Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/16/12

It’s not a good time to be a relief pitcher in the organization, as the bullpens at all levels cost their teams a chance to win to end the week.

That doesn’t mean that the hitters have stopped hitting, as Trey Martin has emerged for Boise while Peoria has a new hero in Chadd Krist. Teammate Javier Baez is now tied for the team lead in home runs, and Daytona’s Rubi Silva is scorching hot.

Pitching was the key in Tennessee, as Nick Struck recorded his organization leading tenth win, Eric Jokisch pitched another gem, and Dae-Eun Rhee made it three in a row. While in Iowa, Josh Vitters extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

All of this, and more, are inside 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 (10-19)
After being blown out in the past couple of games, Boise was able to turn the tables, slightly, as they defeated Vancouver 6-1 on Wednesday. Trey Martin did it all for the Hawks, as he was 2-for-3 with his first home run, two RBI, and an outfield assist. Now ninth in the Northwest League in RBI, Willson Contreras drove in another run as he was 2-for-3 with a triple. Rock Shoulders was 1-for-3 as he slugged his third home run.

Jose Arias had only one blemish, a solo home run in the fourth inning, in an otherwise stellar effort, as he went five innings and struck out three batters. Eduardo Orozco followed and had two scoreless innings. Pitching the last two innings were a couple of struggling relievers, Pete Levitt and Bryce Shafer. Each tossed a scoreless inning with Levitt striking out two and Shafer punching out one.

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Despite piling up a big lead on Thursday, an implosion by the bullpen for the Hawks resulted in a 12-11 loss to Vancouver. Home runs by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-4, two RBI), Marco Hernandez (1-for-6. two RBI), and Rock Shoulders (1-for-3, three RBI) help build a 6-1 lead for Boise through two innings. Bijan Rademacher joined in as he was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in, while Trey Martin was 3-for-5 with a stolen base. Also having good nights at the plate were Jeimer Candelario (2-for-5, RBI) and Stephen Bruno (2-for-4, double). It all seemed to be enough for James Pugliese, who allowed four runs (two earned) and struck out five in four innings. Michael Heesch continued the success, as he tossed two scoreless innings and struck out three batters. But Rafael Diplan had a sequence he’d rather forget, giving up five earned runs while going only 0.1 innings. Roderik Pichardo didn’t fare much better, letting in three earned runs in 1.2 innings, striking out three batters. Su-Min Jung finally restored order, striking out two in a scoreless inning, but the damage had already been done.

Friday saw more bullpen trouble, with a little “help” from the defense, as Boise turn a 4-2 lead into a 7-4 loss to Vancouver. Starter Tayler Scott did his part, allowing two runs (one earned) in four innings, Long reliever Hayden Simpson took over and struck out four over 3.2 innings, but he too was a victim of the defense as he gave up three runs (one earned). Bryce Shafer received the same treatment, letting in two runs (one earned) and recoding two strikeouts in his 1.1 innings. Gioskar Amaya had the big hit as he was 2-for-5 with a solo home run and an RBI, while Dong-Yub Kim was 2-for-4.

Some struggling pitchers took the mound on Saturday, and it ended with good results as Boise defeated Vancouver 9-3. Ian Dickson brought an 8.10 ERA into the game, but that was significantly lowered as he allowed two earned runs and struck out four in 4.1 innings. Reliever Pete Levitt, who has had a hard time getting untracked this season, went 1.2 scoreless innings, while Michael Hamann, who has also been shelled recently, tossed two more. Rafael Diplan gave up the last earned run, but struck out two in his inning of work.

Really turning things on offensively has been Trey Martin, who homered and drove in four as he was 2-for-4. Marco Hernandez plated another three as he was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Hitting his sixth triple of the year already, Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-4, while Rock Shoulders went 2-for-3 with a double.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (44-47)
Peoria was caught up in a pitcher’s duel on Wednesday, but came out ahead as they defeated Dayton 1-0. The story of the game was starter Starling Peralta, as he went seven scoreless innings and struck out four batters. Larry Suarez showed up at the top of his game. Suarez had two strikeouts while keeping the Dragons off the board. Yao-Lin Wang wobbled a bit in the ninth, giving up two hits but holding things together enough to record his 12th save. The only run was provided by a solo shot off the bat of Javier Baez (1-for-3). Also going 1-for-3 were Oliver Zapata (with a double) and Pin-Chieh Chen (19th stolen base).

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The rest of the Chiefs had to grit their teeth and bear it on Thursday, as Dayton snatched one away from them 8-5. Peoria took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning, with starting pitcher Jose Rosario giving up one earned run and striking out two in six innings. However, rehabbing pitcher Justin Berg allowed five runs (one earned) in only 0.2 innings. Hunter Cervenka relieved and had a bad outing by his standards, letting in two more earned runs while pitching 2.1 innings. It all spoiled a excellent effort by Taiwan Easterling, who was 3-for-5 with double, home run, two RBI, and a stolen base. In his debut for the Chiefs, Chadd Krist was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, while Paul Hoilman was also 2-for-4.

On Friday, Peoria never looked back as they scored six in the first inning and cruised to an 8-1 win over Dayton. Joe Zeller had his knuckleball dancing, as he no-hit the Dragon through six innings, striking out four batters. While Jeffry Antigua gave up a hit, he kept Dayton in check for an inning, while Luis Liria allowed the only earned run in his two innings.

Everyone in the Chiefs’ lineup got on base, as Chadd Krist continued to enjoy Single-A pitching. Krist hit his first Peoria home run along with a double as part of a 2-for-4 performance. Paul Hoilman and Wes Darvill joined Krist in driving in two runs apiece. Also driving in runs were Zeke DeVoss and Pin-Chieh Chen.

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A new hero is emerging for the Chiefs, as it took 10 innings Saturday to defeat Bowling Green, 9-8. Chadd Krist (3-for-6) laced a two-out single that plated pinch-runner Oliver Zapata for the game winner. Javier Baez drove in four runs as part of a 3-for-5 night that includes a triple, a stolen base and his eighth home run of the season. Baez is now tied for the team lead in longballs. Taiwan Easterling also knocked in a pair (2-for-6 with a double) and Paul Hoilman was 2-for-4 with a triple and a RBI.

Michael Jensen did not have his best stuff going for him, as he allowed six earned runs, but struck out three, over 5.1 innings. Sheldon McDonald gave up another two runs (one earned) to the Hot Rods while striking out two as he went 1.2 innings. Austin Reed then tossed two scoreless innings and struck out three batters. Yao-Lin Wang earned the victory by keeping Bowling Green off the board in the tenth.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (40-51)
Daytona put the pedal to the metal and pulled ahead of Palm Beach on Wednesday, winning 7-2. The D-Cubs started by spotting the Cardinals a run in the fourth inning. But starting pitcher Kyler Burke kept his composure, allowing only two runs in six innings while striking out four batters. Jeffrey Lorick was dazzling, striking out five and not allowing a hit in 1.2 scoreless innings. After spending some time on the shelf, Brian Schlitter is starting to show some of the ability that surfaced a few years ago as a potential closer. Schlitter shut down Palm Beach for 1.1 innings to earn his second save.

Two of the struggling offensive players showed up for Daytona, as Ronald Torreyes and Matt Szczur were each 2-for-6 with an RBI. Torreyes hit a triple while Szczur collected two doubles. Elieser Bonne drove in two as he was 1-for-4, and John Andreoli took the league lead with his 31st steal as he was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

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In a tight game on Thursday, Palm Beach ended with the upper hand as Daytona lost 5-4. Ahead 4-1 going into the sixth inning, starter Matt Loosen allowed the Cardinals to tie the score as he ended with four runs (three earned) and six strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Eduardo Figueroa gave up the lead with an earned run in 0.2 innings, with AJ Morris cleaning up by holding Palm Beach scoreless over 1.2 innings. Providing the offensive highlights was Rubi Silva, who was 2-for-4 with a triple. Matt Szczur, Rebel Ridling, and Taylor Davis each drove in a run.

The D-Cubs had a total meltdown of their bullpen on Friday, as they lost to Palm Beach 11-8. Starter PJ Francescon retired to the clubhouse with a 7-0 lead after five innings in which he struck out three and two-hit the Cardinals. Then Matt Spencer failed to even record an out as he gave up five earned runs. Still ahead 7-5, Ryan Searle came in to finish the inning, allowing three more earned runs and giving up the lead. Scott Weismann let Palm Beach expand the lead by letting in two more earned runs in an inning of work. Frank Del Valle worked the last two innings and allowed the icing on the cake for the Cardinals, giving up the final earned run. Batting .410 over his last ten games, Rubi Silva was 3-for-6 with a triple and an RBI. Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-6, while Rebel Ridling went 2-for-5 with two RBI.

The bullpen woes continued on Saturday, as fans watched a 6-2 lead evaporate into a 9-6 loss to Palm Beach. Daytona took advantage of a Cardinals’ error in the bottom of the first, with John Andreoli (2-for-5) and Ronald Torreyes (3-for-4, RBI) eventually scoring. The D-Cubs continued to put up runs, as Taylor Davis drove in two by going 1-for-3. Rafael Lopez was 2-for-5 with a double, while Elieser Bonne picked up an RBI as he went 2-for-4. Austin Kirk put Daytona in good position, as he struck out four and allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings. Eduardo Figueroa followed and held Palm Beach for an inning, striking out two batters. But veteran reliever Jeffrey Lorick failed to record an out, giving up three earned runs. Brian Schlitter then let in four runs (two earned) over 1.1 innings. The game was finished up by infielder Dustin Harrington, who got the final two outs.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (47-46)
With a rainout on Thursday, Friday saw a doubleheader with Birmingham that ended in a split, a 4-1 loss and a 3-0 Tennessee victory in game two. The Smokies were unfortunate to draw a rehabbing Phil Humber, who threw a perfect game in the majors earlier this year, in game one. Starting for the first time in over a year, and also for the first time in Double-A, was Zach Rosscup. Rosscup lasted only 0.1 innings, as he was pounded for four earned runs. Ty’Relle Harris and Kevin Rhoderick tried to salvage things by tossing 3.2 and two scoreless innings respectively, but the offense wasn’t up to the task. Tennessee managed only two hits, with Junior Lake and Justin Bour each going 1-for-3.

In the nightcap, Nick Struck became the first pitcher in the organization to attain 10 wins, as he helped hold the Barons scoreless. Struck went six innings and tallied seven strikeouts. Frank Batista earned his 17th save as he blanked Birmingham for an inning. Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-4, while Nelson Perez (1-for-3) drove in two.

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Solid pitching and 14 hits led to a good, old fashioned blow out on Friday, as Tennessee defeated Birmingham 12-3. Eric Jokisch continues to steal the spotlight from some of the Smokies’ more well-known pitchers, as he struck out six in five scoreless innings to raise his record to 5-1, as well as lower his ERA to 2.77 and WHIP to 1.012. Now in a new role, reliever Trey McNutt also shutout the Barons for two innings while striking out two batters. But Casey Weathers gave the fans some reason to be nervous, as he allowed three earned runs in 1.1 innings, and had to be bailed out by Casey Harman, who finished the ninth with two strikeouts.

Leading the entire Cubs organization with 69 RBI, Justin Bour added four more to his total as he was 2-for-6 including a double. Driving in another three runs, Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-4) also had a double. Logan Watkins (3-for-4) plated two more runs while Michael Burgess was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and Junior Lake went 2-for-6.

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Make it three in a row for Tennessee, as the Smokies edged out cross-state rivals Jackson on Saturday 4-2. Juan Apodaca put the Smokies ahead for good in the bottom of the second, as his three-run homer was part of a 1-for-2 evening. Michael Burgess (1-for-3) cracked his tenth dinger of the year. Justin Bour (2-for-4) doubled and came home on Apodaca’s home run.

Dae-Eun Rhee started and had one of his better outings. Rhee allowed two earned runs and struck out six over five innings. Tony Zych and Marcus Hatley held the Generals the rest of the way. Zych and Hatley each pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and Hatley earned his fourth save.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (39-55)
Hitters for Iowa and Omaha must have had their Wheaties on Thursday, as they produced 31 hits combined in the I-Cubs’ 12-11 victory. Diory Hernandez (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) had his best game of the season for Iowa. Adrian Cardenas was 3-for-6, while Welington Castillo drove in three as he was 2-for-5 with a home run. Dave Sappelt and Josh Vitters were each 2-for-4. Sappelt drove in two runs and stole a base while Vitters had a double and an RBI.

Chris Volstad was rocked by the Storm Chasers, allowing seven runs (five earned) in two innings. Frankie De La Cruz ate some innings with three scoreless frames. Alberto Cabrera and Jeff Beliveau were also victims of the defense, as both gave up two runs (one earned) in one inning of work. Jay Jackson and Michael Bowden shut down Omaha the rest of the way. Jackson and Bowden each tossed a scoreless inning and Bowden picked up his second save.

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Friday saw another veteran Iowa pitcher at the root of a 4-3 loss to Omaha. Starter Brooks Raley continues to show he belongs at this level. Raley allowed two earned runs and struck out four over five innings. But an error by Ryan Rowland-Smith led to two unearned runs in his two innings. Esmailin Caridad struck out the side in the eighth inning, but the damage had already been done. Welington Castillo (3-for-4) is starting to heat up, while Adrian Cardenas was 2-for-3 with a double and triple.

A 13-game hitting streak for Josh Vitters is about all Iowa can hang its hat on, as they lost on Saturday to Omaha 7-1. Vitters (1-for-5) doubled in the fifth inning to keep the streak alive. James Adduci (2-for-3) scored on a Dave Sappelt (1-for-4) single for the I-Cubs’ only run. Randy Wells lasted only 1.2 innings. Wells was bludgeoned for seven earned runs in the second inning. Casey Coleman was able to stem the tide a bit by shutting out the Storm Chasers through 5.1 innings while striking out three batters. Alberto Cabrera followed with a scoreless inning.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned RHP Lendy Castillo, RHP Duane Underwood and RHP Justin Amlung to the AZL Cubs. The AZL Cubs assigned RHP Pierce Johnson to the Boise Hawks.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 319, four doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 19 RBI, 16 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 303, four doubles, four home runs, 18 RBI, one stolen base (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .237, 17 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 22 RBI, 22 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 281, 11 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 17 RBI, 10 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .270, 18 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 28 RBI, 30 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .246, 14 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 25 RBI, eight stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .302, 27 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 50 RBI, two stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 367, 11 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 26 RBI, stolen base (Arizona Cubs)
  • Robert Whitenack – 0-4, 6.67 ERA, 27.0 innings, 17 strikeouts, 10 walks, 1.96 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 0-0, 5.06 ERA, 5.1 innings, nine strikeouts, two walks, 2.06 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

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