Cubs 2014 spring training wrap-up
March, 27, 2014
By Jesse Rogers
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesAnthony Rizzo led the Cubs in spring training with a .313 average.
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs beat the White Sox 4-3 in Thursday’s Cactus League finale and in the process set a single-spring season attendance record. New Cubs Park drew 15,170 on Thursday increasing, their spring total to 213,815.
Here are some other final spring numbers and thoughts:
Leading Hitter (min 25 AB): Anthony Rizzo, .313
HR leader: Luis Valbuena, 6
RBI leader: Valbuena, Mike Olt, 12
Stolen bases: Ryan Kalish, 6
ERA (min 10 innings): Jason Hammel (4.26)
Most impressive veteran: Rizzo wins this rather easily. He simply was locked in at the plate most of the spring and improved in past areas of weakness. He gapped balls to left centerfield but still showed some pull power, like when he brought his hands in close to his body to take an inside pitch out in an exhibition game in Las Vegas. He also hit lefties as well as anyone on the club, including the right-handed hitters.
Most impressive position player prospect: How can we go against infielder Javier Baez? Sure, he didn’t have a hit with a man on base -- all five of his home runs were solo shots -- but when he’s hitting them further than anyone else around it’s hard not to take notice. In all seriousness, his ability to go to the opposite field and lay off some previously juicy-looking pitches is a sign of maturity. Baez was flashy with his home runs, but Albert Almora was everything advertised as he showed why he’s such a smooth-looking prospect. His at-bats were smart and his defense in the outfield was spot-on.
Most impressive pitching prospect: It’s close, but Kyle Hendricks wins it with his Cactus League performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his final spring start. He broke Yasiel Puig's bat, got Adrian Gonzalez on a weak grounder and made several other regular players look bad in striking out four in three innings of work. Honorable mention goes to lefty Eric Jokisch, who didn’t give up a run, and flamethrower Arodys Vizcaino, who could be the first reliever to be called up from the minors.
Best on-field moment: It’s either Baez hitting a 400-foot home run off a changeup from Seattle starter Randy Wolf or when he launched a 452-foot shot off the Rockies which made a sound when the ball hit bat that some baseball observers had never heard before. It was that loud.
Best quote: He only met with reporters once all spring, but it was memorable. Pitching prospect C.J. Edwards discussed how nervous he was pitching with a major league team for the first time in his career:
"I can't even explain the nerves that I had. My right knee started going by itself. I was like looking around, trying to hold it down but it didn’t work so I let it bounce.”