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Cubs Notes: Video of Baez HR, MLB Draft update, thoughts on yesterday's games

Cubs Notes: Video of Baez HR, MLB Draft update, thoughts on yesterday's games
Sean Manaea

Some video, updates, and thoughts on a Saturday afternoon...

UPDATE: Today's lineup vs. the Royals, which is televised on WGN...

  1. DeJesus CF
  2. Lillibridge 3B
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Soriano LF
  5. Vitters DH
  6. Baez SS
  7. Soler RF
  8. Lopez C
  9. Gonzalez 2B

Pitcher: Hisanori Takahashi makes his bid to make the team as the second lefty out of the pen.

5 Things to watch...

  • Javier Baez (see next section)
  • Jorge Soler.  It's probably our last chance this spring to see two of the Cubs top 3 prospects.
  • Great to see Anthony Rizo back in the lineup.  Nice power today with Baez, Soler, and Soriano.
  • Josh Vitters gets his first start of the spring.  With Junior Lake hurt, he gets an extended chance to impress Sveum and the FO and put himself back in the 3B picture.
  • Rafael Lopez is a guy the Cubs like as a backup catching prospect.  Good defender and makes solid contact with a decent approach at the plate.

The legend of Javier Baez grows

Earlier in the day, Baez hit an approximately 430 ft HR that reached the parking lot on a fly (per Bleed Cubbie Blue). For his next trick, with the game time and teams deciding the game would end in a tie, Baez reportedly told on deck hitter Welington Castillo that he was going to hit a HR.

And of course, he did....

Video is from boysofspring.com.

We'll breakdown and analyze that swing later.

MLB Draft Updates

Pitchers

  • Indiana State's Sean Manaea went up against Minnesota and I was able to watch for the first 6 innings.  He dominated in that time, throwing 92-94 into that frame and peaking at 95 earlier in game.  Manaea was a strike-throwing machine.  He located that fastball and was able to set up his slider and change-up, getting swing and misses with both pitches, but also got some very weak contact on his slider.  All in all, he pitched a 9 inning complete game in which he gave up 6 hits, walked one, and struck out 9.  He threw 111 pitches.  Manaea is now 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA and 8 walks/33 strikeouts in 25 innings.
  • Manaea was matched up with fellow LHP and possible 1st round pick Thomas Windle, who did well but wasn't quite as sharp and that was enough to pick up a loss in an excellent pitching duel.  Windle  gave up 4 hits and also walked just one in a complete game, but also hit a couple of batters, one of which led to a run, and struck out just one hit.  Both pitchers were let down somewhat by their defense, though they were able to escape with minimal damage.
  • Jonathan Gray of Oklaoma dominated again, going 9 innings, allowing 4 hits, walking none, and striking out 12 in complete game shutout.
  • A couple of pitchers struggled. ASU's  Trevor Williams, who had been off to a great start, put up his worst start of the season.  He went 7 innings and gave up 13 hits and 7 runs to raise his season ERA to 4.24.  He struck out just 4.  This was the concern with Williams last year as some scouts felt he was too hittable for a guy with his stuff.  He seemed to overcome that early in the season, but they may raise that question again if he has more starts like this.
  • Bobby Wahl looked like he was turning a corner in his last start but reverted back to control issues again, walking 5 in 7 innings.  He minimized the damage by allowing just 3 hits and one run, but nobody questions Wahl has first round stuff.  The question this year has been whether he can command it and he didn't do that again yesterday.
  • Kevin Ziomek was solid but not as spectacular as he had been in recent starts.  He went 8.1 innings and gave up 5 hits and 2 runs.  He walked 2 and struck out 5.  He still has an outstanding 0.94 ERA on the year.
  • I got my first look at LHP Kent Emmanuel, who is considered a possible 2nd round pick and wasn't all that impressed.  He was at around 89 mph with his fastball and gave up 8 hits and 3 walks in 6.1 innings to take his first loss of the season.
  • Mark Appel didn't pitch as Stanford didn't play last night.

Hitters

  • North Carolina 3B Colin Moran continued to show he  has a nice, fluid swing and can hit but did not answer any more questions about his power.  Both hits were singles.
  • Kris Bryant of San Diego has no such issues with power.  He went 0-3 last night but hit 3 HRs on Thursday to give him 11 for the season.  He's hitting .391/.506/1.000 overall.
  • OF Phillip Ervin went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk.  He's hitting .394/.506/.818 on the year with 7 HRs.  He's pretty much a lock as a first round pick, though his Kirby Puckett-like build may limit how high he goes.
  • As mentioned a few days ago, Clint Frazier wowed scouts with a 2 HR performance, one of which was a moon shot but not every scout has launched him ahead of Austin Meadows yet.  Some believe Meadows has the better swing, plated discipline, and overall hit tool, though most believe Frazier will have more power.  Defensively Meadows is more advanced in CF right now, so where Frazier goes in the draft may partly depend on whether he can play CF.  That bat speed an power, however, virtually assures him of going at the top of the draft somewhere, perhaps #1 overall.  Meadows also still has a shot of going #1 overall.

Yesterday's game and notes...

  • Not that it's a surprise, but Starlin Castro was clearly the best player on the Cubs yesterday.  He made plays effortless from the hole with strong, accurate throws.  He looks much more natural and confident than he did at this point last year, when he seemed hesitant an over-thinking his mechanics early on.  On offense, he continues to amaze me with his plate coverage.  With two strikes and trying to protect the plate, Castro took an outside pitch "on the black" and laced a line drive into RF.  That has to be frustrating to a pitcher when he locates exactly where he wants to -- and the guy rips it anyway.
  • Other than Starlin Castro, I was particularly interested in watching some Cubs relievers in the A game.  None of them faired very well.  It looked to me that hitters, especially lefties, had some trouble picking up Zac Rosscup, which would explain his high strikeout rates despite a good, but not overpowering, 90-92 mph fastball.  Unfortunately, Rosscup let all 3 hitters off the hook by walking each one of them.
  • Tony Zych has a max effort delivery but for the most part he threw strikes.  In fact, he caught too much of the plate, causing him to give up a couple of hard hits and a run.
  • Marcus Hatley as a simpler delivery and looked to be throwing with good velocity (there was no radar),  but hitters picked him up pretty well and he got squared up a couple of times, but managed to escape with no runs.
  • Trey McNutt had some trouble repeating his delivery, sometimes falling off a bit to the first base side.  As such his command was inconsistent.  He looked fluid for some pitches and then would seem to lose it and have trouble locating.
  • In case you missed it last night, Albert Almora will have surgery to remove the hamate bone.  It's not an anatomically important bone and it is easily broken.  Pablo Sandoval  had that bone removed last season and went on to excel in the World Series.  The surgery was successful.
  • Ian Stewart said he felt really good after leading off for both teams in a B game, though he's not in the lineup today.

Today's lineup...

  1. Valbuena ss
  2. Barney 2b
  3. Castro dh
  4. Schierholtz rf
  5. Hairston cf
  6. Navarro c
  7. Bogusevic lf
  8. Clevenger 1b
  9. Maysonet 3b

Pitcher: Jeff Samardzija

This won't be a complete preview, so feel free to use this piece as a game thread.

Last, but not least: Eva, our rottweiler, turned 10 yesterday. She's still the baby of our house (Chloe, our Doberman, is 13).

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Comments

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  • "Relax, man. You're not hitting."

  • In reply to BudMan:

    LOL!

  • I can certainly see Baez's body filling out and him moving to 3B in the future. His powere numbers are going to trnaslate better to a corner IF in my opinion.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I agree. His bat will play anywhere.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    After talking to some people in the know 2B might be his landing spot.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    2B or not 2B. That is the question.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He would be at least an average to above average just because of the arm strength and his hands.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Whether 'tis nobler in the infield to suffer
    The slings and arrows of mediocre third basemen,
    Or to take Baez's arm and bat against a sea of Cardinals
    And by opposing end them.

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Glad someone caught that. ;-)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Will S. was a big fan of "Ye Cubbes".

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    You are, of course, without shame.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    OMG....he doesn't need encouragement!!!

  • Looks like a "can they handle it?" day in the field.

  • In reply to TheFiveYearPlan:

    Good point.

