The Cubs brought the bats for this one, easily dispatching the White Sox 9-2 (Box Score). The Cubs scored in each of the first five innings, and every starter in the game had at least one hit (which is saying something in a Spring Training game when most of the lineup is out by the middle innings). The results of the games don’t matter much, but I suspect it’s just a touch more satisfying to beat the White Sox.
- Jason Hammel cruised through four innings, commanding his fastball well, putting a crisp break on his slider, and generally looking in complete control as he held the White Sox to two hits, no walks, and no runs while striking out four.
- One star of the game, if you were inclined to do such a thing in the spring, would have to be Jeimer Candelario, who looked fantastic at the plate. The Cubs third base prospect had a single, a double, and a walk (a really impressive walk, too), and, although he was charged with two errors in the game, one of them came on a throw that should have been dug out at first after he made a nice play at third. All in all, you couldn’t leave this game without noticing Candelario, who was already in the midst of a huge spring, which followed a huge Arizona Fall League showing, which followed a huge AA showing last year. I don’t think anyone should be surprised if he ends up vaulting himself into the upper tier of offensive prospects in the game by midseason. What that would mean for his future with the Cubs is up for some debate, given that most believe he’s a corner infield guy (Cubs very much have that covered for the foreseeable future). He’s still only 22, and hasn’t yet played at AAA. So, then, for now, I’m happy to just say: let’s see what happens this year. There’s still plenty of time.
- John Andreoli continues to play well, too, with a beautiful bunt hit, two other singles, and a triple. He’s been a favorite of Luke’s for years as he quietly worked his way up the ladder in the minor leagues, reaching AAA in 2015 and hitting a very solid .277/.372/.401 (111 wRC+). He plays all over the outfield, has excellent speed, and, if the added power he showed in 2015 is for real, there’s a legit chance he could be a reserve outfielder in the big leagues soon.
- Dexter Fowler hit today’s homer, and I’ve decided that every Cubs regular, plus Javier Baez and Jorge Soler, is going to hit 30 homers this year. It’ll be some kind of record.
- Aaron Brooks, acquired for Chris Coghlan, followed Jason Hammel with two innings of work, and each of Jean Machi, Felix Pena, and Brandon Gomes pitched an inning. Pena had something of a breakout year at AA last season, and I wonder if there is already an eye on him for the Cubs’ bullpen in the second half if a need should arise. For now, he’ll presumably keep starting, and will begin the year at AAA Iowa.