Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/18/12

With a new week, some new teams are beginning play to complete the minor league system for the season. Boise started their season on Friday, while Arizona is set to start on Wednesday.

Streaks were the theme as Tennessee used the pitching of Nick Struck and Eric Jokisch, along with the bat of Justin Bour to push its record over the .500 mark for the first time since week two. Peoria evened their record through the hitting of Dustin Geiger and Javier Baez and the pitching of Jose Rosario.

However, Daytona limped to their All-Star break with two losses while Iowa’s losing streak has now reached six games.

Along with a recap or the Florida State League All-Star Game and our prospect watch, 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.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (0-2)
A new season began for Boise on Friday, as it took 12 innings to decide a 3-2 loss to Salem-Keiser. Starting for the Hawks was Jose Arias, who struck out two in five scoreless innings. Converted outfielder Matt Spencer saw his first true action as a pitcher (he had pitched in mop up duty in prior seasons) and allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out two in 0.2 innings. Rafael Diplan then took over and kept the Volcanoes off the board for 3.1 innings while striking out three batters. Returning to Boise, Bryce Shafer continued to give the Hawks a chance to win by holding Salem-Keiser for two innings and providing two more strikeouts. However, Pete Levitt gave up the game winner with one out in the 12th inning. Xavier Batista was the offensive star for Boise, as he was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Marco Hernandez was 2-for-5.

The Hawks could only muster four hits on Saturday as the lost 7-4 to Salem Keiser. Boise saw their first home runs of the season as Wilson Contreras (1-for-4) and Rock Shoulders (1-for-4) went deep. But other than a Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4) triple and a double by Dong-Yub Kim (1-for-3), that was all for the offense. Nineteen year-old right-hander James Pugliese started for the Hawks and went five innings, allowing three earned runs. Amaury Paulino was less successful, giving up four earned runs in his two innings of work. Closer candidate Roderik Pichardo saw his first action of the season, retiring the side in the eighth inning.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (34-34)
Nothing instills confidence in a pitcher more than a consistent offense. Peoria now seems to be hitting on all cylinders as they took it to Beloit on Wednesday 7-1. The newest members of the Chiefs provided the most damage as Javier Baez was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, while Dustin Geiger also drove in two as he was 2-for-5, including a solo home run. Yasiel Balaguert and Zeke DeVoss were each 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Jose Rosario was the beneficiary of the offensive output, as he went 6.1 innings and struck out three while allowing an earned run. Austin Reed had 1.2 scoreless innings, and Hunter Cervenka struck out two as he set down the side in order in the ninth.

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In a tight game, it’s usually the little things that matter. On Thursday, a couple of little errors had big consequences, as Peoria lost 5-3 to Beloit. The Snappers led the game 3-0 after they belted two home runs off of starter Kyler Burke. Burke would end up only allowing those three earned runs in 6.1 innings, with four strikeouts. The Chiefs then came back as a Wes Darvill (1-for-4) RBI single brought home Dustin Geiger (1-for-4), who had doubled earlier. Javier Baez (1-for-4) followed Darvill with a two-run home run to tie the score. However, errors by Baez and reliever Luis Liria, who replaced Burke, led to two unearned runs.

A big inning put the Chiefs over the top on Friday, as they beat Clinton 6-4. A five run fifth inning made the difference, as Oliver Zapata walked to start things off. Zeke DeVoss (2-for-5) singled on a bunt, and Zapata advanced to third on a throwing error. Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4) had an RBI single, scoring Zapata, and a Dustin Geiger (3-for-5) single plated DeVoss. Paul Hoilman (1-for-5) doubled to bring home Chen, and a wild pitch brought in Geiger. Yasiel Balaguert (4-for-4) capped the scoring with an RBI single as Hoilman scored. The Chiefs added an insurance run in the seventh as Javier Baez (1-for-2, two walks) singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Starling Peralta was given the starting nod and allowed four earned runs, but also struck out four, over 5.1 innings. He was relieved by Sheldon McDonald, who struck out two of the Lumber Kings in two scoreless innings. Yao-Lin Wang now appears to be heading back in the right direction, and he blanked Clinton for 1.2 innings and struck out three batters to collect his ninth save.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (29-36)
Wednesday’s game against Brevard County was suspended because of rain. As part of a doubleheader on Thursday, Daytona ended up losing 7-3. Robert Whitenack had his third start and went three innings, allowing three runs (two earned). Frank Del Valle assumed the piggyback role, but was also victimized by poor defense as he had three unearned runs in 2.2 innings. Reliever AJ Morris wasn’t any more successful, giving up an earned run in 1.1 innings. However, Tony Zych set down the side in the eighth, striking out two batters. The D-Cubs managed only six hits, with Rubi Silva (1-for-4) and Richard Jones (1-for-3) driving in runs.

Bad weather contributed to another loss on Thursday, as the 2-1 game against Brevard County went past the curfew time in their final game before All-Star break. PJ Francescon had one of his best outings in a Daytona uniform, striking out two over five scoreless innings. Ryan Searle followed but was only able to last 0.1 innings as he gave up an earned run. Jeffrey Lorick completed the sixth, while Scott Weismann allowed what would be the game winner in the ninth, as he pitched 1.1 innings. The scoring for Daytona was provided by Micah Gibbs, who went 2-for-3 with a double, while his solo blast was the one runner that crossed the plate.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (35-34)
It looked as if Tennessee was going to be in trouble again on Wednesday, but the pitching held and the offense came through as they were able to defeat Birmingham 6-3. Dae-Eun Rhee started for the Smokies and allowed three earned runs in five innings, while striking out four batters. Casey Harman then held the Barons scoreless for two innings, and Frank Batista was able to earn his ninth save by doing the same.

Justin Bour has really been on fire for the Smokies, batting .400 over his last ten games while leading the Southern League in RBI. Bour was 2-for-4 with a double and his 15th RBI. Junior Lake was also 2-for-4 with a triple, and runs were driven in by Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3, double), Welington Castillo (1-for-4), and Michael Burgess.

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Tennessee had to hold on tight, but they were able to pull through with a 3-2 win over Birmingham on Thursday. Nick Struck had the Smokies in charge for the whole game, as he tossed 5.2 scoreless innings while striking out three batters. He was followed by Alberto Cabrera, who checked the Barons for two innings with two strikeouts. But Kevin Rhoderick demonstrated he was human, as he allowed Birmingham to within one by giving up two earned runs in an inning. Jeffry Antigua was able to bail out Rhoderick by getting the final out.

The Smokies got the lead thanks to an RBI double by Justin Bour (2-for-4), scoring Logan Watkins (2-for-4) and Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4). Matt Cerda (3-for-4) slammed a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to give Tennessee the winning edge.

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The Smokies improved their record to 11-3 in the month of June with a 6-3 victory over Birmingham on Friday. Logan Watkins appears to be enjoying the leadoff role, as he improved his average by going 3-for-4. A Rebel Ridling (1-for-4) double in the first inning drove in three runs, putting Tennessee in the lead to stay. Junior Lake was 2-for -5, Michael Brenly had an RBI as he was 2-for-3.

Dallas Beeler did have the hard luck that usually follows him, as he went five innings and allowed three earned runs. Returning from Iowa, Ty’Relle Harris blanked the Barons over three innings. Brian Schlitter then held Birmingham scoreless in the ninth for his second save.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Make it an even dozen for June as Saturday’s pitcher’s duel with Birmingham brought a 2-1 victory. Eric Jokisch was the main focus again, as he went go six innings, allowing an earned run. For the season, Jokisch is 6-4 and a 2.72 ERA, with 62 strikeouts against 26 walks between Daytona and Tennessee. Reliever Marcus Hatley looks as if he has things squared away, as he ran his scoreless streak to 6.2 straight innings as he shut out the Barons for two more Saturday evening. Nailing down his tenth save, Frank Batista struck out a batter in a relatively quiet ninth. The Smokies made four hits work for them, as a Rebel Ridling (1-for-3) solo home run in the bottom of the eighth provided the difference.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (29-41)
On Wednesday, the offense was able to supply seven hits, but Iowa only pushed across two runs as they lost to Omaha 5-2. Rodrigo Lopez had a pedestrian effort, allowing three runs and striking out six in six innings. Mike MacDougal was hung with an unearned run in 1.1 innings, while Jeff Beliveau finished off the eighth inning with a strikeout. Rafael Dolis let in the nail in the coffin in the ninth. Luis Valbuena continued being the most consistent offensive force for the I-Cubs not named Anthony Rizzo. Valbuena was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Blake Lalli added a solo home run, as he was 1-for-4.

Iowa scored eight earned runs in six innings off of the starting pitcher for the Albuquerque Isotopes on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 10-8. Brooks Raley had a horrible showing, allowing eight earned runs in 5.1 innings. Esmailin Caridad was only a little better, giving up an earned run as he pitched 2.2 innings. Scott Maine finished up by serving up a solo home run in the ninth. Brett Jackson was moved back down in the order and responded well again, as he was 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Ty Wright also knocked in two, as he was 1-for-4, while Blake Lalli homered for the second consecutive night as he went 2-for-4 with a double and three batted in.

Another blown save by an Iowa veteran pitcher took away another win, was they wound up losing 4-3 to Albuquerque on Friday. Ahead 3-1 in the top of the eighth, manager Dave Bialas summoned Mike MacDougal to preserve the victory, only to have MacDougal allow three earned runs in 0.1 innings. It spoiled a good effort by the rest of the pitching staff, as starter Frankie De La Cruz, fresh off the disabled list, struck out three and limited the Isotopes to an earned run in five innings. Michael Bowden came in next and continued to thwart the powerful Albuquerque team, striking out three batters over two scoreless innings. After MacDougal’s fiasco, Rafael Dolis mopped up, tossing 1.2 shutout innings and striking out two batters. The I-Cubs’ veterans provided the offense, as Alfredo Amezaga was 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Matt Tolbert was also drove in a run as he was 3-for-4. Ty Wright was 2-for-4, and Juan Apodaca accounted for another run coming in as he went 2-for-4.

It was over almost before things started on Saturday in Des Moines, as Albuquerque stomped Iowa 9-1. Starter Chris Rusin had a night to forget as he allowed eight earned runs in 3.1 innings. Jay Jackson had one of his better performances, striking out five while giving up an earned run in 3.2 innings. Jeff Beliveau and Ryan Rowland-Smith each provided a scoreless inning. Josh Vitters was the only I-Cub who showed up to play, going 4-for-4 with a double. Brett Jackson (1-for-4, RBI) doubled in Vitters for the I-Cubs only run.

Florida State League All-Star Game
The South All-Stars rallied for six runs in the final two innings, as they defeated the North 6-3 in the Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday. Daytona Cub Nelson Perez was 1-for-3 with an RBI double, while Greg Rohan was 0-for-4. Austin Kirk had the starting assignment and tossed a scoreless inning.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled IF Luis Valbuena from the Iowa Cubs; outrighted C Koyie Hill to the Iowa Cubs. The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Frankie De La Cruz and IF Blake DeWitt from the 7-Day disabled list; RHP Ty’Relle Harris was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 317, double, triple, four home runs, 10 RBI, seven stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – 1-for-8, double (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .248, 12 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 18 RBI, 16 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 288, seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 10 RBI, six stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .267, 11 doubles, three triples, home run, 13 RBI, 19 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .224, nine doubles, two triples, home run, 15 RBI, six stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .277, 16 doubles, nine home runs, 35 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Season starts June 20 (Arizona Cubs)
  • Robert Whitenack – 0-1, 5.79 ERA, 9.1 innings, two strikeouts, two walks, 2.04 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 3-3, 3.03 ERA, 32.2 innings, 30 strikeouts, five walks, 1.04 WHIP, five saves (Daytona Cubs)

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

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  • gocubs

    I still dont understand the parameters for inclusion on the “CCO’s Prospect Watch.”  WHy arent Rizzo and Jackson ever on there?  Arent they prospects?

    • RickinMSP

      Just want to build on what TomO said.  The list was voted on by the readers.  Most, including me, looked at it as an opportunity to follow some interseting, under the radar guys rather than the obvious prospects.  The obvious prospects like Rizzo and Jackson were going to get enough press, including discussion by Len and Bob, that they would be easy to follow.  I wanted to get more info on guys like Lake and Zych and this was the opportunity to get it.  Personally, I included Vitters on the list with Rizzo and Jackson, but obviously enough readers thought this was a make or break year for Vitters and wanted to follow him a bit closer.  So, the list was the readers doing, not Tom’s.

    • Tom U

      gocubs, readers of the CCO were offered to vote on which prospects were followed this year from January 2 all the way to March 19. There were no parameters on voting. In the true Chicago spirit, anyone could vote for as many players as they wanted. Votes for Yoennis Cespedes were even counted.

