Welcome everyone to a new minor league season. This week, it seems that every level came out swinging, as each team scored over twenty runs in their first four games.
There were also some lights-out pitching performances and an addition to the Iowa Cubs pitching staff. The Cubs also released several players in the organization.
Here’s this week’s Down on the Farm Report …
The Peoria Chiefs began their season on April 7 with the game suspended after eight innings in a 3-3 tie with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
With an overabundance of outfielders, manager Casey Kopitzke has used Greg Rohan and Anthony Giansanti at third base, with good results.
Greg Rohan went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a RBI, while Anthony Giansanti, playing outfield, also went 2-for-4 with two doubles. However, when the game was resumed Friday, the Chiefs couldn’t put the Kernels away, and the Chiefs wound up losing 7-3.
The game marked the professional debut of Hayden Simpson, the Cubs’ first round draft choice in 2010. Simpson didn’t disappoint, tossing 3.2 innings and allowing only one earned run. Simpson struck out seven, while walking only one batter. Eric Jokish was equally dazzling in relief, pitching four innings and allowing only one earned run. Jokish also struck out five hitters, while only walking two.
The Chiefs then regrouped for the scheduled game and brought out their bats. Elliot Soto lead the charge by going 3-for-4 with a run scored. His double play partner, Pierre LePage, was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Anthony Giansanti, playing third base, went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. Right-hander Austin Kirk shut the Kernels down, pitching four innings without an earned run, as the Chiefs defeated Cedar Rapids 8-2.
The Chiefs came up on the short end of a slugfest Saturday, losing to Cedar Rapids 12-9. Matt Szczur hit leadoff for the Chiefs and was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base. Pierre LePage continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4, including a double and an RBI. Micah Gibbs came back from a hitless opening night to go 2-for-5 with a stolen base.
Sunday saw the Chiefs evening the series, as Rubi Silva, Greg Rohan and Richard Jones supplied the thunder.
Silva was 3-for-4 with a double, home run and a RBI. Rohan also had a home run and a double, while going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Richard Jones chipped in a home run and finished the game 2-for-3 and an RBI.
Cameron Greathouse closed out the series allowing three earned runs in 4.1 innings. He struck out four and issues a free pass while allowing a home run. Jeffry Antigua picked up the win in relief, while Eduardo Figueroa earned his first save.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (4-0)
In the pitching rich Florida State League, the D-Cubs have shown that they have the bats to answer all those arms. Daytona started their season on April 7 by defeating Brevard County 3-2.
Third baseman Matt Cerda was 3-for-5, with a double and two RBI. Off-season acquisition Michael Burgess hit his first home run for the organization, going 1-for-4 with a RBI. Shortstop Junior Lake was also 2-for-4. Opening night starter Robert Whitenack went five innings, striking out three while letting in two earned runs. Jeffrey Lorick pitched two innings in relief for the victory, while Frank Bautista earned the save.
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Nick Struck took the mound Friday night and pitched five innings with five strikeouts in a 7-3 win. Jae-Hoon Ha went 2-for-5, with a double, a RBI, and two stolen bases. Catcher Welington Castillo, rehabbing a broken finger by serving as the D-Cubs designated hitter, was 2-for-3 with a double. Big Justin Bour was 1-for-2, while hitting his first home run and collecting three RBI. Michael Burgess blasted his second home run in as many games, driving in two and picked up an outfield assist.
On Saturday the D-Cubs brought out the lumber and rode three home runs to another 7-3 victory. Outfielder Nelson Perez led the hit parade, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI. Welington Castillo repeated his 2-for-3 performance and drove in a run. Justin Bour smacked his second home run, while outfielder Evan Crawford swiped two bases. Right-hander Aaron Kurcz got the victory after pitching five innings with three strikeouts.
The D-Cubs closed out the weekend by pounding out 17 hits at they defeated the Manatees 11-7. Triples machine Evan Crawford stroked his first of the season, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Matt Cerda and Nelson Perez were each 3-for-5 … Cerda with a double and two RBI.
Jae-Hoon Ha, Michael Brenly, David Macias and Junior Lake each had two hits, while Welington Castillo popped his first longball of the season. A late-season acquisition in 2010, Brett Wallach pitched 4.1 innings and allowed three earned runs with four strikeouts and a walk. Jordan Latham picked up the victory in relief, while Jeffrey Lorick was credited with a hold.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (3-1)
With what appears to be the strongest all-around team in the Cubs minor league system, the Smokies flexed their muscles in their opening series with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Manager Brian Harper has taken advantage of his team’s athletic ability. Both Ryan Flaherty and Blake Lalli have played three separate positions, while Steve Clevenger, D.J. LeMahieu, Rebel Ridling and Josh Vitters have each played two positions.
Opening night saw the Smokies show they are a team to be reckoned with, blowing out the Lookouts 12-4. Matt Spencer answered the call by going 3-for-5 with a home run and an RBI. Josh Vitters was also 3-for-5 with a double. Rebel Ridling, facing Double-A pitching for the first time, was 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI.
