Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/04/11

As the minor league baseball season enters the final month of the regular season, two of the Cubs top prospects celebrated birthdays with good nights at the park … and one was named player of the week.

Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt celebrated birthdays on Tuesday. McNutt picked up a win with a solid start on his 22nd birthday and Jackson celebrated birthday number 23 by leading off the game against the Redbirds with a home run … his fourth at the Triple-A level. Greg Rohan was named Florida State Player of the Week on Monday … and the Chiefs streak of scoring three runs or less ended at 10 on Monday night.

The Iowa Cubs have had a rough season and reached a dubious mark on Monday. Iowa lost 8-7 to Memphis after Scott Maine served up a walk-off grand slam. The loss dropped Iowa to 47-63 on the season, the most games under .500 since 2000.

According to Baseball America, the Cubs signed their ninth round pick Garrett Schlecht to the highest signing bonus of the ninth round so far this year ($235,000). The 6-foot-2, 190 lefty hitting outfielder had been recruited by Middle Tennessee State University. The Cubs also signed their 15th round pick, C Justin Marra.

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

Tom is on assignment this week and will return Monday with the minor league reports …

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (21-25)
The Hawks had Monday night off and opened a five-game series against Salem-Keizer on Tuesday night.

Boise returned to the field Tuesday night and beat the Volcanoes 8-5. Dustin Fitzgerald picked up his second win of the season after blowing his first save of the year. Willengton Cruz started the game and gave up two runs, one earned, on six hits with a pair of walks and strikeouts. Fitzgerald surrendered a run on a hit with two walks in two innings.

Zeke DeVoss drove in two of the Hawks eight runs with a 1-for-4 night that included a walk. Wes Darvill was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Reggie Golden drove in three with a double (1-for-4).

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Ben Wells picked up the win on Wednesday night as Boise held on to beat the Volcanoes 3-2. Wells allowed a run on five hits without a walk or a strikeout in five innings. Kyler Burke earned his third hold of the season. Burke struck out five in 3 1/3 innings without a walk (one run on three hits). Bryce Shafer collected his eighth save of the season.

Paul Hoilman had a big night with a 1-for-2 performance that included his 11th homer of the season, a two-run shot. Hoilman also waked twice. Rafael Lopez was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (47-61)
The Chiefs held on Monday night and beat the Clinton LumberKings 8-6. Clinton scored a pair in the ninth on a two-run homer by Kevin Rivers off Yohan Gonzalez. The young right-hander settled down and did not allow another run in route to his third save of the season.

Starling Peralta had a solid outing and gave up two runs on five hits in five innings. Peralta walked three, uncorked a wild pitch and struck out three.

Taiwan Easterling (1-for-6 with a double, a run scored and a RBI) hit in the leadoff spot again but it was Dustin Geiger (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored) and Richard Jones (3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) that led the way for the Chiefs offense.

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The Chiefs took a 2-0 lead into the eighth inning against the Burlington Bees on Tuesday night. The Bees scored three in the top of the eighth against Alvaro Soto … Berlind replaced Soto with two outs in the eighth and allowed two inherited runners to score. The Chiefs tied the game in the home half on a double by Elliot Soto (1-for-3 with a double and a RBI) that plated Richard Jones (1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored).

After Dan Berlind (1-3) kept the Bees off the board in the ninth, Rubi Silva (3-for-5 with a triple and a RBI) tripled home Taiwan Easterling (2-for-4 with a run scored and a walk) with the winning run.

Eric Jokisch had another good start and was able to work around the three free passes he issued on Tuesday night. Jokisch gave up no runs on two hits with four strikeouts and the three walks in five innings. Pete Levitt tossed two scoreless with a walk and a strikeouts.

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Frank Del Valle picked up his first victory of the season on Wednesday night in Peoria’s 5-2 win over the Bees. Del Valle allowed one run on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts on five innings. Luis Liria picked up his first save piggybacking Del Valle with four solid innings. Liria surrendered one run on five hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

Taiwan Easterling scored two of the Chiefs five runs (1-for-3 with a walk) and Richard Jones hit his 19th longball of the season … a solo shot in the seventh. Jones went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.

Dustin Geiger registered not one but two sac flies that drove in two runs and he scored a run of his own.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (67-42)
It took 10 innings for the D-Cubs to beat the Hammerheads on Monday night 4-3. Rafael Valdes drove in the winning run with a single in the 10th that plated Justin Bour with the game winner. Abner Abreu had a big night. Abreu scored one of the D-Cubs’ four runs on a 2-for-4 performance that included a double. Michael Brenly (2-for-5 with two RBI) and Rafael Valdes (2-for-5 with two RBI) drove in all four of Daytona’s runs.

Matt Szczur tripled and singled in five at bats.

Kyle Smit, who has dropped all the way to A-ball, picked up the win after pitching two shutout innings in relief of Dae-Eun Rhee. Rhee gave up three runs on four his with two walks, two home runs and five strikeouts in six innings. Angel Guzman started the game and gave up a hit and struck out a pair in his two innings of work.

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Daytona had Tuesday night off and opened a three-game series against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit Tigers) on Wednesday.

The D-Cubs returned to the field Wednesday night and picked up a win in walk-off fashion.

Logan Watkins led off the ninth with a single. Evan Crawford bunted him to second. After Justin Bour was intentionally walked, Michael Burgess hit into a 3-6 fielder’s choice. Jake Opitz put the ball in play but the Tigers’ shortstop, William Bergolla booted the ball and Watkins scored the game winner.

Frank Batista picked up the win after tossing a scoreless ninth. Jeffry Antigua pitched the first six innings and gave up three runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts.

Matt Szczur went 2-for-5 with a run scored and Michael Burgess drove in a pair with his 15th longball of the season. Justin Bour (1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a RBI) and Abner Abreu (2-for-4) had a good night at the plate.

Elliott Soto was 1-for-4 in his D-Cubs debut.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (63-46)
The Smokies beat the Barons for the second night in a row after an excellent seven-inning start by Marco Carrillo. Carrillo allowed one run on four hits in seven innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Jeff Beliveau gave up a rare run in the eighth on two hits and Marcus Hatley picked up his second save with a scoreless ninth.

Josh Vitters and Matt Spencer led the way on Monday night. Vitters scored a run and drove in another. Vitters finished the game 2-for-4. Spencer was 1-for-3 with a walk, a double and two RBI. Luis Flores stayed hot with a 1-for-4 performance that included a double and a run scored.

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Trey McNutt celebrated his 22nd birthday by picking up his second win of the season Tuesday night. The Smokies beat the Birmingham Barons 10-5 after a good start by the Cubs’ top pitching prospect.

McNutt allowed three runs on nine hits without a walk in six innings. McNutt struck out five and allowed a home run. Jeff Stevens had a rare off night at the Double-A level and allowed two runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning. Brent Ebinger and Kevin Rhoderick did not allow any runs over the final 1 1/3 innings of the game.

Jae-Hoon Ha had a huge night. Ha was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and drove in three runs (three RBI). Blake Lalli drove in three with a 2-for-2 night that included a double. Lalli came in as a pinch hitter for Ty Wright. Jim Adduci was 4-for-5 with a double and two runs scored hitting out of the top spot of Brian Harper’s lineup.

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The Smokies won their fifth in a row on Wednesday night with the 5-4 victory over the Birmingham Barons. Tennessee jumped out to an early lead behind Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who had a good outing. But Oswaldo Martinez and Marcus Hatley could not hold the lead. Rafael Dolis earned his seventh win of the year (7-5) with two perfect innings of relief.

Nelson Perez (1-for-4) singled in Nate Samson with the game winner in the bottom of the eighth.

Jim Adduci (2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a triple) and Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and two RBI) led the way hitting out of the top two spots of Brian Harper’s lineup.

Josh Vitters was 1-for-4 with a double and Junior Lake (2-for-4 with a run scored) notched a multi-hit game. Blake Lalli continued smashing Double-A pitching and was 2-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and a RBI.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (48-64)
The I-Cubs ended the month with a loss to the Memphis Redbirds. Jay Jackson was hit pretty hard again and lost for the 11th time this season (6-11). Jackson allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Jackson issued four walks and struck out only two. Robert Coello (one of two inherited runners scored), John Gaub and Blake Parker combined on 3 2/3 shutout innings without a walk and four strikeouts. The Redbirds managed only three hits after Jackson was lifted in the fifth.

Brett Jackson did not record a hit in the 5-1 loss but walked two times in four trips to the plate. Ryan Flaherty continued going back and forth between second and third. Sunday night Flaherty manned the hot corner and committed an error (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI). Flaherty drove in Iowa’s lone run.

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Carlton Smith and Scott Maine wasted a good start by Casey Coleman on Monday night as the I-Cubs lost their third in a row to the Memphis Redbirds. Coleman gave up two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in six innings. Both of the runs Coleman surrendered came via longballs by Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson.

Iowa took a 7-2 lead into the eighth but Smith (two runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning) and Maine (four runs on two hits with two walks) gave up six runs in the final 1 2/3 innings.

Memphis hit a walk-off grand slam against Scott Maine. One of the lefties the Cubs are depending on in the future lost for the fourth time this season (2-4) and blew his third save.

Iowa’s offense pounded out 15 hits and scored six runs on 10 hits in the first three innings.

Brett Jackson (1-for-4 with a run scored, a stolen base, a RBI and a walk) continues to show improvement and Bryan LaHair (3-for-5 with a double and a run scored) had a big night at the dish. Luis Montanez (4-for-5 with a double), Brad Snyder (2-for-4 with a double, a walk a RBI and a run scored), Chris Robinson (2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI) and Jonathan Mota (2-for-4 with a double, a home run and two RBI) each had multi-hit nights.

Ryan Flaherty was 1-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI. Flaherty played third for the second game in a row and swiped his first base at the Triple-A level.

Six of Iowa’s 15 hits went for extra bases in Monday’s loss.

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Iowa lost again on Tuesday as the Redbirds completed the three-game sweep. The I-Cubs only run came on a Brett Jackson (2-for-4 with a home run) dinger to start the game. Iowa was held to only four hits and Jackson’s was the only one that went for extra bases. Steve Clevenger (1-for-3) and pinch-hitter Scott Moore managed Iowa’s two other hits.

Robert Coello (4-6) took the loss after allowing a run in the bottom of the eighth. Dave Bush started and allowed one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Carpenter kept the Redbirds off the board for 2/3 of an inning … and he did not walk a batter.

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Iowa pounded the Fresno Grizzlies 9-4 on Wednesday night. Chris Rusin had another good start (two runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings) but Alberto Cabrera could not hold the lead. Cabrera ended up picking up the win after the I-Cubs put a five-spot on the board in the bottom of the fifth.

Brett Jackson has really turned it around and recorded two more hits, walked twice, scored two runs and for good measure picked up an outfield assist (threw out Justin Christian at third base).

Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a double, a RBI and two runs scored and Ryan Flaherty continued his struggles at the Triple-A level (0-for-4 with a walk). Steve Clevenger drove in a run and scored another (1-for-3 with a walk) on Wednesday night.

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News and Transactions
Elliot Soto was promoted from Peoria to Daytona. Chiefs placed RHP Robinson Lopez on the 7-day DL. Peoria added OF Jesus Morelli from the Boise Hawks and RHP Ramon Garcia from the Mesa Cubs.

The Cubs signed their ninth round pick, OF Garrett Schlecht and their 15th round pick, C Justin Marra.

According to his twitter account, Brandon May has left the Peoria Chiefs and has flown back to Arizona to be examined by team doctors. May was sidelined at the beginning of the season with Valley Fever and has gone back to Mesa to “get healthy and get rid of the Valley Fever.”

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon