Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/21/10

Andrew Cashner and Josh Vitters, the top pitching and hitting prospects in the organization respectively, are both doing well at their new levels. A few I-Cub hurlers are making their case for joining the Chicago Cubs bullpen. New names like D.J. Fitzgerald continue to stand out in Peoria.

All that and more in today’s Down on the Farm Report!

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (21-18)
The Iowa Cubs just completed an eight game road trip where they went 7-1. They swept their series in Las Vegas and then stayed on the West Coast to take three of four from the Reno Aces. So far this season, the I-Cubs have thrived in blowouts. They are 12-3 in games decided by three or more runs, which leads the league in that category.

On Monday, the Cubs got a win in their signature blowout fashion. They beat the Aces 9-2. Darwin Barney continues to post multi-hit games constantly. He went 3-for-5 and scored three times in the win. Chad Tracy stayed hot by launching a solo homer and drawing a walk. Andrew Cashner, the top-pitching prospect in the organization, allowed just one run in six strong innings. He has looked very solid in his two starts since being called up to Iowa. His record moves to 2-0 and his ERA is just 1.50. Click for full box score.

Thomas Diamond led the way to a 6-1 win in the series finale on Tuesday. Diamond improved to 3-0 on the year by allowing one run on just three hits in his six-inning start. If the Cubs need an extra arm in Chicago, he is making a strong case for himself with an ERA at 2.08. Brad Snyder went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Catcher Chris Robinson had two hits and drove in two runs. Robinson is looking to break out of his yearlong slump at the plate. Click for full box score.

The I-Cubs defeated the Sky Sox 11-7 on Thursday. Welington Castillo had a terrific day at the plate raking up six RBI and three hits. Casey Coleman gave up just one run on three hits in five innings of work. A couple of familiar names, Jeff Gray and Jeff Samardzija, both struggled in relief. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Colorado Springs 6:35 (Mitch Atkins)
Saturday VS Colorado Springs 6:35 (J.R. Mathes)
Sunday VS Colorado Springs 6:35 (TBA)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (25-16)
The Smokies are back home after finishing their road trip with back-to-back tough losses at the hands of Huntsville. They have begun a big five-game series against Jacksonville at O’Brien Field. The series pits the two division leaders (Smokies in the North, Suns in the South) up against one another. The Smokies also have a chance to overtake Jacksonville for the best record in the Southern League.

Matt Spencer went 2-for-4 and launched his fourth long ball of the year in the Smokies 8-3 win on Monday. They beat the Huntsville Stars, who are the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate. Josh Vitters picked up two more hits and a pair of RBIs to boost his average to .393 since his promotion from Daytona. Chris Carpenter went six strong innings and appears to be fully recovered from the injury sustained at the beginning of the season. Click for full box score.

Hung-Wen Chen went six innings and allowed just two runs, but he came up on the short end of a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. Chen and pinch-hitter Tony Thomas had the only two Smokie hits that went for extra bases. Click for full box score.

The Stars got their second straight win on Wednesday 11-3 to conclude the five game set. Russ Canzler and Ty Wright both hit solo shots. Alberto Cabrera’s start was a total mess: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB. Cabrera is still adjusting to Double-A after getting called up last week. Jeremy Papelbon and Dustin Sasser were not much better in relief. Click for full box score.

Tony Campana’s four-hit night propelled the Smokies to their third straight win on Thursday. They beat Jacksonville 8-4. Marwin Gonzalez and Ty Wright both homered in the win. Jeff Muyco and Scott Maine both pitched well in relief. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Jacksonville 6:15 (Craig Muschko)
Saturday VS Jacksonville 5:15 (Chris Carpenter)
Sunday VS Jacksonville 1:00 (Hung-Wen Chen)

Class-A Daytona Cubs – (17-24)
After winning the final two games of the last home stand to finish it at 2-3, the Cubs are in need of strong trip. Kyler Burke had a big game in the finale against St. Lucie, his first great day at the plate this season. Burke is looking to return to his 2009 form at the plate (.303 AVG, 15 HR, 89 RBI with Peoria).

On Monday, the D-Cubs fell to the St. Lucie Mets 5-2. Brett Jackson, who has returned to the lineup but is being used as a DH, went 0-for-3. Jackson is still recovering from an injury that occurred while running the bases last week. Rebel Ridling went 2-for-4. Rafael Dolis did not get much run support once again and falls to 1-3 on the year. Dolis is much better than his record would indicate which is evident from one glance at his 2.31 ERA. Click for full box score.

Chris Archer recorded 10 strikeouts over six innings of two-hit ball on Tuesday. He got the victory in Daytona’s 4-1 win. One of the two hits he gave up left the ballpark to account for the only Mets run. Ryan Flaherty was an offensive star with two hits and an RBI. Click for full box score.

The Cubs made it two wins in a row when they beat St. Lucie in the last game of the series on Wednesday 7-2. Kyler Burke went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a three-run homer. He drove in five of the seven Daytona runs. Marco Carrillo pitched two scoreless frames of relief. Click for full box score.

Brett Jackson and Kyler Burke both went deep in the Cubs’ 7-5 win on Thursday in Ft. Myers. Brooks Raley finally got back to form picking up his first win of the year. David Patton was charged with two runs in 0.2 innings. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Ft. Myers 6:05
Saturday @Ft. Myers 6:05
Sunday @Ft. Myers 12:05

Class-A Peoria Chiefs
The Chiefs are right in the midst of a four-team race of the Midwest League Western Division. Beloit, Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, and Peoria are all within two games of one another. The offense has been led by young studs Justin Bour and Greg Rohan, who is a power man.

After a day off on the Monday, the Chiefs were crushed in Wisconsin on Tuesday by a score of 14-1. The Chiefs were nearly no-hit by the Timber Rattlers, but Nelson Perez broke it up with a double in the ninth. Perez’s double drove in a run and remained the only hit of the game for Peoria. Robert Whitenack was not near as sharp is his opponent, allowing 10 runs (9 ER) on 11 hits in 3.2 innings. Click for full box score.

The Cubs’ Midwest League affiliate bounced right back with an 11-7 victory on Wednesday. They scored five late runs that were the difference in the game. D.J. Fitzgerald crushed the ball all night going 4-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Quad Cities 7:00 (Ryan Searle)
Saturday @Quad Cities 6:00 (Jeffry Antigua)
Sunday @Quad Cities 1:00 (Rob Whitenack)

Top Prospect Watch
Brett Jackson: .326 AVG, .439 OBP, 34 games at Daytona
Josh Vitters: .344 AVG in 10 games at AA
Andrew Cashner: 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP at AAA
Jay Jackson: 2-3, 2.23 ERA, 40.1 IP at AAA
Hak-Ju Lee: .248 AVG, .323 OBP, 36 games at Peoria
Logan Watkins: .270 AVG, .321 OBP, 34 games at Peoria
Chris Carpenter: 2-1, 2.75 ERA, 26.2 IP at AA
Ryan Flaherty: .349 AVG in 12 games at Daytona
D.J. LeMahieu: .235 AVG, .265 OBP, 38 games at Daytona
*Stats accurate going into play on 5/20

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne