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.

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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.

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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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