All of the Cubs starters and big bats participated in live batting practice on Saturday. And it ended up being quite the power display by the end of practice.
Travis Wood, Edgar Olmos, Felix Pena and Armando Rivero had the pleasure of facing Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward. And on Field 5, Kyle Hendricks had to deal with the likes of Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Tommy La Stella and Shane Victorino.
The hitters are still working on their timing, and that was obvious Saturday especially during the live BP sessions. But when the coaches started pitching, the ballhawks lined up on the other side of the fences, one was actually hanging over, waiting for souvenirs.
Travis Wood looked good Saturday pitching to Miguel Montero on Field 6. Even in BP, the Cubs did not expand and waited for their pitch. This lineup is going to make pitching staffs across baseball work.
Rick Sutcliffe summed up batting practice on Field 6 perfectly. Just about one out of every three balls left the yard when the coaches started pitching. And it was to all fields.
Javier Baez launched a ball over the left center field wall on Field 5 off Andury Acevedo. It was a towering shot that got out in a hurry.
The most impressive home run of the day came off the bat of Kyle Schwarber on the last pitch of live BP on Field 6. Schwarber went oppo off Armando Rivero with a mammoth longball over the left center field wall.
Hector Rondon looked like he was in mid-season form Saturday. The Cubs closer was outstanding. Excellent location, repeated his mechanics and received very little correction from Chris Bosio. Rondon has just an electric arm.
Really liked what I saw from Andury Acevedo. Big, strong kid that throws very hard with a side-arm, slinging action. The low slot would seem to be hard for hitters to pick up, although Javier Baez turned on him and drove the ball out of the park. Baez swung so hard a couple of pitches before that he lost his helmet.
Acevedo did a good job of repeating his mechanics and his release point was rather consistent.
The Cubs might have found a diamond in the rough with Acevedo.
Here is the profile that was posted earlier this month (click here). Acevedo is ticketed for Triple-A Iowa. But is definitely a reliever to keep a close eye on.
Armando Rivero could have a role in the Cubs pen this season. After a down year in 2015, Rivero wrapped up Winter Ball on a positive note and he’s in camp for the third spring on a non-roster invite.
Without gun readings displayed on the practice fields, it is difficult to say exactly how well he pitched Saturday because of the dip in velocity last year. Rivero threw the ball free and easy. Good mechanics and he consistently repeated his release point. Rivero popped the mitt on multiple occasions, not as much as Hector Rondon, but there was definitely something on his fastball.
Rivero is one of the arms in the system that I’ve been high on for a couple of years. Click here to read the profile that was posted last month.
Cubs Spring Practice Notes
• The Cubs starting infield of Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant got their morning defensive drills in on Field 3. The Cubs worked on barehand picks and throws to various bags. Russell is just so smooth in the field, even in practice.
• Tommy La Stella practiced with the starters on Field 3. La Stella practiced at third and second base.
• Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Felix Pena, Edgar Olmos, Andury Acevedo and Armando Rivero threw live BP sessions on Saturday.
• Kerry Wood showed up to Cubs Camp on Saturday. Wood looks like he could still strikeout a batter or two. ‘Kid K’ was in street clothes and everyone, including Theo Epstein, was thrilled to see him … lots and lots of bro hugs.
• David Ross was behind the plate for Kyle Hendricks on Saturday.
• Miguel Montero caught Travis Wood.
• Jason Heyward and Javier Baez are wearing the face guards on their batting helmets this season.
• Edgar Olmos teamed up with Willson Contreras for his live BP session.
• Theo Epstein took a break from watching live BP on Field 6 with a rather lengthy phone conversation. With everything that transpired this week kept looking around to see if any of the players were gathering their equipment and saying good-bye.
• And Pierce Johnson has some serious flow …