The system closed out the week going 6-9 for a total record of 13-14. A rainout in which Daytona was leading 6-0 on Friday may have evened the record. While inconsistencies still plague the system there appears a light at the end of the tunnel. Peoria and Daytona are finally hitting. As Paul Hoilman, Taiwan Easterling, Rubi Silva, and Arismendy Alcantara aided some good pitching by Michael Jensen, PJ Francescon, and Eric Jokisch. Tennessee is still trying to figure things out as they only had Dae-Eun Rhee’s outing to hang their hat on. Iowa twice had to deplete the bullpen, but veterans Randy Wells and Travis Wood hung in for two wins.
To see how things shook down, today’s Down on the Farm Report will provide the answers.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (15-21)
Peoria’s bats have been producing a little more lately, but they weren’t able cash in on Wednesday as they lost 2-1 to Beloit. The Chiefs had nine hits, as Paul Hoilman extended his hitting streak to 22 games, a new Chiefs’ record, by going 2-for-4 with a triple. Taiwan Easterling is also hot with a five game hit streak, as he was 2-for-4 including a double. Oliver Zapata was also 2-for-4. Kyler Burke pitched well enough to win, with some run support, as he allowed two earned runs and struck out four over 6.1 innings. Austin Reed held the Snappers in check for the final 2.2 innings.
Pitching again was the Chiefs’ undoing, as the offense came up just short on Thursday in a 6-5 loss to Beloit. In what could be said to be his best outing of the season, Gerardo Concepcion still gave up five walks and two hits in four innings, allowing two earned runs. Willengton Cruz didn’t do much better, also surrendering two earned runs in an inning. Fresh off the DL, Ben Wells struck out three in four innings, but allowed two earned runs. Rafael Lopez was the main man on offense, going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while Marco Hernandez was 2-for-4 including a double. Paul Hoilman extended his hitting streak to 23 games by going 1-for-4 and an RBI.
After two close losses, Peoria was able to bounce back in a Friday matinee as they defeated Beloit 6-2. On the mound for the Chiefs was Michael Jensen, who was hammered for five runs in each of his last two games. Jensen returned to his early season form as he went 5.2 innings, striking out two and allowing an earned run. Sheldon McDonald continued the effort by tossing 2.1 innings, also giving up an earned run as he struck out two batters. Setting down the Snappers in order in the ninth was Jeffrey Lorick, who also had two strikeouts.
Peoria helped their pitching by putting up five runs in the first inning. Both Paul Hoilman (24 game hitting streak) and Wes Darvill were 1-for-4 with an RBI, Hoilman with his 13th double. Taiwan Easterling and Ryan Cuneo were 1-for-4, and Zeke DeVoss was 1-for-5. However, the day belonged to Yaniel Cabezas and Marco Hernandez. Both were 3-for-4, Hernandez driving a run in while Cabezas had two RBI.
The Chiefs have been on the short end of several close games this season, but Saturday they were able to turn those results around in a 2-1 victory over Burlington. PJ Francescon was able to keep the Bees from swarming, as Peoria pitching gave up only three hits. Francescon tossed 7.1 innings and struck out four, giving up only an unearned run. Yao-Lin Wang finished up the final 1.2 innings for his first save.
Peoria got all the runs they would need in the third inning, as Zeke DeVoss (0-1, three walks) come home on an error. Wes Darvill (1-for-3, stolen base) then drove in Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4, double, stolen base). Marco Hernandez was 2-for-3, while Paul Hoilman had his hitting streak halted.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (13-22)
Daytona stumbled on Wednesday night, as they only managed two hits in the 5-1 defeat by Charlotte. Arismendy Alcantara was the only D-Cub to solve the Stone Crabs’ pitching, going 2-for-4 with a double. Zach Cates continued to struggle, as he allowed four earned runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out two batters. Joe Zeller was able to shutout Charlotte over two innings, adding two more strikeouts; but Scott Weismann gave up a solo home run in the eighth to put the game on ice.
The bats came alive for the D-Cubs on Thursday; unfortunately the pitching failed them as they lost 8-3 to Charlotte. All but one of Daytona’s starters hit safely with Sergio Burruel leading the way at 2-for-4. Nelson Perez and Elieser Bonne each drove in a run as they were both 1-for-4. Dustin Harrington also had an RBI on a sacrifice fly. After two good games, Frank Del Valle had a rough outing, allowing five earned runs in five innings. However, Larry Suarez qualifies as one of the most disappointing pitchers in the system this spring, as he gave up three earned runs in an inning of work. AJ Morris and Tony Zych each had a scoreless inning, Morris with two strikeouts while Zych struck out one batter.
With a rainout on Friday, Daytona used a left-right combination to shutout Brevard County 4-0 on Saturday. Eric Jokisch was on top of his form, as he struck out five in six scoreless innings. Ty’Relle Harris put down the side in order in his inning, as did Scott Weismann. Tony Zych gave up a hit and a walk, but struck out two batters to finish the Manatees.
It hurt’s with two out, especially in the fifth inning when Daytona put across three runs. Elieser Bonne (2-for-3) led off with a single and was still there two outs later, until Rubi Silva (2-for-4, RBI) drove him in. Silva then came home on a single by Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4, RBI, stolen base). A fielding error on a ball hit by Nelson Perez plated Alcantara. Alcantara would also score an insurance run in the eighth, as Richard Jones (2-for-3, two doubles, RBI) doubled him home.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (15-22)
Tennessee didn’t appear ready for a noon start, or an hour and a half rain delay, as they slogged their way through a 4-1 loss to Birmingham on Wednesday. Dallas Beeler got the starting nod and pitched okay, allowing three earned runs and striking out two batters is 4.2 innings. Casey Harman took over and kept the Barons off the board for 2.1 innings as he struck out two batters. However, Alberto Cabrera let Birmingham tack on an insurance run as he served up a gopher ball in the eighth inning. The Smokies’ bats were relatively silent, with Logan Watkins coming back from some rest to go 3-for-4 with a double. Michael Burgess singled in Matt Cerda for Tennessee’s only run.
The Smokies received a gem of a pitching performance from Dae-Eun Rhee on Thursday, as they defeated Birmingham 4-1. Rhee got on one of those hot streaks he was famous for in Daytona’s championship run last season, striking out four and allowing only an unearned run in 7.2 innings. Brian Schlitter cleaned up the Barons, with two strikeouts in 1.1 innings to record his first save.
Nate Samson (1-for-4, double, two RBI) drove in two with a double in the second inning gave the Smokies the lead for good. Tennessee scored again in the fourth as Luis Flores (1-for-4, RBI) singled in Matt Cerda (1-for-2, two walks). They added an insurance run in the eighth as Logan Watkins (1-for-2) scored on a groundout.
It seems like a broken record, but Tennessee pitched well enough to win on Friday, but lost 2-1 to Jackson because they couldn’t hit. Brooks Raley had seven strikeouts in seven innings, but allowed two earned runs. Marcus Hatley continued to baffle the Generals, striking out three in two scoreless innings. The lone batter to solve Jackson pitching was Nate Samson, who was 3-for-4 for the evening. Justin Bour (1-for-4, double) doubled in Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) for the Smokies only score.
Tennessee had a rude welcome home from the division leading Jackson Generals, as they lost to their intrastate rivals 9-2. Nick Struck served up two home runs to account for three of his four earned runs in 5.2 innings. Ryan Searle also let loose a gopher ball, as he allowed four earned runs in 1.1 innings. Alberto Cabrera let the Generals tack on another earned run in the eighth; while Kevin Rhoderick remained the only Smokie pitcher unscathed, striking out two in a 1-2-3 ninth. There wasn’t much to say about Tennessee’s offense, as Justin Bour was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Michael Burgess was also 2-for-4, including a double.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (15-20)
Iowa put on a late rally on Wednesday, scoring six runs in the eighth inning, but pitching was not able to put Fresno away as the I-Cubs ended up losing 8-7. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3, home run, two RBI) was the catalyst again, as his tenth home run, a two-run blast, put Iowa in the lead. Pinch-hitter Jonathan Mota added a three-run homer to pad the lead. Blake Lalli also drove in two runs, as he was 1-for-4 with a double. Joining the hit parade was Luis Valbuena, as he was 2-for-3 including a double. Starter Rodrigo Lopez spotted the Grizzlies two earned runs, as he struck out three in three innings. Frankie De La Cruz held serve for three innings, and Jeff Beliveau followed with another scoreless inning. However, Frank Batista was hammered for three runs (two earned) without recording an out, Scott Maine didn’t fare much better, allowing three earned runs, letting the game slip away in his 1.1 innings.
