Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 11/21/11

This week saw some familiar faces in new places. Daytona Cubs starter Jeffry Antigua and Iowa Cubs reliever Marcos Mateo joined the Dominican League, while Iowa starter Jay Jackson, DSL infielder Carlos Penalver, and Tennessee first baseman Rebel Ridling are now part of the Venezuelan League.

Pitching remained the story, as Scott Maine and Robert Coello continued their hot streaks. Chris Rusin and Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched gems, as did Carlos Zambrano before suffering misfortune. Meanwhile, Marwin Gonzalez came back with a vengeance from a week off.

Including a recap of the Arizona Fall League, welcome to this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Dominican Winter League

Gigantes del Cibao
It wasn’t much of a week for Mario Mercedes, only receiving a brief appearance as a defensive replacement in the Giantes11-1 over Este on Friday.

Leones de Escogido
Lefty John Gaub is still struggling to bring his ERA down. On Sunday, he had a strikeout in a perfect inning as Escogido lost 10-5 to Licey. Gaub then pitched two-thirds of an inning on Wednesday and served up a solo home run, but the Lions still beat Cibaenas 3-2.

Finally, on Friday, John Gaub struck out the only batter he faced as Cibaenas returned the favor in a 3-2 loss in ten innings. The game also saw a crisp start by Chris Rusin, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings and striking out six batters.

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Toros del Este
Seeing his first action in nine days, Alberto Cabrera started on Thursday and pitched three innings. Cabrera allowed two earned runs and struck out a batter. In the game, Nelson Perez delivered a pinch-hit that led to the go-ahead run, as the Bulls topped Oriente 8-6.

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Nelson Perez started on Friday, and was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Jeffry Antigua had a blistering debut for Este, striking out three in 1.1 innings in an 11-1 loss to Cibao.

Estrellas de Oriente
Scott Maine remained dominant in his closer role for the Stars, as he struck out a batter in two-thirds of an inning to pick up his first hold in a 9-3 win over Este on Sunday.

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Scott Maine was back on the hill in Wednesday, lowering his ERA to 0.90 by striking out a batter and tossing a scoreless inning for his fifth save in a 1-0 nail-biter over Licey.

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Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Blake Parker started out well on Sunday, blanking Los Mochis for an inning as the Orangemen defeated the Sugar Cane 8-4.

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However, Blake Parker met his match on Tuesday against the powerful Obregon squad. Parker suffered the loss as he gave up five earned runs in 1.1 innings with Hermosillo falling 11-3. On Thursday, Parker was facing the Yaquis again and gained some revenge, striking out the side as the Growers won 7-2.

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Yaquis de Obregon
Starter Marco Carrillo had a rare poor outing on Thursday, allowing three earned runs and suffering the loss as the Tribe fell 7-2 to Hermosillo. Carrillo pitched six innings and struck out two to maintain a 2.65 ERA.

Reliever Oswaldo Martinez had a rocky week, but it didn’t seem to affect the team that much. On Wednesday, he let in an earned run in 0.2 innings as the Yaquis romped 16-8 over Hermosillo.

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Oswaldo Martinez then lasted only a third of an inning on Friday, allowing an earned run in a 5-2 loss to Los Mochis.

Venezuelan Winter League

Caribes de Anzoategui
On Friday, Carlos Zambrano appeared to be returning to his old self, allowing an unearned run and striking out four over five innings, until a line-drive struck him in the side of the head. Initial reports indicated Zambrano received six stitches in his lip and vowed to make his next scheduled start, as the Indians defeated Magallanes 3-1.

Reports since have indicated Carlos Zambrano received between 10-18 stitches near his ear. Zambrano is expected to undergo more testing early in the week and his status for the remainder of the Venezuelan Winter League is uncertain.

Stay tuned to the CCO for further updates on Carlos Zambrano.

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Leones de Caracas
After a week hiatus, Marwin Gonzalez came back refreshed and swinging, hitting at a .421 clip for the week. Gonzalez started on Sunday by going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a walk as Caracas lost to Magallanes 2-1. He then followed that up with a 2-for-4 performance that included a walk and two RBI as the Lions stumbled 7-3 to La Guaira on Tuesday. After having a 0-for-3 day on Wednesday, Gonzalez bounced back and went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in another loss to Magallanes, 7-2 on Thursday.

