Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/14/12

As the minor leagues hit the halfway point this week, improvement can be seen across the board for the organization. Peoria flirted with the .500 mark as their bullpen of Austin Reed, Felix Pena, Yao-Lin Wang, Sheldon McDonald, Luis Liria, and Hunter Cervenka did most of the heavy lifting.

Ronald Torreyes’ improvement has been a nice addition to the offense provided by Nelson Perez and Greg Rohan, as Daytona is 8-4 in June. Tennessee’s Eric Jokisch may be on his way to becoming the best starting pitcher in the system, while Iowa’s Anthony Rizzo added four more home runs to his total.

Along with a recap of action in the Dominican Summer League, here is 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 (32-33)
Another bullpen day on Sunday had a good result for Peoria, as they were able to hold off Kane County 4-1. Starling Peralta was given the starting nod, and struck out two while allowing an earned run in three innings. Austin Reed had been struggling recently, but shutdown the Cougars for three innings, while Felix Pena also tossed two scoreless innings and struck out two batters. Collecting his eighth save, Yao-Lin Wang set down the side in order in the ninth.

Oliver Zapata was bumped up to the leadoff spot and went 3-for-4 with a stolen base. Also swiping a base was Taiwan Easterling, as he was 2-for-2 with two walks. However, the big blow was by Paul Hoilman (1-for-4, home run, three RBI), who’s three-run shot was the winning margin.

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The Chiefs refused to let one get away from them, as they topped Kane County on Monday in a wild10-9 affair. Down 6-0 in the bottom of the second, Paul Hoilman (3-for-4, home run) led the charge back with a solo home run. Dustin Geiger was also able to make his presence felt, as he was 4-for-5 including a two-run home run and three RBI; his RBI single in the bottom of the ninth provided the game winner. Not to be outdone, Sergio Burruel was 3-for-4 with two doubles while also driving in three. Pin-Cheih Chen had a triple and two RBI as he was 2-for-4.

Starter Gerardo Concepcion followed up one of his best starts with one of his worst, allowing nine earned runs in four innings. Lucky, Manager Casey Kopitzke had the shock troops ready. Sheldon McDonald stopped the bleeding by striking out two in three scoreless innings. Luis Liria kept the trend going by keeping the Cougars off the scoreboard for an inning, while Hunter Cervenka slammed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth.

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Peoria may have gone away a winner on Tuesday against Beloit if it weren’t for five errors contributing to a 4-3 loss. Michael Jensen struck out five in 4.2 innings, but allowed five runs (three earned). Two runs cane as a result of an error by Dustin Geiger (1-for-4), who had two for the evening. Larry Suarez had a good outing, keeping the Snappers off the scoreboard for two innings. Felix Pena held Beloit scoreless the rest of the way, but the offense couldn’t rally. Javier Baez led all hitters by going 2-for-4, but also booted three plays. Yaniel Cabezas (1-for-3, triple) and Zeke DeVoss (1-for-3, double) had an RBI each.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (29-34)
Daytona made a late push on Sunday, but came up just short as they lost to Tampa 5-4. Austin Kirk pitched well enough, allowing three runs (one earned) with two strikeouts in six innings. However, Scott Weismann had a rare poor outing, giving up two earned, but striking out three, in two innings. Ronald Torreyes broke out offensively by going 3-for-4 with a stolen base. Taylor Davis and Rubi Silva had an RBI apiece.

The D-Cubs’ pitching dominated on Monday, as they defeated Tampa 5-0. Starter Matt Loosen remained impressive in his run, striking out seven and holding the Yankees to two hits in six shutout innings. Hayden Simpson and AJ Morris each fanned two batters while setting down the side in order in their respective innings of work. Tony Zych then came in and struck out the side to put an end to Tampa.

Greg Rohan continued to be Daytona’s main man, as he was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in. Also swinging a hot bat is Ronald Torreyes, who went 2-for-5 while plating a run. Arismendy Alcantara and John Andreoli (each 1-for-3) also had an RBI apiece.

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On Tuesday, Daytona stepped on the throttle and never let up as the cruised past Brevard County 8-3. Nelson Perez added to his All-Star season, tying Greg Rohan (2-for-5, RBI) for the team lead in home runs with his eleventh while going 3-for-4. John Andreoli was 2-for-5 with an RBI, while Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4, double) and Richard Jones (1-for-3) drove in two runs apiece.

Spot-starting again was Eduardo Figueroa, who went three innings and allowed two earned runs, as he struck out four batters. Ryan Searle earned the win as he tossed two scoreless innings, with two strikeouts. Joe Zeller also whiffed two as he also went scoreless for two innings, while Jeffrey Lorick gave up an earned run in the final two innings.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (31-34)
Sunday’s 4-2 win for Tennessee over Mississippi was pretty non-descript, but hey, a win is a win. Eric Jokisch continued his impressive run through the Southern League, allowing an earned run and striking out three in 7.1 innings. Coming in relief was Alberto Cabrera, who also gave up an earned run while whiffing four Braves in 1.2 innings. Nate Samson had the best day offensively, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Logan Watkins, James Adduci and Michael Brenly also had hits, with Elliot Soto and Eric Jokisch with an RBI each.

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The giant thud you may have hear emanating from the Tennessee area on Monday was from Trey McNutt, as the Smokies fell to Mississippi 14-7. McNutt didn’t even make things look that close, surrendering nine runs (eight earned) in 3.1 innings. Jeffry Antigua tried to keep Tennessee afloat with 1.2 scoreless innings, but Brian Schlitter opened the door again, letting in two earned runs in two innings. Kevin Rhoderick again restored order, holding the Braves scoreless in the eighth. But the Smokies ran out of pitchers, and infielder Nate Samson gave up three more runs (two earned) in the ninth. Junior Lake (1-for-5) and Welington Castillo (1-for-2, two RBI) homered for Tennessee, while James Adduci was 3-for-6 with two RBI.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (29-37)
Iowa broke out the big lumber on Sunday, as four home runs contributed to a 14-3 win over Nashville. Right in the middle of things, as usual, was Anthony Rizzo, as he was 3-for-5 with four RBI, while his two home runs give him twenty for the season. Ty Wright was also 3-for-5, including two doubles. Both Brett Jackson and Juan Apodaca were 2-for-4 with a home run, Jackson driving in three while Apodaca plated four runs.

Chris Rusin had been streaky, but things were working for him on Sunday as he went seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out two batters. Michael Bowden fared better in his second appearance for the I-Cubs, recording a strikeout in a scoreless innings. Mike MacDougal mopped up as he gave up and earned run in an inning of work.

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Coming off of a big win on Sunday, Iowa couldn’t overcome poor pitching on Monday as they lost 9-7 to Omaha. Jay Jackson was given the starting assignment and gave a typical performance. Jackson allowed seven earned runs in 3.2 innings, striking out five batters. Ty’Relle Harris relieved and kept the Storm Chasers in check over 3.1 innings, with no runs and a strikeout. Entering in the seventh, Jeff Beliveau got the I-Cubs out of that inning, but served up a two-run home run in the ninth. Rafael Dolis finished off the rest of the inning, but the damage has already been done. Anthony Rizzo repeated his Sunday performance by slugging two more home runs and going 3-for-4. Dave Sappelt and Josh Vitters were each 2-for-4 with a double.

Pitching once again was the undoing of the I-Cubs, losing to Omaha 9-4 on Tuesday. Chris Volstad started and put Iowa behind the eight-ball in a hurry, allowing five earned runs in the first in route to six earned runs, with four strikeouts, in five innings. Ryan Rowland-Smith surrendered three more runs, all unearned, but gave up two hits and walked two. After a horrendous beginning, Michael Bowden has settled down, tossing two scoreless innings while striking out two batters. Scott Maine mopped up in the ninth. Luis Valbuena provided the only highlight for the offense, as he stroked a two-run homer. Ty Wright was 2-for-4 with a double.

Dominican Summer League
The Cubs-1 team raised their record to 5-4 this past week, good for third in the Baseball City division. This is despite the total lack of offense displayed by C-1. Switch-hitting 18-year old outfielder Robert Caro leads all hitters on the team with a .385 average and seven RBI. Catcher Wilfredo Petit, another 18-year old switch-hitter, is hitting .267. Left-handed starter Carlos A. Rodriguez has now pitched 10 innings and lowered his ERA to 0.90 with 13 strikeouts.

Considering they have better offensive players, the Cubs-2 team has only a 4-5 record in Boca Chica South. Centerfielder Kelvin Encarnacion remains the offensive leader, batting .375 with two home runs and four stolen bases. Shortstop Luis Acosta is tops in RBI with 12, but his average has fallen to.237. Right-handed pitcher Daury Torres leads the staff with two wins, a 0.90 ERA, and a 0.70 WHIP. Another righty, Amalio Reyes, has a 0.84 ERA and 0.56 WHIP in 10.2 innings.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned C Geovany Soto to the Iowa Cubs. The Daytona Cubs assigned RHP Hayden Simpson to the Boise Hawks. The Peoria Chiefs placed RHP Ben Wells on the 7-Day disabled list; activated IF Kenny Socorro from the 7-Day disabled list.

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Quote of the Day

"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him." - Leo Aikman
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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Thanks Tom!

    • Tom U

      You welcome Neil!

    • Tom U

      Although they probably didn’t plan it this way, putting Ian Stewart on the DL and possibly placing Luis Valbuena on the 40 man roster may be the first shoe dropping in the total makeover.

      I believe that the organization has wanted to bring Valbuena up for a long time, but the 40-man roster, contracts, and the left/right balance of the team were things that got in the way.

      If they wanted to add Valbuena, it could be a simple matter of DFAing Blake Lalli. However, with the uncertain status of Geovanny Soto, they may not want to do that. 

      An idea that fits in more with the direction of the club would be DFAing Jeff Baker, then adding both Valbuena and Welington Castillo.

      • Steven Petty

        Hello All,

        Got a question for you.  I have some stats that I would like to share with you.  Please give me your honest opinion on the hitter, and then on the pitcher.  And tell me if either of these person(s) is the type of player you would have on your team.  What would you like to see improved by the hitter and pitcher?  I will let you know who they are later this evening.  Guesses are welcome!

        Hitter First

        .292 Avg
        .308 OBP
        .750 Slg
        1.058 OPS
        5 Strikeouts
        1 Walk

        Pitcher Second

        14.2 IP
        21 Strikeouts
        10 Walks
        1 Hit By Pitcher
        12 Hits
        6 Runs
        5 Earned

        • cubtex

          It is obvious that the hitter has an extremely low OBP for his average.

          The pitcher has great stuff with his strikeout to IP ratio but he walks too many.
          The pitcher sounds like it could be Scott Maine.

      • Chadaudio

        Interesting thoughts Tom.  It also seems that the club is finally over Blake DeWitt – as this would have been an obvious time to call him up instead.

        It’s also an interesting statement on how they feel about Vitters too.

        It makes my head hurt trying to understand how this fits within the 40 man roster.  At some point, we are going to have to assign K. Hill to AAA and see if he clears waivers – right?  This is all going to get real interesting when Soto is off the DL too.

        • Tom U

          Call this just my hunch, but I believe DeWitt will remain on Iowa’s DL until the end of their season, or until the end of baseball in 2012, and then quietly be non-tendered.

          As far as Vitters, I don’t see any statement. The plan for Vitters always seemed to be sometime in 2013. His performance this year may have altered that timetable, but it still should be somewhere around there.

          • cubtex

            I would have liked to see Vitters get a cup of coffee with the big club instead of Valbuena(kind of like the Red Sox did with Will Middlebrooks) This would have been a great time to get his feet wet. No pressure. The team sucks. I have a feeling that Theo will package Vitters with Dempster or Garza to get back a 3rd base prospect like Castellanos.
             

          • SuzyS

             Cubtex, you could be right about Vitters being traded….But it might also be that we are  a week or so away from an extra year of control if we bring him up now.
            The thing is…after five years in the minors…Vitters is still kind of a question mark.  This year should be about finding out what we have…So I’m with you…I’d like to see what Vitters could do…but I’m not sold on him either.

          • Tom U

            Cubtex, I think you might have the right idea, but maybe the wrong player. I believe that Lake would be included instead of Vitters.

          • CubsForever

            Vitters have been withe Cubs system for awhile now…..to tell me Vitters was not called up now with Stewart on the DL, means he will be dealt…..Les Grobstein said last night that he thought the Cubs would call up Vitters…….who knows, we might hear about how Bret Jackson does not fit into Theo’s system

  • Tony_Hall

    For the Peoria Chiefs, I noticed you mentioned Hunter Cervenka, so I thought I would look up the stats on this new lefty.

    1-0
    0.63 ERA
    0.698 WHIP
    14.1 Innings
    16 K’s

    Not bad for a throw in…

  • DWalker

    I have heard there might possibly be some interest in Barney as one of the better defensive 2B’s. Were he to go, who would his likely replacements be?

    Also, are there any more potential stand out catcher prospects in the minors? Clevenger has not been profiled as a full time starter, and I am not sold on his abilities over a full year yet.

    Castillo’s brief stint before the DL did not impress me at all, he looked totally lost. It wasn’t even just his at bats, it was his presence behind the plate. Was there evidence of this in the minors as well?

    • Chadaudio

      Barney is actually a below average defensive 2B… I’m not sure who would think otherwise.  Barney is no trade bait at all… he’s the type of guy teams could pick up almost anywhere and not have to give up a player in a trade.

    • Tom U

      Valbuena has spent most of his major league time at second, and Adrian Cardenas is still on the roster. Iowa also has former major-leaguers Afredo Amezaga and Matt Tolbert.

  • SuzyS

    “The Giant Thud”…:) That could apply to the parent club as well as Mr. McNutt.  Well-written – Tom!!! Thanks for another great report.

    • Tom U

      Thank you Suzy!

  • SuzyS

    Valbuena is listed in the lineup for today at 3rd. I checked the Cub’s site and noticed the only transaction listed was Stewart to the 15 day DL…effective June 13th. It will be interesting to see how they play this.

    Muskat says Theo & Demp had a conversation in the stands yesterday…I’m wondering if it is the Dodgers they are talking about??

  • Zonk

    Though we have some decent hitting prospects in the minors, the poor season McNutt is having just highlights the problem Theo acknowledged at the draft:  We have no pitching.

    If we are dealing Demp/Garza or whomever, I would look for the Cubs to get arms back.  We are in really short supply. 

    Who is our top pitching prospect, besides McNutt?  Concepcion?  The 2nd rnd pick we just drafted? 

    It’s pretty grim right now in pitching

    • CubsForever

       I heard Kirk was good.

    • Tom U

      I would list Jokisch, Kirk, and Loosen among the system’s best starting prospects, until Whitenack is fully recovered.

    • cubtex

      I think it is a no brainer that when and if both Dempster and Garza are dealt that the return will be mainly young starting pitching prospects.

  • SuzyS