I had myself quite a day today. It started innocently enough. We were headed to see our first Kane County game of the season. The weather was going to be in the mid 70s and I was intrigued with Juan Paniagua, a pitcher I have only seen in instructs.
On the way there, however, some metallic chunk of something came off one of the cars in front of me and I ran over it with my front left tire.
"I hope that didn't puncture the tire.", my wife said.
"Oh, it's punctured.", I replied.
And gradually the car pulled toward the left and the dreaded rhythmic thud of my shredded tire thumping against the road made it conclusive. Just a few miles from the stadium, we had ourselves a flat.
Eventually we got it fixed and were back on the road. I missed the first inning of the ballgame but a couple innings later I got an invitation to join Wayne Randazzo in the broadcast booth.
Now, if you haven't listened to Wayne Randazzo, you should. You can stream it on the internet for free via Tune-In, which can be accessed through the team's website. He's knowledgeable, professional, and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. I have little doubt there are good things to come in his future. As far as announcers/radio personalities go, he's a legit prospect.
Anyway, I took Wayne up on his invitation and joined him in the booth for an inning. It was an exciting experience, something I had dreamed of doing since I was a kid. It totally made up for the ominous start to my day, so I can't thank him enough.
If I find an audio of the inning, I will post it. For now you'll have to settle for my recap...
- Tsuyoshi Wada is off to a tremendous start and he was absolutely dominant today, striking out 10 and walking none in 6.2 scoreless innings. I haven't been that high on Wada since the Cubs signed him but suddenly I'm a bit intrigued. It's only been two starts, but he's overmatched his opponents each time. He's 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA with 1 walk and 18 Ks in 13.1 innings.
- Marcus Hatley had a horrific spring but he's been excellent since joining Iowa. He pitched another scoreless inning and he's now pitched in 4 games, covering 5.1 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 9. I know there are some scouts who like Hatley, so the Cubs have been giving him every chance to succeed -- he is off to a good start and may put himself in the picture if he keeps it up.
- Brian Schlitter, recently sent down to make room for Chris Rusin, finished off with a scoreless inning. The future is uncertain right now. The Cubs could keep Rusin, recall Schlitter -- or perhaps bring back Blake Parker.
- Brett Jackson had the kind of game we once expected he'd have consistently -- 1 for 3 with 2 walks, and an RBI -- with no strikeouts.
- Arismendy Alcantara went 1 for 3 with a walk, SB, run scored, and an RBI. It's the kind of Alcantara line we've come to expect since he had his breakthrough in Daytona two years ago. He can fill up a stat sheet with is ability in every phase of the game.
- Jae-Hoon Ha returned from the DL and played LF late in the game, but did not have an offical AB.
- Logan Watkins singled and scored 2 runs.
- Ivan Pineyro went 5 strong innings, allowing just one run on 3 hits. However, he did walk 3 hitters and has now walked 6 batters in his first 9 innings. That's uncharacteristic for him and not something he can sustain if he expects to continue to have success at the upper levels.
- Veteran Ryan Searle came on in relief and pitched 2 scoreless innings to pick up the win. He struck out 3.
- Kind of typical Zeke DeVoss day when things are going well for him. He tripled, walked, and stole his 3rd base of the season. He also drove in 2 and scored one run. DeVoss had gotten off to a good start but has since dropped off a bit and his hitting .188.
- Stephen Bruno is slowly finding his rhythm after a slow start. Two more hits put him at .233 for the season but Bruno is capable of much more than that. He's making a big jump after skipping Kane County 2 years ago and then missing much of the season in high Class A Daytona last year.
- 3B Kris Bryant doubled and hit his 3rd HR of the season, it was a solo shot. Bryant has rather quietly had a solid start to the season, putting up an OBP of .405 and a slugging pct. of .654.
- C Rafael Lopez doubled twice and walked while also scoring a run.
- RF John Andreoli doubled and stole his 4th base of the season.
- A much better start from Rob Zastryzny who walked just one batter and struck out 5 in 5.2 innings of work. He allowed just one run (on a solo HR) to pick up the win. Zastryzny has a 4.66 ERA after two starts.
- Zach Cates seems comfortable in his new relief role and pitched 2.1 more scoreless innings, striking out 2. Cates has not allowed a run this season in 5.1 innings and surprisingly, has not walked a batter. He certainly has the stuff to be a bullpen arm in the bigs, but it's always been the control that has been a question.
- Another hard-throwing RHP, Steven Perakslis finished off with a scoreless inning.
- Bijan Rademacher's hot start landed him in the 2 hole today and he took advantage of it by scoring a couple more runs, though he only went 1 for 5. He's still hitting .421 on the year.
- So how long will Albert Almora stay at the Daytona level? I suspect not for long if he keeps playing like this. After an 0 for 9 start, Almora has gone 12 for 28 (.429) and is hitting .324 overall. He had a double and his first HR of the season today. He also stole his first base. Almora drove in 3 and scored 2.
- Dan Vogelbach singled and drove in 2 runs.
- I've singled out Marco Hernandez as my sleeper to watch this year on this Daytona team and so far he's making me look good, though it's way, way early. A 3 hit day put Hernandez at .346 for the season. He also scored a run and had an RBI.
- Juan Paniagua looks like he's filled out a bit but was still showing that easy, athletic delivery that had the Cubs impressed enough to sign him for 1.1M as an IFA. He was at 92-93 (touched 94) today and showed a nice low 80s slider that was a swing and miss pitch today. If there was something I didn't like from Paniagua is that he struggled with his release point at times and left the ball up. Most of the time he got away with it, though that probably won't happen as he faces better hitters.
- I was pleasantly surprised with LHP Gerardo Concepcion who was primarily in the 87-89 range with his FB, though he did touch 90 mph. It was more than I expected after his long lay off. He showed the ability to mix in a change to RH hitters and spun a few nice curves vs. the lefties. I have to admit I had lost faith in Concepcion but he looked much better than he did when I saw him pitch as a member of the Peoria Chiefs.
- Scott Frazier had a real hard time today repeating his delivery and was all over the place, often missing the strike zone by a wide margin as he walked the only 3 batters he faced.
- Carlos Penalver was my favorite player today. He showed a good eye at the plate -- he's very focused in every AB. He's not a big kid but he does make contact and is willing to take a walk. He's a real good base runner and uses his good speed aggressively on the bases. Today he walked, singled, and stole his 4th base, scoring 3 runs overall. He's hitting .306 on the season. I was most impressed by his defense, however. He has a sort of fluid athleticism, flows through the ball and makes strong, effortless throws. He's a SS, no question in my mind, though I didn't get a chance to see him make a tough play.
- Yasiel Balaguert had 2 more hits to raise his early season average to .359. He makes loud contact, even on a single. Once again, however, he had trouble with breaking stuff and anything off speed, often getting out in front of the pitch. He's a dead red hitter right now and he'll get enough at this level to put up some good numbers, but he'll have to keep working on hitting pitchers who possess good secondaries.
- 1B Jacob Rogers showed a smooth glove at 1B, making a nice play on a force out though they could not turn two on the play. After seeing Paul Hoilman, Rock Shoulders, and Dan Vogelbach the past two years, you could see the difference in athleticism. He didn't do to badly at the plate either, getting an RBI double and then a big 3-run HR to left-center field.
- It was tough to get a good look at Shawon Dunston but he showed the good eye you'd expect and we got to see him turn on the jets on a triple down the RF line.
- David Bote played 2B and had himself a nice game. He has an athletic build at 5'11, 185 lbs. and has a little more strength than you might expect, hitting a HR over the LF wall. He also singled in a run in the first. Additionally, Bote made a nice play in the field, showing solid range to his left when he made a sliding stop and a quick throw to first.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap