Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/02/10

We’ve hit the final stretch of the regular season of minor league baseball. Going into this weekend, the Iowa Cubs are still fighting for a playoff berth. The Daytona Cubs are trying to fight off elimination. The Tennessee Smokies are riding-high trying to stay smoking hot as they head into the postseason. The Peoria Chiefs are trying to finish the season above .500.

Jeff Samardzija was knocked around, the Iowa offense exploded for season highs, and September call-ups will hold off until the end of the Triple-A season. The Smokies swap catchers, AFL rosters are released, and four Cubs prospects receive post-season honors!

Plus, an updated version of the CCO’s Top Prospect Watch … All that and more in today’s Down on the Farm Report.

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (79-59)*
*=Going into Wednesday’s late game
With only five game left in the regular season, the PCL American North is still up for grabs. Going into last night’s late game, the I-Cubs held a one game lead over Memphis. A four game series between the Cubs and Redbirds will take place this weekend to decide who will win the division championship.

Two Cubs have received the honor of being named to the 2010 All-Pacific Coast League team. Shortstop Darwin Barney, now playing all over the infield for the big league team, and slugging outfielder Brad Snyder were both named to the club. The postseason awards are given out based on voting from the league’s managers, general managers, broadcasters, and media.

Welington Castillo has joined the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley and is expected to be activated on Friday as a part of the Cubs September call-ups. Apart from Welington, the current Iowa roster is expected to remain intact until the end of the team’s season. After that, guys like Justin Berg, Mitch Atkins, Jeff Samardzija, Sam Fuld, and Brad Snyder will receive late September call-ups to join Mike Quade’s squad … with the Cubs having to clear space on the 40-man roster for Snyder.

The Iowa offense exploded for 20 runs on 25 hits on Monday to embarrass the host Isotopes 20-9! Jason Dubois launched two home runs, drove in four, and scored three times. Bryan LaHair went deep twice, drove in four, singled, and scored three runs. Brad Snyder went 4-for-6 with a homer, four runs scored, and four RBI. Sam Fuld had the biggest day of anyone, going 5-for-7 with three runs scored to tie a career high for hits in a game. Bobby Scales (3-for-5) and Matt Camp (1-for-6) both homered as well to bring the team total to seven. The Cubs set season highs for hits, runs, and home runs in the blowout victory. Click for full box score.

The first game of Tuesday’s double-header was the resumption of a battle that was suspended a few months back. After ½ of an inning, the I-Cubs were out in front 4-0 when the game was originally suspended. It didn’t take long for Albuquerque to erase that margin on Tuesday, as they scored six runs in the bottom of the first and went on to win 11-10. The ‘Topes led 10-4 after three but the Cubs chipped away. They got within a run with two outs in the ninth when Bryan LaHair launched a solo homer. Jeff Samardzija suffered his worst start of the year, getting hammered for 11 earned runs in five innings. Click for full box score.

The second of Tuesday’s double dip was a seven-inning game that resulted in an 8-6 I-Cub win to earn the split. Marquez Smith became the third player on the club this week to have a two-homer game. He finished the day 3-for-4 with four runs batted in. Chris Robinson (3-for-4), Jim Adduci (2-for-4), and Jason Dubois (2-for-3) all had big days to help support Hung-Wen Chen, who got his third win. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Albuquerque 7:35 (Austin Bibens-Dirkx)
Friday VS Memphis 7:05 VS Memphis (Chris Carpenter)
Saturday VS Memphis 7:05 (Mitch Atkins)
Sunday VS Memphis 1:05 (Jeff Samardzija)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (82-51, 41-24)
The Smokies can sit back and relax knowing that they won the Southern League North Division in the first half and the second half. They clinched their second half crown with Huntsville’s loss on Sunday. There will be playoff games at Smokies Park in Kodak, TN on September 9 and 10, but the opponent is still an unknown. They will most likely face off with either Huntsville or Chattanooga. Tennessee swapped backstops in a roster move on Tuesday. Mark Reed, who had been handling the catching duties in Daytona, rejoined the Smokies. Mario Mercedes was sent down to High-A.

The Smokies were outshined by the Jacksonville Suns on Tuesday in a one-sided 5-0 defeat. They only had three hits as a team and Marwin Gonzalez had one of those dreaded 0-for-4 plus an error. Starting pitcher Chris Archer was responsible for the team’s only knock that went for extra bases. Archer fell to 8-2, allowing four runs (3 ER) in five innings. Kyle Smit took the hill for one inning and did not allow a run. Click for full box score.

Tennessee clobbered the Suns 9-4 on Wednesday night. Russ Canzler and Brandon Guyer both had huge games going 3-for-5. Brett Jackson homered, a three run blow in the fourth, while Mark Reed tacked on two RBI. Bill Dancy got some dandy relief work from his bullpen as Aaron Shafer, Esmailin Caridad, and Blake Parker all worked solid ball. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Today @Jacksonville 12:05 (Rafael Dolis)
Friday @Jacksonville 6:15
Saturday @Carolina 6:15
Sunday @Carolina 5:15

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (72-62, 39-26)
The Daytona Cubs took both ends of a double header yesterday to keep themselves in the mix for a playoff spot. They are 2.5 games back of Tampa with four games left in the season, so a division championship is unlikely but not impossible.

Rob Whitenack twirled six dazzling innings of scoreless ball on Tuesday, but the Daytona offense could not muster up much support and he ended up with a no-decision. The team grabbed the lead in the top of the tenth on a Jose Valdez single that plated Jake Opitz. Jeffrey Beliveau couldn’t hold on to the one run edge, and blew the save chance. The Clearwater Threshers were one out away from a loss, but Beliveau served up a walk-off single that plated two. Mike Perconte was impressive in his two innings of shutout ball. Click for full box score.

Clearwater, the Class-A affiliate of the Phillies, battled the D-Cubs twice in one day to start the month of September. Daytona went into Bright House Field and took the first game by a score of 2-0. Mario Mercedes, Michael Brenly, and Evan Crawford all had multi-hit games in three or less at-bats. Alberto Cabrera hurled a complete game shutout and allowed only five hits. He struck out six on his way to win number seven. Click for full box score.

The Cubs completed the sweep to stay in playoff contention with a 5-2 rocking of the Threshers in game two. They were out hit 9-5 but took advantage of every chance they had to put runs in the bank. Jake Opitz hit his second triple of the season, walked, and drove in a run. Chris Siegfried got the win (2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R) and Alex Maestri (1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) nailed down the save. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Thursday @Clearwater 5:30
Friday @Lakeland 6:00
Saturday @Lakeland 5:00
Sunday @Lakeland 10am

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (69-63, 31-32)
The Peoria Chiefs will finish out the year on the road. They have been eliminated from playoff contention and are just hoping to grind it out through the final five games of the year. After that, many of the Chiefs will embark on assignments in the AFL, the Arizona Instructional League, or in Caribbean Winter Ball.

The Chiefs were bashed by Clinton on Monday 7-2. Jae-Hoon Ha went 2-for-4, Hak-Ju Lee was 2-for-3 plus a walk, and Logan Watkins reached base twice. Ryan Searle gave up three runs, only one was earned, in five innings. He was handed the loss to fall to 6-8. Click for full box score.

Peoria closed the home portion of their season by pulling out a thrilling 10-9 come-from-behind victory in ten innings at O’Brien Field on Tuesday. The Chiefs scored five times to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth and then won it with a tenth inning tally, giving the crowd a reason to cheer. Jae-Hoon Ha went 3-for-5, Justin Bour posted four hits, and Logan Watkins chipped in three. Nelson Perez crushed a solo homer in the second. Frank Batista labored through 4.1 innings in which he surrendered 11 earned runs on eight hits including four homers. He was let off the hook thanks to a miracle win. Click for full box score.

The Chiefs were handed a 7-0 loss in Kane County on Wednesday. Nelson Perez was used as the DH and went 2-for-3. Carlos Silva was wobbly in his rehab start, allowing five earned runs on six hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. He took the loss. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Kane County 6:30
Friday @Kane County 7:00
Saturday @Quad Cities 6:00
Sunday @Quad Cities 7:00

Updates from Boise/Mesa
The Hawks will close out the season with four home games at Memorial Stadium starting tonight and running through Sunday. It has not been a favorable campaign for the Hawks as a team. They are 12-21 and ten games out of first place in the second half. Two Hawks that have had favorable seasons are second baseman Pierre LePage and outfielder Alvaro Ramirez. Both of them have been named to the Northwest League Post-Season All-Star Team.

The Arizona League Cubs won the season finale on Monday night in an 11-4 rout of the A’s. They improved their final mark to 26-29, good enough for third place of four teams.

Arizona Fall League
The Arizona Fall League has announced its rosters for the 2010 season. Each team will have 35 players from the organizations that are assigned to that team. Cubs’ prospects are always assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox who play at HoHoKam Park. The Solar Sox have 35 players total, seven of which are from the Cubs’ chain.

Pitchers David Cales, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Muyco, and Kyle Smit will be joined in Mesa by outfielder Brett Jackson, and infielders Josh Vitters and Ryan Flaherty. Third baseman Josh Harrison, an ex-Cub farmhand traded away in the Tom Gorzelanny-John Grabow deal with the Pirates, is also on the Solar Sox roster.

Top Prospect Watch
Brett Jackson: .274 AVG, .369 OBP, 5 HR, 23 RBIs, 55 games at AA
Josh Vitters: .223 AVG in 63 games at AA, disabled with a broken hand
Jay Jackson: 11-8, 4.28 ERA, 147.1 IP at AAA
Hak-Ju Lee: .285 AVG, .355 OBP, 117 games at Peoria
Logan Watkins: .262 AVG, .352 OBP, 113 games at Peoria
Chris Carpenter: 8-6, 3.16 ERA, 119.2 IP at AA; 0-0, 7.00 ERA, 9 IP at AAA
Ryan Flaherty: .286 AVG in 104 games at Daytona
D.J. LeMahieu: .311 AVG, .344 OBP, 131 games at Daytona
Trey McNutt: 0-1, 6.52 ERA, 2 games at AA
Chris Archer: 8-2, 1.85 ERA, 12 games, 68 IP at AA
Jae-Hoon Ha: .324 AVG, 72 games, 7 HR, 43 RBIs at Peoria
Junior Lake: .266 AVG, 8 HR, 44 RBIs
*Stats accurate going into play on 9/1

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Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein