Cubs Notes: AA prospects, Bryant, MLB Draft Update, prep pitcher on the rise and could Rodon fall to Cubs?

Cubs Notes: AA prospects, Bryant, MLB Draft Update, prep pitcher on the rise and could Rodon fall to Cubs?

There's not a lot of feel-good news coming out of the big league team lately, so today's notes will focus on the minors and the draft with some good stuff from Keith Law to start the day.

On the best teams to watch in the minors to see prospects...

For the lineup, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler are the main attractions, but Law also thinks that Zeke DeVoss and Stephen Bruno are worth watching.  He calls the rotation one of the best in the minor leagues.  And he also mentions Armando Rivero as an arm to monitor this spring.

Scouts opinion on Kris Bryant (insider only),

"For Bryant, I think it's pretty simple: Can he stick at third base, and is he going to be able to make enough contact against better breaking stuff for the 70 power to play? He won't see the latter on a consistent basis in the Southern League, but it's going to be a much better test than he got in college.

Keith Law Chat:

On Carlos Rodon falling...

Seems like the Cubs at 4 would be a stopping point for him - a large-market team with no historical aversion to taking, shall we say, players with his likely bonus demands. After that, it gets dicey.

On the possibility of the Cubs taking a bat with the 4th pick...

I don't think there's any bat worthy of the 4th overall pick this year. It's all arms up top.

It appears that fans who want the BPA and those who want a potential ace could both be happy this year.  The two different philosophies may actually merge this year for the Cubs as it appears as many as the top 5 players this year could be pitchers.

We know about Carlos Rodon, Tyler Beede, Tyler Kolek, and Jeff Hoffman, but one more pitcher making waves is prep RHP Grant Holmes.  I saw Holmes at the UA game and he's a big, athletic (he also participated in the HR derby), physically mature kid (6'5", 240 lbs) who touched 95 mph that day.  Some reports have him hitting triple digits more recently.  Though he is not as dominant, his secondaries may be a bit more advanced than Kolek, though not as much as LHP Brady Aiken.  Some, including Law, believe he's a top 5 type talent.

Here are the latest results and updates on the top college arms...

  • Carlos Rodon had another mediocre outing, going the distance but allowing 11 hits and 6 runs (only 3 earned) and struck out 5.  On the bright side, he did not walk a batter.  Rodon is 2-5 with a 2.88 ERA on the year with 18 walks and 60 strikeouts in 55.1 innings.  Not bad, but hardly the dominant pitcher many thought he would be this season.  Reports say the slider has been very good but the fastball is down slightly.
  • Tyler Beede also had a less than dominant outing, though he did get the win.  Beede went 8 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6.  He allowed 4 runs.  Beede is 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA on the year. He has walked 16 and struck out 52 in 48 innings.
  • Jeff Hoffman had a strong outing, going 8 innings, walking one and striking out 7.  He allowed just one run en route to his 2nd victory.  He's 2-3 with a 3.40 ERA with 19 walks and 52 strikeouts in 53 innings.  That's somewhat disappointing considering his stuff but the last outing is encouraging and he may have the best pure stuff among college pitchers in the draft.

I'm feeling pretty confident at this point the Cubs will end up with one of these 3 pitchers and even if they are all off the table, that leaves them their pick of the top 3 prep arms in the draft.  That is a pretty good spot to be in right now.

Rick Renteria on lineups

There's been some frustration about the Cubs lineups already and I explained the other day why I don't think it's such a big deal as it's being made out to be. Yesterday Renteria pretty much echoed my thoughts on the matter,

"We have the flexibility of right-handed, left-handed matchups," Renteria said Saturday. "Someone asked about guys getting comfortable on a daily basis [if not playing every day], and I think we're trying to put everybody in the best possible position for success based on guys they've faced. You'll see us double up and play against righties [against right-handers] and lefties [against left-handers]. It depends on where we're at and what we see is the right fit."

In the absence of a game preview, here's today's lineup as the Cubs once again try to avoid a sweep...

  1. Bonifacio 2B
  2. Kalish LF
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Schierholtz RF
  5. Valbuena 3B
  6. Castro SS
  7. Sweeney CF
  8. Baker C
  9. Villanueva P



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  • Here's hoping that Carlos V looks better as a starter than he has in relief so far this year.

    And Castro in the #6 spot is an interesting place to slot him,

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Agreed. They need a win today.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thankfully Carlos did put in a good effort for 5 innings - and the relief pitching (other than the heartattack waiting to happen Veras) was pretty darned good.

    AND - the offense showed up today. No sweep.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    And I thought wed gotten rid of Carlos MarmHole. I guess hes re-inc arnated as Jose Veerusofftheplate.

  • I'm really getting excited about this draft. I've always been a Rodon fan, and it seems we might have a chance to get him! I'm also really liking that Aiken kid.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    It suddenly seems possible. I'm hoping it's just another case like Manaea last year, but I remember Kevin last year saying Manaea's struggles/velo drop was more weather related and that's likely not the case with Rodon at North Carolina State. Still, I think if he's healthy, it could be a potential steal if he drops.

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    Rodon could be this year's Mark Appel if his bonus demands are high enough. I can't see any team gutting the rest of their draft to give him #1 overall money.

    Also, his fastball losing velocity after the workload he had last year just terrifies me.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    there were whispers of a shoulder issue with Rodon last year , I would expect any team thinking of selecting him to give him the full battery of tests, MRIs ect. if his velocity stays down he isn't the slam dunk #1 and I think Aiken/Kolek come into play if they are there at 4

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    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I'd be ecstatic with Kolek at 4. Just not sure he's going to drop that far.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think Kolek drops that far and I'm not sure about Aiken either. Suddenly it seems possible the Cubs may end up getting their choice of two of the top college arms.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would be ecstatic with any of those 3 College arms at #4.

    I also wonder if we could possibly snag a competitive balance pick with some of our IFA $$$.... The Prep arms are deep and there's going to be some high risk/reward studs in that 35-45 pick range....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I remember you dreading the case of Rodon, Hoffman, and Beede going 1, 2, 3 in the draft. Now we might have our choice of the three. Should be interesting who we pick if that happens.

    I would doubt any team trades a pick in the 35-45 range this year for IFA $$$. The draft is loaded and the IFA prospects are weak. At least that was what we said when we went hog wild signing IFA prospects last year and got penalties this year. Of course Theo never ceases to amaze. It could happen??

  • In reply to John57:

    Moody also cried for months on end about the college pitchers going 1-3. Now he'd be "ecstatic" if Kolek fell to #4.

    Go figure.

  • In reply to Wake up Wake up:

    Maybe is was Moody and not HD. My memory is going. Sorry HD.

  • In reply to John57:

    I do recall dreading Rodon, Hoffman, & Beede going 1-2-3... But you'll find several posts in the archives where I'm record as saying that "Lots will change between now and draft day". And it will!

    IMO, Rodon hasn't been bad enough to move from #1 overall. Sure he hasn't been his normally dominant self, but taken the whole body of work; this guy has been #1 for 3 years now so... Grabbing a TOR LHP would too good to pass up.

    Beede may have the best ceiling, but also worst command of the 3. An argument could be made for any of the 3 over one another. I trust the FO has a better handle on it than I do. But I would love to get a TOR college arm at #4.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    The funky thing about this draft is that normally elite college talent comes with a decent floor in addition to a high ceiling. Unfortunately, all 3 of the college arms atop this draft have spent the year taking a pick axe to their floors. So you're really left with a draft where scouting (and luck that no one beats you to your choice) is going to tell.

    I am fairly sure that Houston was seriously considering Beede back when he was a world beater. That seems to have died along with Beede's command but they may just decide to look elsewhere. Aiken is an interesting guy here. They could probably get him for 3rd-4th pick money and then pull their favorite game of grabbing another first round talent in the second round.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree that the FO has a very good idea of what they are doing and I trust their ability to make the best pick for the Cubs. I too would like a TOR LH SP. Rodon or Aiken would be good.

  • just love Olt , Lake on the short side of platoons , just love it.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Olt is being being protected from tough righties early because he's been ugly against them so far. Not to mention resting his shoulder from this crap weather multiple days in a row. And are you really complaining about the Valbuena with an obp over .500 and one of our few hits with risp so far this season? Chill out with the negativity so early in the season. Bitterness is annoying.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Olt has has exactly 3 ABs vs righties.

    You're seriously characterizing a rookies' abilities this early on?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    No, I'm saying they're protecting him early so that he doesn't face tough righties until he's eased in. Also, Valbuena is seeing the ball really well. So far today it looks like the right move as Valbuena has had three really tough at bats, walked once, scored a run, nearly hit a grand slam, and Olt pinch hit and struck out on three pitches by a struggling Burnett. I think later in the season Olt will face more righties, but this early I think the plan is to only play him in matchups that look good for him, especially with his shoulder issues and the weather in Chicago right now.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I really think that's all they're doing -- protecting him early on, both in terms of his shoulder and against tough match-ups We are all eager to see the kids play everyday but I think the Cubs aren't doing this on a whim. There was obviously a lot of talk about whether to promote Mike Olt and I'm sure they discussed how they wanted to break him in. I've got to think there was all kinds of input from the coaching staff, scouts, and the front office people and this is what they decided would be best for him. I'm not sure if I would have done it that way, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

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    How is Castro the one that gets bumped down to 6th when he's been our best hitter not named Bonifacio(which isn't saying much) and is coming off a 3 hit game hitting 2nd. I can't say I agree with that. He should be up a bit higher to break up the lefties.

    Beede is still my favorite choice but you won't see me complain about any of these arms. I'm just excited were finally drafting a potential impact pitcher in the top 10.

  • Sorry John, but if Ricky keeps changing the lineups like this ever game its gonna be a big deal for me. We literally have 3 eveyday starters at a position (Castro, Rizzo, and Beef) and FIVE positions using a platoon. I think players need consitant playing time to get dialed in at the plate. And I think Mike Olt especially needs everyday playing time to adjust and develop at the MLB level or else hes never going to get going at the plate. So I believe Olt and Lake should be everyday starters, and keep getting Emileo in the lineup atleast until he cools off.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    The Cubs don't have everyday players at this point and I'd consider it lucky if they can find another one among all those players. Hopefully Olt is one, maybe Kalish. But I don't think their slam dunks, I would like to see them develop into everyday players, but they are not that right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    For once I hope you are wrong John, because if we really only have 3 players worthy of everday starts then this team is going to lose a ton of games. I thought the whole point this year was to find out if Olt was a long term option at 3B. However we are never going to find out if he doesn`t get consistant playing time. The same can be said for other young players on this team like Lake and Kallish. We just arent gaining much by having all these platoons bc it is not like they are even very effective in the games. Hopefully I`m just overacting over 5 games, but being at the last 2 games at Wrigley has me worried.

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    Here's a dodged bullet: Jameson Taillon is getting TJ.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:


  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Of course I would screw up the acronym.... TINSTAAPP

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    In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Every time I see that acronym I think TANSTAAFL, a coffee shop in Chicago I worked at my first year of undergrad. (It stands for "There ain't no so thing as a free lunch," an old Milton Friedman quote.)

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Exactly. And that's why I like the Cubs attacking their pitching shortage with volume -- and also why I'm not as excited about investing a high pick or as eager as some about trading Samardzija, who is at least healthy and a #3 level starter.

    This year they'll get their TOR prospect, but yeah, TINSTAAPP.

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    In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Okay, I'll bite, what's TINSTAAP?

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ah, clever!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is why it's always dangerous trading for pitching prospects. It's why the thought of trading Samardzija scares me and I don't blame the Cubs for asking for the moon -- the risk is too great and even if you only think Samardzija is a #3, he's a healthy guy who is past the injury nexus. He is going to eat innings and occasionally be dominant. There is a lot of value in that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    could also equal an acquisition target this deadline...

  • Well, to play the devil's advocate here... Renteria said they're looking for match ups based on guys they've faced, to put these guys in situations to succeed...

    The why is Luis Valbuena in the lineup today and hitting 5th when he's 0 for 13 vs AJ Burnett?

  • In reply to Caps:

    that's a good point, but I imagine a guy with Burnett's stuff and experience would be very tough on a guy like Olt.

  • Off subject, is baez on the bench today ? If he is, why ?

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    In reply to seankl:

    Yes, he's out. It's probably just to let him take a breath and calm down a bit.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:


  • Other than giving Baker another start today, I'd probably had the exact same line-up card. I really don't understand the fuss about the splits right now...

    I understand Ricky is just playing the odds of LHH vs RHP right now because the samples are so small... but Baker hasn't looked good at all to me swinging the bat and his .333 OPS vs AJB shouldn't have gotten the nod over Beef's .946... Yes, Valbuena is 0-13 vs AJB, but Olt has never faced him. Since Valbuena has been hot and Olt has not, I can't fault this... Kalish/Sweeney/Nate/Castro have all fared pretty good vs AJB so we might actually avoid the sweep today if Villanueva can keep the ball on the ground vs sailing onto sheffield or waveland today.

  • Quade's back except for the stupid nicknames and this one speaks Spanish, 1 thing in common neither seems to know how to pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel .Hating this hire , no continuity in lineups and the kids who need the ABs sit shortsided. ugghh.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    It's been five games. Chill out.

  • I know this is probably not the most popular opinion but I'm hoping for Hoffman at 1.4. He's the most athletic of the three college pitchers and he's got the easiest delivery as well. He's got the long and lanky frame that just needs a tweak to tighten up his control which could make him the best pitcher in the draft. He throw easy mid-90s gas and his change and slider are already average-to-plus pitches.

    He reminds me a lot of Adam Wainwright with the easy motion and the big breaking ball (though a slider, not the curve)...and I'd love to finally have a guy like that on the Cubs.

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    I like him, too. Reminds me a lot of Justin Verlander.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm starting to feel like a prospect whore. I started out liking Beede, then I went through my Trea Turner phase, quick fling with Alex Jackson, and now I'm hoping for Hoffman.

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    I've gone prospect agnostic. As I'm not a scout nor do I have an army of them reporting to me, I simply don't know the answer to the big questions every top prospect in this draft has. I'm willing to trust Jed and Theo with whoever they pick -- and pray whoever they get wasn't #4 on their personal depth chart.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    That is funny. I also have liked Kolek, Beede, and Turner at various times. Now I think I like Aiken. I am wondering how long it will last.

  • Baez isn't in the lineup today. Took bp and was out on the field. Sounded like he was going to get today off anyways before getting the ejection last night

  • In reply to I cubbies:

    It also could just be team policy, get tossed and you have to sit one game. Seems reasonable.

  • Veteran outfielder Darnell McDonald announced his retirement from baseball late last night via Instagram. McDonald re-signed with the Cubs on a minor league deal in December, but he has instead decided to call it a career.

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Good man. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs hired him in some capacity.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Darn. I'm gonna miss his attitude, and approach to the game. I too hope the Cubs find a way to groom him as a coach or something.

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    In reply to SouthsideB:

    Also from mlbtr:

    the two-year extension for shortstop Yunel Escobar isn't necessarily a sign the team has given up on prospect Hak-Ju Lee, but an opportunity to maximize value in Escobar, who could end up being traded at some point. The Rays continue to believe that Lee has considerable upside, but last year's severe knee injury caused understandable pause.

  • And an RBI triple for the guy platooning with Lake. Bryan Craven, are you still whining?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    dude i have my own opinion and if you would put a cork in it and go back to spring I wanted Kalish to make the team and once he did I called for a starting OF of Lake , Kalish and Nate/Rugg platoon. I hate the approach so far with Lake/Olt / Kalish and your reponding to my every point isnt going to change my mind . I will make a point to not respond to your posts further , ever, u do do the same .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Alright, sorry. The negativity just gets on my nerves.

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    Not sure how you feel about things, but the media is really meatballing it up with some irresponsible journalism, and radio commentary. I had to turn off hit & run today. not a fan of either host. As far as the draft goes it's disappointing so far. I mean its good they will likely get a top arm, but I am not seeing that ace to be so far. maybe one of the prep pitchers, but that would mean years away from pitching at Wrigley. I really feel good about the guys we have in the system already though. Think there's some real top of the rotation talent there, and feel we have the development staff in place to get the best out of them. Has Vizcaino pitched yet? I haven't heard anything. If not when is he scheduled to start?

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    In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    Vizcaino is in the bullpen in Daytona. He has one scoreless inning pitched there.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    "As far as the draft goes it's disappointing so far."

    Yes, I have to agree with you on that one. I keep trying to convince myself that maybe this will just help the guy the FO really wants to slide to us.

  • Meanwhile at Kane County...

    Paniagua having trouble locating his FB in the 1st frame. Threw a lot of pitches, walking 2, giving up 2 hits (on secondary pitches, I think). He's throwing hard, possibly mid- to upper-90s, but over half of his FBs were letter high. Also, a wild pitch.

    I hope he settles down; if he could throw 1st pitch strikes with his FB, he'd make his job a lot easier.

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    In reply to Eldrad:

    Good report. Hearing he's not living up to expectations so far.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    I'm watching that as well. Struggling a bit to start the game.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Probably hearing things, but I could have sworn I head the radio guy throw your name out in the 2nd inning.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    He did! Wayne Randazzo is a great guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What was the context? Something abt Carhart?

  • Way to early to talk about the draft, would like to talk about whats
    the best way to handle Olt, Lake and Katish during the season

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    It's NEVER too early to talk about the draft. ;-)

    But, honestly, we're less than two months until draft day and we're at the midpoint of the college season, so draft time really is here.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    What do you think is the best way to handle them?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I've given my opinion on that and I don't have a problem with the Cubs breaking them in slowly. One has shoulder issues, another gets eaten up in certain matchups, and the 3rd hasn't played in 2 years.

    I'll be more concerned if they're playing well and still playing part time in June.

  • I know that pros should know how to run the bases themselves, but this weird trend of getting picked off of first has me worried about Hinske.. I know they brought him on to be a great clubhouse guy, but is he the guy we want telling the athletic players how to run the bases...?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    It's possible there's something there, but a lot of them have come on the player leaning or mid-step and have just been good/lucky timing by the pitcher.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    That's true. But I have to think he's looking for the pitcher's tells, then relaying them to the baserunners as they get to first. He tells them an incorrect tell, they go to take their secondary on it, and they get hosed. It's too early to know for sure, but it's weird to see good baserunners getting picked off three times already.

  • Baez came into pinch-hit and went yard.

    Sometimes you just have to slow the kid down, it seems.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Also bases empty, which seems to calm him down a bit, too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here's video of the Baez homer, if you're into that kind of thing...

  • John,

    Just my 2-cents on a few issues here.

    1--Cut Renteria some slack on those daily line-up changes. Let guys prove themselves for a while. This may cost a game or two during the first 15-20 games, but will set up an earn-it attitude..,never bad. Also,

    2--'Everybody Plays' is a good attitude builder for a young club.

    3--Castro may be coming around, but I wouldn't call him locked in. Still looks to be feeling for the ball in many of his swings.

    4--Just wish we had a HOT RBI-GUY these first 20 games so we could win a few more while the team settles in.

    5--With pitching (especially starters) being so solid, I am a little Disappointed in our 2-4(counting today)start.

    6--Hope Kalish gets to play as much as the other OF's. He looks hungry to me.


  • I want to see Kalish,Lake & Olt in there everyday, wins be damned.
    We know what Valbuena,Barney & Schierholtz are going to give you now and in the future they are not part of the future those young guys might be. Do I really care if valbuena,barney & schierholtz are in the lineup how many extra wins are they going to produce?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    It's about putting them in situations to succeed. Putting them in really tough matchups early on and letting them get torn apart is not going to help them progress as players.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    so are they going to platoon all year? only play against really bad right handed starters? playing everyday allows you to make adjustments only getting 4-5 AB every other day or less doesnt help a young hitter improve.

    now if renteria is doing this for the 1st couple of weeks of the season OK. Otherwise letting those young guys set IMO doesnt make sense.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I have to imagine, and hope, it's just until they show they're comfortable at the plate against big league pitchers.

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    If this is showcasing Veras for a trade, it's going about as well as showcasing marmol did last year.

  • when Baez & Bryant come up will they be platooned?

  • Do the Cubs not think its important for a closer to be able to throw strikes?

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    In reply to Letsplay2:

    I have to think that if veras (and wright?) are obviously the glaring weak links in the bullpen, it behooves the FO for the sake of team and fan morale to trade, release or relegate them to non-critical situations very soon. Starting staff ERA is 1.90 - you can't let that be sacrificed to a .333 winning percentage.

  • John what is your take on skulina's and cliftons ceiling?

  • In reply to kingpro98:

    I really like Skulina if he pitches the way he did that first day. He went after hitters, got ahead in the count and put them away. If he can command like that, he is too good for Kane County. He didn't even use his slider a lot. Lots of fastballs but it had nice velo and movement and he located well.

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