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

A rough end of the week saw only Boise bringing home more than one victory. Austin Kirk had a good follow-up to his no-hit performance, while Carlos Zambrano did well in his rehab assignment. Debuts were less than successful for Nick Struck, Chris Rusin, Matt Loosen, and Frank Del Valle. Iowa saw hot performances by Marwin Gonzalez and D.J. LeMahieu. The organization said goodbye to Augie Ojeda and Fernando Perez, while nine other players found new homes.

Matt Szczur participated in the XM Radio Futures Game on Sunday. Szczur and Brian Harper (USA Coaching staff) represented the Cubs’ organization. Szczur was 0-for-1 (groundout to third) and will report to the D-Cubs after All-Star weekend. The Cubs promoted Szczur Friday and made the formal announcement on Saturday afternoon.

Szczur came into play center in the top of the sixth for Team USA. Szczur showed good range and a quick first step on two plays in the sixth inning. Szczur made a routine catch in the ninth inning. Szczur hit only one time and saw only one pitch. Szczur grounded out to third and nearly beat the throw to first.

Matt Szczur and Brett Jackson received a mid-season nod from Baseball America earlier in the week. Jackson (32) and Szczur (48) made BA’s midseason top 50 prospects list.

All this, and more, in this edition of the Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (13-10)
Outfielder Ben Klafczynski‘s single in the bottom of the twelfth inning brought home Pin-Chieh Chen for a 3-2 victory over Yakima on Wednesday. In a tightly fought contest, Reggie Golden was 3-for-5, while Yaniel Cabezas was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Starting pitcher Luis Liria held the Bears at bay, allowing one earned run while striking out four in six innings. Kyler Burke had his longest pitching outing as a pro, striking out two and letting in an earned run in four innings. Recently promoted Colin Richardson picked up his first win by tossing two scoreless innings.

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Boise looked like they were in control on Thursday, but had to hold on as a late Everett rally brought them close. The Hawks ended up winning 9-5. Ben Wells gave up a first inning run, and then shut down the AquaSox for the next four innings, striking out three batters. Jose Rosario went the rest of the way, allowing four runs (two earned) in four innings.

Everyone pitched in on the Hawk’s offense, with Travis Garcia‘s 2-for-4 as the only multi-hit performance. Paul Hoilman belted a two-run homer, his fourth of the season, while catcher Jose Guevara also had a two-run home run, his first of the year.

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The Hawks took the lead over Everett 3-2 in the fifth inning on Friday, but couldn’t hold on as Boise ended up losing 4-3 to the AquaSox. Yao-Lin Wang had another good showing, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out two in five innings. Expect Wang to be stretched out in his future starts in preparation for promotion. Cameron Greathouse had an inconsistent performance, striking out seven but giving up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. Dustin Fitzgerald cleaned up with 1.1 scoreless innings. Pin-Chieh Chen stayed hot, going 2-for-5 with a double and RBI.

Down five runs in the bottom of the fifth on Saturday, Boise exploded for six runs, but couldn’t hold on as they lost to Everett 8-6. Austin Reed allowed four earned runs in three innings, while Jin-Young Kim followed and gave up an earned run in four innings. Charles Thomas had an unusually poor outing, being tagged for three earned runs in an inning of work. Wes Darvill continues to put up good numbers, and was 2-for-3 on the night, while Rafael Lopez was 2-for-5.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (39-47)
Cuban left-hander Frank Del Valle made his debut for Peoria Thursday night and allowed four runs (two earned) in three innings as the Chiefs lost to Beloit 10-4. Dan Berlind continued his struggles, allowing four earned runs in only an inning, while Alvaro Sosa let in two earned runs in two innings. P.J. Francescon restored order by pitching three scoreless innings. Richard Jones tried to carry the load, going 4-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-run homer. Rubi Silva was 2-for-4 with a double.

Friday saw Chicago Cub Carlos Zambrano make a rehab start, only to have his efforts spoiled as Peoria lost to Beloit 4-1 in ten innings. Zambrano pitched four innings, allowing an unearned run while striking out four batters. Su-Min Jung followed with one of his better performances, tossing four scoreless innings. Pete Levitt pitched a perfect ninth, but allowed three earned runs in the top of the tenth. In a pitcher’s duel, Matt Szczur and Anthony Giansanti had the only multi-hit games. Szczur scored the Chiefs’ only run on an RBI single by Richard Jones.

Peoria got back on the winning side of the ledger on Saturday. However, a blown save brought them to extra innings, as the Chiefs defeated Cedar Rapids 3-2 in ten innings. Austin Kirk followed up his no-hit performance by allowing two runs (one earned) over 6.1 innings while striking out five batters. Yohan Gonzalez came on after a wild pitch and walk by Kirk. Brandon May’s throwing error allowed the score to be tied, but Richard Jones cut down the go-ahead run at the plate. Gonzalez went scoreless for the remaining three innings while striking out four batters.

Ryan Cuneo has been hot recently, with 12 hits over his last nine games. Cuneo was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Richard Jones went yard, as his two-run homer gave the Chiefs the lead. Micah Gibbs was 2-for-4 and scored the winning run on Rubi “The Expensive Cuban” Silva’s single in the top of the tenth.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (54-32)
For the second week in a row, rain on Thursday washed out a D-Cubs’ game. The day off seemed to affect their performance on Friday, as Jeffrey Lorick spotted Hak-Ju Lee and the Charlotte Stone Crabs eight runs (seven earned) in an 8-3 loss. Jeffry Antigua, Aaron Kurcz, and Jordan Latham blanked Charlotte the rest of the way. Michael Burgess is showing a spark at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, while Dustin Harrington was 2-for-3 with a double and his first home run as a D-Cub.

