Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/12/10

Two of the top Chicago Cubs prospects strutted their stuff on the big stage in the Major League Baseball Futures Game. The Southern League All-Star Game will take place tonight. The Smokies finished up on a high note before the break. In Iowa, Austin Bibens-Dirkx has stepped his game up with his promotion to Triple-A. The Boise Hawks are in first place, the D-Cubs are rolling, and the I-Cubs are fighting.

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

XM Radio All-Star Futures Game
The future was on display at Angel Stadium yesterday as the All-Star festivities got underway with the 12th annual Futures Game, which features baseball’s top minor leaguers playing at a big league venue. The game was televised on ESPN2. Team U.S.A. crushed the World Team by a score of 9-1. Brett Jackson, currently playing at Double-A Tennessee, was the only Cub on the U.S. team.

Jackson started in centerfield and then showed his versatility by moving over to right in the second inning. He struck out in his first at-bat before drawing a walk to start the fourth. However, Brett was picked off first by the catcher right after drawing the base on balls.

Hak-Ju Lee, a 19-year old shortstop from Class-A Peoria, came off the bench for the World Team. He had a fun week playing at Wrigley Field on Wednesday and Angel Stadium on Sunday. Hak-Ju went 1-for-2 at the plate with a fly out to short and a sharp single to left. He was shaky on defense, committing a blunder that was ruled a single and another one that was ruled an error.

There was one Cubs minor league manager in each dugout at Angel Stadium, with Ryne Sandberg serving as the World’s third base coach and Tennessee’s Bill Dancy a part of the U.S. staff under ex-Cubs skipper Don Baylor.

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (49-41)
The Iowa Cubs are set to enjoy three straight days off for the All-Star break. The I-Cubs are in a tight fight for the PCL American North, a division where a team could go from first to last in just a day or two. All four clubs are still very much in contention as they enjoy some time off. Once the I-Cubs get back in action, things will not get any easier. They start the second half with nine straight games against the Oklahoma City RedHawks. The RedHawks, a Rangers affiliate, are in first place in the PCL American South by a fairly wide margin entering the break.

Iowa and New Orleans split a double header at Principal Park on Friday night. The Zephyrs beat Hung-Wen Chen in game one by a final of 6-3. Chen (4 IP, 5 R, 4 ER) was hurt by the longball as three of the eight hits he allowed left the ballpark. Leadoff man Sam Fuld powered the offense with three hits, including a solo homer. Click for full box score. Austin Bibens-Dirkx made has Triple-A debut in the second game after getting the call on Thursday. He pitched very well scattering four hits over five innings and earning the win. The only blemish on Austin’s start was a Neil Wilson solo homer in the second. David Cales, called up from Tennessee along with Bibens-Dirkx, cruised through two perfect innings to close out the seven-inning contest. Ty Wright was the offensive star going 3-for-4 with pair of two-baggers. Click for full box score.

Jay Jackson worked six innings and did not allow a run to get the win as Iowa knocked off the Zephyrs 4-2 on Saturday. Jim Adduci, Darwin Barney and Micah Hoffpauir all had multi-hit games. Jeff Samardzija had his first bad outing in awhile walking four and allowing two runs in 2.1 innings. Click for full box score.

Brad Snyder connected for a 10th inning walk-off homer on Sunday to give his team a 2-1 win. After Thomas Diamond, Marco Carillo, Jeff Stevens and David Cales combined for nine shutout innings, New Orleans scored the first run of the game in the top of the tenth against Scott Maine. Darwin Barney, who went 3-for-5, doubled with one out in the tenth to set the stage for Snyder’s heroics. Click for full box score.

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: Bryan LaHair
When LaHair is in the starting lineup, he thrives. Bryan has hit safely in each of his last ten starts. He could receive serious consideration for a big league call-up if Xavier Nady is dealt before the deadline. Bryan, who leads the team in batting average at .307, plays both outfield spots and first base, which makes him a good candidate for the Cubs bench because Lee could be in need of a backup. Also, at 29 years old he is not a young prospect who will take too much playing time away from Tyler Colvin. LaHair went 4-for-4 on Wednesday to help earn him the Player of the Week nod.

Upcoming Games:
All-Star Break Monday-Wednesday
Wednesday: Triple-A All-Star Game in Allenstown, PA 6:00 pm CDT on MLB Network
*Darwin Barney and Thomas Diamond will represent the I-Cubs

AA-Tennessee Smokies (51-37, 9-10)
The Smokies are under .500 since the standings reset for the season’s second half, but they can still take comfort in the fact that they’ve already clinched a post-season berth. They Smokies were so dominant in the first half that they lost several key players to promotions to Triple-A or even the big leagues in the case of Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner. However, there is still a talented bunch of guys under manager Bill Dancy looking for a Southern League title.

The Smokies were outshined by the Suns 7-6 on Friday. Starter Jeremy Papelbon allowed 4 runs (3 ER) and took the loss, but Jacksonville put the game away with three runs against the bullpen. Josh Vitters (fielding) and Robinson Chirinos (catcher’s interference) were both charged with errors, but both men made up for it by launching home runs. Chirinos had a multi-hit game, as did Russ Canzler, Tony Campana and Marwin Gonzalez. Brett Jackson did not get in on the act, going 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. Click for full box score.

An eight-run fifth inning powered the Smokies to an 11-3 win on Saturday in the final game before the All-Star Break. Brandon Guyer had a monstrous game going 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. Campana (3-for-5, two runs), Tony Thomas (2-for-6, two RBI), Blake Lalli (three-run homer), Steve Clevenger (3-for-6), Gonzalez (solo homer), and even pitcher Chris Carpenter (2-for-2, BB, 3B, three RBI) all got in on the offensive explosion. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Tony Campana
The Smokies left handed hitting outfielder, who has been a picture of consistency all season, just finished up a great series in Jacksonville. He had two hits on Friday before reaching four times (3 H, 1 BB) on Saturday. Campana, who is a table-setter at the top of the order, finds ways to make a difference in a game. Although he went 0-for-2 on Thursday in the series opener, he still helped his club by drawing two walks. Tony leads the team in steals with 28, and no other Smokie has even half that many.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Monday Southern League All-Star Game 6:00 pm CDT in Huntsville, AL
**Smokies in the All-Star Game: Tony Campana, Robinson Chirinos, Blake Lalli, Ryan Butcher, and Steve Clevenger
**Smokies Named to the All-Star team but promoted: Ty Wright, David Cales, Hung-Wen Chen, and Austin Bibens-Dirkx
Wednesday VS Chattanooga 6:15

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs (45-42, 11-6)
The D-Cubs have won 11 of their first 17 second-half contests to put them tied with Tampa for the top spot in the FSL North. After going 5-1 on a recent home stretch, Daytona is in the midst of a brief three game journey before returning to the Jack.

Rebel Ridling delivered his second long-ball of the night in the bottom of the ninth on Friday to give the D-Cubs a dramatic walk-off win over the Tampa Yankees. Trey McNutt had a rough start allowing four runs, but he was picked up by his teammates who came from behind to win. Ridling’s two homers and four RBI paved the way to a 7-6 W. Click for full box score.

The Cubs suffered a 5-0 threshing in Clearwater on Saturday night. Greg Rohan, who was promoted from Daytona before the game, rapped a pinch-hit single in his first Double-A AB. Jonathan Mota was sent down to the Chiefs to make room for Rohan on the roster. Brooks Raley (6 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs) took the loss to drop to 4-6. Click for full box score.

A run scoring double by Jake Opitz in the top of the ninth broke a 7-7 tie and was the difference in the game as the D-Cubs held on for the 8-7 win on Sunday. D.J. LeMahieu went 3-for-4 with a double and walk. James Leverton got the save by retiring the side in order in the bottom of the ninth. Click for full box score.

Daytona Cubs Player of the Week: Rebel Ridling
Ridling is starting to make some noise with the bat and is striving for a promotion to Double-A by the end of the year. He has been an RBI machine, driving in nine runs in his last six games. Rebel might have been a late round gem for the Cubs, as he was drafted in the 25th round just two years ago and has already made good progress.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Monday @Clearwater 6:00
Tuesday Off Day
Wednesday VS Fort Myers 6:05

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (42-42, 4-11)
A victory at Wrigley Field was not enough to give the Chiefs some momentum, as they’ve dropped three in a row since. Their dreadful start to the second half has seen Peoria drop 11 of 15. The promotion of Greg Rohan, who was the team’s leading hitter, certainly will not help.

The Chiefs were edged by Kane County 4-3 in the rubber match of the series on Friday. Jae-Hoon Ha went 2-for-4 with an RBI while D.J. Fitzgerald drew a walk every time he came to the plate. Fitzgerald had no official at bats despite four trips to the dish. Corey Martin blew the game by allowing three runs in the ninth. It was Martin’s first save chance with the Chiefs after recording eight saves with Boise earlier this year. Click for full box score.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels sunk the Chiefs 6-5 on Saturday. Matt Cerda had three hits in five tries including two doubles. Catcher Mario Mercedes has shown signs of improvement at the plate. He went 2-for-4 and drove in two. Ryan Searle gave up five earned in five innings to receive his fourth loss. Click for full box score.

Sunday’s game was rained out causing a double header tonight.

Peoria Chiefs Player of the Week: Jae-Hoon Ha
South Korean outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha was struggling going into Wednesday’s Road to Wrigley game. He had suffered three straight 0-for-4 nights. A big hit on the big stage, a three run homer at Wrigley, was just what he needed to turn his week around. After that, Ha posted three straight multi-hit games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He’s hitting .300 with seven homers and 17 RBI on the year.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Monday @Cedar Rapids 12:05
Monday @Cedar Rapids Game 2
Wednesday VS Dayton 7:00

Updates from Mesa/Boise
The Boise Hawks have a record of 13-9, good enough for the top spot in their division. Alvaro Ramirez, who leads the team in hitting at .316, has been red hot as of late. He played in 12 Midwest League games earlier in the season and could be making another trip to Peoria if he continues to hit. The Hawks were busy making moves last week.

Eduardo Figueroa, Matthew Loosen, Matt Szczur, Brent Ebinger and Dustin Fitzgerald have all been promoted from Mesa. Tarlandas Mitchell and Brandon May were both placed on the DL. Yao-Lin Wang and Joseph Zeller were sent back to Rookie Ball.

Finally, Runey Davis was released and closer Corey Marin promoted to Peoria. There is still no word on the status of Hayden Simpson, who has not reported due to a viral infection.

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

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." - John Lennon

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