AZL Recap: Kris Bryant explodes; Also video on Skulina, Zastryzny from instructs and more

Spinal Tap is big in Japan.  David Hasselhoff is big in Germany.  Cubs Den is big in Korea?  Ok, maybe not, but they did refer to us here and our scouting report on Suk-Min Yoon.  How cool is that?

Arizona Fall League Recap 

  • Kris Bryant is on fire.  He hit 2 more HRs and hit a controversial ground rule double that hit the bottom pole of the fence and bounced over.  It could have been 3 but even still, it's obvious Bryant is seeing the ball well.  He scored 3 runs and drove in 4.   Bryant is hitting .423 (11 for 26) with 4 HRs so far.  Wow.
  • Jorge Soler had a pair of hits and an RBI.  He's hitting just .226 but by all accounts he looks good so far.
  • Albert Almora hit a double in 6 ABs and is now hitting "just" .417.
  • The pitchers didn't fare so well.  Dallas Beeler got off to a rocky start, giving up 3 runs in the first inning though he gave up a soft single and a seeing eye grounder sandwiched around a double.  He gave up 6 hits in all, 3 on groundballs but was able to get out of trouble in the 2nd and 3rd innings with the help of a couple of double plays.
  • Armando Rivero gave up 2 runs in the top of the 9th to break a 9-9 tie.  He was charged with the loss.

Box Score

Odds and Ends

  • More prospect stuff, for those of you who have never seen instructs, here's a Baseball America Video featuring 2013 draft picks LHP Tyler Skulina (4th round) and Rob Zastryzny (2nd round).
  • Red Sox sign Dalier Hinjosa to minor league deal per Ben Badler of BA.  We reported earlier that the Cubs had shown interest, but apparently there wasn't a whole lot.  Hinjosa was considered a lesser prospect than Miguel Gonzalez, whom many think will be a reliever in the majors.
  • Jeimer Candelario is getting ready to play for Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League and there's a photo of him in this tweet.  It's only been about 6 weeks since the season ended but he's kept himself in great shape.
  • Julie DiCaro of Aerys Sports talks to 3 sources on the Cubs managerial hire.  The verdict?  One says either Acta or Martinez another says Hinch and a third says Renteria.  So we're right back where we started.  The truth is nobody really knows here.  What I have is industry opinion and you all know my favorites by now.  Now that the 4 candidates have interviewed, they are moving on to the next step in the process.
  • David Kaplan believes the Cubs should go with the bold move and hire Brad Ausmus.
  • And finally, more draft stuff.  Baseball America is giving out draft report cards and while they haven't gotten to the Cubs yet, they did rank some picks in different categories.  Kris Bryant ranked 1st in Power, 1st in Best Pro Debut, 4th in Closest to the Majors.  Other players who ranked were Jacob Hanneman (5th best athlete) and Trevor Clifton (3rd best late round pick).

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  • Great word to describe what Bryant is doing right now in the AFL... "Wow"
    Nothing more you really can say!

  • Congrats on that link! That is way cool and richly deserved!

    Makes my day seeing all those crooked numbers! Takes the sting out of watching Kershaw and Wacha dominate and being jealous for the next three hours.

    Love the part about Almora hitting "just" .417! If Sweeney and company are underwhelming next summer and The Kid's hitting .340 somewhere....

    Better. Stay. Awake. I can hear that train a comin' already!

  • Thanks for the link, John! I only wish those three conversations had ended with me having any idea what the FO is going to do. lol

  • In reply to Julie DiCaro:

    LOL..I thought it was great and a perfect description of what's going on with the manager's search. We all really don't know. I've talked to industry sources and their opinions are much different than the local ones.

  • What if.....Bryant keeps this up and then does the same thing in Spring Training?

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    In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Probably still starts in the minors. The very best possible scenario I can see is he starts in AAA to show he can handle major league pitching.

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    In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I Don't think there's any way around him starting at AA.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Must follow Theo's plan and get his required BA's at whatever levels

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think the top 4 can dictate when they're ready. having said that, he has to do it at AA & AAA first, not just AFL...

  • John, thanks for keeping us up-to-date. Looks our farm system
    is finally going to produce some big time hitters.

  • Bryant has been unreal...

  • Great videos. That was my first look at all three of those guys.

    Zastryzny's delivery looks exactly like Zito.

    Got to love the sound of the ball off the bat of Eloy. 16 years old. Wow.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Agreed wholeheartedly. Skulina needs to work on arm slot so his elbow is in the same spot every time and needs to learn to not tip off his fastball.

  • Over/Under on Bryant's ML debut...

    June 20, 2014.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    If he keeps crushing the ball he will get promoted to AAA in June after 200-250 or so AB's in AA.
    If he continues in AAA he will be a September call up.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Word is he will get the call up from AA. Feel he is pretty much ready to go

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I got the under on September first, Ghost Dawg!

  • I'm still waiting for Kevin to post another video.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    I haven't been able to make to AFL this year since moving to Indy sorry.

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    9/1/14 over/ under?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Im with you,I think Bryant gets a Sept call up and likely starts the 2015 season in the bigs. Baez im betting will be up by the all-star break. This team still needs offense, Rizzo has no protection in the lineup, probably part of the reason he regressed this year.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I still think Baez has something to prove about his approach. Seeing Bryant as much as I did I noticed that he thrives on pressure and does his best against better pitching. He also had no and I mean no really protection in College. I think once he gets to the next level and. the middle of the Cubs like looks like this #3 Baez or Bryant, #4 Bryant or Baez, #5 Rizzo and #6 Castro. You are going to see some production.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Did you see the video on Jimenez?
    it looks to me that speed will NOT be part of his game. Is that a concern for a 17 year old?

  • In reply to djriz:

    From Baseball America:

    Jimenez is athletic for his size and in January ran the 60-yard dash in 6.72 seconds, which is above-average speed. Others have said his speed plays closer to average and because of his frame and unusual gait, he will continue to slow down as he fills out, so he’s a corner outfielder all the way. With a slightly above-average arm, he should be able to play right field.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    That could also be describing Soler. He's not a smooth runner and I think it robs him of what would be better natural speed.

  • Eloy, count me in as excited. Harper and Griffey debuted as teenagers, just sayin'...........Three years could be PLENTY of development time for a genuine talent, and he'd be all of 19 yo. Crazy.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I'm excited too. I saw Baez play at that age and he stood out then too. He's not the physical specimen Eloy is. Look at Puig's play in the NLCS and Castro's blunders.... no point in rushing him

  • The most important factor with all our top prospects is that we
    bring up at the date that will give us control for 6 years

  • I am with the ausmus hire. Can't find a maddon without actually taking a chance on a unproven guy. Unlike some I don't feel this hire should or would be a backbreaker for Epstein and co.

  • After what happened to RIzzo, I am sure Thoyer will make Bryant wait the proper number of at bats at each level plus arrive on the proper anniversary date. Now, having said that, I wonder what happens now that there are fewer butts in the seats. They probably would waive the "Cubs Way" plan to draw fans to view the new Ronnie possibility.

  • In reply to Bluekoolaidaholic:

    I am a hug believer and fan of Rizzo, but Rizzo isn't Bryant.

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    I'm really not thrilled with this group of interviewees. I can't picture hiring A.J. Hinch. I cringed when his name was first reported.

    Martinez, from what John has said, was a courtesy interview for the Tampa G.M., he did interview though, so anything is possible, but I would think he's not their man or he would have been on their list to begin with. I also think, wrong or right, that it makes no sense hiring a guy who had no respect for his teammates and the team's star player at the time he played here.

    That leaves Acta and Renteria. I'd prefer one of those from the list, but not very happy with them. Acta sounds like a Spanish-speaking Jim Riggleman. Renteria is more of an unknown.

    I can't believe they couldn't come up with better options. These names do not seem to fit the qualities Theo claimed they would be looking for.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    ?I also think, wrong or right, that it makes no sense hiring a guy who had no respect for his teammates and the team's star player at the time he played here."

    Maybe he banged her, maybe he didn't... who the hell cares and it is no more relevant to his candidacy than the color of his underwear. But statements like yours make me cringe. You have no factual evidence of this, only biased media sound bites from 2 decades ago. Seriously guys, it's time to move on.....

  • Great stuff today, John, in spite of the "slow" news.

    I don't think Kaplan's logic is too sound, but Ausmus has been my favorite candidate from the get go.

    Do you think he didn't get an interview because Hoyer already knows him well enough and there's something missing?

    Admittedly, they might have ruled him out because of never coaching at the major league level. But it seems like he gathered somewhat similar experience as essentially a player/coach toward the end of his career.

    Anyway, just curious on your thoughts as to why he wasn't deemed worthy of an interview, even though he got one in Washington.

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    Kap's column is pretty thought-provoking. Including this line regarding Hinch:
    "Perhaps no candidate that I have called about has evoked more negative response than Hinch with most everyone I spoke with, believing the Cubs would be making a major mistake hiring him to succeed Dale Sveum"
    Kap is all in on Ausmus. I don't have enough info to say Ausmus is The Guy, but I agree with the sentiment to find someone outside the usual suspects, without putting the premium on previous managerial experience.

  • Bryant is crushing the ball , just wow. Harper , Trout and some other players came up real young , I really think He has the make up and ability to hit the show as soon as he gets past that magic date for the extra year of team control , I say Sept 1st He is up and never looks back . Side note I HATE THE CARDINALS!!!!!!!!!

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Cards made the Dodgers look like a minor league team. I enjoyed that part.

  • Tonight i have to watch the Cards win the NLCS tommorrow Iowa gets throttled at Ohio St , sorry sports weekend :( Time to watch Spaceballs or the Jerky Boys to avoid sports depression .

  • Hey John, might want to check the cub reporter and his report from Instructs... Arodys Vizcaino throwing 93-94 mph, very good sign after not pitching in such a long time... He's seeing game action.

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    In reply to Caps:

    Dang, totally forgot about Vizcaino. Totally changes the pitching staff next season if he has any chance of being ready. That reminder made my night. Thanks Caps.

  • In reply to the real alman:

    You're more than welcome ^_^

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    I'm sick of retreads. I'm sorry, but there are reasons why the "brilliantly talented" Hinch and Acta are still seeking managerial jobs. No one is questioning their baseball intelligence. But, lets face it. There are a lot of smart baseball minds out there. But to be a good manager, you need more than that. For me, control of the clubhouse and respect from your team is way more important than having a year or two of experience.

    Is it even worth saying they have experience when the Indians improved AFTER he left? Or with Hinch, that he was passed up for the unproven Kirk Gibson? Anyone else have problems with this?

    I think if either Act or Hinch are picked, then this FO has valued ANY experience whatsoever as more valuable than any other quality. That's just not good enough. It can be a factor, but not the deciding one. Just like with any other job, if you went in for a job interview to be an engineer, and had 10 years experience of mediocre work compared to a young, energetic kid who has a ton of promise, lots of potential, extremely bright, and has been the top of their engineering class, who would you pick?

    Experience is way overrated. Also, let go of the idea that you need to speak Spanish to relate to Hispanic players. Hispanic players are like all over players. They will respond to a great leader. Plain and simple. Sveum's failures did not center upon his inability to speak Spanish.

    Please let them pick Ausmus. My gut and heart tells me he is one of those guys that we will look back 20 years from now and wish we took the chance.

    He's a great leader, extremely smart, a whiz with the sabermetrics, and has 18 years of experience at the major league level as a player. Catchers just make the best managers. Vote Ausmus.

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    In reply to the real alman:

    Meant "over" to mean "other."

  • In reply to the real alman:

    Agree 100%. He had my vote from day one with Renteria as the other option.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    If he doesn't get an interview it is unfortunately a dream. I like Renteria a lot more than the other three candidates. Those excluding him from their preference just because they don't know him are mistaken. The guy is knowledgeable, honest, and charismatic, the last of which is the most valuable quality in any field.

    I'm a cook, part of a team, and I'll tell ya, the best chefs I've ever under, learned the most from, who got the best out of me, were knowledgeable, honest, and charismatic. It takes the right person to be able to tell you your weakness and double down to make you stronger.

    Tagging Renteria as an unknown is fair because WE aren't familiar with h

  • In reply to northside disciple:

    Him, but there are lots of unknowns in life, often times taking those risks define us; your favorite restaurant, the woman you married, the first job you took after college. Whether a risk or the safe option, Renteria is the guy and I'll stand by that.

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    In reply to the real alman:

    My choice would be Martinez,but Ausmus is very intriguing. He basically did manage in the majors when he caught.

  • The only ones who have done all the research possible on these three, in all applicable respects, are likely Theo and Jed. They are the ones who have picked the brains of people who have been around them, those who can project better than us, things like handling the pitching staff, using favorable matchups, communication ability, use of the bench - IOW, fundamental managerial projectabililty. I can't imagine they haven't done all this homework. Then it comes down to who they think will be the best at continuing the development of our kids along with those game management attributes.

    I know a lot of our readers here are nervous about this hire, but I think we have to understand that nobody wants this to be the right hire more than Theo/Jed. I'll continue to trust they are scrutinizing everything that needs to be scrutinized to make the best choice. They admitted making the wrong choice with Sveum, so there is no reason to believe they haven't learned from their mistake.

  • I get a feeling Mssrs Baez and Bryant will be your 3-4 hitters come April, 2015. Soler and Almora likely by 2016. Now we need 2 0r 3 pitchers to pan out.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I'm holding out hope Soler gets a cup of coffee Sept, 2014. he is on the 40 man.


    Murderers Row, Cubs edition, Circa 2015-2020?

  • In reply to djriz:

    I think 2014 for Soler is a bit quick. He didn't get much time at all this season and is far behind his development compared to Bryant as KB had 3 years of college ball.

    I think Baez and Bryant will both be up by the Sept 1 and I think 2016 is possible for both Almora and Soler.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    Or use some of these pieces to acquire a couple top of the rotation starters.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    Normally I would agree with you, but if two or three of these guys don't hit it big, a TOR starter won't matter. 1 needs to be a superstar and 2 more need to be stars.

  • I'm not really thrilled about any of these managers, but in light of the upcoming holiday, I lightheartedly suggest the following:

    The FO guys are students of the game. They are looking for experience and guys who are good communicators. They came to a "cursed" franchise. If anyone could figure out how these curses and voodoo work, its Theo, and he's had a few years to study it now. I'm thinking he has a little magic up his sleeve.

    He's planning to bring back Casey Stengel.

    Think about it: he's a proven winner, knows how to work a platoon, can defuse the media...

    I'm pretty sure he's not under contract anymore. Here's to hoping for some Halloween shenanigans...

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    Well apparently news is the Cubs continue to grow their list of guys which tells me the Hinches and Acta's of the world did not impress. Thank the baseball Gods! Just heard Mike Maddux is now on the list as he's been asked to come in and interview Also that Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo. I like the Maddux possibility. Don't know a whole lot about Lovullo, but he certainly comes from the same school of thought as the current Cubs FO.

  • Maddox is a pitching coach and seems more of a behind the scenes type to me. I like strong leadership at the top with the ability to connect with younger players. I'm beginning to think Ausmus might be the best to pull that off. Experience is nice, but some are natural leaders. Correcting past mistakes is helpful, but that doesn't make you Joe Masson.

  • In reply to 44slug:


  • I had read about Lovullo possibly being contacted, hadn't heard about Maddux though. I was hoping Martinez would impress enough to garner a 2nd interview & while that may still happen, the fact that they're still looking to interview other candidates kind of gives the impression that all 4 underwhelmed in the interviews.

  • 11/3
    Today I red that Ausmus will take the Detroit job.

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