Arizona Cubs recap: Schwarber rakes, Russell drives in two; Clifton, Conway, Burks off to solid starts

We will try to recap the AZ Leagues as much as we can.  Unfortunately I am not there as I have in years past, but AZ Phil from the The Cub Reporter is and we have box scores.  We hope to be covering the Winter Leagues as well, but more on that at another time.

AZ Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox

  • Addison Russell started at DH and for 8 innings, was responsible for driving in team’s only runs with a 2 run single.  He went 1 for 4 overall.
  • Who drove in the only other run?  Well, that was Jacob Hannemann, who hit a 9th inning sac fly in his only plate appearance.
  • Dan Vogelbach entered the game late a well and struck out.

Instructional League

    • Kyle Schwarber is a dangerous man with the bat no matter where you play him on defense.  He’s down in AZ to learn how to catch but pitchers down there will get a good sense of what they’ll have to work on when it comes to getting professional hitters out.  So far Schwarber is taking the young Cubs pitchers to school, going 4 for 7 with two doubles and a stolen base.  He has caught in one game and DH’d in another.
    • Mark Zagunis is also off to a good start with a 3 for 5 start with a double and a stolen base.
    • I am going to keep giving Charcer Burks some love even if BA didn’t.  Burks has gone 3 for 5 with 2 walks and a double.
    • The Cubs have gotten 2 innings of scoreless work from prospects Trevor Clifton, James Conway, Erick Leal, and David Garner as well as recent
    • draftees

Trey Hedges


James Norwood

    .  Clifton and Conway were particularly good with no hits and 3 Ks.  Clifton walked one hitter.

Notes from AZ Phil,

  • Kevin Encarnacion played RF for Team Johnson, his first game action since suffering a near career-ending shoulder injury and 3rd degree burns in a car crash in the Dominican Republic last December. He (understandably) looked rusty both in the field and at the plate, committing an error on a ground single to right (he bobbled the ball, allowing a baserunner to advance from 2nd to 3rd), and he went 0-3 at the plate with two strikeouts (both swinging) and a weak infield pop out. Probably because of the injuries he sustained in the car crash, Encarnacion is now hitting only left-handed (he previously had been a switch-hitter). In his one AB batting LH against a LH pitcher (Jordan Minch), Encarnacion struck out on three pitches.
  • Gioskar Amaya is giving catching a go and also played some 3B, according to AZ Phil, “Gioskar Amaya got the start at catcher for Team Gonzalez, and handled himself well behind the plate for the four innings he spent there. (Amaya is in the Catcher Conversion Program at Instructs). He then moved to 3rd base for the final three innings and made the defensive play of the game, a run-saving stop & throw to end the top of the 5th. Amaya had a fine day offensively, too, with a line-drive double into the LF corner, a walk, and a stolen base. “
  • A guy I’m rooting for is Scott Frazier. He has great stuff but had some terrible issues with wildness this past season.  I saw him in his one Kane County appearance and he appeared to have the yips.  He didn’t come close to throwing strikes most of the time.  Anyway, here is what AZ Phil had to say,” For some reason, Cubs coaches wanted Scott Frazier to face only LH hitters in his one inning of work, so the lineup was adjusted to accomodate the plan. Frazier has what some in the Cub organization believe to be the best pure stuff in the system, but the big right-hander from Pepperdine has struggled to throw strikes going all the way back to Minor League Camp in March. The Cubs have tried almost everything to try and fix the problem, with facing only LH hitters being the latest attempt.


Filed under: Fall/Winter Baseball


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  • I too would love to see Frazier amount to something even if it's out if the pen. Hopefully he can settle in and repeat that delivery enough to be effective.

    Yes and why can't Charcer Burks get some national love?

  • In reply to Gator:

    Probably because a) he was an unknown prior to draft and b) he may be a tweener.

  • I wonder if the Catcher Conversion Program is Kubrickian? As part of their positional modification therapy, do they pry their eyes open and make them watch video of Henry Blanco and Barry Foote?

  • In reply to Gator:

    Haha! Loved that movie.

  • In reply to Gator:

    If watching video of Barry Foote is the other option, I choose death

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    I really hope that Schwaber can show management something this fall at catcher. But if not I think we might see a push for Russell Martin. I can't see the Cubs make a run at him unless they feel Schwaber looks more and more like a LF and less like a catcher.

    Man is this winter going to be fun!

  • It seems like there is some real depth at catcher now.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    They can hit. It's a matter if they can cut it defensively. When it comes to Schwarber, he just needs to be adequate because the bat will have so much value there.

  • Does anyone know how to follow AZ Phil, or any good accounts on twitter, in relation to fall/winter baseball? Thank you..

  • In reply to copinblue:

    He is not on Twitter but you can follow @thecubreporter. They will usually post stuff from him and if not, you can always ask. We also will have @crewsett follow the winter leagues for us very soon.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you John...I know you've been swamped the past few days, but your work is impeccable. We appreciate you. Thanks for the reply sir...

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John, just added both

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Stan's love for the DWL shines through that is for sure.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    @thecubreporter I think.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Thanks Bilbo...

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Go to Arizona Phil's Corner at

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thank you Hoosier I appreciate it..

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    John do you think if Schwaber keeps doing well and stays at catcher (which Im praying he can) will this delay his path to the majors? I would love to see him in the 2016 line-up between Baez, Rizzo, Bryant and Soler. OMG...

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    I think that's very possible. He is almost ready as a hitter but he has a ways to go as a catcher.

  • John, thanks for the updates on what is going on in Arizona. I like the emphasis on versatility in the org.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    I like that emphasis too. Increase these guys value and get them used to the flexibility early in their careers.

  • I'm curious if Amaya displaying this utility attribute/positional flexibility doesn't secure his spot on the 40 man in time for the rule 5 draft...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Very cool that he made a big play at 3B too. If he can play 3B, 2B, and catch --even on an emergency basis only, that would really help his chances.

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    Ohh Daily Recaps how I have missed thee!

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    Haha! I don't know if they will be daily. Maybe. At least when the Fall League and Instructs have games on the same day.

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    Missed these recaps! I still think Zagunis is going to be the real deal. I saw him when he came to Cedar Rapids for a playoff game with the KC Cougars and absolutely crushed a ball over the fence! He was also showing pretty good contact and plate discipline. Watch out for this kid, he's going to be a stud!

  • That would be great. That would leave Schwarber as an Evan Gattis type, Can play LF but also get some time at C to give Zagunis a break.

    That case would keep Bryant at 3B and push Castro Baez or Russell off the team

  • Thanks for all the great updates John. Where do you see Zagunis ending up? Can he play center if he doesn't stay at catcher? All he's done is hit and get on base since the Cubs drafted him, seems like a very interesting and versatile prospect.

  • In reply to JC 2012:

    I think he has a decent chance at staying at catcher. The athleticism is there, as is the work ethic. Controlling the running game will be his biggest issue to overcome.

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