With the twelfth week of the season, the Cubs have finally gotten all of their teams into play as the AZL Cubs began their season on Wednesday.
Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria are now all back from All-Star break, with the Smokies out of the gate fast thanks to Justin Bour, Logan Watkins, and Junior Lake. Daytona has started fast also, riding the arms of Austin Kirk and Frank Del Valle. However, Peoria cannot get untracked despite the efforts of Paul Hoilman.
Boise finally got into the win column, as Jeimer Candelario and Gioskar Amaya are taking the Northwest League by storm. But the fortunes of Iowa remain hit-and-miss, as Josh Vitters continues to impress.
So come on in to today’s Down on the Farm Report to see all the action.
Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (3-6)
It was the home opener for Boise on Wednesday, as they finally got their offense going, but too late to help in a 7-4 loss to Eugene. Starter Jose Arias lasted only three innings, allowing two run (one earned). Coming on in relief, Amaury Paulino was hit hard again, giving up three earned runs, and striking out three, in 3.2 innings. Also not fooling anyone was Pete Levitt, who let in two more earned runs in the final 2.1 innings. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario launched his first home run of the season as was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Xavier Batista also went 2-for-4, while Shawon Dunston, Jr. joined them in going 2-for-4, adding a triple.
In their best offensive effort of the season, Boise came from behind on Thursday to beat Eugene 5-4. Jeimer Candelario once again was the main man for the Hawks, going 3-for-4 with two RBI as he belted his second homer of the season. Gioskar Amaya provided a lot of excitement, as his triple in the bottom of the ninth ignited a two-run rally. Amaya also made several sparkling defensive plays. Wilson Contreras also drove in two runs as he was 2-for-5, while Xavier Batista went 2-for-4. Rock Shoulders coaxed three walks, as he delivered the walk-off single and finished 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Starter James Pugliese struck out four in five innings, and he allowed three earned runs. Hayden Simpson was electrifying, as he struck out seven in four innings. An error by shortstop Stephen Bruno gave the Emeralds a temporary lead as it resulted in an unearned run.
Boise set the tone early on Friday, as they held on for a 6-4 win over Eugene. Once again, it was Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4, home run, three RBI) going deep, as he bashed a three-run homer in the first inning. Gioskar Amaya had an electric evening, as he went 4-for-4 with two stolen bases and two RBI. Also pitching in was Eduardo Gonzalez, as he drove in a run while going 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
Starter Tayler Scott was touched up for four runs (three earned) in 3.2 innings. Matt Spencer and Rafael Diplan went two and 2.1 scoreless innings respectively, Spencer with two strikeouts and Diplan fanning three batters. Bryce Shafer had a rocky ninth, issuing a walk and two hits, but held on for his second save.
After retaking the lead in the fifth inning on Saturday, Boise could not hold on as they lost to Eugene 5-4. The Hawks had all their scoring in the fifth, as Shawon Dunston, Jr. (1-for-4) laced a one out double, then stole third. Catcher Chadd Krist (1-for-4) singled Dunston home, and then came in on an Eduardo Gonzalez (1-for-3) single. Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4) kept the line moving as another single scored Krist. A double by Marco Hernandez (1-for-4) brought in the last two runs. Ian Dickson started for Boise and allowed three earned runs in 3.2 innings, with Roderik Pichardo giving up two more while pitching 3.1 innings. Knuckleballer Joe Zeller tossed two scoreless innings, but the Hawks were not able to take advantage.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (35-36)
Peoria returned to action form All-Star break on Friday, as they failed to hold a lead and lost 5-3 to Quad Cities. After going down 2-0 in the fourth inning, the Chiefs rallied for three in the bottom half as Paul Hoilman (1-for-4) smashed a two-run homer, bringing in Dustin Geiger (1-for-3), who had doubled ahead of him. Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4) brought home Javier Baez (1-for-4) with an RBI double to give Peoria the lead. However, starter Jose Rosario was not able to hold off the River Bandits, allowing four earned runs while striking out three in 7.1 innings. Luis Liria gave up a solo home run as he went 1.2 innings and struck out two batters.
