Greetings from Sunny Arizona! Got a chance to see some instructs early on at Fitch, then headed off to HoHoKam to check out Baez, Szczur and the rest of the Cubs Fall League reps.
Instructs were an interesting experience. You'll never get closer to ballplayers. You can listen to them interact. You hear the coaches. You just get a real feel for what everyone is trying to work on.
Some things stand out. Almora's sweet swing. Vogelbach's power and how everyone stops what they're doing when he's up. Even a pop up that hit the batting cage drew oohs when it tore the padding off the top bar.
But there's also Jorge Soler working on his swing. It looked like coaches were helping him use his lower half better, so he didn' t have to depend on a deep load to generate his power. You see the smaller framed Almora emerging as a leader, even while standing in between giants Soler and Vogelbach. You can also see how much Vogelbach really enjoys being around the game and his teammates. He has a lot of fun, but he flicks a switch when he gets into the batting cage and it's all business.
Meanwhile at the AFL game, all eyes were on Javier Baez. On opening night he hit a bomb, a double and knocked in three. But today he reminded us once again that he's just a kid. He went 0-4, only making solid contact once. In the field his debut at 3B did not go well. He commited two errors and escaped two more when he got a fortuitous bounce on a mishandled throw, then later was saved by a great scoop on a poor throw to 2b on a DP attempt.
Szczur showed why scouts still have some doubts. He tries to generate power with his arms rather than his lower body, producing a swing that...well, isn't all that pretty. There isn"t enough rotation in his hips and he sort of swept his bat through the zone rather than exploding through-- the way prospects Baez, Soler, and Brett Jackson seem to do naturally. It's hard to imagine him developing consistent power right now.
Rubi Silva showed good athleticism in the field and on the bases, but an aggressive approach found him consistently behind in the count.
On the mound, Nick Struck showed some unexpected velo, reaching as high as 93, but uncharacteristically was unable to find the strike zone consistently. He walked three batters and while he did not allow a run, he did allow two would be HRs that just went foul. His stuff is good enough but he won't succeed without better command than he showed today.
The good thing about prospects, however, is that there is always tomorrow.
Here's the link to yesterday's box score.
Dae-Eun Rhee takes the mound for Mesa today, but the game is in Surprise, AZ -- that is a 1.5 hour drive from where I'm staying...so I'm going to watch the guy at instructs play a game in Mesa which is just 1/2 hour away. Tonight I'll have a live account of the younger prospects but we'll wrap up the Fall League game as well.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap