In what appears to be a system-wide approach, every team relied on a score-at-will offense; solid, fundamental defense; keep ‘em close starting pitching; and a shutdown bullpen as all five teams ended the week with winning records.
Jay Jackson, Chris Rusin, Dae-Eun Rhee, Matt Loosen, and Luis Liria all had outstanding pitching efforts, while Marwin Gonzalez has been lights-out in Iowa.
Austin Kirk tossed a no hitter for the Chiefs on Monday night … the first nine-inning no hitter for the Chiefs since 1988. Kirk struck out a career-high 10 hitters, walked two and faced just one over the minimum on 101 pitches.
All of this and more in an expanded edition of the CCO’s Down on the Farm Report … Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (9-8)
Outfielder Reggie Golden displayed some of the awesome potential predicted of him on Wednesday, as Boise fell to Tri-City 5-3. Golden followed up hitting his first home run the previous night by going 3-for-3 with a double, stolen base, and an outfield assist. Newcomers Travis Garcia and Rafael Lopez, as well as relative newcomer Kenny Socorro enjoyed multi-hit nights. Starter Jin-Young Kim was not on top of his game, lasting only an inning as he allowed two earned runs. Hector Mayora didn’t fare much better, while Austin Reed allowed only an earned run in four innings of work.
Boise was leading Tri-City 2-1 in the bottom of the third on Thursday, when a throwing error by starting pitcher Willengton Cruz caused things to unravel, as the Hawks ended up losing to the Dust Devils 9-3. Cruz ended up allowing three runs, one of them earned. Reliever Dustin Fitzgerald would then put gas on the fire, allowing six runs (five earned) in 1.2 innings. Joe Zeller made his Boise debut with a scoreless 2.2 innings, striking out three batters. Pin-Chieh Chen continues to be the offensive leader, going 2-for-5 on the night. Wilson Contreras, who has been swinging a hot bat lately, was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Pitching was the story as Boise made their first trip to Yakima on Friday. Luis Liria was throwing zeroes, two-hitting the Bears over five innings while striking out six batters in an 11-3 victory. Kyler Burke remains a work in progress, as he allowed three earned runs in his three innings, although he did strike out six batters. Right-hander Charles Thomas seems further along in his conversion, with a scoreless inning of work.
In his first start at catcher, Rafael Lopez sizzled. He ended up going 3-for-3 with his first home run, three RBI, and three runs scored. Ben Klafczynski broke out in a big way, as he was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Brad Zapenas also enjoyed a 2-for-5 night, with two doubles.
Five errors wound up costing Boise, as their 7-2 loss to Yakima on Saturday was the only thing preventing a system wide sweep. Ben Wells was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) in four innings. Piggyback starter Jose Rosario gave up two unearned runs in his four innings of work. Kyung-Min Na got the start at leadoff and responded by going 2-for-4. Ben Klafczynski also went 2-for-4.
On Sunday, Yao-Lin Wang allowed only one earned run in 3.2 innings as Boise fell to Yakima 2-1. Wang struck out five, while Cameron Greathouse pitched a scoreless 0.2 inning. Bryce Shafer was hung with the loss, as he gave up an earned run in his 1.2 innings. Travis Garcia doubled, and came home on Pin-Chieh Chen’s single for the Hawks’ only run.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (36-44)
On Thursday, starter Eric Jokisch was cruising with a seven-strikeout effort against the Burlington Bees, until he gave up a two-run homer with one out in the seventh inning. Newcomer Dan Berlind then allowed two runs (one earned) as Peoria ended up losing 4-2. Anthony Giansanti and Arismendy Alcantara each had multi-hit games, and an RBI apiece.
In plain speaking, Peoria simply laid an egg on Friday night, as Burlington embarrassed the Chiefs 18-4. There was plenty of blame to go around, as Hayden Simpson allowed six earned runs on six hits in 1.2 innings. Su-Min Jung followed, and gave up five earned runs in 2.1 innings. P.J. Francescon was then rocked for seven earned runs 1.2 innings. Alvaro Sosa and infielder Pierre LePage (in a scoreless inning of relief) finally put an end to the scoring. Richard Jones was 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, while Rubi Silva was 3-for-5.
After being embarrassed on Friday night, Peoria got a lift as Matt Loosen allowed only one earned run in seven innings, striking out four, as the Chiefs defeated Burlington 5-1 on Saturday. Brent Ebinger then came on for an inning of work and went scoreless. Larry Suarez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to remain unscored upon for the season.
Shortstop Elliot Soto was the offensive leader, as he was 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Brandon May had an RBI triple, while Matt Szczur swiped his seventeenth base.
In a pitcher’s duel, Peoria couldn’t hold Clinton down as the Lumber Kings defeated the Chiefs 3-2 on Sunday in ten innings. Graham Hicks struck out six in five innings, allowing only an earned run. Yohan Gonzalez was tagged for an unearned run in his two innings, while Dan Berlind surrendered the game winner. The offensive leader was Greg Rohan, who was 2-for-5 with an RBI, while Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (53-28)
Rain on Thursday forced a double-header on Friday, and the D-Cubs’ pitching was up to the challenge. Angel Guzman started game one and allowed only one hit in his two scoreless innings. Jeffry Antigua let in an earned run in his two innings, while Marcus Hatley and Casey Harmon blanked Tampa the rest of the way, as Daytona won 2-1. Evan Crawford led the way offensively, going 2-for-2 with two stolen bases, while Justin Bour cranked his seventeenth homer to provide all the scoring.
Game two was typical of what can be expected from the pitching rich Florida State League, as Daytona won 1-0. Dae-Eun Rhee showed that when he is on, he can be one of the best pitchers in the organization from top-to-bottom. Rhee went the distance for Daytona, allowing only two hits while striking out six in seven innings. The D-Cubs’ only scoring came in the fifth, when Jake Opitz drove in Michael Brenly.
In a style of play that seems to be evolving in Daytona and Tennessee, the D-Cubs relied on their offense and a shutdown bullpen as they cruised to a 7-3 win over Dunedin on Saturday. Jae-Hoon Ha broke out of a slump with a 3-for-5, two doubles, and two RBI performance. Michael Brenly was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Michael Burgess and Evan Crawford also had multi-hit games, with Crawford swiping his nineteenth base.
Jeffrey Lorick improved to 7-2 on the season, as he overcame his own throwing error, allowing three runs (one earned) over 5.1 innings. Aaron Kurcz, Oswaldo Martinez, and Frank Batista shutout the Blue Jays the rest of the way, allowing only one hit over 3.2 innings.
Daytona slugged it out toe-to-toe, but wound up losing to Dunedin 9-8 on Sunday. Down 6-3 in the fifth inning, Daytona exploded for five runs on the top of the sixth. Jae-Hoon Ha was the leader, going 3-for 5 with two RBI and a stolen base. Dustin Harrington had his first multi-hit game as a D-Cub, with a 3-for-4 afternoon. Evan Crawford was 2-for 4 with his twentieth stolen base. However, relievers Eduardo Figueroa and Jordan Latham weren’t up to the task, allowing four runs between them in 4.2 innings. Juan Serrano started and gave up five earned runs in 3.2 innings.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (50-31)
Tennessee followed a familiar script on Thursday, showing Carolina that with their offense and bullpen, the Smokies are never out of it. Tennessee rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Mudcats 7-5. Starter Nick Struck kept the Smokies in the game, allowing five runs (four earned) while striking out four in 6.2 innings. Jeff Stevens blanked Carolina over 1.1 innings, striking out three batters. Kevin Rhoderick closed it out for his first save with a scoreless ninth inning.
The eighth inning rally came courtesy of pinch-hitter Rebel Ridling, who delivered a two-run double. Junior Lake popped his third home run, a two-run shot, while Matt Spencer plated two runs. Brett Jackson and Blake Lalli each enjoyed a multi-hit night.
Dallas Beeler kept the Smokies in the game Friday night, allowing three earned runs and striking out two over seven innings, only to watch Rafael Dolis serve up a three-run homer in the tenth as Tennessee lost to Carolina 6-3. Junior Lake looks as if he is finally getting his feet under him at Double-A, as he was 3-for- 5 with a triple. Brett Jackson led off the game with a solo home run, and was 2-for-4 on the night.
Tennessee went to extra innings again on Saturday, as they defeated Carolina 5-4 in ten innings. Esmailin Caridad almost spoiled a great effort by starter Chris Rusin. Rusin was thoroughly in control, one-hitting the Mudcats through six innings while striking out five batters. After a scoreless seventh, Caridad gave up three earned runs, including a two run bomb. Kevin Rhoderick uncharacteriscally allowed a solo homer to tie the score. Jeff Stevens finally shut Carolina down to pick up his second win.
Brett Jackson looks to be back in form, as he was 3-for-4 with two walks and an RBI. Josh Vitters drove in three of Tennessee’s five runs, as he was 3-for-6. Nate Samson surprised everyone by blasting his second homer of the season.
For the third straight night, the Carolina Mudcats gave Tennessee all that they could handle over ten innings, only to see the Smokies win 6-5 on Sunday. Once again the bullpen came to the rescue as starter Trey McNutt allowed five earned runs over 4.1 innings. Kyle Smit, Ryan Searle, Jeff Stevens, and Jeffrey Beliveau then stymied Carolina over the next 5.2 innings.
Tennessee had to mount their comeback without one of their leaders, as Brett Jackson was ejected in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes. Ryan Flaherty was the offensive spark, as he went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI. Steve Clevenger was 4-for-5, while Matt Spencer was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Rebel Ridling and Josh Vitters also had multi-hit games.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (41-43)
Iowa snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on Thursday when Scott Maine served up a grand slam in the ninth inning, as the I-Cubs lost to New Orleans 7-6. Alberto Cabrera kept Iowa in the game by allowing three earned runs in five innings while striking out two batters. Austin Bibens-Dirkx held the Zephyrs in check with three scoreless innings. Bryan LaHair continues to be Iowa’s main man, bashing his twenty-second homer, a two-run shot, while going 3-for-4. Marwin Gonzalez continued to be hot, as he went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI.
In his final tune-up before his promotion, Ramon Ortiz went scoreless for four innings, striking out two, as Iowa bested New Orleans 5-2 on Friday. Ortiz turned the game over to jack-of-all-trades Marco Carrillo, who allowed two earned runs while striking out four in his three innings. John Gaub and Justin Berg slammed the door, picking up a hold and a save respectively.
Tyler Colvin continues to swing a hot bat, as he was 2-for-4 with a double. However, Brad Snyder was the night’s hero, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. D.J. LeMahieu collected his first Triple-A hit and RBI.
In what may be a glimpse at the future, Tyler Colvin, Marwin Gonzalez, and D.J. LeMahieu led the way as Iowa allowed New Orleans to come back, only to pull away with a 9-4 victory. Colvin and LeMahieu were both 3-for-5, Colvin with an RBI while LeMahieu plated two runners. Gonzalez continued to stay hot, as he was 2-for-4 with two RBI. Ty Wright also chipped in, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
Robert Coello had a fine game, tossing six innings of shutout ball while striking out four batters. Blake Parker scuffled, allowing three earned runs in two innings. Scott Maine mopped up, allowing an earned run.
Enthusiasm has now seemed to overcome the Iowa Cubs. What at one time seemed to be a collection of minor league veterans slogging through yet another season has now found excitement, as evidence by their 8-1 victory over New Orleans on Sunday. The offense pounded out fourteen hits, starter Jay Jackson nearly went the distance, and even Fernando Perez showed a spark. Behind it all are newcomers Tyler Colvin, D.J. LeMahieu, and Marwin Gonzalez.
Colvin extended his hitting streak to seven games, over which he has batted .371. LeMahieu was 2-for-3 with an RBI. And Gonzalez raised his average to .550 by going 3-for-4 with a double. Perez was 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI, while Jonathan Mota was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
The offensive output must have been a shock to Jackson, who cruised through eight scoreless innings, striking out three batters. Jackson was lifted after allowing an earned run with one out in the ninth, and Justin Berg finished up.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned OF Luis Montanez to Iowa and recalled RHP Casey Coleman. Right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter was optioned to Iowa from the Chicago Cubs. Right-handed pitcher Joseph Zeller was assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Right-handed pitchers Yilver Sanchez and Santo Rodriguez were assigned to the AZL Cubs from Boise.
Right-handed pitcher Hayden Simpson was assigned the AZL Cubs from Peoria.
Top Prospect Watch
- Michael Burgess (OF) – .200, .303 OBP, .676 OPS, 16 Doubles, Triple, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 9 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 0-0, 4.05 ERA, 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 6 BB, 2.55 WHIP (Chicago Cubs)
- Micah Gibbs (C) – .251, .380 OBP, .678 OPS, 5 Doubles, HR, 13 RBI, Stolen Base, 24% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) – .313, .441 OBP, .941 OPS, 2 Doubles, 2 Triples, HR, 6 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases, Outfield Assist (Boise Hawks)
- Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .284, .318 OBP, .762 OPS, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 7 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Brett Jackson (OF) – .268, .385 OBP, .840OPS, 10 Doubles, 3 Triples, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 14 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
- D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .243, .243 OBP, .514 OPS, Double, RBI (Chicago Cubs) .353, .333 OBP, .686 OPS, 4 RBI (Iowa Cubs)
- Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-3, 4.50 ERA, 44.0 IP, 22 ER, 25 K, 17 BB, 1.61 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 1-6, 5.72 ERA, 61.1 IP, 39 ER, 46 K, 27 BB 1.68 WHIP (Peoria Chiefs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .312, .366 OBP, .805 OPS, 15 Doubles, Triple, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 17 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Peoria Chiefs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) -.282, .304 OBP, .748 OPS, 18 Doubles, Triple, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)
Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO