Cubs Extended Spring Training game report

D'back Power Too Much for Cubs to Overcome at Salt River Fields

Jesus Marriago belted a three-run HR, Domingo Leyba smacked a two-run HR, Gabriel Maciel tripled, singled, walked twice, stole a base, and scored two runs, and SP Tyler Keele hurled five innings of two-hit one-run ball with eight strikeouts, leading the Diamondbacks to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Thursday morning on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.  

Will Remillard (on Myrtle Beach 7-day DL) saw his first game action since undergoing his second right elbow ulnar ligament transplant (Tommy John Surgery) 13 months ago. He was the catcher for three innings in today's game before becoming a DH for the balance of the contest, and he went 0-3 at the plate with two fly outs and an infield pop-out. But he threw out the one baserunner who attempted to steal against him with a strong, accurate throw to 2nd base.

Now 24, Remillard was the Cubs 19th round draft pick out of Coastal Carolina University in 2013, and although he did not make his pro debut until post-season AZ Instructs that year (he suffered a back injury late in the 2013 college baseball season), Remillard quickly developed into the Cubs best minor league defensive catcher and top catching prospect (this was before Willson Contreras took off), and in fact, he was thought of so highly at the time that he received an NRI to Spring Training with the Cubs in 2014 before he had played his first minor league game. He then earned Midwest League All-Star honors at Kane County in 2014 when he hit 286/372/381 with 13 doubles and 26 RBI in just 49 games, before having his rookie season cut-shoirt due to an elbow injury suffered in June that led to his first TJS in April 2015. He attempted to come back at Minor League Camp in 2016, but the elbow continued to be a problem, and he underwent his second TJS in April 2016. So it has indeed been a long road back for Remillard.         

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

Angels Left Feeling Assad As Can Be at Riverview

Miguel Amaya reached base four times (two singles, an HBP, and a walk), collected an RBI, scored a run, and threw out a runner on the bases, Jose Gonzalez drilled two RBI singles and a double, Richard Nunez clubbed an RBI double, reached base on an HBP, and scored two runs, and RHSP Javier Assad hurled four innings of one-hit no-run ball and combined with three relievers to toss a three-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Angels 6-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Wednesday morning on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.  

19-year old Javier Assad is one of several players signed by the Cubs out of Mexico over the past couple of years, and while RHSP Jose Albertos has received the most pub and no doubt has the higher ceiling (93-95 MPH fastball that has touched 96-98, a plus-curve, and an outstanding change-up), Assad is no slouch. Assad features a fastball that regularly sits at 92-93 and now frequently touches 94-95, a solid curve, and a dependable change-up. Assad also has the consistent command that Albertos lacks (so far). Assad's biggest enemy last year (his first in pro ball) was a soft body and general lack of conditioning, but he has taken full advantage of the Cubs Strength & Conditioning program (including off-season work) to get himself into better physical shape, and that has helped both his endurance and his general performance as a pitcher. Barring an injury in the next couple of weeks, Assad is a virtual lock to begin the 2017 short-season in the Eugene starting rotation. He could even be the Emeralds' Opening Night starter. 

There more I see Miguel Amaya and Aramis Ademan in action, the more I am beginning to think that one or both could begin the 2017 short-season at Eugene (skipping the AZL entirely). Even though both players are only 18, they have the talent, make-up, and maturity to move quickly through the Cubs system, and AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW, there isn't anyone who would be blocking either of them at Eugene. Amaya's make-up is WAY off the charts. He is clearly the EXST Cubs team leader (he leads his teammates in the daily run around the bases every morning prior to BP), and he has that confident take-charge swagger that pitchers really like whenever he is behind the plate (as he was today, when he caught Assad). And hardly a game goes by when Ademan does not make a spectacular highlight-reel play at shortstop and/or do something to help his team offensively.    

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHRP Conor Mullee (August 2016 ulnar nerve decompression surgery) has completed his EXST rehab, has been reinstated from the AAA Iowa 7-day DL, and has rejoined the I-Cubs. The Cubs claimed Mullee off waivers from the Yankees hours prior to the start of the 7th game of the 2016 World Series, so he was in fact a member of the Cubs MLB 40-man roster when they won Game 7. He was non-tendered on December 2nd, and then was re-signed by the Cubs to a 2017 minor league contract a few days later (with an NRI to Spring Training, although he was not yet ready to pitch when MLB Spring Training started).   

Conor Mullee Cactus League EXST game stats:
7 GAMES  
3.86 ERA - 1.72 WHIP - .323 OppBA 
7.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 10 K, 1 WP, 5/6 GO/AO 

Also, OF Roberto Caro has been moved back up to AA Tennessee, where he began the 2017 minor league season (he was sent to Extended Spring Training on 5/10).    

