Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

kyle schwarber featureI split my MiLB.TV time last night between the South Bend Cubs and the Tennessee Smokies, and a big part of the reason for watching those two teams was the pair of prospects behind the plate: Kyle Schwarber for the Smokies and Gioskar Amaya for the Low A Cubs.

Amaya actually looked pretty good to me. The camera angles on the South Bend video feed gave a very good view of him in action, and for most of the game looked comfortable. He is fairly agile behind the plate (converted infielder), making a nice play to his left to snag a stray pitch for example, and shows signs that he could be one of those catchers that just stops every pitch no matter how nasty it is. One game certainly isn’t indicative of his future, but the very early results were promising.

Schwarber appeared to have a little more trouble with stray pitches and a he looked a touch stiff receiving some pitches, but I did not see anything last night that made me think “He’ll never make it as a catcher.” In fact, he didn’t look all that different than a lot of other Double A catchers I have seen. Once again, one game does not a verdict make (and I should also note that I am not a scout), but I came away from this first look feeling pretty positive about Schwarber’s future behind the plate.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa jumped out to the early lead, but it didn’t last. The Cubs lost 7-4.
Tennessee – The Smokies used two big innings to pull away for a 7-2 win.
Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach won their home opener by a wide margin. The final was 9-1.
South Bend – The Cubs saved the drama for the end in this memorable 2-1 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Addison Russell finished 2 for 4 with a run scored as the number three hitter for the Cubs.
  • [Iowa] Kris Bryant finished 1 for 4 with a stolen base. Queue up the “he’s not ready yet” quips.
  • [Iowa] There weren’t that many good things happening on the mound for the I-Cubs. Donn Roach gave up 10 hits and 4 runs over 5.1 innings, and three more runs scored after he left the game. Only Gonzalez Germen turned in a scoreless frame in relief.
  • [Tennessee] Corey Black walked 3 and struck out 4 over his 5 innings on the hill. He allowed a run on 4 hits. He looked good early in the game, but ran into some problems with control in the fifth.

  • [Tennessee] The first two base runners against the Smokies were both Mallex Smith, a guy who stole 88 bases a year ago. Black picked him off of first both times with a very good  pick off move.
  • [Tennessee] C.J. Edwards made his 2015 debut in a relief role. Over 2.1 innings he allowed a run on 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2.
  • [Tennessee] The Smokies hit a pair of triples in the 8th inning. Kyle Schwarber hit the first, and Stephen Bruno the second. It was the only hit on the night for each of them.
  • [Tennessee] Albert Almora singled, walked, and scored twice. The walk came on four straight pitches, but those were not the only pitches he took last night. One game is just one game, but he did look more patient than he did last season. Hopefully that keeps up.

  • [Myrtle Beach] Duane Underwood struck out 5 over 5 innings while giving up a run on 4 hits and walking a pair.
  • [Myrtle Beach] The bullpen of Jonathan Martinez (1 IP, 1 H, 1 K), James Pugliese ( 2 IP, 2 H, 1 K), and Starling Peralta (1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) did about as well as we could ask.
  • [Myrtle Beach] The first homer of the Pelicans’ season went to first baseman Jacob Rogers. He finished 3 for 4 with a double in addition to his bomb.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Shawon Dunston and Daniel Lockhart both tripled. Lockhart also singled and finished 2 for 4.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Jacob Hannemann and Carlos Penalver each had 3 hits on the night. Penalver tacked on his first steal of the season.
  • [South Bend] Jeffrey Baez took the first pitch he saw and launched it for a towering home run to left. There is some serious power in his bat, and some pretty good bat speed as well.
  • [South Bend] Jake Stinnett looked good in his first start. His fastball in particular looked like it had plenty of late movement, and the right hander had pretty good command of it all night. He finished with just one run allowed (a homer) on 3 hits and 2 walks with 4 strikeouts over 5 innings.
  • [South Bend] The game ended in electric fashion when Cael Brockmeyer homered in the bottom of the ninth for the walk off. The announcer even called it just before it happened:

  • That capped off a fantastic night for Brockmeyer who finished 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles in addition to his homer.
  • [South Bend] The Cubs were active on the base paths in this one. Chesny Young, Gioskar Amaya, and Baez all had a stolen base.

Other News

  • Iowa will be playing without Javier Baez for a time. Baez’s younger sister has unfortunately passed away, and the Cubs second baseman has been granted some time to head home.
  • South Bend has done a very nice job rigging their park with cameras. The feed is high quality, the camera angles are good, and there are a lot of cameras in use. Watching Low A Cubs games online looks like it will be a nice experience this season.
  • Wildness by the Mississippi Braves pitching? Patience by the Smokies hitters? Both? Whatever the cause, Tennessee was working deep counts fairly often last night and finished with six walks.
  • Check out the video package the Pelicans put together as a recap from yesterday’s opener. We might be spoiled silly if they keep doing this kind thing:

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