AZ Instructional League

Who Needs Pitchers? A New Way to Speed-up the Game AND Cut Payroll

Danny Lockhart drilled three hits (two singles and a double) and drove-in a run, Mark Zagunis doubled and tripled and scored a run, and Jeimer Candelario and Wladimir Galindo clubbed solo home runs, in a 5-1/2 inning AZ Instructional League intrasquad "sim" game played this afternoon on Field #5 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

2014 Cubs Arizona Instructional League

The Arizona Instructional League (AZIL) is well under way, with all 15 MLB clubs that have Spring Training in Arizona plus two Korean (KBO) clubs (SK Wyverns and NC Dinos) fielding squads. 

Each MLB organization operates its AZIL squad as it sees fit. Some organizations (like SD and MIL) start their season early and end early, others (like KC and SF) start their season later and end later, while others (like the Colorado Rockies) have a very short AZIL season (just two weeks). Some clubs play 18-20 "league games" (just about every day), while others play only five or six league games with one or sometimes two Camp Days (instruction only or maybe morning instruction followed by a controlled "sim" game in the afternoon) on the days in between to work on issues or problems noted in the AZIL games.
   
The Cubs are taking a unique approach this year, cutting its  AZIL "season" back to three weeks (9/22 through 10/12) and starting later in September than most of the other AZIL clubs. Also, the Cubs have not scheduled any games against other MLB organizations or against the two KBO teams (first time I've ever seen that), opting instead to have Camp Days (Instruction only) for three hours every morning (sometimes followed by a "sim" game) over the first two weeks, and then a "Cubs World Series" (best 4 out of 7 mega-intrasquad match) the last week.

There are (or will be by next week) 74 Cubs minor leaguers (including 40 pitchers) at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa (which is about 20 more players than had been the norm for Cubs "instructs" rosters in previous seasons). The ten Kane County players who are participating will report a week late because their season ran a bit long (they won the Midwest League Championship on September 13th), and the eight Cubs players who have been assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (Arizona Fall League) will participate only during the first two weeks (AFL Opening Day is on Tuesday October 7th), and then only as preparation for the AFL season. 

Six Latin players (three from the DSL Cubs and three from the VSL Cubs) are making their U. S. debut at "instructs," another (SS Frandy de la Rosa) is returning to the U. S. after spending the 2014 season with the DSL Cubs, and still another (RHP Jose Zapata) is active and will be making his U. S. "field debut" after spending the 2014 season on the AZL Cubs 60-day DL after suffering multiple injuries in an off-season car crash in the Dominican Republic last December. Also, OF Kevin Encarnacion (who suffered third-degree burns and a shoulder injury in the same car crash) is finally back on the field and is fully participating in all baseball-related activities.


2014 CUBS ARIZONA INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE ROSTER
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Cubs Pitchers Micrify Giants with Combined Two-Hitter

Jacob Hannemann and Kelvin Freeman belted RBI doubles and Arodys Vizcaino and five relievers combined to toss a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts while retiring the last 16 batters in a row, as the Cubs edged the Giants 2-1 in Arizona Instructional League action this morning at Indian School Park Field #1 in Scottsdale.

A's Top Cubs at Papago/Hannemann HR Derby Champ/Vizcaino Throws in Intrasquad at Fitch

Yairo Munoz blasted a two-run home run, D'Arby Myers, Justin Higley, and Jesus Lopez clubbed RBI doubles, and Josh Miller and B. J. Boyd drilled RBI singles, leading the Athletics to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Arizona Instructional League action this morning at the Papago Park Baseball Facility Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix.  

Yasiel Balaguert belted a two-run double and a single for the Cubs.

Martin & Hodges Are Batman 1-A & 1-B in 10-8 Cubs Victory

Trey Martin laced three doubles (one line-drive into the LF corner, one line-drive off the left-field fence, and one line drive into the left-center alley), walked, drove-in two runs, and scored another, Jesse Hodges singled twice, doubled, collected two RBI, and scored twice, and Michael Wagner threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball, as the Cubs outlasted the Angels 10-8 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa. 

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