The Hill at Fitch Park

Starting for the AZL Cubs versus he AZL Angels at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, Rich Hill worked five shutout innings (68 pitches, 47 strikes, 8/0 GO/FO), allowing three hits (all three singles) and a walk, with five strikeouts. He really had his roundhouse curve and efficient two-seamer working today, as he went to a three ball count on only two of the 17 Angels hitters he faced.

Hill was supposed to start yesterday's game versus the AZL Rangers, but the game was canceled due to wet grounds (a severe monsoon storm hit the Phoenix area Thursday night and Fitch Park was still flooded Friday morning).

If he doesn't get promoted to Iowa this coming week, his next AZL start should be Thursday at Fitch Park versus the AZL Padres. If he does stay in Arizona for one more start, it's possible that Hill will rejoin the Iowa Cubs when the I-Cubs play at Tucson the week of July 21st (the same week the Cubs play the Diamondbacks in Phoenix).  

Coupled with his previous outing last Sunday when he worked four innings of one hit ball with six K, Hill has now gone 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB and 11 K over his last two outings since modifying his delivery under the auspices of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins and AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud.       

Hill almost certainly could have gone longer today, but there is a limit of five innings or 75 pitches (whichever comes first) for AZL pitchers, including rehabbers.

Hill left with a 3-0 lead after five innings, and the AZL Cubs managed to just barely hang-on for a 6-5 victory.

2008 20th round draft pick LF Jericho Jones (Louisiana Tech) had three more hits (he's now hitting 452/500/690) before leaving the game with cramps. (Jones is a slow runner, but he sure can hit). Matt Cerda (4th round pick out of Oceanside HS) reached base three times on two singles and a walk and scored three runs, and Nelson Perez hit a monster solo HR over the right-centerfield fence.

Cerda, who hasn't been a full-time catcher since his Little League days, has made great strides behind the plate since arriving at Fitch Park last month, working daily with player-coach (mentor) Danny Fatheree, who was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS. 

At the plate, Cerda is an advanced hitter with an eagle eye at the plate, especially for a kid one month removed from high school. He reminds me of a young left-handed hitting version of Craig Biggio.  

Ryan Acosta, Toby Matchulat, Carlos Rojas, and Luke Sommer followed Rich Hill to the mound, but only Sommer (who was an outfielder as recently as two months ago) was effective, earning the save with 1-1/3 innings of shutout relief. Acosta allowed three runs in the 6th and left the game with one out in the top of the 7th with an injury (exact nature unknown). 

In AZL roster news, the Cubs have signed their fourth Non-Drafted Free-Agent (NDFA) and first NDFA position player of 2008, IF-OF-C Pat Mahoney (University of Connecticut).

A 22-year old right-handed hitter from Des Moines, Mahoney is the younger brother of ex-Cubs and ex-Iowa catcher Mike Mahoney. The younger Mahoney was originally an infielder, but was converted to catcher in his senior year at UConn, and I would expect him to serve as a "super-sub" utility player for the AZL Cubs. He supposedly can play just about anywhere.

Comments

Phil,
Is Rafael Dolis close to throwing in some games?

I still think that Hill returns to the Cubs before this season is over, and starting for the Cubs down the stretch.

Z
Harden
Dempster
Lilly
Hill

That is pretty damn good.

Who does Sean Marshall have to kill to get a spot in the rotation?

Don't get me wrong. I like Marshall.

And I would be content with him in the rotation.

But I am also content with Marquis in that role right not.

BUT... if Hill can come back and pitch like he did last year, he is and will be a better option than either Marquis or Marshall.

Great news about Hill.

That would be quite the comeback if Hill comes back to start for the Cubs..the question is will he be any better than Marquis? I'm intersted to see how he does in alot higher levels than Arizona Rookie League.

As long as he has his control back, we already know that Hill is good enough to get major league hitters out, and is much much better than Marquis.

Sure the 'old Hill' could get major league hitters out and was better than Marquis. From what I understand he was totally changed his delivery? Thats not a minor change that you can just put him right back in there. Maybe he can come back like nothing ever happened, but I don't see that scenario as likely.

Well... even the bad Hill was moderately effective, and was still difficult to hit. He just struggled to throw strikes.

If he can now continue to throw strikes, he should be back in the bigs sooner than later, and he should be effective.

That is one hell of a rotation, provided Lilly gets back on track as well.

AZ Phil, I read in the Des Moines Register that the plan for Mahoney was to have him head to Boise soon.

Any word on the arrival of Cashner or Shafer? Thanks for the report, it's great to see something optimistic to follow up on the box score.

AZ Phil: What's the latest on Angel Guzman? Is he close to a rehab assignment yet? Thanks.

Submitted by Hagsag on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 3:36pm.

Phil, Is Rafael Dolis close to throwing in some games?

==========================

HAGSAG: Dolis was supposed to pitch in an AZL game a couple of weeks ago but he got shut down again. He is at Fitch Park rehabbing from 2007 TJS, but his problems this year are all shoulder-related. I don't know when or if he will be getting into any AZL game action.

Submitted by Timmer on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 3:48pm.

AZ Phil: What's the latest on Angel Guzman? Is he close to a rehab assignment yet? Thanks.

===========================

TIMMER: Angel Guzman probably could have gone out on a minor league rehab six weeks ago, but the Cubs are apparently waiting until at least July 14th.

If they start the rehab no earlier than July 14th, and if he spends the maximum 30 days on the rehab assignment, and then he spends no more than 19 days on optional assignment to the minors, and then gets recalled on September 1st, his 4th minor league option will be preserved for 2009.

If he were to begin his minor league rehab earlier than July 14th, it would mean the Cubs would have to add him to their 25-man roster prior to September 1st, or else Guzman will be out of minor league options in 2009.

And I suspect the Cubs want to keep that last minor league option in their pocket for next season, in case Gooz isn't ready coming out of Spring Training or in case the Cubs get caught in a roster numbers crunch. 

Submitted by Raisin101 on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 3:45pm.

AZ Phil, I read in the Des Moines Register that the plan for Mahoney was to have him head to Boise soon. Any word on the arrival of Cashner or Shafer? Thanks for the report, it's great to see something optimistic to follow up on the box score.

==============================

RAISIN: I believe Aaron Shafer is at Fitch Park, but I haven't seen him throw "live" BP yet. He's probably still throwing bullpen side sessions, but he should be fairly close to being ready for game action soon.

Chris Carpenter (ankle) is finally healthy and he got into an AZL game this past week.

Andrew Cashner was supposed to arrive this weekend, but I haven't seen him.

Tarlandus Mitchell (sprained ankle) is close to being ready for AZL game action, and Kitt Kopach (2007 shoulder surgery) is throwing side sessions and will supposedly be cleared for full activity (including AZL game action) in August.

May he rest in peace.

AZ Phil: Have you seen Hill do that sidearm thing he had so much success with last season?

As always, thanks AZ Phil!

Have you heard of the Cubs signing anyone in Latin America with the July 2nd date passing? Seems like most of the news surrounded the A's, Padres and Yankees (and the bonus skimming by the Nationals and the White Sox).

crunch's buddy homered in the first. 3-0 Reds Bottom 1.

adam who?

adam dunn just took gagne deep...huge shot.

slo-mo replays show him chewing gum with his head slightly bobbing with the chewing motion.

solid no-doubt contact...what a weird hitter.

Is he there?If he is ,how does he stack up?

Great news about Hill.

Can he pitch the 8th?

Going to be really interesting to see how Lou handles the late innings tomorrow. No Wood. Marmol threw 36. He couldn't go even if Lou trusted him. So you've got probably Howry at the end, Gaudin, Cotts, Hart, and the long guys - Marshall and Lieber. Not a lot of dependability there.

Z and Lilly are also rested enough to use in the pen. Lets hope Demp can get us 7 so we can go straight to Gaudin and Howry.

Yeah, Z could throw an inning. Lilly could, but I doubt Lou & Larry would want to since he threw on the side/warmed up in the bullpen/both today.

ha!

walkoff 2 run homer for pitt...down by 1 in the bottom 10th. pitt wins. mil/stl lose.

there was another walkoff tonight with KC beating SEA...it was KC's first walkoff HR win since April 05 according to their announcer.

they were up 6 in the 8th...brutal bullpen work in the NL central today.

Way to go Bucs!! Nice scrappy performance tonight. You listen to the Pit announcers on Glaus' homerun and they sound just as convinced as the rest of us that the game was over.

Don't look now but the Cubs have the best record in baseball again. If we add a Hill that can once again throw strikes back onto this roster we're in pretty damn good shape heading into the 2nd half. Once Soriano's back I have a hard time figuring out what we need to trade for before the deadline. Maybe another lefty out of the pen? I don't ever remember feeling this stacked at this point in the season (no whammies!).

Hill could be that another lefty in the pen if he continues to produce. We are set right now in the rotation with Z-Harden-Demp-Lilly-Marquis-Marshall with Gaudin and Lieber strecthed out enough to be emergency starters. Marmol's struggles today are another sign we need to add a pen arm or two to be safe. We need another set-up guy and a LOOGY if the SU guy is a RHP, Hill could settle both roles if he is right and unlike Fuentes we dont have to give up two good young players to get him.

Arizona Phil......are they waiting for Jericho Jones to hit .500 before they move him up? The batting averages of the outfielders in Boise & Peoria aren't exactly tearing it up.Peoria only has 3 outfielders (with Johnston injured)

Just have to say it... best record in the major leagues ...again.

Submitted by Jumbo on Fri, 07/04/2008 - 7:36pm.

With Marmol coming down to earth and the so-so performances of Weurtz and Cotts & the "injury" to Eyre - the bullpen's smelling kinda shitty. So if Hill came back into form it would allow either Gallagher or Marshall to go to the pen. Gallagher would certainly be an upgrade over Ascanio, though he's done very well as a 22 year old MLB #5.

I'm sure Lou won't want to wait for Hill to prove himself before getting an extra pitcher, so if CC is a Brewer and Burnett or Harden becomes a Cub, the potential pitching staff is something like this: (If Hill comes back and pitches like last year, you can move Marquis to the pen. His family will starve, but Lou won't care.)

Z
Demp
Lilly
Burnett/Harden
Marquis/Hill

Wood
Marmol
Howry
Eyre/Cotts
Gallagher
Marshall/Weurtz/Marquis
Lieber

Down to minors: 2 of Weurtz/Cotts/Marshall (or all 3 if Hill is back)

Keep it up Rich. That would be a helluva rotation for the second half

--------------
Posted this on the last Hill Update. Harden came true and Marquis and Hill look to be legitimately fighting for the #5 spot. Marquis was terrific his last couple starts and Hill is capable of pitching like a #2 when he gets it together.

Obviously, if Marquis can continue as with his recent outings Hill will have to be out of this world to take it from him.

Marquis.
2nd half.
Hello Hill!

"So if Hill came back into form it would allow either Gallagher or Marshall to go to the pen. Gallagher would certainly be an upgrade over Ascanio, though he's done very well as a 22 year old MLB #5."

Gallagher is not on the team anymore.

BTW, Cubs got Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez from the Pirates.

"Gallagher is not on the team anymore."

Jumbo was quoting from a post he initially put up on 7/4.

OH! Sorry JUMBO. My bad.

Didn't catch it.

GO CUBS!

I said it before, and I will say it again...
Send marmol to the 15 DL, let him rest up, energize and lets see what happens.

I mean the old marmol over 15 games, accounts for what? 1 win?
The new marmol would account for 3 losses. No risk as I see it.

AZ PHIL: Friend. Fellow Cubs sufferer. DeFacto scout extraordinaire - since the Cubs have now traded their #1 pitching prospect for a pitcher who is either brilliant, or hurt and can't pitch, can you please tell us who is the next in line?

In your opinion, who in the minors, has the best shot of being a 1-4 slotted pitcher in the majors within the next year or two?

I had thought it was Pawelek, but it does not seem like it will happen that soon. Veal? Still has control issues. JEff Russell? The Notre Dame wide-out? Not enough pitches developed yet. Kevin Hart? From what I've seen in-person, he has no confidence against major-league hitters.

Gallagher at only 22 years old, had some terrific stuff, and a bright future in the majors.

Please tell us what's down the pike.

This doesn't help Cub fans reputation as a bunch of drunks-

http://deadspin.com/5024562/cubs-fans-drink-early-...

Marmol replaces Wood on All-Star roster

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_relea...

Because that's exactly what he needs.

Feh.

Can't say that's who I'd pick. Odd choice.

from the press release...

Wood will not play in the 2008 All-Star Game but will attend the
festivities. Marmol (2-3, 4.13 ERA, 3 Sv, 52.1 IP, 29 H, 70 SO) was
selected
because he was the relief pitcher who received the next
highest vote total on the Player Ballot.

Yeah, I saw that a little later. Hadn't seen or heard the reasoning when that post was made.

Recent comments

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  • "The Boston Red Sox were banned from signing any international players for the next year and had five of their teenage prospects declared free agents on Friday after a Major League Baseball investigation showed they circumvented signing-bonus rules last year, a source familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports."

    https://www.yahoo.com/sports/news/source-red-sox-b...

    Rob Richardson 3 hours 5 min ago view
  • The thing with Heyward is its not just free agency. He is way under performing his career #s. He's making the same % of contact but his soft contact is much higher and hard contact much lower than all his previous years so there is something very specifically going on this year causing the issues. Chances are he will eventually get back to his previous #s and it's better to get the slump now and get that hot run later but I wish I knew what is different about this year. He's either just not seeing the ball as well or a swing change is causing it.

    johann 3 hours 20 min ago view
  • Only 3 pitches for Leathersich. Not much of a rehab outing.

    Thanks for the reporting Phil.

    QuietMan 3 hours 32 min ago view
  • He's the nastiest pitcher I've seen in awhile. I'm gonna give them all a mulligan on this one.

    Coghlan's strike out was more disappointing. He was fighting off a lot of pitches and not swinging at crap, and on the last pitch, he swung at stuff he was laying off, and struck out.

    And Heyward, too. I don't blame Heyward - I blame free agency. I hate it. You almost never get a valid return on the investment.

    I look forward to the day when ball players own the teams. The current economics are not sustainable.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 33 min ago view
  • Oh, I'm sure you're right. He's not 27-27 in saves for nothing. But, man, I hope they learned last night that he didn't throw a single pitch in the zone to KB, Contreras or Baez, and they all just kept swinging.

    billybucks 6 hours 41 min ago view
  • Sounds like a much better game than last night's fiasco in Flushing.

    Old and Blue 6 hours 58 min ago view
  • I'm pretty sure it looks like a sweet pitch on the way in. How many sinkers like that are there at 98 mph? I agree that they should just do a Lackey and stand their with their bat on their shoulders until he throws a strike next time, but I can see how that's hard to do.

    The bullpen, on the other hand, is a mess, and Heyward is starting to piss me off.

    Old and Blue 6 hours 59 min ago view
  • I noticed that too. He's getting to everything, but when he gets right under it on a high flyball he looks uncomfortable

    cubbies.4ever 15 hours 33 min ago view
  • Did you expect anything different?

    billybucks 16 hours 3 min ago view
  • Wow, did they blow this game. Stupid plays by the kids in the 7th -- Almora throwing to 3rd instead of 2nd to keep the DP in order (when a DP probably wins the game) and Baez throwing to 3rd (to a backpedalling KB) instead of getting the easy 2nd out at first - cost them the game. Also, Contreras almost throws the ball into RF on a nonexistent pick-off play. And Maddon, for using Peralta in the first place. Did they do a bunch of shots in the dugout before the 7th? Unbelievably bad baseball. I thought Almora had a high baseball IQ?

    billybucks 16 hours 25 min ago view
  • men on 2nd/3rd, 0 out...and nothing.

    cubs lose :(

    crunch 16 hours 58 min ago view
  • UH OH! RALLY TIME!

    crunch 17 hours 7 min ago view
  • Getting tired of this Heywood weak sauce

    jacos 17 hours 18 min ago view
  • Yep, can't say I disagree with that. His first batter and resulting walk was just brutal. Reminded me of a bit of Jacque Jones spiking his throws into the ground from RF.

    Eric S 17 hours 27 min ago view
  • The use of Peralta in any semblance of a high leverage situation is questionable at best.

    fixed that for ya.

    crunch 17 hours 34 min ago view
  • The use of Peralta in any semblance of a high leverage situation is questionable at best. Hind sight is easy but Peralta had nothing.

    Eric S 17 hours 42 min ago view