Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/18/11

All the teams in the system suffered their ups-and-downs to begin the week. The Iowa offense let down a couple of their young pitchers, but came through for Jay Jackson. Tennessee still has some struggles on offense as well, but Brooks Raley was the beneficiary of an outburst. Daytona battled weather problems; bullpen collapses plagued Peoria; while Boise actually split with archenemy Tri-City.

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 (27-32)
Down 9-4 after four innings on Sunday, Boise made a game of it but still ended up losing to Eugene 14-10. Pin-Chieh Chen was a big part of the comeback attempt, going 3-for-3 with a triple, a home run, two stolen bases, five RBI and an outfield assist. Reggie Golden also provided his third home run and drove in three while having a 2-for-4 night. Wilson Contreras has also been settling in, as he went 2-for-4. Yao-Lin Wang had truly one of his worst starts, allowing five earned runs in 2.2 innings. However, Wang did strike out six batters. Sheldon McDonald didn’t fare much better, giving up four earned runs in 3.1 innings. Charles Thomas let in four runs (two earned), while infielder Dustin Harrington mopped up with a scoreless- ninth.

Well, it took a while on Monday, but Boise put up five runs in the bottom of the fourth to crack a scoreless tie and advance to a 6-1 win over Tri-City. Juan Rosario was the key to the victory, pitching a two-hit shutout while striking out four over six innings, Joe Zeller went the rest of the way, allowing an earned run in three innings and striking out three batters.

Ryan Cuneo provided a lift, as he was 2-for-3 with a double and his first Boise home run. Yaniel Cabeza was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

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Boise managed to get nine hits on Tuesday, but could only get one runner to cross the plate as they lost to Tri-City 4-1. Austin Reed had one of his better outings, allowing two earned runs in four innings. Colin Richardson also gave up two earned runs and struck out four in three innings. Su-Min Jung did well, no-hitting the Dust Devils over two innings with striking out two batters. Pin-Chieh Chen remains the Hawks’ offensive leader, going 2-for-4 with his 18th stolen base. Wes Darvill posted a 2-for-4 night.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (53-67)
Peoria started off the week on the wrong foot, as a late innings collapse led to an 8-2 loss to Clinton on Sunday. Brett Wallach kept the Chiefs in the game for the first four innings, allowing one earned run and striking out five batters. Alvaro Sosa started letting the game get away, as he surrendered three earned runs in the sixth inning. The wheels came totally off when Pete Levitt let in four earned runs in the ninth. Rubi Silva was practically the Chiefs’ offense, going 2-for-4 with a triple. Richard Jones and Dustin Geiger drove in the runs.

On Monday, the bullpen failed to deliver as a late rally was offset in a 9-5 loss to Clinton. Austin Kirk had his second consecutive mediocre outing, as he allowed four earned runs while striking out five in 6.1 innings. Yohan Gonzalez then gave up four runs (three earned) in 2.2 innings, and Dan Berlind let in the last run. Veterans Rafael Valdes and Smaily Borges tried to lead the comeback; Valdes going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, and Borges 2-for-3 with a double and two runs driven in. Jesus Morelli was also 2-for-4.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (71-49)
Daytona’s game against Clearwater on Sunday was cancelled due to unplayable field conditions, and the D-Cubs had a scheduled off day on Monday.

Daytona got back into action on Tuesday, and is now 3-4 in games started by Angel Guzman in August … Daytona lost 6-3 to Brevard County. Guzman put the D-Cubs in a hole by allowing two runs in his customary two innings of work. Jeffry Antigua was next to be bitten by the curse, and he let in two earned runs in his five innings. Juan Serrano worked the last inning and gave up two runs (one earned). Matt Szczur broke out of a slump by going 3-for-5 with a double, while Michael Burgess was 2-for-4 with two RBI and his first stolen base.

In Wednesday’s action against Brevard County, Daytona managed only two late runs as the Manatees won 5-2. Matt Loosen started for the D-Cubs and surrendered all five runs (three earned). Jordan Latham, Brent Ebinger, and Eduardo Figueroa all put together a scoreless relief effort. Logan Watkins was the only Daytona player to get two hits, while Evan Crawford and Matt Cerda drove in runs.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (71-50)
Run support continues to be a problem in Tennessee, as the Smokies managed only one run on five hits in 4-1 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday. Josh Vitters continues to be the rock in this line-up, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. James Adduci joined Vitters in having a 2-for-4 day. Larry Suarez pitched well enough to win, allowing three earned runs in four innings, as he is being stretched out into a starter’s role. Jeff Stevens held the Suns scoreless for two innings, while Marcus Hatley gave up an earned run in his two innings. Jeffrey Beliveau mopped up by striking out two in the ninth.

Ho-hum, another Brooks Raley start, another seesaw game as Tennessee came out on top of a 11-6 victory over Jackson on Tuesday. Raley gave up four runs (three earned) and struck out five in his five innings. Marco Carrillo, back in a familiar role, held the Generals in check by striking out two in two scoreless innings. Kevin Rhoderick must have passed of kryptonite on his way to the mound, as he gave up a very uncharacteristic two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Rafael Dolis had an uneventful 1.1 innings for his 14th save.

Junior Lake helped stake the Smokies to an early lead by belting his fourth home runs as part of a 2-for-5 evening. Steve Clevenger helped Tennessee rally for three runs in the ninth to seal the victory, as he was 2-for-4 with two doubles while plating three runners. Josh Vitters continued his clutch hitting, going 2-for-3 and two runs driven in. Ty Wright also had a double and two RBI.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (56-68)
After recording a career-high 11 strikeouts in his last performance, Chris Rusin fell back to earth as Tacoma crushed Iowa on Sunday 9-1. Rusin did strike out seven, but allowed six runs (five earned) in six innings. Justin Berg has also hit a rough spell, giving up three earned runs in two innings. Bryan LaHair continues to be a hit machine, going 3-for-4, including his 32nd home run.

Once again, Nick Struck pitched well enough to win, but relief pitching and defense let him down as Iowa lost to Tacoma on Monday, 3-2. Struck allowed only an earned run on five hits over six innings, striking out three batters. Robert Coello let in the tying run in his two innings of work, while one of two errors by Ryan Flaherty brought in the game winner, and tagged John Gaub for the loss. The I-Cubs produced only three hits, one apiece by Luis Montanez and Welington Castillo, while D.J. LeMahieu stroked his second home run.

Bryan LaHair staked the I-Cubs to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Tuesday and they never looked back, swatting the Salt Lake Bees 7-3. LaHair belted his 33rd homer as part of a 2-for-4, two RBI evening. Many of the “new kids” also had good games, with Brett Jackson 2-for-5 with two runs driven in, Ryan Flaherty 2-for-4 and two runs scored, and Marwin Gonzalez 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Jay Jackson had one of his better outings of late. Jackson was able to keep Salt Lake to three earned runs over 6.2 innings with a strikeout and only one walk. Blake Parker got the “long” save by going 2.1 innings and striking out three batters.

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Rookie – AZL Cubs (23-17)
The AZL Cubs lost to the AZL Reds on Tuesday, and are now a game behind them in the Wild Card standings with 10 games left to play. A promotions and the signing of draft picks has played havoc with the roster, the effects are being felt in the field. Outfielder Kyung-Min Na has now grabbed the leadoff role, hitting .366 with 12 RBI and six stolen bases in 19 games. Infielder Gioskar Amaya and Shortstop Marco Hernandez continue to be the team’s hitting leaders, at .355 and .354 respectively. Amaya remains the RBI leader with 32. First Baseman Ryan Durrence slugged his third home run to lead the Cubs; while Dong-Yub Kim still has the team lead in steals with 10. Outfielder John Andreoli was 2-for-3 with a stolen base in his debut.

Pitcher Jin-Young Kim seems to be getting his act together, as he has been 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA and nine strikeouts in 11.1 innings. Hunter Ackerman remains the strikeout leader with 47, and is 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA. Brian Smith, the team leader in starts, has a 3.66 ERA and 37 strikeouts to go along with a 3-3 record. Hayden Simpson recently had a good outing, allowing an earned run over two innings, while Cameron Greathouse continues to struggle with his control. The team has been turning to Rafael Diplan more recently in the late innings, but he has an ERA of 7.15 in 11.1 innings.

Dominican Summer League
With the regular season ending in the Dominican Summer League this week, Cubs 2 has the league’s second best record at 46-23, as they have clinched first place in their division. Cubs 1 now has a record of 24-40.

Offense remains the problem for C-1, as OF Kelvin Encarnacion has taken over the team lead in all categories except home runs, with a .288 average, 26 RBI, and 28 stolen bases. Right-handed pitcher Yomar Morel remains the team leader with a 3-3 record, 2.61 ERA and 31 strikeouts.

C-2 has now established a good line-up, with OF Jeffrey Baez in the leadoff role, hitting .268 with five home runs, 35 RBI and 28 stolen bases. Shortstop Carlos Penalver moved back to the second spot, with a .276 average with 38 RBI and 19 stolen bases. At 3B and hitting third is Jeimer Candelario. He’s the third leading hitter in the DSL, going .350 with five home runs, 51 RBI (also good for third in the DSL), and 47 walks. Clean-up hitter Delbis Arcilia is only hitting .255, but is fifth in the DSL with 45 RBI, and he has five home runs. Utility player Xavier Batitsta bats fifth and is third in the DSL with 10 home runs, and has a .256 average.

The pitching staff sets up well, with RHP Loiger Padron leading the team with a 6-2 record, 2.21 ERA, 44 strikeouts and his 0.91 WHIP is good for seventh in the DSL. Fellow RHP Alexander Santana is 4-1 record, with an ERA of 2.76 and WHIP of 1.19, while striking out 35 batters. Lefty Victor Garcia is 3-2 and a 2.77 ERA, along with 61 strikeouts to lead the team. Closer Francisco Turbi is seventh in the DSL with 10 saves, and has a 4-1 record with a 3.30 ERA.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Scott Maine and RHP Casey Coleman from Iowa; Chicago optioned LHP Scott Maine to Iowa. Right-handed pitcher Hung-Wen Chen was returned to Iowa from Piratas de Campeche. Right-handed pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx was assigned to Iowa from Tennessee. Left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch was assigned to Tennessee from Peoria. Peoria activated RHP Robinson Lopez from the 7-Day disabled list. Catcher Mario Mercedes was assigned to Boise from Daytona. Outfielder Garrett Schlecht, RHP Yoanner Negrin, and LHP Luis Villalba were assigned to the AZL Cubs from Chicago Cubs. The AZL Cubs signed OF John Andreoli.

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