20-year old 2B D. J. Fitzgerald had a memoraable pro debut, going 4-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a stolen base. The Cubs 22nd round pick in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) out of Dyersburg State CC, "DJ Fitz" was a star baseball player at Ocean Lakes HS in Virginia Beach, VA. He signed an NLI with Georgia Southern, but ended up at a Tennessee JC instead.
20-year old RHP Toby Matchulat got the start for the AZL Cubs, and was stellar, throwing four shutout innings (7/1 GO/FO), while allowing just two harmless singles and no walks, with four strikeouts. Matchulat just missed making the Boise Opening Day roster, after having an impressive Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park. An 11th round pick out of Wabash Valley JC in 2008, the lanky 6'5 right-hander struggled big-time with his command in his pro debut last year (29 BB in 18.2 IP), but he has really turned it around this year. Kudos to AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud and Minor Leagure Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins for helping Matchulat find a better arm slot and a more consistent release point.
The EXST Cubs and EXST Giants split a simultaneous doubleheader played at Fitch Park this morning, one game on Field #1 and one game on Field #3. Both games went seven innings.
The EXST Giants defeated the EXST Cubs 4-1 in a pre-planned 12 inning Extended Spring Training game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.
Sean Hoorelbeke slammed a double off the right-centerfield fence with two outs in the top of the 8th, scoring Chris Weimer from 1st base with the go-ahead run, as the EXST Cubs edged the EXST A's 3-2 in a rematch at the A's Minor League Complex Field #2 at Papago Park in Phoenix this morning.
Dwayne Kemp drove in the go-ahead runs with a line drive two-run single to right-center in the top of the 11th, but the EXST Cubs could not hold the lead, as the EXST Angels rallied with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame, as the Cubs and Angels played to a 4-4 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at the Angels Minor League Complex at Diablo Park in Tempe this morning.
The other offensive highlight for the Cubs was provided over the course of an inning by speedy Dominican lead-off hitter Jose Valdez, who reached base after being hit by a pitch to lead-off the top of the 5th, and then proceeded to steal 2nd, 3rd, and home.
For all you Angels fans out there (and you know who you are), RHSP Kelvim Escobar (on the 60-day DL after undergoing shoulder surgery) made a rehab start for the EXST Angels, throwing 1.2 IP (30 pitches) and retiring all five men he faced on three ground outs, a line drive, and a strikeout.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)...
Dwayne Kemp had three hits (including two triples) and drove in four runs, Chris Weimer slugged three doubles and drove-in three runs, Logan Watkins had three hits and two RBI, and Kevin Soto had three hits and an outfield assist, leading the EXST Cubs to a 12-3 drubbing of the EXST Angels at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot & sunny Mesa.
A native of Rotterdam, Kemp was the second player signed by the Cubs out of the MLB European Baseball Academy (Italian RHP Alessandro Maestri was the first) and was a member of the Team Netherlands provisional roster for the WBC, and like Cubs 2B Mike Fontenot, the 5'8 might-mite really packs some punch. Both of Kempy's triples today were opposite field shots slammed off the right-centerfield fence.
20-year old Venezuelan RHP Robert Hernandez, who is at EXST rehabbing from a sprained ankle suffered in a game at Papago Park the last week of Minor League Camp, pitched two innings today and showed no ill effects. Several of his family and friends were at the game today, and he looks to be about ready to move up to Daytona.
And LHP Chris Siegfried, who was left at Fitch Park at the end of Minor League Camp to work on his mechanics and revamp his delivery, has been promoted to Peoria.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
Felix Pie went 2-3 with a lead-off first-pitch double roped down the RF line, a bases loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch, a grand slam HR hammered over the CF fence, and a hard-hit 4-3 GO, as the AZL Cubs thumped the AZL Royals 18-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot and sunny Mesa.
So do I really think Pie was sent to Fitch Park to "rehab" a "sprained thumb"?
Marcus Hatley retired the first 11 men he faced, Mark Pawelek threw 2.1 innings of shutout ball, and Dwayne Kemp belted his team-leading third home run, but the EXST A's rallied to defeat the EXST Cubs 7-5 in Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.
Robert Hernandez threw three hitless innings and Dwayne Kemp drove in three runs with a sac fly, a triple, and a home run, leading the EXST Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the EXST Giants in Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.