The beginning of this week had the minors emulating conditions at the big league park, with seven of the 12 games happening in the daylight hours.
Peoria’s Oliver Zapata had his hitting streak stopped at eight, but Peoria received great pitching performances from PJ Francescon and Kyler Burke. Daytona continued to scuffle, but pooled their resources on Sunday for a win. Tennessee keeps on battling, and had an unlikely source come through on Monday. Iowa started out well, as Chris Rusin may have had the organization’s best start of the season.
To see how it all unfolded, look inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (8-11)
With the first place Lansing Lugnuts in town, Peoria had to be at the top of their game, which they were in a 2-0 victory on Sunday. PJ Francescon took matters in his own hands and struck out five batters in seven shutout innings. Lefty Andrew McKirahan has yet to give up and earned run all season, and struck out two in an inning of work. Jeffrey Lorick closed things out by also striking out two batters.
The Chiefs’ offense seems to ease up when they get pitching like this, and Sunday was no different. Zeke DeVoss paced the club by going 2-for-2, while Oliver Zapata increased his hitting streak to eight games. Ryan Cuneo, Paul Hoilman, Taiwan Easterling, and Brad Zapenas also had hits.
Peoria’s Jose Rosario suffered from another poor start on Monday, as the Chiefs tried to fight back, but ended up losing 7-3 to Lansing. Rosario kept the Lugnuts off the board for the first three innings, and then allowed two earned runs in the fourth. The night ended for Rosario in the sixth, when he was responsible for three more run (two earned) and failed to record an out. Luis Liria struck out two in two scoreless innings, while Bryce Shafer kept Lansing in check for another inning. But Austin Reed finally let the game slip away by giving up two earned runs in the ninth. Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4, triple) and Wes Darvill (1-for-2) had an RBI each.
It was a day of firsts for Peoria on Tuesday, as the Chiefs took the series from league leading Lansing with a 6-2 victory. There was no scoring until the ninth inning, when the Lugnuts went up 2-0. Wes Darvill (1-for-3) tied the score in the ninth with his two-run double. Former Northwest League home run champ Paul Hoilman hit his first for Peoria, a walk-off grand slam, ending the day at 2-for-5 with four RBI. Yaniel Cabezas saw his first action of 2012 and was 2-for-4, joining teammates Brad Zapenas, Eduardo Gonzalez, and Pin-Chieh Chen at that mark.
Outfielder-turned-pitcher Kyler Burke got his first career start and struck out four in six scoreless innings. Ben Wells finished the game, and almost ended up the goat by allowing two earned runs in three innings. However, the heroics of Darvill and Hoilman made Wells’ two strikeout performance a winner.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (5-13)
It was all-hands-on-deck for Daytona on Sunday, as a “bullpen day” worked to near perfection in a 5-2 win over Lakeland. Starter Matt Loosen was recalled from the disabled list prior to the game, and was pulled after pitching two scoreless innings. Brett Wallach took over for another two innings with the same result, no runs and a strikeout. It was then Ty’Relle Harris‘ turn, but he allowed two earned runs in his two innings. Brian Schlitter got the staff back on the right track, blanking the Flying Tigers for an inning. Tony Zych answered the final call by striking out two in his two scoreless innings.
The offense for the D-Cubs still sputtered, but was at least coordinated. Rubi Silva was back after a couple of days rest and was 2-for-4 with two RBI and an outfield assist. Matt Szczur was 1-for-3 with an RBI and three stolen bases, while Elieser Bonne drove in a run with a solo home run, going 1-for-3.
The D-Cubs had the misfortune to face Detroit Tigers’ top prospect Jacob Turner on Monday, as they lost 7-2 to Lakeland. The Flying Tigers limited Daytona to three hits, with Matt Szczur, Richard Jones, and John Andreoli with one apiece. Starter Zach Cates had his best outing of 2012, allowing three earned runs in four innings. Joe Zeller continues to impress, as he went four innings with an unearned run and three strikeouts. However, it was a different story for Larry Suarez, as he gave up three earned runs in an inning of work.
Only one word can describe Daytona’s 13-5 loss to Lakeland on Tuesday: AWFUL. Hayden Simpson started and walked seven while giving up eight hits, including a home run. Simpson lasted 4.1 innings and allowed six runs (five earned) while striking out two batters. Eduardo Figueroa came in next and two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Five more earned runs came in as Brett Wallach pitched two innings. Dustin Harrington led the D-Cub batters by going 3-for-4 with a double, while Matt Szczur was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Sergio Burruel was 2-for-4 with a double, and Rubi Silva was 2-for-5, including a triple and an RBI.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (10-10)
Even though the Smokies were a little short-handed on Sunday, they fought back twice, only to come up short in a 7-6 loss to Chattanooga. With two players promoted and one placed on the disabled list, Ryan Searle was named emergency starter. Given the situation, he performed okay, allowing four earned runs in four innings. The game was then handed over to the bullpen, with mixed results. Casey Weathers only pitched 0.2 innings, letting in an earned run. Fresh from Daytona, Casey Harman was pressed into service and delivered a one earned run, three strikeout performance in 2.1 innings. The reins were then handed over to Dan Berlind, who couldn’t find the plate. Berlind walked three and gave up an earned run in two innings. Rebel Ridling is beginning to round back into his 2011 form, and was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Logan Watkins and Justin Bour were each 2-for-5, with Watkins legging out a triple. James Adduci was 2-for-2 after coming on as a pinch-hitter.
Tennessee had an unlikely hero on Monday, as they edged Chattanooga 5-4 in 12 innings. Jonathan Mota was 2-for-4 with a home run, and kept the game in reach by pitching a scoreless 12th inning. Keystone combination Elliot Soto and Logan Watkins swapped positions for a night, and paced the Smokies’ attack. Soto was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, while Watkins went 1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Justin Bour (1-for-2) helping out by playing the outfield for probably the first time since little league, had the game winning RBI.
Starter Dallas Beeler deserved a better fate, and he was charged with four earned runs as he struck out three in 5.2 innings. Needing only to get one out in order to keep the score at 4-3, Alberto Cabrera gave up a single to the first batter he faced to tie up the score. Cabrera ended his night by tossing two more shutout innings, while Kevin Rhoderick struck out two in his scoreless inning. Regaining his form, Marcus Hatley also struck out two and kept the Lookouts off the Board for two innings. Jonathan Mota’s inning was aided by a great catch and throw by third baseman Nate Samson to end the inning with a double play.
It was a get-away day for Tennessee, as the afternoon contest on Tuesday ended with a 7-5 loss to Chattanooga. Dae-Eun Rhee had his second consecutive poor outing, as he allowed seven run (five earned) and struck out five in five innings. With a short bullpen Scott Weismann was called-up from Peoria and tossed three scoreless innings. Casey Weathers appears to be settling down, as he shy down the Lookouts for an inning. Jae-Hoon Ha appears to be out of his slump, as he was 3-for-5 with two doubles. Pinch-hitter James Adduci drove in three with a double.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (8-12)
In what may be one of the best performances by a minor leaguer this season, Chris Rusin took matters in his own hand for Iowa on Sunday and delivered a 2-1 victory over Memphis. Rusin delivered eight shutout innings, striking out four and driving in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly. Blake Parker made things interesting in the ninth, allowing an earned run. But Parker got things together well enough to record his third save.
The offense seemed to shrink away again for the I-Cubs with a good pitching performance. However, they were able to eek-out just enough for the win. Adrian Cardenas was 2-for-3 with a triple, while Welington Castillo drove what prove to be the winning run.
Iowa had a rare weekday day game on Monday, and almost wished they would have slept in as the lost to Memphis 6-2. The Redbirds were all over starter Jay Jackson, scoring five runs (four earned) in four innings. Nate Robinson did nothing to put out the fire, allowing an earned run in his two innings of work. Frank Batista made his Triple-A debut and shutout Memphis for two innings and struck out two batters. Anthony Rizzo was 2-for-3 with a double, while Brett Jackson was 2-for-4 and a stolen base. Welington Castillo (1-for-4) had an RBI.
With another matinee scheduled for Tuesday, the I-Cubs looked like they really needed their off-day on Wednesday in their 4-0 loss to Memphis. Travis Wood was able to work himself out of jams in the first, second and fourth innings. But an Anthony Rizzo error in the fifth opened up the floodgates, leading to two runs. Wood ended the day allowing two runs (one earned) while striking out eight in six innings. Jeff Beliveau bounced back from a rough previous outing to keep Iowa in the game with two scoreless innings. However, Esmailin Caridad let the game get away as he gave up two earned runs in the final inning. The I-Cubs couldn’t coordinate their attack as they scattered seven hits. Both Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo were 2-for-4, with one of Valbuena’s hits being a double.
News and Notes
Left-handed pitcher Scott Weismann was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies from Peoria. Left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion was assigned to the Peoria Chiefs from Daytona. Catcher Yaniel Cabezas was assigned to the Peoria Chiefs from Boise.
CCO’s Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
- Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .254, four doubles, triple, home run, seven RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) – is currently on the disabled list
- Junior Lake (IF) – is currently inactive – 7-day DL with back injury
- Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .225, two doubles, four RBI, eight stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .240, three doubles, two triples, RBI (Daytona Cubs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) – .258, two doubles, eight RBI (Iowa Cubs)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO