Bulls

Flaherty Streaking For Mesa

Flaherty Streaking For Mesa

Tuesday Nov. 2, 2010
Posted: 10:45 a.m.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUEMesa Solar Sox Cubs
Ryan Flaherty began November in the same manner that he ended October with a hit. In fact, the Cubs infield prospect has done quite a bit of hitting in the Arizona Fall League and Mondays effort in Mesas 15-1 victory over the Peoria Saguaros is just the latest example.

Flaherty went 3-for-4 with an RBI, extending his hitting streak to eight games, during which he is batting .452 14-for-31 with four RBIs. Hes hitting .367 overall, which places him 10th in the league in batting. Flaherty began the regular season by hitting .183 in 23 games at Double-A Tennessee before moving down to Daytona of the Florida State League, where he hit .286 in 108 games.

Josh Vitters also had a big effort for the Solar Sox, collecting two hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. Hes got five-multi-hit games in his last 10 appearances.

White Sox prospects Eduardo Escobar and Jared Mitchell combined to go 1-for-7 for the Saguaros. Johnnie Lowe made his fourth start and was hit hard yet again, allowing six runs on six hits in two innings in losing his third consecutive game. Hes posted a 15.68 ERA in 10 13 innings with the opposition hitting .473 against him. Charlie Leesman didnt fare much better, allowing a pair of runs on four hits in an inning. Hes allowed runs in six of his seven appearances and has an 11.37 ERA in 6 13 innings.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Bulls select Wendell Carter Jr., find perfect frontcourt pairing for Lauri Markkanen

Bulls select Wendell Carter Jr., find perfect frontcourt pairing for Lauri Markkanen

The Bulls had the chance to make a major splash on draft night but opted to go with the safer play on Thursday, selecting Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. with the seventh overall selection.

Carter Jr. played one season at Duke, averaging 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 26.8 minutes per game. The All-ACC Freshman selection shot 56 percent from the field and made 41 percent of his 46 3-pointers, all the while doing so as a fourth or fifth option in a loaded Blue Devils offense.

Carter was a five-star recruit a year ago from Atlanta. He committed to and signed with Duke before Marvin Bagley, the second pick by the Kings, reclassified and also joined the Duke frontcourt. Carter went from the cream of the draft class crop to a second option in the frontcourt, deferring to Bagley, who averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds and won ACC Player of the Year.

But Carter finds himself in a perfect scenario in Chicago. It’s clear the Bulls valued finding a complement to stretch forward Lauri Markkanen – last year’s 7th overall pick – drafting a player in Carter who projects as an elite rim protector and also plays well around the rim, two areas where the talented Markkanen struggles.

Rumors circulated in the lead-up to Thursday night’s draft that the Bulls were looking to move up in the draft, potentially dealing with Atlanta at No. 3 or Memphis at No. 4.

But the Hawks were able to find a trade partner with the Mavericks, who gave up a haul in the No. 5 pick and a 2019 first-round pick to move up to get Slovenian point guard Luka Doncic. Then Michigan State center Jaren Jackson Jr. agreed at the 11th hour to provide medical information to the Grizzlies. That made the prospect of moving up in the draft all but impossible, keeping them at No. 7.

At No. 6 the Magic grabbed Mo Bamba, a player the Bulls were attempting to trade up for to pair with Markkanen.

The Bulls had long been linked to Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., the enigma of the draft who wound up falling out of the top 7. Porter had been the top player in the country before undergoing back surgery in November. He played just three games for the Tigers.

Feeding off their defense, Cubs starting to feel those 2016 vibes

Feeding off their defense, Cubs starting to feel those 2016 vibes

A year ago, the Cubs were struggling to float above .500, sitting 1.5 games behind the first-place Brewers.

Two years ago, the Cubs were10.5 games up on the second-place Cardinals in the division and already in cruise control to the postseason.

As they entered a weekend series in Cincinnati at 42-29 and in a tie for first place, the Cubs are feeling quite a bit more like 2016 than 2017.

The major reason? Energy, as Joe Maddon pointed out over the weekend.

That energy shows up most often on defense.

The 2016 Cubs put up maybe the best defensive season in baseball history while last year they truly looked hungover.

After a big of a slow start to 2018, the Cubs are feelin' more of that '16 swag.

If you watched either of the wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers this week at Wrigley Field, it's clear to see why: the defense.

"I like the defense," Maddon said of his team last week. "I'm into the defense. There's a tightness about the group. There's a closeness about the group. Not saying last year wasn't like that, but this group is definitely trending more in the '16 direction regarding interacting.

"If anything — and the one thing that makes me extremely pleased — would be the continuation of the defense. We've fed so much off our defense in '16. We've been doing that more recently again. We do so much good out there, then we come in and it gets kinda electric in the dugout. I'd like to see that trend continue on defense."

The Cubs scored only 2 runs in 10 innings in the second game against the Dodgers Tuesday night and managed just 4 runs in the finale Wednesday. Yet their gloves helped hold the Dodgers to only 1 run combined between the two games.

Wednesday's game was a defensive clinic, with Jason Heyward throwing out Chris Taylor at home plate with an incredible tag by Willson Contreras while Javy Baez, Albert Almora Jr., Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber all hit the ground to make sprawling/diving plays.

"[Almora] comes in and dives for one and I'm just like, 'OK, I'm done clapping for you guys,'" Jon Lester, Wednesday's winning pitcher, joked. "It's expected now that these guys make these plays. It's fun on our end. It's the, 'Here, hit it. Our guys are really good out there and they're gonna run it down.'"

The Heyward throw, in particular, jacked the team up. 

Maddon compared it to a grand slam with how much energy it provided the Cubs. Almora said he momentarily lost his voice because he was screaming so much at the play.

There was also Baez making plays in the hole at shortstop, then switching over to second base and turning a ridiculous unassisted double play on a liner in the 8th inning.

"That's what we're capable of doing," Maddon said. "In the past, when we've won on a high level, we've played outstanding defense. It never gets old to watch that kind of baseball."

The Cubs are back to forcing opposing hitters to jog off the field, shaking their head in frustration and disbelief.

"It could be so dispiriting to the other side when you make plays like that," Maddon said. "And also it's buoyant to your pitchers. So there's all kinds of good stuff goin' on there."

A lot of that is the play of the outfield, with Almora back to himself after a down 2017 season and Schwarber turning into a plus-rated defensive outfield.

After finishing 19th in baseball in outfield assists last season, the Cubs are currently tied for 6th with 14 outfield assists this year.

Schwarber has 7 alone, which is already as many as he tallied in the entire 2017 season.

"I feel like they'll learn quickly on Schwarber, if they haven't yet," Heyward said. "You gotta earn that respect. You gotta earn that sense of caution from the third base coach.

"But please keep running on me in those situations. I want it to happen."