Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/23/12

There was some questionable roster management as the losses piled up to end the week. Tennessee has dropped five straight, while Boise and Daytona have four-game losing streaks, and Iowa has lost three in a row. Through it all, there were still some outstanding offensive performances by Javier Baez, Rubi Silva, and Josh Vitters.

So for the unhappy totals, take a look 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 (12-24)
The Hawks saw their win streak end at two on Wednesday, as pitching and defense were their undoing in an 8-4 loss to Yakima. Boise had three errors and a passed ball, as starter Tayler Scott allowed four runs (three earned) and struck out three in 4.2 innings. Hayden Simpson relieved and was also touched up for four runs (three earned), in a nearly identical line to Scott’s in 2.1 innings. Only Su-Min Jung kept the Bears off the board, striking out three in two scoreless innings. Gioskar Amaya was back in the lineup after getting beaned on Sunday, and delivered a solo home run as part of his 2-for-3 evening. Trey Martin and Jeimer Candelario kept on hitting, as each was 2-for-5, Martin with an RBI while Candelario drove in two. Showing some improvement at the plate, Xavier Batista was 2-for-3 while the Northwest League’s number two hitter, Stephen Bruno, went 2-for-4.

A new streak has started for Boise as they fell 2-1 to Eugene on Thursday. Ian Dickson struck out six in five innings of work, but allowed two runs (one earned). Making his Northwest League debut, Hunter Ackerman pitched three scoreless innings, striking out four batters. The Hawks only managed two hits, both by Stephen Bruno as he was 2-for-3with a double and an RBI. Gioskar Amaya had two walks and scored the only run.

Make it three in a row as the Hawks’ gloves abandoned them in a 7-2 loss to Eugene on Friday. Four Boise errors led to three unearned runs, and spoiled a couple of decent pitching efforts. Felix Pena is still getting used to a starting role, but held up alright as he allowed two earned runs and struck out three in four innings. Michael Hamann had been struggling, but was in top form as he tossed two scoreless innings. But Rafael Diplan became the first victim of the defense, as he gave up three runs (one earned) in an inning, while Willengton Cruz was tagged for two runs (one earned) in an inning of work. Rock Shoulders had the best night of his career for Boise, going 4-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBI.

After a fast start, Boise could not hold off the Emeralds on Saturday as they dropped their fourth straight, losing to Eugene 7-4. Gioskar Amaya (2-for-4, RBI) led off the game with a triple and came home on a Stephen Bruno (2-for-5, double) RBI single. Bruno later crossed the plate, as Willson Contreras (2-for-4) drove him in. That should have made Jose Arias comfortable as he took the mound. But after a scoreless first, Arias gave up four runs (three earned) as he would only last 2.1 innings. Roderik Pichardo failed to do much better, as he allowed three earned runs in 2.2 innings. The only effective pitcher was Su-Min Jung, who struck out five in three scoreless innings. Xavier Batisita was also 2-for-4 with a double in the losing effort.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (46-51)
The Chiefs allowed one to get away from them on Wednesday, as they lost a ten inning affair to West Michigan 9-8. Starter Jose Rosario was only able to last 2.2 innings, as he allowed three earned runs. Sheldon McDonald was then hit for four earned runs in two innings, but Luis Liria was able to hold the Whitecaps for 2.1 innings. Austin Reed uncorked two wild pitches, but was able to work through it as he went two scoreless innings. The defense then fell apart in the tenth, as a wild pickoff by Larry Suarez and a dropped throw by Chadd Krist aided in West Michigan walking off with the win. Krist did contribute with his bat, going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Also driving in two apiece were Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4, double, stolen base) and Zeke DeVoss (2-for-6, double, two stolen bases). Javier Baez was also 2-for-5 with a double.

An odd personnel decision by Peoria led to an unusual pitching arrangement on Thursday, and a 4-2 loss to West Michigan. Starting pitcher Jose Rosario was placed on the seven-day disabled list and reliever Pete Levitt was recalled from Boise. With Levitt and the previously recalled Bryce Shafer having closing experience, Chiefs’ closer Yao-Lin Wang was named Thursday’s starter. Wang did the best he could, allowing three runs (one earned) and striking out two in 1.2 innings. The move was made even more bizarre as Joe Zeller, who had been starting, came in to relieve Wang and was charged with one unearned run while striking out three in 5.1 innings. Shafer picked up two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth. The lone offensive highlight was Javier Baez, who was 2-for-4 with a double and his ninth home run, a solo shot.

For Peoria on Friday the old phrase by Harry Caray, “the big opossum walks late” would be appropriate as the Chiefs scored four runs in the 11th inning to defeat West Michigan 9-6. Peoria got on the board early with solo home runs from Dustin Geiger (2-for-5) and Taiwan Easterling (2-for-3, double, two stolen bases). Pin-Chieh Chen proved to be a good table-setter in the leadoff spot, as he was 3-for-6 with a double and two RBI. Coming in for an ejected Chadd Krist, Bijan Rademacher was 2-for-2 with and RBI. However, it was Yaniel Cabezas who put the Chiefs ahead for good in the 11th with an RBI single, as he drove in two and was 2-for-5 for the game.

Michael Jensen had a good start, striking out five and allowing two runs (one earned) through six innings. But Peoria had to grit its teeth again through another Justin Berg appearance, as he gave up three runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings. Veteran Jeffry Antigua came to the rescue, blanking the Whitecaps over 1.2 innings and striking out three batters. Pete Levitt, in his first outing after retuning form Boise, was touched for an unearned run, but struck out two in the 11th.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

On Saturday, Peoria tried to stay run-for-run with South Bend, but came up short, losing 6-5. Starter Zach Cates was responsible for all the runs, allowing six (four earned) in three innings. Veteran pitchers Bryce Shafer and Larry Suarez tried to keep the Chiefs in the game, Shafer striking out five and Suarez fanning two as they held the Silver Hawks scoreless the rest of the way. Javier Baez continues to be a hitting machine, going 3-for-4 with a triple, home run, two RBI, and a stolen base. Pin-Chieh Chen remains on a roll, as he went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Bijan Rademacher will probably garner more playing time as he was 2-for-4 including a double.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (42-56)
The Charlotte Stone Crabs were able to scatter five Daytona hits, as the D-Cubs would end up losing 3-1 on Wednesday. Nobody for Daytona was able to get more than one hit, with Matt Szczur, Matt Cerda, John Andreoli, Elliot Soto, and Taylor Davis each scratching one out, with Davis’ solo homer being the only run. PJ Francescon did what he could without the offensive support, allowing three earned runs over 5.1 innings. Eduardo Figueroa, Ryan Searle, and Brian Schlitter held Charlotte the rest of the way.

Daytona did not get a good effort from their pitching staff on Thursday, as they lost 8-3 to Jupiter. Austin Kirk was not at his best, allowing five earned runs and striking out three batters in five innings. Hunter Cervenka was tagged for an unearned run in an inning, while Scott Weismann struck out two and gave up an earned run in an inning. AJ Morris completed the string by also surrendering an earned run. Matt Szczur led the D-Cubs by going 3-for-4 with a triple, RBI, and stolen base. Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-5 with a double and a stolen base, while Elliot Soto went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The losing streak was extended to three games on Friday as a late rally couldn’t overcome a horrible first inning as Daytona lost 12-8 to Jupiter. Robert Whitenack was simply pounded by the Hammerheads, failing to record an out and allowing six runs (five earned). Piggyback Frank Del Valle had to be summoned quickly, and halted the onslaught by tossing four scoreless innings. However, veteran pitchers Ryan Searle and Jeffrey Lorick didn’t hold up, as they each gave up three earned runs, Searle in an inning while Lorick pitched two. Brian Schlitter added a scoreless inning. Rubi Silva had an outstanding effort, going 4-for-5 with two RBI and mashing his tenth triple. Elieser Bonne provided some clutch hitting, as he drove in three runs and was 3-for-4. Rebel Ridling cracked two doubles as he was 2-for-4, while Ronald Torreyes had a double of his own as he went 2-for-5.

In a see-saw affair on Saturday, Daytona lost their fourth straight as they fell to Jupiter 4-2. Matt Szczur looks as if he is starting one of his hot streaks, as he was 3-for-4 with a run scored. Staying hot, Rubi Silva was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Newcomer Tim Saunders also drove in a run in a 1-for-4 performance. Kyler Burke gave up a two-run home run as he yielded three runs (one earned) to the Hammerheads in six innings. Eduardo Figueroa tossed a scoreless inning, while Brian Schlitter finished out the game allowing an earned run.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (47-51)
In a tight ballgame on Thursday, Tennessee just didn’t have enough as they lost to Chattanooga 4-3. Starter Eric Jokisch didn’t have the greatest of games, but allowing three earned runs and striking out two in five innings isn’t totally bad. Casey Weathers poured some gas on the fire, as he issued four walks for an earned run in 0.2 innings. Kevin Rhoderick had a nice outing after struggling recently, shutting down the Lookouts for 1.1 innings with four strikeouts. Marcus Hatley yielded three hits in the eighth, but held on for a scoreless inning. The hottest Smokie is Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-3). Ha is hitting a shade under .300 over his past ten games and Juan Apodaca (1-for-4 with a double) drove in two.

Friday night featured a couple of disappointing pitchers, as Tennessee extended their losing streak to four by bowing 4-1 to Chattanooga. After being one of the top strikeout pitchers in the Florida State League, Dae-Eun Rhee has had a tougher road this year, as he allowed three runs (two earned) through six innings. An ineffective starter, Trey McNutt was moved to the bullpen and the results have been mixed at best. McNutt tossed 1.1 innings and served up a solo home run. Justin Bour (2-for-4) was the only standout performer on offense. Bour drove in the Smokies’ only run.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (41-59)
An 11-inning marathon turned out to be fruitful for Iowa, as they defeated New Orleans 2-1 on Wednesday. Brooks Raley had a great game. Raley tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out four. However, Jay Jackson gave up the earned run that sent the game into extras. Michael Bowden pitched well. Bowden kept New Orleans in check by striking out three batters in his two innings of work. Jeff Beliveau was able to get the win after striking out the side in the eleventh. The I-Cubs scattered eight hits, with Dave Sappelt going 2-for-5 while Blake Lalli and James Adduci scored Iowa’s runs.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Some bad roster management by the parent club left Iowa in a lurch on Thursday, as they were pounded 9-1 by New Orleans. With their starting pitcher in question for Friday, Chicago has Iowa’s scheduled starter Casey Coleman on call and in route to St. Louis. The I-Cubs turned to Ryan Rowland-Smith to make the start. Rowland-Smith gave up five runs (three earned) in four innings. Frankie De La Cruz ate up three scoreless innings, but Alberto Cabrera was rocked for four earned runs in an inning of work. The team needed catcher Brian Esposito to finish up, as he tossed a scoreless ninth. Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt, and Blake Lalli were each 2-for-4, Sappelt and Lalli recorded doubles while Jackson drove in the I-Cubs lone run.

In a wild game that can be considered typical for the Pacific Coast League, Iowa blew a 7-6 lead in the seventh to lose 10-7 to Albuquerque. The game had seven lead changes, as the I-Cubs actually outhit the Isotopes 13-12. Brett Jackson (2-for-4 with two RBI) led off the game with a solo home run. Adrian Cardenas and Josh Vitters were also 2-for-4. Both of Cardenas’s hits were doubles while one of Vitters’ two knocks went for two bases. Brian Esposito led all hitters with a 3-for-4 performance, while Blake Lalli was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Chris Rusin could have used another quality start, but was lit up for six earned runs in five innings. Esmailin Caridad struck out three batters in two innings, but was also touched for an earned run. Michael Bowden was rocked for three earned runs in his 1.2 innings of work.

There was not much to feel good about for Iowa in Saturday’s 16-3 loss to Albuquerque. After being yanked out of his scheduled start two days ago, Casey Coleman looked ill-prepared to face the Isotopes. Coleman was pounded for nine earned runs in 2.2 innings. Alberto Cabrera relieved and was raked for five runs (two earned) while striking out five in two innings. Rodrigo Lopez stopped the bleeding, temporarily, tossing a scoreless inning. Jay Jackson let in an earned run in an inning, while catcher Brian Esposito also let in an earned run in an emergency inning. The lone offensive highlight was Josh Vitters, who drove in all three runs with a 2-for-4 performance that included his 14th home run.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Jeff Beliveau from the Iowa Cubs; assigned RHP Rafael Dolis to the Iowa Cubs. The Peoria Chiefs placed RHP Jose Rosario on the 7-Day disabled list; recalled RHP Pete Levitt from the Boise Hawks.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 341, seven doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 24 RBI, 19 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 286, four doubles, five home runs, 22 RBI, stolen base (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .233, 18 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 26 RBI, 27 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 275, 11 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 19 RBI, 12 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .290, 19 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 31 RBI, 30 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .257, 17 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 28 RBI, 11 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .302, 29 doubles, triple, 14 home runs, 56 RBI, two stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 333, 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 30 RBI, stolen base (Arizona Cubs)
  • Robert Whitenack – 0-5, 7.67 ERA, 31.2 innings, 20 strikeouts, 15 walks, 2.08 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 0-0, 6.43 ERA, 7.0 innings, 10 strikeouts, four walks, 2.14 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

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  • BosephHeyden

    Josh Vitters keeps hitting and the Cubs keep not bringing him up. I don’t buy that “we don’t want to rush him” bit they’re trying to sell: Vitters isn’t part of their “plan”. That’s the only logical explanation I can think of since their preference of Luis Valbuena’s .217 batting average is not even close to logical. So what if Hoyer called up Rizzo last year and he didn’t do well? It doesn’t look like it affected him at all this year. And that’s just one guy anyways: a few years ago Starlin Castro got called up whilst in the middle of a hot streak in DOUBLE A, and he’s done pretty well since then.

    They need to set the egos aside: they didn’t draft Vitters, but they can start getting him to play their way. Any defensive concerns are negligible: the Cubs aren’t winning right now with average defense, it won’t hurt to potentially downgrade (heck it might help if some of the runs the pitchers do give up turn into Unearned runs). Bring up Vitters and play him and, heck, maybe they get better.

    • Zonk

      I disagree, and I think the Cubs are taking the right approach. Vitters has generally been a disappointment until the last 2-3 months; he’s only 22, let’s make sure he actually has turned the corner, and not just gotten hot. He needs to work on his defense. And though he’s hitting pretty well, he’s not dominating AAA in the way that Rizzo was. Vitters should be a Sept. call-up. There is nothing to lose keeping him down, and much to gain. It’s the right call.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Agree Zonk

        • Aaron

          Tom,

          Good report as always…..

          Curious roster moves indeed are abundant with this group…have been ever since they took over.

          Sure, they’ve found potential diamonds in the rough with Wood (though I still believe they got hose in that deal), Camp, and Rizzo…all of whom were coming off terrible performances at the MLB level the year before….and you have to like their signings of Soler and Almora….but the draft overall was miss poor with word of their supplemental pick Blackburn only touching 88 mph….it’s just ugly.

          The thing I will never understand is their stated goal of acquiring more power arms when they took over, yet they traded 3 guys who touch 99+ mph in Cashner, Carpenter, and Kurcz and later released a converted infielder in Thomas that threw 98 mph and wasn’t all that bad….I just don’t get it. Yet they continue to sign all of these soft tossers.

          There biggest mistake yet appears to be overtaking their hand entirely with this trade deadline and now teams will be looking elsewhere.

          • Zonk

            Trading Kurcz is a fair criticism. Carpenter worked out mostly because he got hurt, but before then he had more stuff than results. And Cashner…….that was a good trade for us, it was at the time and even better now. Cashner seems to have a chronic shoulder problem.
            You seem frustrated Aaron that the Cubs haven’t made a trade yet, but saying they are overplaying their hand is pure speculation. We have no way of knowing what is going on. We can rip Theo and Co. for moves they make, but we can’t criticise them alot for moves they haven’t, unless we have the full story.

          • paulcatanese

            Zonk, know you responded to Aaron, but somewhere in the picture is the method that Theo
            is using to re-build the Cubs.
            Makes no difference what I think, but it’s going to take many, many years to get to where some on here want them to be, in a World Series.
            Unless they go for free agents, its just not going to happen anytime soon.
            First, they do not like anyone in the Cub system and do not think IMO that they will use any of them in the near future.
            Second,
            if they are going just for prospects to rebuild the minor league system, everyone knows how long that
            will take before they are viable enough to make a difference.
            Anything that has the lable pre-Theo on it is dust,
            and will either be moved or put on the back burner.
            As a Cub fan, thats what I dont like about Theo.

          • Zonk

            I agree it’s going to take a long time.
            I am not sure Theo and Co. are just anti-anything-Hendry, the fact is the Hendry era left hardly any building blocks.
            You win championships with Impact Talent. Where is our impact talent? Castro? He’s OK, but is there anything he’s done that doesn’t make you think he’s basically Edgar Renteria II? Renteria was a good player for many years, but not a franchise-building superstar. Neither is Castro, IMO.

          • paulcatanese

            Impact talent, correct, and even with Dempster being traded today(and I know nothing about Delgado)as he is still a way’s away from helping the Cubs.
            While a start in the right direction I still think it will take free agent signings to reach the goal sooner than later.
            Correct with Castro, while good, he is only a part impact player to build around. On paper
            its him Rizzo and Barney(unless Barney is replaced) otherwise every thing else is up in the air.

          • carmelo

            FYI—on 7/19 Blackburn was 89-92, sat at 90.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree Aaron. Seems to me when this group took over the first thing they did was look at the Cubs assests and threw
            up.
            Almost everyone that was here has been put on the back burner(minor leaguers) and being left down there to “develop” or released.
            The players that are getting the nod are the ones they are bringing in themselves as they feel there is no one in the orginization before they got here are worth anything.

      • brent carmona

        He has makeup problems, something theo and crew DO NOT like. Remember he was late to a team meeting in spring training? That might’ve been the nail in the coffin for him since he already had a sour reputation in the makeup department. I agree too Zonk, I like the idea of getting a full season of at bats in each minor league level. No need to rush him. (and yes defense still needs work!)

      • http://www.facebook.com/mike.simala Mike Simala

        Agreed, Vitters has always needed an adjustment period at each level. He started off slow in AAA but is figurin it out now, Why rush him, let him stay there and build his confidence, and work on the defense. Then come Sept give him a cup of coffee and next year give him that shot at the 3b job to start off, unless a move is made between now and then.

    • cubtex

      Totally agree

    • cc002600

      I agree.
      I’m not saying that they should bring him up now, but I agree with you that he is not part of their overall plan.

      Otherwise, if he was, why do we keep hearing all these rumors that they are looking for a young 3B ? doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, especially when you have a huge pitching deficit. With the year that he is having, why would they be looking for a 3B ? Also, when this year ends he will have met their criteria of having played a full season at AAA. So why in the world wouldn’t he be given the nod for 2013 ? They have no one else.

      Hope I’m wrong, but I think Vitters will be pushed aside somehow and not given a real chance, since he’s not one of their guys., Same goes for BJax. I wouldn’t be shocked if one of them was traded in the next week or so.

      Again, hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so

      • cubtex

        Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting Braves are close to finalizing a deal for starting picher. Dempster?????

        • cubtex

          Braves have some good pitching prospects and the best catch and throw catcher in the minors.

      • ambassgray

        If BJax does not make it, it is because he strikes out way too much for a center fielder. Sveum likes BJax abilities, but if he is striking out at this rate in AAA, what will his numbers look like in the pros? I think Vitters will get his shot in the Spring to make the club. He has been a bust up until this year which just goes to show people that it takes time for players to develop. Vitters has a great swing, and he is finally putting it together. Now hopefully he can improve his defense.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jon Heyman: Braves appear close to getting Dempster

    • daverj

      Any thoughts on who might be coming over? I’d love to see Minor, Delgado or the currently injured Vizcaino straight-up for Dempster, but knowing the Braves, I have a feeling it is more likely to be a couple mediocre pitching prospects coming over.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        There are rumblings that it is Delgado. Still waiting but appears to be done on the Cubs’ end.

        • daverj

          If it’s Delgado, I like this deal.

      • cubtex

        I can’t see a top 5 pitcher but maybee Sean Gilmartin a lefty from FSU. Would love catcher Christian Bethancourt…..but that is probably not realistic.

    • Zonk

      Makes sense for the Braves, given Beachy’s season-ending injury, and ineffectiveness of Jurrens (and Mike Minor to a lesser extent). They need to add an arm to keep up with the Nationals

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    It appears Dempster has been traded to the Braves, waiting for confirmation

  • Zonk

    Junior Lake has really cooled off……and is showing his weaknesses. He’s on a full-season pace to strike out over 140 times, way too much for a guy with 4 HRs. He might be a better defensive fit at 3B, but he isn’t hitting enough to make it at the MLlevel at that position, not even as a backup.
    Junior has a gun for an arm; if he can’t break through offensively, I wonder if they’ll look at a conversion for him