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

Who are those guys in the blue pinstripes? They certainly don’t look the Iowa team we know, as they ripped off three wins and obliterated league-leading Sacramento. Peoria went on their own winning streak, while Tennessee has gone back to their winning style of playing baseball. However, Boise was still having problems with their nemesis Tri-City, while Daytona split a pair with Clearwater.

Along with News and Notes, and a weekly recap of action in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League, welcome to Thursday’s edition of the Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (23-29)
Boise pitchers held Tri-City to only three hits, but those were enough as the Hawks lost on Sunday 2-0. Willengton Cruz one-hit the Dust Devils over his five innings, striking out four of the batters he faced. However, an error by Zeke DeVoss in the seventh inning led to two unearned runs, as Jean Sandoval gave up a triple and a double for the other two hits. Pin-Chieh Chen was the Hawks’ leader with two hits, while Brad Zapenas and Wes Darvill were each 1-for-3 with a double.

The Northwest League leading Tri-City continued to have Boise’s number on Monday, as the Hawks lost 3-2. Ben Wells had a solid effort, allowing three earned runs and striking out three in 5.2 innings. Kyler Burke continues to show improvement, sweeping away three Dust Devils in 2.1 scoreless innings. Rafael Lopez was 2-for-3, while Wes Darvill and Wilson Contreras drove in the Hawks’ only runs.

Tri-City made it a sweep over Boise on Tuesday, as the Hawks took a 3-0 loss. Yao-Lin Wang pitched well enough to win, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight in five innings. The problem was run support, and Boise was only able to scratch out four hits against the Dust Devils. Reggie Golden led the offense by going 2-for-3 with a double. Joe Zeller followed Wang and gave up an earned run in his two innings. Bryce Shafer got in an inning of work, striking out two.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (51-63)
Make it three in a row as Peoria muscled past Cedar Rapids 8-6 on Sunday. The Chiefs’ bats continued to do their talking, as they mashed thirty-seven hits over the streak. Leading the way were Richard Jones and Rubi “The Expensive Cuban” Silva, each went 3-for-4. Dustin Geiger and Rafael Valdes drove in two runs with 2-for-4 afternoons. Jesus Morelli added a two-RBI single.

Staff ace Eric Jokisch came up with a 5.2 inning-five strikeout performance, allowing three earned runs. Pete Levitt continued to struggle with holding leads, giving up three earned runs in 0.2 innings. Yohan Gonzalez came to the rescue by popping the Kernels for 1.2 scoreless innings. Big Dan Berlind finished up by blanking Cedar Rapids in the ninth, securing his third save.

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Peoria relied on its “Latin Connection” on Monday to pop the Cedar Rapids Kernels 8-2. Cuban Frank Del Valle brought his “A” game, as he three-hit Cedar Rapids over 5.2 innings, giving up only one earned run and striking out two batters. Dominican Luis Liria picked up his second save by going 3.1 innings, again allowing an earned run while striking out two batters
Another Dominican, Arismendy Alcantara, continues to swing a hot bat, going 3-for-3 with two RBI. Taiwan Easterling also continues to impress with a 2-for-4 evening, including a double and an RBI. Richard Jones kept his triple-crown hopes alive by smacking his 20th homer and driving in three runs.

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All good things must come to an end, as Peoria bowed to Cedar Rapids 3-1 on Tuesday to end their four-game winning streak. Brett Wallach had a solid effort, striking out five while allowing two earned runs in his five innings. P.J. Francescon shook off some previous inconsistency by tossing three scoreless innings, striking out four batters. Roderik Pichardo gave up his first earned run as a Chief in the ninth inning. Anthony Giansanti scored Peoria’s only run, as he was 2-for-4. Micah Gibbs was also 2-for-4, as was Rubi Silva, who had a triple as one of his hits.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (68-46)
Daytona manager Buddy Bailey must be saying “Greg Rohan, where have you been all my life?!” as the D-Cubs needed every one of their 13 hits to defeat Clearwater 8-6 in a Sunday matinee. Rohan continued his torrid pace, as he was 2-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI. Logan Watkins also stayed hot, going 3-for-5 with a stolen base, while Chad Noble was 3-for-4. Chipping in were Matt Szczur, who was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base, and Elliot Soto, 2-for-4 including a double.

Daytona saw their three run lead evaporate as Angel Guzman served up two home runs in a three-run first inning. Dae-Eun Rhee took over and gave up another three earned runs over six innings, but struck out five batters. Frank Batista slammed the door with two scoreless innings for his 22nd save.

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The D-Cubs couldn’t take advantage of their eight hits on Monday, losing to Clearwater 2-1 in 10 innings. Jeffry Antigua scattered four hits over 6.1 innings allowing an earned run while striking out eight batters. Aaron Kurcz kept Daytona close by striking out three and shutting out the Threshers for 2.2 innings. However, Kyle Smit gave up a one out single in the 10th that scored the game winner. Daytona wasted good efforts by Abner Abreu, who was 3-for-4 with a triple, and Matt Cerda, 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (68-47)
After going 13-16 in July, the Smokies must be glad the calendar turned to August, as they are 5-1 following Sunday’s 11-4 whitewash of Huntsville. Jae-Hoon Ha is starting to find his way, as he is hitting .395 over his last ten games. Ha was 3-for-5 against the Stars, with a double and two RBI. Junior Lake also seems to be coming around (.278 in his last ten games), as he went 2-for-4, including a double and two runs driven in. James Adduci joined Ha and Lake by going 2-for-5 with a double and RBI, while Blake Lalli smacked his eighth home run.

Trey McNutt held Huntsville to two earned runs over his four innings while striking out six batters. Jeff Stevens added four more strikeouts as he blanked the Stars for two innings. Brent Ebinger allowed the two other runs in his two innings of work. Oswaldo Martinez cleaned up with a scoreless ninth inning.

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After rain cancelled Monday’s game, Tennessee played two with Huntsville on Tuesday. In game one, Jae-Hoon Ha stayed locked-in, as the Smokies smoked the Stars 8-0. Ha was 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI, while Ty Wright’s game line was identical. Josh Vitters put up almost the same numbers as Ha and Wright, except he had only one double, but two RBI. Rebel Ridling was 2-for-4 while thumping his 15th home run.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave a pitching performance that showed why many where high on his ability before the season started. Bibens-Dirkx scattered three hits over 5.2 scoreless innings while striking out six batters. Oswaldo Martinez finished off the game with a perfect 1.1 innings.

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In game two, surprise starter Larry Suarez handcuffed the Stars with one hit while striking out three over three scoreless innings as Tennessee won 4-2 for the sweep. The game was then turned over to the “Wrecking Crew” with Kevin Rhoderick earning the victory, giving up two earned runs in two innings. Jeffery Beliveau followed and struck out four over 1.2 innings for his fourth hold. Rafael Dolis got the final out and picked up his 12th save.

Rebel Ridling added to his team lead by belting his 16th home run, as well as hitting a double in a 2-for-3, two RBI game. Jae-Hoon Ha continued his blistering pace, going 2-for-4 while Josh Vitters and Junior Lake had the Smokies’ other RBI.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (54-65)
Iowans need to be on the lookout for Rachel Nichols, as the “Brett Watch” has begun in earnest. Brett Jackson powered the I-Cubs to a 6-1 victory over Sacramento on Sunday. After leading the game off with his sixth home run, Jackson delivered another solo shot en route to a 2-for-3, two RBI afternoon. Scott Moore chipped in his own solo blast, as he also was 2-for-3 with two runs driven in. Steve Clevenger and Matt Spencer were each 2-for-4, while Luis Montanez had an RBI triple.

Veteran Dave Bush overcame an rocky first inning, allowing a solo home run, to go five innings with two strikeouts. Carlton Smith went two scoreless innings for a hold, while Blake Parker rung up four batters in two innings to pick up his first save.

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The I-Cubs had more than Sacramento could handle on Monday, as they embarrassed the Grizzlies 8-0. Starter Chris Rusin had an electrifying performance, shutting out Sacramento over seven innings and striking out 11 batters. In what may be a new role, Alberto Cabrera then came in and blanked the Grizzlies the rest of the way, punching out two batters.

Nearly everyone for Iowa contributed to their fifteen hits. Chris Robinson led the way by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two driven in. Luis Montanez was also 3-for-4, while newcomer Matt Spencer was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Brett Jackson stayed hot, going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Bryan LaHair smacked his league-leading 30th home run in a 2-for-4 night.

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Maybe it was because six former Smokies were in the line-up, as Iowa played a Tennessee-type game and trounced Sacramento 14-7 on Tuesday. D.J. LeMahieu broke out of his slump in a big way, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and a stolen base. Bryan LaHair was 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI, while Brett Jackson was 3-for-5 with a stolen base. Scott Moore also drove in three, as he was 2-for-4 with a double. Steve Clevenger had a 2-for-3 evening with an RBI, while Ryan Flaherty belted his second home run.

Starter Nick Struck was cruising until the fifth inning, when he gave up six runs to the Grizzlies. He finished the evening by lasting 4.2 innings, yielding seven earned runs while striking out three batters. Robert Coello bailed Struck out, striking out four in 2.1 scoreless innings. John Gaub picked up his 11th hold with a perfect eighth inning, and Scott Maine pitched a perfect ninth.

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The I-Cubs batted around in a six-run fourth inning en route to a 7-6 victory over Sacramento on Wednesday, and a series sweep. Brett Jackson (2-for-4, double, RBI) started things off with a single, followed two batters later by Scott Moore’s walk. Bryan LaHair then doubled home Jackson and Moore. A Steve Clevenger (2-for-4, RBI) single scored LaHair; a D.J. LeMahieu walk and Matt Spencer reaching on a throwing error loaded the bases. Ryan Flaherty’s sacrifice fly drove in Clevenger, and Jonathan Mota’s single brought in LeMahieu.

Jay Jackson had one of his better outings, allowing two earned runs in six innings while striking out five batters. Carlton Smith let in an earned run in an inning of work. The usually reliable Justin Berg made it close by giving up three earned runs in an inning. Blake Parker went 1-2-3 in the ninth for his second save.

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Rookie – AZL Cubs (23-17)
The AZL Cubs remain in second to the AZL Giants, five games behind. However, they lead by a game and a half in the Wild Card standings. The promotion of Oliver Zapata has given the Cubs a new leadoff hitter, recently signed outfielder Trey Martin. Martin is hitting .308 in his first six games. Gioskar Amaya continues to be the team-hitting leader at .366, with 22 RBI. Shortstop Marco Hernandez also continues to be the RBI leader, with a .354 average and 35 RBI. Outfielder Dong-Yub Kim has now taken over the team lead in steals with ten, while hitting .270. Catcher Neftali Rosario has been impressive since signing, batting .340 with two home runs and eight RBI in 12 games.

Pitcher Jean Sandoval was recently promoted, with Jin-Young Kim joining the rotation of Hunter Ackerman, Brian Smith, James Pugliese, and Hayden Simpson. Ackerman’s ERA is 3.32, taking over the ERA lead while he continues to be the strikeout leader with 44. Alvido Jimenez and Yilver Sanchez are now the team’s closers, with two saves apiece. Jimenez is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 0.98WHIP in nine games.

Dominican Summer League
This week in the Dominican Summer League, Cubs 2 has moved into first place and taken a 2.5 game lead over the Rangers. C-1 now has a record of 23-33, while C-2 is currently 36-22.

Seventeen-year old switch-hitting IF John Ortega has taken over leadoff duties for C-1, hitting .278 overall with 11 stolen bases. Outfielder Kelvin Encarnacion is among the league leaders in stolen bases with 24, with a .278 average and 23 RBI. Outfielder Mayke Reyes remains the team leader at .299 with three home runs, 18 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. Right-handed pitcher Yomar Morel remains the team leader with a 3-3 record, 2.61 ERA and 31 strikeouts.

Outfielder Jeffrey Baez has moved into the leadoff role for C-2, hitting .263 with three home runs, 29 RBI and 27 stolen bases. Shortstop Carlos Penalver was bumped to the third spot, improving to a .278 average with 30 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Clean-up hitter Jeimer Candelario continues to be the team leader on C-2, hitting .342 with four home runs, 39 RBI, and 41 walks. Utility player Xavier Batitsta still leads the team with seven home runs, and has a .241 average. Right-handed pitcher Loiger Padron has taken over the ERA lead with 2.42 ERA, along with 38 strikeouts and 0.98 WHIP. Alexander Santana leads C-2 with a 4-0 record, while his ERA has risen to 2.58 with a 1.13 WHIP while striking out thirty-two batters. Francisco Turbi has settled into the closer role, and has a 4-1 record with a 3.67 ERA and eight saves.

News and Notes
Infielders Marquez Smith and Ryan Cuneo, along with C Welington Castillo, were assigned to the AZL Cubs.

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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