The I-Cubs’ veteran pitchers bear most of the blame for their sub-par season. However, three came through on Thursday as Iowa blitzed Fresno 10-1. Randy Wells put forth his best effort of the season, allowing an earned run and striking out two batters in six innings. Beleaguered lefty Nate Robertson had two strikeouts of his own in two scoreless innings. Esmailin Caridad finished off the Grizzlies, shutting them out in the ninth.
It took an inning, but Iowa batters teed off on Fresno pitching, with Josh Vitters leading the way. Vitters was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Luis Valbuena and Dave Sappelt were each 2-for-5, Sappelt with a double while Valbuena drove in two with his fourth home run. Juan Apodaca was only 1-for-4, but had a double and three RBI.
After being in command for five innings, Iowa nearly gave the game away on Friday but held on for a 6-5 win over Fresno. Travis Wood sailed through the first four innings, but wound up allowing three earned runs while striking out six in six innings. In a new role, Jay Jackson then came on and tossed 1.2 scoreless innings, with three strikeouts, as Jeff Beliveau finished up for him in the eighth. Blake Parker had a rocky ninth, striking out a batter but giving up two earned runs. Parker hung on to collect his fourth save.
The I-Cubs staked Wood to a 6-0 lead thanks to Josh Vitters (2-for-4) who doubled, stole third, and scored the first run; as well as homering in the fifth inning. Anthony Rizzo also left the yard, as he was 2-for-5; and Ty Wright joined the fun as he was 2-for-3 with a home run. Juan Apodaca, who has seen resurgence in his bat since moving to Triple-A, went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
A logistics problem brought about by scheduled starter Casey Coleman’s promotion to the parent club left Iowa in a lurch, as they almost managed to pull off the upset in a 4-3 loss to Sacramento. The “bullpen day” had an extra stress, as starter Frankie De La Cruz had pitched three innings two days earlier. De La Cruz did what he could, tossing four innings and allowing three earned runs in four innings. The offense kept the I-Cubs in the game, as Alfredo Amezaga drove in three as he was 2-for-4 with a home run and an outfield assist. Luis Valbuena was also 2-for-4, while Jonathan Mota went 2-for-3 with a double. After a few rocky appearances, Frank Batista came on in the fifth to pitch two scoreless innings. Manny Corpas had it going for him that night. Corpas struck out five and he shut down the River Cats for two innings. However, Esmailin Caridad couldn’t find the plate in the ninth, walking three and giving up the game winning single.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled RHP Casey Coleman from the Iowa Cubs. The Peoria Chiefs activated RHP Ben Wells from the 7-day disabled list; RHP Bryce Shafer was assigned to Extended Spring Training. The Peoria Chiefs placed IF Brad Zapenas on the 7-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder; OF-3B-C Anthony Giansanti was assigned to Peoria from Extended Spring Training.
CCO’s Prospect Watch
Note: Outfielder Reggie Golden is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Replacing Golden on the list is the next highest player available in the fan vote: pitcher Tony Zych.
- Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
- Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .248, six doubles, triple, two home runs, 11 RBI, six stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
- Junior Lake (IF) – .238, double, triple, stolen base (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .250, nine doubles, two triples, seven RBI, 16 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .184, three doubles, two triples, five RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) – .268, six doubles, three home runs, 17 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training
- Tony Zych (RHP) – 1-1, 3.50 ERA, 18.0 innings, 15 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1.22 WHIP, 3 saves (Daytona Cubs)
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