On Friday, Marwin Gonzalez belted a double and drove in two more runs for the week as Caracas defeated Lara 9-5.

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Iowa starter Jay Jackson was brought on board by the Pride this week, and had a rude introduction on Saturday. Jackson went three innings and let in three earned runs while striking out a batter. He was given the loss, as Zulia topped Caracas 3-0.

Navegantes del Magallanes
Robert Coello continued his impressive run for Magallanes by striking out three batters in 1.1 innings of work as the Navigators slipped past Caracas 2-1 on Sunday.

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Coello’s next appearance was Thursday, where he earned his fifth hold in 0.2 scoreless innings and the Navs beat Caracas again 7-2.

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In the Pathfinder’s 3-0 win over Margarita on Saturday, Robert Coello extended himself by tossing two shutout innings, striking out two and picking up his sixth hold.

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First baseman Bryan LaHair received a much-deserved week off after going 1-for-4 in Sunday’s win.

Aguilas del Zulia
Austin Bibens-Dirkx had another good start this week, hurling 5.1 innings and allowing only one earned run. Bibens-Dirkx struck out four and picked up his third victory as the Eagles won 5-2 over Anzoategui on Wednesday.

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Arizona Fall League
The Mesa Solar Sox finished the Arizona Fall League regular season on Thursday with a 17-20 record. In a season dominated by the Surprise Saguaros and the Salt River Rafters, the Solar Sox ended up with the third best record. Minor leaguers Josh Vitters and Junior Lake were named to the AFL’s Top Prospect List.

Leading the Cub prospects was Josh Vitters. Vitters’ .360 batting average was good for seventh in the league. He also added four home runs and 17 RBI. A slight disappointment was the playing time Vitters received. Listed as an outfielder, Vitters only received a handful of starts there. He mainly lined up as the DH, with the rest of his time seen at first base.

After a slow start, D.J. LeMahieu hit at a .349 pace over his last 10 games and wound up batting .302 for the campaign. LeMahieu was primarily used as a third baseman, with a few starts at first interspersed. Being asked to bat in the middle of the line-up, LeMahieu ended up tied for tenth with 21 RBI despite hitting only two home runs. His 14 stolen bases were good for second in the league.

After being named the AFL’s Player-of-the-week in the third week of the season, Junior Lake’s average nose-dived eighty points and he ended up hitting .296. Junior Lake did put on a final push and wound up tying teammate D.J. LeMahieu with 21 RBI. However, Lake made his mark on the basepaths, swiping a league leading 18 bases. As with Josh Vitters, his defensive deployment was disappointing. Lake saw most of his playing time at shortstop, committing five errors and failing to convince anyone he had a future at the position. Lake saw very limited action at third base and the outfield.

Trying to put an injury plagued season behind him, Trey McNutt responded with a “ho-hum” performance this fall. McNutt started a total of seven games, and tossed 18 innings for a 5.00 ERA. He had a 1.61 WHIP with only eight strikeouts to go along with seven walks.

For the second year in a row, Chris Carpenter created a buzz by topping the 100 mph level on his pitches. Carpenter ended up the most effective pitcher the Cubs sent to Arizona, going 1-1 with a 3.29 in 11 games, 13.2 innings pitched. Carpenter also struck out 18 batters while walking only two, and posting a 1.24 WHIP.

Jeff Beliveau joined the Solar Sox after a stint with the US National team, representing his country in the Baseball World Cup and Pan-Am Games. In three of his appearances, Beliveau was practically unhittable, allowing one hit and one walk, no earned runs, and striking out four in four innings. However, it was a different story on November 12. Beliveau was shelled for three earned runs, including a home run, in an inning, despite the fact he ended up striking out the side.

As a replacement for Beliveau while he was with the National team, Marcus Hatley seemed a little out of his element. Haley ended up with a 1-3 record with a 9.88 ERA, pitching 13.2 innings in 12 games. Hatley seemed to get his feet under him in his last appearances, allowing only an earned run and striking out three in five innings.

It was pretty much a lost effort for Andrew Cashner. Like Carpenter, Cashner wowed the scouts by hitting over 100 mph on the radar gun. However, shoulder tightness limited him to only nine appearances and 8.2 innings. Cashner earned a victory and two saves and struck out seven batters … but he also allowed 12 earned runs and had a 1.96 WHIP.

Click Here for the Mesa Solar Sox Final Statistics for the 2011 AFL Season

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt