Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/01/10

Nine Tennessee Smokies will play in the Southern League All-Star game! The Iowa Cubs just capped off a very successful month. Brett Jackson has not slowed down after his promotion to Double-A. Trey McNutt makes his Daytona debut. The Boise Hawks had a winning week to boost their record over .500 on the young season. The D-Cubs and Chiefs start the second half going in opposite directions.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (42-36)
A 16-12 record in the month of June climbed Iowa into the race in the tight PCL American Northern division. All four clubs are within one game of each other! The I-Cubs currently stand in second place, 0.5 games back of Nashville. The standings have been altering each day and there are still over two months of regular season baseball left in the Pacific Coast League! Darwin Barney, Marquez Smith, Welington Castillo and Matt Camp have all been swinging hot sticks as of late.

On Monday, the I-Cubs had a game in New Orleans postponed by rain. It will not be made up until the Zephyrs come to Principal Park on July 9 as part of a double header starting at 5:00.

The rain continued to play havoc on the series on Tuesday when Iowa and New Orleans played a contest that was halted in the fifth inning. Since five innings is an official game, it was completed early and the Zephyrs got a 7-0 win. They scored all seven of their runs against reliever Jeff Samardzija in the bottom of the fifth. Samardzija walked four and gave up three hits (including two homers) in his one inning of work. Thomas Diamond was also wild walking five in his four innings, but he did strike out seven and give up just one hit. Marquez Smith went 2-for-2 with a double. Click for full box score.

Iowa rejuvenated with a day off on Wednesday.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Omaha 7:05 (J.R. Mathes)
Friday @Omaha 7:05 (Casey Coleman)
Saturday @Omaha 6:35 (Mitch Atkins)
Sunday VS Alabama 7:05 (TBA)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (47-31 overall, 5-4 in the 2nd half)
There will be one manager and one player from the Cubs system in each dugout for XM Radio’s MLB Futures Game at Angel Stadium. Smokies manager Bill Dancy will be an assistant coach for the USA team, while ex-Smokies skipper (current Iowa manager) Ryne Sandberg will be a part of the World staff. Dancy is also excited about the fact that nine of his pupils will partake in the Southern League All-Star game on July 12 in Huntsville.

The four pitchers who will suit up for the North squad are Austin-Bibens Dirkx, Ryan Butcher, David Cales and Hung-Wen Chen.

Outfielder Tony Campana, catcher Robinson Chirinos, first baseman Blake Lalli, outfielder Ty Wright and catcher Steve Clevenger have all been named to the team as well.

Because of his recent promotion to Triple-A, Ty Wright will not be able to participate in the game unless he is unexpectedly sent back down by then. The other four position players hope to find their names in the starting lineup, which will be announced today.

The Smokies fell 9-6 on Monday at the hands of the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. Russ Canzler doubled twice and Blake Lalli had three hits, but it was the newest Smokie who stole the show once again. Brett Jackson homered in his first game at Double-A on Sunday, and then he went deep once again on Monday night. Jackson finished the evening 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Third baseman Josh Vitters also went deep, a solo shot in the eighth for his fourth dinger of the season. Rafael Dolis was not effective in his first start since being called up from Daytona. He went just three innings and served up seven earned runs, seven hits, and two bases on balls. Click for full box score.

The First Half Champs dropped their third straight on Tuesday in a ten-inning affair by the score of 4-3. Brett Jackson moved up to the leadoff spot and went 2-for-5 plus a walk. Matt Spencer and Steve Clevenger both drove in runs for Tennessee. Austin Bibens-Dirkx struck out seven and gave up just a single tally in six solid innings. Ryan Butcher served up the game winner, but Aaron Shafer, who was promoted from Daytona earlier in the week, was charged with the run and the loss. Click for full box score.

Jackson was back in the No. 2 spot in the lineup as the designated hitter on Wednesday. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI, two runs, two doubles and a walk in the Smokies 10-3 victory to bring their skid to a close. Robinson Chirinos gave Tennessee some breathing room with a three-run homer in the fifth that made it 6-0. Left fielder Brandon Guyer also had a terrific day at the plate, pounding out four hits and driving in two. Chris Carpenter went five scoreless innings to improve to 6-3. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @West Tenn 7:05 (Hung-Wen Chen)
Friday @West Tenn 7:05 (TBA)
Saturday @West Tenn 7:05 (Rafael Dolis)
Sunday VS Huntsville 6:15 (TBA)

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (39-38 overall, 5-2 in the 2nd Half)
After a so-so first half, the Daytona Cubs have played well over the first week of the second half. Even with the losses of two key players in Jackson and Dolis, the D-Cubs have been playing well. They won three in a row following the departure of their ace and lead-off man.

A ninth inning comeback allowed the Cubs to beat the Manatees on Monday 4-3. Trey McNutt made his first start since being called up from Peoria. He allowed four hits and four walks which led to three runs in just three innings to put his team in an early hole. Good relief work from Chris Seigfried, Oswaldo Martinez and Marco Carillo allowed their team to dig itself out of the hole. Kyler Burke tied the game with a run scoring triple in the ninth, and then scored to give the D-Cubs the lead moments later on a Jake Opitz single. Click for full box score.

The winning streak extended to four when Daytona topped their rivals from Brevard County once again on Tuesday, this time 6-3. D.J. LeMahieu has helped pick up the slack in the lineup as of late. He went 2-for-4 with two RBI and is now hitting .291. Michael Brenly bumped his average up to .273 with a two-hit game. Brooks Raley allowed three runs on six hits and could not make it out of the fifth inning. He has not had a great season numbers-wise, with an ERA upwards of five. Alex Maestri, who was sent down along with Alberto Cabrera because of their struggles at Double-A, went 1.1 scoreless innings and allowed just one man to reach base. Catcher Luis Flores was sent down to Peoria to help make room for the two new right-handers on the D-Cubs roster. Click for full box score.

David Patton’s woes in the seventh led to two runs that cost Daytona their winning streak. B.C. took the game 5-3. Michael Brenly had three hits including a solo homer, his fourth dinger and 20th RBI of the year. David Macias also enjoyed a three hit game to help his sagging average get up to .214. Dae-Eun Rhee gave up three runs in four innings. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Tampa 6:00
Friday @Tampa 6:00
Saturday @Tampa 6:00
Sunday VS Clearwater 5:35

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (40-35 overall, 2-4 in the 2nd half)
So far, the second half has been sour for Peoria. The Chiefs are looking forward to their game at Wrigley Field next week. They also hope to get a boost from players that excel in Mesa and Boise over the next couple of weeks. Early in the second half, there’s still plenty of time for Peoria to make their playoff push.

The Chiefs won a pitchers’ duel on Monday to take the first game against the Burlington Bees. Jae-Hoon Ha had a 2-for-4 game including a solo homer in the ninth. Ha is hitting .325 in 21 Midwest League games. Jeffry Antigua allowed just one run in six innings, but he got a no-decision. Ronny Morla ended up with the win after tossing two shutout frames. Click for full box score.

The Bees retaliated by stinging the Chiefs 5-3 on Tuesday. Right fielder Nelson Perez lifted his second homer of the year in the eighth. Nick Stuck did not pitch well and was hit with another loss to fall to 2-8 on the season. Ha went 0-for-4 to drop his average to a more normal level and slugger Justin Bour was 0-for-3. Click for full box score.

The second half blues continued on Wednesday in a 5-4 Peoria loss. D.J. Fitzgerald, who has been slumping lately, went 0-for-4. Matt Cerda went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, while Greg Rohan had two hits and two driven in. A couple of costly defensive mistakes led to Burlington runs. Ryan Searle gave up four runs (2 ER) in five innings and got the loss. Click for full box score.

Updates from Boise & Mesa
A recent surge has the Hawks fighting with Tri-City for the top spot in the Northwest League East division. Pitcher Aaron Kurcz, the Cubs 10th round draft pick from the First Year Player Draft, has made his Boise debut. Kurcz has not allowed a run yet in three pro appearances (all one inning relief stints), one in Mesa and two with the Hawks. Eric Jokish, an 11th round selection out of Northwestern, is a lefty who has also joined the pitching staff. According to reports, Jokish has a great fastball, curveball, and changeup. Eric’s debut did not go as smoothly as Kurcz’s, as he allowed three earned runs in one inning on Monday. Second baseman Pierre LePage has also joined the Hawks and started out 4-10.

A 2-5 start for the Arizona League’s Mesa Cubs is not what they were hoping for, but they already have some promising 2010 draft picks on the roster. Elliot Soto (15th round) is hitting .417 over his first three pro games. Catcher Chad Noble (37th round out of Northwestern) has just one hit in two games, but it was his first career home run!

Top Prospect Watch
Brett Jackson: .474 AVG, .524 OBP, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 games at AA
Josh Vitters: .234 AVG in 4 games at AA
Jay Jackson: 4-6, 3.63 ERA, 84.1 IP at AAA
Hak-Ju Lee: .270 AVG, .341 OBP, 67 games at Peoria
Logan Watkins: .255 AVG, .333 OBP, 62 games at Peoria
Chris Carpenter: 6-3, 3.18 ERA, 68 IP at AA
Ryan Flaherty: .313 AVG in 46 games at Daytona
D.J. LeMahieu: .291 AVG, .323 OBP, 73 games at Daytona
*Stats accurate going into play on 6/30

Remember
If you have any questions or comments regarding my posts, feel free to email me at cubsblogmailbag@aol.com. All suggestions are welcome. Also, I write a blog where I post daily on the Chicago Cubs over at www.everythingcubs.blogspot.com. For more minor league updates you can follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/cubsfarmupdates.

Quote of the Day

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