Dylan Cease

Zastryzny Gets Start for AZL Cubs

Hector Hernandez (on Kane County 7-day DL) hurled three innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with three relievers to toss a four-hitter, as the AZL Diamondbacks defeated the AZL Cubs 4-1 in AZL action this evening on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Denorfia and Dunston Help Cubs Salvage Tie at Riverview

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - strained hamstring) belted an RBI double, walked, and scored a run and Shawon Dunston Jr (on Myrtle Beach Pelicans 7-day DL - right shoulder injury) doubled, stole two bases, and scored a run for the Cubs, and Jesus Lopez drilled a two-run single, doubled, and walked and Vicmal de la Cruz singled, doubled, and scored a run for the Athletics, as the Cubs and A's played to a 5-5 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after eight innings of play. 

RHP Pierce Johnson (on AA Tennessee7-day DL with a lat strain) continued his EXST rehab, working three innings (37 pitches) for the Cubs and allowing two runs on four hits (two doubles and two singles) and no walks, with three strikeouts (all three swinging) and a 4/2 GO/FO. Johnson had excellent command today and threw a high percentage of strikes (71%). His fastball velocity sat consistenty at 92 MPH (max), with only an occasional drop-off to 91.  

18-year old Colombian RHP Erling Moreno (2014 TJS) made his second game appearance in a week. The 6'3 righthander allowed two hits (a single and a double) in 1.2 IP, and successfully escaped a "runner at 3rd and out out" situation. Moreno's fastball velocity sat at 89-90 (down a couple of MPH from last week), but he displayed outstanding command of all of his pitches, most noteworthy an advanced change-up (unusual for an 18-year old) 

Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) also made his second game appearance in a week (he faced the A's at Fitch Park last Monday), but he did not fare as well as Moreno. While he only allowed one run, he also allowed six of the ten batters he faced to reach base (three singles and three walks, plus a WP) in just 1.1 IP. Cease's fastball velocity was at 95-97 MPH in both innings, down a couple of ticks from his outing last week when he touched 99.

Prior to the Cactus League EXST game, RHP Marcelo Carreno (post-2013 shoulder surgery) and RHP Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) squared-off in a two-iining "sim" game on Field #3.   

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus League EXST game (Cubs players only): 

Moreno & Cease Piggy-Back Their Way to Fitch Park

Trace Loehr singled twice, walked, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Jean Carlo Rodriguez drilled a bases-loaded three-run double, Vicmal de la Cruz belted a solo home run, walked, and drove-in another run with a GO, Andy Paz slugged a two-run HR, and RHSP Jon Massad tossed four innings of no run/no hit ball, leading the Athletics to an 11-5 victory over the Cubs in Memorial Day Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was called after 7-1/2 innings of play. 

Kevin Encarnacion hammered a solo home run and an RBI single, Kevonte Mitchell drilled an RBI single, a double, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Ricardo Marcano roped an RBI triple, walked, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause.

In 22 Cactus League EXST games, Kevonte Mitchell leads the EXST Cubs in stolen bases with 12 (one CS and one PO). Also, he is hitting 239/345/310, with three doubles and a triple, eleven walks, 15 K, and one HBP, ten runs scored, and seven RBI, in the 22 games (84 PA). The 19-year old 6'4 185 Mitchell (Cubs 2014 13th round draft pick - Kennett HS - Kennett, Mo) is a virtual lock to play CF and hit lead-off for the Eugene Emeralds, once the Northwest League (NWL) commences play next month. 

RHP Erling Moreno (2013 IFA - Colombia) got the start for the Cubs today and retired six of the seven men he faced (1B, 5-3, 4-3, K, F-8, K, 4-3). He allowed one run on one hit (a single leading off the bottom of the 1st inning that came around to score on a couple of ground outs and a WP) and no walks, with two strikeouts (both swinging). Moreno rolled easily through his two innings, throwing a good percentage of strikes (27 pitches - 18 strikes - 67% K), and mixing his 91-92 MPH fastball, plus-curve, and change-up to keep the A's hitters mostly off-balance.

The 18-year old 6'3 200 Moreno was signed by the Cubs ($650K bonus) out of the same 2013-14 International Signing Period class that produced OF Eloy Jimenez, SS Gleyber Torres, RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, 3B-1B Wladmir Galindo, C Yohan Matos, and RHP Jeferson Mejia (since traded to AZ in the Miguel Montero deal), but he underwent an elbow UCL transplant (Tommy John Surgery) midway through the 2014 season that has slowed his development, and so this was his first game action in almost a year.

Moreno will likely join RHP Dylan Cease, ex-Mexico City Red Devils RHP Jesus Camargo, RHP (ex-C) Mark Malave, and probably either Adbert Alzolay or Santiago Rodriguez in the AZL Cubs starting rotation (at least at the outset of the AZL season, until the 2015 draft picks begin to arrive).     

Speaking of Dylan Cease, he also saw action in today's game, "piggy-backing" with Moreno. Although he threw just 1.0 IP, Cease actually pitched in parts of two different innings (facing eight hitters total), hence the high pitch count (37 pitches) in just one inning (three outs). 

Cease was working his fastball at 95-97 MPH to the first four batters he faced, but then elevated the FB velocity up to 98-99 when facing the next four. He continues to struggle with command, however, walking two and going to three-ball counts on two other hitters, bouncing his breaking ball (which is a really a plus-pitch when he throws it over the plate instead of bouncing it in front of the plate), and throwing only 56% strikes.

After throwing an amazing six wild pitches in just one inning of work last Friday versus the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick, RHRP Daniel Bard had another nightmare inning (actually just one-third of an inning), allowing four runs on one hit (the Rodriguez bases-loaded double) after walking three and hitting a batter. And he threw three more WP today, too, for a total of nine in his last 1.1 IP.       

Here is the abridged box score from today's games (Cubs players only) :

Cease Fires 99, but Not Enough Gas to Stop Giants from Pummeling Cubs

Nicol Parra reached base four times (a two-run HR, two singles, and a walk), Chase Compton belted a triple and two doubles, drove-in a run, and scored another, Byron Murray slugged a three-run home run and a triple, Richard Amion Jr drilled an RBI triple, singled, walked, and scored a run, Fernando Pujadas smashed a two-run triple, and LHSP Nik Turley hurled six innings of shutout ball, as the Giants swept a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split squad doubleheader from the Cubs this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

The Giants shutout the Cubs 6-0 in the game played on Field #6, and drubbed the Cubs 10-4 in the game played on Field #5. 

Roberto Caro singled twice, tripled, and drove-in two runs for the Cubs.

RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) got the start for the Cubs on Field #6, and worked a third of an inning, walking the bases loaded around a strikeout. Cease's fastball was riding high (topping out at 99 MPH), but he had difficulty commanding it (22 pitches - only ten strikes). Otherwise, he was unhittable.

Cease was the Cubs 6th round draft pick out of Milton HS - Milton, Ga in 2014, and the Cubs selected him despite knowing that he would need a UCL elbow ligament transplant ("Tommy John surgery"). Considered one of the top high school arms in the 2014 draft class and a likely 1st round pick prior to his elbow issues, he received a $1.5M signing bonus (equivalent to "first round money") and then had the TJS last July 22nd. He has made a rapid recovery, and barring a setback, he will likely be a rotation starter for the AZL Cubs when the Arizona League season begins play next month.

In his first EXST Cactus League start start last Tuesday (16 pitches, two outs recorded, one HBP), Cease's fastball was topping out at 97 MPH, so his velocity has increased a bit over the past week. 

Prior to the Cactus League games, RHPs Jacob Turner (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a right flexor strain), Erling Moreno (2014 TJS), and Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) threw in a three-ining "sim" game on Field #3. Turner threw one inning (15 pitches), and Moreno and Masek threw two innings a piece (30 pitches each).

