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cubs park springNext Monday, I’ll be on my way to Mesa, Arizona to take in a week of Chicago Cubs Spring Training action, and to check out the new digs at Cubs Park. Hopefully I’ll get some solid shots of the new facilities, take in some good games, and see some prospects getting their work in on the minor league side.

If you’re going to be in the area from Monday, March 3 to Friday, March 7, feel free to drop a note here or on Twitter, and perhaps we can grab a beer or oggle some Javier Baez BP.

The games will have started by the time I arrive, so hopefully when I say that I’ll be seeing Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro do this, I mean in some games:

Oh, and hopefully they’ll carry that kind of solid contact forward into the regular season.

If there’s anything in particularly you’d like to see covered from Arizona – anything in particularly that someone without any kind of actual access can cover, that is – let me know in the comments. If there are some things several folks would like to see, I’ll make sure to do my best.

  • hartmtown

    Castro looks visibly stronger. Anyone else see that?

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Yeah no doubt. He looks strong. And that swing is beautiful.

    • nate1m

      I was just gonna say…is it just me or does Castro look huge?

      • Jon

        PEDS?

        • waittilthisyear

          jon there was a nice stretch last week where you were thoughtful and thought-provoking in a lot of your posts. this week is off to a bad start

      • Edwin

        You know what they say about the camera adding 10-15 LB though.

        • Wilburthefirst

          … must be a heavy camera.

        • ChiMike702

          Because everyone usually seems him in person, right?

          • Funn Dave

            Haha, I wish.

    • The one who knocks

      I’m actually here in Mesa right now for my week of sunshine and baseball. I have to admit my first thought when I saw Castro was that he seemed bigger than before but I shrugged it off to a poor memory. But now I’m thinking maybe I’m not crazy if you guys are also noticing it.

      Jorge Soler looks like a man amongst boys during outfield drills. He was warming up with Almora today and it looked like a father/son toss.

      The new facility is very nice. I’m looking forward to getting inside the new stadium on Thursday. The only downside that I have to say though is that it feels like access to the major league group is more limited than it was at Fitch. The primary access is to the minor league camp. Still fun and all, just a little different.

  • Ben in Nebraska

    I’ll be at the game March 7th, can’t wait to get out of the cold and see some baseball!

    • Seth

      I will also be at the game on this day. I will be wearing my freshly ordered Bleacher Nation shirt.

  • johnnyp

    Looks like the Castro leg kick is back. I’ll be there for two weeks. Can’t friggin wait. Winter blows.

    • Jon

      I hear he is walking around with a t-shirt that says, “F’ck OBP, just hit baby!”

      • Professional High A

        I know what I am naming my fantasy baseball team.

      • Professional High A

        That name is even more fitting because the guy who set it up loves old stats like hits and batting average and I own Castro. If Castro can get back to his old ways he is going to kill it on my team.

  • another JP

    Have fun in Mesa Brett. I’ll be out there the weekend of March 15th, can’t wait to see the youngsters getting after it.

  • DrReiCow

    Brett,

    Either get the extra insurance, or park your rental car far, far away from Cubs Park!!

    Moo.

    • Funn Dave

      First MGoat, and now a cow? This website’s turning into a farm–kinda like the Cubbies! Oh, snap!

      • DrReiCow

        I don’t know that MichiganGoat has been here longer than I.

        Moo.

  • Wilburthefirst

    … headed to Mesa 3/22 for a week … let the day’s be hot and the beer cold.

  • JAllman

    I realize it is just one swing but Rizzo seems to be starting with his hands a bit higher. Does anyone else see that?

    • Edwin

      It’s one swing from a far shot on a BP pitch. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    • another JP

      Good observation J- the bat is definitely up around Rizzo’s shoulder instead of being near his waist like last season. And Castro looks noticeably bigger.

      • JAllman

        Thanks. I’m hoping it’s a good thing, not something to worry about Edwin.

    • Isaac

      He has openly talked about quieting his hands, he appears to be achieving that by starting his hands in the load point rather than below it. I like the change, his hands seemed unnecessarily awkward before.

  • Dales Fired Ear

    I’d love if you could get some good looks at Arodys Vizcaino. I’m really intrigued by all the reports about him but I’d like it if we could get some input from someone who isn’t on the Cubs payroll. Whether it’s video or a story about him generating some bad/embarrassing plate appearances, the more info on him the better.

    • Funn Dave

      Seconded.

  • another JP

    I see Almora is rooming with Bryant and Vogelbach… that’s pretty awesome on all sorts of levels.

  • Javier Bryant

    Have a good time, Brett. I’ve always wanted to go to Spring training in AZ. I’ve been to Florida a couple times and saw the Yankees, Reds, Pirates but that was a while ago.

  • Joshua Edwards

    Hey, I might drive over Tues or Weds for a night or two. I was planning to get pics/vids to share with the BN community as part of the fun. Would love to hang out with members of the Nation and drool over prospects and beers.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ll be around, for sure.

  • Spoda17

    Rizzo’s hands are higher. He did say that he “quieted” his hands down…

  • Porkslap

    Love that sound!

  • Cizzle

    I’ll be there the 26th through the 3rd and will try to share what I can…except for my golf scores.

    • another JP

      Oh man Cizzle- those are some tough courses out there. I’m heading up to Talking Stick on the 9th and hoping I have enough Pro Vs to keep me going. Don’t let the chollas get you-

  • mtcubfan

    Brett,

    My first game at the new facility will be March 7th. I land in Phoenix on the 6th and plan to go to the new stadium before the sun goes down to look at the new digs. I have been indoctrinating new fans by requiring any of my friends from Montana to attend a Cubs game with me if they want to hang out with me. This year I have given up some of my self time of hanging around watching the kids (minor league Cubs) to shuttle the various friends to and from the airport. I will be in the area for a week and half so I will still get to see a lot of Cub Baseball. I have been counting the days until I hear the glorious sound of the pounding of the leather and the crack of the bat while I suck in sun and suds.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Brett try to make time for Shlomo and Vito’s Deli in Tucson- you won’t believe you ate the whole thing!

    • ssckelley

      After seeing Diehards suggestions on here I would avoid this deli at all cost.

  • gcheezpuff

    I’d guess probably at the top of your list anyway, but I nice write up on Mike Olt after you see him with your own eyes and in lives games would be cool. His possible emergence is what I am most interested in watching this season.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Carlos Martinez’s internet habits = 98 MPH.
    Carlos Zambrano’s internet habits = forearm injury.
    More Cardinals voodoo.

  • Pat

    Enjoy the trip. If you can, comment on what you see from any of the guys battling for the last few bullpen spots. That’s the only area where I think a roster spot my be given not based primarily on the numbers (as guys will be working on secondary offerings, etc.)

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Request: Head for the minor league park and try to get to a look at some of the pitchers the Cubs took last year. Zastryzny would be the headliner, of course, but I’m also curious about Skulina, Masek, and Frazier. In particular, how is the movement on their fastballs? Are their mechanics consistent? Clean?

    A first hand report of Jiminez would be nice as well. And the same with Hanneman. A healthy Bruno sighting would be good.

    And finally, how does Rock Shoulders look? He did some nice work at the plate, but he’ll have to handle left field long term if he keeps moving up alongside Vogelbach. How is looking in left? He seemed to wear out towards the end of the year last season; how does his conditioning look?

    • jp3

      Luke I’d also like to get a report on Jiminez too, very curious what his body is looking like after signing a major league deal. I know he’s young and still lanky but it’d be nice to see him filling out a bit.

    • ssckelley

      These are great suggestions, especially with the recently drafted pitchers. Although I would not spend too much time checking out Rock Shoulders, other than an awesome name there is not much to check out.

  • baldtaxguy

    Enjoy and looking forward to your notes and pics. We’re heading out there 3/20.

  • Javier Bryant

    Brett, I’ve been meaning to ask who you like in the draft. I could see the pitchers going 1-3, leaving the Cubs to choose between Jackson and Turner (presumably). Or I could see Jackson and Turner going after Rodon and leaving the Cubs Hoffman or Beede. (Yes, I know it’s early) Still fun to discuss every now and then

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I tend not to have an opinion until much later in the amateur season, but based on early reports, if I *had* to choose between Jackson and Turner, I’d probably take Jackson by a nose.

      • Javier Bryant

        Understandable. The Cubs should be getting another possible impact talent, however the cards fall come June

      • josh ruiter

        If Hoffman performs as expected and Rodon holds his reigns on the #1 spot…I would say the Cubs have 6-7 legit guys to look at at #4 depending on what the Sox do, and how their performances play out this year.
        1. Kolek
        2. Beede
        3. Jackson
        4. Turner
        5. Aiken
        6. Gettys
        7. Touissant
        Any of those guys could rise to the top 5 quickly to pair with Hoffman and Rodon or all to after pick 10 depending on the season.

        • Kyle

          I’ve heard from at least one pundit (was it one of the Baseball America guys?) who said Rodon No. 1 is not considered near as much of a lock inside baseball as it is by fans.

          • SenorGato

            PG’s Frank Piliere and maybe Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel IIRC…I prefer Beede in the group of top of the draft pitchers.

        • Javier Bryant

          I can’t see them taking Kolek for some reason. As of now, they probably end up with either Turner, Jackson, Beede or Hoffman.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          It’s a tough call to make. Turner has the speed to be a game changer, but we don’t need another speedster that can’t hit or get on base. If pitching really is our primary weakness then we need to address it. I am no evaluator of talent so I’ll leave that up to the scouts. But if you look at past multiple Cy Young winners (Kershaw, Clemens, Lincecum) they were all first round picks. This FO seems inclined to draft pitchers by volume in the middle rounds. But I think I would pass on Turner. I have read that Touissant has some really nasty stuff. Kolek might be more of a risk because of his age. But having Beede fall to #4 would be great. But a lot can happen in that time.

          • Kyle

            Turner has the potential for both plus hit tool and plus plate discipline.

            I’m not saying he’s definitely going to get there, but he shouldn’t be written off as “just a speedster.”

            • Chad

              Position players, I really like Turner. Even if Rodon isn’t number 1, I highly doubt he falls to 4, unless 3 other completely dominate, or Rodon stumbles, either of which could happen. If Rodon isn’t #1 who is Kyle?

              • Javier Bryant

                Not Kyle but Hoffman and Beede could make a case for number one. Before the season started people were saying Hoffman would be Rodon’s biggest challenger

              • Kyle

                My guess would be Hoffman.

                • Chad

                  I love the draft. So much can change over the next 3 months. I would love to see the cubs take a pitcher if he is truly worth the number 4 pick. If so I think he would be a guy that could go down to A+ for the rest of the year and start the following season in AA. I believe that would be a faster pace than Pierce Johnson correct?

                  • Javier Bryant

                    Yep. Johnson was in Kane County last year. As of now, I’d be happy with Turner, Jackson, Beede or Hoffman. Whoever they feel warrants that pick will be the right choice IMO

                    • Chad

                      2 mock drafts I read had cubs taking Kolek FWIW. I believe the cubs will take the best player available to them. I hope that the cubs can get a high school pitcher from Iowa in the 2nd or 3rd round.

                      Keaton McKinney, rhp, Ankeny (Iowa) HS: Six-foot-5, 223-pounder has a low-90s fastball that has touched 94 and one of the better changeups in the class.

                      He is very good for an Iowa player. I believe he is signed to play at Arkansas, but would be a great get for the cubs in the 2nd or 3rd round.

                    • half_full_beer_mug

                      Let teh kid come to Arkansas dammit

                  • Chad

                    Sorry, I can never let a fellow Iowan make such a colossal mistake ;) Actually I just would love to see the cubs get him.

                    You never know though, a kid from Des Moines last year was a 2nd rounder by the Phillies and turned it down to play at Mizzou.

  • waffle

    not this year, but soon….sooooooon

    will be going to more of the rookie games in Eugene and Kaizer (oregon). Looking forward to that

    • jp3

      “When will then be now? SOON!!!”

  • salesguy

    Castro looks like a guy that could hit 25 homers, never heard the ball come off his bat with such authority. Whatever Buss did, I approve, just wow, we could be in for some nice surprises next year!

  • sethdiggs

    I’m with the others who wouldn’t mind some perspective on young pitching drawing the most attention/excitement. Olt updates will be appreciated, and see if you can get a tailor’s tape on Castro’s back – noticeably bigger.

  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    We arrive on Sunday 3/2 for the month. Our first game is 3/4. I’d love to get together. I have thought about going over one morning to take a look also.

    You should have my email address. Drop me a note and hopefully we can work something out.

    We also have tickets for the 14th, away the 18th, 20th and 25th. How long will you be in AZ?

    Be nice to see you again.

    regards,
    5412

  • Cubsin

    Do you think Castro just might be hearing the footsteps of Javier Baez? I really, really hope the Cubs follow through on their plan to leave him alone rather than inflict the advice of three hitting coaches on him this year. Bill Mueller should just stop by his locker one day and tell him he’s available any time Starlin wants his advice.

  • brainiac

    gonna be a ball watching theo’s “charlie brown” team. his PR statements are starting to sound like the charlie brown horn-talking teacher too.

  • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

    Just a follow up on the Prospect vs. WAR posting: I ran that analysis and got this:
    [img]http://deepcenterfieldmlb.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/top-100-prospects.gif[/img]

    http://deepcenterfieldmlb.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/prospects-what-are-they-good-for-war-say-it-again/

    IF BA is right, Bryant and Baez bode well for the Cubs….knock knock on wood! (My head hurts..)

  • WI Jeff

    Brett,
    Perhaps recommend a local establishment to meet for a beverages. We are in for 3 games on the 3rd thru 5th. I had a lot of fun at Don and Charlie’s seeing Willie Mays two years ago along with other Giant players. Perhaps
    Mesa has or will develop a Cubs place to frequent when all things are built.

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