Billy Goat Kurcz Alive & Well at Papago Park
Michael Gilmartin laced a double off the right-field fence with one out in the bottom of the 9th, knocking-in the tying run and the winning run, as the A’s Split Squad #2 rallied with three runs in the 8th and two in the 9th to edge the Cubs 7-6 in AZ Instructional League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.
The Cubs were in control early, as starter Aaron Kurcz (Cubs 2010 10th round pick out of the College of Southern Nevada) threw three shutout innings, allowing just one broken-bat single and no walks while striking out three. The 20-year old RHP started his college career at the Air Force Academy, before resigning after his freshman year and enrolling at CSN, where he was a teammate of the Washington Nationals #1 draft pick (and 2010 overall #1 pick) Bryce Harper. Kurcz had the misfortune of allowing a walk-off HR in the JUCO World Series that eliminated Southern Nevada, but then he had a very impressive debut pro season after signing with the Cubs, going 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, with 48 strikeouts in just 27.1 IP combined between AZL Cubs and Boise.
Although Kurcz likely projects as a closer or 8th inning set-up guy at the MLB level (he features a mid-90’s heater and a hard-breaking slider), he has been used as a starter so far at Instructs (two GS), as the Cubs are apparently doing with him what they sometimes do with pitchers they project as late-inning relievers, and that is use them as starting pitchers at the lower levels of the minor leagues to force them to use (and hopefully develop) their secondary pitches, and to accumulate as many innings as possible as soon as possible.
While Kurcz was shutting out the A’s, the Cubs scored one run in the 2nd on a two-out RBI ground single to CF by Max Kwan, and then another run in the top of the 3rd on a one-out single by Marco Hernandez (his first of three hits today), a HBP, and a two-out RBI bloop single to right-center by Justin Bour.
After the A’s tied the game in the 5th, the Cubs scored three times in the 6th as Cubs 2010 3rd round pick Micah Gibbs (LSU) crashed a one-out solo HR over the RF fence, and Cubs 2010 2nd round pick Reggie Golden (Wetumpka HS - Wetumpka, AL) ripped a two-out two-run RBI double down the LF line, scoring Dustin Geiger and Xavier Batista with the Cubs 4th and 5th runs of the day. The Cubs finished their scoring (and took a 6-2 lead) in the top of the 8th, as Geiger, Batista, and Kwan stroked three consecutive two-out singles to plate one run.
But the Cubs bullpen could not hold the lead, as 19-year old Dominican RHP Amaury Paulino surrendered three runs (but only one ER) in the bottom of the 8th on a lead-off double and a walk, two errors, and a passed ball. Then RHP Kevin Rhoderick (Cubs 2010 9th round draft pick out of Oregon State) came into the game in the bottom of the 9th trying to protect a 6-5 Cub lead and rack up the save, but he didn’t fool anybody, as the A’s strung together two singles and Gilmartin’s walk-off double to win the game 7-6. Rhoderick had an impressive pro debut last Saturday at Fitch Park, but he didn’t appear to have the same velocity on his fastball or control of his slider in today’s outing.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Evan Crawford, RF: 1-4 (E4, F-8, 1B, K, SB)
1b. Oliver Zapata, CF: 0-1 (5-3)
2a. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-2 (6-3 GIDP, HBP, L-6 DP)
2b. Wes Darvill, 2B: 0-2 (L-8, K)
3a. Justin Bour, 1B: 1-3 (6-3, 1B, K, RBI)
3b. Ryan Cuneo, 1B: 0-2 (4-3, 3-U)
4a. Micah Gibbs, C: 1-2 (F-8, BB, HR, RBI, R)
4b. Engel Santana, C: 0-1 (3-U)
5. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 2-4 (P-4, 5-U FC, 1B, 1B, 2 R, SB)
6. Xavier Batista, DH-LF: 2-3 (1B, K, BB, 1B, 2 R, SB)
7. Max Kwan, DH #2: 2-4 (1B, 3-1, K, 1B, 2 RBI)
8. Reggie Golden, CF-RF: 2-3 (K, 1B, 2B, BB, 2 RBI)
9. Chris Huseby, LF-DH: 0-4 (F-9, K, 4-3, 4-3)
10. Marco Hernandez, SS: 3-4 (1B, 4-3, 1B, 2B, R, PO)
1. Aaron Kurcz: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 36 pitches (21 strikes), 3/3 GO/FO
2. Tarlandus Mitchell: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 38 pitches (22 strikes), 4/0 GO/FO
3. Luis Liria: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 27 pitches (19 strikes), 3/2 GO/FO
4. Amaury Paulino: 1.0 IP, 1 H 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 21 pitches (12 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
5. Kevin Rhoderick: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 17 pitches (11 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO
3B Dustin Geiger E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base – eventually scored unearned run)
SS Marco Hernandez E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base – eventually scored unearned run)
CF Oliver Zapata E-8 (errant throw from CF on play at the plate allowed batter-runner to advance an extra base – eventually scored unearned run)
Engel Santana: 1 PB
ATTENDANCE: 14 (mostly scouts)
WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy, with temperatures in the 90’s
2010 CUBS INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE ROSTER:
ACTIVE LIST (47):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Hunter Ackerman
* Brent Ebinger
* Cam Greathouse
* Casey Harman
* Jeff Lorick
* Brian Smith
Alvaro Sosa (ex-C)
Charles Thomas (ex-3B)
* Sergio Burruel
# Micah Gibbs
# Engel Santana
* Justin Bour
* Ryan Cuneo
* Pin-Chieh Chen
* Wes Darvill
* Marco Hernandez
* Hak-Ju Lee
D. J. Lemahieu
* Logan Watkins
* Delbis Arcila
Chris Huseby (ex-P)
* Kyung-Min Na
# Oliver Zapata
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.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.