Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/05/11

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Click Here for the Second Quarter Recap of the Cubs’ System

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure." – W.J. Slim

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  • paulcatanese

    Nice post Tom. Is it going to be musical chairs again? Does Carpenter get back on a plane to Chicago with Mateo possibly going down?

    • Tom U

      My guess is  that Mateo goes on the DL in the corresponding move for Ramon Ortiz. Rodrigo Lopez then shifts back to the pen.

  • Tom U

    Congratulations to Austin Kirk and the Peoria Chiefs on their no-hitter.

    A complete summary and box score will be posted in Thursday’s Down on the Farm Report.

    • Bredstik

      Just wanted to take a minute to comment on Austin Kirk’s no hitter. I was fortunate enough to be at the game last night, and it was definitely something to see.  Kirk had great command, was ahead of the Lumberking hitters all night, and only threw 101 pitches.  I’d seen 2 of his other starts earlier this year (one in Quad Cities) and while good, was nowhere near his command from last night. Greg Rohan made a great diving catch in LF, and Matt Szczur a long running catch in CF, but aside from that there were not really any other near hits.  Nothing like being at a no-hitter, especially in a sold out ball park of 7500+ plus with standing room only.  The atmosphere was fantastic.  Being able to watch the largest fireworks display in the state from the ballpark was icing on the cake!

      Also wanted to give a quick shout out to Tom, Niel, and all the regular contributers to this site.  I’ve been a daily reader down here in the Peoria area for the past couple years.  Really enjoy the site and appreciate all of your hard work!

      • Richard Hood

        Thanks for the Birdseye view of the no no last night Rob. I wanted to go to a game this weekend but family comes first and had to go to the beach instead. Tough choice huh. But I am glad that you enjoyed the park I love the atmosphere there.

      • Neil

        Rob, thank you for filling in the gaps and the kind words

      • Tom U

        Thank you for the complement!

  • Bryan

    After watching the “tale of two cities” between the Cubs season performance and that of the Atlanta Braves, I can’t help but feel both disheartened and embarrassed by our Cubs current state.

    Here are the Braves with a current record of 50-36, and boasting the best team pitching in baseball.  The pitching staff is anchored by veterans Hudson (age 36), and Lowe (age 38).  Behind that is all home grown talent consisting of Tommy Hanson (age 25, record 10-4), Jair Jurrjens (age 25, 11-3), Brandon Beachey (age 25, 3-1), with home grown set up man and All Star Jonny Venters (age 26, ERA of 1.56) and rookie home grown closer Craig Kimbrel (age 23, ERA of 2.51 with 25 saves…will shatter the rookie saves mark this year).

    The regular lineup includes home grown talent that includes All Star Brian McCann (age 27), Freddie Freeman (age 22), and Jason Heyward (age 22).  Freeman is a wonderful example to note.  The young man struggled a bit out of the gate, but the team never gave up on him.  He continued to get his 4 daily at-bats, and that organizational patience now has been rewarded with Freddie hitting .272 with 11 HR’s, 38 RBI’s, and 18 doubles, along with great defensive play.  And they didn’t let an aging Derrick Lee (or some other aging vet) block his progression. 

    And let’s not think this team hasn’t had its issues, with DL players including Chipper, Heyward, Jurrjens and Prado.  Yet, as a team they still succeed. Yes, the Braves have made their share of retrospect bad moves as they currently have the the NL version of Adam Dunn in Dan Uggla (batting .173), years ago had the albatross contract in Denny Neagle (Mr. Injury), and traded away a young Mark DeRosa (which Bobby Cox openly regretted for years).  But all told, the scorecard on the Braves is pretty darn great.

    It all starts with exceptional leadership, from the GM on down, and then having the talent, and commitment, to blend in new home-grown youth every year. I should also add that the Braves have now gone 7 games without an error…take note Quade relative to the correlation of fundamental baseball and winning. 

    The Cubs, year after year, just don’t get it.  Hendry can never match up to most GM’s in the league, and I’m sorry to say that we likely have the worst manager in all of baseball (in a great baseball market).  To me, the Cubs swoon really started when Hendry missed the mark, not once, but twice, to get Joe Girardi as manager.  Instead, we’ve witnessed the over-the-hill gang of Dusty and Lou, followed by the puppet Quade, and his band of misfits with a particular emphasis on Ivan DeJesus.  Is it truly this hard to run a baseball franchise with a $130m payroll?  On the north side of Chicago I guess so.

    • jw

      You have nailed it Bryan…that is the way Pro franchises are run and it makes the Cubs an embarrassment

  • zonk

    Is it me, or have we made about a roster move EVERY DAY?  Not to take anything away from Quade’s “managing” effort, but we have had a truckload of injuries.  It’s getting insane.

    • paulcatanese

      Not just you Zonk,I feel the same way. Do you think the injuries to the pitching staff has anything to do with Quade? You bet, he dosent have a clue how to manage pitchers, leaves them in too long,short rest, long rest, it dosent matter. Has pitchers go beyond their limit ( Mateo ) and the next time out, bingo, sore arm. It goes back to spring training when conditioning and fundementals were supposed to be stressed. He(Quade) has continualy made the wrong move with the staff, and thats where the insanity comes in.

      • jey518

        Exactly, and all the talk about holding people accountable and he gets no blame from Hendry.

  • gocubs

    What is the plan for Colvin at this point?  He will be 26 in September, which is not old but I would say its time to start him and see what he can do over a full season.  I feel like he is getting dangerously close to turning into another one of these Hoffpauir, Fox, LaHair type guys who just keep crushing it in AAA but dont have a spot on the team.  

    Matt Szczur really seems to be rising quickly to be our #1 prospect.  If there is anyway they could unload Soriano, an outfield of Jackson, Szczur, and Colvin would be really fun to watch.    What is the Plan for Marwin Gonzalez?  He appears to be a utility guy…I see he has played a lot all over the field.   2012 Cubs…Jackson RFSzczur CFFielder 1BCastro SSRamirez 3BSoto CColvin LFBarney 2B

    • Richard Hood

      It is too soon to pencil Szczur in for 2012. Let him atleast get to Double A before you anoint him in your starting lineup.

      Jackson is probably a year away at this point so lets say Byrd gets traded next July and you pencil Jackson in then. I know a lot of people think that he is almost ready now but he needs to see some breaking ball pitchers before I say he can make his home at Wrigley any time soon.

      Colvin still needs to understand that no matter what you hit if you can not take a walk and be selective you are going to struggle in the major leagues. His OBP (.309) is horrible for the way his average has climbed (.295). I said last year that because he was jumping strait from Double A that he needed to figure out a way to hit breaking pitches that paint the black. The last time he was up he looked horrible against anything with sharp movement. Let him really start crushing the ball before we even put him into a conversation for next year.

      I started paying attention to Gonzalez in last years winter leagues where he was a beast. I really do not know what his future is but he actually is going to see some Triple A pitching for a while so that is a good thing. I actually like his upside more than Barney’s so you will probably see one of them traded at some point just because they are similar in their positions. Both of them are going to be good guys as super subs off the bench.

      • Neil

        Keep in mind Szczur will be added to the 40 man this winter due to the contract he signed. He will be on the fasttrack

        • Richard Hood

          yeah but not that fast Neil. If he gets to Dbl A this year and a cup of coffee next year he will be right on target and we will not have to waste a spot on the 40 man for very long.

        • Denny Hittme

          I think all here should realize nobody is really a “prospect” until he gets it done at AA.  This fascination with Szczur is premature.  Ditto for Ha (who was overmatched in his brief visit with the  Smokies).  Jackson is still learning at AA -although he hit 2 HR’s last night, he tends to have meltdowns with umpires – 3 ejections already this year and several near heave-hos.  Flaherty didn’t do well at AA in ’10 and went back to Daytona.  This year, he is Smokies MVP.  And so on . . .nice talent in Tennessee.  There are others, both on the mound and in the batter’s box.  Just sayin . .

    • Kojak Osborne Jr.

      Unless Fukodome , Pena , or Byrd get traded there is no place for Colovin i would like to get a chance to play but if they bring him back up he will end up on the bench and would not get enough at bats.

  • Kojak Osborne Jr.
  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.