Rockies Roll But Little Shows Off Big Arm at Talking Stick
Colorado Rockies 2021 15th round draft pick Benjamin Sems doubled, singled, walked, reached base on an HBP, stole a base, and scored a run, Rockies 2021 6th round draft pick Braxton Fulford drilled an RBI single, walked, reached base twice on an HBP, and scored a run, Rockies 2021 10th round pick Zach Kokoska singled twice, scored a run, and drove-in another, and RHSP Case Williams (Rockies 2020 4th round pick) fired five innings of one-hit shutout ball, leading the Rockies to a 6-1 victory over the Cubs in AZ Instructional League game action Saturday morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick east of Scottsdale, AZ.
All told, the Rockies collected nine hits (eight singles and a double) and stole four bases, but they also took advantage of nine walks, six HBP, amd nine WP to claim the victory.
Felix Stevens tripled to lead-off the top of the eighth inning and scored on a 6-3 GO to account for the lone Cub run.
SP Case Williams has had an unusual ride since being drafted by the Rockies out of a Colorado HS in 2020. He was one of two pitchers sent to the Reds last November in the deal that sent RHRP Robert Stephenson from Cincinnati to Colorado, and then he was reacquired by the Rockies from the Reds in exchange for RHRP Mychal Givens in a 2021 MLB Trade Deadline deal. Obviously the Rockies like Williams, and were probably thrilled to be given a chance to get him back. I can see why.
LHP Luke Little (2020 4th round draft pick out of San Jacinto JC in Texas) got the start for the Cubs and was virtually unhittable, hurling 2.2 IP with eight strikeouts (all eight outs he recorded were by punch-out), as the Rockies were able to put only one ball into play (a ground single through the 5.5 hole by the second batter he faced). But the 21-year old 6'8 230+ lefty also struggled to throw strikes, issuing three walks, hitting two batters, and uncorking three WP during the course of his outing.
Despite the command issues, Little's stuff was electric, as he mixed a 95-98 MPH FB, a 90-92 CH, an 88-91 SL/CT, and a slow CV, all thrown with a release point closer to home than is the case with the average pitcher because of his long arms. Count him as another success story from the Cubs Mesa Pitch Lab, where he has spent most of the past 16 months since signing in June 2020.
Given his pitch mix, velo, and size, I would think Luke Little -- not be confused with another Cubs minor league LHP, 2018 1st round pick Brendon Little -- is probably among the Cubs' Top 10 pitching prospects right now, with a 2022 Opening Day starting pitcher assignment at Myrtle Beach (if not at South Bend) a distinct possibility.
The 2021 AZIL Cubs finished their schedule with a 5-11-1 record. 19 games were originally scheduled, but one game was rained-out when a severe thunderstorm hit Mesa just as the game was about to start, and another was canceled because the opponent (the Rockies) didn't have enough pitchers available to play the game.
Of course the final AZIL W-L record isn't important, but it is what it is. Fact is, the 2021 AZIL Cubs were not exactly the 1927 Yankees in terms of game performance. They were shut out four times. That said, individual player development and team building is why the players were down here, and in that respect, Instructs was a definite success.
Many of the players who were at Instructs will return on November 1st for a four-month long conditioning & development program (with time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas) that will lead-up to the start of Minor League Camp in March.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
1. James Triandos Jr, 2B: 0-4 (L-9, L-7,5-3, 4-3)
2. Christian Olivo, SS: 0-4 (K, F-9, K, 5-3)
3. Christian Franklin, CF: 1-3 (1-3, K, 1B)
4. Bryce Ball, DH: 0-3 (K, 4-3, P-6)
5. Felix Stevens, RF: 1-3 (F-9, K, 3B, R)
6. Ronnier Quintero, C: 0-3 (4-3, 5-3, 6-3, RBI)
7. Liam Spence, 3B: 2-3 (1B, 1-3, 1B, PO)
8. Peter Matt, 1B: 0-2 (5-4-3 DP, HBP, K)
9. Frank Hernandez, LF: 0-3 (L-5, 6-4-3 DP, K)
1. Luke Little: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 8 K, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 60 pitches (33 strikes)
2. Luis Angel Rodriguez: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 0/3 GO/AO, 56 pitches (32 strikes)
3. Eduarniel Nunez: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 1/0 GO/AO, 21 pitches (9 strikes)
4. Yovanny Cabrera: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 26 pitches (11 strikes)
5. Nicholas Padilla: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 1/0 GO/AO, 19 pitches (11 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
P Yovanny Cabrera: E-1 (errant pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 3rd)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Ronnier Quintero: 1-5 CS, 1 PB
WEATHER: Sunny and breezy with temperatures in the 90's
"Just because it isn't official doesn't mean it didn't happen"