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    A 1.000 slugging percentage after 19 games is just stupid wrong. I'm starting to warm to the Bryant idea. Who cares who pitches if Castro-Rizzo-Soler-Baez-Bryant hit 10 home runs a game?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha! They'll just just have to win some more 16-15 games.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Here is come is something from one with a very good understanding of how the comes work. An infield of Bryant 3B, Castro SS, Baez 2B, and Rizzo 1B. That's a potential all star at very position around the horn. Not to mention Almora CF and Soler RF. That's double digit HR at 6 positions of the 8 starting position.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    That assumes just about everything goes right -- 100% development rate for the Cubs top prospects and Bryant sticks at third -- but it's hard to argue that's an amazing potential lineup.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If Bryant doesn't stick him can always move to LF and it doesn't make much difference. Again not my word.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I wouldn't be surprised if they went Bryant if they didn't think any of the college arms were impact guys, but hard to know what they'll pick at #2 since the FO has never really been in this position. Only top 10 picks for Hoyer/McLeod came with the Padres and they selected one pitcher (Karsten Whitson) and one position player (Cory Spangenberg). We know they took a position last player too with the Cubs in Almora. But they've never been in this position with these kind of college arms available, so we can't say for certain what they're thinking here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    All were HS pitchers and not college pitchers with a very small draft budget.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Castro, Baez, Amora and Soler can form a new "Latin/Hispanic
    connection"

  • Nice to see, so far, that Baez, Soler and to some extent Vogelboom come as advertised.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    so far so good!

  • Happy bday to Eva!! By the way, John, do you have the lineup against the Royals? Aren't there 2 televised games today?

  • In reply to Caps:

    DeJesus CF, Lillibridge 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Vitters DH, Baez SS, Soler RF, Lopez C, Gonzalez 2B

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Ahhh thank you!

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Thanks guys. I'll post that.

  • In reply to Caps:

    And thanks for the Eva birthday wishes!

  • Vs. Rangers:

    Valbuena ss, Barney 2b, Castro dh, Schierholtz rf, Hairston cf, Navarro c, Bogusevic lf, Clevenger 1b, Maysonet 3b

  • On a second note... It seemed to me like Frank Batista has the potential to have an average curve ball, to go along with an average fastball, but I think he located the fastball well, I think the hr he gave up was more kudos to the hitter than bad location, perhaps bad sequence, but I think he spotted his fastball well up and down, the curveball hanged a little bit a couple of times, but he was able to throw it for strike... I know he had some command issues at the end of last season... I don't think he'll be a closer, but if he can find consistency with his location, he could be a nice middle reliever, perhaps provide production like Michael Bowden did last year as a middle reliever.

    And I think this could be Rosscup's make or break year with the Cubs, despite his K rate, the higher the level, the more his control issues will haunt him... Perhaps he's just discovering that more advanced hitters won't be fooled as often and will lay off his pitches out of the zone.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed on Rosscup, but not sure on Batista. I think he's a good minor league arm but peripherals bad and that breaking ball can be pretty flat. MLB hitters will hit it a long way if he doesn't become more consistent with it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Fair enough, I'm not disagreeing about Batista at all... And I also do agree with your observations about Hatley and McNutt... And McNutt will never be a starter again unless he repeats his delivery... A team could probably live for a while with his delivery issues when he's there for 1 inning at a time, but when he has to go 6-7 innings or more, he's not going to fare well.

    I saw him falling off to the 1B side and I thought something was bothering him and that was probably injured, but after seeing him do that several times I noticed it was just something wrong with his delivery.

  • Today's game at Mesa will be televised on WGN-TV with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies; Deshaies, as noted above, is making his Cubs TV debut. Today's game in Las Vegas will be on WGN radio with Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland.

    Shark Vs. Rangers
    Takahashi Vs. Royals

  • Nice assessment on Batista, Caps. Hopefully the Cubs can get something out of him and Rosscup.

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    One year ago today it was 82 degrees in the Chicago area, today it's 33. Ha. But spring is coming and watching these kids play warms my heart for the future.

  • fb_avatar

    Brett Jackson to be shut down a week because of shoulder pain.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-shoulder-sidelines-cubs-jackson-20130316,0,3245778.story

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That means it's probably nothing to worry about, he'll probably be assigned to AAA and sent to minor league camp soon.

  • Both games being televised... The one vs the Royals is on WGN, I'm watching them both on mlb.tv.

  • Will be my first look at KJ Fujikawa, and Baez can't wait lol.

  • If DeJesus and Schierholtz keep hitting LHP, the Cubs could send Sappelt to AAA if he keeps struggling.

  • more i hear about Jonathan Grey the more i think the Cubs will call his name . Stupid Dominance . Grey/Bryant/ Frazier i would be cool with any of them

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    We had someone at Gray's game yesterday. He hit 100 again and stayed in the mid to high 90s.

  • fb_avatar

    Are you watching, Brian Cashman?

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    Crap, Javy, don't swing at the first pitch you're just helping the... YAY!!!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They've all been strikes though. I'll take it!

  • That was awesome and warning track for Soler too. lol

  • fb_avatar

    The more i hear scouts talk about Jonathan Gray , the more he becomes attractive at #2. I was impressed by Mannaea and Windle.

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Agreed. Gray has got to be top 5 right now...at least.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can see top 3 or 2 by June.

  • fb_avatar

    Baez home runs on 3 consecutive pitches. Not sure whether to celebrate or not...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Who does this kid think he is, Reggie Jackson???

  • Love this power lineup today!

  • fb_avatar

    Buy your tickets for early games at Kane County! - Baez might not stay there very long. :-)

  • In reply to Chuck Coletta:

    He's going to start at Daytona...but he won't stay there long. I'm hoping he gets to AA because I'll make the trip to Tennessee if he does.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Baez keeps hitting he could be on the fast track, he could get to AA next season and probably AAA in 2014, but I think he'll get his 500 ab's in AAA before being called up.

  • In reply to Chuck Coletta:

    I think there is zero chance that Baez starts at KC. He is heading to Daytona.

    Nice to see Baez and Soler sitting next to each other on the bench yucking it up with each other. Need them to form the core of the second wave, behind Castro and Rizzo.

  • fb_avatar

    So much for that plan!

  • In reply to Chuck Coletta:

    Haha...at least we'll get to see Vogelbach and later, Almora.

  • I'm not going to lie, it's going to take some time to get used to Len and JD instead of Bob. Gonna miss him

  • Baez!!

  • fb_avatar

    Whoa.

  • Holy moly!
    That was a bomb by Baez!!!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    He apparently hasn't heard he has no chance of making the majors this year. What a day.

  • Love to see how Soler works the count.

  • Another Baez HR!

  • Javier Baez looks way different than when I saw him with Peoria, I think the AFL and MLB Camp has helped him a lot, he looks more fluid on defense and he just looks great right now.

  • By the way, if anyone is watching the game against the Rangers too, it's a good one as well, good ab's by Schierholtz and excellent approach shown by Castro hitting rockets to right-center field, Hairston looked bad in one ab, but he did hit a hr too.

  • fb_avatar

    I think the Cubs are going to have a very difficult choice to make in June. They need pitching badly, but history has shown that drafting pitchers in quantity, as they did in 2012, tends to pay off.

    Pitching just isn't as predictable as hitting, but if you draft enough quality arms, you should make out okay on some of them. So I'm okay with the Cubs drafting a hitter. I trust this front office to do the right thing.

    The other question about the draft is where is your money best spent overall. Your first round pick is going to get the biggest signing bonus. So it makes sense you want spend it on a guy who is most likely going to make it. Kris Bryant is probably not only going to make it, but he might be a better bet in terms of WAR over his career than any of the top college pitchers. I'm sure with this front office it all gets factored in.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    It's a possibility. It's going to be hard to pass up one of the college arms at the top of the draft after we've seen the instant successes of guys like Zimmer, Gausman, and Wacha.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed, but I see this front office playing the odds more than going with hunches or worrying about need. I think, whomever they go with, it's going to be because they felt he was the best overall player to be had with that pick, and if it happens to fill a need, that will just be icing on the cake for them.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Bryant is a Cub fan and his Mom's side of the family is from Chicago and still lives there.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    That I didn't know, but thanks for the info. To me, this whole thing is a double edged sword that cuts both ways. By that, I mean to say that a Cubs system stacked with potential all-star position players, but not so much all-star caliber pitching, isn't a bad thing. Ideally, you'd like to have a balance of both, but sometimes, that's just the way the ball bounces. However, if you're system is stacked with position players, it also means you have depth to trade from. You just have to find the right match, which is ideally with a team whose system has a lot of pitching but not so much hitting.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    For me Drafting pitchers high is the draft is a big risk. That and arm can be found everywhere in the Draft there is a pitcher in SC His pitcher named Hakeem Bostick need some work but an athletic kid and has massive potential. He is most likely a 5 round pick maybe higher. Arms are everywhere if they do their jobs and the Cubs do their jobs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    I know that's what people are saying, but if you look at Cy Young voting, it's virtually impossible to find guys drafted outside of the first two rounds. That suggests to me that, while you can find 2-5 starters later in the draft, if you want a true #1, you better strike early.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    When was Matt Moore drafted?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    He's never received a Cy Young vote and when/if he does, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. You could just as easily point to Albert Pujols as proof that hitters can come from anywhere in the draft.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Cliff Lee 4th Round.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    James Shields

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Matt Latos

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Tim Hudson

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Enough.

    I can play the same game with hitters:
    Yadi Molina (4th)
    Edwin Encarnacion (9th)
    Ian Kinsler (17th)
    Ryan Howard (5th)

    It doesn't change the fact that the majority of vote getters are from the first two rounds.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    But this year is Pitching deep not hitters.

  • How about Carlos Penalver getting into action, never seen him before.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That was very cool to see. Good athlete and good defender. Needs to fill out, though!

  • Justin Bour is a mountain of a man -- but some surprisingly soft hands. Great pick on a Baez throw and a nice play on a grounder down the line.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Indeed, his physique reminds me of a young Jason Giambi or maybe more like his brother with the long hair and all.

  • I don't know about the reviews about Sappelt playing CF, but he looked good coming in on that blooper to CF, he just missed the diving catch.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed and got a real nice jump on a deep fly in the 9th . Couple of nice ABs, hit the ball hard on a deep fly and a walk. Good game today and its why you can't rely on stats to evaluate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Very true, just how DeJesus was 1 for 3 with a hr, but he could've been 3 for 3 with a hr and 2 doubles, he really hit the ball hard today.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was surprised to see that for the vast majority of Sappelt's minor league career, he's been in CF -- 389 games, compared to 84 in RF and 58 in LF. That's encouraging, and he looked good this afternoon. All things considered, I think we should stick with the original plan and platoon him there with DeJesus.

  • I honestly don't know if or where Baez's second homer landed. He got all of that one.

  • I miss Brenly.

  • In reply to jaykaysr:

    I am interested in what folks thought of Deshaies. I understood Kasper really advocated for him. Maybe the guy tried too hard today but I was not impressed at all. I thought he tried to be funny several times but his efforts fell flat I thought. I want to like him. Maybe it will get better. Right now, I miss Brenly too.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Hubbs16:

    I thought he was fine. I loved the exchanges between he and Theo. It was clearly a little clunky, but I'm not worried. I found it troublesome not to hear Bob's voice, but I that was my only issue.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's encouraging. I may have been expecting too much.

  • Cubs, Samardzija want deal, but remain far apart in talks

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jon-heyman/21892384/cubs-ace-samardzija-badly-want-to-do-a-deal-yet-they-remain-far-apart-in-talks

    I asked this question in an early post about a team that won the world series with an all right handed outfield. Someone provided the answer of the 1991 Minnesota Twins. I looked at their lineup. Chili Davis was the DH and leadoff hitter and was left handed and their third baseman hit lefty. The point is that I would take Austin Meadows over Frazier.

  • Al Yellon estimated Baez's second home run at 470 feet. Mas it sound like it went over scoreboard and landed about 6 cars deep in parking lot. Crazy.

  • In reply to mcneilscot:

    *made it sound like not mas it.

  • Wow, this was my first time seeing Baez, and he's really something. I didn't even see that second HR land (did the baseball burn up as it re-entered the earth's atmosphere?).

    But the first HR is actually more exciting. It looked to me like a pitcher's pitch, on the outer edge of the plate, the idea being that the hitter won't be able to square it up, especially if he pulls it. And that's exactly what happened -- Baez hit it off the end of the bat, and he pulled it. But it still cleared the fences by 50 feet. That's some incredible bat speed.

    Yes, I can see the Gary Sheffield comparisons, but remember that Sheffield had a terrible attitude and was pretty atrocious at defense when he first came up. After this spring, there's no way you can convince that there are five prospects better than Baez.

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