The Arizona Fall League and Venezuelan Winter League kick-off, while the Arizona Instructional League and the Pan American Qualifiers wind down. Several Cubs farmhands have bad first outings in Winter Ball.
Chris Archer strikes out ten in six strong innings for team USA. Josh Vitters sees action at first and third and goes deep for the Solar Sox. Four Cubs minor league coaches find themselves in the dugout in Venezuela.
All that and more in today’s Down on the Farm Report!
Every year, fans in the Valley of the Sun get their baseball fix much later into the fall and much earlier in the spring than us here in the Midwest. The Arizona Fall League allows fans a chance to see a glimpse of the future. It got underway last Tuesday as the Mesa Solar Sox picked up an 8-3 win in Phoenix. None of the Cubs prospects on the Mesa roster appeared in the opener.
The Solar Sox dropped their home opener 6-3 at the hands of the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Josh Vitters made his debut at first base in his first game since missing the end of the minor league season with a broken hand. Vitters didn’t have much luck, going 0-for-4. Ryan Flaherty served as the DH and hit eighth for his team. Ryan singled and walked, finishing the day 1-for-3.
Four of the five pitchers to work in the game was from the Cubs’ system. Jeff Muyco, who was converted into a pitcher, got the start and gave up two earned runs on six hits in three innings. Chris Carpenter, who was hit with the loss, allowed a run on three hits in two frames. Kyle Smit went two shutout innings, walking one and allowed no hits. David Cales surrendered three hits, which led to two runs (1 ER), in his inning of work. Click for full box score.
Mesa surprised the Surprise Rafters with an 11-6 victory on Thursday afternoon. Josh Vitters went 3-for-6 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI. Vitters, who returned to his familiar position at the hot corner, hit third in the order for Casey Kopitzke’s crew. Ryan Flaherty came off the bench and ended up with two chances at the plate. He reached both times with a walk, double, and run scored. The Sox pounded out 19 hits in the rout. Click for full box score.
The Solar Sox edged the Rafters 8-7 at HoHoKam Park on Friday. The game took 11 innings to complete. Surprise scored twice in the top of the 11th, but Mesa rallied for three runs to win it in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Flaherty, who has showed his versatility so far this fall, got the start at second base. He batted eighth in the lineup and went 1-for-4. David Cales pitched 0.2 innings and allowed a run on one hit. Click for full box score.
A six run bottom of the fourth inning broke a scoreless tie and sparked the Solar Sox on Saturday on their way to a 10-1 bashing of the Peoria Saguaros. Vitters returned to the starting nine, hitting fifth and playing third base. Josh had only one hit, but it was a three-run homer in the fourth. Vitters ended up with a total of four runs batted in! Ryan Flaherty spent his day in left field. He went hitless at the plate but did score a run. Kyle Smit worked two shutout innings, allowing just two hits. He was the winning pitcher. Chris Carpenter relieved Smit and worked the fifth and sixth. The right-hander allowed a run on two hits and two walks. Click for full box score.
Upcoming Games (All Times CDT):
Today VS Peoria Javelinas 1:35
Tuesday @Peoria Javelinas 1:35
Wednesday @Scottsdale 7:35
Thursday VS Scottsdale 1:35
Friday @Peoria Saguaros 1:35
Saturday VS Surprise 7:35
AFL American Standings:
AFL National Standings:
Peoria Javelinas 2-2
Peoria Saguaros 0-4
Pan American Games
Team USA finished the Pan American Games qualifying tournament with a record of 9-1. Chris Archer put together a dominating outing last Monday. He got the start and lasted six innings, allowing no runs on just two hits. Archer did not walk anyone and struck out ten in America’s 4-1 win over Cuba!
On Tuesday, Team USA suffered their first defeat of the qualifying tournament, 7-2 at the hands of the Dominican Republic. The finale of the Pan American Qualifiers was rained out on Wednesday. The Americans were scheduled to meet Venezuela, but the contest was not made up.
There is still no official word on outfielder Brett Jackson. He missed the second half of the Pan American slate and still hasn’t appeared in an AFL game. There were reports of an injury to his heel late last week.
Arizona Instructional League
The Mesa Cubs played to a 1-1 tie with the Giants in the final game of the AZIL slate on Saturday afternoon. Evan Crawford, who singled in the third, hit safely in all ten Instructional games he played in. Crawford came over in the Mike Fontenot trade with the Giants. Hak-Ju Lee turned in another stellar day defensively. He did not commit an error in any of the 11 games he played at shortstop for Mesa. Dustin Geiger scored his team’s only tally of the day. Click for the full story on The Cub Reporter.com.
The Cubs finished the year with a mark of 7-9-4. Crawford batted .385 for the season with eight runs scored in ten games. Jae-Hoon Ha hit .313 with six RBIs and eight runs scored in just nine games. Chris Huseby, a pitcher converted into and outfielder, struggled at the plate batting just .179.
Aaron Kurcz was the team’s best pitcher allowing one run in 11.2 innings for an ERA of 0.77. He worked in five games, three of them were starts. Jeff Lorick also did a good job on the mound with a final earned run average of 1.74 in 10.1 innings. Charles Thomas, who is adjusting to his move to the mound after being drafted as an infielder, allowed just one run in six innings. All stats are courtesy of Arizona Phil from TCR and are unofficial.
Caribbean Winter Leagues
The Caribbean Winter Leagues in Mexico and Venezuela opened up last week. The Dominican Winter League and Puerto Rican League will start their season on Friday. The staff for Zulia consists of all coaches from the Cubs organization.
Jody Davis is the manager, with Barbaro Garbey serving as hitting coach and David Rosario as the pitching coach. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who had a big year at Triple-A and Double-A, was hammered in his first start for Zulia. His Smokie teammate Craig Muschko did even worse in his first outing of the winter. Former Cub Phil Regan is the pitching coach for La Guaira. Daytona Cubs skipper Buddy Bailey will be at the helm for Aragua.
Here is a list of Cubs that are listed on rosters for the Venezuelan League & their stats:
- Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Zulia: 0-1, 1 star, 3.2 IP, 3 ER 7.36 ERA, 6 H
- Craig Muschko, Zulia: 0-1, 1 start, 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 11.57 ERA, 7 H
- Tony Campana, Zulia: 3 games, 1-for-6, single, BB, .167 AVG
- Eduardo Figueroa, Caribes: 1 game, 1.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H
- Carlos E. Rojas, Caribes: 2 games, 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, BB
- George Matheus, Caribes: No stats yet
- Marwin Gonzalez, Caracas: 5 games, .278 AVG, 5 RBI, 2 R
- Ramon Garcia, Magallanes: No Stats Yet
- Larry Suarez, Magallanes: No Stats Yet
- Robinson Chirinos, Magallanes: No Stats Yet
- Jason Dubois, La Guaira: No Stats Yet
- Jonathon Mota, Argua: No Stats Yet
- Marquez Smith, Argua: 5 games, 2-for-19, .211 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI
- Brandon Guyer, Argua: 5 games, 9-for-22, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, .409 AVG
RHP Marco Carrillo of team Obregon is the only Cubs’ prospect in the Mexican Pacific League.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit my Chicago Cubs blog at www.everythingcubs.blogspot.com!