Leadoff hitter Brett Jackson was also 2-for-4, with a triple, a pair of walks and two RBI. Unheralded left-hander Chris Rusin opened with five strong innings, striking out four while waking just one batter. Rusin allowed three earned runs and notched the Smokies’ first victory of the year.
The Smokies stayed hot Friday night, besting the Lookouts 6-3. Blake Lalli led the way by going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Josh Vitters, playing first base, was 2-for-5, including a double and two RBI. James Adduci showed that returning to Double-A hasn’t affected him. Adduci went 2-for-5 with a home run and an RBI. Shaking off an opening night O-fer, D.J. LeMahieu was 2-for-5 with a double.
Rafael Dolis continued the strong pitching efforts by the Smokies. Dolis threw four innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He allowed only one earned run. Marco Carrillo picked up the win in relief, while David Cales earned a save.
The Lookouts returned the opening night favor to the Smokies Saturday, embarrassing them with a 12-4 victory. D.J. LeMahieu, building on the previous night, was 2-for-4 with a double. Ryan Flaherty was 2-for-5 with a RBI, while Steve Clevenger blasted his first home run. Brett Jackson also stole his first base.
As in the previous two nights, Alberto Cabrera was strong, punching out seven Lookouts while walking only three. Cabrera allowed three earned runs in four innings, as the bullpen failed to hold the lead against Chattanooga.
Closing out the series, the Smokies bounced back with an 8-5 victory on Sunday. Leadoff hitter Brett Jackson was electric, going 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run, a stolen base and the four RBI as the result from a grand slam. D.J. LeMahieu and Steve Clevenger stayed hot. LeMahieu went 3-for-5 with another double, while Clevenger was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Trey McNutt had a very good start before a blister forced him to leave in the third inning. McNutt struck out two and walked a pair of hitters in 2.2 innings. Ryan Buchter earned the win in relief, while Kyle Smit had a hold and David Cales notched his second save.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (3-1)
The organization’s top club capped off a great opening night, as the I-Cubs beat the Round Rock Express 12-9 on April 7. Outfielder Ty Wright was the star of the game. Wright went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Luis Montanez returned to the Cubs’ organization and went 3-for-5, legging out two triples while plating three runs. Bobby Scales was also 3-for-5, cracking two doubles.
Bryan LaHair hit the I-Cubs’ first home run of the season. Thomas Diamond opened by hurling four innings with five strikeouts and three walks with two earned runs. Esmailin Caridad picked up the win in relief, while Scott Maine posted his first save.
The win streak continued on Friday as Iowa outlasted Round Rock 6-4. Austin Bibens-Dirkx had an uneven effort, tossing six innings while punching out six. However, he allowed three earned runs on two home runs. Matt Camp, Luis Montanez and Bobby Scales were each 2-for-4, with Camp and Scales each stroking two doubles. Chris Carpenter picked up the win in relief, while Scott Maine notched his second save.
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The Express jumped all over I-Cubs starter Robert Coello Saturday. The I-Cubs lost to Round Rock 13-9. Coello gave up seven earned runs on three home runs. Reliever Jake Muyco didn’t fare any better, allowing six earned runs on three homers in three innings. Bobby Scales continued to be a doubles machine, hitting his fifth of the young season. Scott Moore and Bryan LaHair each contributed home runs.
The weekend was closed out by the I-Cubs holding off a late rally and defeating the Express 8-6. Leadoff hitter Tony Campana was virtually unstoppable, going 4-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and RBI. Luis Montanez went 3-for-5 with four RBI. Bobby Scales blasted yet another double, his sixth of the season. Veteran lefty J.R. Mathes had a workman type effort, pitching four innings of two-run, seven-hit ball. Mathes struck out four and walked one. Justin Berg came on in relief and was credited with the victory, as Esmailin Caridad earned a hold and John Gaub picked up a save.
Top Prospect Watch
- Michael Burgess (OF) – .167, 2 HR, 3 RBI, Outfield Assist (Daytona Cubs)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 1-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, ER, K (Iowa Cubs)
- Micah Gibbs (C) – .222, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) – Extended Spring Traning
- Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .357, 2 RBI, 2 SB (Daytona Cubs)
- D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .389, 3 Doubles, Stolen Base (Tennessee Smokies)
- Trey McNutt (RHP) – 0.00 ERA, 2.2IP, 2K, 2BB (Tennessee Smokies)
- Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 2.45 ERA, 3.2IP, 1 ER, 7K, 1BB (Peoria Chiefs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .375 2B, 2 RBI (Peoria Chiefs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) – .400, 2 Doubles, 3 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
Minor League Transactions
The Cubs signed 37-year old right-hander Ramon Ortiz Sunday to a minor league deal. Ortiz will join the Iowa Cubs and is expected to start Monday night in Albuquerque. Ortiz pitched in 16 games for the Dodgers last season.
The Cubs released Chris Huseby (RHP), Alex Maestri (RHP), Mike Perconte (RHP), James Leverton (LHP), Marcos Perez (LHP), Chris Siegfried (LHP), Polin Trinidad (LHP) and Alvaro Ramirez (OF) according to Baseball America.
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