Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/28/10

It was a busy weekend throughout the Cubs organization. Many of the top prospects have been promoted, including Brett Jackson, and some have already joined their new clubs! The Smokies have picked up right where they left off, starting the second half strongly. The Boise Hawks have made Sports Center! Brett Jackson has a hit-streak going, while Micah Hoffpauir is starting to heat up at Triple-A.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (42-35)
The PCL American Northern Division is still extremely tight. The I-Cubs have suddenly seen some power from their hitters. In May, they launched just 18 homers all month, but they already have 26 in the first 26 games of June. Guys who spent a lot of ’08 in the bigs like Micah Hoffpauir, Jeff Samardzija and Sam Fuld have really stepped it up this month. The Cubs will get another offensive boost from Ty Wright, who led the way in the series of roster moves for the organization on Sunday.

Wright hit .298 with a team leading ten homers before the promotion from Double-A Tennessee. He will take the place of Jason Dubois, who led the club with 11 home runs. Dubois has gone down with another injury, this time a sprained right ankle.

I-Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg, who will be a coach in the XM Radio MLB Futures Game at Angel Stadium next month, celebrated the 26th anniversary of “The Sandberg Game” last week.

The I-Cubs edged Omaha 5-4 on Thursday to take command of the series. The O-Royals could not keep Sam Fuld off the base paths. Fuld went 4-for-4 with a walk, two singles, a double, an RBI, and two runs scored. The other eight men in the lineup totaled only three hits, but Fuld’s four were enough to carry the team. Justin Berg got the win with two shutout innings. Brian Schlitter notched his 13th save in his final Iowa outing before his first career big league call-up took place on Saturday. Schlitter warmed up in the bullpen on Sunday but has not yet made hit big league debut. Click for full box score.

The Royals knocked Casey Coleman around en-route to a 10-7 victory on Friday to get the series split. A late surge by the I-Cubs, who did not get on the board until the fifth inning, was not enough for the win. Coleman, who made his worst start of the year, had an ugly line that looked like this: 5 IP, 8 ER, 4 BB, 9 H. James Russell allowed Omaha to tack on two more runs. The lefty now has a 5.73 ERA since being sent down to the PCL. Click for full box score.

Two five-run innings lifted Iowa over New Orleans 13-2 in the first game at Zephyr Field, the home of the Marlins Triple-A squad. Brad Snyder (2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 3 runs), Jason Dubois (3-for-5, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R) and Marquez Smith (4-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) all had great days at the plate that included long balls. Even starter Mitch Atkins, who allowed two runs in seven innings and got his fifth win, got in the action with the stick. Mitch had two hits including a double and also scored a run. Click for full box score.

The I-Cubs downed the Zephyrs on Sunday night 9-2. Micah Hoffpauir went 4-for-4 with a walk, two doubles, and four runs batted in. Ty Wright was hitless in his Iowa debut. Jay Jackson allowed only two runs in six innings. Click for full box score.

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: Jeff Samardzija
When will the former Notre Dame football standout make it back to the Wrigley Field mound? Samardzija allowed a total of only two runs in 13.1 innings last week. He has made three spot starts and 17 relief appearances for AAA-Iowa this season and holds a 5-0 record and a sparkling 1.88 ERA. The Indiana native leads the league with a 1.21 ERA in the month of June.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @New Orleans 7:00 (TBA)
Tuesday @New Orleans 11:30am (Thomas Diamond)
Wednesday Off Day

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (4-2)
The Smokies are enjoying a solid start to the second half after winning their division in the first half. Current big leaguers Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin have all called Smokies Park home at some point (Colvin in ’09, Castro & Cashner this season). Now, two more young stars will play in Tennessee as Brett Jackson and Rafael Dolis have both been promoted from Class-A Daytona.

Brett Jackson, an outfielder who was the Cubs’ first round draft pick in ’09, was hitting .316 with six homers and 38 RBI in 67 games with Daytona. Brett was an FSL All-Star and will compete in XM Radio’s MLB Futures Game next month. Dolis, who was also an All-Star, was 4-5 with an ERA of 2.92. He signed with the organization as a non-drafted free agent in 2004. The new additions have already arrived in Kodak.

Two solo-homers were all the Smokies needed to beat the Carolina Mudcats on Thursday behind an excellent outing from Austin Bibens-Dirkx (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R). Nate Samson’s blast tied the game in the third and then Russ Canzler delivered his ninth of the season to give Tennessee the lead in the seventh. The bullpen held on for a 2-1 win. David Cales continued to pitch effectively working a scoreless ninth to notch save number ten and lower his earned run average to 2.22. Click for full box score.

Tennessee pounded out 12 hits on Friday, but their four-game winning streak still came to an end as the Mudcats won it 11-4. Josh Vitters had two extra-base hits including a two-run homer in the eighth. Tony Thomas also went deep, but the Smokies left ten men on base. Chris Carpenter gave up only three runs in five innings, but the bullpen was hammered for eight over the last four frames. Click for full box score.

The Smokies stayed in command of the marathon six-game set with a 7-6 Saturday win. Robinson Chirinos went 3-for-4, scored twice, and has a .352 batting average. Matt Spencer hit a clutch homer in the eighth to put his team in front. Click for full box score.

The series finally came to an end on Sunday after a 10-3 Mudcats win. The Smokies still won three out of five. Brett Jackson was the star of the show hitting a solo homer in his second Double-A at bat. He added a single and ended up 2-for-5 to start of his tenure with the Smokies. Alberto Cabrera, who gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings, falls to 0-4. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Nate Samson
Samson is quietly hitting .322 in 43 games so far this season. Nate had hits in all three games he played in last week, highlighted by a 3-for-4 Wednesday and his first home run of the season on Thursday. Samson, who plays mostly shortstop, was drafted by the Cubs out of high school in the 34th round.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @West Tenn 7:05 (Rafael Dolis to make his Double-A debut)
Tuesday @West Tenn 7:05 (Austin Bibens-Dirkx)
Wednesday @West Tenn 12:05 (Chris Carpenter)

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (3-1)
Losing key players in part of affiliated minor league ball, but the D-Cubs have been hit hard this weekend as their top hitter (Jackson) and their top pitcher (Dolis) were both promoted. It’s not all doom and gloom for Daytona however, as Trey McNutt was called up from Peoria to take Rafael’s spot in the rotation. McNutt was enjoying a breakout year with the Chiefs, leading his team in ERA (1.51), WHIP (1.12), wins (6, tied with Whitenack), and K’s (78). Oswaldo Martinez will return to Daytona, filling the other roster void.

Ryan Flaherty’s first inning homer set the tone for a 6-1 Daytona win over Dunedin on Thursday. Brooks Raley did walk four, but he gave up just one run on two hits in five innings. Marco Carrillo came in and got an odd four-inning save. Brett Jackson went 3-for-5 including his sixth home run and his eighth triple. Jackson finished a double shy of his second cycle of the year. Click for full box score.

The Blue Jays took Friday night’s affair 9-3. The Daytona offense came from two unexpected sources. Junior Lake drilled his first homer of the season, and Mark Reed, who’s hitting a meager .225, had three hits. Click for full box score.

The D-Cubs finished the road trip on a high note beating the Jays 8-6 on Saturday. They went 3-3 on the journey and took the series in Dunedin. Brett Jackson left the Cubs in style going 3-for-3 with three doubles in his final FSL game for the time being. D.J. LeMahieu hit in the two spot and drove in Jackson all night long, going 3-for-3 with three RBI. James Leverton’s ERA is now 6.23 since moving up to Daytona after an outing that was nothing to write home about (0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 ER). Click for full box score.

Daytona started their homestand with a 15-7 slugfest win at the Jack on Sunday. LeMahieu went 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBI. Michael Brenly (3-for-5, 3 RBI, 2 R) and Rebel Ridling (2-for-4, RBI, 3 R) were just a few of the D-Cubs with big games at the dish. Jose Valdez took Jackson’s spot in the field (center) and in the lineup (lead-off). Jose hit like Brett going 3-for-5 with a walk and an RBI. Chris Archer went six strong and is now a stellar 7-1! Click for full box score.

Daytona Cubs Player of the Week: Brett Jackson
Now that the talented centerfielder has been moved up to Double-A, some other D-Cubs will finally have a chance at getting this honor! Jackson went out with a bang, earning himself a promotion thanks to a great week at the plate. Brett has scampered through the organization, and continues to hit at every stop. After being drafted, it took him only three Rookie Ball games (.455 AVG, 4 RBIs with Mesa) to earn his way up to Boise, where he hit .330 in 24 games. Good stints with the Chiefs (.295 AVG, 7 RBIs, 26 games in ’09) and Daytona have allowed Brett to climb out of the Class-A ranks. Jackson has already notched his first Double-A home run in just his second AB with the Smokies.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Brevard County 6:05
Tuesday VS Brevard County 6:05
Wednesday VS Brevard County 6:05

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (1-2)
The Chiefs finished the first half 38-31, which was good enough for third place in the eight-team Western Division. They were 5.5 back of first place Cedar Rapids. The Chiefs were not left out of Sunday’s organizational roster shuffle as they welcomed Manolin De Leon from the Mesa Cubs to take McNutt’s place on the roster. De Leon pitched in only one Arizona League game so far this season, allowing three runs in 0.2 innings. He returns to Peoria after going 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA there last year.

After enjoying the All-Star break, the Chiefs opened up the second half with a 4-2 win over Cedar Rapids on Friday. Jae-Hoon Ha went 2-for-3 plus a walk, Hak-Ju Lee had two hits and two RBI. Ryan Searle was scored upon just once in five innings. Click for full box score.

Su-Min Jung pitched a gem but got no run support in a 5-0 loss to the Kernels. The game was started on Saturday and then resumed in the third inning on Sunday. Jung gave up six hits and no walks over five scoreless innings. Steven Grife surrendered three runs in the seventh to allow Cedar Rapids to cushion their lead. Click for full box score.

Nine Chiefs were left on base in Sunday’s 5-4 loss. Peoria out-hit the Kernels 14-8, but they were outscored nonetheless. Ha, Lee, Cerda, and Rohan had two hits each. Greg Rohan, the leftfielder, led the way with a single, a triple, a walk and three RBI. Rob Whitenack took the loss to fall to 6-5. Click for full box score.

Peoria Chiefs Player of the Week: Hak-Ju Lee
The 19-year old shortstop represented the Chiefs in the Midwest League All-Star game this week. Lee singled and was the only Chief to get a hit in the game. Hak-Ju followed up his All-Star performance by kicking off his second half with two multi-hit games against Cedar Rapids this weekend. He’s hitting .276 with 18 stolen bases on the campaign.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Today Off Day
Tuesday VS Lansing 7:00 (Jeffry Antigua)
Wednesday VS Lansing 7:00 (Rob Whitenack)

Notes from Boise & Mesa
The Hawks have started their season with a 5-5 mark, which put them in second place and just one game behind Tri-City in the East. Brandon May has started the year with a .303 average, two homers, and 10 RBIs. He leads the team in all three offensive categories. The highlight of the week for Boise was a fantastic play made by pitcher John Mincone that made it onto ESPN during the SportsCenter Top 10 Plays.

Three of the Cubs 2010 draft picks were added to the Hawks roster on Sunday: Aaron Kurcz (RHP, 10th round), Eric Jokisch (LHP, 11th round), and Pierre LePage (INF, 13th Round). Top pick Hayden Simpson has yet to be activated.

The Mesa Cubs are 1-3 to start the year, already two games back of first. LePage went 7-for-10 in two Arizona League games to earn his promotion to Boise. Kurcz and Jokisch both made brief stops in Mesa as well, each pitching a shutout inning in their lone appearance.

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Quote of the Day

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