Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/18/11

Consistency has suffered on all levels, as continued roster moves have played havoc. One time offensive juggernaut Tennessee is now struggling. Peoria is searching for answers offensively, while Boise seemed to run into a buzz saw in Vancouver. However, the name of the game is speed, speed, speed in Daytona and Iowa, as the improvement has made their pitchers happy, and opposing batteries nervous.

All of that, and more, in this edition of CCO’s the Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (15-14)
Vancouver stymied the Hawks on Wednesday, managing only three hits in a 4-2 loss. No player collected more than one hit, and Reggie Golden and Wes Darvill drove in both runs. Starter Ben Wells was stretched out a bit, going five innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out four batters. Juan Rosario finished out the game, letting in two earned runs in three innings of work.

The Hawks outhit Vancouver 8-6 on Thursday, but just couldn’t string enough of them together, as they lost to the Canadians 5-1. Paul Hoilman was 3-for-4, while Wilson Contreras was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Starter Yao-Lin Wang impressed with nine strikeouts, but allowed three earned runs in 4.2 innings. Cameron Greathouse finished up, letting in two runs (one earned).

In a rare Friday matinee, Boise outlasted Vancouver 7-6 in eleven innings. The Hawks were leading 3-1 after five innings based on strong pitching by Su-Min Jung. Jung allowed an earned run and struck out two batters to lower his ERA to 1.80. Jin-Yeong Kim followed and gave up five earned runs in 1.2 innings to tie the score at 6-6. Colin Richardson and Bryce Shafer then blanked the Canadians the rest of the way.

Brad Zapenas and Wes Darvill were both 2-for-5 with a double and stolen base. Rafael Lopez drove in two, while Paul Hoilman blasted his sixth home run, a two-run shot.

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In a rain-shortened game, Boise lost to Vancouver on Saturday 6-2 in five innings. To take advantage of their team speed, the Hawks moved Pin-Chieh Chen to the third spot in the batting order, with Kyung-Min Na taking over at leadoff. Chen delivered by going 1-for-2 with an RBI and run scored. Rafael Lopez drove in Blair Springfield for Boise’s other run. Austin Reed did well for the first four innings, then fell apart in the fifth, allowing three earned runs. Reed ended up going 4.2 innings yielding six runs (five earned) while striking out three batters. Kyler Burke faced one batter before the game was stopped.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (42-50)
Well, they can’t all be no-hitters for Austin Kirk, as he and the Chiefs were smoked for fifteen hits in Peoria’s 10-2 loss to Lake County on Thursday. Kirk allowed six earned runs in four innings, while Robinson Lopez gave up three earned runs in 1.1 innings. Dan Berlind was somewhat better, letting in one earned run in 2.2 innings. P.J. Francescon was the only pitcher to walk away untouched, striking out three in his inning of work. Rubi Silva continues to thrive in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-5 with a triple. Arismendy Alcantara was 3-for -4.

Peoria righted the ship against the Lake County Captains on Friday, winning 6-5 in ten innings. It was a seesaw affair, with the lead changing hands five times. Elliot Soto (2-for-5, RBI, stolen base) singled home Ryan Cuneo (1-for-5) for the game-winner. Sergio Burrell was 2-for-4 with a double, while Richard Jones was also 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and his 17th homer.

Starling Peralta had another strong effort, allowing four runs (three earned) while striking out three in five innings. Pete Levitt pitched two scoreless innings. Yohan Gonzalez let in the tying runs, and then shut the door, tossing three innings for the victory.

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Outfielder Taiwan Easterling made a splash in his Peoria debut, but it wasn’t enough as the Chiefs fell to the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Saturday, 4-3 in thirteen innings. Easterling was 2-for-5 with his first professional home run, along with two RBI. Richard Jones and Anthony Giansanti were 2-for-6 each, while Micah Gibbs was 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Eric Jokisch had a good effort spoiled, as he went five innings allowing two earned runs while striking out five batters. Alvaro Sosa let in the game-tying run in his 2.1 innings, while Brent Ebinger pitched 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. P.J. Francescon gave up the winning run after tossing two innings

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (58-34)
Daytona got back into the win column, as they rapped out 18 hits in a 5-2 victory in 10 innings over Fort Myers on Thursday. Evan Crawford rose to second in the Florida State League in batting with a 4-for-5 evening. Justin Bour was 3-for-6 with a double, while Matt Cerda was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Logan Watkins, Michael Burgess, Michael Brenly, and Dustin Harrington each had multi-hit nights.

Jeffrey Lorick gave the D-Cubs a solid effort, giving up only an unearned run and striking out four in 5.2 innings. Eduardo Figueroa held the Miracle scoreless for 2.1 innings. Frank Batista picked up a blown save as he suffered an unearned run, while Jordan Latham blanked Fort Myers the rest of the way.

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On Friday, Daytona’s comeback bid fell short, as they lost to Fort Myers 5-4. Matt Szczur collected two hits, while Rafael Valdes was 2-for-3 with two RBI. The D-Cubs couldn’t overcome the deficit provided by Brett Wallach, as he allowed five earned runs in 5.2 innings while striking out four batters. Larry Suarez and Juan Serrano held the Miracle scoreless the rest of the game.

Using the organizational philosophy, Daytona relied on solid starting pitching, a potent offense, and lights-out bullpen to secure a 7-4 victory over Fort Myers on Saturday. Showing the way was the Florida State League’s leading hitter Evan Crawford, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI while swiping his 22nd base. Matt Szczur was 2-for-5, while Logan Watkins was 2-for-5 with a triple and RBI. Justin Bour cranked his 18th homer, and along with Michael Brenly and Rafael Valdes enjoyed a multi-hit night.

Casey Harman was given his second start and turned in a solid performance. Harman allowed three earned runs in four innings. Aaron Kurcz followed and blanked the Miracle over his two innings. Jordan Latham allowed an earned run in his 1.2 innings of work, while Frank Batista slammed the door for his 18th save.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (53-40)
The new-look Smokies kept things close on Wednesday then fell apart and Jeff Stevens imploded for five runs as Tennessee lost 10-2 to Mississippi. Matt Loosen was respectable, giving up three earned runs while walking five in five innings. Kyle Smit let things slip by allowing two earned runs in two innings. Then Stevens came in and was picked apart by the Braves’ offense. Oswaldo Martinez cleaned up and recorded the final out. Tennessee vets Josh Vitters and Steve Clevenger were 2-for-4, while David Macias drove in both runs.

GoodBrooks Raley showed up on Thursday, as the lefty allowed an earned run and struck out four in seven innings of Tennessee’s 5-4 victory over Mississippi. Kevin Rhoderick followed with a scoreless inning, while Rafael Dolis had a shaky ninth. Dolis allowed three earned runs to make it close.

Luis Flores came to the rescue for the offense, as he slammed two homers and drove in three in a 2-for-3 evening. Matt Spencer was 2-for-4.

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The Smokies showed signs of regaining the potent offense they had prior to promotions, but came up short in a 5-4 loss to Mississippi on Friday. Jae-Hoon Ha paced the ten hit attack by going 3-for-5 with a double. Rebel Ridling was 2-for-5 with a double. Ryan Searle, still adjusting to the starter role, allowed four earned runs in three innings. Oswaldo Martinez let in an earned run in two innings, while Jeffrey Beliveau and Marcus Hatley tossed-up zeroes the rest of the way.

Tennessee continued its offensive struggles on Saturday, as hard-luck pitcher Dallas Beeler wound up losing to Mississippi 5-2. Beeler tossed seven innings and allowed all five runs (four earned) while striking out three batters. Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless inning. Timely hitting was the problem, as the Smokies recorded nine hits but failed to provide run support. Rebel Ridling led the way, going 2-for-3 with a double. Nate Samson was 2-for-4.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (43-51)
Debut Thursday didn’t go so well, as Nick Struck was shelled for seven runs (five earned) in Iowa’s 8-4 loss to Oklahoma City. Struck pitched 4.2 innings, and the two unearned runs were a result of his throwing error. Marco Carrillo came on and restored order, allowing an earned run and striking out three in 2.1 innings. Robert Coello and Blake Parker tossed a scoreless inning each. Tyler Colvin blasted his 17th homer, while Brett Jackson and Ryan Flaherty each doubled in their Triple-A debut.

Speed was on display for Iowa on Friday, as their swift new top to the order completely rattled Oklahoma City in a 7-1 victory. With a battery of major league veterans, the RedHawks withered as Brett Jackson was 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and a stolen base. D.J. LeMahieu drove in Jackson for the I-Cubs’ first run, while Tyler Colvin forced an error with his speed. The main beneficiaries were Bryan LaHair, who thumped a two-run homer (his 26th), and Welington Castillo, who was 3-for-4. Ryan Flaherty also clubbed his first Triple-A home run.

With a renewed offensive output and speedy defense, Jay Jackson looked like a new man as he tossed a free-and-easy seven innings, allowing one earned run and striking out four batters. John Gaub and Justin Berg held Oklahoma City in check the rest of the way.

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After spotting Oklahoma City two runs to start the game on Saturday, Iowa turned things over to their offense, defense, and relief pitching as they bested the RedHawks 5-2. Casey Coleman survived a shaky first inning, and ended up allowing two earned runs in six innings while striking out four batters. Freshly back in Iowa, Chris Carpenter tossed two scoreless innings, while Scott Maine picked up his ninth save by striking out the side in the ninth.

Once again, the I-Cubs’ newcomers sparked the offense. Brett Jackson was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and an RBI. D.J. LeMahieu was 2-for-5 with and an RBI, while Ryan Flaherty was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. For the second consecutive night, Bryan LaHair stroked two-run homer, as he was 1-for-2 with two RBI.

Also worth mentioning is that the addition of Jackson, Flaherty and LeMahieu, along with Marwin Gonzalez and Tyler Colvin, has significantly tightened Iowa’s defense. It has allowed them to turn five double plays in the past three games, while cutting off the gaps in the outfield.

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News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned RHP Chris Carpenter and assigned RHP Dave Bush to Iowa. Iowa placed 3B Marquez Smith on the 7-Day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx was assigned to Tennessee from Iowa. Peoria placed 2B Pierre LePage on the 7-Day disabled list retroactive to July 13. Outfielder Taiwan Easterling was assigned to Peoria from the AZL Cubs. Outfielder Zeke DeVoss and LHP Andrew McKirahan were assigned to the AZL Cubs.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .215, .315 OBP, .715 OPS, 20 Doubles, Triple, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 9 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 0-0, 2.79 ERA, 9.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 K, 7 BB, 1.97 WHIP (Chicago Cubs) 2-1, 5.82 ERA, 21.2 IP, 14 ER, 22 K, 17 BB, 1.85 WHIP 3 Holds, 2 Saves (Iowa Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .254, .369 OBP, .673 OPS, 7 Doubles, HR, 17 RBI, Stolen Base, 28% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – .274, .384 OBP, .763 OPS, 3 Doubles, 2 Triples, HR, 10 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .276, .311 OBP, .733 OPS, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 HR, 47 RBI, 7 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs) .281, .329 OBP, .797 OPS, 7 Doubles, Triple, HR, 8 RBI, Stolen Base, Outfield Assist (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .256, .373 OBP, .816 OPS, 10 Doubles, 3 Triples, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 15 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies) .385, .467 OBP, 1.236 OPS, 3 Doubles, Triple, RBI, Stolen Base (Iowa Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.328, .355 OBP, .717 OPS, 2 Doubles, 6 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-3, 4.80 ERA, 45.0 IP, 24 ER, 26 K, 18 BB, 1.64 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-1, 16.62 ERA, 4.1 IP, 8 ER, 2 K, 5 BB 3.23 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) .263, .300 OBP, .563 OPS (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.281, .316 OBP, .753 OPS, 19 Doubles, Triple, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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