Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/15/11

Tennessee and Daytona each guaranteed a winning season, as both teams collected their 70th win as part of a system sweep on Friday. The minor league organization was a collective 11-7 to end the week. Great pitching performances from Eric Jokisch, Frank Del Valle, Matt Loosen, Casey Harman, Dae-Eun Rhee, Ryan Searle, and Casey Coleman were the highlights, as well as Josh Vitters emerging as a clutch performer.

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

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (26-30)
Boise relied on veteran leadership to bounce back from a two-run deficit to defeat Eugene 4-2 on Wednesday. Dustin Harrington was 3-for-4 with a double and two driven in on the evening. Wilson Contreras and Pin-Chieh Chen were each 2-for-4 with a double, with Chen adding an RBI and his 15th stolen base. Wes Darvill also had a steal, while Brad Zapenas picked up the Hawks’ other RBI.

Juan Rosario had a good outing in his third start, going five innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out five batters. Lefty newcomer Sheldon McDonald blanked the Emeralds for two innings, while Dustin Fitzgerald added a scoreless inning. Bryce Shafer had a perfect ninth to pick up his ninth save.

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On Thursday, the Hawks should have asked for the slaughter rule as they were drilled by Eugene 17-6. Austin Reed was the first victim, giving up seven runs (five earned) in two innings. Colin Richardson followed and coughed up another five earned runs in two innings. Su-Min Jung had a little more hard luck than the others, letting in five runs, but only two earned, in three innings of work. Charles Thomas mercifully ended the game with two scoreless innings. Boise tried to make a game of it, but they were too far in the hole. Paul Hoilman was 3-for-5 with a double and his league-leading 12th home run. Reggie Golden and Oliver Zapata were each 2-for-5 with and an RBI, with Golden hitting a double.

Boise shrugged off Thursday’s loss by exploding for six runs in the first two innings on Friday, and then hanging on to a 7-5 victory over Eugene. Boise hitters were able to collect eight walks, as Zeke DeVoss led the attack by going 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and his 10th stolen base. Wilson Contreras was 2-for-4 with a double.

Willengton Cruz struggled for the Hawks, allowing four earned runs in two innings. Juan Sandoval didn’t fare much better, giving up a run in 3.1 innings. Joe Zeller stopped the Emeralds by blanking them for 2.2 innings, earning the victory. Bryce Shafer struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 10th save.

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Down 6-3 to Eugene in the bottom of the fifth inning on Saturday, Boise stepped on the gas and didn’t let up until they came away with a 15-8 victory. Paul Hoilman continues to dominate the Northwest League’s power categories, adding to his home run lead with his 13th while being tied for the league lead with his 23rd extra base hit. Hoilman is also third in RBI with 38. Wilson Contreras was 3-for-4 with four runs driven in, while Oliver Zapata and Blair Springfield were each 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. Wes Darvill also got himself back on track a little by going 2-for-5 and an RBI.

Starter Ben Wells must have thought he would be the victim of poor defense again, as his own errant throw was one of six errors that helped lead to five runs (three earned) in four innings. Wells struck out six and was replaced by Kyler Burke, who also experienced shoddy fielding as he allowed three runs (two earned) in two innings. Dustin Fitzgerald slammed the door, shutting out the Emeralds over three innings, striking out three for his second save.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (53-65)
Peoria ran into a buzz-saw on Wednesday, facing the Midwest League’s leader in ERA in Kane County’s Greg Billo, as they dropped a 6-0 loss to the Cougars. Starter Austin Kirk couldn’t match Billo, and was rung up for 10 hits and five runs (four earned) in 4.2 innings. Alvaro Sosa uncorked two wild pitches, allowing Kane County to score an earned run in his 2.1 innings. Pete Levitt came on in the ninth and was throwing gas, with a strikeout in a scoreless inning of work. The offense couldn’t get string together any hits, as singles by Arismendy Alcantara and Dustin Geiger mounted a threat in the seventh, but the Chiefs weren’t able to touch the dish.

After losing an early lead, Peoria came up with three runs in the 11th inning to top Kane County 9-6 on Thursday. Anthony Giansanti (2-for-6) doubled in Rubi Silva (2-for-6, double) and Richard Jones (3-for-5, double, home run, three RBI) for the go-ahead runs. Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-6, two RBI) singled in Giansanti for insurance. Smaily Borges was 2-for-6 with a run driven in, while Ben Klafczynski was 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Starling Peralta toed the bump for the Chiefs, and gave up six runs (five earned) in his 4.2 innings. Ramon Garcia came on to stop the bleeding, and remained unscored upon as he struck out three in his 3.1 innings. Yohan Gonzalez kept the Cougars at bay for another two innings, and Dan Berlind pitched a perfect 11th for his fourth save.

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Eric Jokisch powered the Chiefs with his ninth victory, as Peoria took out the Kane County Cougars 7-2 on Friday. Jokish went 5.2 innings and struck out eight as he allowed two earned runs. Roderik Pichardo followed with 2.1 scoreless innings. P.J. Francescon was on top of his game, as he blanked the Cougars for 1.1 innings to pick up his second save.

Manager Casey Kopitzke put Arismendy Alcantara in the sixth spot, and he produced in a big way going 2-for-4 with a triple, a home run, and three RBI. Anthony Giansanti also had a big night, hitting his 11th home run while going 3-for-5 at the plate. Rubi Silva, Sergio Burruel, and Jesus Morelli joined the hit parade … each player collected two hits.

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Peoria was nursing a 1-0 lead going into the eighth inning on Saturday, only to give up three runs over the next three innings to lose to Clinton 3-1 in ten innings. Frank Del Valle baffled the LumberKings over six innings, allowing two hits while striking out five over six scoreless innings. Luis Liria was probably left in one inning too long, as he allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out five in four innings. Rafael Valdes was 2-for-4, while Rubi Silva went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

High Class-A Daytona Cubs – (71-47)
Weather postponed games on Tuesday and Wednesday, with one game ending up being cancelled. Thursday brought a doubleheader with Lakeland. Game one saw a continuation of “The Angel Guzman Factor“, with Jeffrey Lorick its latest victim as Daytona lost 6-0. Guzman started and pitched two scoreless innings, then yielded to Lorick. The lefty allowed all six earned runs in the final four innings. The D-Cubs’ offense couldn’t mount an attack, as they strung out five hits. The only offensive highlight was Logan Watkins’ 16th stolen base.

In game two, Daytona held Lakeland to three hits as they shut out the Flying Tigers 4-0. Matt Loosen struck out eight and spaced out two hits. Frank Batista pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Evan Crawford got back into the groove, as he was 3-for-4 with a double, while Chad Noble was 2-for-3. Greg Rohan continues to put up big numbers, as he was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI.

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The two runs Daytona scored in the third innings held up, as the D-Cubs reached their 70th victory with a 2-1 win over Clearwater on Friday. Casey Harman continues to throw well in the starting role, going six innings with only one earned run while striking out four batters. Eduardo Figueroa also continues to be a rock in the bullpen, tossing two scoreless innings. Frank Batista set down the Threshers in order, with two strikeouts, in the ninth for his 23rd save.

If Daytona is scoring, then Greg Rohan is usually involved, as the big right-hander was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Leading hitter Evan Crawford contributed an RBI single.

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Battling weather conditions on Saturday, Daytona put four on the board early then hung on for a 4-3 win over Clearwater. Dae-Eun Rhee had his good stuff going, striking out six while allowing two runs (none earned) in six innings. Aaron Kurcz continued to baffle the Threshers, striking out four in 1.2 innings. Kyle Smit allowed an earned run in his 1.1 innings, but picked up his second save.

Evan Crawford was almost a one-man gang, going 2-for-4 with a double and a two-run homer. He had a little help from Matt Cerda, who was 2-for-2 with two walks and an RBI. Justin Bour was also 2-for-4 with a double.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies – (70-49)
On Wednesday, starter Brooks Raley wound up on the wrong end of a pitcher’s duel, as Tennessee stumbled to Jacksonville 3-1. Raley went seven innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out five batters. Jeff Stevens followed with two innings of one-run ball. The Smokies’ only run was provided by Blake Lalli’s (2-for-3) ninth home run.

In a seesaw affair on Thursday, Tennessee made good use of having “last raps” as the edged past Jacksonville 8-7. Marco Carrillo took the hill for the Smokies and went six innings, allowing four earned runs while striking out six batters. Brent Ebinger then served up three earned runs in an inning to allow the Suns to take the lead. Jeffrey Beliveau then blanked Jacksonville for an inning, and the Smokies survived a wild ninth by closer Rafael Dolis, who walked three but allowed none to reach home.

Tennessee fans may begin to call him “Mr. Clutch“, as Josh Vitters (2-for-5) singled in Ty Wright (2-for-4) in the bottom of the ninth for the game winner. Vitters also had an RBI single in the seventh inning to help tie the score, while Wright hit a solo homer in the fifth inning. James Adduci and Junior Lake where each also 2-for-4, and Blake Lalli was 2-for-3 with a double.

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For the team’s 70th victory on Friday, Tennessee won in a very un-Smokie-like fashion. Tennessee coaxed six walks and took advantage of two Jacksonville errors in defeating the Suns 5-4, while getting only three hits. Ty Wright was the big stick again for Tennessee, going 1-for-1 with two walks, two RBI, and his sixth home run. Josh Vitters took sole possession of second place in team RBI with his 64th.

Ryan Searle had his longest outing of the season, going seven innings and striking out four while allowing three earned runs. Marcus Hatley picked up his second victory, giving up one earned run in one inning. Rafael Dolis recorded his 13th save in a 1-2-3 ninth.

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The Tennessee offense is sputtering again, as they were only able to manage four hits on Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Jacksonville. Starter Trey McNutt pitched well enough, striking out six while allowing three earned runs in six innings, but just didn’t get the run support. Oswaldo Martinez and Kevin Rhoderick blotted out the Suns the rest of the way. No extra base hits for the Smokies, with Ty Wright, Rebel Ridling, Steve Clevenger, and Junior Lake collecting hits.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (55-66)
With an off day on Thursday, Iowa took advantage of the rest to pound Tacoma for 15 hits in a 9-3 victory on Friday. Brett Jackson (1-for-5, three RBI) started the I-Cubs off right by slugging his eighth home run to leadoff the game. Luis Montanez (2-for-6) followed by going deep with a two-run shot in the second inning. Ryan Flaherty was the hot bat for Iowa, as he was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Brad Snyder was 3-for-6 with an RBI, while Marwin Gonzalez and Chris Robinson each collected two hits.

Casey Coleman improved his record to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.65 with five scoreless innings, striking out five batters. Robert Coello continued the scoreless streak, also striking out five in his two innings. Justin Berg gave up Iowa’s only runs, allowing three earned in his inning of work. John Gaub got the final three outs, striking out two batters.

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The I-Cubs couldn’t overcome a bout of wildness from starter Alberto Cabrera on Saturday, as Iowa lost to Tacoma 8-3. Cabrera walked three and gave up four hits in allowing five earned runs in two innings of work. Carlton Smith had his second poor outing since coming over in a trade, letting in three earned runs over four innings. Blake Parker and Scott Maine stemmed the tide the rest of the way. Ryan Flaherty started the scoring for Iowa by drilling his third homer, while Bryan LaHair added his 31st big fly. Matt Spencer collected his second RBI since being called to Des Moines.

News and Notes
Iowa RHP Dave Bush declared free agency. Iowa activated IF Marquez Smith and C Welington Castillo from the 7-Day disabled list. Tennessee activated RHP Marcus Hatley from the 7-Day disabled list. Infielder Jonathan Mota and C Steve Clevenger were assigned to Tennessee from Iowa. Tennessee placed C Luis Flores on the restricted list (50-game suspension). Left-handed pitcher Brent Ebinger was assigned to Daytona from Tennessee. First baseman Ryan Cuneo was assigned to Boise. Left-handed pitcher Sheldon McDonald was assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Left-handed pitcher Cameron Greathouse was assigned to the AZL Cubs from Boise.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .221, .321 OBP, .731 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) – .245, .362 OBP, .665 OPS, 10 Doubles, Triple, HR, 20 RBI, Stolen Base, 25% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – .253, .350 OBP, .750 OPS, 9 Doubles, 5 Triples, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 5 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .281, .315 OBP, .740 OPS, 14 Doubles, Triple, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .303, .394 OBP, .999 OPS, 7 Doubles, Triple, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases, 5 Outfield Assists (Iowa Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.262, .296 OBP, .611 OPS, 5 Doubles, HR, 12 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 2-5, 4.75 ERA, 72.0 IP, 38 ER, 51 K, 27 BB, 1.65 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-2, 8.56 ERA, 13.2 IP, 13 ER, 10 K, 9 BB 2.12 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .237, .269 OBP, .646 OPS, 6 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.282, .316 OBP, .766 OPS, 24 Doubles, 2 Triples, 12 HR, 64 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver