Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/25/10

Brett Jackson makes his 2010 Arizona Fall League debut. Josh Vitters and Ryan Flaherty both continue their campaigns with streaky weeks. Vitters plays twice more at first base, where he could find himself in the spring. The Dominican Winter League’s season gets started and the rosters are stacked with Cubs. One candidate for Mike Quade’s coaching staff is set to manage in Puerto Rico.

All that and more in today’s Down on the Farm Report! Arizona Fall League
The Mesa Solar Sox have continued their strong start in the 2010 Arizona Fall League. The Solar Sox have a record of 7-4, but they remain a game behind Scottsdale for the top spot in the AFL American division. Josh Vitters has continued to rehab his hand and Ryan Flaherty is still getting work in at various positions.

The Sox fell 4-2 to the Peoria Javelinas on Monday at HoHoKam Park. The Javelinas rallied to tie the game with a run in the top of the ninth. They grabbed the lead by plating a pair in the tenth. Josh Vitters hit fifth in the lineup as the Mesa DH. He had a tough day with the stick and ended up 0-for-4. Ryan Flaherty made his first appearance at first base but did not get an at-bat. Click for full box score.

The Solar Sox and Javelinas met again on Tuesday as the location switched to Peoria. The visiting team came away victorious for the second straight day as Mesa won another wild one by a score of 6-5. The Solar Sox grabbed the lead with three in the sixth, but then Peoria responded with two in the bottom half. Mesa added single tallies in both the eighth and ninth before a final Javelinas rally came up short in the bottom of the ninth.

Josh Vitters returned to the field and played third base, where he has spent most of his career so far. Vitters went 2-for-5 with an RBI single in the ninth that iced the win. Ryan Flaherty went 1-for-2, showing off his patience with three walks and two runs scored. Flaherty got his first start at first base this fall. Jake Muyco of the Cubs organization started on the hill for Mesa. His outing was strong as he allowed just one run on four hits and two walks in three innings. David Cales got the win with two shutout frames. Click for full box score.

Vitters’ prolific game on Tuesday allowed skipper Casey Kopitzke to move him up in the order on Wednesday. He went 2-for-3 plus a walk as the No. 3 hitter, but it was not enough as the Scottsdale Scorpions knocked off the Solar Sox 6-3. Flaherty had no luck offensively, going 0-for-4. Kyle Smit was wild in his 1.1 innings, issuing four walks that led to two runs. Smit was the losing pitcher to fall to 1-1. Chris Carpenter was sharp in his 1.2 innings in relief of Smit. Carpenter gave up only one hit, did not allow a run, and struck out four. Click for full box score.

Mesa got their revenge on the Scorpions with a 4-2 win despite being outhit 8-7. The Solar Sox did all of their scoring in the middle innings with two in the third, one in the fourth, and one in the fifth. Josh started at first base for the second time during the AFL season. He is projected to end up a full time first baseman. Vitters committed his second error of the fall on a pick-off toss. He was not able to rebound at the plate, going 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Flaherty went 1-for-4 with a single and drove in a run. Click for full box score.

The Solar Sox fell 6-2 to the Peoria Saguaros on Friday. Josh Vitters suffered his second straight hitless day but did have a flawless defensive performance at first base. Ryan Flaherty started in left and went 1-for-4 with a single. No Cubs pitching prospects appeared in the game. Click for full box score.

The Sox rounded out the week with a 7-2 rout of the Surprise River Rafters. Brett Jackson, who spent the first week of the AFL sidelined with an injury to his heel, made his debut. He got the start in centerfield and batted second. Jackson, who’s coming off a dynamic Pan American Games tournament, made an impact immediately with a double to drive in the first Mesa run in the top of the first. Ryan Flaherty had his biggest game of the season, going 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a walk. The two-bagger was his second extra-base hit so far. Chris Carpenter, Kyle Smit, and David Cales all worked shutout innings as the Cubs prospects played key roles in the win. Click for full box score.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Today @Phoenix 1:35
Tuesday @Peo Saguaros 1:35
Wednesday VS Scottsdale 1:35
Thursday VS Peo Javelinas 1:35
Friday @Scottsdale 7:35
Saturday VS Phoenix 1:35

AFL American Standings:
Scottsdale 8-3
Mesa 7-4
Phoenix 4-7

AFL National Standings:
Surprise 6-5
Peo Javelinas 5-5
Peo Saguaros 2-8

Caribbean Winter Leagues
The Dominican Winter League and Puerto Rican Winter League both opened up this week! In the mean time, the seasons in Venezuela and Mexico are well underway. All of the Caribbean Winter Leagues are filled with Cubs prospects tuning up over the winter.

Shortstop Junior Lake, who spent most of the year at Daytona, is on the DWL roster of the Estrellas. He hit .264 in the regular season but has not seen action this winter. Marcos Mateo, who finished the year with the big league team, has pitched in five games for Estrellas and has an ERA of 6.00 in six innings.

Peoria Chiefs backstop Mario Mercedes will play for Gigantes this offseason. There are six catchers on the roster so his playing time may be limited for the first few weeks. Outfielder Nelson Perez will play for Este Toros for the second straight winter. Welington Castillo has competed in one game for Licey and went 1-for-4 with a solo homer!

Former Cubs Francis Beltran and Antonio Alfonseca will both pitch for Gigantes of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Pat Listach will manage Leones de Ponce of the PWL. Listach, who spent several years as the manager of the Iowa Cubs, is currently the Washington Nationals third base coach. He is a candidate for the Milwaukee Brewers managerial position and if he doesn’t win that he may end up on Mike Quade’s staff.

Not all Puerto Rican League rosters are complete, but there are no Cubs farmhands listed at this time.

Tony Campana is off to a rough start for Zulia of the Venezuelan Winter League. He has a .182 batting average in eight games. Austin Bibens-Dirkx has made three starts so far for Jody Davis’ club. His 0-2 record is deceiving because his ERA is just 2.70. Craig Muschko is 1-1 with an ERA over seven for Zulia.

Brandon Guyer is off to a hot start for Aragua. In 11 games, he has a juicy average of .357 and an OBP of .449. His teammate Marquez Smith has not had such success. His batting average is just .214 in eight games. He does have one homer but he has struck out seven times.

La Guairia’s Jason Dubois is also down in the dumps, hitting .152 in ten games. Marwin Gonzalez has gotten off to a strong start for Caracas. He has a .256 average and seven runs batted in over the first ten games.

Venezuelan League Standings:
Caribes 6-3
Lara 7-4
Magallanes 6-5
Zulia 5-5
Margarita 5-5
Caracas 5-5
Aragua 4-7
La Guairia 4-7

Down on the Farm Report Notes
Look for the Down on the Farm Report every Monday throughout the offseason! Follow me on twitter at twitter.com/cubsfarmupdates for updates from the Arizona Fall League this week. If you have any questions or comments, email me at cubsblogmailbag@aol.com. Please visit my Chicago Cubs blog at www.everythingcubs.blogspot.com!