[Repost from Bleacher Nation]
What a weekend! Iowa Cubs took 3 of 5! Except Saturday night when they couldn't scratch a hit with runners in scoring position (Vitters, Jackson and Baez) they played better than I have ever seen a Cubs affiliate team play, though I am not an officiado.
Sunday, it was to be first 90 degrees plus day in Colorado Springs this summer, it got to 88, thankfully. Local knowledge; for Colorado Springs, 90 degrees is near the top of its range even though we are located in a semi-arid climate out here in the West, there have only been four recorded days of 100, two in 2012 during the Waldo Canyon wildfire that took 347 homes, some were my friends houses. At. 6300 plus elevation, (Security Service is at about 6500 ft) helps in that it is common for Pueblo CO to see 100 maybe 30 times a year. Today winds were light and had no effect on the ball and little affect on body temps.
Today we sat on the back row almost behind home plate because I switched our near
dugout seats to be under the roof (sort of) in that we took my wife's parents who are in the mid 80's. They still can hack it though and my father-in-law is a die hard Cubs fan who grew up in Iowa.
During the game I met a pro scouting director from an AL team, who told me he grew up a Cubs fan and said he was heart broken when he was then working for the Marlins then they beat the Cubs. Here is a picture of his Marlins WS ring. He was using a garbage can top behind us as a writing table for his legal pad taking notes on the game/players while multi-tasking with his smart phone using ear buds and listening to something, (not music or a radio broadcast, someone giving a narrative.)
He started out saying that the Cubs need to trade Samardzija to get some more players to join this group here (Baez, Bryant, Alcantara, whom he liked a lot). When I asked why his team was not interested in Samardzija he said;
"that he cost too much, and with Price available for one more year the player price was too high for them, but he added someone is going to pay the price, it will happen."
We then discussed between a couple of innings as he liked the shade and work station, that the Cubs organization as a whole has done a huge turnaround, not just players but how they play. I then turned to Alcantara whom I said seemed ripe for the Big Leagues. He really liked Alcantara, very solid all-around, well developed, and then smiled. (Was he there scouting Alcantara?) I turned to Baez and his change of approach which he wanted to point out;
"[H]ow he illustrates how much the Cubs organization has changed. The change was no accident and Baez seems to be taking to it."
(The next inning Baez ripped a double to the wall on a high line drive to right center to drive in Szczur from first without a play.I now have seen Baez rip two balls the opposite field for doubles this weekend, he is waiting on pitches better.)
He then went down and joined other senior scouts, the other from an AL small market who also mentioned to me in passing by how well the Cubs organization is looking. Finally the scouting director said, it is going to be a good time to be a Cubs fan, enjoy!
The game itself was kind of pitching duel between Wada, (truly a crafty LH soft tosser) and Sky Sox lefty and soft tossing Burres. Cubs only squared him up a couple of times, Alcantara in the first when he ripped a lead off the game with a double to the base of the wall down the left field line. The crack of the bat was penetrating. And Valaika who scorched double past Arenado at 3B. Cubs though blew scoring chances in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th, (seemingly a repeat from Saturday night), but finally in the 5th they broke through plated Kalish after he had walked and was moved over on a wild pitch by way of a Whiteside single.
The only other run was scored in the 8th when the Cubs finally into the SkySox bullpen got consecutive hits from Szczur, (sharp single) and then a rocket of a double by Baez into right center that got to the base of the wall on a line. That too cracked through the stadium, Szczur scored without a play. Wada was wheeling and dealing and even provided a crafty veteran double play on an attempted sac bunt in the 5th. With a man on and Burres the pitcher batting, he popped up softly in front of the mound, Wada cradled under it, fainted to catch it but let it drop, through to first for the put out and then Valaika fired a strike to nab the runner who was frozen in no man's land at second.
Other notes. Vitters might have a pretty swing but he is not able to hit them where they ain't. The real hero of the game was Szczur who made four outstanding plays on deep balls hit to center (at the wall) or in the gap. One was in the first inning when Paulsen hit a drive that he thought was out, but in landed in the mitt of a leaping CF'er, Szczur would nab him later in the 8th as well. Another was a drive into the gap that was fading away but he got there with plenty to spare. Arenado robbing Vitters in the first inning and also nabbing his line drive later. Bryant was 0-FOUR, with 2 K's and what should have been an error but ruled a hit.
Wada what I saw was a reincarnate of Moyer, soft tossing all sorts of stuff up there and keeping players off balance. Lot of fly balls but he kept his walks down and struck out batters using reverse, throwing curves and other benders in the low 80's, change ups in the low 70's and then flashing a fastball between 87-89, often getting a third strike or swing and miss, he somehow induced 8 K's on 99 pitches through 6.2. Cubs used Hatley (hit hard to Szczur but out), Rosscup (one batter Paulsen who went deep but again robbed by Szczur) and then Parker who got the four outs. Game ended on a double play that Baez unassisted touched 2nd base and defiantly faced a runner and shot a side arm (get down now) strike to Valaika.
Bottom line, the Cubs played good team ball all around. Like to see Valaika get some time in the Bigs, and Alcantara will be donning a MLB uniform very soon, Baez has some work to do and Bryant still needs some seasoning, as I can see he really would be better suited in LF. Baez I think is the future 3B and Alcantara is one of those special developing players.
They are almost here and now.
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