Sometimes decisions need to be made on the fly, and that's exactly what we did. Rather than head to Charlotte for the day, we decided to stay at Myrtle and check out the Pelicans again. Jen-Ho Tseng was on the mound for the Cubs, facing a consensus top 10 prospect in Lucas Giolito. The game ended 3-0 in favor of the Pelicans, and Tseng won the duel. Here are my thoughts on the pitchers, with a couple more tidbits added in.
Jen-Ho Tseng - The Taiwanese bonus baby from the 2013 international draft class had his best start of the year today, going six innings and allowing two hits while striking out six. For most the game his fastball sat 91-93, and he touched 95 a couple of times. When he was throwing it in the low 90's it seemed to have some tailing action, whereas in the mid-90's it was more straight with a little cut to it. He also threw in a changeup which sat between 82-84 mph, showing some fading action, but it was a very inconsistent pitch on the night. If he can get the changeup to average, which it has the potential to be, then Tseng could develop into a #3 or #4. His curve was really on tonight, sitting 76-77 mph with great horizontal movement and decent vertical movement. With a little more dip to it, it could easily be a plus pitch. He was very confident throwing it as well, as he started off a few counts dropping it in for strikes.
Five out of his six strikeouts came via the curve. His fastball control is pretty impressive, although his command could use more refining as at times he got a little wild. Although his numbers look great, a few balls were hit pretty hard and Daniel Lockhart made a couple of great plays at 2nd. In my first look of Tseng, I was impressed with his presence on the mound as he never seemed rattled and clearly knew how to pitch, outthinking some hitters and getting ahead in the counts early.
Lucas Giolito - Coming into the night, I'd only heard folktales about his curveball, and seeing it in person left me dazed. His curveball is a hammer that starts at hitters' chests and almost hits the plate when it's over. He also has full confidence in it, throwing it during every count virtually. He did leave it up twice and got punished for them by two doubles, but it's an easy plus pitch with a chance to be a 70, if not higher. His fastball sat 95-97 mph with cut to it, and at some points it almost looked like a slider with all of the horizontal movement he was getting on the pitch.
The problem with his fastball was that his command of the pitch was shaky, and he did not hit his spots well at all tonight. Giolito was making just his fourth start of the season though so he's still shaking off some rustiness, and you have to remember that he had Tommy John surgery just two years ago. Giolito also threw a good number of changeups in the low to mid 80's, although he wasn't throwing it for strikes at all. He only struck out four in five innings of work, but induced a lot of weak contact from his curve and fastball. Another thing I liked about him was he finished up-right, allowing him to make a few solid defensive plays. Although his command wasn't on tonight, Giolito showed the makings of a front-line starter for sure.
Chesny Young played SS for the first time in his career, and only had two plays that I remember. One was him ranging to his right and throwing across the body to nab the runner at first. He has a solid arm as he was formerly a third baseman in college, and increasing his versatility only helps the likelihood of him making it to the majors. He showed his solid approach at the plate as well, even against a top pitcher like Giolito, and ended up 2-4.
Candelario also made a few nice plays at third base with the glove, and the arm is plus. He does look pretty big and slugs around when moving for balls, which leads me to believe in the future he'll likely have to move to right or first. For now, I can see him playing an average third until his late 20's.
Daniel Lockhart looked like a plus defender on the night, and shows a solid approach at the plate. My favorite moment of the night was after Candelario struck out looking on a borderline call and yelled at the ump, Lockhart went over to him in the dugout and tried to calm him down. Lockhart seems like a very impressive young man who I love that the Cubs organization have.
Victor Cartaini had a smooth swing from both sides, and seemed to frame a couple of pitches well, although the ump was all over the place tonight.
Mark Zagunis looks very athletic and fast, and puts together solid plate appearances. If he's able to squeak out more power, he may be able to start, although a 4th outfielder looks more likely. Compared to most minor league teams I've seen so far, the Pelicans' hitters put together very solid at-bats, and their approaches at the plate we're very impressive given their league.
To reiterate, if you're a huge Cubs fan you have to make your way down to Myrtle Beach. The Pelicans have a great stadium and very supportive staff members, as they are all super friendly, starting from the President all the way down to the vendors.
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