Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/06/11

The end of the regular season is here, and the organization got a pleasant surprise as Boise rode the power bats of Ryan Cuneo, Reggie Golden, Paul Hoilman, and Rafael Lopez to qualify for the post-season in their last game. Boise joins Daytona and Tennessee as playoff teams, with the D-Cubs still struggling in all phases of the game. Tennessee got leadership down the stretch from Josh Vitters, while youngsters Junior Lake and Jae-Hoon Ha are finally coming of age.

While Peoria and Iowa are out of the playoffs, they didn’t just play out the string. Ben Klafczynski, Arismendy Alcantara, and Starling Peralta provided promise in Peoria. And in Iowa, the quintet of Brett Jackson, D.J. LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty, Marwin Gonzalez, and Chris Rusin look to be part of “the show” in the near future.

All this, and more, in the final regular season Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (36-40)
Boise broke out the lumber on Wednesday, as they pummeled Vancouver 10-1. Reggie Golden seems to be putting on his finishing kick, as he blasted a home run for the second consecutive game while going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Wilson Contreras was also 2-for-4 with a home run and a run driven in. Paul Hoilman extended his league leading home run total to 17, while Kyung-Min Na was 2-for-4 in his return to the line-up.

Juan Rosario was brilliant in his six innings of work, mowing down six Canadians while not allowing a run. Hector Mayora was the culprit for the Hawks, giving up an earned run while striking out three in two innings. Tony Zych saw his first action for Boise, and set down Vancouver 1-2-3 in the ninth.

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The Boise offense staked the Hawks to a 4-0 lead on Thursday, and this time, the pitching held as they defeated Vancouver 4-2. Boise spaced out 10 hits over 10 batters, with Wilson Contreras going 2-for-4. First round pick Javier Baez picked up his first RBI, as he was 1-for-2. Zeke DeVoss, Oliver Zapata, and Ryan Cuneo also drove in runs.

Austin Reed may have had the best pitching performance of his career to date, one-hitting the Canadians and striking out seven in five innings. Colin Richardson allowed Vancouver’s only runs in two innings. Michael Jensen had a perfect eighth inning, while Bryce Shafer earned his 12th save.

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A 3-2 loss to Vancouver on Friday ended a four-game winning streak. In his longest outing of the season, Ben Wells tossed seven innings and struck out five while allowing two earned runs. Kyler Burke came on in relief and struck out four, but a walk and a double with two outs in the ninth brought in the winning run. Rafael Lopez hit his sixth home run and drove in Kyung-Min Na with the Hawks’ other run. Dustin Harrington was 2-for-4.

Boise needed a win on Saturday to qualify for the Northwest League playoffs, and delivered with an 8-2 drubbing of Vancouver. The Hawks relied on the big sticks in their line-up, as Rafael Lopez, Ryan Cuneo, and Reggie Golden all had big games. Cuneo was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBI, while Lopez was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run driven in. Golden smacked a solo home run and plated three in a 3-for-4 afternoon.

The Hawks’ pitching came through in a big way, allowing no earned runs. Starter Juan Sandoval struck out five as he three-hit the Canadians over five innings. Michael Jensen was the victim of two unearned runs in his two-thirds of an inning. Hector Mayora, Andrew McKirahan, and Tony Zych allowed only two hits and no runs the rest of the way.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (60-79)
Four errors contributed to another poor outing by Austin Kirk, as Peoria lost to Beloit 8-3 on Wednesday. Kirk allowed six runs in 3.2 innings, but only three were earned. Robinson Lopez gave up two earned runs in his 2.2 innings. Making his Peoria debut, Mike Hartman tossed a scoreless 1.2 innings. Ben Klafczynski continues to show offensive improvement, as he was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Anthony Giansanti and Richard Jones each had an RBI.

Peoria seemed to have everything in control on Thursday, leading Beloit 5-1 after seven innings. However, the bullpen imploded and the Chiefs would end up losing 6-5. Starling Peralta had a fine effort, with one earned run and seven strikeouts in five innings. Pete Levitt followed and tossed two scoreless innings. Ramon Garcia then allowed four runs (three earned) in 1.1 innings. Roderik Pichardo was tagged for an unearned run for the game winner. Richard Jones crept toward 100 RBI with two more on Thursday, giving him 97 as he was 3-for-4 with a home run. Rubi Silva also had a solo shot.

In a pitcher’s duel on Friday, Peoria came out on top as they defeated Beloit 4-2. Luis Liria struck out nine of the Snappers while allowing two earned runs in six innings. Freshly called up from Boise, Charles Thomas tossed two scoreless innings and struck out three batters. Alvaro Sosa came on in the ninth and collected his first save.

A three-run fifth inning that put the Chiefs over the top started with Arismendy Alcantara’s single. Anthony Giansanti and Jesus Morelli followed with singles to load the bases. Kenny Socorro delivered a single that cleared the bases. Peoria added an insurance run when Dustin Geiger’s sacrifice fly brought in Rubi Silva, who had tripled.

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Saturday’s game with Quad Cities was cancelled due to inclement weather. On Sunday, Peoria looked like they were going to skate away with an easy 3-0 victory over Quad Cities. However, leaving in a pitcher for too long led to a 4-3 nail-biter in 12 innings. Starter Dallas Beeler scattered two hits over four scoreless innings. Brett Wallach piggybacked Beeler and continued the scoreless streak over another four innings. However, Wallach couldn’t get out of the ninth, allowing three earned runs in two thirds of an inning to tie the score. Alvaro Sosa was able to escape any further damage and shut out the River Bandits for two more innings. Pete Levitt sealed the victory with a perfect 12th inning.

Anthony Giansanti was the big story for the Chiefs’ offense, going 2-for-6 with a double and two RBI. Richard Jones was also 2-for-6 and inched closer to 100 RBI with a run driven in, giving him 98 on the season. Micah Gibbs was also 2-for-6 with a double, while Dustin Geiger and Ben Klafczynski were each 2-for-5.

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Peoria ended the season on a downer on Monday as they lost to Quad Cities 9-3. Austin Kirk ended his disappointing second half, as he allowed four earned runs and struck out six over 4.2 innings. Ryan Hartman than couldn’t get hardly anyone out, giving up five earned runs in two thirds of an inning. Charles Thomas saw his first action for the Chiefs, and struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings. Yohan Gonzalez tossed two perfect innings to finish the game. Rubi Silva went 2-for-5 to end batting .300 for Peoria. Dustin Geiger was also 2-for-5, while Kenny Socorro was 2-for-4. Arismendy Alcantara and Micah Gibbs drove in runs for the Chiefs.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (76-61)
Daytona tried to go toe-to-toe with Brevard County on Thursday, but couldn’t hold them back in a 5-2 loss. Jeffry Antigua struck out eight, but allowed three runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings. Eduardo Figueroa followed and gave up another two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Juan Serrano finished out with a scoreless ninth. Michael Burgess smoked his 20th home run to tie the game up in the second inning. Pinch-hitter Jake Opitz drove in Abner Abreu for the other run. Justin Bour was 3-for-4, while Matt Szczur was 2-for-2.

Daytona continued to limp into the playoffs on Friday, as they were embarrassed by Brevard County 15-4. Manager Buddy Bailey shook up his line-up, resting Evan Crawford and Matt Szczur, starting Logan Watkins in center and Matt Cerda at second base. It was Cerda’s error that led to an 11-run fourth inning. Starter Casey Harman surrendered nine of those runs; however, only two were earned. Brent Ebinger coughed up another three earned runs, while Yoannis Negrin gave up two more. Jordan Latham joined his fellow pitchers by allowing an earned run in the ninth. Offensive highlights were Jake Opitz’s two doubles, as he was 3-for-5 with two RBI. Justin Bour was 2-for-4 with a run driven in, while Cerda was 2-for-4.

The D-Cubs continued to find interesting ways to lose, as they came up short on Saturday to Brevard County 4-2. Matt Loosen started and pitched four scoreless to begin the game. Loosen left with a 2-1 lead after five innings, allowing an earned run while striking out seven batters. Aaron Kurcz came on and tossed two perfect innings, striking out four of the Manatees. However, league leading closer Frank Batista served up a two-run home runs to give Brevard County the lead, then gave up an insurance run on a triple and double. Logan Watkins lined up in center for the second straight game and went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Elliot Soto was 3-for-4, including a double.

In the regular season final on Sunday, Daytona still couldn’t finish on a high note, as they lost to Brevard County 6-4. Going into the top of the ninth and leading 4-3, Yoannis Negrin allowed two earned runs to let the Manatees back into the game. Frank Batista tried to close the game out, but gave up an insurance run before yielding to Jordan Latham for the final out. The bullpen spoiled a few decent outings, including starter P.J. Francescon, who tossed two scoreless innings. Eduardo Figueroa let in an earned run in three innings, while Juan Serrano surrendered two more in two innings. The bottom of the order did the damage for the D-Cubs, with Chad Noble going 2-for-4, including a homer and two RBI. Matt Cerda was 2-for-3, while Abner Abreu and Elliot Soto drove in Daytona’s other runs.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (83-57)
Tennessee attempted to overcome a poor outing by Brooks Raley on Thursday, but came up short in a 5-3 loss to Birmingham. Raley allowed five earned runs in four innings. Oswaldo Martinez stopped the bleeding by tossing two scoreless innings, while newcomer Dan Berlind struck out three in an inning of work. Marcus Hatley closed the game out with a perfect ninth. Nelson Perez had two doubles while going 3-for-3, and hot-hitting Jae-Hoon Ha also went 3-for-4 and had an outfield assist.

Even with the playoffs assured, Tennessee is finishing up the season strong as they defeated Birmingham 3-2 on Friday. Ryan Searle continued his strong season, giving up only an unearned run and striking out four in six innings. Recently down from Iowa, Hung-Wen Chen allowed an earned run in only a third of an inning. Jeffrey Beliveau bailed him out, tossing a perfect 1.2 innings. Rafael Dolis was also perfect to earn his 17th save.

The Smokies’ offense managed only six hits, but got them when it counted. Junior Lake’s triple to lead off the ninth became the winning run, as Nate Samson singled to break the 2-2 deadlock. Steve Clevenger was 2-for-2 with a double and two RBI.

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Smokies’ starter Trey McNutt gave what could be a typical performance for this season on Saturday, but the bats weren’t behind him as Tennessee lost to Birmingham 5-0. McNutt gave up four earned runs in four innings, continuing to struggle with both stamina and control, walking five batters. Kevin Rhoderick blew away five of the Barons in his 1.2 innings, but allowed an earned run. Jeff Stevens then pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. The only offensive highlight was Nate Samson’s 2-for-3, including a double, performance.

In a season-ending doubleheader on Sunday, Tennessee couldn’t string together their hits as they dropped the opener to Birmingham 5-1. The Smokies were able to manage seven hits, with Blake Lalli going 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead the club. Marco Carrillo got the start and was the victim of two unearned runs. Carrillo also gave up an earned run in his four innings while striking out five batters. The usually reliable Jeffrey Beliveau followed and allowed two earned runs an inning of work. Rafael Dolis pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

Game two was a mirror image for Tennessee, closing out the season with a 5-1 win over Birmingham. Josh Vitters ended an impressive offensive season by belting his 14th home run and driving in four for the game. Leadoff hitter Junior Lake was 2-for-4 with a double and his 19th stolen base. Blake Lalli drove in the Smokies’ other run.

Hung-Wen Chen was given Tennessee’s final regular season start, as he blanked the Barons over three innings, striking out three batters. Dan Berlind also struck out three in two innings, while Oswaldo Martinez had a perfect sixth inning. Marcus Hatley gave up a consolation run in the seventh.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (66-77)
Brad Snyder singled in Chris Robinson in the 11th inning on Thursday to give Iowa a 5-4 victory over Nashville. Snyder was 3-for-6 on the evening, and Scott Moore was 3-for-5 with a double and RBI. Ryan Flaherty bashed his fifth home run for the I-Cubs, going 2-for-5 with two runs driven in. D.J. LeMahieu was also 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. Mario Mercedes debuted at Triple-A went 2-for-4 with a double.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx has now strung together two good outings as he struck out four in six scoreless innings. Just off the DL, Chris Carpenter gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings, while Kyle Smit added an earned run in a third of an inning. Andrew Cashner, on rehab assignment, then came in and blew away the Sounds, retiring the side on 10 pitches. Blake Parker allowed the tying run in the ninth, but then went scoreless the rest of the way to pick up the victory.

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In a 6-5 struggle with Omaha on Friday, it got away from Iowa in a hurry as they gave up nine runs in the seventh and ended up losing 15-5. Alberto Cabrera continued to demonstrate he is overmatched at the Triple-A level, allowing six earned runs in five innings. Carlton Smith saw his ERA rise to 10.80 since joining the club by letting in seven runs (four earned) in 1.1 innings. And, speaking of overmatched, Kyle Smit served up two more earned runs in 0.2 innings. John Gaub finally stopped the onslaught with a scoreless inning. First baseman Matt Spencer pitched a scoreless ninth. Marwin Gonzalez, D.J. LeMahieu, and Chris Robinson were each 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Saturday’s game with Omaha was cancelled due to inclement weather.

In a low scoring affair on Sunday, Iowa was able to outlast Omaha 2-1. Chris Rusin was able to keep the Stormchasers at bay, allowing only one earned run over six innings. Rusin also helped his cause by picking off two runners. The I-Cubs then brought in the heat as rehabbing Andrew Cashner and Chris Carpenter blew away Omaha with an inning apiece. Not to be outdone, fireballer Scott Maine picked up his 12th save by striking out two in the ninth.

In Des Moines for the injured Welington Castillo, Mario Mercedes has made the most out of his opportunity, as he was 2-for-4 with a triple and RBI to raise his batting average to .500. Marquez Smith was 2-for-4 with a double, while D.J. LeMahieu drove in Iowa’s other run.

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Iowa ended the season on a positive note on Monday, as they beat Omaha 7-2. Brett Jackson provided the exclamation point, as he smacked his sixth leadoff home run for the I-Cubs. Chris Robinson ended his season by going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Scott Moore was also 2-for-4, with two doubles. Ryan Flaherty hit a double and was on base three times, scoring two of Iowa’s runs.

Jay Jackson was also able to put a good spin on what can be called a disappointing season, allowing two earned runs and striking out three in five innings. It was “all hands on deck” on Monday, as Nick Struck was called on in relief and tossed two scoreless innings. Robert Coello finished a promising second half of the season by also pitching a scoreless inning. Blake Parker struck out the side in the ninth.

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News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs called up 1B Bryan LaHair from Iowa. Iowa activated RHP Chris Carpenter from the 7-day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner was assigned to Iowa from Tennessee. Tennessee placed RHP Larry Suarez and LHP Eric Jokisch on the 7-day disabled list. Right-handed pitchers Dan Berlind and Hung-Wen Chen were assigned to Tennessee from Iowa. Right-handed pitcher P.J. Francescon and OF Taiwan Easterling were assigned to Daytona from Peoria. Peoria activated OF Smaily Borges from the 7-day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Charles Thomas was assigned to Peoria from Boise. Right-handed pitcher Angel Guzman was assigned to Boise from Peoria.

The Peoria Chiefs announced their post-season awards on Monday. Eric Jokisch was named Pitcher of the Year and Richard Jones was tabbed as the team’s MVP. Anthony Giansanti received the Community Award and the Sandberg Award went to Micah Gibbs.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .225, .323 OBP, .750 OPS, 24 doubles, triple, 20 HR, 68 RBI, Stolen Base, 11 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 2-3, 6.53 ERA, 30.1 IP, 22 ER, 28 K, 23 BB, 1.81 WHIP 5 Holds, Save (Iowa Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .245, .355 OBP, .672 OPS, 14 doubles, triple, 2 HR, 28 RBI, Stolen Base, 25% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – .242, .332 OBP, .756 OPS, 10 doubles, 5 triples, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 6 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .283, .320 OBP, .722 OPS, 16 doubles, triple, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .297, .388 OBP, .939 OPS, 13 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR, 26 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Iowa Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.286, .328 OBP, .694 OPS, 7 doubles, triple, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 5-6, 4.55 ERA, 95.0 IP, 48 ER, 65 K, 39 BB, 1.67 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) – .260, .283 OBP, .694 OPS, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 7 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.283, .322 OBP, .770 OPS, 28 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HR, 81 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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