OF Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL with a hamstring strain) was one of the hitters in the "sim" game. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, LHRP Daniel Schlereth and RHSP Felipe Paulino have been moved-up to AAA Iowa.

The 6'3 260+ 31-year old Paulino was orginally signed by the Houston Astros as an International free-agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, and he has pitched in the big leagues with Houston, Colorado, Kansas City, and the White Sox. He underwent an elbow UCL transplant (TJS) post-2012 when he was with the Royals, and then missed most of last season with a right shoulder injury while a member of the White Sox.

Paulino was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on May 3rd, after being released by the Boston Red Sox at the end of Spring Training. His fastball velocity has ranged from 94-96 MPH in his two Cactus League Extended Spring Training outings and one EXST intrasquad game.  

Schlereth was the 1st round pick (26th overall) of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 out of the University of Arizona, and was part of the Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Edwin Jackson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson/Phil Coke three-team mega-deal in December 2009, going to the Tigers with Scherzer, Coke and A. Jackson (Granderson went to the Yankees, and E. Jackson and Kennedy ended up in Arizona).

Schlereth was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on April 26th, after he was released by the Detroit Tigers,

FELIPE PAULINO - CACTUS LEAGUE EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING GAMES
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes)  
2. 5/9: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (20 strikes)
TOTAL: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GO/FO, 64% strikes,  0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .182 OppBA

Paulino also pitched in one EXST intrasquad game:
5/14: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 2/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (43 strikes) 
 
DANIEL SCHLERETH - CACTUS LEAGUE EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING GAMES
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
2. 5/9 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP, 0/1 GO/FO, 26 pitches (11 strikes)
3. 5/12: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (8 strikes)_
4. 5/15: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 22 pitvhes (15 strikes)
TOTAL: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 4 K, 2 WP, 4/3 GO/FO, 55% strikes, 6.25 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .313 OppBA

Here are the box scores from the two Cactus League EXST games (Cubs players only):

Bard, Russell, and Denorfia Get Pre-Game Reps at Extended Spring Training

Adonis Paula singled twice, stole a base, and drove-in a run, Kevonte Mitchell singled twice and scored a run, and Carlos Sepulveda smacked a solo home run, in Cubs Extended Spring Training intrasquad game action this morning on Field #5 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after 4-1/2 innings with the score tied 2-2. (All three Extended Spring Training intrasquad games played this week have ended in a tie)

RHP (ex-C) Mark Malave finally made his game debut as a pitcher, throwing a shutout inning (4-3, 3-1, BB, 4-6 FC). I didn't see anthing special with his stuff, although he throws both a two-seam fastball and a curve (and the curve might be his best pitch). Malave received a reported $1.6M bonus when he was signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old switch-hitting catcher out of Venezuela in July 2011, the highest bonus ever given by the Cubs to an international amateur free-agent up to that point in time. He was moved almost immediately to 3rd base, and then he was moved back to catcher again (and gave up switch-hitting to hit only RH) after the 2013 season. He struggled offensively throughout his pro career as a postion player (248/347/305 in 141 career minor league games and 560 career minor league PA), and then was converted to a pitcher at Minor League Camp last month.       

In Cubs minor league roster news, RHP Daniel Bard (signed to a minor league contract during the off-season with an NRI to Spring Training, then couldn't throw strikes) and ex-Cubs LHP James Russell (signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs this morning after being released by the Atlanta Braves last week) have been assigned to Extended Spring Training. Both pitchers threw morning bullpen side-sessions but did not pitch in the game. Rehabbers RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS), RHP Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery), and RHP Austin Reed (2014 TJS) also threw bullpen side-sessions this morning.  

Chicago Cubs OF Chris Denorfia (15-day DL - hamstring) took BP on Field #6 prior to the game.  

Here is the box score from the game: 

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