Some video, updates, and thoughts on a Saturday afternoon...
UPDATE: Today's lineup vs. the Royals, which is televised on WGN...
- DeJesus CF
- Lillibridge 3B
- Rizzo 1B
- Soriano LF
- Vitters DH
- Baez SS
- Soler RF
- Lopez C
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Valbuena ss
- Barney 2b
- Castro dh
- Schierholtz rf
- Hairston cf
- Navarro c
- Bogusevic lf
- Clevenger 1b
- 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).
Filed under: Uncategorized