The Chiefs were not able to coordinate an attack to support their pitching on Saturday, as they lost 4-2 to Quad Cities. While Peoria had seven hits, they were only 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Paul Hoilman was the only Chief to deliver, as he was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Zeke DeVoss was also 2-for-5 for the evening. Starter Gerardo Concepcion didn’t do that badly, allowing three earned runs and striking out three batters over 4.1 innings. Sheldon McDonald kept the game close by tossing 2.2 scoreless innings and striking out two batters. Austin Reed was the victim of an error by DeVoss, as he struck out three and gave up an unearned run in two innings.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (32-38)
Wednesday’s 3-2 win for Daytona over Tampa proved two things: it’s not how many hits you get, but when you get them … and don’t leave your seat until the game is over. Both the Yankees and the D-Cubs gave up two runs in the first inning, and then had a pitcher’s duel until two outs in the bottom of the ninth. PJ Francescon was charged with only one earned run of the two, as a throwing error by Elieser Bonne put a runner in scoring position. Francescon went on to pitch six innings and strike out five batters. Brian Schlitter is back for his second tour of duty with Daytona, and went two scoreless innings while AJ Morris put Tampa away in the ninth.
Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and scored one of the runs, but the player of the day was Rubi Silva. Silva drove in Alcantara with the first run, and cut down the go-ahead runner at the plate in the sixth inning. Silva then smacked a walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth for the victory.
All-Star starter Austin Kirk put on an All-Star performance on Thursday, as Daytona brought back a 3-0 win against Clearwater. Kirk tossed seven shutout innings and struck out three of the Threshers. Ryan Searle and Jeffrey Lorick followed, each pitching a perfect inning and striking out two batters apiece.
Ronald Torreyes had a big night, going 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and RBI. Back in Daytona for the first time in over a year, Rebel Ridling was 3-for-4 with a double. Rubi Silva and Greg Rohan each drove in runs, Silva hitting 1-for-3 while Rohan was 1-for-4.
Daytona pitching once again had Clearwater’s number, as they cruised to a 3-1 victory on Friday. Operating in the shadow of some other highly publicized signings of fellow Cuban countrymen, Frank Del Valle has been producing a quality season. Del Valle simply blew away the Threshers, striking out 11 in six scoreless, hitless innings. The lone earned run was given up by Eduardo Figueroa, who came on in relief for an inning. Scott Weismann and Tony Zych each had a scoreless inning, Weismann striking out two and Zych collecting his sixth save.
Greg Rohan (1-for-3) gave the D-Cubs all the runs they would need by launching his 12th home run, a two-run shot, in the first inning. The other run came off the bat of Arismendy Alcantara, whose RBI single was part of a 2-for-5evening. Rebel Ridling also went 2-for-4.
A three-game win streak came to an end on Saturday, as Daytona not only battled Clearwater, but the raindrops in a 7-2 loss. Matt Szczur (1-for-3) was back in action, as he singled, stole second, and scored on a Greg Rohan (2-for-3) RBI single to leadoff the game. Chad Noble (1-for-4) scored the D-Cubs’ other run as he doubled and came home on a Dustin Harrington (1-for-2) single. Robert Whitenack had his best pitching effort since coming back from surgery, as he tossed five scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Brian Schlitter picked up where Whitenack left off, holding the Threshers down for two more innings. However, a 49-minute rain delay seemed to throw Daytona pitching off, as AJ Morris couldn’t record an out while giving up four earned runs. Jeffrey Lorick didn’t fare much better, allowing three runs (two earned) as he finished up in the ninth.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (37-35)
Tennessee started the second half of the season right on Thursday as they received a good team effort in a 3-1 defeat of Jacksonville. Nick Struck allowed only a solo home run through six innings, while he struck out seven batters. Ty’Relle Harris had a good seventh inning, but got in trouble with a hit and a walk in the eighth, going 1.1 innings and striking out two batters. Marcus Hatley bailed Harris out, slamming the door on the Suns as he picked up his third save.
The Smokies recorded 12 hits, as All-Star Justin Bour continued his fine season, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Hitting .353 over his last ten games, Logan Watkins stayed hot by going 2-for-4 while plating a run. Junior Lake was 4-for-5 with a double, and Matt Cerda was 2-for-4.
The Smokies could not get anything going offensively on Friday, as they fell 2-0 to Jacksonville. Tennessee managed only two hits, as James Adduci and Junior Lake, each 1-for-3, were the providers. Dae-Eun Rhee started and deserved a better fate, allowing two earned runs and striking out two batters over seven innings. Casey Harman struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth inning.
Saturday saw the Smokies produce a six-run inning, as they held on to defeat Jacksonville 7-6. The third inning was the charm, as Nelson Perez (1-for-5) and Michael Burgess (1-for-4) each had two-run taters. Staying hot, Justin Bour continued his league leading RBI pace as he was 2-for-4 and his 54th RBI. Jae-Hoon Ha broke out of a slump, as he was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base. Logan Watkins was an extra base machine, doubling and tripling as he was 2-for-4, scoring two runs.
