Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 04/18/11

A Daytona pitcher almost tosses a no-no, the Tennessee hitters keep on saying yes-yes, while Iowa fans say Oh, No! And the Cubs top prospect ran his hitting streak to ten games.

All in this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (4-6)
It was a struggle this week for Casey Kopitzke and the Peoria Chiefs, posting a 2-4 record with a rainout on Friday. Pitching has been the main problem, with a staff ERA of 4.75 while allowing eight home runs.

Newcomer Graham Hicks, a lefty acquired in the Tom Gorzelanny trade, took the loss Monday against the Burlington Bees. Hicks handed out six walks in his debut, but limited the damage to three runs (one earned) in four innings. The Chiefs’ defense came to play on Monday, turning four double plays.

The second time around for Hayden Simpson wasn’t quite as successful as his first. Simpson had a real workman-type of effort in Tuesday’s 8-5 victory. He gave up three earned runs in five innings, striking out two and walking one. Once again, Eric Jokish was tapped to come in relief of Simpson, and held the Bees scoreless in four innings to get the win.

The Chiefs tied up the game in the fifth inning. Rubi Silva (3-for-5) had a big game, cracking two doubles and driving in two runs. Smaily Borges (2-for-4) and Micah Gibbs (2-for-5) also had multi-hit games while each having an RBI.

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Peoria managed only three hits on Thursday as the Burlington defeated the Chiefs 5-1. Bees’ pitcher A.J. Griffin was no-hitting the Chiefs until Sergio Burruel broke it up in the eighth inning. In the ninth inning, they avoided the shut out on back-to-back doubles by Pierre LePage and Greg Rohan. Dallas Beeler took the loss, as he surrendered all five runs (two earned) in his second inning of work.

Two rainouts forced a Sunday doubleheader with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The Chiefs would end up splitting the two games, taking the opener 7-6 while losing 2-1 in the second game. Peoria wasted another fine effort by Graham Hicks, who pitched six scoreless innings with four strikeouts in the loss.

In the first game, the Chiefs rallied with five runs in the final two innings. Rubi Silva, Smaily Borges, and Micah Gibbs each had multi-hit games. Arismendy Alcantara ended up 2-for-3 as he thumped his first homer of the season. Cameron Greathouse and Jeffry Antigua surrendered six earned runs, but Marcus Hatley tossed two scoreless innings in relief for the win.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (7-4)
Daytona experienced some ups and downs this week, extending their season starting win streak to six, only to post a 3-4 record for the week.

Michael Burgess (3-for-4) put on a show in Daytona’s home opener, wowing the home fans with a two-run and three-run homer. Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-5, double) and Nelson Perez (2-for-3) contributed to the ten hit attack, as they beat Clearwater Thresher on Monday 6-5.

However, the D-Cubs defense allowed the Threshers back in the game. Errors by shortstop Junior Lake and third baseman Matt Cerda, along with a passed ball by catcher Michael Brenly, led to two unearned runs.

Starter Zachary Rosscup, making his organizational debut after coming over in the Matt Garza trade, tossed five innings of five-hit ball. Rosscup allowed two earned runs, striking out five while walking one. Brent Ebinger came on in relief, going the rest of the way for the victory. Ebinger struck out three and walked one, with one earned run.

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In his second start on Tuesday, righty Robert Whitenack was electric. He carried a no-hitter through five innings, and gave up only one hit while striking out 12 in six innings in the 5-1 Daytona win.

Jae-Hoon Ha continued to be hot, posting a 3-for-4 night with a double and RBI. Junior Lake doubled and tripled in three at bats, but his two-base error led to an unearned run.

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The D-Cubs then seemed to have a letdown, dropping four straight. Nick Struck had another fine effort on Wednesday, tossing 5.2 innings with three punch-outs and one earned run as Daytona fell to the Clearwater Threshers 2-1.

Daytona staked the Lakeland Flying Tigers to a three-run lead on Thursday. The D-Cubs’ rallied, but and had their comeback attempt fall short, losing 4-3. All of the Daytona’s runs came in the third inning, as Jae-Hoon Ha drove in one with a sacrifice fly and Welington Castillo doubled in two more. Aaron Kurcz and Ryan Searle combined for six innings of three-run (two earned) ball. Jeffrey Beliveau took the loss, allowing the winning run in relief.

On a rainy night in the Midwest, the Daytona Cubs were the only game going in the system on Friday. Daytona starter Brett Wallach would take the loss, giving up four earned runs in 4.1 innings. Evan Crawford (1-for-5) drove in the D-Cubs’ first run with his second triple of the year. Jae-Hoon Ha was 3-for-5, with a double and a triple. Lakeland would end up downing Daytona 4-3.

Saturday saw Zachary Rosscup and Brent Ebinger flip-flop their Monday roles, Ebinger getting the start. However, Ebinger didn’t fare as well, letting in seven earned runs in three innings. Rosscup held serve, with an unearned run in four innings. But it wasn’t enough, as Daytona fell to Lakeland 9-6.

While going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, Junior Lake had a night he might like to forget. Lake committed three errors, leading to one unearned run. Matt Cerda was the hitting star, having a 3-for-5 night, with a homer and two RBI.

Robert Whitenack continued to dazzle Florida State League hitters as he went six innings, allowing only an unearned run, in Daytona’s 3-1 victory on Sunday. The defense chipped in, turning three double plays. The D-Cubs managed only four hits, but made them count. Jake Opitz’s first hit of the season drove in Welington Castillo with Daytona’s first run. Justin Bour and Matt Cerda would bring in the D-Cubs’ other runs.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (7-3)
The Tennessee Smokies flexed their muscles in compiling a 4-2 record this week. Tennessee leads the Southern League in hitting. Their .354 team average is 65 points higher than the next team. The Smokies’ 118 hits lead the league by 25, their 16 home runs lead by six and 72 RBI lead by 22. Tennessee is also first in doubles and tied for second in stolen bases.

Like a trip to the ice cream parlor, picking out the Smokies’ best hitting performance can prove to be a difficult task. Brett Jackson continues to be a table-setter. Jackson ended the week with a 10-game hitting streak and a .441average, leading the Southern League. On the season, Jackson has two doubles, a triple, a home run, seven RBI, and five stolen bases. Ryan Flaherty is hitting .375 for the Smokies, and leads the team with three home runs and 10 RBI. Rebel Ridling, Josh Vitters, D.J. LeMahieu, Steve Clevenger, Blake Lalli, and Marwin Gonzalez are all among the Southern League’s leaders.

As the Smokies began their series with the Montgomery Biscuits on Wednesday, someone must have forgotten to tell the pitchers. In what resembled a glorified Tee-Ball game, Tennessee ended up prevailing 12-10. Again, it was Brett Jackson, going 3-for-3 with a stolen base, scoring three runs. However, the big sticks belonged to Blake Lalli (2-for-3, double, home run, three RBI) and Marwin Gonzalez (3 for 5, home run, 3 RBI). D.J. LeMahieu also drove in three runs.

Chris Rusin and Marco Carrillo were roughed up by the Biscuits; Rusin allowed six runs (five earned) in his four innings, while Carrillo let in three (one earned) in his only inning. Blake Parker picked up the win in relief, while David Cales earned his third save.

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Former Smokie Chris Archer took the mound for Montgomery on Thursday, but Tennessee ended up buttering the Biscuits 11-2. Rafael Dolis was smoking for Tennessee, tossing six innings of one-run ball, with five strikeouts. Ryan Buchter and newly activated Ty’Relle Harris finished up, allowing only one unearned run in three innings.

D.J. LeMahieu, Matt Spencer, Josh Vitters, and Steve Clevenger each had two hits, as did Rebel Ridling … with one of his being the biggest of big flies, a Grand Slam.

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Rain Friday brought a seven-inning double-header on Saturday.

In game one, the Smokies brought out the lumber. After walking Brett Jackson, Ryan Flaherty blasted a two-run homer. Three batters later, Josh Vitters had a solo shot. The next inning, Rebel Ridling doubled and came home on a James Adduci clout. Flaherty then added a solo home run, his second of the game. Tennessee would go on to add five more runs to defeat Montgomery 11-7.

Alberto Cabrera struggled with his command, but was able to go six innings, giving up three runs (two earned). Kyle Smit started the seventh and could not throw strikes, allowing four runs. Luke Sommer came on and shut the door, picking up his first save.

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In the nightcap, Ty Wright went deep for the first time since returning to Tennessee. Brett Jackson had a hustle double to keep his hitting streak alive, and was doubled home by D.J. LeMahieu.

LeMahieu would stretch the lead on Josh Vitters’ single, as the Smokies closed the evening with a 3-1 victory.

Marco Carrillo was the surprise starter, pitching three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Hung-Wen Chen would allow a run, and Ryan Buchter went a scoreless inning for the win. David Cales picked up his fourth save.

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Brooks Raley and Blake Parker would allow only two earned runs over 6.2 innings on Sunday, but seven unearned runs came via two errors by third baseman Josh Vitters, as the Smokies ended up losing the series finale 13-3 to Montgomery. Tennessee still belted out eleven hits, with James Adduci and Marwin Gonzalez driving in the Smokies only runs.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (5-5)
Iowa’s first road trip took them to Albuquerque to take on the Isotopes. However, the I-Cubs may have wished they stayed at home, losing three of four.

Iowa blew a good effort by newly signed Ramon Ortiz, losing 6-5 in ten innings. Ortiz was cruising until the sixth inning, where a one-out single was followed by a home run. Ortiz would end up pitching 5.2 innings, with two earned runs, seven strikeouts, and three free passes. Scott Maine would suffer the loss in relief.

The I-Cubs laid an egg in an 18-3 loss to the Albuquerque Isotopes Tuesday night. Thomas Diamond had a forgettable evening, charged with nine earned runs, including two home runs, in only 3.1 innings. Polin Trinidad and Jake Muyco didn’t fare much better, each giving up four earned runs.

The news kept getting worse in Albuquerque, as Iowa dropped its third straight on Wednesday 10-7. Austin Bibens-Dirkx had a night to forget, as the Isotopes knocked him around for nine earned runs and three homers in four innings pitched. Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg, and John Gaub stopped the bleeding, and allowed the I-Cubs to mount a furious comeback.

Bryan LaHair, Matt Camp, Scott Moore, Chris Robinson, and Fernando Perez each had multi-hit games. Pinch hitter Bobby Scales extended his extra-base hit streak by stroking a double in the seventh inning.

Bobby Scales would not be denied as the I-Cubs bounced back to defeat the ‘Topes 10-6 on Thursday. Scales (2-for-5, two doubles, five RBI) and outfielder Luis Montanez (3-for-5, home run, three RBI) was a two-man wrecking crew. Pitcher Robert Coello also chipped in by going 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.

Coello rebounded from a poor debut outing to pitch five innings of eight-hit, four-run (all earned) ball. John Gaub earned another hold while Chris Carpenter lowered his ERA to 1.69 in two innings of two-strikeout work.

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After a rainout on Friday, Iowa rallied in the seventh inning in Saturday’s game to outlast the Memphis Redbirds 4-3. Bryan LaHair had a big night, going 3-for-4 with double. JR Mathes tossed six innings of three run ball. Justin Berg, John Gaub, and Esmailin Caridad would hold the Redbirds the rest of the way, Berg getting his second win, Gaub a hold, and Caridad a save.

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Iowa closed out the week with a 7-5 loss to Memphis in 11 innings on Sunday. Ramon Ortiz would only go three innings, allowing three earned runs. Esmailin Caridad let in two runs (one earned) in the eleventh and suffered the loss. Bryan LaHair was the hitting star, belting two home runs for five RBI in a 3-for-4 afternoon.

News and Notes
The Iowa Cubs released outfielder Brandon Watson, and outfielder Ty Wright was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies. Iowa then activated OF Brad Snyder from the disabled list.

Left-handed pitcher Polin Trinidad was re-signed by Iowa. Catcher Welington Castillo’s option was transferred from Triple-A to Double-A. Tennessee placed RHP Trey McNutt on the 7-day disabled list, and activated Ty’Relle Harris from the DL.

Right-handed pitcher Manolin de Leon, RHP Angel Guzman, RHP Gian Carlos Guzman, RHP Randy Jackson, RHP Dylan Johnston, RHP Su-Min Jung, RHP Oswaldo Martinez, RHP Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP Todd Wellemeyer, 1B John Urick, 2B Carlos Figueroa, and 2B Augie Ojeda were placed on the disabled list. Outfielder Melvin Camarena was placed on restricted list.

Click here for full list of Minor League transactions from Baseball America

Mel Kiper Jr. has published his 2011 NFL Draft Report. Peoria Chief Matt Szczur is rated the 47th best wide receiver prospect, carrying a 6th round grade.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .205, 2 Doubles, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 2 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 7.1 IP, 2 ER, 11 K, 4 BB (Iowa Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .316, 2 RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) is in extended Spring Training
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .388, 5 Doubles, Triple, 5 RBI, 2 SB, 2 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .361, 5 Doubles, 7 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – Currently on the DL, 0.00 ERA, 2.2 IP, 2 K, 2 BB (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 K, 2 BB (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .292, 2 Doubles, 2 RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.353, 4 Doubles, 2 HR, 10 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne