So I packed a PB&J and an apple this morning and planned to take my lunch break at the ballpark. Beautiful day here in Des Moines. It took forever to weave through pregame traffic and get into the lot where I park right next to the main gate. Just in time for the first pitch I slid into a spot and enjoyed the sandwich while I listened to the game on the radio.
Having waited half a season, I thought as the deluge pounded the car in the Principal Park lot, what’s another hour or so?
When the rain relented and while the grounds crew did its pregame thing I went to check for Superman capes and the like in the Backstop Store. No, the notice of Kris Bryant’s arrival in town had been too short to allow for restocking. Nevertheless, I expect there will be a hastily arranged bobblehead night added to the promo slate ASAP.
I'm not around much this week, but a quick note to give you a new thread to chat on. 4th overall pick Kyle Schwarber assaulted the Northwest League for a few days and got a quick promotion to Kane County and the Midwest League yesterday. Then after Kris Bryant won the home run derby in the Southern League All-Star game, he got his promotion to AAA to play along side Javier Baez. I haven't seen what the Iowa roster shake-up will be to make room for Bryant to play 3b, but demoting Christian Villanueva would probably make the most sense.
When looking ahead at the Cubs likely post-2014 MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), whether a player presently on the 40-man roster is eligible to be an MLB Article XX-B free-agent or will be eligible for Salary Arbitration, or whether a player presently on a Cubs minor league roster is eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2014 or is eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, will be determining factors.
2014 Cubs Cactus League Extended Spring Training - Final Stats
Players selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft) are placed on a club's Negotiation List.
I've got the draft signing block in the left sidebar up already with the Zagunis signing in there. Otherwise the final day has begun and I will be updating very sporadically.
11th Round Pick #319 - Jordan Brink, RHP from Fresno State - Junior
There have been some interesting pitching prospects in recent Drafts who came late to full-time pitching, including first-rounders Braden Shipley in 2013 and Kyle Zimmer in 2012. While Brink isn't quite that high-profile, he has the chance to do well now that he's focused only on the mound. An outfielder for his first two years at Fresno State, Brink split time between playing that position and pitching as a sophomore then turned to pitching full-time in 2014. He's athletic, if a bit undersized, with the makings of two plus pitches in his fastball and spike curveball, which looks like a hard slider at times. He's working on developing his changeup. The jury is still out on whether Brink can start long-term -- sometimes a bias against undersized right-handers -- or he'll end up in the bullpen. Either way, his arm looks like it has a shot to pitch at the highest level.
12th Round Pick #349 - Tanner Griggs, RHP from Angelina College (TX) - J2
Had to look up Tanner Griggs. Can touch 95mph, sits 90-92 and adds a solid slider, decent CH, control issues. Could be bullpen.
Day 2 of the draft has just started and the Cubs are on the clock and will likely have their pick by the time I stop typing. As for Day 1, we know all about Kyle Schwarber at this point and how he's truly the player the Cubs scouts desired. Second round pick Jake Stinnett sounds like he'll be an easy sign and at some point (probably near or after Round 10), the Cubs will likely go for a few reaches in hope of signing some players that were deemed unsignable. If you're interested, Stinnett will pitch in the super regionals tomorrow versus Virginia and I believe all games will be televised on the ESPN channels.
As for Round 3, here we go... (UPDATE: Done for the day, hope they can sign most of these guys)
3rd Round Pick #78 - Mark Zagunis, C from Viriginia Tech - Junior
A three-year starter at Virginia Tech and a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist, Zagunis is an athletic catcher who has performed in one of the better college conferences in the nation. The ACC standout has shown a propensity for putting the ball in play and hitting for average, albeit from a slightly unusual setup. He's shown some extra-base pop in the past, though not as much in 2014. He runs extremely well for a catcher and has shown that his athleticism plays well in the outfield. His arm is average but on target, and his other skills say he could stay behind the plate full-time. The team that believes he can continue to hit might think he has the chance to be an everyday backstop in the future, and it will draft him accordingly. At the very least, Zagunis' versatility provides a team with options if catching doesn't work out.
So the big 3 pitchers went to the first 3 picks - Aiken to Astros, Kolek to Marlins and Rodon slips to White Sox. That left the Cubs in the position to do pretty much whatever they want. The reality is that after the first 3 picks, there was no obvious #4, or 5 or 6 or 7. Some guys really liked Nick Gordon and Alex Jackson, but they're projectable high schoolers and if they were sure things, let's face it, they'd be going top 3. No one passes a sure thing bat for pitching unless it's Strasburg coming out for the draft and that's what the 3 teams just did ahead of the Cubs.
Kevin Brown ripped an RBI triple and two singles and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas drilled a two-run triple and an RBI single, Jesse Hodges reached base four times (HBP, 2B, 2B, and BB), scored two runs, and drove-in another, Alberto Mineo collected three singles and scored a run, and five pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs overwhelmed the Angels 10-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #1 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
19-year old 6'2 Dominican stringbean LHP Jose Paulino was the most-impressive Cub hurler today, tossing four innings of one-hit shutout ball. If any of the Cubs teenaged Latin pitchers making their U. S. debut in 2014 make the Boise Opening Day roster, it would probably be Paulino. (I'm not counting RHSP Erick Leal because he was in the U. S. last year at AZL Cubs, and although RHRP Francisco Carrillo and LHRP Alberto Diaz will be making their U. S. debut this season, both pitchers are in their 20's).
Manny Ramirez served as a DH and batted five times in the game (once in each of the first five innings), going 1-5 with three ground outs, a fly out to RF, and a single off the LF wall (ManRam can still hit, but he just doesn't run as well as he once did).
Ryan Sweeney (Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring) played CF for five innings and batted four times, going 1-3 with a walk, a single and a run scored. Sweeney seems to be running just fine, so I would think he will probably get moved-up to AAA Iowa very soon to continue his rehab (just like Justin Ruggiano did a couple of weeks ago), before being reinstated from the DL sometime next week (barring any setbacks).
RHRP Kyuiji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) threw an inning and allowed one run on a HBP and an RBI double. He did strike out two batters, however (both swinging). His rehab has gone kind of slow, but he really needs to get out of here ASAP, even if it's just a minor league rehab assignment at Kane County or Daytona.
In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Tim Saunders has been sent to Extended Spring Training from Daytona and he played 2B in today's game, so expect Saunders to be on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster. RHP Trevor Graham also was returned to Extended Spring Training from Daytona, so he should join LHP Tyler Ihrig, RHP Erick Leal, and RHP Trevor Clifton (plus one more starter TBA, could be Jose Paulino) in the Boise starting rotation. And RHP Josh Davis has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spring Training, in what will be his second tour with the Cougars this season. (Davis has logged some time with the Daytona Cubs in 2014, too).
I was intrigued by the recent ESPN article that proclaimed the 1968 Los Angeles Dodgers draft to be the best ever. The Dodgers picks that year were exceptional. All told across the various January and June drafts, the Dodgers drafted and signed EIGHT players that would go on to have successful major league careers. They are listed below with their career WAR according to Baseball Reference:
Brett Vertigan laced an RBI double and an RBI single, Yairo Munoz ripped an RBI single and a double and scored a run, Joe Bennie drilled an RBI single and a double, and Dayton Alexander smacked a solo HR, as the Athletics drubbed the Cubs 10-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morining on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Baseball Complex in Phoenix, AZ.
Eloy Jimenez clobbered a three-run home run, Manny Ramirez celebrated his Cub debut with a tape-measure solo HR, and Gleyber Torres belted an RBI double to account for the five Cub runs.
Signed by the Cubs as a minor league player-coach ten days ago, the 42-year old Ramirez saw his first game action of 2014 today, serving as a DH and hitting 2nd in each of the first four innings. Having last played in August 2013 with AAA Round Rock (Texas Rangers affiliate in the PCL) where he hit a lackluster 259/328/370 with three HR in 30 games, you would think ManRam might be a bit rusty, but he did not appear to be today. The veteran slugger drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch his first time up, flied out to right-center in his second AB (a fly ball that was deep enough to allow a baserunner to advance from 2nd to 3rd after the catch), flied out to the 385 sign in LF his 3rd time up (A's left-fielder caught the ball with his back up against the wall), and blasted a 400+ foot HR (with an accompanying major league bat-flip) over the LF fence and out into the desert in his 4th and final PA in the top of the 4th inning.
Ryan Sweeney (on the Cubs 15-day DL after suffering a hamstring injury on May 2nd) also served as a DH in today's game and (like Manny) batted four times, once in each of the first four innings. He struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 pitch in the top of the 1st, drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch in the 2nd, and popped out (P-5, and P-6) in his final two AB.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
Gleyber Torres drilled four singles, stole a base, and scored three runs as the Cubs edged the Diamondbacks 5-4 on Whirlwind Field, and Fernery Ozuna (RBI single), Jordan Parr (two-run single), Jacob Mayers (two-run double), and Jose Herrera (RBI double) rapped run-scoring hits to highlight an eight-run 3rd and Eric Brooks and five relievers combined to toss a three-hitter, helping the D'backs throttle the Cubs 11-3 on Quail Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.
This was the 8th multi-hit game for Torres and his second four-hit game, and he is now hitting 311/388/398 with four doubles and two triples, 14/18 BB/K, one HBP, and four SB (two CS and two PO) in 30 Cactus League EXST games (118 PA). He has committed 13 errors (11 fielding and two throwing) in his 30 games, however his errors tend to come in bunches and seem to result from carelessness, and then he'll play immaculate defense for several games in a row. He has also made a number of highlight-reel plays at SS, and his throws are always plus-strong & almost always accurate.
Eloy Jimenez returned to game action after a week's absence during which he was supposedly en route to the Cubs Dominican Academy. (He was a spectator at yesterday's game). Jimenez served as DH for Squad "B" (he has only played eight games in RF) and went 1-5 in the game on Whirlwind Field, collecting two RBI (one with a 1st inning single, and the other on a 4-3 GO in the 9th that ultimately proved to be the game-winner). While Jimenez is hitting a mediocre 236/266/348 (with 4/22 BB/K) in 25 Cactus Legue EXST games (94 PA), he is hitting a robust 333/355/567 with one HR, two doubles, and a triple, and ten RBI over his last eight games (31 PA) going back to 5/14, and he leads the EXST Cubs team in RBI with 18. (I know it's not a skill, but Jimenez does seem to have a knack for collecting RBI). Though I suspect they won't, I truly hope the Cubs will give Eloy a chance to remain in Mesa (with Gleyber Torres) and play for the AZL Cubs this summer. He does have defensive issues in RF and he did struggle offensively for a while (though certainly not lately), but so do a lot of players in the AZL.
RHP Ben Wells (sent back to Extended Spring Training from Daytona a couple of weeks ago to try and "right the ship") made his 2014 Cactus League EXST game debut today and got rocked, allowing seven runs (all earned) on six hits (two doubles and four singles) and three walks in just 2.0 IP. Extended Spring Training is almost over, so it's difficult to predict what the Rx will be for Wells.
RHP Scott Frazier (who has been unable to throw strikes going back to Minor League Camp) made his Cactus League EXST game debut as well, and threw a shutout inning with one strikeout, although he did walk two batters and threw two WP. There are some in the Cub organization who believe Frazier has the best (and nastiest) stuff in the system, but he just has all kinds of trouble finding the strike zone with it. He got by today, but just barely. Frazier would be the closer at Boise (heck, he'd probably be the closer at Daytona) if he could just throw strikes.
Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):
RHP Pierce Johnson (AA Tennessee 7-day DL - calf - hadn't thrown in a game since May 19th), RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS - hadn't thrown in a Cactus League EXST game since last Monday), and LHP Zac Rosscup (Cubs 15-day DL - shoulder - hadn't thrown in a game since May 9th) combined to toss 3.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball and Danny Canela belted a double and a triple for the Cubs, and LHP Jonah Wesely threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball with five strikeouts for the Angels, as the two teams played to a 2-2 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #4 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
42-year old OF Manny Ramirez (signed by the Cubs last week to be a player-coach at AAA Iowa) has arrived at Riverview Park to get into playing shape, and so security has been increased. There was a definite uptick in attendance today (most-likely related to Manny's expected arrival), although ManRam did not play in the EXST game.
17-year old OF Eloy Jimenez was at Riverview Park today, too, watching the game from the bleachers (he hasn't played in a game since last Tuesday). Whether his trip to the DSL has been indefinitely postponed or just temporarily delayed remains to be seen. It would be nice if Eloy could play in at least one or two more Cactus League EXST games, though, since he leads the EXST Cubs in RBI and is (was) in the middle of a hot streak (hitting 360/385/640 since May 14th).
LHP Andin Diaz (who was assigned to the DSL Cubs last Friday) was not present at Riverview today and presumably has reported to the DSL Cubs, although (who knows?) maybe he'll pop up again, too.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
Up until last year, MLB First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft) slots could not be traded.
A club could lose a draft slot for signing a Type "A" Article XX-B free-agent (and it still can, although now they are called "Qualified Players"), or could gain a pick or picks if the club offered salary arbitration to one of its own Type "A" or Type "B" Article XX-B MLB free-agents and then the player signed with another club (and it still can receive one "compensation pick" between the 1st and 2nd rounds for losing a player to free-agency, as long as the player spent the entire previous season with that club AND the club offers the Article XX-B free-agent a one-year contract with a salary at least as much as the average salary of the top 125 salaries in MLB the previous season AND then the player subsequently signs with another club prior to the Rule 4 Draft).
But Rule 4 Draft slots could not be traded under any circumstances.
However, the MLB Rule 4 Draft Competitive Balance Lottery (CBL) was established per the 2012-16 CBA, and these draft slots CAN BE TRADED.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.