Scheduled starter Dallas Beeler had to sit too longer during an opening rain delay, so Jeffry Antigua was called on to spot-start. Antigua went three innings and allowed two earned runs on two solo home runs. Casey Weathers picked up the slack by striking out four and tossing two scoreless innings. However, Alberto Cabrera allowed the Suns to pull closer as he let in an earned run while striking out two in two innings. The usually reliable Kevin Rhoderick was off his game in the ninth, giving up three earned runs and striking out three in 1.2 innings. Frank Batista got his 11th save by recording the final out.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (31-43)
In a tight pitcher’s duel on Wednesday, Iowa used a three-run seventh inning to pull ahead of Round Rock for a 4-1 win. Ty Wright (1-for-3) was able to get the I-Cubs on the board first with an upper deck solo home run in the third inning. After two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, Blake Lalli (2-for-4) stroked a two-run single. Matt Tolbert (1-for-4) then drove in the final run with a single.
Brooks Raley was in command, as he struck out seven and gave up an unearned run in seven innings of work. Michael Bowden ran his scoreless streak to 6.2 innings as he shut out the Express in the eighth. Rafael Dolis had two strikeouts as he nailed down his second save.
The punch-less Iowa offense also kicked the ball around on defense on Thursday, as they flailed their way to a 6-2 loss to Round Rock. The I-Cubs managed only three hits, with the big one being Josh Vitters (1-for-4) solo blast. Frankie De La Cruz got no help from the Iowa defense as errors by Vitters, Matt Tolbert, and a passed ball by Welington Castillo led to three unearned runs. De La Cruz went 4.2 innings, allowing five runs (two earned) and striking out six batters. Ryan Rowland-Smith provided 1.1 scoreless innings, but Mike MacDougal gave up an earned run in his inning of work. Jeff Beliveau mopped up with a scoreless inning.
After a poor showing the day before, Iowa brought out the heavy lumber on Friday to produce a 12-2 laugher over Round Rock. Leading the way were Alfredo Amezaga and Anthony Rizzo. Amezaga was 3-for-6 including a double and three RBI, while Rizzo also drove in three with a double and a triple as part of a 3-for-5 night. Ty Wright knocked in two as he was 1-for-4, while Josh Vitters stayed locked in as he went 3-for-4 with a double. Also having good games were Dave Sappelt (2-for-5, RBI) and Juan Apodaca (3-for-4).
Chris Rusin sailed through four innings before giving up two earned runs in his fifth and final inning, striking out two batters along the way. Jay Jackson came in and fanned three as he tossed three scoreless innings. Esmailin Caridad nailed things down in the ninth, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
Consistency was lacking again for Iowa, as they couldn’t score after having a big showing the previous day, as they lost 4-2 to Round Rock on Saturday. The offense had nine hits, but a Brett Jackson (2-for-5) solo homer and an Alfredo Amezaga sacrifice fly were the only run producers. Juan Apodaca was 2-for-3 with a double, while Ty Wright hit two doubles as he was 2-for-4. Chris Volstad ended up going six innings, as he struck out four and allowed four runs (three earned). Mike MacDougal had a rare good outing, tossing a scoreless inning. Rafael Dolis pitched the final two innings, shutting out the Express and recording a strikeout.
News and Notes
Outfielder Nelson Perez was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies from the Daytona Cubs. Left-handed pitcher Kyler Burke was assigned to the Daytona Cubs from the Peoria Chiefs. Right-handed pitcher Zach Cates was assigned to the Peoria Chiefs from the Daytona Cubs. Left-handed pitcher Zach Rosscup and RHP Su-Min Jung were assigned to the Boise Hawks.
The Tennessee Smokies activated RHP Casey Weathers from the 7-Day disabled list. The Peoria Chiefs placed OF Taiwan Easterling on the 7-Day disabled list. LHP Matt Spencer was assigned to Peoria from Boise.
The Cubs signed two non-drafted free agents, LHP Matt Iannazzo and LHP Kyle Shepard.
CCO’s Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (IF) – . 296, double, triple, four home runs, 11 RBI, eight stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 343, double, three home runs, nine RBI (Boise Hawks)
- Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .246, 12 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 19 RBI, 16 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
- Junior Lake (IF) – . 310, eight doubles, two triples, four home runs, 10 RBI, eight stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .269, 11 doubles, three triples, home run, 13 RBI, 20 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .223, 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 17 RBI, six stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) – .286, 18 doubles, 11 home runs, 37 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 400, three doubles, four RBI (Arizona Cubs)
- Robert Whitenack (RHP) – 0-2, 5.19 ERA, 17.1 innings, seven strikeouts, five walks, 1.73 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
- Tony Zych (RHP) – 3-3, 3.38 ERA, 34.2 innings, 33 strikeouts, five walks, 1.07 WHIP, six saves (Daytona Cubs)
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