Cubs Throw No Hitter at Fitch Park

Five Cub pitchers combined to throw a no run, no hit game, but the Angels threw a three-hit shutout of their own right back at the Cubs, as the two teams played to a scoreless tie in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


The Cubs mounted the only real scoring threat of the day in the bottom of the 3rd inning against Angels starter RHP Fabio Martinez. Willson Conteras smacked a lead-off double off the LF fence, but was still on 2nd base two outs later after Chris Huseby struck out and Xavier Batista flied out to left. Evan Crawford then lined a single into RF that looked like it might score Contreras, but the slow-footed ex-catcher was held up at 3rd, and then Crawford was caught stealing to end the inning and the threat.


The Cubs also had runners at 1st and 2nd with one out in the 7th, but pinch-runner Marco Hernandez was picked-off 2nd base and Reggie Golden grounded out to end the inning.


Meanwhile, the Cubs hurlers were shutting-down the Angels, allowing three walks but facing only one batter over the minimum through nine innings, thanks to a pick-off that short-circuited the Angel 7th and a 4-6-3 DP that concluded the Halo 8th.


Cubs 2010 10th round pick RHP Aaron Kurcz (College of Southern Nevada) got the start and continued his Instructs magic, throwing today’s first three innings of no-hit baseball. The 20-year old allowed just a walk while striking out four. In four AZ Instructional League outings covering 9.2 IP so far, Kurcz has allowed two hits and two walks, and no runs, while striking out 16.


6’4 230 RHP Dustin Fitzgerald (Cubs 2010 19th round draft pick out of Hill JC in Texas) followed Kurcz to the hill and retired the Angels six up/six-down on just 23 pitches (L-5, 4-3, 4-3 in his first inning of work, and 5-3, 6-3, and K-looking in his second inning).


19-year old RHP Robinson Lopez (one of three pitchers acquired by the Cubs from the Atlanta Braves in the Derrek Lee deal) worked the 6th and 7th, striking out the first man he faced and then getting two long fly outs to complete a 1-2-3 6th inning, and then after walking the lead-off hitter in the top of the 7th on four pitches, Lopez picked the runner off 1st, before inducing two routine ground outs (a 6-3 then a 4-3) to end the frame.


RHP Kevin Rhoderick (Cubs 2010 9th round pick out of Oregon State) worked the 8th and allowed a lead-off walk, but then got a 5-4 FC for the first out (nice leaping stab by 3B Gioskar Amaya to start the play), and a slick 4-6-3 GIDP to end the inning.


2010 29th round pick LHP Casey Harman (Clemson) threw an eight-pitch 1-2-3 9th to guarantee the no-hitter, with the Cubs needing just one little old run to complete what could have been a stirring victory, and with the top of the batting order due up. But Evan Crawford, Hak-Ju Lee, and Engel Santana went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th (5-3, K-swinging, and 4-3), resulting in a scoreless tie that would have made World Cup Soccer proud.


Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):


LINEUP:
1. Evan Crawford, CF: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, F-8, 5-3, CS)
2. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 0-4 (P-6, K, 5-3, K)
3a. Max Kwan, C: 0-1 (E6, HBP, BB)
3b. Marco Hernandez, PR-DH: NO AB (PO)
3c. Engel Santana, PH: 0-1 (4-3)
4. Justin Bour, 1B: 0-3 (3-1, 6-3, K)
5. Logan Watkins, 2B: 1-3 (4-3, 3-1, 1B)
6. Reggie Golden, DH #1: 0-3 (K, K, 5-3)
7. Micah Gibbs, DH-C: 0-2 (K, F-7, BB)
8a. Willson Contreras, 3B: 1-1 (2B, HBP)
8b. Gioskar Amaya, 3B: 0-0 (1-3 SH)
9. Chris Huseby, LF: 0-3 (K, K, P-6)
10. Xavier Batista, RF: 0-3 (F-7, F-7, L-6)


PITCHERS:
1. Aaron Kurcz: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 37 pitches (26 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO
2. Dustin Fitzgerald: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 23 pitches (15 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
3. Robinson Lopez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 26 pitches (13 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
4. Kevin Rhoderick: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 11 pitches (5 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
5. Casey Harman: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 8 pitches (6 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO


ERRORS: NONE


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


ATTENDANCE: 31 (including cubs.com beat writer Carrie Muskat)


WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80’s

Comments

Phil - from what I have heard, Lopez is the only real prospect we received for Lee. From what you have seen, is he more likely to be a Stevens/Gaub type prospect, or does he have the ability to be as interesting as Archer? I realize that I didn't give you much middle ground.

Submitted by DavidP on Sat, 10/09/2010 - 7:36pm. Phil - from what I have heard, Lopez is the only real prospect we received for Lee. From what you have seen, is he more likely to be a Stevens/Gaub type prospect, or does he have the ability to be as interesting as Archer? ======================================= DAVID P: In comparing the three pitchers the Cubs got from the Braves for D-Lee with the three the Cubs got from the Indians for Mark DeRosa, Ty'Relle Harris = Jeff Stevens, Jeff Lorick = John Gaub, and Robinson Lopez = Chris Archer, at least in terms of ceiling. In other words, Lopez has the most potential, Harris is closest to being ready for MLB, and Lorick has all the earmarks of a future MLB LOOGY. Lopez has yet to pitch above Peoria, but he does top out at 94 and throws a change-up and a slider, so he should progress on a track similar to Archer's (albeit without maybe the extraordinary success Archer had in 2010), if he can stay healthy. Lopez should be in the Daytona starting rotation next year. Both Lopez and Lorick are at Instructs, and both have pitched well so far. Lopez is a bit spotty with his command, while Lorick is really polished and could jump from Peoria to AA in 2011, although he will at least go to Daytona (depending on the bullpen needs at Tennessee). Lorick is especially tough on lefties because he sort of pitches from "around the corner," and he doesn't have the extreme control issues that haunt John Gaub.

I see that Huseby is playing the field again. Do you think he can hit enough to become a position player in the system? I'm curious what the competition level is at Instructs. Could it be compared to Low or High A? I realize there are probably players from several levels being represented here. Based on his success so far, where do you think Kurcz starts the 2011 season? Are there any hitters who have impressed you? Thanks for all the updates

Submitted by Jumbo on Sun, 10/10/2010 - 4:36am. I see that Huseby is playing the field again. Do you think he can hit enough to become a position player in the system? I'm curious what the competition level is at Instructs. Could it be compared to Low or High A? I realize there are probably players from several levels being represented here. Based on his success so far, where do you think Kurcz starts the 2011 season? Are there any hitters who have impressed you? Thanks for all the updates ============================================================ JUMBO: Generally speaking Instructs is approximately equivalent to Boise-plus or Peoria-lite. Chris Huseby looks good in BP but has difficulty transferring it to games, where he is continually fooled by off-speed pitches & breaking balls. So far in Instructs he is hitting 192/241/231 with one XBH, and one BB and 12 K in 29 PA. He also is a bad fielder in the OF (slow to react). So he is an extreme longshot to ever get out of "A" ball as an outfielder. There hasn't been any talk of him going back to pitching. I think Aaron Kurcz will probably begin the 2011 season at Daytona. Reggie Golden has been the most-impressive hitter so far. He is hitting 267/372/567 with two HR and three doubles, and has the most power of any of the young hitters in the organization. He has power to all fields (pitch him inside and he'll yank the ball over the LF fence, pitch him outside and he'll punch the ball over the RF fence), and he is a very patient ("choosy") hitter who is not afraid to hit with two strikes or get called out on strikes if he doesn't think the pitch is a strike. So he strikes out a lot as a result (11 K in 35 PA so far at Instructs). He has a plus-arm in the OF, but has (at best) just average speed and range. He is still VERY raw in certain aspects of his game (his defense and baserunning need a LOT of work), and I'm not sure how coachable he is, but there is no denying his bat speed & XBH power to all fields. Hak-Ju Lee has hit 360/407/480 and leads the Cubs Instructs team in both runs scored and RBI. Although he does not have a HR stroke he has been driving the ball to all fields. He also has yet to commit an error at SS, while making some nice moves turning the DP. He looks like a much more confident player at SS, like somebody who actually will push Starlin Castro to 2B in a couple of years. Jae-Hoon Ha hit two HR and stole four bases in six Instructs games, and he made some spectacular catches in CF, too. He will almost certainly begin the 2011 season as the starting CF at Daytona. He has not drawn a walk but he also has struck out just once in 27 PA. He is a hyper-aggressive first-ball fastball hitter and it's almost impossible to get a fastball by him, so despite his plus-speed he profiles as a middle-third of the order hitter (4-5-6). His combination of speed, power, and athleticism is fairly rare. Evan Crawford (acquired from SF in the Mike Fontenot deal) has had a good Instructs at the plate and in the field, hitting 317/347/591 with two doubles and two triples and only one strikeout in 23 PA. He's probably the fastest player in the organization. The problem with Crawford is that (like Ha) he doesn't walk much, but he doesn't have Ha's power, so he probably projects as nothing more than a 4th OF in the big leagues (if he gets that far). If Crawford could be more patient at the plate and draw some walks he would have a much better chance of reaching the big leagues and be an everyday player. He also probably hits the ball in the air too much.

I thought the whole point of instructs were for players to work on weaknesses in thier game. Ha should be told to take 2 strikes every AB and work on getting deep into counts. Why woundn't the Cubs coaches tell a kid like Ha to do this and hold him accountable for working on it during games? Just to let him go up there and hack isn't doing anything for him, everyone knows he can do that.

Submitted by The Stick on Sun, 10/10/2010 - 9:53am. I thought the whole point of instructs were for players to work on weaknesses in thier game. Ha should be told to take 2 strikes every AB and work on getting deep into counts. Why woundn't the Cubs coaches tell a kid like Ha to do this and hold him accountable for working on it during games? Just to let him go up there and hack isn't doing anything for him, everyone knows he can do that. ====================================== THE STICK: Probably because the Cubs don't consider what Ha does to be a bad thing, or else they don't think he can change, or else they believe if he were to change it would have a negative impact on what he does do well (hit for power). A couple of years ago one organization out here (I believe it was the A's) required every batter at Instructs to take a strike before they were allowed to swing. The Cubs don't take that approach. In fact, toward the end of Extended Spring Training this past May Manager Jody Davis would automatically take the next AB away from any player who was called out on strikes, because he felt the Cubs hitters weren't being aggressive enough.

Really surpising to hear that the Cubs were pushing a "hack-first, think-second" policy...

10-10-10 <blockquote>Santo was presented a proclamation from Mesa Mayor Scott Smith celebrating Oct. 10, 2010 - the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year as Ron Santo Day in Mesa</blockquote> http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/mesa/article_b182ddb4-d401-11df-abc1-001cc4c002e0.html http://tinyurl.com/28c2gkd http://tinyurl.com/24yf54a

Speaking of Fontenot - nice triple today culminating in the Giant's first run today. Started at 3B. Hopefully, no balls will get hit higher than 6'3" off the ground over his head.

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