Trevor Graham

LaStella Rakes Far from the Maddon Crowd

Tommy LaStella belted a solo home run, two RBI doubles, and a single, Adonis Paula ripped a two-out two-run game-tying double in the bottom of the 7th, and Roberto Caro tripled and scored in the 7th and then drove-in what proved to be the winning run with an 8th inning sacrifice fly, as the Cubs rallied from a 5-0 deficit to edge the Athletics 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Gabriel Santana and Carlos Hiciano drilled RBI doubles to highlight a two-run third and Iolana Akau hammered a three-run HR in the fourth for the A's in a losing cause. 

The game was called after eight innings. 

LaStella batted six times and reached base four times (he also was retired on an F-9 fly out and a 3-U ground out). He played second-base for the first four innings and then moved to third base for the next three, and he made one really nice play in the field, coming-in fast from third-base to snatch a slow one-hopper before throwing the batter out at 1st in a "bang-bang" play.

At the plate, both of LaStella's doubles were hard-hit line-drives, one crashing off the CF fence and the other drilled into the right-centerfield gap, and the home run was a line-drive shot over the RF fence. Even the F-9 fly out his first-time up was hit to the warning track. The single was an opposite-field looper that fell between the A's left-fielder. shortstop, and third-baseman in short-left near the foul line. LaStella didn't run at first (he apparently thought it would land in foul territory), or else he might have had still another double. 

In just two Cactus League EXST rehab games (10 PA) so far, LaStella has seven hits (including four doubles and a HR) and a sacrifice fly, and six RBI. 

Two of the three Extended Spring Training position player "conversion projects" were on the hill for the Cubs in today's game. 

RHP Mark Malave (ex-C) got the start and was not effective, allowing two runs on three hits (including two doubles) and three walks in 2.1 IP. He didn't strike anyone out. Malave features a high-80's two-seam fastball that occasionally touches 90 MPH, and a curve (which is his best pitch). When he doesn't keep his fastball down in the zone, he can get hammered.

RHP Jae-Hoon Ha (ex-OF) pitched in relief and struggled with his command (as has been the case in most of his outings so far), issuing two walks in his one inning of work. (Cubs pitchers issued a combined nine walks today). Ha throws harder than Malave (he tops out at 92) and probably has more of a future as a pitcher, featuring the low-90's fastball, a curve, a slider, a change-up, and a "mystery pitch" (not sure even he knows what it is...)

Prior to the Cactus League EXST game on Field #6, RHPs Neil Ramirez (on the Cubs MLB 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation), Santiago Rodriguez, and Pedro Araujo pitched in a two-inning "sim" game on Field #4. Rodriguez threw two innings (30 pitches) and Araujo and Ramirez each threw one inning (15 pitches a piece). Ramirez looked good, with no distress indicated by his body language or visible on his face during the course of the outing.    

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHP Trevor Graham has been released, and catcher Roberto Vahlis and SS Rafael Narea have been assigned to the VSL Cubs.

the 23-year old Graham was the Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick out of Franklin Pierce University, and he has not pitched since Minor League Camp (he has been inactive at Extended Spring Training). He began last season at Extended Spring Training and was moved up to Daytona briefly in May, before ending up at Boise. 

The 21-year old Vahlis (known affectionately as "Fuji" by his teammates) was at Minor League Camp at Riverview Park during Spring Training after spending the previous three seasons playing in Latin American summer leagues, with the DSL Blue Jays in 2012, and then with the VSL Cubs in 2013-14. (He is from Venezula).

Vahlis had three hits (all three singles) in five Cactus League EXST AB (all as a pinch-hitter or DH). He was originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a 17-year old international free-agent in July 2011, and he has hit a combined 213/324/313 in 107 career minor league games (2012-14). 

Narea was signed out of Venezuela by the Cubs as a 16-year old last July ("Signed for Future Service"), and was invited to Extended Spring Training after he turned 17 the first week of April. The slick-fielding Narea was hitless in eight Cactus League EXST Plate Appearances, but was impressive in the field. (Narea is one of 27 international free-agents signed by the Cubs so far in the 2014-15 International Signing Period) 

The Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) begins play this coming Monday (5/18), and the league schedule had to be re-worked somewhat at the last minute after the Mariners suddenly and unexpectedly moved their VSL affiliate (VSL Mariners) to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) earlier this year (the affiliate will play in the DSL as DSL Mariners #2).   

When the Cubs moved their second DSL:affiliate (DSL Cubs #2) to the VSL in 2013, the VSL became a five-team league at that time, resulting in a schedule where each of the five teams would play each of the other four VSL teams once and then get a bye on the 5th day. With only four teams now in the VSL (VSL Cubs, VSL Phillies, VSL Rays, and VSL Tigers), the schedule has been altered to where the four clubs will play six days in a row and then get Sundays off (like the Arizona Fall League).

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus League EXST game (Cubs players only), followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster: 

Four Jacks Give Cubs Winning Hand at Riverview Park

Zak Blair (single, walk, 3-run HR, three runs scored), Kevin Brown (single, walk, solo HR, three runs scored), and Erick Castillo (three singles and a solo HR) slugged back-to-back-to-back home runs to cap a six-run 2nd inning, Varonex Cuevas clubbed a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored two runs, and Roney Alcala drilled a two-run double, as the Cubs decimated the Diamondbacks 15-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, AZ.  

Fernery Ozuna belted a solo HR, a triple, and a single, and Damion Smith slugged an RBI double, singled, walked, and stole two bases for the D'backs in a losing cause.

The Cubs came into game having homered only five times in their first 42 Cactus League EXST games (Tyler Alamo, Rashad Crawford, Erick Castillo, Jeffrey Baez, and Rony Rodriguez with one each), so hitting four dingers in one game was a bit of a surprise. (And Erick Castillo now leads the team in HR with two).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP Tyler Ihrig (Cubs 2013 23rd round draft pick - College of Marin) and 22-year old RHP Trevor Graham (Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick - Franklin Pierce University) have been promoted to Hi-A Daytona, replacing RHP Jose Rosario (assigned to Extended Spring Training) and RHP Zach Cates (placed on D-Cubs 7-day DL). Graham and Ihrig have been the two best starting pitchers so far at Extended Spring Training and the duo very likely would have been the Boise Hawks top two starters, too. Graham was scheduled to start today's game at Riverview Park and Ihrig was scheduled to start tomorrow, so the EXST Cubs pitching plans were thrown into disarray with the two promotions (although nobody is complaining).   

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TYLER IHRIG'S SEVEN 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/11 - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 40 pitches (25 strikes)  
4/16 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/23 - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 51 pitches (32 strikes) 
4/29 - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes) 
5/5   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 
5/10 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 53 pitches (39 strikes)  
5/16 - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO, 61 pitches (41 strikes)
TOTAL: 21.0 IP, 16 H, 8 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 26 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 22/13 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 OppBA

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TREVOR GRAHAM'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/10 - INTRASQUAD GAME
4/15 - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 7/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)  
4/21 - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 33 pitches (24 strikes)  
4/26 - INTRASQUAD GAME 
5/2   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 65 pitches (36 strikes)   
5/8   - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 2/6 GO/FO, 52 pitches (30 strikes) 
5/15 - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)
TOTAL: 17.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 15/12 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.59 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .226 OppBA   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

A's Extra Bases Too Much for Cubs to Overcome at Riverview Park

Christhian Perez tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball in relief, Robert Martinez hammered an RBI triple and a double and scored a run, Chris Wolfe drilled two RBI singles, and Brett Vertigan smacked a solo home run, leading the Athletics to a 5-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Rashad Crawford belted an RBI triple and a single, stole a base, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause.

RHPs Trevor Graham and Erick Leal "piggy-backed" for the Cubs and threw a combined 7.2 IP, allowing all five runs (four earned), 10 hits (including two doubles, two triples, and a home run), and two walks, with nine strikeouts. 

The way things are playing out so far at EXST, it appears very likely that Graham and Leal will form 2/5 of the Boise starting rotation when the NWL season commences next month, with LHP Tyler Ihrig and RHPs Trevor Clifton and Zak Hermans being other 3/5 (at least until one or two of the better college pitchers selected by the Cubs in next month's First-Year Player Draft get stretched-out to start). 

The Cubs have now lost six straight Cactus League EXST games, and after thirty games (halfway through the Cactus League Extended Spring Training schedule), the Cubs record stands at 11-18-1. 

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Cubs And Giants Rally to Victory at Indian School Park

Shilo McCall lined a walk-off two-run double into the left-centerfield alley with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to cap a three-run rally as the Giants edged the Cubs 4-3 on Field #1, and Arnaldo Calero looped an RBI single over the second-baseman's head into short right field to tie the game in the top of the 8th and Tyler Alamo shot a sharp grounder through the box into CF for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI single in the top of the 9th, as the Cubs derailed the Giants 2-1 on Field #2, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

RHPs Erick Leal and Trevor Graham were the starting pitchers for the Cubs, and both threw three innings of shutout ball. Leal had the more-impressive outing of the two because he had to pitch around two errors, striking out four and inducing two timely DP grounders to get out of trouble. RHP Luis Hernandez "piggybacked" with Leal and also threw three innings (the three middle innings) on Field #1, although he did surrender a run, two hits, and three walks.  

Jorge Soler continued his EXST rehab assignment with Squad "A" on Field #2, playing RF for five innings and getting a total of five Plate Appearances (one in each of the first five innings). He went hitless in the game, although he did reach base once. Specifically he grounded out 6-3 in the 1st inning, was called out on strikes (a three-pitch AB) in the 2nd, reached base after being hit by a pitch (left shoulder) in the 3rd, grounded out 6-3 again the 4th, and flied out to the warning track in front of the Batter's Eye in CF (400+ feet from home plate) in the 5th.

In four EXST games this week, Soler has totaled 20 Plate Appearances. He is 3-17 with an RBI double (line drive into the LF corner) and two singles (both ground singles, one of which drove-in a run), two fly outs (one of which was an RBI sacrifice fly), ten ground outs (all ten being one or two-hop choppers hit to the left-side of the infield), and he reached base on an E-1. He has struck out twice (once swinging and once looking), and he has reached base twice on an HBP (he was hit in the lower back and on the left shoulder). He has yet to draw a walk  He has played RF twice (both times for five innings), and he does not appear to be favoring his right leg while running, although he has been just jogging to 1st base on the ground outs. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Baby Jordan Goes Yard at Riverview Park

Rashad Crawford walloped a game-tying solo home run over the RF fence in the bottom of the 6th and Luis Hernandez threw three innings of shutout relief, as the Cubs and Diamondbacks played to a 1-1 tie on Field #5, and Carlos Hernandez tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with four D'back relievers to blank the Cubs 2-0 on Field #6, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.