Ed Howard Stars as Cubs Rally to Tie Giants at Instructs
Cubs 2020 1st round draft pick Ed Howard IV (Mt. Carmel HS - Chicago, IL) drilled a pinch-hit RBI double in his pro game debut and Jacob Wetzel (2020 NDFA - Frederick CC) laced an RBI triple and scored on a Fabian Pertuz RBI single in his pro game debut, as the Cubs rallied to tie the Giants 5-5 in AZ Instructional League Opening Day game action Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.
Rob Emery belted a three-run HR and Marco Luciano followed with a monster solo shot (both off Cubs SP Cory Abbott) to give the Giants an early 4-0 lead, before the Cubs came roaring back in the late innings.
Besides Howard and Wetzel, three other Cubs made their pro game debut on Wednesday. LF Jordan Nwogu (2020 3rd round pick - U. of Michigan) reached base on an HBP in his first pro AB and later scored from 1st base on the Wetzel triple, 1B Matt Mervis (2020 NDFA - Duke) drew a walk in his first pro AB and later scored on the Howard RBI double, and RHRP Ben Leeper (2020 NDFA - Oklahoma State) threw one inning in relief.
The game was called after eight innings of play.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
1a. Edmond Americaan, CF: 0-3 (K, K, K)
1b. Jacob Wetzel, CF: 1-2 (3B, K, R, RBI)
2a. Andy Weber, SS: 2-3 (2B, 1B, 5-3)
2b. Fabian Pertuz, SS: 1-2 (1B, K, RBI)
3a. Christopher Morel, 3B: 1-3 (P-2, 1B, 5-3)
3b. Luis Verdugo, 3B: 0-1 (L-7 DP)
4a. Jared Young,1B: 0-2 (1-3, F-8)
4b. Matt Mervis, 1B: 0-1 (BB, F-8, R)
5a. Chase Strumpf, 2B: 1-2 (1B, K, R)
5b. Luis Vazquez, 2B: 0-2 (6-3, 4-3)
6a. Alfonso Rivas, DH: 0-0 (BB, BB, R)
6b. Ed Howard IV, PH-DH: 1-1 (2B, BB, RBI)
7a. Nelson Velazquez, RF: 0-2 (1-3, 6-4 FC)
7b. Yohendrick Pinango, RF: 1-2 (4-3, 1B+E4)
8a. Cam Balego, C: 1-2 (1B, 5-3, RBI)
8b. Bryce Windham, C: 0-2 (K, F-7)
9a. Yonathan Perlaza, LF: 1-2 (6-3, 1B, RBI, SB)
9b. Jordan Nwogu, LF: 0-1 (HBP, K, R)
1. Cory Abbott: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 1 WP, 1/4 GO/AO, 68 pitches (38 strikes)
2. Ben Leeper: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GO/AO, 26 pitches (17 strikes)
3. Peyton Remy: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1/3 GO/AO, 54 pitches (35 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. SS Andy Weber - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
2. P Cory Abbott - E-1 (errant throw on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 2nd)
WEATHER: Hot & breezy with temperatures 100+
"Just because it isn't official doesn't mean it didn't happen"
Charlie 30 min 42 sec ago (view)
I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.
Arizona Phil 8 hours 33 min ago (view)
DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?).
Dolorous Jon Lester 9 hours 16 min ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 18 hours 2 min ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 19 hours 56 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 20 hours 40 min ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 21 hours 15 min ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 17 min ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 22 hours 22 min ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 23 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 22 hours 34 min ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.
crunch 22 hours 40 min ago (view)
i am rooting for the cubs to retain schwarber.
even though he's average on the best of days in LF (except his above average arm), i would like to see him and his work ethic remain in the cubs system...the homers from the left side of the plate are nice, too.
Arizona Phil 23 hours 3 min ago (view)
At least as things stand right now, Kris Bryant is your Cubs de facto 2021 Opening Day LF! (Of course we know he will be traded before then...).
Otherwise, minor league NRI outfielders Ian Miller, Michael Hermosillo, and Rafael Ortega will be competing for Opening Day OF slots, with a legit shot to win a job.
Even Alfonso Rivas (who was hitting rockets from foul line to foul line at AZ Instructs) and/or Eddy Julio Martinez (who has had a very good winter in the Mexican Pacific League) might have a shot.
Arizona Phil 23 hours 5 min ago (view)
I would think that both Colin Rea and Kyle Ryan must have signed contracts with minor league split salaries, otherwise I doubt very much that they would have been tendered.
Arizona Phil 23 hours 16 min ago (view)
With Tepera non-tendered and Winkler, Ryan, and Rea signed, the Cubs 2021 Opening Day bullpen (right now) would appear to be Kimbrel (clearly not tradeable), Wick (virtual lock), Winkler (can't be optioned without his consent), Underwood (out of minor league options), and Maples (out of minor league options), and then three from amongst Adam, Norwood, Rea, Ryan, Stock, and Wieck (each of whom can be optioned back & forth to AAA as needed).
Arizona Phil 23 hours 36 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed RHSP Colin Rea, LHRP Kyle Ryan, and RHRP Dan Winkler to 2021 MLB contracts (terms TBD) and tendered 2021 MLB contracts to all other unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) except OF Albert Almora, OF-1B Jose Martinez, OF Kyle Schwarber, and RHRP Ryan Tepera.
So Almora, J. Martinez, Schwarber, and Tepera are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club (including the Cubs) without any salary restrictions.
The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 34 (six slots are open).