The future was on display on Wednesday as the Peoria Chiefs were victorious in the third annual Road to Wrigley game! The I-Cubs and Smokies are gearing up for their upcoming All-Star breaks. Hak-Ju Lee and Brett Jackson are set for the XM Radio MLB Futures Game. The Cubs have signed their fifth round draft choice to an interesting contract. The Cubs affiliates in Boise, Iowa, Daytona, and Tennessee are playing well as of late. Two Smokies hurlers have been bumped up to Triple-A.
All that and more in today’s Down on the Farm Report! AAA-Iowa Cubs – (46-40)
After a doubleheader sweep against Albuquerque earlier in the week, the Cubs have a chance to gain some ground back with another twin bill today against New Orleans. They are still right there in the tight PCL American North with four games remaining until the All-Star break. Brad Snyder, Bobby Scales and Bryan LaHair have all been swinging hot bats.
The Isotopes and I-Cubs were scheduled to play a double header on Monday, but they only got through one game because of 2 hours and 55 minutes worth of rain delay. Jay Jackson gave up five earned runs in six innings, but he was picked up by his teammates in a 7-6 win. Two singles, a wild pitch, and an error in the bottom of the ninth allowed Micah Hoffpauir to score the winning run. Bobby Scales reached base all four times via two singles and two walks. Brad Snyder (3-for-5, RBI) was also a big contributor on offense. Scott Maine did not allow a run in the top of the ninth and earned his first win of the year. Click for full box score.
The ‘Topes pulled out a doubleheader sweep on Tuesday. They beat Thomas Diamond (6 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 6 ER) in the first game by a final of 6-4. The I-Cubs made a game of it with a four run rally in the ninth. The failed comeback was highlighted by a pinch-hit bases clearing double by Brad Snyder that drove in three. Click for full box score.
The Iowa bats were silent in a 5-0 loss in game two. A single by Snyder was the only I-Cub hit of the game. Jeff Samardzija continues to pitch well whenever he is called upon in a spot start. He struck out eight over five two-hit innings of shutout ball. John Gaub, who did not retire a single man, was charged with four earned runs and the loss. Click for full box score.
The Cubs whitewashed Albuquerque 9-1 behind a great start from J.R. Mathes on Wednesday. Mathes went seven strong (1 ER, 6 H, 0 BB allowed) to pick up his seventh win of the season. With the win, the lefty tied the franchise record for career Iowa wins with 38. Bryan LaHair went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and finished a triple short of the cycle. All-Star shortstop Darwin Barney also went deep and racked up a total of four RBI. Jim Adduci joined the party with three hits and two runs batted in, and Mathes helped his own cause by going 2-for-3 and driving in a run. Click for full box score.
Casey Coleman pitched Iowa to victory on Thursday in a 4-1 win over New Orleans. Casey gave up only one run in seven innings. Blake Parker did not allow a run in his two innings to notch his second save of the year. Jim Adduci went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Darwin Barney also had two hits and drove in a run. Click for full box score.
Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS New Orleans 5:00 (Mitch Atkins)
Tonight VS New Orleans Game 2 (TBA)
Saturday VS New Orleans 7:05 (Jay Jackson)
Sunday VS New Orleans 1:05
AA-Tennessee Smokies – (49-39, 9-9)
Austin Bibens-Dirkx was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for June 28-July 4. He compiled a tiny ERA of 0.82 in two starts during the week. Bibens-Dirkx, who has been the most consistent starter on the Smokies staff, was also named an All-Star during his stellar week. It was the second time he won the award this season, and it is Pitcher of the Week honor number four for the Smokies this year. Austin pitched so well that he has earned himself a promotion to AAA-Iowa. Reliever David Cales was also moved up to Des Moines on Thursday. No corresponding moves have been made yet.
The Huntsville Stars, of the Brewers organization, spanked the Smokies on Monday 3-1. The Smokies had just three hits, none for extra-bases. Brett Jackson walked and came around to score his team’s only run on a single by Blake Lalli. Chris Carpenter gave up two runs on three hits in six innings. Carpenter’s start was a quality one, but he still got the loss and dropped to 6-4. Click for full box score.
Craig Muschko got even less run support on Tuesday in another Smokies loss, this time 3-0. Muschko went five scoreless frames before Jeremy Papelbon allowed a run to break the tie in the sixth. Aaron Shafer sent down all four Stars he faced and Brett Jackson boosted his average to .351 with another multi-hit game. Click for full box score.
After dropping two of three to Huntsville at home, the offensive woes continued in a 3-0 loss in Jacksonville on Wednesday. The Smokies went another night without the luxury of an extra-base knock. Chris Archer, who pitched fantastically at Daytona this season to earn a promotion, didn’t have his best stuff but did a great job working out of jams. Archer walked five and gave up four hits, but the only run he surrendered was unearned. Click for full box score.
The Smokies were shutout for the third straight night as their losing streak extended to four on Thursday. This time they fell 5-0 to the Suns. Rafael Dolis gave up five runs (3 ER) on nine hits and four walks. The only bright spot was Brett Jackson, who had another two-hit game. Click for full box score.
Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Jacksonville 6:05
Saturday @Jacksonville 6:05 (Chris Carpenter)
Sunday All Star Break starts
Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (43-41, 9-5)
Michael Brenly has made progress at the plate and has finally fully adjusted to Florida State League pitching. Brenly is a good defense catcher who has made only one error all season. He is hitting .299 with four homers and 28 RBI, which is more than acceptable for a catcher. Michael and his team have gotten off to a good start in the second half.
The D-Cubs edged the Threshers 3-2 on Monday. Rebel Ridling doubled twice and David Macias also went 2-for-4. Brook Raley’s line looked like this: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 1 R. Kyler Burke did hit a double but his batting average is still ugly at .211. Click for full box score.
Daytona made it a three game winning streak when they pounded Clearwater 11-1 on Tuesday. Brenly went 2-for-5 with two doubles, three runs scored and two RBI. Ridling continued his hot streak as well with a 3-for-5 day that included his sixth homer of the year. Five different Cubs enjoyed productive two RBI days. Chris Rusin pitched seven one-hit innings of scoreless ball. Click for full box score.
The Tampa Yankees spoiled their streak 5-1 in Wednesday’s series opener. David Macias, who went 2-for-4 with a double, has hit well since moving into the lead-off spot for Daytona. Dae-Eun Rhee gave up four runs to drop to 2-8 on the year. Click for full box score.
The D-Cubs battled back with a 7-5 victory on Thursday. A six run third inning propelled Daytona. D.J. LeMahieu had a great night, going 4-for-4 including a triple. Kyler Burke and Junior Lake both went deep in the win. Alberto Cabrera gave his team a quality start and got the W to improve his record to 3-2. Click for full box score.
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Tampa 6:05
Saturday @Clearwater 5:30
Sunday @Clearwater Noon
Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (42-39, 4-8)
It was the second time the Chiefs and Cougars played at Wrigley, but it was the first taste of the Friendly Confines for this group, as all of the guys who played for those clubs in ’08 have moved on. A win in the third annual Road to Wrigley was the perfect way for Peoria to snap their four game losing streak.
The Chiefs lost to the Clinton LumberKings, the Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, on Monday by a score of 5-2 to allow their skid to reach four. D.J. Fitzgerald’s two-run homer in the seventh accounted for the entirety of his club’s scoring. A good outing from Ryan Searle, who went six innings and allowed one run on four hits, was wasted. Ronny Morla was charged with three runs. Click for full box score.
Tuesday’s series finale with Clinton was postponed due to rain. It was the third game at O’Brien Field to be rained out this season. The game will be made up as part of a double header on Sunday August 29 starting at 1:00.
I was one of the 8,994 in attendance to see five runs scored by the home team at Wrigley Field, a feat that has not been accomplished too often this season. The Chiefs beat the Kane County Cougars 5-2 in the third annual Road to Wrigley game on Wednesday. Attending the game was a great experience. Not only did fans get a chance to see the future of the Chicago Cubs organization, but they also got to enjoy the Wrigley Field experience at a low price. Peoria players were available for fans to interact with in the main concourse area before the game, whether you wanted an autograph or just to chat. The Famous Chicken made an appearance, putting on a great show in between innings as always. Also, after going to the game for the first time last year when Triple-A Iowa took on Las Vegas, it was nice to see some of the younger guys in the Cubs system this time around.
Getting to the game itself … Hak-Ju Lee, Jae-Hoon Ha, and D.J. Fitzgerald were among the most impressive Peoria hitters. Ha delivered the big blow of the game, a booming three run homer to left field in the fourth. The dinger by Ha gave his team a 4-1 lead. They scored their first run to tie things in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by catcher Mario Mercedes. Fitzgerald, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter, had a couple of good swings, which led to two hits and an RBI. Hak-Ju only reached base once, but it was enough for him to show off his great speed that complements his stellar defense. At only 19 years old, Lee just needs to start swinging the bat a little better to become a complete player.
Rob Whitenack got the start on the hill. He went five innings and allowed one run on four hits. Despite not having great season numbers, Whitenack seemed to have a good arsenal of pitches. Yohan Gonzalez pitched an inning and a third. His mechanics and delivery kind of remind me of Carlos Marmol. Jordan Latham, who had his family in attendance, pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his 11th save of the season. Click for full box score.
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Kane County 6:30
Saturday @Cedar Rapids 6:35
Sunday @Cedar Rapids 2:05
Updates from Boise/Mesa
Fifth round draft choice from this year Matt Szczur signed a $100,000 bonus deal with the Cubs. However, if he makes a commitment to baseball and will not attend the NFL combine, then he’ll make another $500,000. Szczur was an outfielder and star wide receiver at Villanova. Not much big news this week out of Boise, where the Hawks held a 10-9 record entering their late game last night.
Pierre LePage hit .400 in his first week in the Northwest League and Alvaro Ramirez has been hot and now leads the team with a .281 batting average. Casey Lambert got the win for Mesa yesterday as the Rookie Cubs beat the AZL Brewers 8-2. The Arizona League Cubs now have a record of 7-6. Lambert, who played at Double-A and Triple-A last year, pitched two shutout innings. He is rehabbing from an injury and could return to Tennessee if he continues to show signs of improvement.
Top Prospect Watch
Brett Jackson: .341 AVG, .449 OBP, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 11 games at AA
Josh Vitters: .220 AVG in 50 games at AA
Jay Jackson: 4-6, 3.89 ERA, 90.1 IP at AAA
Hak-Ju Lee: .265 AVG, .333 OBP, 73 games at Peoria
Logan Watkins: .250 AVG, .327 OBP, 65 games at Peoria
Chris Carpenter: 6-4, 3.16 ERA, 74 IP at AA
Ryan Flaherty: .305 AVG in 53 games at Daytona
D.J. LeMahieu: .283 AVG, .320 OBP, 80 games at Daytona
*Stats accurate going into play on 7/8
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Photos from the Third Annual Road to Wrigley