While the John Lackey and the Cubs were losing to the Giants yesterday, I stayed at the backfields -- which turned out to be a good decision for me. Here are some of the highlights from yesterday.
- Dylan Cease sat 98 mph and touched 99 in a scoreless first but ran into trouble when he lose command in the 2nd, walking a couple batters, hitting another and throwing a couple of wild pitches. He also threw a rare changeup but left it up and it got hit hard for a double. The velocity was still there in the 2nd, but nothing else seemed to be working in that 2nd inning..
- Bryan Hudson may have stolen some of Cease's thunder, sitting 89-91 and touching as high as 94. The curve was exceptional -- in fact he struck out the side in the first, all with a curveball that one teammate repeatedly described as either nasty or gross...in a positive way, of course. I'm not sure Hudson doesn't already have the best curve in the organization and the peak in FB velocity was interesting as well. Hudson isn't done filling out yet. Hudson threw strikes with both pitches, getting ahead with the FB and then using the curve as his out pitch with 2 strikes. I only recall one hitter making contact on the curve and that was a weak ground ball to 2B. Hudson also showed his athleticism on a play in which he ran to cover first only to see the throw go over his head and behind him. In one motion, Hudson jumped up and reached back to snag the throw then twirled around to tag the runner before he got to 1B. It was among the better plays on a day with a lot of good glove work.
- Eloy Jimenez hit a long. majestic HR over the batters' eye in deep CF. He showed some maturity in his next 2 PAs as A's pitchers worked around him. Jimenez did not chase and walked both times. In his last AB he turned on an inside pitch and scorched one down the LF line for a double. That double may have been even louder than his HR.
- Ian Happ had a couple of line drive hits, including a nice one the opposite way and also made a great defensive play that made the coaches around me happy. I was skeptical of Happ being able to stay at 2nd but he has really cleaned up his footwork and overall mechanics. He just looks more fluid than he did early last fall, when he seemed a little heavy footed out there. As of now, I am giving him a legit shot to stick there.
- Jesse Hodges and Matt Rose both made good defensive plays at 3B in their respective games. Rose also showed a nice piece of hitting when he brought his hands in on a pitch riding inside and drove it the opposite way to RF for a key RBI.
- Dillon Maples threw a consistent 95 mph FB and mixed in a few nasty curves in the 78 mph range. Most importantly, he threw strikes, filling the strike zone thoughout his one inning of work with both pitches.
- Ryan McNeil was a highly projectable 3rd round pick in Epstein's first draft with the Cubs but he had been plagued with injuries until last season, when he pitched in relief for South Bend. Today he surprised with a 94-95 four seam FB to go with a twi seamer in the 88-89 range. McNeil even surprised his teammates who were charting the pitches.
- Jen-Ho Tseng started the Myrtle Beach game and was at about 89-91 mph with a good change up to go with his above average curve.
- AZ Phil has the report on the AA and AAA games at Fitch Park.
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