Daytona had a 4-2 lead after one inning on Saturday, but couldn’t get out of their own way as three errors lead to seven unearned runs as they lost to Charlotte 12-6. Angel Guzman started and allowed three runs (one earned) in 1.1 innings. Larry Suarez followed for 1.1 innings, and five more unearned runs came in. Brett Wallach was pressed into service and gave up four earned runs in 5.1 innings. Michael Burgess continued to swing a hot bat, crushing his 11th home run while going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Logan Watkins was 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI, while Jae-Hoon Ha and Justin Bour also had multi-hit games.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (51-36)
In his Double-A debut, Matt Loosen kept the Smokies within reach, but despite out-hitting Montgomery 7-3, Tennessee ended up losing 4-2 on Thursday. Loosen pitched six innings and struck out five batters, but gave up all four earned runs. Kyle Smit had two scoreless innings. Brett Jackson was 3-for-4 on the evening, while Blake Lalli and Matt Spencer drove in the Smokies’ runs.

The Smokies game on Friday night was suspended after nine innings, tied at 4-4, due to curfew. After being resumed on Saturday, it went another five innings as Tennessee ended up losing to Chattanooga 5-4 in 14 innings. Starter Trey McNutt allowed a two-run homer with one out in the first, but did not return as a two-hour rain delay wiped out the rest of his evening. Six pitchers followed, with newly promoted Ramon Garcia tossing the final three innings. Nelson Perez was 3-for-4 with two RBI after blasting his fifth homer of the season. Blake Lalli, Matt Spencer, and David Macias also had multi-hit games.

In Saturday’s regularly scheduled game, Brooks Raley allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings as the Smokies fell to the Lookouts 6-1. In his first Double-A appearance, Brent Ebinger gave up two home runs in two innings. Kyle Smit finished with a scoreless ninth. Tennessee’s lone run came on Josh Vitters’ solo homer in the second inning.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (41-49)
In his Triple-A debut, Nick Struck kept the I-Cubs in the game, allowing two earned runs and striking out four in 5.1 innings, but wound up losing 3-2 to Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Iowa’s offense simply couldn’t muster any runs until the bottom of the ninth, when Bryan LaHair delivered a pinch-hit, two-run home run. Marwin Gonzalez continues to be devastatingly hot, going 2-for-4 with a double. Ty Wright had identical numbers.

With yet another debut Thursday night, Chris Rusin didn’t pitch too badly. Rusin allowed five earned runs in 4.2 innings, as Iowa lost to New Orleans in ten innings 7-6. Robert Coello helped keep the I-cubs in the ballgame by allowing an unearned run in 3.1 innings. Bryan LaHair and Brad Snyder each drilled three-run home runs, while D.J. LeMahieu and Marwin Gonzalez were each 2-for-4. Blake Parker pitched 1.2 innings and served up the game winning home run.

Starter Jay Jackson continues to show improvement, but was the hard-luck loser on Friday as the I-Cubs went down to the Zephyrs 4-0. Jackson held New Orleans to two earned runs while striking out eight over six innings. Under-utilized Marco Carrillo allowed two earned runs in two innings. The offense only managed four hits, as D.J. LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to nine games. Over the course of the streak, LeMahieu is hitting .429 with two doubles and four RBI.

Iowa only managed two runs Saturday on eight hits as the I-Cubs lost to New Orleans 4-2. Casey Coleman allowed four earned runs on two home runs in six innings of work. John Gaub mopped up with two scoreless innings. Scott Moore was 2-for-3 with two doubles, while D.J. LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to ten games with a 2-for-4 effort in his first start at shortstop.

News and Notes
Iowa released OF Fernando Perez and IF Augie Ojeda. Left-handed pitcher Brent Ebinger was assigned to Tennessee from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Ramon Garcia was assigned to Tennessee from the AZL Cubs. Right-handed pitcher Oswaldo Martinez was assigned to Daytona from Tennessee. Outfielder Matt Szczur was assigned to Daytona from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Carlos Zambrano was assigned to Peoria from the Chicago Cubs. Outfielder Ben Klafczynski was assigned to Peoria from Boise.

Peoria placed LHP Graham Hicks on the 7-Day disabled list; activated RHP Robinson Lopez from the 7-Day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Su-Min Jung was assigned to Boise from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Colin Richardson and OF Blair Springfield were assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Outfielder Taiwan Easterling was assigned to the AZL Cubs from Chicago Cubs.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .209, .311 OBP, .714 OPS, 19 Doubles, Triple, 11 HR, 45 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) – .254, .377 OBP, .674 OPS, 5 Doubles, HR, 15 RBI, Stolen Base, 26% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – .297, .422 OBP, .855 OPS, 3 Doubles, 2 Triples, HR, 9 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .278, .314 OBP, .741 OPS, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 7 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .265, .379 OBP, .837 OPS, 10 Doubles, 3 Triples, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 14 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.366, .386 OBP, .801 OPS, 2 Doubles, 4 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases (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) – 0-1, 19.29 ERA, 2.1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB 3.00 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .314, .366 OBP, .796 OPS, 15 Doubles, Triple, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 17 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.282, .304 OBP, .748 OPS, 18 Doubles, Triple, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

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