Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/12/10

A depleted Iowa pitching staff tries to hold its own in a series with Portland. The Smokies notch their 70th win of the season, a total that has continued to climb since. Two Daytona starters have very different outings, Rob Whitenack on the positive side and Dae-Eun Rhee on the other. Su-Min Jung loses his control on a rainy night in Peoria. All of the Cubs farm teams are looking for spots in the postseason.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (67-51)
With all the call-ups to the big leagues, it’s not surprising that the Triple-A Iowa pitching staff is starting to look a little thin. With guys like Marcos Mateo, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, Andrew Cashner, and James Russell in Chicago, Ryne Sandberg has been forced to try some different arms in Des Moines. On the bright side, five different I-Cubs pitchers on the active roster have seen time in the big leagues this season, gaining valuable experience.

The I-Cubs made one corresponding move to the big league call-ups this week, activating catcher Mark Johnson. The veteran will help add depth to the catching core that will be without Welington Castillo until Geovany Soto is healthy. Even with a three game losing streak this week, the Cubs are still in a good position, holding a 2.5 game lead over Omaha and a 3 game edge over Memphis.

The Iowa Cubs had a four game winning streak snapped on Monday, losing to Portland 7-4. The Beavers got to starting pitcher Hung-Wen Chen early, scoring six times on nine hits against Chen in four innings. Bobby Scales hit his sixth home run of the year in the seventh inning. Micah Hoffpauir and Darwin Barney each had two hits. Brian Schlitter worked two shutout innings and Jeff Stevens retired the side in order in the ninth. Click for full box score.

Tuesday’s game was tightly contested through eight innings. The I-Cubs trailed by just a run through seven and were still within striking distance going to the ninth. However, Portland scored seven insurance runs in the top of the ninth to win it 13-3. David Cales, who was charged with all seven runs, went only 0.2 innings. Jeff Samardzija got the loss to fall to 9-2, even though his start wasn’t all that bad (7 IP, 4 ER). Sam Fuld tripled twice in the loss. Click for full box score.

Portland had a commanding 5-0 lead going to the eighth inning on Wednesday afternoon, but the I-Cubs made a game of it late only to fall 5-4. A two-run homer by Marquez Smith in the eighth tightened things up. The Cubs scored twice more in the ninth, one thanks to a single from Smith. With just only one away, the tying run was at third and the potential winning run was in scoring position. However, pinch hitter Matt Camp struck out looking and Sam Fuld flied to center to end it. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Time CDT
Today Off Day
Friday @Fresno 9:05 (Austin Bibens-Dirk)
Saturday @Fresno 9:05 (J.R. Mathes)
Sunday @Fresno 8:05 (Hung-Wen Chen)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (72-43, 30-16)
The Smokies are on a roll once again. They already know that they will be in the postseason thanks to their First Half North Division crown, but they have shown no signs of letting up in the second half. Tennessee’s win total has surpassed 70, and they are on the verge of climbing to 30 games over .500.

The Smokies turned a one run game into a rout when they plated nine in the eighth inning on Monday on their way to a 16-6 victory over Huntsville. Craig Muschko’s stuff wasn’t particularly sharp, as he allowed five run in 6.2 innings. Because of an error by Matt Spencer, three of those runs were unearned. Tony Campana was 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Russ Canzler (2-for-4, HR) and Brandon Guyer (3-for-4, 2 2B) both had productive days with four runs batted in apiece. Matt Spencer pitched in with three hits and an RBI to make up for his defensive blunder. Russ Canzler homered to spark a four-run fifth inning. Click for full box score.

Chris Archer outshined the Stars on Tuesday, pitching his team to a 7-1 victory. He allowed only one hit (a solo homer that accounted for the only Huntsville run) in seven innings. Archer struck out eight, and with plenty of support from his team’s offense he earned the win to improve to 7-1. Brandon Guyer drove in three runs, while Brett Jackson and Russ Canzler both legged out triples. Click for full box score.

It was Rafael Dolis’ turn to carry the Smokies to a win on Wednesday. They beat Huntsville 2-0 behind five shutout innings from Rafael. Marco Carillo and Blake Parker tossed two innings each to complete the shutout. Blake Lalli powered the offense by going 2-for-3 and scoring a run. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Chattanooga 6:15
Friday @Chattanooga 6:15
Saturday @Chattanooga 6:15
Sunday @Chattanooga 1:15

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (63-52, 29-16)
The Daytona Cubs have finished a big series with the Yankees, who they are battling with for the top spot in the FSL North. A three game series against last place Dunedin begins tonight, but then the D-Cubs will have to travel to Tampa for another big set with their division foes. Consistent offense from guys like Michael Brenly, DJ LeMahieu, Rebel Ridling, and Junior Lake has been the key to their second half turn around.

The Daytona Cubs drew even with the Tampa Yankees for first place by beating them 4-2 on Monday. Rob Whitenack earned his first win since being promoted from Peoria. He went six innings and was touched for only one run, a solo homer in the fourth. After the Cubs took the lead in the first on a Ryan Flaherty run scoring single, Smaily Borges delivered the big blow of the game in the second inning, a two-run homer that made it 3-0. D.J. LeMahieu walked in the eighth and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Click for full box score.

The Yanks bounced right back to regain the sole possession of the division lead with an 8-3 victory on Tuesday. Jake Opitz had the biggest day of any Cub, going 3-for-4 with three singles and a run driven in. Dae-Eun Rhee, who has been a victim of bad luck more so than bad pitching, fell to 5-11 on the year by taking the loss. He was rocked in this particular start, allowing five runs in four innings. Click for full box score.

There is a deadlock at the top of the FSL North once again because the D-Cubs beat Tampa 6-3 on Wednesday. Jose Valdez went 2-for-2, while D.J. LeMahieu drove in four runs. Alberto Cabrera struck out eight in 5.2 innings and earned his sixth win. James Leverton retired four of the five men he faced to record the save. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Dunedin 6:05
Friday VS Dunedin 6:05
Saturday VS Dunedin 6:05
Sunday @Tampa 4:00
Sunday @Tampa Game 2

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (58-53, 20-22)
After this series with Beloit, the Chiefs will only have two homestands remaining before season’s end. Lately, they’ve been getting decent pitching but the run support expected in the summer months in the Midwest has not been there. With a number of players that started the year with Peoria already advanced to Daytona, pitchers like Nick Struck and Ryan Searle are trying to earn their promotion. Hak-Ju Lee is expected to stay with the Chiefs the rest of the year. The Cubs do not want to push the young shortstop along too quickly. He’s hitting .281 in 99 games this season.

The Chiefs dropped a 6-4 battle with the River Bandits on Monday. Peoria had 13 total hits, but they left 13 men on base. Jae-Hoon Ha drove in a run to rack his season RBI total up to 33. Tony Giansanti had two hits and three RBI to continue his hot start to his Chiefs career. He is hitting .316 since being promoted to the Midwest League. Jeffry Antigua did not allow a run on just one hit in 3.1 innings of relief. Frank Batista took the loss to dip to 2-4. Click for full box score.

The Quad Cities defeated the Chiefs 6-1 in a game that was completed early due to rain on Tuesday to take three of four in the series. The rain hit before the start of the seventh inning, and it was eventually called after a one hour and 48 minute rain delay. Su-Min Jung struggled through 1.1 innings of wildness allowing five runs on three hits and six walks. River Bandits hitters took more walks (8) than the Chiefs had hits (5), but D.J. Fitzgerald did have two of his team’s five base knocks. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Beloit 7:00
Friday VS Beloit 7:00
Saturday @Kane County 6:00
Sunday @Kane County 1:00

Updates from Boise & Mesa
The Boise Hawks woes continued this week as they dropped to 3-10 on the second half. They have been without manager Jody Davis, who was suspended six games by the Northwest League.

The league handed down the suspension after Davis, an ex-Cub catcher, pulled his team off the field and forfeited a game because he believed that the field was unplayable. The umpires had ruled that the field was fine, but Jody disagreed.

President and GM of the Hawks Todd Rahr supported the league, calling a forfeit unacceptable. Cubs’ farm director Oneri Fleita seemed to take Davis’ side, according to a report from the Daily Herald.

The Arizona League Cubs dropped to 8-4 with a 10-4 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night. Wes Darvill, who’s hitting .308, had a rough night at the plate going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Hunter Ackerman had one of the best outings of his young professional career, working two shutout innings despite three hits and three walk.

Top Prospect Watch
Brett Jackson: .299 AVG, .407 OBP, 4 HR, 20 RBIs, 37 games at AA
Josh Vitters: .223 AVG in 63 games at AA, disabled with a broken hand
Jay Jackson: 9-6, 4.33 ERA, 124.2 IP at AAA
Hak-Ju Lee: .281 AVG, .356 OBP, 99 games at Peoria
Logan Watkins: .249 AVG, .338 OBP, 93 games at Peoria
Chris Carpenter: 8-5, 3.03 ERA, 107 IP at AA
Ryan Flaherty: .282 AVG in 83 games at Daytona
D.J. LeMahieu: .305 AVG, .339 OBP, 110 games at Daytona
*Stats accurate going into play on 8/11

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

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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