Down on the Farm Report – 7/24/07

Hi Cubs fans. It is time for another update on the Cubs farm teams but first I wanted to mention something that happened on Sunday. If you haven’t seen the news, Mike Coolbaugh, minor league hitting instructor for the Tulsa Drillers was hit in the head by a foul ball in the 9th inning of Sunday’s game and later died. This tragedy adds some perspective to the game of baseball and reminds us that these guys are human.

Coolbaugh was only 35 years old and had a wife and two kids with another due in October. Coolbaugh was doing something he loved in a sport he has played most of his life. He had just joined the Drillers on the 3rd of this month. The Tulsa Drillers are the Colorado Rockies Double-A affiliate playing in the Texas League. The Cubs Double-A team, the Tennessee Smokies, plays in the Southern League so they wouldn’t have faced each other.

As in any tragedy like this my thoughts always turn to the family. A wife lost her husband and two young boys lost their dad, not to mention the child that has yet to be born that will never know their father. Baseball isn’t a sport that experiences death often on the field but this shows that it can be dangerous. I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Mike Coolbaugh. This is a tragedy that will be felt throughout the baseball world.

Read on for the updates from the Cubs farm teams.

Iowa Cubs – Record: 57-46

The I-Cubs were 3-2 over their last five games. Felix Pie is back in the updates after going 8-of-19 with two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, and six RBI’s. Matt Murton was 7-of-19 with home run and two RBI’s while Eric Patterson was 5-of-18 with two home runs, five RBI’s and five runs scored.

From the mound, Wade Miller made a rehab start with Iowa and pitched 3.0 scoreless innings giving up one hit and no walks while striking out five. It was a good outing for Miller as he works to get back to form. There is still no word on where he will go once he is ready but he is looking better at least.

J.R. Mathes won his 7th game of the season after he pitched 6.0 innings giving up three unearned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six. Mathes still has problems with consistency that he needs to work out but it was a solid outing.

Latest News: Mike Kinkade and Bret Prinz were both released by Iowa. Kinkade had been with the team since spring and Prinz was added in late June. Neal Cotts and Les Walrond were activated from the DL. Geovany Soto and Sean Gallagher are back from Chicago while Scott Moore was sent to Chicago.

Tennessee Smokies – Record: 13-17

The Smokies continue to struggle and have now lost five in a row and the last three games since my update last week.

On offense there is not much to report but what do you expect when you lose all three games. Joseph Simokaitis was 3-of-7 with a home run and Tyler Colvin was 3-of-10 with an RBI and a stolen base.

From the mound, Donald Veal made another start and went only one inning giving up two earned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out one. It wasn’t a good outing for Veal after he had been making good progress.

Geoffrey Jones continues to dominate in relief with Tennessee. In his last 10 games with them he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts and only three walks. He was dominant early with the Smokies and was sent to Iowa but he was just sent back down after struggling at Triple-A. With Iowa he was 0-2 with 5.87 ERA in 11 appearances.

Daytona Cubs – Record: 12-18

Daytona is 1-2 in their last three games. Kyle Reynolds was 4-of-10 with a home run while Brian Dopirak was 5-of-10 with two RBI’s to help the offense.

From the mound, Jeff Samardzija pitched 6.0 innings giving up four earned runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out one. It wasn’t a great outing for Samardzija but he did well enough to earn his third win of the season.

Mitch Atkins pitched well going 6.0 innings giving up two earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out seven. He took a no decision as the game was decided in extra innings. Atkins has been solid for the D-Cubs and this was his sixth quality start in his last 10 outings.

Peoria Chiefs – Record: 19-10

Peoria is on a roll and have won all four games since my last update and have a seven-game win streak going. They have taken over first place by themselves and have a 2 1/2 game lead. One of the people helping on offense was Russell Canzler who was 6-of-15 with two RBI’s. Matthew Canepa was 4-of-10 with two RBI’s and a stolen base. Derek Schmermerhorn was 3-of-9 with a stolen base while Ryne Malone was 4-of-8.

The Chiefs’ pitching has been the real story this week. They pitched three straight shutouts from Thursday to Saturday. Jeremy Papelbon got his first start of the season and pitched well. He went 5.0 scoreless innings, to pick up the win, giving up two hits and no walks while striking out two. In his last 10 appearances, he is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA.

Robert Hernandez pitched 6.0 scoreless innings last Thursday to get his fourth win of the season. He gave up two hits and three walks while striking out two. Jake Renshaw started Friday and pitched 6.0 scoreless innings. He gave up three hits on four walks while striking out two. Right now the Chiefs are playing well and are getting some solid pitching and timely hitting. I hope they can keep it up because I would love to see Ryno take his team to the playoffs in his first year of coaching.

Boise Hawks – Record: 16-17

Boise made it back to .500 before losing Sunday but continue to hold on to first place in their division with a 2 1/2 game lead. On offense, Kyler Burke continues his hot hitting. He was 6-of-11 over his last three games with two home runs and four RBI’s. In his last 10 games, Burke is hitting .485 with three home runs and eight RBI’s.

From the mound, Al Alburquerque picked up his 2nd win of the year after he went 5.0 scoreless innings giving up five hits and a walk while striking six. His ERA on the season is 2.45. Julio Castillo also pitched well going 5.0 innings giving up two earned runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out two. Castillo didn’t figure in the decision.

That is the latest from Down on the Farm. Check back later this week for more updates.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax