As we hit the mid-season point for the minor leagues, all levels appear to be on the upswing as each level is near the .500 mark. Peoria had sparkling pitching performances from Gerardo Concepcion, Michael Jensen, and Kyler Burke to run its win streak to five. Greg Rohan continued on his tear through the Florida State League with Daytona, as they have won seven of their last ten games. Tennessee has won six in a row, with Logan Watkins and Justin Bour leading the way. Dave Sappelt’s bat has recently come alive, and Josh Vitters keeps coming up clutch for Iowa.
So sit back and enjoy some of the good news from today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (30-32)
Pitching probably the finest game of his young career, Gerardo Concepcion and the Chiefs’ pitching staff were able to stymie Cedar Rapids 4-0 on Wednesday. Concepcion allowed only two hits and struck out four batters, as he held the Kernels scoreless over 5.2 innings. Starling Peralta and Austin Reed each pitched 1.1 innings, with Reed striking out three in the process. Yao-Lin Wang earned his sixth save by picking up the last two outs.
Taiwan Easterling had an evening that many thought would be the norm for him this season, going 3-for-4 including a home run and two RBI. Javier Baez matched Easterling’s performance at the plate, as he also was 3-for-4, driving in a run and tripling. Zeke DeVoss scored two of the runs, as he was 1-for-3 with a walk and a double.
Peoria was only able to manage two hits on Thursday, but they were enough as they beat Cedar Rapids 2-0. After Zeke DeVoss walked and moved to second on an error in the first inning, Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3) singled him home. Everything was quiet until the bottom of the eighth, when Easterling walked and stole second, coming in on an Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4) RBI double.
Michael Jensen was part of a three man shutout effort, as he struck out seven in five innings. Felix Pena had five punch outs in two innings, while Hunter Cervenka picked up his first save pitching two innings and striking out two batters.
The Chiefs had a solid all-around effort on Friday, as they defeated Cedar Rapids 4-2. Pin-Chieh Chen led the offense, as he was 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, and stolen base. Anthony Giansanti also chipped in as he went 3-for-4 and an RBI. Wes Darvill had a run-scoring triple in going 1-for-4, while Yaniel Cabezas was 2-for-3.
Jose Rosario got the starting nod and went six innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out four batters. Sheldon McDonald got three strikeouts of his own as he pitched two scoreless innings. Yao-Lin Wang fanned two as he set the side down in order in the ninth to earn his seventh save.
Make it five in a row as the Chiefs had thing in control from the beginning on Saturday in the 4-1 victory over Kane County. Starting pitcher Kyler Burke was dominant, as he struck out nine Cougars in seven scoreless innings. Larry Suarez was responsible for the only blemish, an earned run in his inning of work. However, Luis Liria set down the side in order in the ninth for his second save.
All of Peoria’s runs came in the first inning, as a double by Paul Hoilman (2-for-4) drove in one run, while another scored on an error. A Sergio Burruel (1-for-3) two-run single capped the scoring. Anthony Giansanti led all hitters by going 3-for-5, and Wes Darvill was 2-for-4 with a double.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (27-33)
Pitching held Bradenton in check on Wednesday, as Daytona’s offense was just enough to defeat the Marauders 4-0. John Andreoli has really blossomed since taking over the leadoff role, as he was 3-for-4 including a triple and an RBI. Since coming to the D-Cubs, Taylor Davis and Micah Gibbs have given them an offensive boost, as they were both 1-for-3 with an RBI, Davis hitting a double.
Matt Loosen has turned things around since an early season injury skewed his results. Loosen has brought his ERA down to 3.00 as he went 5.2 scoreless innings and struck out six batters. Eduardo Figueroa continues to be the jack-of-all-trades, as he had three strikeouts in his 2.1 innings of relief. Scott Weismann finished things up with a perfect ninth.
It was a doubleheader day on Friday after Thursday’s rainout. In a low scoring affair, Iowa was able to get past Bradenton 3-2 in game one. Scheduled Thursday starter Robert Whitenack waited the extra day, as was able to go two innings, allowing an earned run. Piggybacking Whitenack was Hayden Simpson, who also gave up an earned run in two innings, but got credit for the win. AJ Morris blanked the Marauders for two innings, while Tony Zych set down the side in order for his fifth save.
There was not much to speak of offensively, except for All-Star Greg Rohan upping his league-leading RBI total to 51 with a double and his eleventh home run as he was 2-for-3. Nelson Perez, Micah Gibbs, and Rubi Silva also had hits.
While Daytona was able to record ten hits in game two, they didn’t translate into enough runs as they lost to Bradenton 4-3. Arismendy Alcantara went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the offense, while Greg Rohan also drove in a run as he was 2-for-4. Ronald Torreyes plated the other run for the D-Cubs as he was 2-for-3 with a double. PJ Francescon got the call for the nightcap, and struck out six as he allowed three runs (one earned). Jeffrey Lorick was also the victim of an unearned runs as he pitched two innings, with two strikeouts.
Daytona was held to only three hits on Saturday, as they were shutout by the Tampa Yankees 7-0. Recording hits for the D-Cubs were Arismendy Alcantara, Ronald Torreyes, and Rubi Silva. Almost every Daytona pitcher was touch-up by Tampa, as starter Frank Del Valle struck out four and allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings. Eduardo Figueroa and Joe Zeller each gave up two earned runs in an innings pitched. Only Ryan Searle was able to solve Yankee hitting, tossing a scoreless ninth.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (30-33)
It seems as if some of the close losses from earlier in the season are beginning to turn around, as Tennessee eeked out another win 3-2 over Montgomery on Wednesday. Justin Bour remains the catalyst, as he was drove in two while going 2-for-3 with a double. Fellow All-Star James Adduci was 1-for-5 with a stolen base, while leadoff hitter Logan Watkins walked twice and stole his ninth base.
Starter Trey McNutt continues to progress, striking out three in 5.2 scoreless innings. Jeffry Antigua allowed an earned run in 0.2 innings before turning things over to the Smokies’ two other All-Stars. Kevin Rhoderick struck out two in an inning to lower his ERA to an almost microscopic 0.76. Tennessee relied on Frank Batista to get the five-out save, and after giving up an earned run, was able to come through with his eighth of the year.
Once again, the Smokies delivered a 2011-type win on Thursday as the defeated Mississippi 8-7. The offense was late arriving but nevertheless there, as the top of the order is now really beginning to click. Logan Watkins was 2-for-4 with two walks, an RBI, and three runs scored from the leadoff spot. Batting second, Jae-Hoon Ha was also turned it on as he went 3-for-5 and drove in a run. Junior Lake has moved down to third; he plated two runs as by going 3-for-3. The increased production has benefitted Justin Bour, who raised his RBI total to 48 with three more as he was 2-for-5. Also showing improvement has been Matt Cerda, who was 3-for-5.
Dae-Eun Rhee continues to struggle on the mound, as he allowed seven runs (five earned) in five innings. Casey Harman, Brian Schlitter, and Alberto Cabrera held the Braves in check the rest of the way, with Cabrera getting the win.
Hello, old friend! Tennessee had a mirror image of its previous night’s win as they led Mississippi early, and then hung on to win 4-3. Welington Castillo was welcomed back to the club, as he reported on a rehab assignment. Castillo provided some oomph to the offense, knocking in three by going 2-for-3, including a two-run homer. Logan Watkins continued to set the table, as he was 2-for-3, while Matt Cerda drove in the Smokies other run and was 1-for-3.
Nick Struck once again gave up the big innings, allowing three runs in the fifth, but also struck out three in his six innings of work. Now pitching more consistent ball, Marcus Hatley also struck out three in two scoreless innings. Kevin Rhoderick had a tough time with his control, walking three batters, but was able to escape any damage as he picked up his seventh save.
Tennessee relied on unlikely heroes on Saturday, as they were able to stave-off Mississippi 6-4. Nate Samson got a start in left field and was in the middle of things offensively as he was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Michael Brenly provided some late inning heroics, coming on as a pinch-hitter and going 2-for-2 with two doubles and two RBI. Rebel Ridling belted a two-run home run as he was 1-for-4, while Michael Burgess was 2-for-4.
Starter Dallas Beeler again pitched well enough to win, but was unlucky with receiving credit. Beeler went five innings and allowed three earned runs. Jeffry Antigua then came on and struck out three Braves in two scoreless innings. However, Frank Batista allowed Mississippi to tie up the game with an earned run in the eighth before collecting himself enough to close out the game and get the win.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (28-35)
After an off-day on Wednesday, Iowa was able to best Nashville on the Thursday 6-5 in a see-saw affair. In the second inning, Dave Sappelt (2-for-4) singled in Josh Vitters (2-for-3, double, RBI) who had walked earlier. Iowa added two more in the third as Chris Volstad (1-for-2) singled and Brett Jackson (1-for-3) doubled. Volstad came home on a Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3) force out, and Jackson scored on a double by Vitters. That’s how the scoring remained until Ty Wright (1-for-3) hit a homer in the bottom of the eighth with Vitters aboard.
While Chris Volstad helped his cause at the plate, he could have used a little more on the mound as he allowed four runs (three earned), but struck out seven, in seven innings. Jeff Beliveau and Scott Maine each pitched a scoreless innings, Beliveau receiving the win while Maine got his fourth save.
Friday saw a doubleheader with Nashville, with game one looking like it was going into extra innings before the I-Cubs pulled out a 5-4 win. The heart of the order did the damage, as Anthony Rizzo slugged his 18th home run and was 2-for-4. Luis Valbuena also went yard, as he went 2-for-3 including a double. Josh Vitters drove in two as he doubled and was 2-for-4. Ty Wright joined the extra-base hit parade, with a double as part as a 2-for-4 effort, as his walk-off hit in the seventh provided the winning margin.
Rodrigo Lopez gave a solid effort, striking out six and allowing four earned runs in six innings. Mike MacDougal got into some trouble, giving up two hits and a walk, but was able to get out of the seventh for the victory.
Iowa must have used up all of their karma on Friday in game one, as the fell to Nashville 6-0 in the second game of the doubleheader. Brett Jackson was the only I-Cub with more than one hit, as he was 2-for-3 with a double. Dave Sappelt also doubled as he was 1-for-2, and surprise starter Ryan Rowland-Smith collected a hit. Rowland-Smith kept Iowa in the game by striking out four batters while only allowing an earned run in four innings. Newly assigned Michael Bowden was a different story, giving up three earned runs while only being able to last 0.1 innings. Jeff Beliveau was the victim of a Josh Vitters error, letting in an unearned run in the inning he pitched. Rafael Dolis struck out the only two batters he faced, and catcher Juan Apodaca had to pitch the seventh, allowing an earned run.
Another doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday, as Iowa was able to push across the game’s only run to defeat Nashville 1-0 in the opener. Matt Tolbert (2-for-3) provided all the offense, as his solo homer in the bottom of the first was the only score. Dave Sappelt was 2-for-2. Brooks Raley had a strong effort, scattering six hits and striking out six of the Sounds in a complete game shutout.
The nightcap had a surprise starter in Esmailin Caridad, who pitched well enough to win but Iowa would end up losing 3-2. Caridad went four innings and gave up two earned runs while striking out three batters. Just called up from Tennessee, Ty’Relle Harris took the loss as he allowed an earned run in his two innings of work. Scott Maine came in and tossed a scoreless seventh. Ty Wright was the leading hitter, as he was 2-for-4 with a double. Luis Valbuena and Josh Vitters each drove in a run.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned C Welington Castillo to the Tennessee Smokies. The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Frankie De La Cruz on the 7-Day disabled list; RHP Ty’Relle Harris was assigned to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies. The Daytona Cubs placed OF Matt Szczur on the 7-Day disabled list; activated OF Elieser Bonne from the 7-Day disabled list.
CCO’s Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (IF) – . 273, double, triple, two home runs, six RBI, four stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
- Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .244, 11doubles, triple, two home runs, 15 RBI, 15 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
- Junior Lake (IF) – . 297, seven doubles, triple, three home runs, nine RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .267, 11 doubles, three triples, home run, 13 RBI, 19 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .210, eight doubles, two triples, home run, 14 RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) – .280, 12 doubles, nine home runs, 29 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training
- Robert Whitenack – 0-1, 5.86 ERA, 6.1 innings, 1 strikeout, 1 walk, 2.21 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
- Tony Zych (RHP) – 3-3, 3.23 ERA, 30.2 innings, 25 strikeouts, 5 walks, 1.11 WHIP, 5 saves (Daytona Cubs)
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