Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/30/10

Three Cubs prospects have been named to the Florida State League All-Star team. One of the Cubs top pitching prospects has been converted to the bullpen … and is expected to join the big league team Monday. Chad Tracy continues to rake in Iowa, while Mike Fontenot is getting most of the starting third base duties at the big league level.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (25-23)
The I-Cubs are in the midst of a tough losing streak. While certain individuals have stayed hot, as a team they’ve cooled off. The Cubs have dropped to a tie for third in the PCL American North, which is only a four-team division.

On Thursday, Iowa suffered an 8-5 loss at the hands of the Salt Lake Bees. Chad Tracy and Sam Fuld each went 2-for-4. Brad Snyder crushed his seventh dinger of the year. Jay Jackson got the start after a short-lived experiment with him in the pen. Jackson allowed two runs on four hits in four innings. Andrew Cashner became the latest I-Cub to be moved to the bullpen. Cashner had been dominating in the starting role and certainly has a future as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. However, the Cubs decided to move him to relief duties so that he will be ready to join the Chicago bullpen at some point this season … and that appears to be Monday. He allowed an unearned run in his inning on Thursday. Chris Robinson and Ryne Sandberg were ejected from the game for arguing a check swing that was ruled a strike. Click for full box score.

The I-Cubs were outplayed again on Friday in a 6-5 loss. Darwin Barney, who’s been the most consistent Iowa hitter this season, went 3-for-5. John Gaub pitched two scoreless innings of relief and struck out three. Starter J.R. Mathes was touched for four runs on seven hits in five innings. Click for full box score.

The losing streak extended to six on Saturday in a tough 5-3 loss to Nashville. The Cubs grabbed a 3-1 lead by scoring twice in the top of the ninth, but Blake Parker allowed a three-run walk off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Thomas Diamond pitched six strong innings but did not get the run support or bullpen help needed for a victory. Click for full box score.

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: Thomas Diamond
Diamond has felt at home on the diamond this season, going 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA. He has already recorded 50 strikeouts in just ten starts. Thomas had two identical outings this week where he allowed one run on five hits in six innings. One of those starts was against Salt Lake on Monday, the other in Nashville on Saturday. Diamond was picked up by the Cubs’ organization after he was let go by Texas last fall. He pitched well in Spring Training and could very well earn a call-up to the bigs at some point this season.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Monday @Nashville 2:05 (Mitch Atkins)
Tuesday @Round Rock 7:05 (Jay Jackson)
Wednesday @Round Rock 7:05 (J.R. Mathes)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (29-20)
Tony Campana, Josh Vitters and Ty Wright have picked up the slack since the Castro call-up to keep Tennessee atop the Southern League North. The Smokies lineup took another hit on Wednesday when Robinson Chirinos was placed on the DL. To take his place, Mark Reed was promoted from Daytona. The offense did get a boost this weekend when Brandon Guyer was activated from the disabled list. Pitcher Ryan Butcher will take his place on the DL.

Starting pitcher Craig Muschko was pounded on Thursday in a Montgomery Biscuits 7-2 rout of the Smokies. Muschko was charged with five earned on ten hits in just 4.1 innings! Jeremy Papelbon pitched well out of the bullpen going 2.2 shutout innings and surrendering just one hit. Matt Spencer hit a two-run homer in the ninth to account for the Tennessee scoring. Click for full box score.

Montgomery continued to own the series with a 6-1 win on Friday. Chris Carpenter got the loss allowing four runs in an abbreviated three-inning start. Jeff Muyco and David Cales put together some good relief work. Blake Lalli led the offense going 3-for-4 and scoring the only Smokies run of the evening. Click for full box score.

Hung-Wen Chen finally solved the puzzle of the Biscuits lineup on Saturday as he hurled 6.2 scoreless innings. Chen got the win to improve to 4-5. Scott Maine got his fifth save to close out the 3-0 shutout victory. Mark Reed made the most of his Double-A debut and went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Blake Lalli
Lalli is quietly hitting .313 in 44 games with the Smokies. He’s a first baseman that was signed by the Cubs in 2006, his first pro contract. He has hit over .310 in every season since 2008. Blake had three multi-hit games and a pair of 3-4 contests this past week.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Monday @Birmingham 7:05
Tuesday @Birmingham 7:05
Wednesday @Birmingham 12:30

Class-A Daytona Cubs – (24-26)
Three Daytona Cubs have been named to the 2010 Florida State League All-Star game. Starter Rafael Dolis, reliever Aaron Shafer and outfielder Brett Jackson have all been named to the North squad. The game will take place on Sunday June 12 at 6:35 (CDT) at Space Coast Stadium, the home of the Brevard County Manatees.

A day prior to be named an All-Star, Dolis took the hill in Daytona against Jupiter. He went 5.2 innings and got his third victory of the season on Thursday. The D-Cubs picked up an 8-3 win. Jake Opitz stayed hot (3-for-4, triple, three RBI) and Ryan Flaherty reached base three times and drove in two. Click for full box score.

On Friday the guys pulled out a 4-3 victory in ten innings. Rebel Ridling led the way with three hits, a walk, and two runs knocked in. Ryan Flaherty picked up two more hits of his own and scored twice. Chris Archer worked his best outing of the year, allowing no runs and only two baserunners in six innings. Archer struck out eight Jupiter hitters. David Patton retired only one of the three men he faced and was charged with a costly run. However, Flaherty scored the game-winning run on a two-bagger by Ridling in the tenth. The win was Daytona’s seventh in a row. Click for full box score.

The streak was snapped on Saturday as the Hammerheads came away with a 5-4 victory. Michael Brenly went 3-for-4 with an RBI and is finally starting to hit. Chris Rusin allowed four earned runs in his less than five-inning start. Click for full box score.

Daytona Cubs Player of the Week: Ryan Flaherty
The utility infielder was motivated by his demotion back to Single-A. He has sparked this Daytona club hitting .365 in 22 games since being sent down. He hit .400 last week including four multi-hit games and a 3-for-5 night on Saturday. He was drafted by the Cubs in the compensation round (between rounds one and two) of the 2008 draft. Flaherty was the 41st overall selection.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tuesday VS Charlotte 6:05
Wednesday VS Charlotte 6:05

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (27-23)
The Fort Wayne Tin Caps will host the Midwest League All-Star game this year. Other All-Star festivities will be featured the day prior to the game. The Midwest League All-Star game is a little later than the FSL’s (June 22) so no rosters have been released yet. They will be soon. In the mean time, the Chiefs are looking to finish out the first half strong.

Peoria fell at O’Brien Field on Thursday in a meeting with Cedar Rapids. The Kernels won the game 3-1. Jonathan Mota and Matt Cerda had two hits each. Jeffry Antigua allowed seven hits but limited the damage, as only 3 runs scored despite some sloppy Chiefs defense. Searle and Batista were fantastic out of the bullpen. Click for full box score.

The Chiefs came right back with a 10-4 win over the Beloit Snappers on Friday. Chandler Thomas hit a two-run homer in the second to put Peoria in front. Rob Whitenack pitched well enough to earn the win and improve to 4-3. Click for full box score.

Peoria was “snapped” on Saturday in a 3-2 Beloit win. The game took 12 innings to decide. The Snappers tied the game at one with a run in the ninth, then both teams scored once in the 10th, and finally an unearned run surrendered by Larry Suarez was the difference. Nick Struck’s great start was wasted. Four different Chiefs suffered 0-for-4 nights at the plate. Click for full box score.

Peoria Chiefs Player of the Week: Jae-Hoon Ha
After playing the 2009 season with Boise and starting this year in Mesa, Ha was called up to fill a spot on the Chiefs roster. The Korean-born outfielder wasted no time in drilling his first homer of the year on Saturday. Jae-Hoon is 3-for-10 in three games so far. He was signed by the Cubs last June.

Upcoming Games
*All Times CDT
Monday VS Beloit Noon
Tuesday @South Bend 6:00
Wednesday @South Bend 6:00

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth