Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/16/10

One Cubs prospect hit for the cycle this weekend! Another was not so successful, going hitless and making an error in his first game in the system. Micah Hoffpauir finds instant success back in the minors after a rough stint in Chicago. The Smokies are still flying high, the I-Cubs are racking up the Ws, and the Daytona Cubs are fighting for their lives. Catchers are promoted all over the organization, a ripple effect caused by the injury to Geovany Soto. One Cub affiliate plays back-to-back double headers … and three of the Cubs top prospects will be playing in the AFL.

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

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (69-51*)
*=Going into Sunday’s late game
The Cubs Triple-A affiliate won a few important games this weekend to stake themselves to a three game divisional lead going into last night’s late game in California. Ryne Sandberg’s team will have to continue to grind it out over this long west coast swing. Flying to that part of the country is tough on big league clubs, let alone minor league teams that do not have luxurious travel accommodations. The road swing will continue with one more at Cukchansi Park in Fresno and then four in Sacramento.

With the losses of Darwin Barney and Welington Castillo to promotions and Mark Johnson to an injury, the I-Cubs decided to do a little retooling to their lineup. They called up catcher Robinson Chirinos and infielder Jonathan Mota to help add depth to their roster.

The Iowa Cubs stopped their skid at three by dominating the Fresno Grizzlies 5-0 on Friday night. Micah Hoffpauir, just sent down from the big league team, led the charge by recording two hits, a walk, and three runs scored. Bobby Scales and Brad Snyder both left the building with big home runs. Austin Bibens-Dirkx worked a gem going seven innings and giving up three hits and no runs. Click for full box score.

On Saturday, J.R. Mathes was attacked for six runs on 11 hits in six innings and the bullpen was tagged for six more runs over the final three frames, but the Iowa bats picked up the staff and earned a wild 13-12 victory. A six-run fifth inning for the Cubs highlighted a day that was full of scoring. A lot of guys had big days at the plate but none bigger than James Adduci, who had three hits including a grand slam and seven total RBI. Hoffpauir launched his 21st homer of the year with two outs in the first to start the scoring. Robinson Chirinos also went deep while Brad Snyder reached base four times. Click for full box score.

Mitch Atkins was hammered for six runs on ten hits before being removed in the sixth inning of Sunday night’s game between Iowa and Fresno. Click for full box score.

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: Matt Camp
Matt Camp, who plays all over the infield and outfield, is vying for a September call-up. He has been swinging a hot stick lately, especially in the past week. Camp has hit safely in each of his last 11 starts. The utility man ranks fifth in the league with a .419 batting average so far in August and leads the league with an on-base percentage of .558. He has a good eye at the plate, with 11 walks already in the month. Matt’s season average is up to .294 and he has stolen 11 bags. Camp was the 13th round pick in the 2006 draft.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Fresno 9:05 (Jeff Samardzija)
Tuesday @Sacramento 9:05 (Jay Jackson)
Wednesday @Sacramento 9:05 (Austin Bibens-Dirkx)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (75-44, 33-17)
The starting rotation of Carpenter, Muschko, Archer, Rusin, and Dolis is one of the deepest in the Southern League. The leadoff man, Tony Campana, is hitting well over .300 to pace the offense. The Smokies are seven games ahead of Huntsville in the second half and there’s no reason to think they won’t keep riding high right on through the postseason.

The moves made by the Chicago Cubs to call-up a few guys from Iowa have had a ripple effect all the way through the organization. With Chirinos and Mota headed off to Des Moines, the Smokies have added catcher Mario Mercedes from Low-A Peoria and infielder David Macias from High-A Daytona. Mercedes will split catching duties with Steve Clevenger for the time being.

Tennessee had an eight-game winning streak snapped when they fell 5-3 on Thursday at the hands of the Chattanooga Lookouts. Brandon Guyer single handedly provided the Smokies offense with a solo homer and a two-run shot. He now has 11 home runs for the year. Chris Carpenter and the Smokies were looking good through five with a 3-2 lead, but Carpenter didn’t make it out of the sixth inning. He allowed the Lookouts to score three and grab the lead before he was yanked with two outs. Tony Campana maintained a juicy average by going 2-for-4. Click for full box score.

A couple of big innings and a big day from Blake Lalli lifted the Smokies to an 8-4 victory on Friday. Lalli went 3-for-4 plus a walk, while Matt Spencer came through with a two-out three run homer in the fourth. Chris Rusin got the win (2-1) with six quality innings, allowing three runs but only two earned on seven hits. His earned run average since being summoned to Kodak is 2.12. Speaking of low ERAs, Kyle Smit’s is just 0.96 at Double-A this year. He worked a scoreless seventh in the win. Click for full box score.

Chattanooga scored twice against Craig Muschko in the second, but then he settled down and that was the only damage against him in five innings on Saturday. Jeremy Papelbon (2 IP, 2 H), Luke Sommer (1 IP, 2 H), and Aaron Shafer (1 IP, 1 H, SV) insured that the Lookouts fans would go home dejected with some dandy relief work. The Smokies did all of their scoring in the sixth inning and got just enough for a 3-2 win. It was Russ Canzler’s (2-for-4) three-run homer that accounted for all of the Tennessee scoring. Click for full box score.

The Smokies reached 75 wins for the season when they were 9-6 winners on Sunday. Kyle Smit was touched for a run to blow the save, but he eventually became the winning pitcher when his team cranked up a three-run rally in the top of the ninth. Starter Chris Archer had a rare bad outing, laboring through 3.2 innings allowing four earned runs on five hits and seven walks! Blake Parker, whose numbers have improved since his demotion to Double-A, got his third save by mowing down the Lookouts in order in the ninth, including a pair of strikeouts. Tony Campana went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, but it was Steve Clevenger who provided the heroics. Clevenger did not start in the game, but he took full advantage of his one plate appearance, which came in the ninth inning. With two outs and the bags juiced in a tied game, Clevenger delivered a pinch hit double to clear the bases and give the Smokies a 9-6 lead. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Blake Parker
For a guy who began the year with aspirations of making it to the show before season’s end, a July demotion from Triple-A to Double-A can be hard to handle. Anytime a guy moves backwards in the minor leagues, there is a sense of frustration. However, Blake Parker took his frustration out in a good way, by responding to the move with some great pitching. He did not allow a run all week last week in four different relief appearances. So far as a Smokie this season, he has only allowed one run in eight innings for an ERA of just 1.13. Blake has pitched in some big spots and has three saves to show for it. He is already looking much better than the guy that was 1-4 with a 4.74 ERA on the year in Iowa, but he’ll have to continue to pitch well in order to get another shot to face Triple-A hitters.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Chattanooga 6:15 (Rafael Dolis)
Tuesday Off Day
Wednesday VS Mississippi 6:15

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (65-54, 31-19)
The newest member of the Cubs organization, a 22-year old outfielder out of Indiana University who was hitting .255 for the Giants High-A affiliate by the name of Evan Crawford, has been assigned to the Cubs Florida State League team. The Daytona club is hopeful that Crawford’s bat can produce as they continue a big series with the Tampa Yankees. They fell out of first place yesterday when the Yanks notched a double-header sweep of the Cubs.

Four late runs helped Daytona come from behind to beat Dunedin 8-7 on Thursday. The D-Cubs escaped with the W despite some sloppy defense. Trey McNutt, Evan Crawford and Junior Lake were all charged with fielding errors. Crawford’s organizational debut after coming over in the Mike Fontenot deal with the Giants was far from spectacular, as he went 0-for-5 to go along with his error. Michael Brenly went 3-for-4 while Rebel Ridling had two hits, a homer, and drove in three. Trey McNutt allowed six runs in three innings, but half were unearned tallies because of the errors. Alex Maestri went three innings to get his third win. Click for full box score.

A rain out on Friday was bad news for the Cubs. They were already scheduled for a double header in Tampa on Sunday, so the last thing they wanted to do was to play two on Saturday. However, the D-Cubs were forced into a grueling stretch of four games in two days in two different cities.

After taking game one, the Daytona Cubs dropped the second battle on Saturday against the Blue Jays. Casey Lambert pitched well with two innings of relief to earn the win in the 3-2 victory in the first game. Brooks Raley retired the side in order in the first but Buddy Bailey was forced to go to his bullpen after an hour and 49 minutes worth of rain delayed the continuation of the contest. Evan Crawford tried to make fans at the Jack forget his debut by going 2-for-3. Jake Opitz and D.J. LeMahieu also enjoyed two hits games. Click for full box score. The second game was not as enjoyable for any of the Daytona players as it resulted in a 4-3 loss. The Blue Jays scored twice against Oswaldo Martinez in their final at-bat to upstage the D-Cubs. Junior Lake had two doubles and a stolen base. Click for full box score.

The Tampa Yankees regained first place by sweeping Sunday’s twin bill 5-2 and 1-0. Dae-Eun Rhee gave up five runs on ten hits in just four innings in the team’s first loss. He was hit with the L to drop to 5-12 on the year. David Patton worked two scoreless innings, but he still has an ERA of 5.30 in Class-A ball just a year removed from pitching in the big leagues. Click for full box score. Chris Seigfried and Alex Maestri pitched a gem, but they were outdueled by the Tampa staff in the second game. Siegfried, who allowed the only run of the game in the second inning, took the loss to fall to 2-7. Daytona did not have any extra-base hits and just four total hits in the seven-inning affair. Click for full box score.

Daytona Cubs Player of the Week: Junior Lake
Lake enjoyed an eight game hitting streak last week to boost his average to .278. He has seen a lot of action for Daytona, playing in 100 games in the heat of the Sunshine State. Over his last ten, Junior is hitting .387. He had four multi-hit games last week. The right-handed hitting shortstop was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007 and is just 20 years old.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Tampa 6:00
Tuesday @Tampa 6:00
Wednesday @Dunedin 6:00

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (60-55, 22-24)
The Chiefs got a couple of Ws this weekend in Kane County and will look to complete the sweep of the Cougars tonight. Jose Guevara was promoted from Boise on Friday to replace Mario Mercedes on the roster. Jose is a right-handed hitting catcher who was taking the term “defensive catcher” a little too far in the Northwest League (.083 average). He will split time behind the dish with Luis Flores.

The Snappers blanked the Chiefs 2-0 on Thursday night to complete what turned out to be a sweep of a two-game series. Peoria expected the chance to salvage a win on Friday, but the game was cancelled due to rain. Brett Wallach had his first great start since being traded to the Cubs. He twirled six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and two walks. However, Ronny Morla gave up the first two runs of the game in the seventh inning. Yohan Gonzalez was sharp, retiring all six men he faced. Click for full box score.

Brandon May drilled a two-run homer to power the Chiefs over Kane County 4-3 Saturday. The Cougars outhit Peoria 12-6, but the Chiefs had a higher total in the column that counts. Ryan Searle gave up eight hits in five innings but he limited the damage to just three runs. Gonzalez worked a scoreless eighth and then Corey Martin notched his fourth save. Click for full box score.

The Chiefs pounded out 16 hits on Sunday in an 8-4 win in Kane County. Jae-Hoon Ha had a day that he’ll never forget, becoming the second Cubs farmhand and the first Chief to hit for the cycle this season. He completed the cycle as two runs scored on his double in the top of the ninth. The two runs on the two-bagger boosted his RBI total to four on the day. He got his home run in the fourth inning but then he didn’t get another hit until his eighth inning triple. Justin Bour had a big day as well, even though he was outdone by his teammate by far, going 3-for-4. Steven Grife worked the eighth and ninth to get the save. Click for full box score.

Peoria Chiefs Player of the Week: Jae-Hoon Ha
Anytime you hit for the cycle, you instantly becoming your team’s player of the week and have a shot at being named your league’s player of the week. Ha, who was signed in 2007 out of Korea, is having a great season for Peoria. His batting average is .307 to go along with six homers, 38 RBI and nine steals.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Monday @Kane County 6:30
Tuesday Off Day
Wednesday VS Burlington 7:00

Updates from Boise/Mesa
The Boise Hawks hold a 6-11 record as manager Jody Davis has finally returned from his suspension. The team has been struggling, but several guys have not including Richard Jones (.291 AVG, 4 HR 34 RBIs), Pierre LePage (.333 AVG), and Alvaro Ramirez (.379 AVG). The Arizona League Cubs are now 20-24, 9.5 back of first. Bryce Shafer, a local draft pick out of Valparaiso University who was born in Wabash, IL, has pitched well so far. He picked up his first career win on Saturday and has an ERA of 1.80 over three games.

Arizona Fall League
The 19th AFL season begins on October 12 and at least three of the Cubs’ top prospects will help comprise the Mesa Solar Sox roster. During an interview on Sunday’s pre-game with Dave Kaplan, Oneri Fleita said Brett Jackson, Chris Archer and Josh Vitters will play in Arizona this fall … and Vitters will play both first and third base.

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

"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." - Arthur Ashe
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