Before we focus on this week’s action, the CCO wishes to express our relief to the safe return of Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos to his family. Ramos survived a harrowing ordeal, as he was held captive in Venezuela since Wednesday as part of a ransom plot. Six suspects are in custody, as well as two accomplices while authorities search for four more men who escaped during the rescue.
Now, let’s shift back to the Cubs’ organization. Relief pitching has remained strong this off-season, as Blake Parker, John Gaub, Oswaldo Martinez, and Hector Mayora continue to roll … and Scott Maine put forth a strong effort, becoming the “go-to guy” in the Dominican League.
As some hitters cooled off in the Caribbean, see which ones are heating up in Arizona, as we begin this week’s Down on the Farm Report. Dominican Winter League
Leones de Escogido
It’s probably a week that Steve Clevenger would like to forget, going 0-for-7 with a walk in three starts. However, teammate John Gaub seems to be slowly finding his way. On Sunday, Gaub picked up his second hold by recording an out in the Lions 3-2 win over Este. Then on Friday, Gaub struck out the only batter he faced for his third hold as they defeated Licey in a 2-0 nail-biter.
Sunday’s game saw a start by Chris Rusin, who went seven innings and struck out five in the 3-2 victory.
Chris Rusin started again on Saturday, striking out three and allowing two unearned runs in four innings. However, Rusin was given the loss as the Pride stumbled against Oriente 9-5.
Toros del Este
The Cubs’ prospects had a light week … Nelson Perez drew a walk in a pinch hitting appearance on Sunday, as the Bulls lost to Escogido 3-2. In Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to Este, Alberto Cabrera had a strikeout and tossed two shutout innings.
Estrellas de Oriente
While Rafael Dolis threw a scoreless inning in a 6-1 loss to Licey on Monday, the week belonged to lefty Scott Maine. Maine picked up his first save in a third of an inning on Sunday, as Oriente edged Cibao 6-5.
Save number two was also against Cibao on Tuesday, as Scott Maine blanked the Eagles for an inning, striking out a batter in a 4-1 win.
Scott Maine was back on the hill on Wednesday, shutting down Escogido for an inning as they won 6-5 … Maine earned save number three.
The Stars then turned again to their “Maine” man on Saturday, with a scoreless two-thirds of an inning and his fourth save of the week as they beat Escogido 9-5.
Mexican Pacific League
Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Blake Parker continued his successful season for the Orangemen on Sunday, allowing an earned run in an inning pitched, but picked up his fifth hold as Hermosillo nipped Mexicali 2-1.
Blake Parker then whiffed three in 1.2 scoreless innings on Thursday; as he earned his sixth hold in the Growers’ 2-1 win over Mazatlan.
Yaquis de Obregon
Marco Carrillo experienced the highs and lows of being a starting pitcher this week. On Sunday, Carrillo went 5.2 shutout innings with a strikeout for his first victory, as the Tribe beat Guasave 3-0.
In his next start on Friday, Marco Carrillo struck out a batter, but served up five earned runs as the losing pitcher as the Yaquis bowed 6-3 to Mexicali.
Reliever Oswaldo Martinez contributed to a 6-2 win over Navojoa on Thursday, tossing two scoreless innings and striking out two batters.
Venezuelan Winter League
Caribes de Anzoategui
On the comeback trail, Carlos Zambrano pitched for the first time since August 12 in his native country. In his first start on Sunday, Zambrano went 2.2 innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out three batters in a 5-4 loss to Magallanes.
Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound on Saturday, tossing six innings, struck out five, and gave up three earned runs as the Indians lost 3-0 to Zulia.
Leones de Caracas
After taking some time off, Marwin Gonzalez was back in action for the Lions on Wednesday, going 1-for-3 with his third stolen base as they beat La Guaira 4-3.
On Friday, Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-4 with an RBI in a 4-3 loss to Zulia. Gonzalez then capped off the week on Saturday by having a 2-for-5 night as the Lions went down 5-4 to La Guaira.
Tiburones de La Guaira
Boise right-hander Hector Mayora extended his scoreless streak to five innings with two appearances for the Sharks this week. On Thursday, Mayora struck out the only batter he faced in a 10-8 loss to Zulia.
Mayora came back again on Friday and hurled a scoreless inning as the Predators lost to Aragua 9-4.
Navegantes del Magallanes
Slugger Bryan LaHair re-asserted himself on Sunday, stroking his league leading seventh home run to help defeat Anzoategui 5-4.
However, LaHair’s success made VWL pitchers stay away from him, as he ended up a collective 2-for-10 over the next three games, all losses for the Pathfinders. LaHair doubled and walked twice over that period.
On Friday, Bryan LaHair added another walk but went 0-for-4 as the Navs beat Anzoategui 7-3. In that game, Iowa teammate Robert Coello continued his scintillating performance, lowering his ERA to just 0.71 as he struck out two in 1.2 shutout innings.
Saturday saw Bryan LaHair get back on track somewhat, going 1-for-4 with three walks as Magallanes lost to Aragua 9-8 in 12 innings.
Aguilas del Zulia
Venezuelan fans were treated to the Austin Bibens-Dirkx many watchers are familiar with on Thursday. Bibens-Dirkx threw 4.1 innings and gave up six earned runs, but also struck out three and lowered his ERA to 3.86 ERA in the Eagles’ 10-8 win over La Guaira.
Arizona Fall League
Mesa stumbled this past week, going 2-3 to put the Solar Sox at 16-17 with a week to go in the season. Hitting his stride is D.J. LeMahieu, who batted .316 in the last week to raise his overall average to .297. His 20 RBI are good for ninth in the AFL, while he is second with 13 stolen bases. Leading the league in stolen bases is teammate Junior Lake with 18. However, it seems as though Lake is moving in the opposite direction of LeMahieu, hitting at a .125 pace for the week to lower his season average to .295. Continuing to chug along is Josh Vitters, who went 4-for-11 with a double, home run and three RBI to maintain his .341 average.
Cubs’ pitchers had measured success this week in Arizona. Trey McNutt had the best effort, tossing two scoreless innings and a strikeout with two innings pitched in his Tuesday start. It seems as though Marcus Hatley is beginning to figure things out, allowing only one earned run in his last five innings. For the week, Hatley had 1.2 scoreless innings and two strikeouts in two outings. Hatley left Friday night’s game with an ankle injury, suffered while covering first base. Hatley’s status for the remainder of the AFL season is unknown.
Andrew Cashner picked up his first victory on Wednesday, tossing a scoreless inning and striking out two batters. Cashner added another scoreless inning on Saturday. Chris Carpenter only had one appearance for the week, striking out a batter in a scoreless inning on Wednesday. But after posting a scoreless inning on Wednesday, Jeffrey Beliveau served up three earned runs, including a home run, on Saturday. Beliveau also struck out three as he was tagged with the loss.
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