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

Look at me coach! I’m ready to play, today! Centerfield took center stage once again in the organization. In Boise, Reggie Golden took his first shot at the position with good results. Peoria’s Taiwan Easterling had a game to remember, while Tennessee’s Jae-Hoon Ha is turning things around. And Iowa’s Brett Jackson is on a tear that may put him in a big league uniform. Jackson’s line over the last ten days: .429/.524/1.000/1.524 (15-for-35 with two doubles and six home runs with seven walks and eight strikeouts). Jackson is up to a .291 average with a .392 OBP/.616 SLG … that is a 1.008 OPS.

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

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (23-26)
Right-hander Yao-Lin Wang put forth a good effort on Thursday, but needed his offense to bail him out as the Hawks defeated Salem-Keizer 9-5. Wang threw 5.1 innings, giving up three earned runs while striking out three batters. Newcomer Jean Sandoval replaced Wang and went scoreless for 1.2 innings. Charles Thomas couldn’t find the strike zone, as he walked three and gave up an earned run in his 0.1 inning. Joe Zeller then came on and got the long save, striking out two and letting in an earned run in 1.2 innings.

Reggie Golden made his first start in centerfield and responded with a 3-for-4 evening, including a triple and two RBI. Brad Zapenas also rapped a triple, along with a stolen base and an RBI, as part of his 2-for-5 night. Rafael Lopez, Blair Springfield, and Wilson Contreras had multi-hit games, while Oliver Zapata stole his first base.

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Boise didn’t have the answer for Salem-Keizer pitching on Friday, as they bowed to the Volcanoes 6-0. The Hawks managed only five hits, as Yaniel Cabezas was 2-for-4. Juan Rosario scattered three hits through four scoreless innings. However, Cameron Greathouse continued his downward spiral, giving up four earned runs without recording an out. Dustin Fitzgerald checked the Vol’s for two innings, while Su-Min Jung gave up two earned runs over the final three innings.

The Boise offense flexed their muscles a bit on Saturday, clubbing twelve hits in a 10-5 victory over Salem-Keizer. Reggie Golden had a big night, driving in four runs while going 2-for-4 with a triple. Blair Springfield plated three runs by hitting 2-for-3 with a double. Rafael Lopez led the Hawks with three hits, while Zeke DeVoss and Wes Darvill had multi-hit nights.

Austin Reed had a solid effort, allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out three in 5.2 innings. Colin Richardson went the rest of the way, giving up two earned runs while picking up his first save.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (49-62)
Starter Brett Wallach was stung by his defense, as throwing errors by Arismendy Alcantara and Dustin Geiger led to four unearned runs in the Chiefs’ 8-2 loss on Thursday to Burlington. Wallach lasted only 2.2 innings, allowing six runs (two earned). P.J. Francescon tried to keep Peoria in the game by shutting out Burlington for 3.1 innings. Yohan Gonzalez and Roderik Pichardo let in the final two runs over the last three innings. Alcantara, Rubi Silva, and Micah Gibbs were all 2-for-4, while Geiger and Jesus Morelli provided an RBI each.

Outfielder Taiwan Easterling had the best game of his young career, as Peoria put on a late sprint to beat the Burlington Bees 6-2 on Friday. Easterling was 4-for-5 with double, two RBI, and two stolen bases. Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4, while Rafael Valdes knocked in a couple of runs. Ben Klafczynski notched his first multi-hit night for the Chiefs, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Austin Kirk had his best outing since his no-hitter on July 4th, tossing six innings with only one earned run. Alvaro Sosa picked up the win after allowing an unearned run in his 1.1 innings. Dan Berlind got the final five out to earn his second save.

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Peoria made it two in a row on Saturday as Ben Klafczynski had a breakout game, with the Chiefs pulling away from Cedar Rapids 8-3. Peoria was actually being no-hit into the fifth inning before Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4, RBI) broke the ice. The Chiefs then pounded out seven hits in a five-run eighth inning, with Klafczynski (3-for-4, RBI) and Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4, two RBI) among the players driving in runs.

Starling Peralta had one of his better efforts, allowing three earned runs in five innings while striking out five batters. Ramon Garcia picked up his first win, striking out three and blanking the Kernels for three innings. Roderik Pichardo nailed down the victory with a scoreless ninth.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (67-45)
Daytona stumbled once again in a rehab start by Angel Guzman, as Lakeland pounded the D-Cubs 8-4 on Thursday. Daytona is now 4-5 in games started by Guzman, who pitches two innings every four days. Displaced starter Jeffrey Lorick continued the trend of giving up at least three earned runs after a Guzman start by allowing seven runs (six earned) in 4.1 innings. Juan Serrano put up zeroes for 1.2 innings, while Jordan Latham gave up a run in his inning of work. Michael Burgess tried to put Daytona on his shoulders, as he was 3-for-4 while blasting his 16th homer.

In his first start for the D-Cubs on Friday, Matt Loosen laid an egg as Lakeland thrashed Daytona 11-6. Loosen was the victim of six unearned runs in the second inning, but gave up four earned runs over his three innings of work. Aaron Kurcz and Kyle Smit came in and settled things down for four innings, grounding the Flying Tigers attack. Eduardo Figueroa mopped up for the final two innings, allowing an earned run. Daytona tried to come back, as Abner Abreu launched his first homer for the D-Cubs, while Logan Watkins was 2-for-5 with two RBI. Greg Rohan stayed hot by going 2-for-4, hitting his fourth home run and driving in two runners.

On Saturday, Daytona just couldn’t string together any hits, as their come-from-behind attempt fell short in a 5-4 loss to Clearwater. Starter Casey Harman held the Threshers scoreless for three innings, but ended up allowing four earned runs over five innings. Juan Serrano followed and gave up an earned run in two innings. Jordan Latham pitched a scoreless eighth. Jake Optiz’s three-run homer brought the D-Cubs close, and Michael Burgess’ single made it a one run game.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (65-47)
Starter Brooks Raley gave a typical Brooks Raley performance, as Tennessee relied on their tried-and-true formula of come from behind offense and an airtight bullpen to sweep Birmingham 4-3 on Thursday. Raley gave up three earned runs and struck out five in five innings. Stoppers Kevin Rhoderick and Jeffrey Beliveau went the rest of the way. Rhoderick earned his fifth win by blanking the Barons for two innings, while Beliveau picked up his second save, striking out two in two innings.

Junior Lake has shown some signs of life, as he was 2-for-3 with a double, two stolen bases, and two runs scored. Jae-Hoon Ha also appears to have turned things around. Ha was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Josh Vitters remains steady, as he also posted a 2-for-4 night with a run driven in.

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A rainout on Friday led to a double-header on Saturday. In game one, Tennessee relied on the longball, as they downed Huntsville 5-2. Josh Vitters appears to have taken leadership of the Smokies after multiple promotions. Vitters was 2-for-3, crushing his 12th homer and plating three runs. Nelson Perez also got into the act, going 2-for-3 with two RBI while belting his seventh big fly. Ryan Searle took control after spotting the Stars two early runs. Searle finished after six innings with only the two earned runs. Rafael Dolis came on and picked up his 11th save.

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The Smokies came close to making it a sweep in game two, but just didn’t have enough in the seventh inning as they lost to Huntsville 3-2. Marco Carrillo tried to keep Tennessee in the ballgame by allowing two earned runs in five innings, but Larry Suarez was initiated into Double-A by giving up a solo home run. David Macias walked with one out in the seventh to start the rally. Pinch hitter Jae-Hoon Ha’s double moved Macias to third. Josh Vitters (2-for-4) then delivered a two out single to bring them both home. Unfortunately, Blake Lalli struck out to end the game.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (50-65)
On Thursday, starter Nick Stuck had a lights-out performance, as the I-Cubs defeated Fresno 5-2. Struck baffled the Grizzlies, as he struck out seven while letting in only one earned run in his six innings of work. Carlton Smith followed and allowed an earned run. John Gaub finished up the final two innings to pick up his sixth save.

After experiencing a slump, Brett Jackson appears to have adjusted as he thrashed the Grizzlies’ pitching, blasting his fifth home run (his fourth in four straight games) while ending up 3-for-4 with an RBI. Brad Snyder added a solo clout, as he was 2-for-4 on the evening. Luis Montanez also contributed with a two-run double.

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Iowa staged a late rally on Friday, but came up short as they lost to Fresno 3-2. Starter Jay Jackson cruised for three innings, then gave up three earned runs in the fourth as he went a total of six innings. Robert Coello and Scott Maine held the Grizzlies scoreless for the rest of the game. The I-Cubs comeback attempt started with back-to-back singles by Steve Clevenger and Ryan Flaherty in the eighth inning. Clevenger scored on an error, while Brett Jackson doubled in Flaherty. D.J. LeMahieu, Bryan LaHair, and Marwin Gonzalez were the only other Iowa players to record hits.

Steve Clevenger’s pinch-hit bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning brought home the winning run, as Iowa slid past Fresno 3-2 on Saturday. The I-Cubs could only manage three hits, but made them all count. After walks to Scott Moore and Chris Robinson, Casey Coleman got Iowa in the board with an RBI single in the sixth. D.J. LeMahieu walked and scored on Moore’s sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Involved in a pitcher’s duel, Coleman was up to the task as he allowed two earned runs and struck out three in seven innings. Justin Berg picked up the win by blanking the Grizzlies over two innings.

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News and Notes
Iowa placed RHP Chris Carpenter on the 7-Day disabled list. Outfielder Matt Spencer was assigned to Iowa from Tennessee. Tennessee suspended IF Matt Camp and placed IF Carlos Figueroa and RHP Marcus Hatley on the 7-Day disabled list.

Outfielder Nelson Perez, IF David Macias, and RHP Larry Suarez were assigned to Tennessee from Daytona. Daytona activated IF Jake Opitz from the 7-Day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Matt Loosen was assigned to Daytona from Peoria. Infielder Rafael Valdes was assigned to Peoria from Daytona. Outfielder Oliver Zapata and RHP Jean Sandoval were assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Right-handed pitcher Jin-Young Kim was assigned to the AZL Cubs from Boise.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .228, .328 OBP, .753 OPS, 21 Doubles, Triple, 16 HR, 60 RBI, 9 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 2-3, 6.28 ERA, 28.2 IP, 20 ER, 28 K, 22 BB, 1.85 WHIP 3 Holds, Save (Iowa Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .244, .361 OBP, .656 OPS, 9 Doubles, HR, 19 RBI, Stolen Base, 26% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) .254, .370 OBP, .748 OPS, 5 Doubles, 3 Triples, HR, 13 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .256, .303 OBP, .755 OPS, 8 Doubles, Triple, 2 HR, 9 RBI, Stolen Base, Outfield Assist (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .291, .392 OBP, 1.008 OPS, 5 Doubles, Triple, 7 HR, 12 RBI, Stolen Base, 5 Outfield Assists (Iowa Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.270, .297 OBP, .617 OPS, 3 Doubles, HR, 9 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 2-4, 4.79 ERA, 62.0 IP, 33 ER, 39 K, 23 BB, 1.65 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-2, 7.82 ERA, 12.2 IP, 11 ER, 8 K, 9 BB 2.05 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .244, .277 OBP, .688 OPS, 5 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.273, .309 OBP, .741 OPS, 20 Doubles, Triple, 3 HR, 45 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney