Cub Power on Display in Maryvale

Jose Paniagua belted a solo home run, singled twice, walked, and scored three runs, Isaac Paredes doubled twice, singled, drove-in two runs, and scored three more, Marcus Mastrobuoni belted an RBI triple and a single, walked, and scored three runs, Yeiler Peguero drilled an RBI single and a two-run double, Vimael Machin collected three singles, a walk, and an RBI, Roberto Garcia ripped two doubles, scored a run, and drove-in another, and four pitchers combined to fan 17 opposing batters, helping the Cubs demolish the Brewers 15-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") at the Maryvale Baseball Park Complex in Phoenix, AZ.  

Nicolas Pierre (RBI triple), Gilbert Lara (RBI double), and Yeraldy Martinez (RBI single) contributed run-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 3rd that gave the Brew Crew a short-lived 4-1 lead, before the Cubs scored the final 14 runs of the game.  

The game was called by mutual consent after 8-1/2 innings of play. 

Through today's Cactus League EXST game, the Cubs are 23-12-5.

But did you know?...  

1. SS-2B Yeiler Peguero is hitting 377/421/528 with only two strikeouts in 57 PA (including 50 consecutive PA without a strikeout 4/17 - 5/20);
2. SS (now 3B) Isaac Paredes is hitting 306/370/551 (9% K-rate) with a team-leading 16 RBI in just 16 games played; 
3. 1B Jose Paniagua is hitting 326/356/721 (11% K-rate) with a team-leading five HR (all five HR plus ten RBI in his last eleven games);
4. C-1B Marcus Mastrobuoni is hitting a team-leading 483/595/828 (5% K-rate) and is tied for the team-lead in doubles with five;
5. OF Kevonte Mitchell is hitting 277/438/426 (17% K-rate - 22% walk-rate) in 64 PA with a team-leading 14 walks and 15 runs scored and is tied for second in stolen bases with five; 
6. CF D. J. Wilson is hitting only 200/284/338 (15% K-rate) in 74 PA but he is hitting 281/343/500 over his last ten games (35 PA), and he leads the team in triples with four and in stolen bases with six,
7. 1B (ex-LHP) Chris Pieters is hitting 327/414/429 (8% K-rate - 12% walk-rate) in 17 games (58 PA) and is tied for second in SB with Mitchell,
8. 3B Wladimir Galindo is hitting 300/345/400 (25% K-rate) in 55 PA and is tied for the team-lead in doubles with Mastrobuoni; 
9. 3B-2B-SS Vimael Machin is hitting 324/600/432 (5% K-rate - 30% walk-rate) in 16 games (40 PA), and
10. SS-2B-3B Andruw Monasterio is hitting 333/367/400 (14% K-rate) in 15 games (49 PA).  


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

CUBS LINEUP:
1. Robert Garcia, CF: 2-6 (K, 4-3, P-6, 2B, 2B, 3-U, R, RBI)
2. Aramis Ademan, SS: 1-5 (4-3, L-9, 1B, K, FC+E1, R)
3. Roberto Caro, RF: 1-5 (1B, 4-3, K, K, F-7)
4. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 3-4 (1B, BB, 1B, HR, 6-3, 3 R, RBI)
5. Isaac Paredes, 3B: 3-5 (L-6, 1B, 2B, E-5, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI)
6a. Marcus Mastrobuoni, C: 2-2 (1B, 3B, BB, 3 R, 2 RBI)
6b. Jhonny Pereda, C: 1-2 (6-4 FC, 2B, R, RBI)
7. Vimael Machin, 2B: 3-4 (1B, 1B, 1B, L-7, BB, RBI)
8. Kwang-Min Kwon, DH #1: 0-5 (F-9, K, E-4, F-9, 5-4 FC, R)
9. Ruben Reyes, LF: 0-4 (1-3 SH, 5-4 FC, 4-3, E-1, 3-U, 2 R, RBI, SB)
10. Yeiler Peguero, DH #2: 2-5 (4-3, 1B, F-8, 4-3, 2B, 3 RBI, CS)

CUBS PITCHERS
1. Jose Paulino: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 2/1 GO/AO, 59 pitches (44 strikes) 
2. M. T. Minacci: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/0 GO/AO, 39 pitches (25 strikes) 
3. Mark Malave: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/AO, 15 pitches (9 strikes) 
4. Pedro Araujo: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 18 pitches (17 strikes)

CUBS ERRORS: 1 
LF Ruben Reyes: E-7 (dropped pop fly allowing batter to reach 2nd base safely) 

CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE
Marcus Mastrobuoni: 1 PB 

ATTENDANCE: 10 

WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's 

Comments

So, the Mesa Cubs should be solid this summer in the AZL Rookie League? And, I like the, "But did you know" lead in there. Something a little different. I can tell really like this group of hitters in AZ right now. What pitchers out there, other than Cease, should we be excited about? Thanks as always for the info.

CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now. 

LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.  

RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.   

As far as relievers are concerned, RHP Tommy Nance throws 94-96 with a plus-curve, RHP Daniel Lewis throws 95-97 with a hard-slider, and Pedro Araujo is a rubber-armed strike-throwing machine with both his fastball, curve, and change-up (he threw 18 pitches - 17 strikes yesterday) .

Nance pitched at U. of Santa Clara (he was their Friday night starter) but went undrafted after his senior season, sat out a year, and then pitched for Windy City (Frontier League) last season. He's a real find. He's a big dude (6'6 240+), reminds me of somebody like Brad Penny.

Lewis was in the U. S, military and was discovered by a Cubs scout pitching at Pensacola  JC in Florida. He's 25, but has a "young arm" (he's only been pitching for two years). The younger pitchers really look up to him. He's a natural leader. 

FWIW, Paulino, Lewis, and Araujo were the last three cuts from the South Bend roster at the end of Minor League Camp, and so they would probably be the first to get moved-up if slots on the SB-Cubs pitching staff become available (except so far there haven't been any...).  

Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?

AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).

I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):  

* bats or throws left 
# bats both

EUGENE 

STARTING PITCHERS: 7
Jesus Castillo
Dylan Cease
* Bryan Hudson  
Erling Moreno
* Jose Paulino
* Manny Rondon
Pedro Silverio

BULLPEN: 12 
Pedro Araujo
Jared Cheek
Enrique de los Rios
Scott Frazier
* Yapson Gomez
John Michael Knighton 
Daniel Lewis 
Mark Malave 
M. T. Minacci 
Tommy Nance
* Tyler Peitzmeier
Alexander Santana

CATCHERS
: 5
Marcus Mastrobuoni 
* Alberto Mineo
Tyler Payne
Tyler Pearson 
Jhonny Pereda

INFIELDERS: 7
Wladimir Galindo 
* Vimael Machin
Andruw Monasterio
Jose Paniagua
Isaac Paredes 
# Yeiler Peguero
* Chris Pieters

OUTFIELDERS: 7
Alex Bautista
# Roberto Caro 
Michael Foster
# Robert Garcia
* Ricardo Marcano
Kevonte Mitchell 
* D. J. Wilson

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

AZL CUBS 

PITCHERS: 18
Jose Albertos
Luis Aquino 
Javier Assad 
Jordan Brink (REHAB - post-2015 right shoulder surgery)
Jesus Camargo (REHAB - ???)
Oscar de la Cruz (REHAB - elbow)
Andin Diaz (REHAB - ???)
Wander Feliz (ex-OF)
Fancisco Garay (ex-INF)
Hector Garcia
Tanner Griggs (RESTRICTED LIST - ACTIVE AT EXST)
Luis Hernandez (REHAB - ???)
Jose Leidenz
Gabriel Lima (REHAB - ???)
Junior Marte
* Pablo Ochoa 
* Eugenio Palma 
Andry Rondon

CATCHERS
:  4 
Miguel Amaya 
Eric Gonzalez
Gustavo Polanco
Kevin Zamudio 

INFIELDERS: 9
* Aramis Ademan 
Jhonny Bethencourt
Joey Martarano (PRESENTLY NACTIVE - attending college at Boise State)
Rafael Mejia
Christopher Morel (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY AT THIS TIME - arm lacertaion)
Rafael Narea
# Yonathan Perlaza 
# Edgar Rondon 
Ho-Young Son (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY AT THIS TIME - ???)

OUTFIELDERS: 7
* Luis Ayala
Jose Gonzalez
* Kwang-Min Kwon
Yohan Matos (ex-C)
* Ruben Reyes
* Abraham Rodriguez
* Jonathan Sierra

Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2.  

PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.

E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season  either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.

Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.  

He played 1B-LF-RF at EXST last year, but was moved to full-time 1B this year. And his defense has really improved. He has made several nice picks of bad throws at 1st base, and the infielders feel confident when he's playing 1st base because they know he can save them an error.  

I think it's reasonable to believe that Paniagua is a prospect of some value. He has the XBH power and defensive acumen to stay at 1B, and he should be able to play some corner OF going-forward, too.

The one negative (the elephant in the room) is that he doesn't take walks. He didn't take any walks (that's ZERO walks) in 56 PA at EXST last year, he took only nine walks in 171 PA with the AZL Cubs last summer, and he has drawn just two walks in 45 PA at EXST this year. His 11% K-rate at EXST this year is pretty good for a HR hitter, but it was 29% at EXST and 23% at AZL Cubs last year, so he still has some work to do in that area.  

Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded? He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee. My guess? Toronto.

given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through. i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them. hopefully, he'll slip back into the minors and at least find his control/command even if his fastball velocity doesn't return back to the mid-90s. with a fb/slider/curve combo there's still something to be hopeful for even with lowered velocity. that said, as far as his trade value...i dunno where to handicap that given the above concerns vs the fact he's still cheap with decent upside if he can get control/command of his pitches.

With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?

Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.

Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.

BRADSBEARD: If all three are assigned to Eugene, the Cubs can play Galindo, Paredes, and Paniagua at the same time by moving Paredes between SS-3B-DH, Galindo between 3B-1B-DH, and Paniagua between 1B-LF-DH. 

The Cubs like to have their players (including their minor leaguers) learn to play more than one position even if they eventually are projected to settle at one spot, and I suspect that will be reflected at Eugene, with just about everybody who will be assigned there able to play at least two positions. 

For example, Andruw Monasterio has played three positions (SS-2B-3B) at EXST, Yeiler Peguero plays both SS & 2B interchangeably, Kevonte Mitchell plays all three OF positions, and most all of the catchers at EXST have logged games at 1B. 

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