Today I spent the day at Fitch Park in Mesa rather than take the drive to Surprise. I'll recap both games, but I'll have more detail on the instructs game. Here's the thing. I don't know the final score and when I'm watching at this level, I'm more concerned with individual performances.
For those interested, the final score was 6-2. I'm not going to run down the box score, I'll let Arizona Phil, whom I had the pleasure to meet today, do that. Here is that box score.
The starting pitcher was Jose Arias and he is one big hombre. He stands about 6'5" and he's filled out as compared to many of the players in the instructional league. I'd say he has an MLB pitcher's body right now. Arias came out throwing heat. There was no gun for me to read but I'd guess it was around 95 mph. It certainly was fast enough to the point where the Dodgers team coaches were concerned about their hitters trying to catch up to him. They never really did. One thing that's pretty cool about the instructional league is that the players come up and sit in the stands with you at times. Arias graciously accepted all the compliments on his performance, so I figured he'd be a good guy to talk to. He told me he mixed in a curve and a change with that great fastball, and that he was happy with the way his curveball was breaking. From our vantage point, it certainly seemed like he fooled a few hitters with it.
At one point I tweeted, "Cubs on the board on consecutive singles by Almora, Soler, and Vogelbach." To which Tim from Obstructed View responded, "A tweet from the future".
Hopefully that turns out to be the case.
Here are some of the highlights and some observations.
- Jorge Soler's defense. He made two great diving catches running in and to his right. He also showed a good arm.
- Albert Almora looks to be trying to take a more patient approach up there, but here's the challenge: He makes contact so easily that he pretty much hits anything he takes a whack at. The good thing is he doesn't chase pitches out of the zone. The same could be said of Stephen Bruno, who had a ringing single his first time up. Had the chance to talk to Bruno briefly and he's a real nice kid, very polite, very gracious with his time.
- Marco Hernandez hit a sac fly to drive in the game's second run.
- Gioskar Amaya made a diving stop and then threw out a runner at first. He's different in person than I thought he would be from watching his intense style of play. He's very quiet and unassuming on the field, but he knows how to flip that switch once he gets out there.
- Jeimer Candelario drew a key walk and showed good patience at the plate. He looks to be in pretty good shape -- or at least he doesn't look as thick as he did on my laptop screen as I watched him play in Boise.
- Trevor Gretzky had a tough day, fouling a pitch off where it hurts most. He did have a great AB, working the count and extending it to about 8-9 pitches before drawing a well-earned walk. He's also sporting an excellent moustache these days. One thing about Gretzky is it looks to me like his swing can get a little long, perhaps because he's trying to tap into that power potential.
- I like Wilson Contreras' athleticism behind the plate, he's really quick and explodes out of the shoot. He also shows a good arm but I think he'll need to shorten that release a bit on his throws.
Arizona Fall League
- Dae Eun Rhee got the start and got knocked around a bit. He was at 89-91 mph (h/t Jeffrey) and had trouble with his curve. He allowed 6 hits in two innings but limited the damage to 2 runs. He walked one and struck out two
- Tony Zych fared better, pitching a perfect inning and striking out a batter. He has not yet allowed a hit or a walk, striking out 2 in his 1.1 innings so far. Zych was at 95-96 with his velocity, but more importantly, got some outs with his slider.
- Matt Szczur was back in CF and went 1 for 4 with a walk. He also scored a run.
- Javier Baez must have been relieved to see SS penciled in next to his name today. He had an errorless game and at the plate went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI. He only struck out once. Baez is hitting .308 through the first 3 games.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap