Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/29/11

As the regular season enters its final week, Daytona struggles to find consistency before the playoffs as Logan Watkins continues to lead the way. Tennessee is only a game out of the second half championship thanks to the hot hitting of Jae-Hoon Ha.

While Boise, Peoria, and Iowa are playing out the string, there continues to be excellent performances for each club. Ryan Cuneo and Wes Darvill were red hot for Boise, while Taiwan Easterling and Ben Klafczynski have been demonstrating good progress in Peoria. And in Iowa, Brett Jackson’s future looks so bright … he needs to wear shades.

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

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (31-39)
Boise entered Wednesday night’s game with Salem-Keizer on a three-game losing streak, and left with a 7-4 victory. Yao-Lin Wang started the game and improved his ERA to 3.22, good for fifth in the Northwest League, by allowing one earned run in six innings. He also improved to a league best 77 strikeouts by whiffing eight batters. Sheldon McDonald followed and gave up two earned runs in two innings, while Hector Mayora let in an earned run as he finished up the game.

The Hawks’ offense was led by two of their hottest hitters. Ryan Cuneo clubbed his sixth home run, along with a double and four runs driven in as he went 2-for-4 on the evening. Wilson Contreras was also 2-for-4. Wes Darvill extended his hitting streak to five games with a double, and Zeke DeVoss stole his 14th base.

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Make it two in a row for Boise, as they defeated Salem-Keizer on Thursday by the score of 7-4. Juan Rosario was on the bump and allowed four earned runs over six innings while striking out six batters. The bullpen shut down the Volcanoes the rest of the way, with Joe Zeller and Andrew McKirahan each tossing a scoreless inning. Bryce Shafer picked up his 11th save with a shut out ninth.

Wes Darvill continued to swing a hot bat, as he was 3-for-4 with two doubles. Zeke DeVoss was 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Ryan Cuneo and Oliver Zapata each drove in two runs.

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Pitching put the Hawks in a difficult position on Friday, as their offense couldn’t out-slug their mistakes in a 7-3 loss to Salem-Keizer. Austin Reed continued his struggles, giving up four runs (three earned) in four innings. Colin Richardson likewise struggled, allowing three runs (two earned) in two innings. Recast as a reliever, Su-Min Jung seems to have turned his season around, as he extended his scoreless streak to five innings over his past three appearances. Mario Mercedes led Boise by going 3-for-3 with a double and a run driven in, while Ryan Cuneo continues to be an RBI machine with two more on Friday. Wes Darvill’s hitting streak is now at seven with a 2-for-4 performance.

Pitching and offensive woes continued to plague Boise, as they lost on Saturday to Salem-Keizer 6-1. Juan Sandoval started the Hawks off well enough, striking out six and letting in an unearned run in three innings. However, Hector Mayora opened the floodgates by giving up two earned runs in three innings. Dustin Fitzgerald then allowed three earned runs in an inning of work. He gave way to Charles Thomas, who finished out the game scoreless. Dustin Harrington was the entire offense for Boise, as he was 3-for-4 with a double and scored their only run on a passed ball. Brad Zapenas and Yaniel Cabeza each collected two hits.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (56-75)
Peoria manager Casey Kopitzke did some thinking outside of the box on Wednesday, and it nearly paid off in a 4-2 loss to Quad Cities. Kopitzke started reliever P.J. Francescon, who delivered three innings and allowed an earned run while striking out three batters. Pete Levitt also struck out three and gave up an earned run in 2.2 innings. Yoannis Negrin made his first appearance for the Chiefs and blew away five batters, but let in two earned runs in two innings. Roderik Pichardo pitched a scoreless ninth. Richard Jones continued his quest for a batting championship by going 2-for-4 with a double. Ben Klafczynski was 2-for-3, while Rubi Silva drove in both runs.

On Thursday, Peoria just couldn’t get their bats going, as they fell to Quad Cities 6-1. Dallas Beeler took the hill in his return to the Chiefs, and tossed two scoreless innings. Brett Wallach followed and, unfortunately, gave what can be deemed a typical performance. Wallach surrendered six earned runs, but struck out five, in 4.2 innings. Ramon Garcia mopped up and kept his un-scored upon streak intact. Taiwan Easterling provided the only offense from the Chiefs, doubling and scoring their only run. Richard Jones collected his 91st RBI.

The season is starting to take an ugly turn for Peoria, as they lost to Quad Cities on Friday 9-1. Austin Kirk continued his downward spiral, serving up three home runs as part of a seven earned run over four innings performance. Robinson Lopez added another earned run, as did Alvaro Sosa. Kenny Socorro shined offensively, going 3-for-4, while Taiwan Easterling was 2-for-5.

Earlier in the month, Peoria was blown away by Kane County super-prospect Greg Billo. On Saturday, the Chiefs took it to Billo and the Cougars in a 4-3 victory. After one out in the second, Ben Klafczynski (2-for-4, double) and Jesus Morelli (2-for-4) singled, followed by a walk by Kenny Socorro (1-for-3). Taiwan Easterling (2-for-5) then delivered a bases-clearing triple, and then came home on a Rubi Silva (2-for-4) sacrifice fly to complete the scoring.

Starling Peralta was on top of his game, as he struck out four in six scoreless innings. Yohan Gonzalez let Kane County back into the game, allowing three earned runs in 2.1 innings. Roderik Pichardo than got the final two outs for his first save.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (74-55)
It took ten innings on Thursday, but Daytona outlasted Tampa 3-2. Dae-Eun Rhee was sizzling for the D-Cubs, scattering six hits over 6.1 innings while striking out eight and only allowing an earned run. Juan Serrano followed and gave up the tying run. After Jeffrey Lorick walked a batter, Frank Batista threw 2.2 scoreless innings to improve his record to 5-2.

Logan Watkins and Justin Bour were the entire offense for the D-Cubs. Watkins was 2-for-5 with a run driven in. Bour was 2-for -3 with two RBI and a stolen base, including his 23rd home run.

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Some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. It was that kind of Friday for Frank Del Valle, as Daytona was spanked by Dunedin 16-3. Del Valle surrendered nine earned runs on nine hits in 2.1 innings. Brent Ebinger didn’t fare much better, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in 1.2 innings. It even carried over to Aaron Kurcz, who gave up two earned runs in two innings. Eduardo Figueroa stopped the bleeding, pitching two scoreless innings. Justin Bour continues to shine offensively, as he was 2-for-3 with a double. Michael Burgess blasted his 18th home run.

Daytona had a good finish to Saturday’s game, scoring five runs in the top of the ninth to defeat Dunedin 7-4. Abner Abreu’s pinch-hit single drove in two to tie the game up, and a Matt Szczur sacrifice fly put the D-Cubs ahead. Logan Watkins (2-for-3, two RBI) then swatted a two-run home run to complete the scoring. Evan Crawford was 3-for-5 with a double, while Elliot Soto and Jake Opitz were each 2-for-4.

Jeffry Antigua had a decent outing, allowing three earned runs and striking out four over five innings. In a role-reversal, Angel Guzman then came on and pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Jordan Latham gave up an earned run in two innings, and was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, picking up his sixth win. Frank Batista pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (79-53)
Tennessee returned to a tried and true formula on Wednesday, decent starting pitching, explosive offense and a shut down bullpen to defeat Chattanooga 8-3. The win put them within a game and a half of the second half leader. Rebel Ridling again was the star, driving in two as part of a 2-for-3 game. Jae-Hoon Ha was 3-for-3 with his sixth stolen base, while Steve Clevenger slammed his fifth home run in a 2-for-4, two RBI night. Jonathan Mota also added a solo home run.

Trey McNutt continues to try to shake off the injuries that have been nagging him, as he tossed six innings and gave up three earned runs. Kevin Rhoderick and Rafael Dolis slammed the door the rest of the way, allowing no runs in three innings.

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Some days, it’s just not your day; and Thursday was one of those days for Tennessee, as they lost to Chattanooga 10-4. Larry Suarez started and couldn’t find the plate, giving up five hits and three walks in route to allowing five runs (four earned) in 2.2 innings. Marco Carrillo, usually reliable, added another three earned runs in 3.1 innings. Oswaldo Martinez gave up and earned run in two innings, while Jeff Stevens let in the final run. Jae-Hoon Ha continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and his third home run. Rebel Ridling was also 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run driven in, while Junior Lake was 2-for-5.

Friday saw another appearance by Andrew Cashner, as the Smokes jumped out to a 4-1 lead over Jacksonville, then held on for a 7-5 victory. Cashner was perfect in his inning, going 1-2-3 with a strikeout. Brooks Raley followed with five strikeouts in five innings, giving up only one earned run. Jeffrey Beliveau was tagged with two unearned runs, while Marcus Hatley allowed two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Rafael Dolis got the final out for his 15th save.

Jonathan Mota came up bug again for Tennessee, stroking a two-run homer and a double in a 2-for-4 evening. Junior Lake was also 2-for-4 with a stolen base. James Adduci also stole a base and drove in two runs.

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Tennessee kept its winning ways going on Saturday, as they outlasted Jacksonville 5-4 in a seesaw affair. Eric Jokisch, in his third start for the Smokies, had his second consecutive good outing, allowing two earned runs and striking out three in 5.1 innings. Kevin Rhoderick, regaining his form, got Tennessee out of the sixth inning and was credited with the victory. Jeff Stevens allowed the Suns to get back into the game by giving up two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Rafael Dolis got the final four outs for his 16th save.

Tennessee started their scoring in the first when Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-4) delivered an RBI single. After Jacksonville tied the score 2-2 in the top of the sixth, pinch hitter Ty Wright came through with a two-run double to out the Smokies up for good. Jonathan Mota later drove in what proved to be the winning run. Blake Lalli was 2-for-3, while Nate Samson was 2-for-4 with a double.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (62-72)
Iowa brought out the lumber on Wednesday, with seven players, including starting pitcher Chris Rusin, collected two hits as the I-Cubs downed Oklahoma City 12-7. Rusin had been sailing along, allowing two earned runs in his first six innings, until the seventh when he ended up surrendering five more earned runs. After Carlton Smith walked a batter, Robert Coello bailed Rusin out by striking out five over 2.1 scoreless innings.

Bryan LaHair is making a strong bid for a September call-up, as he launched two home runs and drove in five in 2-for-5 performance. Marquez Smith also got back into the swing of things, launching a two-run shot and going 2-for-4. Luis Montanez was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

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After staging a furious comeback in the top of the ninth, Iowa came up short on Thursday to Oklahoma City, 7-6 in 10 innings. Nick Struck had a bad time out, giving up six earned runs in five innings. Hung-Wen Chen kept the I-Cubs in the game, as he tossed two scoreless innings. Kyle Smit followed with a perfect inning. Blake Parker set the RedHawks down in order in the ninth, but allowed the winning run on a walk and two singles. Scott Moore paced the attack by going 3-for-5. Brad Snyder and D.J. LeMahieu were each 2-for-5 with a home run and an RBI. Ryan Flaherty’s two-RBI single tied up the game in the ninth.

Iowa’s 10-5 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday night was the team’s 71st defeat of the season, assuring a non-winning campaign for 2011. The bullpen can take responsibility for the game, as starter Jay Jackson breezed through seven innings, giving up only one earned run while striking out five batters. The I-Cubs then imploded in the eighth inning, as John Gaub allowed five runs (four earned) while recording only one out. Kyle Smit suffered from poor defense, as four more runs came in (one earned) before he could get the second out. Dan Berlind gave up a hit before finally getting Iowa out if the inning. The offense did what they could, as Brett Jackson (3-for-5) cracked his fourth lead-off home run. Ryan Flaherty (2-for-4) drove in two and added a solo shot. Luis Montanez, Bryan LaHair, and D.J. LeMahieu each had multi-hit games.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched well enough to win on Saturday, but got no run support as Iowa fell to Oklahoma City 2-1. Bibens-Dirkx tossed six innings with only an unearned run while striking out four batters. Carlton Smith gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Marwin Gonzalez doubled and scored the I-Cubs’ only run when D.J. LeMahieu’s grounder forced a throwing error.

News and Notes
Right-handed pitchers Taylor Scott and Michael Jensen, and SS Javier Baez were assigned to AZL Cubs.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .224, .318 OBP, .744 OPS, 23 Doubles, Triple, 19 HR, 67 RBI, Stolen Base, 10 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, .355 OBP, .666 OPS, 11 Doubles, Triple, 2 HR, 24 RBI, Stolen Base, 26% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – .226, .321 OBP, .681 OPS, 9 Doubles, 5 Triples, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 5 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .286, .324 OBP, .746 OPS, 16 Doubles, Triple, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .315, .391 OBP, .972 OPS, 12 Doubles, 2 Triples, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Iowa Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.284, .324 OBP, .687 OPS, 7 Doubles, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 4-5, 4.55 ERA, 85.0 IP, 43 ER, 58 K, 31 BB, 1.64 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-4, 8.15 ERA, 17.2 IP, 16 ER, 11 K, 11 BB 2.09 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .240, .267 OBP, .657 OPS, 7 Doubles, 2 Triples, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 7 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.283, .322 OBP, .759 OPS, 25 Doubles, 2 Triples, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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