Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/19/12

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard, as a number of player movements have changed the faces of some of the lower minor league teams.

Boise has seen outfielder Bijan Rademacher move to Peoria, and have Northwest League player-of-the Week Trey Martin more than replace his offense. Rademacher will try to help improve the Chiefs’ firepower, as Javier Baez was voted Midwest League player-of-the Week. Tim Saunders was moved all the way to Daytona from the Rookie League. The D-Cubs won two out of three behind the pitching of Robert Whitenack and Matt Loosen. However, Tennessee and Iowa have struggled, except for the 16-game hitting streak by Josh Vitters.

Including recaps of the Arizona Rookie League and the Dominican Summer League, enjoy this edition of the CCO’s Down on the Farm Report on the day Jorge Soler is set to make his pro debut …

Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (12-20)
Once again, the Boise bullpen failed to hold a lead on Sunday, as they lost 5-4 to Vancouver. In his second start, Felix Pena actually looked pretty good. Pena struck out five and allowed three earned runs in five innings. However, the coaching staff must be scratching their heads over Willengton Cruz. Cruz is a very talented pitcher, but he’s having a poor season, first being demoted from Peoria and now he is out of the rotation. In a relief stint, Cruz gave up two earned runs and struck out two over three innings. Roderik Pichardo pitched the ninth and struck out two in a scoreless inning. Stephen Bruno was the only Hawk to record a multi-hit game, as he was 2-for-4.

Boise added three runs in the final their final two innings on Monday to survive a late charge from Yakima to win 6-5. Bijan Rademacher was the player of the game, as he went 3-for-4 with three doubles. Joining him with three hits was Stephen Bruno, who was 3-for-5 with a double of his own. Marco Hernandez was 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI, while Xavier Batista drove in two as he was 1-for-3. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-5) cracked his fifth homer of the season, a walk-off in the ninth to win the game.

Jose Arias gave what is becoming his staple, a dependable but unspectacular performance, as he tossed five innings, struck out four, and allowed three runs (two earned). Undrafted free agent Matt Iannazzo got his first taste of Single-A ball, giving up two unearned runs and striking out two in two innings. Eduardo Orozco was practically perfect, allowing a free pass in two scoreless innings.

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Everything was clicking right for Boise on Tuesday, as they made it two in a row with a 5-0 victory over Yakima. James Pugliese tied a professional high with five strikeouts in five scoreless innings. Michael Heesch remained unscored upon since his promotion. Heesch tossed two scoreless innings. Pete Levitt is beginning to come back around after a rough start to the season, as he shut out the Bears for the final two innings.

Trey Martin is emerging into a force, as the already stellar defender has been swinging a hot bat. Martin went 3-for-3 with his third homer in seven games. Batting right behind Martin, Marco Hernandez was 2-for-5 with two RBI. Willson Contreras was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Rock Shoulders was 2-for-3.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (45-48)
While Peoria had nine hits on Sunday, they just didn’t seem to get them when they needed them as they lost 4-2 to Bowling Green. Javier Baez led the Chiefs as he was 3-for-4, including a double and a triple. Oliver Zapata added a 2-for-4 performance. Starter Zach Cates continues to struggle with his command, and he allowed two earned runs while walking four and giving up four hits over 4.2 innings. Jeffry Antigua relieved and let in another two runs (one earned) in 2.1 innings. Larry Suarez finished things off and was perfect in his two innings, allowing no runs and striking out two batters.

Monday was a “get away” day for Bowling Green, so in a matinee the Chiefs made them think about it on the long bus ride as they won 8-3. Starling Peralta is becoming Peoria’s second most dependable pitcher (behind Michael Jensen) as he struck out five through five scoreless innings. After a shaky debut, Justin Berg was a little better, allowing an earned run over 2.2 innings with two strikeouts. Hunter Cervenka hasn’t had some of the same magic as he had earlier, as he gave up two earned runs as well as striking out two in 1.1 innings.

Pin-Chieh Chen had a whale of a game, as he was 3-for-4 with three stolen bases, three runs scored, and an RBI. Paul Hoilman drove him home with a 3-for-4 effort that included with two doubles and three RBI. Javier Baez drove in two as he was 1-for-3, while Chadd Krist and Oliver Zapata were each 2-for-4.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (42-52)
Daytona needed some late inning heroics on Sunday to produce a 4-3 win over Charlotte. Little by little, Robert Whitenack seems to be scraping off the rust, as he struck out three and allowed two earned runs through 4.2 innings. Veteran relievers Ryan Searle and AJ Morris then came in and did their jobs, as they held the Stone Crabs scoreless for a combined 3.1 innings. However, Scott Weismann had to be bailed out by the offense as he gave up the tying run in the ninth.

The top of the order came through in the bottom of the frame as John Andreoli (1-for-3, RBI, stolen base) walked and went to third on a double by Ronald Torreyes (2-for-5, RBI). A sacrifice fly by Rubi Silva allowed Andreoli to walk in with the game winner. Elieser Bonne and Micah Gibbs were also 2-for-4.

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On Monday, Charlotte proved to be too much for Daytona, as their 12 hits contributed to a 5-3 loss for the D-Cubs. Kyler Burke was the starter and allowed four earned runs but struck out three batters. Matt Spencer pitched to one batter for an out then was relieved by Frank Del Valle, who finished the last 2.2 innings while giving up an earned run. Both Matt Szczur and Rebel Ridling were 2-for-4 with a double, with Szczur stealing two bases.

The D-Cubs were able to use great pitching and timely hitting on Tuesday to throttle Charlotte 6-1. Starter Matt Loosen was in top form, striking out six of the Stone Crabs and allowing an earned run through 7.1 innings. Jeffrey Lorick would be the only other pitcher Daytona needed. Lorick surrendered only one hit in 1.2 scoreless innings.

The top of the order was at it again, as lead-off hitter Matt Szczur went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Ronald Torreyes (2-for-4) also drove in a run and stole a base. Elieser Bonne joined Torreyes with a 2-for-4 performance.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (47-48)
The offense couldn’t make more than one run out of nine hits, while the bullpen collapsed again on Sunday in the Smokies 6-1 loss to Jackson. After coming up with a couple of wins, Dallas Beeler returned to being a tough-luck pitcher as he gave up only one earned run through six innings. Continuing to scuffle, Kevin Rhoderick allowed two earned runs with four strikeouts in two innings. Casey Harman then served up two home runs, good for three earned runs in the ninth. Logan Watkins and Michael Brenly were each 2-for-4, while Justin Bour drove in Junior Lake for Tennessee’s only run.

The Smokies made a valiant effort for a “bullpen day“, but fell short as they lost to Jackson on Monday 10-8. Long reliever Ty’Relle Harris was given the start and was thrashed for six runs (five earned) in 2.2 innings. Zach Rosscup wasn’t much better, as he struck out five but allowed two earned runs in two innings. Trey McNutt also gave up two earned runs to go along with three strikeouts in 2.1 innings. Marcus Hatley was the only Tennessee pitcher not scored upon, as he tossed the final two innings. The comeback attempt was led by Jae-Hoon Ha, who was 3-for-5 with a triple, home run, and two RBI. Logan Watkins went 3-for-6 with a double, and Justin Bour (3-for-5) drove in a run. Greg Rohan was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Nate Samson was 2-for-5.

Make it three in a row as things went bad quickly on Tuesday as Tennessee lost to Jackson 9-2. Nick Struck was rocked for four runs in the third inning, as he ended his night by allowing six runs (five earned) and struck out two in five innings. Casey Harman then gave up three earned runs in an inning of work, while Frank Batista halted the Generals by striking out two in two scoreless innings. Tony Zych then finished up with an uneventful ninth. Logan Watkins was the lone Smokie with multi-hits, as he was 2-for-5 with a triple. Watkins and Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) would score runs as Justin Bour (1-for-4) and Greg Rohan (1-for-4, double) had a RBI apiece.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (40-57)
It was a fine Sunday for both Iowa’s hitters and pitchers, as they brought home a 9-1 laugher over Omaha. Starter Chris Rusin was looking for impressive outing to bolster a claim for a promotion, and he may have got it as he struck out three and allowed an earned run through five innings. Esmailin Caridad began things for the bullpen by shutting down the Storm Chasers for two innings while striking out two batters. Jeff Beliveau also struck out two, as he worked a scoreless inning. Jay Jackson struggled a bit, but held Omaha off the board in the ninth.

The big stick for the I-Cubs was Adrian Cardenas, who went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Alfredo Amezaga also drove in three as he was 2-for-5, while Blake Lalli went 3-for-4 with a double. James Adduci (2-for-4 with an RBI) also doubled and Welington Castillo chipped in with a 2-for-5 effort.

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Iowa handed the home fans a real stinker on Monday night, as four hits and poor veteran pitching produced a 6-1 loss to New Orleans. Rodrigo Lopez surrendered 12 hits and four earned runs, as he went five innings and struck out three batters. Ryan Rowland-Smith also had three strikeouts giving up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. However, Alberto Cabrera deserves part of that, as he let a run that would be charged to Rowland-Smith come in after he allowed a runner to steal second and score on a double. Michael Bowden had a perfect ninth. Brett Jackson had the lone offensive highlight, as he hit a triple and scored the only run. Josh Vitters extended his hitting streak to 15 games, with Blake Lalli and James Adduci also getting hits.

The difference on Tuesday night between Iowa and New Orleans was pitching, and the Zephyrs’ pitchers limited Iowa’s nine hits to two runs, as the I-Cubs lost 7-2. Allowing all seven runs (six earned) was major league vet Chris Volstad, who struck out two in 5.2 innings. Frankie De La Cruz was next as he held New Orleans scoreless for 1.1 innings, while Esmailin Caridad struck out two in two scoreless innings. Alfredo Amezaga and Brett Jackson were each 2-for-5, with Jackson hitting a double and stealing a base. A 16-game hitting streak is what Josh Vitters has, as both he and Dave Sappelt went 2-for-4. Vitters drove in a run and Sappelt notched a double and an RBI.

Arizona Rookie League
Despite a flurry of roster moves, the AZL Cubs actually increased their East Conference lead to 1.5 games. After hitting .493 with three homers and 17 RBI, Tim Saunders was promoted all the way up to the Daytona Cubs. Dan Vogelbach is mashing the ball, with seven home runs along with 30 RBI and a .360 average. Vogelbach even stole a base! Not to be outdone, Jacob Rogers is now hitting .455 with two home runs and 11 RBI, while Dan Lockhart improved to .309 and 10 RBI. Left hander Hunter Ackerman earned a ticket to Boise by going 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10 innings. David Henrie raised his record to 4-0 with 19 strikeouts and a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings. Cuban national Carlos Martinez-Pumarino has gone 3-0 while posting a 1.65 ERA while striking out 16 in 16 innings.

Dominican Summer League
As both Cubs’ teams have now established a winning record, the next objective is moving toward first place.

The Cubs-1 team is now two games out if first place in the Baseball City division at 20-18. Outfielder Roberto Caro was returned to C-1 from C-2 and has taken over the leadoff spot, batting .328 with 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Infielder Jenner Emeterio remained the hitting leader, going .358 with two home runs while driving in 14 runs. First baseman Roney Alcala is now ninth in the league in batting, with a .352 average and leading the team with 26 RBI. Right-hander Carlos A. Rodriguez is fifth in the league with 46 strikeouts, with an ERA of 1.79 and a 0.84 WHIP.

The Cubs-2 team still has a long way to go at five games out of first place, but their 22-16 record is third in the Boca Chica South division. Catcher-first baseman Jhonny Pena’s average has come down to .354, but that is still good enough to lead the team. Outfielder Shamil Ubiera has moved into the top 20 in the league by hitting .340 with 23 RBI. Infielder Bryant Flete has come around lately, now hitting .315 and driving in 10 runs. Right-hander Daury Torres is third in the league with a 0.74 WHIP and his ERA of 1.01 is fifth, along with a 5-1 record. Eighteen-year old righty Alexander Santana has improved his record to 1-2 and ERA to 2.80 in 35.1 innings.

News and Notes
The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Randy Wells on the 7-Day disabled list, retroactive to July15. The Tennessee Smokies assigned IF Elliot Soto to the Daytona Cubs. The Daytona Cubs assigned IF Dustin Harrington to the Tennessee Smokies; placed IF Arismendy Alcantara and LHP Matt Spencer on the 7-Day disabled list. The Peoria Chiefs assigned LHP Hunter Cervenka to the Daytona Cubs; assigned OF Yasiel Balaguert to the AZL Cubs. The Boise Hawks assigned OF Bijan Rademacher and RHP Bryce Shafer to the Peoria Chiefs. The AZL Cubs assigned IF Tim Saunders and RHP Anthony York to the Daytona Cubs; assigned LHP Hunter Ackerman, RHP Matt Iannazzo, and OF Izaac Garsez to the Boise Hawks.

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