Down on the Farm Report – 6/26/07

The Cubs will be making changes and the roster move, or moves, should come later today. Let the speculation begin. Lou Piniella is working with a shortened bullpen, especially with Ryan Dempster being unavailable for the next few games with an oblique injury. Scott Eyre could have helped his position in the pen but after his outing on Monday night, he has likely fallen even further down on Lou Piniella’s list. There were reports over the weekend the Cubs would likely recall Neal Cotts, but he has struggled at Iowa and another report mentioned the Cubs could put Wade Miller on the 60-day DL and bring up Carmen Pignatiello. The Cubs recently signed Bret Prinz and assigned him to Iowa and it appears Kerry Wood will throw a bullpen session later today. There will have to be a spot made to add a pitcher and with all of the trade talk around Jacque Jones, he looks to be the odd man out.

Geovany Soto was named the roster for the XM All-Star Futures game last Friday. The game will be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Sunday July 8th at 3:00pm C.T. Read on for more updates from the Cubs farm teams.

Iowa Cubs – Record: 44-31

The Iowa Cubs have things back on track and have moved back into first place after going 3-1 in their last four games. Ronny Cedeno was 6-of-16 with a home run, two RBI’s and a stolen base. Micah Hoffpauir was 7-of-17 with a home run, three RBI’s and five runs scored. Buck Coats continued his hot hitting going 6-of-15 with two home runs, seven RBI’s and five runs scored over the last four games. He is hitting .421 with four home runs and 14 RBI’s over his last 10 games.

Sean Gallagher made his first start at Iowa since returning to the minors following the activation of Aramis Ramirez. Gallagher had been at Tennessee but was instead sent to Iowa. Gallagher pitched 5.0 shutout innings giving up only one hit and two walks while striking out four. Gallagher had a rough time of it in his short time with Chicago. He left with a 9.53 ERA in 5.2 innings pitched.

Les Walrond won his 8th game of the season and did it in impressive fashion. He pitched 7.0 shutout innings giving up three hits and two walks while striking out six. He is 8-3 on the season with a 4.34 ERA. Even with the high ERA he has been able to win games with some good run support. This last game was a perfect example as the I-Cubs scored 15 runs for him. He has only four quality starts in his last 10 outings and this last outing was his first quality start in his last five games. He has a good record but he still needs to work on his consistency or at the age of 30, Walrond is likely a career minor leaguer.

Tennessee Smokies – Record: 5-2

The Smokies have gotten hot lately and were 4-1 over there last five games, and currently share the lead in their division. Most of the credit goes to the pitching staff after getting some good outings from their starters and from the bullpen. The highlights on offense included Gary Cates who was 5-of-12 with a stolen base. Jorge Cortes was 3-of-8 with two runs scored while Issmael Salas was 3-of-7 with two RBI’s. There were other good game-by-game performances but these three were the most consistent over the 5-game stretch.

From the mound, Justin Berg picked up his 4th win going 7.1 innings giving up an earned run on six hits and one walk while striking out three. It is Berg’s third straight quality start.

The lone Smokies loss went to Donald Veal after he struggled for the first time in five outings. He went 5.0 innings giving up six earned runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out five. It was a setback for a guy that had shown good improvement lately including a couple of shutout wins. He is still young at the age of 22 so he has plenty of time to figure things out.

Daytona Cubs – Record: 0-4

The Daytona Cubs haven’t started the 2nd half of the season well having lost all four of the games they played. The D-Cubs have now lost six games in a row. There wasn’t a lot to mention on offense but I did find two players worth a mention this time around. Brian Dopirak was 5-of-16 with a home run and four RBI’s. Kyle Reynolds was 6of-16 with two home runs, three RBI’s and a stolen base.

There weren’t any winning pitchers over the last four games but there were a couple starters I wanted to mention. Joel Santo pitched well enough to win but ended up taking the loss on Thursday. He threw 7.0 innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out three.

Jeff Samardzija pitched 5.0 innings giving up five runs, four earned, on eight hits and one walk while striking out two. An interesting side note to this game was that Jim Hendry was in attendance to watch Samardzija pitch. According to this story by Sean Kernen, Hendry worked out the details of the Barrett trade in an area away from the players.

Peoria Chiefs – Record: 2-2

Peoria split the first four games of the second half of the season and did it against the first half champion Beloit. This was a solid start for Peoria after struggling in the first half. The Chiefs tried to give away the fourth game of the series on Sunday. They were up 9-2 in the sixth inning when the rally started. By the end of the 7th it was tied up 9-9. The Chiefs came right back in the 8th and scored two more runs to win it 11-9.

Helping out on offense was Russ Canzler who was 8-of-16 with a home run, three RBI’s and three runs scored. Matt Camp was 4-of-13 with three RBI’s and two stolen bases and Alfred Joseph was 5-of-13 with three runs scored.

From the mound, Jake Renshaw pitched 6.1 shutout innings giving up three hits and a walk while striking out eight. He improved to 6-4 on the season while his ERA dropped to 4.57.

Boise Hawks – Record: 0-6

Boise is still looking for their first win of the short season. Even though they have yet to win a game they remain only three games out of first place in their division.

Players of note over the last four games include Derek Schermerhorn, who was 4-of-10 with two runs and an RBI. Ty Wright was 4-of-12 with a home run and three RBI’s while Marquez Smith was 5-of-15 with three RBI’s.

From the mound, Dustin Sasser pitched 4.0 innings giving up an earned run on three hits and a walk while striking out three. That was followed up by 2.0 innings of one hit ball by Zachary Ashwood. It was good enough to win but the three guys that pitched the last three innings gave up eight earned runs and the Hawks lost the game. Hopefully Boise will have better news for my next update on Friday. Check back to see if they can find their first win of the season.

Final Thoughts on the sweep of the White Sox

Cubs Sweep!! Cubs Sweep!! I love to hear those words and against the White Sox made it even sweeter. I haven’t heard it enough this year so I will enjoy it for now. I hate to admit it but the one game I was at this year at Wrigley was the one game they lost to the Sox. I am not focusing on that though, I am just looking at the big wins we put together and the great pitching we saw.

Even better was the play made by Koyie Hill. For those of you that didn’t see it, Koyie Hill made a great play at home on a throw from Alfonso Soriano in left. The ball bounced about six feet in front of the plate and Hill managed to catch it and tag out the runner. After watching Michael Barrett screw up a couple of plays at the plate I was happy to see the play by Hill. This was not only a play Barrett wouldn’t have come close to making but Hill made it actually look easy.

I realize some feel Barrett was a great loss but I am not one of them. I have talked about Hill at various times during the season so it was great to see him come through in a big way. He is still struggling at the plate but I am happy to have his glove behind it. Keep up the good work Koyie.

More updates from the farm on Friday.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver