross's bench coach.

    green was c.rea's manager in SD, btw.

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Last year the Cubs signed four free-agents to minor league contracts prior to the Rule 5 Draft: LHP Alberto Baldonado, OF Wynton Bernard, RHP Corey Black, and RHP Jose Rosario. All four were members of the Cubs organization in 2018 but declined to sign a 2019 minor league successor contract prior to being declared a free-agent, but then came back to the Cubs after briefly testing the free-agent waters. 

     

  • crunch 4 days 10 hours ago (view)

    chris young to be named new bullpen coach (former phillies pitching coach)

    mixed messages on whether lester strode will have a new cubs role or leaving the cubs...

     

  • crunch 5 days 3 hours ago (view)

    t.clifton straight up falling off a cliff sucked to watch happen last year.

    i had a lot of faith in the guy to at least hold his own in AAA, even if he needed another season or 2 after to get ready for prime time.

    he ended up giving out homers like candy on halloween while retaining his high walk and injury rate.

    that said, his career is far from done.  most likely many other teams willing to give him a minor league deal.

     

  • Arizona Phil 5 days 7 hours ago (view)

    Keep in mind that most free-agents who sign a 2020 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft are eligible for selection. (The only exception would be a free-agent who is not yet eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, such as a player whose only previous pro experience was in a foreign major league or in an independent minor league, or a player who was released by another MLB organization but is still not yet eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft).  

     

  • Arizona Phil 5 days 8 hours ago (view)

    If you're wondering if players who sign minor league successor contracts ever get taken in the Rule 5 Draft, the answer is most definitely - YES -. 

    The Cubs selected RHP Hector Rondon in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft after the Indians signed him to a minor league successor contract, and the Baltimore Orioles selected RHP Pedro Araujo in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft after the Cubs signed him to a minor league successor contract. 

     

  • Hagsag 5 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Got to get Taylor Davis back.

     

  • Arizona Phil 5 days 8 hours ago (view)

    So the Cubs were ultimately able to retain five of their seven most-valuable post-2019 minor league free-agent eligibles (Rea, Pereda, de la Cruz, Lugo, and Burks), losing only Clifton and Leal (both of whom are probably looking for a fresh start in another organization after maybe feeling stalled in the Cubs system).