Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/20/10

Several Cubs prospects are a part of Minors “Moniker Madness”. Tony Campana and Robinson Chirinos have been swinging hot bats. In Iowa, Samardzija and Chen made good starts but Mathes did not. Luis Flores and Junior Lake have both showed some power this past week in the Class-A ranks. Hayden Simpson is still ill, while three different pitchers begin big league rehab assignments.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (51-44)
Jeff Samardzija has returned to the Iowa rotation and is pitching well. Every game is important for the I-Cubs, who are fighting for the top spot in the PCL American North. They are in a stretch of nine straight games against the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Every year, MiLB.com hosts Minors Moniker Madness to determine the strangest name in minor league baseball. Two Cubs farm hands, Austin Bibens-Dirkx of Iowa and Junior Lake of Daytona, are in the bracket. Bibens-Dirkx is a six seed and will face Ben Tootle in the first round, while Lake is the underdog against Tuffy Gosewisch. Now back to baseball …

The RedHawks came out on top in Thursday’s 7-6 heartbreaker despite a homer and three RBI from Bobby Scales. Ty Wright and Matt Camp both had three hits for Iowa in the loss. Oklahoma City scored twice in the ninth inning against Blake Parker to tie it. Jeff Stevens allowed a run in the bottom of the tenth to end the game. Click for full box score.

On Friday, the Iowa boys beat the guys from Oklahoma City 4-0 behind a strong outing from Jeff Samardzija. The Shark went five scoreless innings and allowed only two hits to improve his record to 6-1. Hung-Wen Chen mowed down the RedHawks and did not allow a tally in three innings. The I-Cubs beat former Cub Rich Harden, who was pitching with Oklahoma City on a rehab assignment. Harden went 3.2 innings and surrendered four runs on eight hits. Bryan LaHair had two hits including a solo homer. Click for full box score.

A six-run fourth inning propelled the I-Cubs to a 9-4 thrashing on Saturday. Outfielder Brad Snyder was the star of the show with three hits, two homers, and six RBI! His two dingers put him at 14 for the year, which ranks first on the club. Jay Jackson worked out of some jams and only gave up one run on nine hits. Rehabbing right-hander Brian Schlitter did not allow a run or a hit in his inning of work. Click for full box score.

The RedHawks handed Iowa an embarrassing 17-6 defeat on Sunday afternoon. J.R. Mathes labored through 3.1 innings, allowing a beefy total of 11 earned runs on 13 hits. Things were so rough that utility infielder/outfielder Matt Camp came in and pitched two innings. He allowed only one run on two hits and two walks. Darwin Barney went 1-for-2, took three bases on balls, and scored three times. Click for full box score.

Iowa was shut down 8-0 on Monday night. The RedHawks scored eight runs, all earned, earlier against starter Thomas Diamond. Micah Hoffpauir doubled for the only Cub hit of the night. Brian Schlitter did not allow a run in two innings of rehab. Click for full box score.

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: David Cales
After a great first half at Double-A, Cales was promoted to Iowa. So far, he has been perfect at Triple-A in four appearances. David, a late reliever, has not allowed a run or even a hit in 5.2 innings. The only man to reach a base against him since his promotion was via a walk on July 11. Last week (July 11-17) Cales played a key part in three different games, two in the Oklahoma City series. He notched his first save at Iowa on Saturday after slamming the door 10 times at Tennessee earlier in the year. Cales was named the Class-A Advanced Reliever of the Year for 2009 by MLB.com.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Oklahoma City 5:00 (Casey Coleman)
Tonight VS Oklahoma City Game 2 (TBA)
Wednesday VS Oklahoma City 7:05 (Jeff Samardzija VS Rich Harden)
Thursday VS Oklahoma City 7:05 (Jay Jackson)

Carlos Zambrano pitched an inning Monday at Fitch Park and will report to Iowa where he will begin preparing for his return to the big leagues this week.

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (55-39, 13-12)
The Smokies had an exciting week as they were awarded the 2012 Southern League All-Star Game. It will be the third Mid-Summer Classic at Smokies Park. Tennessee catcher Robinson Chirinos was named the Southern League hitter of the week last week. He hit .467 with three homers and ten RBIs. It was the second time he won the award this season. Marco Carillo joined Tennessee on Sunday for his second stint with the team this season. He had been playing for AAA-Iowa.

Four Smokies homers helped them to flatten the Lookouts 15-5 on Thursday. Tony Campana was not one of the Tennessee players to homer, but he did reach with a single, double, triple, and walk. The centerfielder finished just a long ball away from the cycle. Russ Canzler (2-for-4, BB, 3 R), Robinson Chirinos (3-for-3, 2 R, 5 RBI), Matt Spencer (2-for-5, 4 RBIs), and pinch hitter Josh Vitters all went yard in the rout. Rafael Dolis, who was backed by eight runs in the first four innings and 11 in the first five, gave up just two runs on three hits to earn his first W at Double-A. Tony Thomas got in on the act with three singles. Click for full box score.

The winning streak was extended to four when the Smokies squeaked another one out on Friday by a final of 8-6. Tennessee had an eight run lead going into the sixth inning, but they almost let it slip away when Chattanooga put together a late rally. Tony Campana was on base four times once again with another three hit plus a walk performance. Josh Vitters had five RBI, two of which came on his second homer in as many days. Chris Carpenter pitched four shutout innings but could not get the win because he did not pitch through five. Ryan Butcher picked up the W instead to improve to 7-0. Click for full box score.

The Montgomery Biscuits came to Smokies Park and won the first game on Saturday 5-4 in a marathon 14 inning contest. Montgomery knotted things at four with a two run ninth inning against Marcos Mateo. It was blown save number three for Mateo, who does have a 2.57 ERA. Craig Muschko made a quality start but missed out on a win because of the pen. Chirinos went deep for the 14th time this season. Click for full box score.

The Biscuits nipped the Smokies again on Sunday, this time 7-6. Brandon Guyer (2-for-4, RBI, R) was the only guy in the starting nine who did not become a strike out victim. A Tennessee comeback came up short when they scored twice in the ninth before Vitters grounded out with the potential tying run left on base to end the game. Click for full box score.

Tennessee lifted their second half record over .500 with a 4-2 win on Monday. The game was completed early in the sixth inning. Chris Archer allowed two unearned runs in 5.1 innings. Brandon Guyer’s two run homer in the second was the big blow. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Tony Campana
After leading off in the Southern League All-Star Game on Monday, the Smokies centerfielder returned to the club after the break swinging a hot stick. Campana has gotten a hit in every game since the All-Star break, with three different three hit games during the week. His speed was also a factor as he stole bases on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and tripled on Thursday. Tony hits strictly for average, hitting .330 with no homers and 20 RBI in 89 games.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Montgomery 6:15 (Rafael Dolis)
Wednesday Off Day
Thursday @Mississippi 7:05

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (*47-46, 13-10)
*= records going accurate going into Monday night’s late game.

The Daytona Cubs started the second half strong, but they dropped a home set against Fort Myers this past weekend. They started off their series with the Stone Crabs on a high note with a win on Sunday. Still rehabbing pitcher Casey Lambert was assigned to Daytona from Mesa last week.

Trey McNutt improved to 2-0 as a Daytona Cub by allowing just one unearned run in five innings in a 4-2 Daytona win over Ft. Myers. Kyler Burke tied the game with a solo homer in the second, his first of three hits on the day. Jose Valdez (3-for-4) attempted to steal twice and was successful once. Click for full box score.

The Miracle zapped Daytona 7-3 on Friday to even the weekend series at the Jack. Starter Brooks Raley (4 IP, 1 R, 0 ER) pitched well but Chris Siegfried and Jeffrey Beilveau did not. A David Macias triple and a Junior Lake home run were the offensive highlights. Click for full box score.

Sloppy defense came back to haunt Daytona in a 9-4 loss on Saturday. They outhit the Miracle 10-6 but still had the lower number in the column that counts. The D-Cubs handed Fort Myers seven runs in the fifth inning with two errors (Rebel Ridling and Ryan Flaherty), a hit by pitch, and five walks issued by Chris Rusin. James Leverton was called in from the pen and allowed a solo homer to the first batter he faced for the seventh tally of the frame. Daytona got home runs from Rebel Ridling and Mark Reed, the latter of whom launched his first dinger of the season. Click for full box score.

The D-Cubs got a fourth inning homer from Junior Lake to expand their lead to 3-0 at that point on Sunday. They never looked back en route to a 5-1 bashing of the Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte. The beautiful ballpark is the home of the Rays during Spring Training. D.J. LeMahieu had two hits and a couple of dandy defensive plays at third base. Dae-Eun Rhee cruised through six innings yielding just one run on two hits. Rhee got his third win and James Leverton his second save, an unconventional one with three scoreless innings of work. Click for full box score.

Daytona Cubs Player of the Week: Junior Lake
Lake has not had too strong of a year at the plate as he owns a .248 average in 74 Florida State League games. However, he’s a good infielder with decent speed, even though he has been caught stealing in half of his attempts to swipe bags this season. Junior, a 20-year old who has already been in the organization since 2007, had two multi-hit games in last week’s series against Ft. Myers. He also drilled two long balls during the week to boost his season total to five.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Charlotte 6:05
Wednesday @Charlotte 6:05
Thursday @St. Lucie 6:00

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (47-44, 9-13)
Even with a recent hot streak, the Chiefs are still in last place in the second half. They are six games back of first place Kane County. The Chiefs look to stay hot and creep closer to .500 after a solid homestand. Hak-Ju Lee, Justin Bour, and Matt Cerda lead the offense.

The Dragons lost to Peoria 3-1 in a pitching dominated match-up on Thursday night. Nick Struck only allowed three hits and did not give up a run in six innings. He fanned nine and did not issue any free passes. Hak-Ju Lee was 0-for-4, but his outs were productive as he drove in two. Click for full box score.

The Chiefs outslugged Dayton 10-8 on Friday to complete the three game sweep. Hak-Ju Lee was the top dog as he recorded five singles, three runs scored, and drove in three. Justin Bour and Matt Cerda had two RBI each. Ryan Searle was let off the hook even though he allowed six runs (5 ER) in four innings. Jordan Latham sent down all six men he faced and got the win. Corey Martin got the save, his first since being promoted from Boise. Click for full box score.

The Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Rays organization could not solve Rob Whitenack in a 5-0 Peoria win on Saturday. Whitenack allowed only two hits in seven innings and did not walk a man on his way to his eighth win of the year. Justin Bour did his part, reaching base every time he stepped to the dish. Luis Flores helped the cause in a number of different ways with a homer, a hit by pitch, and a sac fly. Click for full box score.

A 9-0 blowout win on Sunday improved the Chiefs to a perfect 5-0 on this homestand. The Hot Rods didn’t look so “hot” when Peoria scored eight times in the first two innings. The Chiefs did it all without an extra base knock as all 12 of their hits were singles. Frank Batista did not allow a run in four innings, but Ronny Morla picked up the win in relief. Click for full box score.

The five-game winning streak was snapped when Bowling Green won Monday’s game 7-5. Luis Flores went deep again, while Justin Bour and Nelson Perez also homered. Bour’s 10th dinger of the year was one of his three hits on the afternoon. Su-Min Jung struck out four in two innings. Click for full box score.

Peoria Chiefs Player of the Week: Luis Flores
Flores finds himself back in the Midwest League despite a .304 average in limited playing time in the FSL. His demotion was of no fault of his own, but the D-Cubs simply cannot afford to carry more than two catchers on their roster. Although his .222 batting average in Peoria this season doesn’t sound like something to write home about, he has started to heat up. Last week he went deep three times, his first three long balls of the year. He has seven RBI in his last four games. He was a seventh round selection in the 2008 First Year Player Draft.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Today Off Day
Wednesday @Ft. Wayne 6:05
Thursday @Ft. Wayne 6:05

Updates from Boise/Mesa
The Boise Hawks are 16-14, 1.5 out of first going into their late game last night. Hayden Simpson, who still has yet to report, has mononucleosis according to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Jeff Gray, who is on the big league DL, gave up two hits and one run in a rehab start for the Mesa Cubs on Saturday. The Arizona League Cubs stand at 10-12.

Remember
You can send questions and comments to cubsblogmailbag@aol.com. You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cubsfarmupdates for more minor league news and reports. Also, please check out my Cubs blog at www.everythingcubs.blogspot.com.

Quote of the Day

"Now there's three things you can do in a baseball game: You can win or you can lose or it can rain." - Casey StengelĀ 

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