Javier Baez Apparently Can Do Whatever He Wants in the AFL, Too
Five Cubs saw game action in tonight's AFL Opening Night at Salt River Fields between the Mesa Solar Sox and the Salt River Rafters:
MATT SZCZUR: Played CF and hit lead-off, grounded out 6-3 leading off the game, then laid-down a 5-3 sac bunt in the 3rd, walked his next two times up, and popped up to the first-baseman in his final PA. He saw 19 pitches in his five ABs.
JAVIER BAEZ: Got the start at SS and batted 7th in the Solar Sox order, absolutely crushing a 450+ ft HR over the CF Batter's Eye on a 1-1 pitch (94 MPH fastball) off Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood in his first AFL AB, and then lining a two-run double (with a lot of top-spin) into the LF corner in the top of the 6th. Baez also struck out (swinging) twice, the first time on an 0-2 pitch (slider away in the dirt) and the second time on a 1-2 pitch (also in the dirt, after taking two strikes). Baez also advanced to 3rd base after his two-run double when the Rafters catcher tried to pick him off 2nd base, and Baez alertly just kept running to 3rd (was scored as a WP). BTW, at age 19 Baez is the second-youngest player in the AFL. (The youngest player is Rangers SS Luis Saldina, who is also 19, but is 5-1/2 months younger than Baez). FWIW, Starlin Castro was also 19 when he played in the AFL in 2009.
RUBI SILVA: Pinch-hit for DH Aaron Westlake leading off the 8th and lined an opposite-field single just to the right of the diving SS, eventually coming around to score the go-ahead run.
KEVIN RHODERICK: Relieved starter Jarred Cosart in the bottom of the 4th (Cosart retired the first ten batters he faced), working 1.2 IP (23 pitches - 18 strikes) and allowing no runs on one hit (a hustle double where the batter looked to be out at 2nd base) and no walks with three strikeouts. Rhoderick has had major control issues throughout his career, but he was firing strikes tonight.
TONY ZYCH: Was called into the game with two outs in the bottom of the 8th after the Rafters had taken a 6-5 lead off Orioles LHRP Mike Belfiore, and he struck out the one batter he faced (Blue Jays OF Jake Marisnick) on three pitches (the last one a 97 MPH heater).
A number of Cubs execs (including Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod) were at the game, as were about a half-dozen Instructs Cubs (most of whom were teammates of Javier Baez just six months ago in Extended Spring Training).
trevor clifton (high-A) could be interesting in a couple seasons...could even become a high/middle rotation guy. he's got a lot of pluses in his pitching except control.
eric leal's (high-A) progression through the minors should be worth watching even if only projects to be an mid/end-rotation starter.
we also gotta keep a long-distance eye on guys like jose paulino (ss-A) and preston morrison (A).
As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.
I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.
Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.
Wow - Pierce Johnson with an ERA of 8.01 in 42IP!
What a stud prospect! Must be pitching with a pierced johnson.
Looks like Ryan Williams is the only legit prospect there. That is sad...
Well it would seem that's all they need now. "Stropy" can have his moments, but he's been more consistent post-asg.
Take THAT, Cardinals -- you beat Fernandez, we beat Sale.
I really like Lackey as a 6-inning pitcher.
Three amigos? Because the Dominican, the Venezuelan, and the Cuban?
Maybe the three-headed dragon?
Who says Contreras can't frame? Stone cold robbery of Eaton with that called third strike for the first out in the eighth
Three amigos time?
he should hit more of those. that would be an ideal outcome. /moneyballs
Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.
...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.
I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.
He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.
How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.