I got to hang out at the Sloan Park back fields today, which was also the Cubs one day off during the Cactus League season, to check out John Lackey and some minor league prospects as they took part in two separate minor league games against Angels minor league players. I tried to take all the notes I could but I have to admit, there’s a lot going on at the back fields; two games at the same time, people trying to follow one, both or neither, and random pop-fly balls raining from the sky with few people paying attention to them. Needless to say, it’s a pretty cool place to be on a Monday afternoon. Here are a few of my observations.
- John Lackey had it going on all cylinders today as he gave up one hit, one walk and struck out six batters. His velocity was in the low-90s and his off-speed pitches looked crisp. He was focused and poised out there with excellent rhythm and timing on all his pitches. He is regular season ready. We should see him a couple more times in Cactus League play before camp breaks. This guy is going to be really fun to watch over an entire season.
- Matt Szczur got some quality cuts and solid contact today. He was quick around the bases and looked completely healthy. When leaving the field he was asked if he felt 100% and simply replied, “Yep.” Good enough for me. He looked it. Here’s a single he got during the minor league game (notice the sweet view through the fence, it makes it better, I swear!):
- You may recall when the Cubs signed highly touted International free agent, Cuban, Eddy Julio Martinez, in October 2015. Well he crushed a home run way over the left field wall. It was impressive. He has a nice, smooth swing and should be fun to watch in the minors this year as he works to refine his raw talent.
- Cubs RHP Ryan Williams threw six innings today on the field opposite to John Lackey’s outing. Unfortunately for Ryan, his outing wasn’t nearly as impressive. He was up in the zone all day and, every time I looked he had runners circling the bases. Not a great day for him and I’m sure he’s disappointed. But, then again, that’s baseball. Some days are great, others aren’t.