      Here is a link to the final results:

      As you can see, Anthony Rizzo placed 16th in the fan vote, while Brett Jackson placed 26th. 

      If our fortunes bring us here next year, please look for the weekly prompts on the Down on the Farm Report, and have your vote be counted!

  • TomO

    During the off season readers were able to vote on who they wanted to include on the CCO’s Prospect Watch.  If I remember correctly, there were limitations to the amount of at-bats and innings logged at the MLB level that a player could have.  Perhaps this is why Rizzo wasn’t included.  Jackson?  Personally, I didn’t have him on my list because I assumed he’d be with the Cubs before too long.

    Also, if you follow @TheCCO on Twitter, Jackson, Rizzo, and Vitters all get some major love.

    • Mike Simala

      Not sure if this has been covered, if so then ive missed it. But where do you think Soler will be assigned and how long till he reports?

      • Tom U

        I believe that if Soler is ready to go, he will be treated like a draft pick. Soler will probably go to Arizona to see how he does against rookie league pitching, and then will be assigned to his level.

        As a point of reference, Taiwan Easterling spent a few days in the AZL after signing last year and blew the competition away. He was assigned to Peoria without ever stopping at Boise.

        • Mike Simala

          Thank you very much Tom. Kinda thought thats probably what theyd do.

  • Dorasaga

    Tom, a thought on Lake: Is he ready to advance to Iowa?

    His record seems to reflect his way of the game. Given 500 at-bats, or 550 at-plate, he might generate 50 walks and some kind of natural swing helped him to create hits on all parts of the field (high babip). That’s an easy target for pitchers to attack him at the Major level, if he lost patience. Does he have power? I don’t know. Worse minor leaguers blossomed on the Major level (what’s going on with Austin Jackson? or Castro compared to their minor league stats?). Without seeing, I know nothing about him.

    What excited me were that he’s only 22, hit triples, and he played very well at some pitcher’s parks.

    • Dorasaga

      By the way, according to fangraphs, Lake is walking 8.4% as I speak, a high point of his career (normally 4-7%). I hope someone who watched his at-bats can tell me what’s going on.

  • Redlarczykg

    Tom U.

    Thanks again for your excellent work.  Question – do you know what Eric Jokish is throwing to do this well this year.  I was under the impression that he’s a “rag arm lefty” control pitcher?   Is he doing it with just hitting his spots and changing speeds, or does he have a good sinker?

  • Aaron

    I know you asked Tom, but I’ve been following this guy since NU, and he is nothing but a control pitcher. That does NOT excite any scouts anymore, and likely will not excite this new regime enough to ever promote him. I would be shocked if he ever was a starter for the Cubs at the MLB level…maybe a control lefty like Russell in the pen, but certainly not a starter. This new regime even stated they place a premium on “power arms”.

    I hope he finds success in another organization, because he most likely won’t get a chance here. 

    The other thing I should note about Jokisch, and this, perhaps more than anything else is why I feel he won’t make it with this team…is that if he misses his spots, he gets killed. Think about a lefty version of Shawn Camp, but without the wicked slider that he throws (well…not so much “wicked”, but slider with good movement). 

  • Tom U

    Redlarczykg, I have tried to get away from comparisons, as they are sometimes misleading. Jokisch doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but usually has good command. Whether that means he’s a “rag arm” or a “lefty Greg Maddux” depends on your point of view.

    I do have to agree with Aaron, as this management team seems to put a lot of emphasis on “speed” and “stuff” rather than results. That could explain Rafael Dolis skipping Triple-A to start the season.

  • Coachdon

     I have always been a believer in “change of pace” pitchers on a staff. If you have a whole staff of guys throwing within 2 or 3 mile/hour of each other, aside from control, there isn’t much to differentiate them from each other. However, a guy throwing a different speed, and from the left side, can have success if used properly. Personally, while I like to see guys popping the mitt at 100mph, if you can get guys out, you can get guys out. Remember that Sean Marshall mostly threw a 91mph fastball to go along with the great curveball, with an occasional 93. I do agree that the Epstein regime will favor power arms over Jokish’s type of pitcher. If this is the case though why would you ever draft a pitcher that didn’t hit 95 on the gun?