Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/29/10

The Cubs squads in Iowa, Tennessee, and Daytona are all playing well. Third overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft Josh Vitters is out with a broken hand. The injury to Vitters led to a number of roster moves throughout the organization. One Cubs minor league manager will be at the helm in the Arizona Fall League. One Smokies hurler earned a Pitcher of the Week award. Jeff Samardzija goes deep, Z gets roughed up, and the Daytona Cubs have won ten straight.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (58-46*)
*record accurate going into Wednesday’s late game

The Iowa Cubs have been a picture of consistency all season long. They’ve done everything to stay in the race at all times and done a great job of avoiding long losing skids. However, the other four teams in their division are also having great years. The PCL American North is still up for grabs going into the stretch run of the MiLB season.

After winning the first three in Round Rock, the Iowa Cubs dropped a thriller on Monday 6-5. Ty Wright went 3-for-4 and Jeff Samardzija supported himself with two hits including a three run homer. Samardzija gave up three runs in six innings, but only one of them was earned. The Express scored twice against David Cales in the ninth to win it. Click for full box score.

The I-Cubs outslugged the Isotopes on Tuesday 14-12 despite being outhit 17-12. The first four batters in the order all had big games to lead the offensive explosion. Sam Fuld (2-for-3, 4 R, BB), Darwin Barney (2-for-4, BB, 3 R), Brad Snyder (2-for-4, 2 2B, 4 RBI) and Micah Hoffpauir (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) all had big games at the top of the lineup. Jay Jackson was knocked around, allowing seven earned runs in five innings, but he still got the win. Carlos Zambrano had a bad rehab outing, yielding three runs on three hits and one walk in just one inning. Click for full box score.

Albuquerque came out swinging again on Wednesday. They feasted on J.R. Mathes and had a seven run lead in the game at the time of posting. Darwin Barney, Jason Dubois, and Marquez Smith all enjoyed two hits nights. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Albuquerque 8:05 (Thomas Diamond)
Friday @Albuquerque 8:05 (Casey Coleman)
Saturday @Oklahoma City 7:05 (Jeff Samardzija)
Sunday @Oklahoma City 4:05

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (60-41, 18-14)
The Smokies got some bad news on Monday regarding former first round draft pick Josh Vitters. Vitters, who had been starting at the hot corner for most of the year for Tennesse, was disabled with a broken left hand. He has struggled all season at the plate (.223 in 63 games at AA) and this injury will set his progress back even further. For the time being, Tennessee has called up Peoria infielder Jonathan Mota to fill the roster void.

Chris Archer, who was acquired by the organization in the Mark DeRosa trade in December of ’08, was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week on Monday for the week of July 19-25. He had two dominating starts last week and has not allowed an earned run in 28.1 innings with the Smokies.

Brandon Guyer had three hits and two runs scored to lead Tennessee to a 10-5 win over the Mississippi Braves on Monday. The win allowed the Smokies to take three of four in the series. Tony Thomas, who drove in four on the day, nailed a three run home run in the third to give his team a 4-1 lead. Pitcher Rafael Dolis had a triple and scored a run. Click for full box score.

The Smokies fell to West Tennessee in the series opener on Wednesday by a score of 8-5. Brandon Guyer hit a double, a triple, drove in two, and scored twice. Tony Thomas also had another big night with two hits and an RBI. Chris Carpenter gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS West Tenn 6:15 (Craig Muschko)
Friday VS West Tenn 6:15 (Jeremy Papelbon)
Saturday VS West Tenn 5:15 (Chris Archer)
Sunday VS West Tenn 4:00 (Rafael Dolis)

Class-A Daytona Cubs – (56-46, 22-10)
The Daytona Cubs have cruised into first place in the second half in the FSL North. Although their lead is not sizeable, they are in a much better spot than they were a week and a half ago. They currently stand 2.5 ahead of both Tampa and Brevard County for the top spot. The Cubs have figured out how to handle opponents and the heat in the sunshine state.

The D-Cubs beat Palm Beach 7-5 on Tuesday to pick up their ninth straight victory. Junior Lake, Ryan Flaherty, D.J. LeMahieu and Rebel Ridling all had two hits in the win. Brooks Raley allowed only three runs in 6.2 innings and Mike Perconte went the rest of the way for his sixth save. Click for full box score.

The streak reached double digits with a 4-3 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday. Kyler Burke went 3-for-4, but it was Junior Lake and Rebel Ridling who came through with late homers to bring the Cubs from behind. Chris Rusin rolled through five innings, but it was his own throwing error that led to two unearned runs. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Palm Beach 6:05
Friday VS Palm Beach 6:05
Saturday VS Brevard County 6:05
Sunday VS Brevard County 4:35

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (51-47, 13-16)
The Chiefs made a flurry of roster moves yesterday before their game. Matt Szczur, a fifth round pick who was a football and baseball star at Villanova, joined the team from Boise to fill Mota’s spot on the roster. Reliever Corey Martin, who briefly went back down to the Hawks, rejoins Peoria as does infielder George Matheus. Infielder Charles Thomas was sent back to Mesa and pitcher Jordan Latham was demoted to Boise.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Chiefs skipper Casey Kopitzke will manage the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League season that starts in October. The Solar Sox roster is made up of minor leaguers from the Cubs, Angles, Mets, Phillies, and Pirates organizations. Kopitzke played in the AFL during his eight year playing career in the Cubs system.

Matt Cerda had a big day, Nick Struck went five strong, Daniel Keefe nailed it down, and Peoria beat Lake County 6-5 on Monday. Cerda had three hits and three RBI, while D.J. Fitzgerald went 2-for-4 with a triple and a single. Logan Watkins went 1-for-4 and is hitting just .252. Click for full box score.

Peoria crushed Wisconsin 8-3 as Ryan Searle pitched six strong innings on Wednesday night. Five doubles helped power the Chiefs to victory, including two, two-baggers each from Justin Bour and Luis Flores. Utility man Matt Cerda played the hot corner and had another big day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Wednesday VS Wisconsin 7:00
Thursday VS Wisconsin 7:00
Friday VS Wisconsin 6:30
Saturday @Beloit 7:00
Sunday @Beloit 2:00

Updates from Boise/Mesa
The Boise Hawks have gone cold and now hold a .500 record, three games back of Spokane for first in the East. Juan Serrano had a terrific week on the hill, which earned him Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honors for July 19-25. He only gave up one run in ten total innings during the week over two starts. Serrano is 4-0 on the year with an ERA of 3.72. There has been a lot of movement in the lower ranks of the Cubs system. Wes Darvill, Alvaro Sosa, and Marcos Perez were sent to Mesa from Boise on Tuesday. Eric Rice and Ryan Cuneo were both promoted from the Arizona League to the Northwest League. The AZL Cubs have a 14-15 record, 5.5 back of the Giants.

Top Prospect Watch
Brett Jackson: .281 AVG, .393 OBP, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, 24 games at AA
Josh Vitters: .223 AVG in 63 games at AA
Jay Jackson: 7-6, 4.10 ERA, 112 IP at AAA
Hak-Ju Lee: .284 AVG, .352 OBP, 86 games at Peoria
Logan Watkins: .252 AVG, .329 OBP, 80 games at Peoria
Chris Carpenter: 7-4, 3.07 ERA, 88 IP at AA
Ryan Flaherty: .283 AVG in 71 games at Daytona
D.J. LeMahieu: .289 AVG, .324 OBP, 98 games at Daytona
*Stats accurate going into play on 7/28

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.

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