Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/23/11

Mid-Season wins were hard to come by, as Tennessee and Peoria are on All-Star break. Boise has struggled to get their feet under themselves, while Iowa continues to sputter. Meanwhile, Daytona gears up for their second half. Plus, reports from the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League … and Angel Guzman is moving on up the Cubs’ system.

All of this, and more in Thursday’s Down on the Farm Report. Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (2-3)
The Eugene Emeralds gave a little payback for a drubbing they received a day earlier, beating Boise on Sunday in a laugher, 8-1. Eugene pitching no-hit the Hawks for five innings … and did not allow a run until the sixth on single by Pin-Chieh Chen. Boise flashed their speed, as Wes Darvill forced a throwing error, stole second, and then scored on Chen’s single. Korean right-hander Jin-Yeong Kim was knocked around for three earned runs in four innings. Austin Reed and Dustin Fitzgerald didn’t fare much better, giving up five earned runs between them.

Wilengton Cruz had a great debut for Boise on Monday, striking out seven in four scoreless innings, but didn’t receive much help as the Hawks lost to Eugene 9-4. After Cruz’s performance, Santo Rodriguez and Hector Mayora allowed nine runs in 2.2 innings. Brad Zapenas was the hitting star, going 2-for-5 with two doubles. Reggie Golden was 2-for-4 with a triple and RBI, while Pin-Chieh Chen and Chad Noble joined Zapenas and Golden with multi-hit games.

The Hawks brought out their bats on Tuesday, as they closed out their series with Eugene with an 11-6 victory. Pin-Chieh Chen was the igniter, as the leadoff man was 4-for-5 with a triple, stolen base, and three RBI. Paul Hoilman started the scoring with a two-run home run, and was 2-for-3 with four RBI. Brad Zapenas and Wilson Contreras also enjoyed multi-hit nights.

Starter Luis Liria was dominant through three innings, and then came apart, allowing four earned runs in the fourth inning. Kyler Burke made his pitching debut and allowed two earned runs in his 1.2 innings, but got credit for the win. Fellow converted position player Charles Thomas struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings, while Yilver Sanchez earned a save with 1.1 scoreless innings.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (33-37)
The Peoria Chiefs limped into the All-Star break with a seven game losing streak as they dropped a 9-1 game to Quad Cities on Sunday. The offense continued to struggle, with four hits for the third straight game. Matt Szczur collected two of the hits, and stole his 16th base. Starter Graham Hicks lasted only 2.1 innings, allowing five earned runs. Yohan Gonzalez was charged with two earned runs, while Larry Suarez gave up two unearned runs.

The West Division All-Stars, including six Peoria Chiefs, defeated the East Division 8-3 in the Midwest League All-Star Game Tuesday night. Elliot Soto was 1-for-2 with two RBI, while Micah Gibbs was also 1-for-1 with a run scored. Austin Kirk pitched a scoreless 0.2 innings.

Complete Recap of the Midwest League All-Star Game

High Class-A Daytona Cubs (47-23)
Daytona started the second half of the season with a 4-3 loss to Lakeland on Tuesday. The D-Cubs were leading 3-2 to start the ninth with All-Star Frank Batista on the mound. However, Batista allowed two earned runs to let the Flying Tigers squeak past Daytona. Spoiled was a six-inning, two-strikeout effort by Dae-Eun Rhee. Rhee allowed only an unearned run. Michael Burgess was 2-for-4 with a double, while Logan Watkins was 1-for-3 with an RBI.

The D-Cubs got back on the winning track with a 6-3 win over Lakeland on Wednesday. Building on his All-Star success, Justin Bour had a big night. Bour was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Jae-Hoon Ha drove in two with his eighth homer, while Michael Burgess accounted for the other run with a triple.

Starter Jeffery Lorick allowed all three earned runs, but punched-out eight Flying Tigers in his six innings. Eduardo Figueroa and Jeffry Antigua held Lakeland scoreless the rest of the way, with Figueroa earning a hold.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (43-27)
Tennessee looked like they were in control on Sunday, leading 6-3 in the fifth inning. However, the Smokies got a taste of their own medicine, as Chattanooga scored eight runs off the bullpen as Tennessee skidded into the All-Star break with an 11-6 loss. Rafael Dolis was hung with the loss after giving up five earned runs in 0.2 innings. Ryan Flaherty and Steve Clevenger were each 3-for-5, with Flaherty delivering his 13th home run. Brett Jackson, batting third in the line-up, was 2-for-5 with his seventh homer.

The Northern Division All-Stars, including twelve Tennessee Smokies, defeated the Southern Division 6-3 in the Southern League All-Star Game Tuesday night. Matt Spencer was 1-for-2 with a run scored, while Blake Lalli was also 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI. Rafael Dolis pitched a scoreless 0.2 innings for a hold.

Click Here for Complete Box Score from Southern League All-Star Game

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (31-42)
Iowa decided to put the disaster that was last week behind them, as they came from being down 5-3 to defeat Albuquerque 8-5 on Sunday. Bryan LaHair continues to be dominant, going 2-for-5 with three RBI and smacking his 19th home run. Bobby Scales had a 1-for-3 evening while cracking his eighth homer. Ty Wright was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Fives were wild for starter Alberto Cabrera. In 5.2 innings, Cabrera allowed five earned runs while walking five and striking out five batters. Blake Parker came to the rescue, hurling three innings of scoreless baseball. John Gaub got the last two outs for his second save.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The I-Cubs couldn’t muster enough runs, even with nine hits, as they dropped the series finale to Albuquerque 4-3 on Monday. There was a Fernando Perez sighting, as he was 2-for-3 with a stolen base. Tyler Colvin and Marquez Smith joined Perez in having a multi-hit game. Starter Ramon Ortiz went deep into the ballgame again, allowing four runs (three earned) while striking out eight in seven innings.

Casey Coleman pitched Iowa to a 3-3 tie of Memphis on Tuesday, and then turned it over to the bullpen in the seventh inning. Esmailin Caridad was then torched for seven earned runs, and Jeff Stevens served up three more as the I-Cubs went down 13-3. Lost in the process was Scott Moore. Moore was a perfect 4-for-4 with an RBI.

On Wednesday, Iowa dropped the first game of a double-header 3-2 to Memphis in eight innings. Starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx allowed two earned runs while striking out three in 5.1 innings. Blake Parker suffered the loss after giving up an earned run in the eighth inning. Ty Wright led the offense with two hits, while Scott Moore drove in both runs.

Rookie – AZL Cubs (1-1)
The Arizona League began play on Monday, June 20. They defeated the AZL A’s on Tuesday night 8-5. Shortstop Kenny Socorro was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Third Baseman Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-5. Right-hander Ramon Garcia pitched four innings of relief, allowing two earned runs as he was credited for the win. PJ Francescon threw two scoreless innings for the save.

Dominican Summer League
This week in the Dominican Summer League, the Cubs 1 team has a record of 8-10 and the Cubs 2 team is currently 10-9.

Outfielder Mayke Reyes remains the hitting leader for C-1 with a .320 average. Reyes also has four doubles, a home run, eleven RBI, and eleven stolen bases in twelve attempts. Outfielder Jeffrey Baez is hitting .267 with four doubles, a home run, ten RBI and ten stolen bases. Right-handed pitcher Alexander Santana continues to be the pitching leader at 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and ten strikeouts.

On Cubs 2, 3B Jeimer Candelario continues to lead in hitting with a .328 average, along with four doubles, a home run, thirteen RBI and an incredible eighteen walks. Shortstop Carlos Penalver is hitting .311 with four doubles and twelve RBI. Outfielder Delbis Garcia has joined the team leaders, batting .298 with six doubles, a triple, a home run, and twelve RBI. Left-handed pitcher Victor Garcia has been the most consistent on C-2, with a 1-0 record, a 3.18 ERA, and 1.18 WHIP, along with twenty strikeouts.

News and Notes
Right-handed pitcher Angel Guzman was assigned to Daytona from Peoria. Left-hander pitcher Cameron Greathouse and OF Kyung-Min Na were assigned to Boise from Peoria.

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  • GrantJones7

    DJ Fitzgerald released also

    • Tom U

      Thanks Grant!

      The Boise  Hawks made the flurry of moves broadcaster Mike Safford alluded to the other night, after deadline. More to come in Monday’s report.

      • GrantJones7

        There deffinatly were a lot, thats the one that stuck out ecause he had a solid year last year

  • paulcatanese

    Guzman looks like he is coming along nicely. I would not like to see him under Quade anytime soon, that could a regression for Guzman, as I really believe Quade has no idea on how to handle pitchers. After all the hard work put in by Guzman I would treat him very gingerly.
    By the way, as long as he is with the Cubs, have been very impressed with LeMahieu, just wish he could get a fair shake.

  • Aaron

    There is absolutely nothing to report on the draft signing status. This is certainly a massive blow to the Cubs, and especially Ricketts, who came out and said they’d spend more on the amateur draft than they ever have before.

    Meanwhile, draftees are making college plans to either return to school (draft eligible sophomores, juniors, and JUCO) or pack their bags and leave for school in a little over a month (HS players).

    As I mentioned last night, almost all of the remaining HS picks have excellent options for college. This does NOT bode well for the Cubs, and is one of the major reasons they’ve signed 5 non-drafted free agents (also as I mentioned last night)

    The time to really hit the panic button is when June 26th rolls around, and they haven’t signed anymore of their draft picks. The reason for that is, it’s very rare that teams will sign more of their picks leading up to the deadline. Historically, the 26th seems to be the cut-off for the Cubs in the past in terms of making a flurry of moves, and the reasons are really simple….not only do players have college decisions to make and start moving belongings, but the later they sign, the worse off they’ll be player development-wise (both the player and the team).

    Teams will often load up their AZL rosters with high school kids, and college players that sign late, while the advanced Rookie Leagues, like Boise, will load up their rosters with college players that are game-ready (meaning they haven’t had a long lay-off).

    Right now, the Boise roster is filled to the brim with guys from EXST, most of whom couldn’t cut it at Peoria and Daytona, so they were re-assigned to EXST and thus either Mesa or Boise. 

    Here’s a list of guys that are fringe that likely wouldn’t even be on Boise’s roster right now if the Cubs would stop messing around and get some of their picks signed:
    Dustin Fitzgerald
    Santo Rodriguez
    Yilver Sanchez
    Hector Mayora
    Chad Noble
    Jose Guevara
    Wilson Contreras
    Dustin Harrington

    These guys would either be released, sent to Mesa, or sent back to the Dominican Summer League.

    Mesa’s roster is even worse. Over half that team would be in DSL right now (or released) if the Cubs would just get on their horse, and sign some more picks.

    This is where a smart baseball guy, like a Pat Gillick, would be able to advise Ricketts on the dangers of going with a lot of HS picks, and being unwilling to pay considerably over-slot to do so.

    All of the depth that the Cubs have built up in their system the past few years under Wilken is in jeopardy of being diminished if they don’t sign at least 50% of this draft class.

    Think about this for a second…..Almost all of the Cubs’ true prospects reside in Daytona and Tennessee. 

    If the Cubs decide to blow the team up, you could very well see half of the AA roster at Wrigley in September with these guys getting the call:
    McNutt
    Dolis
    Struck
    Beliveau
    Rhoderick
    Clevenger
    Ridling
    Flaherty
    M. Gonzalez
    Vitters
    B. Jackson
    Spencer

    That would mean that the following guys would likely get moved up to AA if the dismantling happens near the trade deadline:
    Lorick
    Rosscup
    Kurcz
    Batista
    Serrano
    Brenly
    Bour
    Watkins
    Cerda
    Crawford
    Ha

    So, you can see how this would have a trickle-down effect throughout the entire system. When you don’t sign your draft picks, it can have a devastating effect on the whole system. Winning breeds confidence in players. That’s not to say that good players haven’t been on losing teams in the past, but when a bunch of prospects come up through the system together, have success both personally and as a team, then get the call to MLB, you can see the positive effects throughout the league, and the Rays and Brewers are an excellent case study on that.

    • cubtex

      It is still June!!! There is no need to speculate on who will or won’t sign this early. I didn’t sign till mid July and the College baseball season isn’t even over yet. Get back to me in 3 weeks. Last year 20 1st round draft picks were still unsigned in August…..2 weeks prior to the deadline. That is 20 out of 32 picks! Relax man! It is not even close yet to start ripping Ricketts for not spending money on draft picks. I think everyone needs to wait and see how it plays out!

      • Denny Hittmee

        Buster Olney,”Brett Jackson’s is rumored to be in serious trade talks.” Heard on-air with play-by-play radio announcer at Tuesday’s Southern League All Star Game.  Olney was featured speaker at luncheon banquet earlier in the day.

        • Bryan

          Of course, because in the eyes of JH we’re still in contention, and need more over-the-hill, overpaid veteran presence. 

        • ldsteam2011

          WTF?

        • Hansened43

          trade with who? Idont trust Henry with any trade or signing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

          I really doubt there is any legs to that one with Ricketts screaming about building from with in. Unless you can get a Kemp or Pence to mind the middle of your line up for the next 5 years it would be hard for Ricketts to sign off on it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            Has anyone heard anything else about this? I have been looking at rumor sites and twitter and what ever else I can find and no dice. Makes me wonder if it was not space filler by Olney.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            I have not, this is the first I’ve read/heard anything about the possibility. The last update from a mainstream source (Levine) mentioned a possible call-up for Jackson sometime in July.

      • Dorasaga

        The Cardinals signed more than half of their 50 draftees by June 14 (a week after the draft). They already assigned all of these talents to minor league baseball. A week ago, I was checking the Braves, whom also signed most of their amateurs. (Exactly half, 25 men, signed as far as today.)

        The Cubs is behind the league. Jim Hendry is not muscling. The Ricketts is against his own words. Cubs fans are ridiculed on talk shows as stupid for supporting a losing franchise. I rest my case.

        • carmelo

          Remember college seniors will sign ASAP, they have no other choice but to sign or never play again—-also, college juniors will probably sign somewhat quick because rarely do they go back for their senior years.  It’s the high school guys who take longer to sign—–are the Cardinal/Braves players mostly college guys or high school guys?

          • Dorasaga

            Carmelo,

            Most of the Braves top 20 signees are college juniors, while the Cards got about half high school and half mixed with juniors and seniors. You can go here and browse for yourself (click on “Team”):

            http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2011/draftcaster.jsp

            Tampa Bay Rays signed almost 30 of their 2011 Draft. Most of their talents are high schoolers.

            I mean, let’s face the fact. The Cubs is moving on a glacier’s pace, compared to the better half of the league.

            I will also remind you that it’s better for players development when you can assign draftees (signed) to play pro. earlier.

          • cubtex

            Agreed it is better…..but again…..not panic time.

          • carmelo

            Thank you.

          • Anthony

            Agree, but sometimes the bait isn’t large enough for a kid to skip his senior season of college. Aside from finishing up the degree, there is a value in playing that 4th season for your college program. This doesn’t apply to early round college juniors in the high bonus rounds, but to the next tier. I know the 2 Boise drafted seniors set a dollar amount in the 2010 Draft, obviously, those bonus demands were never met. Both left their respective college programs as record-setters, and with the revolving door pro baseball is, those records can stand the test of time and make for nice barstool chatter when they are older.

    • carmelo

      Mr. LOL—school hasn’t even gotten out yet here on the west coast—let the kids graduate and then maybe worry about signing.  Do you think the two top pitchers from UCLA are going to sign today and go out and throw more innings?  Those 2 will never throw one inning this summer—they’ll sign and then report to instructional leagues in Oct. Is that going to ruin their careers?  Why is everything doom and gloom with you? 

    • Tom U

      Aaron and Cubtex, I agree with you both. With a little more than two weeks removed from the draft, it is a little early to push the panic button. However, with a  little more than two weeks until the All-Star break, and the traditional beginning of the mythical “trading season”, the Cubs are in a unique position.

       If they can sign four or five of their top draft choices, they can use the signings to squeeze out some of the dead weight at the top of the minors. Some of the best prospects will have a few weeks seasoning at Triple-A before the Cubs become involved in trades.

      • cubtex

        It’s always nice to sign players early………but, let’s not assume the Cubs will only sign x amount of players yet. I just think there is no way to put a % on it this early.

        On another note… you mentioned the lack of 3rd base prospects in the minors. I hope Baez will not be moved to 3rd right away. Is Candelario someone to keep an eye on?

        • Tom U

          Scouts are very excited about the fact that as a good young offensive player, Candelario is willing to take walks. As a third baseman, from what I’ve heard, he is “developing”.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Matt Szczur made the roster for the XM All-Star Futures Game. Sunday prior to the All-Star game. Brett Jackson, Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo have participated in the past

    • Denny Hittmee

      Neil and Ids . . .Jackson has not played well since injuring pinky finger.  Doesn’t swing at bad pitches (lots of walks) but is not hitting the good ones (plenty of k’s).  Cubs may be ready to cut bait while BJ’s value high. Szczur is running up good numbers at Low A, but football players rarely make good baseball players.  High A will be a moderate jump but his performance at AA will give a clearer reading.  As a point of reference, both Flaherty and Vitters were weak at AA last year and sent to Daytona (one had injury but played poorly at Tenn.).  This year, Flaherty is a legit SL MVP candidate for 1st half of year.  Vitters is finally acknowledging he has to sometimes hit the ball to the opposite field. His average will continue to climb.  Hopefully his errors will decline. 

      • cubtex

        I would hope that they are not looking to deal B Jax. That makes zero sense since they currently have a weak outfield in the bigs with Fuko likely gone and a big question in Colvin. I have to disagree with the statement that football players usually don’t make good baseball players. Brian Jordan, Todd Helton and many more!

      • Guest

        Pinky Sminky Alou didn’t even have one of his pinkies on the bat and he put up 40 hr’s trading Jackson is laughable for that reason…

      • Tom U

        In his last ten games, Brett Jackson has hit .306 with 2 HR’s and 8 RBI. 

        With LeMahieu with the parent club, Jackson has been batting third while Junior Lake has led off.

      • Tom U

        Denny great to see your post. 

        The trouble that former football players have fallen into when trying to play baseball is they use there speed and athleticism to make up for lack of polish on their skills. This usually works for a short while, then the opposition catches up with them.

        However, I’ve not seen that with Szczur. In fact, its been quite the opposite.  Szczur has never been a slap hitter, using his speed to pile up gaudy statistics. Rather, he’s always driven the ball, and now its beginning to pay off. Szczur is hitting more for extra bases, and has five home runs. While he’ll never be a home run hitter, its good to see Szczur improve his skill level.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.

    • Anthony

      High bonus round high school players usually use the entire summer up to the deadline to sign. Each of these kids and their families have to set a dollar amount to skip the college experience, not only in baseball, but academic advancement and most importantly, the social aspect and maturity.

      Mid round/Late round high school players usually don’t sign and take the draft honor as an “atta boy” and go off to college to mature unless they are not good students.

      The college juniors drafted early have little reason NOT to sign unless they get lowballed, but they leave money on the table when becoming a senior sign the following draft.

      As far as the Cubs minor league system, it should be looked at from the top down first. AA TENN should hold the top perceived prospects, and I include Bour and Ha in that group, they need to move up, and Sczcur and Rohan move up to Daytona. Burgess is the same player he was when drafted out of high school. Power, and a huge hole in the swing. You would think a player would do what is necessary to change that, if they were capable.

      They can plus a few holes in Daytona and Peoria until a few Boise players get at least 100 at bats under their belt and maybe move up and push the system.