Michael Arias

D'backs Black Blank the Cubs at Sloan Park

Deivi Estrada belted a solo HR, Luis Rubio singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored a run, Jose Fernandez singled twice, scored a run, and drove-in another, Grayson Greiner drilled a single and a double, and Sean Poppen, Ricardo Yan, and Miguel Gil combined to toss a four-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, as the Diamondbacks Black squad blanked the Cubs 4-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Tuesday morning at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was pre-planned as a seven inning affair.  

EXST Cubs top pitching prospect RHP Michael Arias (ex-SS) got the start for the Cubs, but had to leave the game after recording only one out when he suffered a lower body injury while covering home plate after a bases-loaded wild pitch. He also had a blister issue earlier in the inning, which may be why his usual upper 90's FB velo was down a couple of clicks (94-97 MPH instead of 96-99).      

RHP Dakota Mekkes (on AAA Iowa 7-day IL) made his first game appearance of the season, working 2.1 IP (30 pitches - 18 strikes) in relief. He allowed a run on two hits (the Estrada HR and the Greiner double), walked one, and struck out three (all swinging). He  displayed his usual 89-92 MPH FB, 85-88 CH, and 76-79 MPH CV in the game, had decent command of all of his pitches, and threw 60% strikes. Mekkes will be an MLB Rule 9 minor league 6YFA post-2022 if he isn't added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or signs a 2023 minor league successor contract. He would appear to profile as a "once-through-the order / multi-inning" reliever at this point, and that's exactly how he was used in the game today.  

The best EXST Cub pitching performance of the day was by RHRP Angel Gonzalez, who mixed his high velo 96-98 MPH FB with a 86-87 MPH SL  - AND - with much better FB command than seen previously. His FB velo and command seem to be better when he can focus on throwing just one inning, instead of working two innings as he sometimes has been used in EXST games. Known as "Angel Gonzalez-Martinez" when he was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year old NDFA out of Puerto Rico in 2020, he now just goes by the name Angel Gonzalez. If he can command his hard stuff going forward and stay healthy, he will move quickly through the system, with a ceiling of a high-leverage one-inning reliever.   

In EXST roster news, INF Jake Slaughter has been moved-up to Hi-A South Bend. He was left behind in Mesa when the four full season affiliates left town last month and appeared to be a potential release candidate sooner rather than later, but he didn't pout, and has hit the ball very well while providing stellar defense at 3rd base in Cactus League EXST games over the past three weeks. If anybody "deserved" another chance, it was Jake Slaughter.   

Also, LHRP Wyatt Short has been assigned to AA Tennessee. Like Jake Slaughter, Short was left behind at EXST when the four Cubs full-season affiliates left town last month.Short is scheduled to be an MLB Rule 9 minor leaguer 6YFA post-2022. 

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

Arias Throws Gas While Hernandez Goes Deep at Sloan Park

Michael Arias fired three innings of one-hit shutout ball with five strikeouts (all five swinging), Cristian Hernandez blasted a three-run HR over the LF bullpen to the spot Al Yellon occupies during Cubs MLB Spring Training games, and Miguel Pabon made his game debut as a catcher and drilled an RBI single, as the Cubs "Blue" squad blanked the Cubs "Red" squad 5-0 in a three-inning intrasquad game played Monday morning at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.

Michael Arias is the Cubs top pitching prospect at Extended Spring Training, and will likely be the ACL Cubs #1 starter once the ACL season begins in June. A former shortstop in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, the 20-year old Arias was signed by the Cubs in 2021 and converted to a RHP after he was released by the Jays. He features a 96-99 MPH FB (he has touched 100 in "live" BP), a SL, and a CH, and while his slider command can be a bit inconsistent and the change is a new pitch he is just starting to throw in games, he had all of his pitches working for him today.  

Here is the box score from the game: 

Arias Blazes Way to Victory at Salt River Fields

Carlos Morfa and Frank Hernandez drilled two-run singles, Reivaj Garcia and Josue Huma belted RBI doubles, Cristian Hernandez tripled, singled, and reached base on an HBP, and SP Michael Arias hurled three innings of one-run ball, as the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks Red squad 6-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Monday morning on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick east of Scottsdale, AZ.

The game was called after 7-1/2 innings of play.
 
The 20-year old Arias is an ex-SS who was released by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020 and then subsequently signed by the Cubs and converted to a RHP at their Dominican Academy. He features a blazing 96-99 MPH FB, an inconsistent SL, and a nascenrt CH. He will be making his stateside debut in 2022, and not including pitchers in the Rehab & Conditioning Group, Arias is the Cubs top pitching prospect at EXST.   

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