Jhonny Bethencourt

Cubs Bore-nstein A's to Tears with Grand Slam and One-Hitter at Fitch Park

SP Justin Steele and five relievers combined to hurl a one-hit shutout, Robel Garcia belted a solo HR and an RBI single, Eddy Julio Martinez drilled two RBI singles, walked, and scored, and Jhonny Bethencourt hammered a single and a double, stole a base, and scored two runs, as the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs AA affiliate) blanked the Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics AA afffiliate) 8-0 on Field #3, and Zach Borenstein walloped a monster grand slam HR over the CF batter's eye, Zack Short ripped a solo HR and an RBI single and scored two runs, Fernando Arcia singled twice, walked, stole a base, and drove-in a run, and SP Duncan Robinson hurled 4.2 IP of one-run ball (he gave up his only run on a sac fly on his 71st and final pitch), propelling the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Cubs) to a 7-1 victory over the Las Vegas Aviators (AAA affiliate of the A's) on Field #4, in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training game action Saturday afternoon at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Of the ten Cubs minor league pitchers who threw in the games at Fitch Park on Saturday, only two (Duncan Robinson and George Kontos) are actually assigned to the AAA Iowa squad at Minor League Camp. The other eight who threw (including two who pitched in the AAA game) are assigned to the AA Tennessee squad.   

Speaking of the AA Tennessee pitching staff, with Bailey Clark throwing three innings for Tennessee in Friday's intrasquad game at Riverview and Ian Clarkin and Tyson Miller working out of the Smokies bullpen Saturday at Fitch Park (each threw only 19 pitches), it would appear that the Cubs may be prepping Clark to be a SP and Clarkin and T. Miller to be bullpen guys at Tennessee (which is the exact opposite of how things looked just a week ago).   

Here are the abridged box scores from Saturday's games (Cubs players only):  

Little and Lange Dominate at Riverview

LLHP Brendon Little (Cubs 2017 1st round draft pick) hurled five innings of one-hit ball (a solo HR by Austin Beck with two outs in the 4th), retired fifteen of the sixteen men he faced (including six via strikeout), and threw 76% strikes, Jared Young belted a solo HR and an RBI double, and Jhonny Bethencourt knocked-in three runs with two RBI doubles, leading the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) to a 10-3 victory over the Beloit Snappers (Oakland Athletics Lo-A affiliate) on Field #5, and RHSP Alex Lange (the Cubs other 2017 1st round draft pick) hurled five innings of one-run two-hit ball and retired the last eleven batters he faced, Chesny Young, Ryan Court, and Tyler Alamo clubbed back-to-back-to-back home runs to highlight a four-run 2nd inning, and Aramis Ademan capped the scoring with a solo HR in the 8th, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) drubbed the Stockton Ports (A's Hi-A affiliate) 9-2 on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League Camp doubleheader game action Wednesday afternoon on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.      

Brendon Little was absolutely mesmerizing, working very fast and throwing strikes, and effectively mixing his FB, CV, and CH to maximum degree (F-7, K, K, 5-3, 4-3, F-9, K, 5-3, F-7, F-7, K, HR, F-8, P-4, K, K).

Alex Lange was almost as good as Little over his five innings, flashing both his plus-CV and a CH in addition to his solid FB (BB, P-4, 3B, K, F-7, K, 1B, K, F-8, 6-3, K, 4-3, F-8, F-7, 4-3, 6-3, F-8, 3-U).

So it was a really good day for two of the Cubs top pitching prospects.

Not to be outdone, RHP Bailey Clark (Cubs 2016 5th round draft pick) "piggy-backed" with Little and brought 97 MPH FB gas and a hard slider to Field #5, racking up three innings of one-hit one-run ball. Clark retired the side easily 1-2-3 in his first two innings of work (K, 3-U, K, 4-3, 5-3, P-3), before losing his command a bit in his 3rd inning. The A's loaded the bases on a single and two walks with no outs, but then Clark induced a 4-6-3 DP on a 1-2 pitch and struck out the next hitter to get out of the jam. Clark opted to return to college (Duke) to get his degree after being drafted and signed by the Cubs in 2016, and he lost some valuable developmental time as a result, but the 6'4 220 righthander has all the earmarks of a stud power-pitcher.  

RHRP Shae Simmons got an inning of work, producing a 1-2-3 inning (K, K, 4-3). He was pounding the lower part of the strike zone with a 95 MPH FB mixed-with an occasional hard SL. (Simmons missed much of Spring Training with a sore shoulder, and was optioned to AAA Iowa just prior to the games at Riverview).

Just back from Fort  Myers, FL, where they traveled with the big club for a two-game pre-season set with the Red Sox, Iowa Cubs infielders Ryan Court and Chesny Young served as "roving designated hitters" in the two games, moving back & forth between the two fields in order to get maximum AB in as short a time as possible. Iowa C-1B Taylor Davis got somewhat less-intense DH work in with South Bend, taking all of his AB on Field #5.

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

Pelicans Fit to Be Tied with Giants at Riverview

Jhonny Bethencourt went 3-3 (two singles and a double), stole two bases, and scored two runs, and RHP Keegan Thompson (Cubs 2017 3rd round pick - Auburn) hurled four innings of shutout ball for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affliliate), and Wander Franco drilled an RBI double and Ryan Kirby followed with a two-run HR to spark a three-run 4th for the Giants San Jose Hi-A affiliate, as the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie on Field #6, and RHSP Jose Marte hurled three innings of shutout ball to lead the Augusta Greenjackets (Giants Lo-A affiliate) to a 4-2 victory over the Cubs Lo-A South Bend affiliate on Field #5, in Cactus League Minor League Camp doubleheader game action Friday afternoon on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.     

Kwangmin Kwon belted a solo HR and Austin Filiere collected three hits (two singles and an RBI double) for the South Bend Cubs in a losing cause.

RHP Tyson Miler (Cubs 2016 4th round draft pick - California Baptist) got the start for Myrtle Beach and retired nine of the first ten men he faced (including five on strikeouts) before allowing back-to-back doubles and a two-run HR to the first three batters he faced in the top of the 4th (he then retired the side in order).  

RHP Bailey Clark (Cubs 2016 5th round draft pick - Duke) piggy-backed with South Bend SP Rollie Lacy (Cubs 2017 11th round draft pick - Creighton), and while Clark's FB velo was an impressive 96-97 and his SL had good break, he had terrible command (he needed 57 pitches to get eight outs, he couldn't finish his third inning, he committed a throwing error on a pick-off attempt at 2nd base, and he threw only 47% strikes).

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