Roberto Caro Cactus League EXST game stats: 
5 GAMES (18 PA) 
400/500/533 
1 3B, 4 RBI, 5 RUNS, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 2 SB (0 CS)

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

Rockies AND D'backs Invade Riverview Park

Brian Serven blasted a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored a run, Ben Johnson hammered a two-run HR, Juan Ciriaco belted a solo HR, singled, and scored two runs, and Hidekel Gonzalez cracked a bases-loaded three-run triple to help the Rockies take a commanding 9-5 lead, but Kwangmin Kwon collected three hits (two singles and a two-run double) and scored two runs, Jonathan Sierra belted a two-run HR, singled, and scored two runs, Jose Gutierrez roped a two-run double and threw out a runner on the bases, and Ruben Reyes (RBI single) and Richard Nunez (RBI double) drilled consecutive run-scoring hits with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, as the Cubs rallied to score four runs over the final two innings and tie the Rockies 9-9 on Field #5, and Stephen Smith reached base four times (HBP, single, RBI double, and a two-run double) and scored three runs, Joey Rose crushed a three-run HR, doubled, and scored two runs, Luis Tejeda doubled twice and scored two runs, and SP Franklyn Soriano hurled five innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts, as the Diamondbacks thrashed the Cubs 10-4 on Field #6, in an unusual Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played at the Riverview Baseball Complex Tuesday morning in Mesa, AZ. 

Kevin Zamudio collected three hits (two singles and a double) and Joe Martarano laced an RBI double and an RBI single in a losing cause for the Cubs on Field #6.

Cubs RHP Jesus Camargo extended his "no-hit" innings streak to eleven before surrendering five runs on six hits (including two doubles and a HR) over his final 2.1 IP in the game on Field #6, although he did rack-up seven strikeouts along the way.   

The Diamondbacks were the "home" team in the game on Field #6. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only): 

Watson Game Is Afoot at Indian School Park

LHSP Grant Watson tossed five innings of shutout ball and combined with RHP Julio Benitez to hurl a five-hitter, Nathaniel Javier smacked two doubles and drove-in a run, and Jesus Tona and Jean Angomas each singled twice, scored a run, and collected an RBI, leading the Giants "orange" squad to a 7-1 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Monday morning on Field #2 (AKA "Jim Davenport Field") at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, OF Zach Davis (Cubs 2016 32nd round draft pick - Texas Tech) has been moved-up to South Bend. Davis was a RH-hitter only prior to this season, but he began switch-hitting at Minor League Camp in March to take advantage of his blazing speed. It hasn't been easy for the 22-year old Houston native, but he has shown some improvement hitting LH over the course of the past week, and it will be interesting to see if he can handle the better pitching he will see in the Midwest League (he only hit .120 in Cactus League EXST games). Getting on base more often also might help him steal a few bases (he didn't attempt to steal any at EXST), since bunting, taking walks, and running the bases is what he does best. 

Zach Davis Cactus League EXST game stats: 
16 GAMES (58 PA)
120/241/160
1 3B, 7 BB, 1 HBP, 23 K 

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

Martarano & Amaya HR Blasts Lead Cubs to Victory in Scottsdale

Joe Martarano clubbed a solo HR and drove-in another run with a sacrifice fly, Miguel Amaya belted a solo HR and walked, Roberto Caro reached base three times (BB, 1B, and HBP). stole two bases, and scored two runs, Rafael Narea singled twice, doubled, and scored a run, and Erling Moreno and Enrique de los Rios combined to toss five innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts, leading the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Giants "black" squad in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Saturday morning on Field #2 (AKA "Jim Davenport Field") at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ.    

This was Erling Moreno's first game action since appearing in one game (three innings) for South Bend on April 10th. It now appears that Moreno is being primed to be a starting pitcher at Eugene (joining Albertos, Camargo, Assad, and de los Rios), rather than making a return trip to South Bend.  

The Cubs are now 17-16-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training games, with three weeks left. 

It wasn't a Cactus League EXST game, but the Cubs did play a five-inning Camp Day intrasquad game at the Riverview Baseball Complex yesterday (Friday) morning. The game was called with two outs in the bottom of the 5th with the AZL Cubs ahead 3-2.

Rafael Mejia ripped an RBI double and an RBI single for Eugene, and Miguel Amaya singled twice, drove-in a run, and scored another for the AZL Cubs.

Veteran MLB RHRP Fernando Rodriguez (signed by the Cubs as a minor league FA during the off-season) saw his first game action (19 pitches) since undergoing surgery for a torn lat last September, so he will likely get rehab work in Cactus League EXST games beginning next week.

Retired University of North Carolina head baseball coach and now Cubs minor league baserunning guru Mike Roberts (father of retired MLB 2B Brian Roberts) provided the young Cubs with baserunning instruction prior to the intrasquad game, and then six players were thrown out on the bases (three CS and three PO) between the two squads. It might not seem like a big deal, but running the bases aggressively but without running into outs (and generally making good decisions on the bases) is one of the toughest lessons for a young player to learn. And there is no better (or harder-working) baserunning coach around than Mike Roberts. 

RHP Bailey Clark (Cubs 2016 5tth round draft pick) threw "live" BP (one inning - 25 pitches) on Field #6 prior to the intrasquad game. Clark did not attend post-2016 AZ instructs amd he was a late arrival at Minor League Camp this season because he was continuing his undergraduate work at Duke during the 2016-17 off-season.    

Here is the abridged box score from Saturday's game (Cubs players only), followed by the box score from Friday's intrasquad game: 

Narea, Assad, Gutierrez, and Ademan Spark Cub Sweep at Talking Stick

Rafael Narea belted a solo HR, singled and scored, and stole a base, Roberto Caro drilled a bases-loaded bases-clearing triple and scored a run, and RHSP Javier Assad struck out six in three innings and combined with two relievers to hurl a three-hitter, as the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 7-1 on Jackrabbit Field, and Jose Gutierrez and Aramis Ademan each ripped an RBI single and a double, stole a base, and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the D'backs on Whirlwind Field, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader action Thursday morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

With today's outing, Javier Assad has very likely entrenched himself in the Eugene starting rotation. A native of Baja California (Mexico), Assad was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year old IFA in July 2015. He made his pro debut at Extended Spring Training last year and did very well, and then followed that with a fine rookie season in the AZL. It is probable that at least 60% of the 2017 Eugene starting rotation (Albertos, Camargo, and Assad) will be from Mexico, with fellow Mexicans Manuel Rodriguez, Faustino Carrera, and Hector Garcia each having an outside chance to make it as well (the latter three being much more likely at this point in time to be assigned to the AZL Cubs).    

The game on Jackrabbit Field was called after eight innings of play, and the game on Whirlwind Field was called after six innings. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only): 

Cubs Pitchers Spin Shutout at Indian School Park

Rafael Mejia belted a solo HR and drove-in another run with a 6-3 GO and RHSP Jesus Camargo fired four innings of no run/no hit ball and combined with three relievers to hurl a four-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Giants "black" squad 4-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Wednesday morning on Field #2 (AKA "Jim Davenport Field") at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

With his two RBI day, Rafael Mejia now has ten RBI in the 16 Cactus League EXST games in which he has played (he leads the EXST Cubs in that category, with no other player on the team having more than six). Mejia is also now tied for the team lead in HR with Kevin Cornelius, Chris Dominguez, and Christopher Morel (all four have two). Now 19, Mejia won the Home Run Derby (by a large margin) as an 18-year old at Cubs AZ Instructs post-2016, and the Cubs have been hoping that moving him from 3B to 1B (he made the move at Instructs) will help him develop as a hitter. Mejia was a defensive disaster for the AZL Cubs at 3B last season (mostly throwing errors), and it may have affected his hitting (he hit only 203/226/313 in 36 AZL games in 2016, with 34 K and only three BB in 133 PA).   

With four more innings without allowing a hit, Jesus Camargo has now thrown ten consecutive innings of no-hit ball over his last three outings, including all four innings in each of his last two starts (today and last Thursday) and the last two innings of his three-inning stint on 5/6. Camargo was signed by the Cubs out of Mexico in December 2014 and attended Extended Spring Training in 2015 (he pitched for the AZL Cubs that summer and had a very nice debut season) and then again last year in preparation for an expected promotion to Eugene, but he threw only one inning at 2016 EXST before being shut-down for the balance of the season with a sore elbow. Although his upper 80's fastball is nothing special, Camargo has one of the best change-ups in the Cubs system (when he made his pro debut at Extended Spring Training in 2015, Cubs pitching coaches had to talk Camargo out of throwing his change-up on every pitch). As things stand right now, Camargo would appear to be in strong contention to be the Opening Day starting pitcher for Eugene next month, with the Emeralds projected starting rotation likely to be - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - Camargo, Jose Albertos, Javier Assad, Enrique de los Rios, and Tyler Peyton. (While Albertos is clearly the best prospect of the five, Camargo is pitching better than any of them right now).  

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

Pages