Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/25/11

As the season begins to wind down in the minors, player movement again seems to be the norm. Arizona, Boise, Peoria and Daytona have all struggled as they have tried to integrate new players. But Peoria’s Richard Jones is still in play for the Midwest League Triple Crown, while Bryan LaHair is also in the hunt for the same honor in the Pacific Coast League. Meanwhile, Tennessee is trying to take the second half title in the Southern League and secure a playoff bye.

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 (29-37)
Despite a great effort from Wes Darvill on Sunday, Boise could only push across one run as they lost to Yakima 4-1. Darvill torched the Bears pitching, going 3-for-3 with three doubles. Northwest League Player-of-the-Week, Ryan Cuneo drove in Pin-Chieh Chen for the Hawks’ only run. Austin Reed didn’t pitch badly. Reed allowed four runs (three earned) in four innings. Colin Richardson and Su-Min Jung held Yakima in check the rest of the way; Richardson had three strikeouts in his three innings of work.

Starting pitcher Willengton Cruz put Boise behind the eight ball on Monday, as the Hawks dropped a 9-8 loss to Yakima. Cruz couldn’t get past the first out, allowing three earned runs. Juan Sandoval came to the rescue, sort of, by going 5.2 innings, allowing an earned run while striking out seven batters. Dustin Fitzgerald and Bryce Shafer combined for three scoreless innings; Fitzgerald striking out four while Shafer dusted three batters.

Making his Boise debut, Andrew McKirahan pitched to four batters and allowed the winning run. The Hawks pounded out 14 hits, as Zeke DeVoss led the way by going 4-for-6 with a double, stolen base, and two RBI. Ryan Cuneo, Rafael Lopez, Wes Darvill, Brad Zapenas, and Oliver Zapata each had multi-hit games, Cuneo launching his fifth home run.

Boise had their chances to put Yakima away on Tuesday, but gave away a 7-6 game in 10 innings. Ben Wells continues to be a work in progress, and he allowed three earned runs and struck out two in five innings. Kyler Burke was victimized by shoddy defense, as he gave up three run, but only one earned, while striking out four in three innings. Charles Thomas then struggled. After getting out of the ninth, he only faced two batters in the 10th and put the winning run on second. Hector Mayora gave up a single that scored the winning run. Zeke DeVoss was 4-for-4, but his fielding error led to two runs. Wilson Contreras, Paul Hoilman, and Rafael Lopez each had multi-hit games, with Hoilman hitting his 14th home run.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (55-72)
Austin Kirk continued to struggle for Peoria, as the Chiefs lost to Cedar Rapids on Sunday 6-2. Since his no-hitter in July, Kirk has posted a 0-4 record with a 6.15 ERA. His numbers reflected those on Sunday, as he allowed six runs (five earned) in 4.2 innings. Ramon Garcia kept his un-scored upon streak going with 2.1 scoreless innings while striking out four batters. Roderik Pichardo struck out two in the final inning. Taiwan Easterling was 2-for-4, while Richard Jones drove in Anthony Giansanti for the Chiefs’ only run.

Cedar Rapids continued to have Peoria’s number on Monday, as they again beat the Chiefs 6-2. Starling Peralta was a hard-luck pitcher for Peoria, as he allowed six runs in four innings, but only three were earned. Alvaro Sosa and Robinson Lopez held the Kernels scoreless the rest of the way. The Chiefs failed to mount any attack, with Richard Jones and Rafael Valdes having identical 2-for-4 with an RBI nights. Rubi Silva was also 2-for-4.

The bullpen spoiled a good outing by Luis Liria, as the Chiefs lost on Tuesday to Cedar Rapids 4-3. Liria was in command, striking out four while giving up only one earned run on two hits in 6.1 innings. Yohan Gonzalez was called upon to hold the lead, and let in three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings. Peoria jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to Richard Jones’ two-run smash, his 22nd home run and 90th RBI of the year. Rubi Silva was 3-for-4, while Dustin Geiger drove in the Chiefs’ other run.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (72-54)
Daytona pitchers seemed like they couldn’t get anyone out on Sunday, as they lost to Dunedin 7-5. Normally reliable Jeffry Antigua let in three earned runs in six innings, striking out five batters. Aaron Kurcz didn’t fare much better, giving up two earned runs in 1.1 innings. Daytona still had a chance to win with All-Star closer Frank Batista on the mound, but he allowed two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Greg Rohan continues to make a meal out of Florida State League pitching, going 3-for-5. Matt Szczur belted two solo home runs, while Matt Cerda was 2-for-4.

After a day off on Monday, the game between Daytona and Tampa on Tuesday was postponed due to weather. Wednesday’s double-header saw Angel Guzman toss a scoreless first inning in game one, but seeing the D-Cubs lose 4-3. Casey Harman followed Guzman and gave up three runs (two earned) in three innings. Jordan Latham pitched the final two and allowed an earned run. Daytona tried to stage a comeback with two outs in the seventh, as Michael Burgess hit a two-run bomb while Jake Opitz made it back-to-back jacks.

Daytona then dropped game two to Tampa 8-2, as Matt Loosen failed to hold a lead. Loosen was cruising along until the fifth inning, when he allowed five runs (three earned) in 4.1 innings. Eduardo Figueroa then came on and let in an earned run in 1.2 innings. Moved up to the second spot in the order, Elliot Soto was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (76-52)
Brooks Raley pitched well enough to win on Sunday, but once again, the run support wasn’t there as Tennessee lost to Chattanooga 3-2 in 11 innings. Raley allowed two earned runs in 6.1 innings while striking out three batters. Marcus Hatley completed the seventh inning scoreless, and Rafael Dolis tossed two perfect innings trying to get the long save. Marco Carrillo wound up giving up the game winner in the 11th. Two of Tennessee’s youngest players were the offensive leaders. Junior Lake was 2-for-4 with a double, while Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-5 with a stolen base.

Lefty Eric Jokisch was story on Monday night, as Tennessee thumped Chattanooga 9-2. Jokisch, in his second Double-A start, struck out 10 and allowed only an earned run in his six innings of work. Oswaldo Martinez gave up the only other run, as he pitched two innings, while Kevin Rhoderick pitched a perfect ninth.

Rebel Ridling is putting on a good finishing kick, as he swatted his 20th home run and was 3-for-4 with four RBI. Josh Vitters was 3-for-3 with a double, while James Adduci was 4-for-5. Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-5 with an RBI.

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Tennessee welcomed back Andrew Cashner on Tuesday, on a rehab assignment from the parent club. However, the runs he gave up proved to be the winning margin as the Smokies lost to Chattanooga 6-4. Scheduled to pitch only the first inning, Cashner left after allowing two runs on three hits. Ryan Searle took what would have been his regular start and gave up three earned runs in 3.1 innings. Jeff Stevens, Marcus Hatley and Jeffrey Beliveau attempted to keep Tennessee in the game the rest of the way, with Hatley suffering an unearned run. Rebel Ridling continued to be hot, driving in three runs while going 2-for-4. Steve Clevenger was 2-for-3 with a double, while Blake Lalli was 2-for-5.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (61-70)
Iowa faced former major leaguer J.A. Happ on Sunday, and only managed one hit as Oklahoma City 4-0 shut them out. Jay Jackson pitched well enough to win, just not on Sunday as he allowed two earned runs and struck out five in six innings. Justin Berg then came in and let in the Red Hawks other two runs. Hung-Wen Chen and Robert Coello went scoreless the rest of the way. Luis Montanez got the I-Cubs’ only hit.

Iowa got a performance out of Austin Bibens-Dirkx on Monday that some expected to see more of this season, as the I-Cubs returned the favor and blanked Oklahoma City 4-0. Bibens-Dirkx struck out four and allowed only four hits over seven innings. Blake Parker struck out two in a perfect eighth inning, while John Gaub walked the bases loaded, but was able to put the game away in the ninth.

Brett Jackson was nearly the entire offense for the I-Cubs, as he was 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored. Scott Moore drove in a run, while Luis Montanez had a pinch-hit triple.

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A Tuesday matinee saw the I-Cubs enter a slugfest with Oklahoma City, and coming out on top of a 14-7 game. When you talk Iowa offense, you start with Bryan LaHair. The big first baseman went 4-for-5 with four doubles and five RBI. Brad Snyder was 3-for-4 including a double and two runs driven in. Luis Montanez set the table from the leadoff spot by going 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Chris Robinson drove in two runs as he was 2-for-5 and D.J. LeMahieu also plated two runs.

Iowa starter Alberto Cabrera surrendered five runs (four earned) in his 6.1 innings while striking out six batters. Dan Berlind and Kyle Smit made their season debut at Triple-A, each allowing an earned run.

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Rookie – AZL Cubs (27-25)
As the AZL Cubs try to integrate new players into the team, their playoff chances seem to be slipping away. The Cubs will have to win all four of their remaining games while the AZL Reds need to lose all five of their games in order to secure the Wild Card. The Cubs saw the professional debuts of Dan Vogelbach, Rock Shoulders, Gary Schlecht, Dan Lockhart, and Tony Zych. Newcomer Trey Martin has been struggling recently, but Neftali Rosario keeps on hitting at a .315 with three homers and 15 RBI clip. Infielder Gioskar Amaya and Shortstop Marco Hernandez continue to be the team’s hitting leaders, at .362 and .333 respectively. Hernandez has taken over as the RBI leader with 42, while Amaya took over the stolen base lead with 12. Utility player Gregori Gonzalez is also hitting .333 with two home runs and 22 RBI.

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 3.40 ERA and 41 strikeouts to go along with a 3-3 record. Hayden Simpson has been getting incrementally better, lowering his ERA to 7.56 and WHIP to 1.98. Relief pitching seems to be a weak spot, as Rafael Diplan has an ERA of 7.62 in 13 innings.

Dominican Summer League
The regular season ended for the Dominican Summer League, and now the playoffs begin. Cubs 2 will face the DSL Mariners in the first round. The first game was scheduled for Monday, but was suspended due to rain. Cubs 1 ended the season with a record of 25-42.

The offensive leader for C-1 was OF Kelvin Encarnacion, who hit .296 with four doubles, 11 triples, a home run, 27 RBI, and 28 stolen bases. Shortstop Francisco Sanchez led the team with six home runs and 29 RBI. Right-handed pitcher Pedro Araujo was the team leader in wins with a 4-1 record, innings pitched with 56.2, and strikeouts with 51. Lefty Angel Mejias led with 2.59 ERA.

C-2 lost their first playoff game on Wednesday to the DSL Mariners 8-1. Jose Arias got the start for C-2 and allowed only one earned run while striking out five in four innings. Alexander Santana followed and gave up four runs (three earned) in three innings. Reliever Daniel Adrian was brought in and surrendered three runs (two earned) and struck out five in two innings. Jeimer Candelario was held in check, going 1-for-4. Second baseman Jesus Rodriguez and C Wilfredo Petit were each 2-for-4. Game two of the series is Thursday.

News and Notes
Iowa placed RHP Justin Berg and LHP Scott Maine on the 7-Day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Smit assigned to Iowa from Daytona. Right-handed pitcher Daniel Berlind assigned to Iowa from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner was assigned to Tennessee from Chicago. Left-handed pitcher Frank Del Valle was assigned to Daytona from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler assigned to Peoria from Tennessee. Right-handed pitcher Yoanner Negrin was assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs; Boise assigned Yoanner Negrin to Peoria. Peoria placed IF Arismendy Alcantara on the 7-Day disabled list. Shortstop Kenny Socorro was assigned to Peoria from Boise. Boise placed OF Blair Springfield on the 7-Day disabled list. Left-handed pitcher Andrew McKirahan was assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Second baseman Pierre LePage, 1B Dan Vogelbach, and RHP Tony Zych were assigned to the AZL Cubs.

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Quote of the Day

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