RHSP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M signing bonus) hurled four innings of one-hit shutout ball with seven strikeouts and Cubs 2016 7th round draft pick Michael Cruz (making his pro debut) belted an RBI double off the top of the right-centerfield fence (near HR) with two outs in the top of the 8th that drove-in the run that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game, as the AZL Cubs withstood a four-run 9th inning rally and edged the AZL Diamondbacks 5-4 in Arizona League action Wednesday night on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Strick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.
Besides the 8th inning RBI double, Cruz also was hit by a pitch (right shoulder) in his first pro AB, fouled a ball off his right instep in his second AB, and took a foul-tip off his right shoulder in the bottom of the 4th while working behind the plate (he caught all nine innings in 105+ degree heat). Welcome to pro ball.
The 17-year old Albertos was masterful beyond his years in his four innings of work, staying ahead in the count (69% of his pitches were strikes) and mixing a 96-98 MPH fastball with a plus-change and an occasional curve to keep the opposing hitters off-balance. In fact, the Albertos change-up was so deceptive that one D'backs hitter injured his right knee (and had to leave the game) screwing himself into the ground on a swinging third strike trying in vain to hit one. The only hit off Albertos was a broken-bat line drive single over the third-baseman's head with two outs in the top of the 1st.
The AZL Diamondbacks were held to one hit (the first-inning broken-bat single) through the first eight innings of the game, but Kyle Smith (two-run double), Juan Araujo (RBI double), and Michael Branigan (RBI single) contributed run-scoring hits to the four-run 9th inning rally that fell a run short, as the potential tying and winning runs were left-stranded on the bases.
LHRP Jack Leathersich (ex-NYM) had another clean 1-2-3 inning (K, K, 6-3), as he continues to impress in his rehab from July 2015 TJS.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (AZL Cubs players only):
RHSP Melvin Ovalles hurled three innings of shutout ball and combined with four relievers to toss a three-hitter and Kyle Smith (2016 NDFA - Vanderbilt) drilled an RBI double and later scored to highlight a two-run 4th, as the AZL Diamondbacks took a 3-0 lead and then held-on to edge the AZL Cubs 3-2 in AZL mini-camp pre-season game action Saturday night on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.
The game was called by mutual-consent after seven innings of play.
Ex-NYM LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) was unhittable in his one inning of work for the AZL Cubs, striking out the side (all three swinging).
In AZL Cubs roster news, C-1B Michael Cruz (Cubs 2016 7th round draft pick - Bethune-Cookman) has arrived and he was in uniform at Salt River Fields, although he did not play in the game. Cruz was the first (and is apparently the only) 2016 draft pick signed by the Cubs (so far).
Also, 16-year old SS Christopher Morel (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $800K signing bonus) has been added to the AZL Cubs roster. Morel suffered a severe laceration to his left arm last off-season that delayed his pro debut and he has been rehabbing at the UAPC for the last few months. He will provide temporary infield depth for the AZL Cubs until more draft picks arrive, and then he will be sent to the DSL.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (AZL Cubs players only):
RHSP Shelby Miller (on Arizona Diamondbacks MLB 15-day DL retro to May 25th with a sprained/bruised right index finger) hurled five innings of shutout ball and Max Brown (RBI double) and Gerard Hernandez (RBI single) stroked run-scoring hits to highlight a two-run first inning, as the Diamondbacks made the two runs stand and edged the Cubs 2-1 at Sloan Park, and Joey Armstrong laced a two-run single to cap a three-run second-inning and Marcus Wilson walked twice, singled, stole a base, and scored two runs, leading the D'backs over the Cubs 5-2 on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning in Mesa, AZ.
With local Phoenix TV crews recording every pitch, Miller breezed-through his five innings (55 pitches), allowing just three singles and no walks, with two strikeouts and an 8/5 GO/AO.
D. J. Wilson belted an RBI double and a single and Wladimir Galindo singled twice and drove-in a run for the Cubs in a losing cause on Field #1.
RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (on AA Tennessee 7-day DL with right shoulder inflammation) and LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) continued their EXST rehab, working in the game played at Sloan Park.
Tseng started the game and worked four innings (48 pitches - 73% strikes) and allowed two runs on four hits (three singles and a double), but he struck out five, did not issue any walks, and he retired the last eight hitters he faced (K, 4-3, 4-3, 3-1, K, L-9. K, 6-3).
Leathersich followed Tseng to the hill and worked a 1-2-3 5th inning (4-3, F-9, K). While he's still in "rehab mode," Leathersich is increasing his velocity & command with each EXST outing, and he could ultimately replace Clayton Richard as the Cubs second LHRP option (perhaps sooner rather than later).
In EXST Cubs roster news, SS Ho-Young Son (2014 IFA - South Korea) is being converted to pitcher, but he is not ready to throw in games yet (just bullpen side-sessions and PFP drills so far). The 21-year old Son hit just 238/310/295 in 65 career minor league games (AZL Cubs & Eugene) 2014-15, but he has a rifle for an arm.
Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):
Sam McDonnell drilled two RBI singles including one that drove-in the tying run, as the Angels rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th to upend the Cubs 5-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, AZ.
Rafael Mejia belted a two-run double and a single, scored a run, and knocked-in a third run with a 6-3 GO and Alberto Mineo tripled, walked twice, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause.
RHSP Aaron Brooks (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since Spring Training with a hip contusion) made a rehab start for the Cubs and tossed three shutout innings (32 pitches), allowing a lead-off single in the bottom of the 1st (erased on a CS) before easily retiring the next eight in a row (3-U, K, K, L-8, P-3, 4-3, 1-3, K). A healthy Brooks (and hopefully a healthy Pierce Johnson and a healthy Dallas Beeler) should help upgrade the Iowa starting rotation once the trio have completed their rehab work at EXST within the next week or two.
LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) continued his EXST game rehab work, following Brooks to the hill and hurling a scoreless inning (1B, K, F-7, 6-3). The ex-NYM lefthander who was claimed by the Cubs off waivers last November looked a lot better today than he did in his first rehab outing last week, needing 15 pitches (11 strikes) to record three outs. (He struggled to throw strikes and could not complete his assigned inning in his previous outing). The Cubs are hoping Leathersich can rehab successfully from the TJS and offer some lefty relief help down the stretch drive, and today's outing certainly provides some reason for optimism.
6'8 LHP Bryan Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round draft pick - Alton HS - Alton, IL) got "piggy-back" duty today, following Brooks and Leathersich to the mound. Like Dylan Cease yesterday, Hudson was supposed to stretch-out a bit today and throw five innings and/or about 75 pitches (whichever came first), but he hit 71 pitches after only 2.0 IP, and so I guess he'll have to try and make it through five innings next time out. The 19-year old lefthander allowed three runs on six hits (two doubles and four singles) and four walks (and a WP) and was lucky to surrender only three runs given the ten baserunners he allowed, but he benefited from four well-timed strikeouts (his stuff wasn't all bad, he just couldn't command it) and an Angel batter thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple. This was definitely Hudson's worst outing as a pro.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
Tyler Payne belted a two-run double and scored in a three-run 6th and Aramis Ademan and Wladimir Galindo stroked two singles a piece and each scored a run in a three-run 7th, leading the Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action Friday morning at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.
Miguel Mercedes drilled two RBI singles to account for both of the A's runs.
The game was called by mutual consent after 7-1/2 innings of play.
LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) saw his first game action of 2016 but had difficulty locating home plate (17 pitches - only 6 strikes), walking two while recording two outs (F-8 and 4-3) before being relieved. Leathersich was claimed off waivers from the Mets in November and then was non-tendered by the Cubs on December 2nd, before signing a 2016 minor league contract with the Cubs. Leathersich has been rehabbing at the Cubs UAPC at Riverview Park since February, and the Cubs hope he will be able to help the big club's bullpen sometime later in the year (once his rehab is complete).
RHSP Jesus Camargo (2014 IFA - Mexico) also saw his first game action of 2016, relieving Leathersich and retiring all three hitters he faced on an F-7 and two strikeouts (both swinging). Camargo probably has the best change-up in the Cubs system and was the workhorse of the AZL Cubs starting rotation in 2015, and he would have been a strong contender for a starting gig at Eugene in 2016, too, if he had been able to compete with the others (Cease, Hudson, Paulino, Silverio, J. Castillo, Moreno, and M. Rondon) from the gitgo. Camargo still might eventually win a slot in the Eugene starting rotation, but time is short and he is far behind the other candidates. I would think he will probably begin the short-season back at AZL Cubs and work his innings and pitch count up to where it needs to be for a starting pitcher.
In EXST Cubs roster news, RHRP Pedro Araujo has been moved-up to South Bend (Araujo was one of the last three pitchers cut from the South Bend roster at the end of Minor League Camp).
Pedro Araujo combined 2016 Cactus League EXST line (thru 5/26):
1.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .226 OppBA
14.0 IP, 12 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 21 K, 9/11 GO/AO, 181 pitches (73% strikes), 12.9 PITCHES-PER-INNING
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
Alexis Rivera hammered a two-run home run to key a five-run 3rd inning that turned a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 lead, and the Angels held-on to edge the Cubs 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #5 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.
17-year old SS Aramis Ademan (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $2M bonus) ripped a double and a bases-loaded bases-clearing three-run triple, 17-year old 2B Yonathan Perlaza (2015 IFA - Venezuela - $1M bonus) drilled an RBI triple and a single, walked, and scored a run, and 19-year old CF D. J. Wilson (Cubs 2015 4th round draft pick - Canton South HS - Canton, OH) singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored three runs for the Cubs in a losing cause.
Ademan also made a nice play in the field on an L-6 that he turned into an inning-ending DP in the top of the 1st. (This was Ademan's first Cactus League EXST game action since April 16th, although he did play in yesterday's intrasquad game).
RHSP Pedro Silverio got the start for the Cubs and threw ten straight balls to start the game, before settling down and retiring eight of the last nine men he faced (K, L-6 DP, 6-3, BB, K, F-7, K, F-9, 4-3).
Recently signed RHRP Nick Sarianides (ex-AZ) was the victim of the five-run explosion in the top of the 3rd, allowing all five runs on two hits (including the Rivera HR), two walks, a HBP, and two WP (he threw only 39% srikes and he could not complete the inning). The strikeout and save leader in the California League in 2015, Sarianides was released by the D'backs earlier this month because he could not throw strikes at AA Mobile. He posted a 1-2-3 nine-pitch inning in his first EXST outing on Tuesday.
RF Michael Foster fouled a ball off his left ankle mid-AB in the bottom of the 7th and had to be carted off the field (Yohan Matos finished the AB), the third Cub outfielder to leave a game due to a leg, ankle, or foot injury in three days (Jose Gonzalez and Robert Garcia were injured in Wednesday's SS-DH versus the Rockies).
Prior to the game on Field #5, RHSP Aaron Brooks (March 2016 hip contusion) and LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) threw "live" BP on Field #6 (one inning - 25 pitches each), so if there are no medical setbacks, both pitchers should be ready for Cactus League EXST or intrasquad game action within a week or so. This was Leathersich's first time throwing from a mound on a field since his TJS, but Brooks threw in an intrasquad game at Riverview on April 26th (he was shut-down after just two innings, and he hadn't thrown on a field since).
Among Cubs 40-man roster pitchers who are on the DL, LHRP Zac Rosscup has had season-ending left shoulder-surgery, RHRP Andury Acevedo has had season-ending knee surgery (torn ACL), and RHSP Dallas Beeler (right shoulder inflammation) was shut-down mid-AB while throwing in a Cactus League EXST game on April 30th, and he hasn't pitched since. RHSP Pierce Johnson (lat strain) is at the Cubs UAPC in Mesa, but he is not throwing "live" yet. And I have not seen Joe Nathan.
RHSP Stephen Fife (oblique strain) is not on the Cubs 40-man roster but he was an NRI to Spring Training, and he has completed his EXST rehab assignment (he threw 81 pitches in a Cactus League EXST game on Wednesday) and he will be re-joining the Iowa Cubs when they return home on Monday.
RHRP Aaron Crow (April 2015 TJS) is also not on the Cubs 40-man roster but (like Fife) he was an NRI to Spring Training, and he was active and pitching in Cactus League EXST games regularly (one inning every two or three days) up until ten days ago (5/10), when he was shut-down while warming up to come into a game versus the Giants in Scottsdale, and he hasn't pitched since.
And as I've mentioned here before, but in case you missed it, LHRP Manny Parra (another NRI to Cubs MLB Spring Training) had TJS last month and is out for the year.
John Arguello has notes from the game at Cubs Den:
And here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only) :