Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/02/12

The roller-coaster ride that is the minor leagues had its dips and turns as we roll into Independence Day. Boise slugger Jeimer Candelario may have a new partner, as Bijan Rademacher has burst onto the scene. Peoria struggled against the first half champs, while Iowa continues to flounder despite the surge from Josh Vitters. Another player on the rise is Daytona’s Matt Szczur, as the D-Cubs look to even their record. And Tennessee became the first affiliate to win 40 games, thanks to the power of Michael Burgess.

So keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times, and enjoy 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 (6-10)
The Hawks were not able to survive a poor fifth inning on Wednesday, as they lost 6-2 to Spokane. Starter Tayler Scott was the victim of five unearned runs in the second inning, as he went 3.1 innings and struck out three batters. Joe Zeller followed and gave up another earned run in his 3.2 innings, as he struck out two batters. Roderik Pichardo came in and set down the side in the eighth inning. Boise was able to scrape together some offense in the fifth, as Shawon Dunston Jr. (2-for-4) came home on a double by Lance Rymel (1-for-3). And Rymel scored on a double by Marco Hernandez (2-for-4).

It was a good, old fashioned blow out on Thursday as Boise ripped Spokane 12-2. Dong-Yub Kim (1-for-3) provided the big blow, hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning. Both Willson Contreras and Chadd Krist had a huge night at the plate, with each going 4-for-5, as Contreras had a double and three RBI while Krist drove in a run with his two doubles. Stephen Bruno was also 2-for-3, including a double and an RBI.

Ian Dickson benefitted from the offensive display, as he went five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and struck out six batters. Seeing his first action with the Hawks, Eduardo Orozco tossed a scoreless inning. Rafael Diplan followed that up with a scoreless two innings, while Su-Min Jung set down the Indians in order in the ninth.

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The Hawks may have wished they saved some of their runs from the previous day for Friday, as a late run prevented a shutout as Spokane won 4-1. Willengton Cruz did his part for Boise, as he went five innings and struck out five and allowed an earned run. Felix Pena wasn’t as fortunate, surrendering three runs (two earned) in 2.2 innings. Bryce Shafer still appeared rocky, as he walked three but held on for 1.1 scoreless innings. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3) singled in Stephen Bruno (2-for-4, double, triple) for the Hawks’ only run.

On Saturday, Spokane literally threw one away, committing nine errors as Boise defeated them 12-6. Every player in the Hawks’ starting line-up recorded a hit, led by a Bijan Rademacher 4-for-5 performance. Jeimer Candelario drove in two as he was 3-for- 5 with a double. Stephen Bruno had a double, triple, and RBI as part of a 2-for-4 night, while Chadd Krist was 2-for-5.

Jose Arias started for Boise, and it wasn’t one of his best outings. Arias gave up five earned runs in five innings with four strikeouts. In his Boise debut, 16th round pick Michael Hamann struck out two and tossed two scoreless innings. Struggling reliever Pete Levitt is making a bid to turn things around, as his recorded a save while allowing an earned run over two innings.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (38-40)
A close game on Wednesday against Clinton turned into a rout, as the Chiefs lost 8-3. Jose Rosario kept the score close, allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out four in five innings. Sheldon McDonald was also touched for an unearned run in his inning of work. However, Austin Reed was battered for four earned runs in the final two innings. Dustin Geiger continued his impressive offensive showing with a 2-for-4 effort and a run scored. Paul Hoilman (1-for-3) doubled in Geiger and scored on a single by Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4).

Peoria was not able to keep up with the first half champions, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, on Thursday, as they lost 7-3. The game featured two struggling pitchers for the Chiefs, Gerardo Concepcion and Larry Suarez. Concepcion went six innings and struck out two while allowing five earned runs. Suarez pitched the final two innings, giving up two earned runs. Paul Hoilman was 2-for-5 and Javier Baez went 3-for-4 with a double. Taiwan Easterling, Dustin Geiger, and Oliver Zapata drove in runs.

It looked as if the Chiefs had Wisconsin’s number on Friday, as they scored six runs in the third inning. But Peoria let the Timber Rattlers off the hook and wound up losing 8-7 in ten innings. The Chiefs took advantage of four errors by Wisconsin, as Javier Baez and Anthony Giansanti were 2-for-5, while Yasiel Balaguert went 2-for-4. However, Peoria’s defense was also in a giving mood. Dustin Geiger committed four errors, which led to three unearned runs. Starter Michael Jensen was the victim of the fielding mishaps. Jensen went five innings and allowed six runs (three earned) while striking out six batters. Hunter Cervenka held the Timber Rattlers for two innings, but Yao-Lin Wang gave up the tying run in the eighth. Wang got into another jam in the ninth, but was able to quell the attack as the game went into extra innings. After loading the bases in the tenth, Luis Liria allowed a one out single for the game winner.

Make the losing streak four now as Peoria was swept by Wisconsin with a 9-5 loss on Saturday. Zach Cates made his second start for the Chiefs and suffered from a poor second inning, as five runs (four earned) scored in the frame. Cates went four innings and struck out five of the Timber Rattlers. Also striking out five was Zach Rosscup, as he tossed two scoreless innings. However, Austin Reed allowed Wisconsin to blow the game open with three earned runs in his inning of work. Sheldon McDonald was also touched for an earned run in an inning. No one really stood out offensively for Peoria, as Oliver Zapata was 3-for-4 while Anthony Giansanti had three walks and two runs scored.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (36-42)
Daytona has started the second half with a 5-4 record, half-game out of first place as they walloped St. Lucie 12-1 on Wednesday. Since coming off the disabled list, Matt Szczur is hitting .300 and he went 3-for-6 with a double and a grand slam on Wednesday. Greg Rohan went 5-for-5 on the evening with two doubles and two RBI. Arismendy Alcantara and Ronald Torreyes were each 2-for-5 with an RBI and Torreyes added a double to his total.

Austin Kirk continued his impressive season, as he went six scoreless innings and struck out six batters. Eduardo Figueroa finished things off with an earned run in three innings to pick up the long save.

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The top of the order did the damage on Thursday, as Daytona took apart Dunedin 14-4. Leadoff hitter Matt Szczur has come back from the disabled list with a vengeance, as he was 3-for-3 with two walks, three stolen bases, two RBI, and an outfield assist. Arismendy Alcantara blasted a three-run homer in a 3-for-5 effort that included a stolen base and four RBI. Rubi Silva was not to be outdone, as he stroked two doubles as part of his 3-for-5, two RBI evening. Rebel Ridling (1-for-4) launched a three-run home run of his own, while Ronald Torreyes (1-for-2) added a solo shot.

The beneficiary of the offensive onslaught was Robert Whitenack, as the rehabbing starter went four innings and gave up three runs (one earned) while striking out four batters. AJ Morris received the win after tossing two scoreless innings. Another unearned run came across as Jeffrey Lorick struck out three batters in his two innings. Brian Schlitter provided a perfect ninth inning.

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Another offensive display on Friday went for naught as the D-Cubs pitching failed to hold Dunedin in an 11-10 loss. Matt Szczur continues to push for a promotion, as he was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Also 2-for-4 was Arismendy Alcantara and Elieser Bonne, with Alcantara driving in two while Bonne plated another runner. Ronald Torreyes smacked his fourth homer of the season as part of his 3-for-4 effort. Rubi Silva also contributed with a 2-for-5 performance that included a stolen base. Starter Frank Del Valle wasn’t at his best and allowed five earned runs and striking out four in 5.2 innings should have been good enough for the win. However, Ryan Searle and Scott Weismann each gave up three earned runs to allow the Blue Jays to steal one from the home team.

After scoring 25 runs in the previous two games, Daytona managed only five hits on Saturday as they lost 5-2 to Dunedin. Kyler Burke got his second start and went four innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out six batters. A familiar face was back with the D-Cubs, as Matt Spencer was called up, this time as a pitcher. Spencer tossed two innings, giving up two earned runs. Eduardo Figueroa also pitched two innings and let in an earned run to go along with a pair of strikeouts. Brian Schlitter had a scoreless ninth. John Andreoli had a double as a part of a 2-for-4 effort and Rubi Silva was 1-for-4 with a run scored.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (40-40)
Some days, it just doesn’t pay to go to the ballpark as the Smokies were thrashed by Birmingham 11-0 on Wednesday. It was a total team loss as no one stood out for Tennessee. Dae-Eun Rhee surrendered six runs (five earned) in four innings, while Casey Harman added another four earned runs in 2.2 innings. Jeffry Antigua could hang his hat on four strikeouts as he gave up an earned run in 2.1 innings. The Smokies had three hits with a Logan Watkins (1-for-4) triple being the only one for extra bases. Junior Lake committed two more errors to bring his season total to 16 in 42 games.

Tennessee couldn’t survive an eight-run first inning in route to a 13-6 loss to Birmingham on Thursday. While starter Trey McNutt lasted only 0.2 innings, he had some help in allowing the eight runs, as four of them were unearned. Ty’Relle Harris was summoned to help get the Smokies out of that mess, and was also a victim of an error as he gave up two runs (one earned) in four innings. Casey Weathers and Kevin Rhoderick each pitched 1.2 innings, with Weathers letting in two earned runs and Rhoderick one. Infielder Nate Samson became Tennessee’s most effective pitcher of the evening, as he set down the side in order in the ninth. Jae-Hoon Ha and Junior Lake were each 2-for-5 with an RBI, while Michael Brenly (1-for-4) and Michael Burgess (2-for-4) hit home runs. Elliot Soto was also 2-for-4.

The roller-coaster ride that are the Smokies continued on Friday was they took an 8-2 lead into the sixth inning, but had to hang on for a 10-8 victory over Birmingham. Deuces were wild as six Tennessee players collected two hits. The biggest producers were Justin Bour, Juan Apodaca, and Michael Burgess each had three RBI, with Bour connecting for his seventh homer of the season. Other players with multi-hit nights included Logan Watkins, Jae-Hoon Ha, and Matt Cerda.

Dallas Beeler had to sweat out another cliffhanger to finally get his third win, as he allowed two earned runs and struck out four through five innings. Marcus Hatley must have raised Beeler’s anxiety level by letting in five runs (four earned) in 1.1 innings. Just up from Daytona, Tony Zych saw his first Double-A action and gave up an earned run in an inning of work. Frank Batista once again slammed the door, as he got the final five outs of the game to receive his 13th save.

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The Smokies moved their record back to .500 on Saturday, as they beat Birmingham 3-2. Tennessee started the scoring with a Michael Burgess (1-for-3) solo home run in the third inning. They tied up the game in the sixth, as Justin Bour (1-for-4) doubled and came home on a James Adduci (1-for-3) RBI single. Logan Watkins (1-for-4) provided the game winner, as he led off the eighth inning with a solo home run of his own. Jae-Hoon Ha went 2-for-4 for the evening.

Eric Jokisch got back on the winning track, as he gave up two runs (one earned) on a home run as he struck out five through seven innings. Kevin Rhoderick bounced back from a poor performance to toss two scoreless innings and pick up the win.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (34-49)
A veteran squad of Oklahoma City RedHawks took advantage of Iowa on Wednesday, as they lost 10-6. Starting pitcher Chris Rusin gave up three home runs while allowing eight runs (seven earned) in four innings. However, he didn’t get support from his fellow pitchers as newly recalled Alberto Cabrera continued a pattern established in Double-A, as he allowed two inherited runners to score while letting in two earned runs of his own in his two innings of work. Mike MacDougal, Jeff Beliveau, and Esmailin Caridad each pitched a scoreless inning. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record trying to describe how hot Josh Vitters is, as he was 2-for-4 with a double, triple, and RBI. Dave Sappelt and Diory Hernandez were each 2-for-4, while Matt Tolbert was 2-for-5.

The I-Cubs’ sputtering offense was not able to support a good effort by the pitching staff on Thursday, as they lost 3-1 to Oklahoma City. Chris Volstad had one of his better outings, allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out seven batters in seven innings. Jay Jackson and Michael Bowden each pitched a scoreless inning, with Jackson providing two strikeouts. Matt Tolbert was the hitting star as he scored the only run and went 4-for-5 with a double and a triple. Adrian Cardenas, Ty Wright, and Blake Lalli were each 2-for-4.

Third baseman Josh Vitters continued his torrid pace on Friday, as Iowa rode his bat to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma City. Vitters remains a one-man wrecking crew as he was 2-for-4. Including his 13th home run and three RBI, stepping into the leadership void left by promoted Anthony Rizzo. Brett Jackson is trying to reclaim his role as the igniter for the offense, as he was 2-for-5 with an RBI and his 15th stolen base. Alfredo Amezaga was also 2-for-4 with a RBI.

In perhaps his finest effort yet this season, Rodrigo Lopez went six shutout innings and struck out two batters. Esmailin Caridad kept the RedHawks off the board for an inning, and Alberto Cabrera completed the job by striking out three in two scoreless innings.

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Iowa put on a furious rally in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough as they lost to Nashville 4-3 on Saturday. Brooks Raley had a decent outing, as he allowed only one earned run in five innings with two strikeouts. Ryan Rowland-Smith gave up two runs (one earned) in one inning, and Mike MacDougal gave up an earned run in a third of an inning. Jeff Beliveau tossed 1.2 scoreless innings. The I-Cubs didn’t score until the ninth inning, as Blake Lalli (1-for-4) blasted a two-run home run, and Brett Jackson (2-for-4, double) added a solo shot. Dave Sappelt was 2-for-4 in the game.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs outrighted RHP Randy Wells to the Iowa Cubs. The Iowa Cubs assigned C Juan Apodaca to the Tennessee Smokies. The Daytona Cubs assigned RHP Tony Zych to the Tennessee Smokies; C Luis Flores retired. The Peoria Chiefs assigned LHP Matt Spencer to the Daytona Cubs. The Boise Hawks assigned RHP Amaury Paulino to the AZL Cubs. The AZL Cubs assigned RHP Mike Hamann, RHP Eddie Orozco, LHP Michael Heesch, and OF’s Bijan Rademacher and Trey Martin to the Boise Hawks.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 298, three doubles, two triples, four home runs, 11 RBI, 11 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 339, two doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .240, 13 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 20 RBI, 20 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 295, nine doubles, two triples, four home runs, 13 RBI, eight stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .289, 14 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 22 RBI, 26 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .238, 12 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 20 RBI, six stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .294, 19 doubles, triple, 13 home runs, 43 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 414, seven doubles, six RBI (Arizona Cubs)
  • Robert Whitenack – 0-2, 4.64 ERA, 21.1 innings, 11 strikeouts, five walks, 1.69 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 3-3, 3.19 ERA, 36.2 innings, 33 strikeouts, seven walks, 1.03 WHIP, six saves (Daytona Cubs) 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.0 innings, one strikeout, one walk, 4.00 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

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  • J Daniel

    How far off is Szczur? Maybe he will be another main component of sustained success. Has he jumped BJax?

    • Zonk

      That’s a good question…..I bet at this point, BA would rank Szczur ahead of B_Jax in top 100 rankings. (b-Jax was #32 pre-season, Szczur was #64). Szczur is only a year younger, but he only recently devoted himself to baseball, so most give him a little extra time. His power is down vs. last year, but he has drawn alot more walks; it’s likely he is being coached to do that.
      Szczur has a reputation for being a very hard worker with a great attitude, so he’ll probably get the most out of whatever talent he has
      B-Jax now has 117 K’s in 79 games, on pace for 234 over a full season. That’s atrocious. He can still make it, but that needs to change.
      Rizzo, BTW, was #47….pretty sure BA would rank him ahead of B-Jax now!

      • Greg Redlarczyk

        Zonk,

        Brett Jackon is leading the PCL in strikeouts with 117. The next wiffer below him is Anthony Gose with 84. Jackson is striking out about 38% of ABs.

        Doesn’t look promising.

        • paulcatanese

          Greg, after Pena, anything looks better with
          strikeouts.

      • BosephHeyden

        Well, keep this in mind: Szczur is going against High A pitching, most of which includes guys that will not get past this level. Meanwhile, Brett Jackson is going against Triple A pitching, which includes guys that are on the cusp of the majors or have been in the majors and are trying to get back. Not so much excusing Jackson as much as it is wanting to wait and see what Szczur can do against better quality of pitching.

    • Tom U

      J Daniel, I would say no. I know everyone is down on Brett Jackson right now, as he is having his first bad professional season. However, keep this in mind.

      He put up numbers comparable to Starlin Castro at Double-A to begin the season. He wasn’t promoted as Castro was, and soon afterward broke his hand.

      He recovered and was promoted to Triple-A and blew everyone away. Again, he wasn’t promoted in September.

      He then had a great spring training, but, once again, failed to make the team.

      The question is, if you failed to get a promotion you felt you deserved 3 times over the past year, how would that affect your work performance?

  • Zonk

    Ronald Torreyes…he’s been on a tear, and actually I just think he is starting to just not hit into tough luck (he started the season with an insanely low BABIP).
    Tom, I noticed he is playing some SS; I know he is considered a Plus defensive 2B, how is he rated at SS?

    • ChadAudio

      Great question. I heard they moved him off of SS because he had to play on the same roster as Billy Hamilton… I had not heard it was because of any defensive short comings.

  • Zonk

    Tom, and everyone else, what would you do with Junior Lake? Scouts think he is too big to play SS, and his high error rate seems to bear that out. He doesn’t hit enough, though, for 3B, and is a little large for 2B. Not sure where he goes.
    I have a feeling that Junior Lake’s ceiling is major league utility guy, not starter.

    • ChadAudio

      I’m not Tom, and I’d certainly respect his opinion over mine. But, I wouldn’t be so quick to write off his power potential at 3B. He is still really young and filling out physically. That doesn’t mean that he WILL have power, it’s just that it’s sort of early to say.
      http://www.suntimes.com/sports/11349570-419/cubs-starlin-castro-ready-for-the-junior-lake-effect-at-shortstop.html
      In short, what position should he change to? It’s probably too early to tell… which is probably why they are just leaving him at SS for another season or so until he fills out.

      • Aaron

        Lake needs to move to RF where he played occasionally in the AZFL. His speed, athleticism and arm, plus power would translate well there

        • ChadAudio

          You guys voting for RF may be right, but I hope they at least try him at 3B first. I feel like adding some 3B depth would be a lot more beneficial then OF, at this point.

    • Tony_Hall

      I think Lake ends up in RF or LF if he makes it to Wrigley.

    • Tom U

      Thanks for waiting so long Zonk.

      I concur with the other posters that Lake should move to the outfield. Although his power potential does translate more to third, every thing I’ve seen about his defensive play shows, in my opinion, that Lake should have nothing to do with the infield except for a radical move to first base. He has slow reactions, and his foot-speed somehow doesn’t translate to range. Too often, he tries to use his arm to bail himself out of self-created messes and compounds problems.

      The frustrating part is that if you are going to change his position, here is where you do it, not on a bigger stage. I why I have the feeling he may end up as a part of a trade.

  • CubsInsider

    Past month, I have been looking at these detailed reports……the Cubs are weak in pitching…..McNutt – is this the best we have at pitching?…………the Cubs have hitters who really don’t have a position……such as Junior Lake ….and a Josh Vitters…..both very weak with the glove…….do not be surprise if they are in a trade package with a veteran to get better pitching prospects…….then we have the AAA players like DeWitt, Wells, Lopez types….no trade value, just emergency back ups……..if we took all the Rookie league and Single A players, we be lucky if two or three get to Wrigley……..lets hope the Cubs & Theo can develop better talent than what we have seen from the Hendry regime……..we need more skilled players who know how to play their position, rather a guy who swings a bat and plays at five different positions…….and pitchers who know how to pitch, rather how to throw.

  • disqus_1oP0sEzmNp

    What is going on with Dillon Maples>

    • Aaron

      He has been on a throwing program…was experiencing arm trouble. Said on his twitter that he expects to get in AZL games mid July

  • BosephHeyden

    So, Concepcion’s numbers just look awful…about how much longer of him pitching will it take before the Cubs get a clear idea as to whether or not he’s capable of pitching professionally?

    • DWalker

      Consepcion might never really excel in the minors, but may still perform usefully at the ML level. A huge factor that has come into play and why so many soft tossing lefties are now appearing a lot more servicable is the defensive shifts. You won’t see much of that if any in the minors. Theo and Jed maybe aren’t looking for raw numbers, but instead are looking for control and pitching for controlled contact.

  • J Daniel

    Not sure if he will keep it up but Camp has been a really good pick up as well

    • J Daniel

      The Cashner for Rizzo deal looks like it will be really good for the Cubs! I know Cashner may be really good but with the injury it was probably smart. Also, if Rizzo turns out like I believe he will, I would rather have an everyday left hand all star bat that can field his position. I know you need stud pitching to win in the playoffs, but you need stud bats to get you there.

  • Aaron

    Cubs sign 16 yr old Dominican ss Frandy de la Rosa ranked 19th best prospect down there…apparently is 6’1″ switch hitter

    • gary3411

      19th best on the island? Or 19th best that is unsigned?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        19th best unsigned free agent. MLB.com ranked him no. 10.

      • Aaron

        Badler’s report was vague….i believe it was overall…also stated he had a smooth swing from both sides of the plate

  • DWalker

    Sickels has his new top 120 ranking up, Disqus does not like me trying to post the link but the cubs have a paltry three in the top 120 with Rizzo at 22 and Baez at 43 moving up the list from before and Jackson falling to 55. Szczur gets in the HM section. With 8 teams with 6 or 7 prospects in the list, the cubs three puts them in the bottom half of teams on the list. Rizzo is on there only because he was called up while the list was being written.
    New draftees and recent signees are not included (Soler), they will be address in August after they have had some time in system. I think it gives pretty clear opinion of where he thinks the Cubs system ranks as far as impacts go though. I do wonder if guys like Torreyes, Candelario and Szczur might have a chance to move up if they keep performing though.

    • DWalker

      on Vitters:
      I tell yah…..I have no idea what to make of Vitters. He didn’t look that good to me at Iowa, and i’ve been burned with him before, so I am cautious at this point. He could move back on in August.on CandelarioYes, Candelario is on the radar for August. I’m working on getting more info about him.