Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/24/12

To start this week, the mid-May shuffle took a positive spin as pitchers PJ Francescon, Eric Jokisch, Brooks Raley, and Travis Wood were all promoted a level. The promotions can be seen as a positive step for the organization, as each level is closing in on playing at the .500 level, while Peoria and Tennessee recorded their 20th wins.

With Anthony Rizzo still pounding away at Iowa, the parent club has had to scramble to address rumors of his promotion. As Daytona gets their offense untracked, rumors of promotions began to swirl around that team.

With all the latest comings and goings, take a look inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.

Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (20-25)
It took ten innings, but Peoria finally recorded their 20th win on Sunday with a 9-6 victory over Cedar Rapids. The Chiefs started quickly, as they posted four runs in the first inning. Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4) and Rafael Lopez (2-for-6, double, RBI) came home on a triple by Paul Hoilman (2-for-5, triple, RBI). Hoilman then scored on a single by Taylor Davis (3-for-3, double, two RBI), with Davis scoring later in the inning. Anthony Giansanti and Oliver Zapata were each 2-for-4, while Pin-Chieh Chen plated two with a double as he was 1-for-5.

Gerardo Concepcion put forth what can be considered at this point to be a typical effort. Concepcion allowed four earned runs in five innings of work with two strikeouts. Ben Wells was his piggyback, and although he blew a save with two earned runs in the ninth, he struck out seven in five innings for the win.

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The Chiefs allowed Cedar Rapids to break open a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth with three earned runs as Peoria ended up falling 5-4. Larry Suarez was responsible for the winning margin, serving up a three-run homer in his one inning of work. Michael Jensen started and struck out four while allowing two earned runs in 5.1 innings. He was followed by Luis Liria, who kept the Kernels off the board for 1.2 innings. Oliver Zapata was the offensive star, going 1-for-1 with three walks, two stolen bases, an RBI, and two runs scored. Paul Hoilman was 2-for-5 with a double.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (18-25)
In what can be considered his worst pitching performance of the season, Austin Kirk and Daytona were pounded by Palm Beach 8-4 on Sunday. Kirk simply didn’t have it, as he allowed six earned runs on eight hits over 2.1 innings, striking out two batters. Eduardo Figueroa tried to keep the D-Cubs in the game by striking out five, but gave up an unearned run in 1.2 innings. Joe Zeller was also the victim of an unearned run, as he struck out two in two innings. Tony Zych got some mop up work, as he tossed two scoreless innings. Micah Gibbs recorded his first hit for Daytona, as he was 1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Richard Jones and Ronald Torreyes also drove in runs, while Nelson Perez and Elieser Bonne were each 2-for-4.

A pitcher’s duel on Monday turned out to be a sprint to the finish, as Daytona nosed out St. Lucie 4-3. Starter Matt Loosen had things in control until the seventh inning, when he gave up a solo home run. For the evening, Loosen struck out eight in 6.2 innings. Ty’Relle Harris then gave back the lead, allowing two runs (one earned) while striking out two batters. In a new role, Ryan Searle came in and shut down the Mets in order in the ninth, and set the scene for the offense to save the day.

The first order of business was to tie the score, which the D-Cubs did in the seventh when Chad Noble (2-for-4) scored on a single by Matt Szczur (2-for-4). In the ninth, Noble started the rally again with a single, followed by a John Andreoli (2-for-3, two stolen bases) walk. Noble came home on a throwing error after Szczur singled for the second time. Andreoli crossed the plate on a single by Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-5, RBI), and Nelson Perez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Greg Rohan (1-for-4, double, RBI) brought in the game winner with a sac fly.

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It was another thriller on Tuesday as Daytona took ten innings, but finally put away St. Lucie with a 6-5 win. PJ Francescon got his first Florida State League start, and was impressive as he went six innings and allowed two runs (one earned), as he struck out five batters. Hayden Simpson had a rough time, as he let the Mets back into the game by giving up three earned runs in his one inning of work. Scott Weismann then righted the ship, punching out two as he went a scoreless inning. AJ Morris then got the long save, as he shut St. Lucie down the rest of the way and posted a strikeout.

Matt Szczur set the pace for the D-Cubs again, as he was 2-for-4 with a double, stolen base, and an RBI. Greg Rohan is now putting some distance in his RBI lead, as he ran his total to 37 by slugging his sixth home runs and driving in two. Nelson Perez is now tied for second in home runs, as he belted his seventh of the year and was 2-for-4. John Andreoli was also 2-for-4 and picked up his tenth stolen base.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (20-26)
By starting and finishing earlier, the Smokies were technically the first team in the organization to 20 wins as they defeated Mississippi 6-3 on Sunday. A resurgent Jae-Hoon Ha has been a key to the Tennessee attack, as he was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He was on board for one of two home runs by Rebel Ridling (2-for-4, two home runs and three RBI). James Adduci (1-for-3, RBI) added a solo blast. Justin Bour drove in two runs as he was 1-for-4.

Trey McNutt bounced back from his longest outing of the season with a reasonable effort, allowing three runs (one earned) in five innings. Once again, the bullpen is emerging as a dangerous weapon for the Smokies as three relievers held the Braves scoreless the rest of the way. Casey Weathers pitched inning and had a strikeout, while Kevin Rhoderick punched out two in his two innings. Frank Batista remains unscored-upon in the Southern League, as he tossed an inning for his sixth save.

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Once again, Tennessee allowed things to slip away, as a 4-2 lead ended in an 8-5 loss to Mississippi on Monday. Dae-Eun Rhee was a little shaky, but was able to gut out six innings and give up three earned runs. However, Brian Schlitter totally fell apart by allowing three earned runs and letting a fourth in on his throwing error, all in only 1.1 innings. Casey Harman didn’t do much better, letting in the final earned run. Jae-Hoon Ha continues to set the table, as he was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Rebel Ridling swatted his third home run in two days, as he was 1-for-4 and two RBI. The only other Smokie with multiple hits was Junior Lake, as he was 2-for-4.

As the Smokies were caught between transactions, Mobile was able to take advantage of some poor situational pitching to defeat Tennessee 4-3 on Tuesday. With Brooks Raley promoted to Iowa and Eric Jokisch not up from Daytona, Jeffry Antigua was given the start and went four innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three. Knowing the game was up to them, some members of the bullpen were not up to the task. Casey Weathers did his job, holding the BayBears scoreless for an inning. But veteran Marcus Hatley put the Smokies in a two run hole, as he coughed up an earned run, but struck out two, in an inning. Then Alberto Cabrera couldn’t pitch around a Junior Lake error, giving up an unearned run in his two innings. Lake would put Tennessee on the board with a home run to lead off the game, and was 3-for-5 for the evening. But even though the Smokies had nine hits, they couldn’t bunch them for runs. Justin Bour was 3-for-4, while Luis Flores and James Adduci drove in runs.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (19-25)
Another great pitching performance went by the wayside on Sunday, as Iowa dropped a 2-1 loss to Salt Lake City. Rodrigo Lopez tossed a one-hitter through six innings, striking out five batters. However, Nate Robertson was the goat by serving up back-to-back solo home runs in the seventh. Jeff Beliveau finished things out, striking out three in two scoreless innings, but it was too late. Brett Jackson, Luis Valbuena, Josh Vitters, Dave Sappelt, and Brian Esposito each had a hit, with Sappelt driving in Vitters, who doubled in the fourth inning.

The I-Cubs were never in it on Monday, as pitching was responsible for an 8-2 loss to Tacoma. Jay Jackson was back in the starting rotation. However, with a six earned runs in three innings performance, he wasn’t missed. It then turned into a bullpen night, as Manny Corpas held serve for three innings, but Ryan Roland-Smith allowed the Rainiers to add to their totals with an earned run in an inning. Mike MacDougal gave up an unearned run, while Scott Maine mercifully ended things with a scoreless inning. Despite ten hits, Iowa could only manage two runs. Alfredo Amezaga and Juan Apodaca were 2-for-3, while Blake DeWitt was 2-for-4.

Iowa erased the sour taste of Monday’s game with an 18-hit romp as they defeated Tacoma 18-8 on Tuesday. Every I-Cub had a hit except defensive replacement Juan Apodaca. Anthony Rizzo may have had the best day, as he was 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBI, and five runs scored. Joining Rizzo in going deep was Luis Valbuena, who was 2-for-4 including a double, home run, and four RBI. Another couple of Iowa players driving in a pair were Dave Sappelt, as he was 2-for-5 with a double, and Josh Vitters was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Nate Samson was 2-for-5, and Alfredo Amezaga was 2-for-6 including a double and an RBI.

Chris Volstad got his first start for the I-Cubs and was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, as he struck out six and allowed four earned runs in six innings. Esmailin Caridad’s three earned runs in two innings hurt nothing this time, except his ERA. Nate Robertson completed the underwhelming performance, as he gave up an earned run in an inning of work.

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News and Notes
Left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley was assigned to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies. Left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies from the Daytona Cubs. Right-handed pitcher PJ Francescon was assigned to the Daytona Cubs from the Peoria Chiefs.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training: Unofficial numbers – .329, five doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 26 RBI, 10 stolen bases
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training: Unofficial numbers – .315, eight doubles, three triples, home run, 14 RBI, two stolen bases
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .236, six doubles, triple, two home runs, 11 RBI, 11 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 310, four doubles, triple, two home runs, five RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training: Rehab, has not pitched
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .270, 11 doubles, three triples, home run, 11 RBI, 19 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .154, three doubles, two triples, six RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .253, 10 doubles, four home runs, 20 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training: Unofficial numbers – .183, three doubles, triple, two home runs, eight RBI
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 2-1, 3.22 ERA, 22.1 innings, 17 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1.16 WHIP, 4 saves (Daytona Cubs)

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