Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 04/12/10

The Smokies are hot, and the I-Cubs are not. Starlin Castro picked up where he left off last season … and Michael Brenly hit a three-run walk-off homer on Saturday night.

Thomas Diamond, Casey Coleman and Blake Parker had good outings for the I-Cubs … while Jeff Gray has looked good in two appearances out of Ryne Sandberg’s bullpen.

Here’s the latest from Down on the Farm …

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (0-4)
The Iowa Cubs have had an absolutely dreadful start to the season as a team. This weekend they were swept by the Nashville Sounds, the Brewers AAA club. The Cubs are the only team in the Pacific Coast League who are still without a win.

On Friday night the I-Cubs lost by a score of 5-2. Bryan LaHair went 2-for-3 with a walk. Micah Hoffpauir and Jason Dubois each launched solo homers to account for the only two Iowa runs. Jay Jackson, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, took the loss surrendering three earned runs including two home runs over five innings. John Gaub gave up a two-out 2-run homer in the 8th inning to help the Sounds widen the deficit. Click for the full box score.

Saturday night’s game was a ten inning thriller, but Nashville won it 2-1. Mitch Atkins allowed the run in the tenth that was the difference in the game. Bobby Scales knocked in the only Cubs run. Thomas Diamond allowed only one run in five innings and struck out five. Jeff Stevens struggled in relief giving up a hit and two walks without retiring a man. Click for the full box score.

Jason Dubois, who has returned for another stint with the Cubs’ organization, stayed hot on Sunday by going 2-for-4 in a 4-2 loss. Dubois, who’s now hitting .308, knocked a solo homer in the second inning that put Iowa in front. However, Nashville got a run in the third and two more in the fourth against Casey Coleman. Coleman ended up working a solid game, allowing three runs (just two earned) in six innings. Blake Parker did not allow a run in two frames. Click for the full box score.

With the struggling bullpen in Chicago, the thing to keep an eye on in Iowa is potential big league relief pitchers. Jeff Gray is the first who comes to mind. Gray may have started the season in the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen, but he was slowed during Spring Training because of a groin injury and did not pitch until the final week of camp. He looks healthy so far, and has retired all nine men he’s faced in two appearances out of the Iowa bullpen. If Gray continues to pitch well, he could find himself with the big league club very soon. Other hurlers that look good include Blake Parker (no runs allowed in 3 innings) and Thomas Diamond (1.80 ERA).

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: Jason Dubois
Dubois has launched 2 home runs and leads the club in total bases with ten. He is one of only 2 players on the team (with at least 5 at bats) who has a batting average over .300. Jason had 8 homers and 27 RBIs in limited duty with the Cubs back in 2004 and 2005. He has spent time in the Blue Jays, Indians, Orioles, Nationals, and Mets organizations, but he somehow always seems to end up back with the Cubs.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Memphis 6:35 (Mike Parisi)
Tuesday VS Memphis 12:05 (J.R. Mathes)
Wednesday VS Memphis 6:35 (Jay Jackson)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (4-0)
The Smokies are just as hot as the Iowa Cubs are cold! Tennessee has started the year with a bang, rapping off a string of four straight victories in Mississippi. The pitchers have been masterful while the bats have jumped all over Braves pitching.

Friday night’s leadoff hitter Tony Campana reached base four times to lead the way as the Smokies won 5-4. Jake Opitz, Blake Lalli and Robinson Chirinos all doubled in the win. Jeremy Papelbon, the brother of the Red Sox closer, was a little shaky in his first start of the season. He pitched four innings and surrendered five hits, which led to three earned runs. Marco Carillo came out of the bullpen and got the win in his first double-A appearance. Carillo struck out three over two scoreless innings. Click for full box score.

The Smokies plated three insurance runs in the top of the ninth to help them to a 7-3 win on Saturday. Starlin Castro went 3-for-4 with a walk, a triple, and an RBI to boost his average to .462. Ty Wright collected four hits and three runs batted in. Austin Bibens-Dirkx allowed six hits but just two runs in six innings. Marcos Mateo got the five-out save and did not allow a base runner. David Cales ended up with the win pitching two strong innings. Click for full box score.

The Tennessee bats continued to smoke on Sunday in a 4-1 win, the fourth straight against Mississippi. Wright had two more RBI and Chirinos picked up two hits. Hung-Wen Chen pitched four innings and allowed just one run. Alex Maestri, Ryan Buchter and Jeff Muyco came out of the bullpen and combined for four scoreless innings. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Ty Wright
Wright, who ironically is primarily a left fielder, is hitting .333 in 18 at bats. He has come through with men on base, for a total of seven RBI already. The Cubs drafted Ty in the 7th round of the ’07 draft. Perhaps that will bring him good luck as he continues his progress.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Today @Mississippi 2:05
Tuesday Off Day
Wednesday VS Chattanooga 6:15

Class-A Daytona Cubs – (2-2)
The High-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs started the season by dropping the first two, but then they bounced back to split the four game set with Brevard County.

On Friday night, the Manatees, a Brewers affiliate, shut down Daytona 7-0. Brett Jackson was one of three starters that went hitless. Starting pitcher Chris Rusin was hammered as he allowed six earned runs in four innings. Click for full box score.

Michael Brenly came through in the 12th inning of the game on Saturday night with a three-run walk-off homer. The final score was 7-4. Alberto Cabrera, who went 8-2 with Peoria last season, pitched six brilliant innings allowing no runs on two hits. Click for full box score.

Sunday the Cubs got a 10-5 win in Brevard County to come home with an opening series split. Brett Jackson had two hits and two walks, Mark Reed singled twice, and Josh Vitters went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and three RBI. Chris Archer, another guy from the Mark DeRosa trade, allowed two runs in four innings. Click for full box score.

Daytona Player of the Week: Rafael Dolis
The young right-handed pitcher allowed just two hits on Opening Night and went five shutout innings.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Dunelin 7:05
Tuesday VS Dunelin 10:35 (A.M.)
Wednesday VS Dunelin 7:05

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (2-2)
The Lumberkings scored a run in the bottom of the ninth on Friday to top the Chiefs 5-4. Jose Valdez went 3-for-4 with two stolen bases. Hak-Ju Lee struggled at the plate. He was 0-for-4. Jeffry Antigua gave up two runs in five innings in his first start of the season. Click for full box score.

Clinton won again on Saturday in at 8-2 route. First baseman Justin Bour had two hits in the loss. Starter Jonathan Nagel and righty Tim Clubb each were clubbed for three earned runs. Click for full box score.

The Chiefs beat the Beloit Snappers in game one of a three-game road set on Sunday. Peoria got good pitching from their staff and escaped with a 2-0 win. Su-Min Jung pitched four scoreless innings and notched the win. Greg Rohan led the offense with three hits and both RBI. Click for full box score.

Chiefs Player of the Week: Jose Valdez
Valdez, an outfielder, has started the year swinging a hot stick. He’s 6-for-15 with three stolen bases in three games thus far.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Today @Beloit 6:30 (Nick Struck)
Tuesday @Beloit 6:30 (Rob Whitenack)
Wednesday @Cedar Rapids 6:35 (Jeffry Antigua)

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Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney