The talk of the system is the Tennessee Smokies, who lead their division and are the first Cubs affiliate to win ten games. Shortstop Arismendy Alcantara has exploded onto the scene, while Matt Szczur and Jae-Hoon Ha have been steady. While dodging bad weather, Kane County seems to now have their offense in gear as Rock Shoulders carried the team through a doubleheader sweep. Daytona should be glad to see Tampa leave town as they dropped a three game series by a composite score of 27-14. Iowa experienced some success against Nashville as Barret Loux had his best performance of the season.
Please note a special announcement at the end of this report.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (6-8)
The Kane County offense provided well on Thursday, but their pitching wasn’t able to hold up their end as they lost 9-8 to Quad Cities in ten innings. After spotting the River Bandits five runs in the second, the Cougars came roaring back with three in the bottom half of the inning. Jeimer Candelario (2-for-5) started the inning off with a double, which was followed by a walk to Rock Shoulders (1-for-3 with a RBI). Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with three RBI) then belted his second home run of the season. They took the lead in the third as Gioskar Amaya (2-for-5) doubled and Marco Hernandez singled to start the inning. A single by Dan Vogelbach (2-for-5) scored Amaya, while Hernandez came in and Vogelbach moved to third on a throwing error. Shoulders’ base knock plated Vogelbach, and Shoulders later scored on a wild pitch. Kane County added what they may have thought was an insurance run in the fourth as a base hit by Hernandez drove in Amaya, who had doubled for the second time in the game. Starter Lendy Castillo suffered a malady of Kane County pitchers this season, the second inning blues as he surrendered five earned runs. Castillo actually stayed around for four innings and struck out six batters. Justin Amlung relieved, and manager Mark Johnson may have left him in too long as he allowed Quad Cities back into the game by giving up three earned runs in 3.2 innings. Steve Perakslis, who went 2.1 innings, was hung with the loss after he let in an earned run in the top of the tenth inning.
With yet another game cancelled on Friday due to weather conditions, Kane County played a doubleheader on Saturday. In game one, the Cougars finally put together the king of complete game that was expected of them coming into the season by defeating Quad Cities 7-3. In the frigid conditions, the offense didn’t start getting warmed up until the second inning when the Midwest League’s number two hitter Rock Shoulders (2-for-3 with a RBI) led things off with a double. A one out single by Wes Darvill (2-for-2 with a RBI) moved Shoulders to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Trey Martin (0-for-1 with two RBI). The Cougars then erupted for four runs in the third, as a triple by Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4) and a Marco Hernandez (2-for-4 with a RBI) single brought home one run. Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4) singled, and Hernandez scored on a double from Jeimer Candelario (2-for-4 with two RBI). A walk to Shoulders loaded the bases, and a one out single courtesy of Darvill plated Vogelbach. Martin then hit his second sacrifice fly that plated Candelario. Kane County added another run in the fourth as Hernandez singled and advanced to second on a throwing error and Candelario drove him in with a single. Shoulders added some insurance with a solo home run in the sixth inning. Starter Pierce Johnson had the type of dominant performance associated with top prospect status. Johnson struck out six in five innings while allowing an unearned run. Nathan Dorris held the River Bandits in check for an inning, striking out a batter. Eddie Orozco continued his struggles, but managed to escape the final inning with only two earned runs and a strikeout.
Kane County completed the doubleheader sweep 4-3 thanks to the solid pitching of Tayler Scott and some timely offense. Scott had been inconsistent with his previous two starts, dominant in one and hittable in the other. Saturday was more like middle ground as he allowed three earned runs in six innings while striking out four batters. Gioskar Amaya (1-for-3) led off the game with a single and eventually scored on a single by Rock Shoulders (3-for-3 with three RBI). Shoulders then began the fourth inning with a solo home run, his second of the day, that tied the score 2-2. The Cougars took the lead in the fifth as Shoulders delivered an RBI single that plated Dan Vogelbach (2-for-3). Tied again at 3-3 in the sixth, Oliver Zapata (1-for-2) laid down a bunt single and then stole second base. One out later, Marco Hernandez (1-for-4) tripled to bring Zapata home with the go ahead run. It would stay that way as Jeffry Antigua closed things out in the seventh for his first save of the season.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (7-9)
Round two in what appears will be a season-long grudge match with Clearwater went to Daytona on Wednesday as they won 13-2 to take the series. In what was a close game until the seventh inning, the Threshers took the lead off of surprise starter Yao-Lin Wang. Wang allowed an earned run while striking out two in four innings. Austin Kirk then came in and picked up where Wang left off. Kirk scattered three hits over five innings while striking out four batters.
After spotting Clearwater a 1-0 lead, Daytona fought back in the fourth as Javier Baez (3-for-6 with two RBI) led off with a single and eventually scored on a single by Ben Carhart (2-for-5 with two RBI). The D-Cubs took the lead in the fifth after David Bote, Zeke DeVoss (1-for-2), and Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3 with a RBI) drew three straight walks. Baez struck out, but John Andreoli (0-for-2 with three walks and two RBI) drove in a run with the fourth walk of the inning. Daytona then broke things open in the seventh. DeVoss was hit by a pitch, and then stole second. Easterling walked, and a single by Baez loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Andreoli brought in DeVoss, and a single by Stephen Bruno (1-for-4 with a RBI) scored Easterling. Dustin Geiger (3-for-5 and four RBI) had an RBI double that scored Baez, and a single by Carhart plated Bruno. A sacrifice fly by Chad Noble drove in Geiger. Daytona then opened up the throttle in the eighth as doubles by DeVoss and Easterling put a run on the board. Javier Baez then smacked his third home run of the season that cleared the bases. Andreoli rebooted the inning with a walk. Bruno was hit by a pitch to put two on for Geiger, who drilled his own home run to complete the scoring.
What began as a see-saw affair on Thursday turned into an old-fashioned spanking as Daytona lost 13-7 to Tampa. P.J. Francescon was roughed up for the second straight start as he allowed seven earned runs while striking out two in three innings. However, because of the D-Cubs’ offense, Eduardo Figueroa ended up with the loss as he took over for Francescon and gave up two earned runs in three innings. Austin Reed also was hammered by the Yankees. Reed allowed four earned runs in 1.2 innings. Sheldon McDonald was the only Daytona pitcher to leave the game untouched as he wrapped the game up with 1.1 scoreless innings. Daytona countered two runs in the first with one of their own. Stephen Bruno (2-for-5 with a RBI) drove in Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a RBI), who had singled ahead of him. They scratched out another run in the second as Ben Carhart (2-for-4 with a double) and Chad Noble (3-for-4) singled to start the inning. Zeke DeVoss (2-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Carhart. The offense then exploded for five runs in the third as a walk to Jorge Soler (1-for-3) and Bruno’s double put runners on second and third. Dustin Geiger (1-for-5 with a RBI) singled in Soler, and Bruno scored on a wild pitch. Carhart and Noble walked to load the bases, and Geiger scored on a fielding error on a hit by Micah Gibbs. John Andreoli reached on a fielding error that scored Carhart, and Noble touched home after a sacrifice fly by Baez.
Daytona pitching was lit up again on Friday, as they continued their series with Tampa, and lost 8-3. Starter Zach Cates had a 1.86 ERA coming into the game, but couldn’t get out of the first inning as served up a grand slam as part of six earned runs in 0.2 innings. Hunter Cervenka was tapped to get things under control and he did with 2.1 scoreless innings. However, Luis Liria continued his season-long struggles as he allowed an earned run and struck out three in three innings. Frank Del Valle then gave up his first earned run of the season but he also struck out three in 2.2 innings. The D-Cubs were held to just one hit through four innings before Dustin Geiger (1-for-4 with a RBI) lined a one out single in the fifth and came home on a double by Chad Noble (1-for-4 with a RBI). Noble then trotted home on a single by Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3 with a RBI). The only other run for Daytona came in the sixth as Jorge Soler (1-for-3) doubled and eventually scored on a Dustin Geiger groundout.
After Saturday, Daytona must be happy about seeing Tampa leave town, as they dropped their third game to the Yankees 6-4. Even the presence of Tim Saunders (2-for-4), back from a stint on the DL, couldn’t buoy the ineffective D-Cubs’ pitching. Ben Wells continued to raise some eyebrows about the 20-year old’s readiness for this level, as the league is hitting a robust .333 against him this season. Wells allowed four earned runs off of seven hits in six innings, while striking out six batters. Yeiper Castillo has been making some slow improvement, and his two scoreless innings allowed the D-Cubs to crawl back into the game. But the inconsistency of Sheldon McDonald sealed Daytona’s fate. Two days after shutting down the Yankees, McDonald gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks in the ninth. Saunders made an impact right off the bat, singling and stealing second to lead off the game. Saunders then scored on a single by John Andreoli (4-for-4 with a RBI and a stolen base) that gave Daytona their only lead in the game. Sanders and Andreoli were in the middle of things again in the seventh, as their singles set up a Jorge Soler (1-for-4 with two RBI) two-run double to pull the D-Cubs within one run. Daytona tried to come back in the bottom of the ninth, with a base hit by Andreoli, who took second on a throwing error and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a RBI) provided a sacrifice fly, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (10-6)
Three days earlier, Tony Zych and Trey McNutt were mainly responsible for a Tennessee loss. On Wednesday it was Zych, McNutt and the rest of the Smokies’ bullpen came to the rescue as they walked their way past Huntsville 5-3. Starter Kyle Hendricks got himself in trouble early as he allowed three earned runs on five hits in two innings. Kevin Rhoderick got the first call and, although he struggled some with two walks, was able to keep the Stars off the board for two innings. Marcus Hatley walked three but struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings. Zych came in and struck out a batter in 2.1 scoreless innings, while McNutt followed with two more of his own. Frank Batista slammed the door after a two-out single for his third save.
The comeback started with two outs in the third as Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-4 with a stolen base) singled and Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) walked, and moved up ninety feet on a wild pitch. A Justin Bour (1-for-3 with three RBI) single drove in both runners. The Smokies tied it in the seventh with singles by Matt Szczur (1-for-3) and Alcantara, and a walk to Ha loaded the bases. Bour then walked to drive in his third run of the game. Walks also played a role in the 11th inning as hits by Ronald Torreyes (1-for-5) and Ha put runners on second and third. Bour was intentionally walked to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Jair Fernandez walked to force in Torreyes. A groundout by Rubi Silva scored Ha.
Make it four in a row as Tennessee received strong pitching for the second straight night and they beat Huntsville 8-1 on Friday. Matt Loosen, who stayed back at extended spring training to get more work in, made his first start of the season. While he started out a little rusty, Loosen quickly corrected himself and went on to strike out eight batters through four shutout innings before running out of gas. With a comfortable lead, A.J. Morris gave up an earned run while striking out two in three innings. Brian Schlitter finished the game and struck out three more batters, tossing two scoreless innings.
The Smokies would get all the runs they needed in the first inning as Matt Szczur (2-for-5) led off the game with a triple. Ronald Torreyes (1-for-4) was hit by a pitch, and a sacrifice fly by Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-3 with two RBI and a stolen base) scored Szczur. The Southern League’s leading RBI man Justin Bour (1-for-3 with a RBI) then smacked a single through the middle that plated Torreyes. Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3 with a RBI) followed with a walk and a wild pitch moved the runners up a base. One out later, a double by Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with two RBI) brought Bour and Ha in to make the score 4-0. An RBI single by Jair Fernandez (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Villanueva for the fifth run of the inning. In the seventh, Szczur reached on a fielding error and moved to third on a double by Torreyes. Alcantara singled in Szczur, and a sacrifice fly by Ha brought in Torreyes. An insurance run was added in the eighth as a fielding error put Villanueva on base and he scored on a single by Szczur.
The division leading Smokies powered past Montgomery 11-4 on Saturday to extend their winning streak to five games. Tennessee stepped on the gas in the first inning as Matt Szczur (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) reached on a throwing error and Ronald Torreyes (1-for-3) walked. Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with three RBI) made the Biscuits pay for their mistakes as he launched a three-run homer. The offense put up three more in the bottom of the third as singles by Torreyes and Christian Villanueva (2-for-5) put runners on first and second. A Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4 with a RBI) double scored Torreyes, and a base hit by Johermyn Chavez (2-for-5 with three RBI) gave him his first two RBI of the season. The Smokies added a run in the fourth as Szczur went deep for the second time this season with a solo home run. Two more runs scored in the fifth as Rubi Silva (2-for-4) singled and came in on a double by Chavez. A Rafael Lopez (2-for-3) base knock moved Chavez to third, and Szczur’s sacrifice fly brought him home. Tennessee put an exclamation point on the game with two more runs in the seventh as walks to Lopez and Jonathan Mota but a runner in scoring position for Szczur. His double plated Lopez and a sacrifice fly by Torreyes drove in Mota for the Smokies’ final run.
Sinkerballer Dallas Beeler had been leaving some pitches up in the zone this season that led to his 4.67 ERA coming into Saturday’s game. Beeler had his good stuff on Saturday as he went seven innings and allowed four runs (two earned) while striking out three batters. With shades of 2011, it appears that Tennessee is developing a shutdown bullpen again as Zac Rosscup continues to baffle hitters. Rosscup struck out two in a scoreless inning to add to his season total of 13 strikeouts in eight innings. Frank Batista set down the side in order, also picking up a strikeout, in the ninth.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (5-10)
With a rainout on Thursday, the I-Cubs looked well rested for a 5-0 victory over Nashville on Friday. Since his first appearance when he lasted one inning and yielded six earned runs, starter Barret Loux has a 0.90 ERA. Loux pitched five innings of shutout ball and struck out five batters on Friday. Loux has 13 strikeouts on the season. The bullpen then formed a line behind him as Casey Coleman, Zach Putnam, Rafael Dolis, and Blake Parker each tossed a scoreless inning.
The Iowa offense wheezed and chugged and made the most of five hits. Logan Watkins led all hitters by going 2-for-5 as he scored the first run after he led off with a single and eventually came home on a Brad Nelson walk. Donnie Murphy also walked and plated Darnell McDonald (1-for-4 with a RBI), as Iowa went up 2-0 after one inning. The fourth inning saw Brian Bogusevic (1-for-2 with a stolen base) double and score on a single by J.C. Boscan (1-for-4 with a RBI). Iowa scored without the benefit of a hit in the fifth as Ian Stewart walked and scored after a fielding error, a walk, and a passed ball. Pinch-hitter Tim Torres walked and stole second to start out the sixth inning. Torres moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a single by McDonald.
Facing what some experts consider the best minor league system in baseball, Iowa didn’t have what it takes to keep up with Memphis on Saturday as they lost 8-5. The I-Cubs fell behind 4-0 before their offense got going as starter Chris Rusin was touched up for seven earned runs in 4.1 innings while striking out three Redbirds. Esmailin Caridad pitched better than he has recently, but still wasn’t able to stem the tide as he gave up an earned run with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Cory Wade had his first decent outing in an Iowa uniform with a scoreless inning. Although Logan Watkins (1-for-4) led off the game with a double, the offense continued to find ways of shooting themselves in the foot as he was thrown out on a stolen base attempt. The I-Cubs wouldn’t get on the board until the fifth inning when singles by Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4) and Brent Lillibridge (1-for-4) put a runner in scoring position. Luis Flores (2-for-4) knocked in Bogusevic, while Lillibridge came home on a wild pitch. Iowa mounted a mild comeback in the eighth as pinch-hitter Brett Jackson (1-for-1) and Ian Stewart (1-for-4) singled, and Ty Wright (1-for-4 with two RBI) doubled both runners in. Wright later scored on a double-play ball off the bat of Brent Lillibridge.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent LHP Hisanori Takahashi outright to Iowa. The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Jaye Chapman and IF Tim Torres on the 7-day disabled list; activated RHP Casey Coleman and IF Brent Lillibridge; released RHP Jensen Lewis. The Kane County Cougars placed RHP Jose Arias on the 7-day disabled list; recalled LHP Matt Iannazzo from extended spring training.
Top Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (SS) – .214/237/.443/.680 with three doubles, two triples, three home runs, nine RBI, two stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Stephen Bruno (IF/OF) – .361/.435/.475/.910 with seven doubles, six RBI, two stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – .291/.385/.382/.766 with five doubles, five RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 1-1, 5.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP (12.1 innings pitched, seven earned runs, 14 strikeouts, four walks) (Kane County Cougars)
- Barret Loux (RHP) – 2-1, 5.73 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (11.0 innings pitched, seven earned runs, 13 strikeouts, six walks) (Iowa Cubs)
- Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .261/.393/.304/.697 with a double, a RBI, three stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jorge Soler (OF) – .394/.500/.667/1.167 with three doubles, two home runs, six RBI (Daytona Cubs)
- Christian Villanueva (3B) – .222/.300/.370/.670 with five doubles, a home run, 12 RBI, stolen base (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) - .328/.369/.397/.766 with a double, a home run, seven RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Logan Watkins (2B) – .226/.369/.415/.784 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, three RBI (Iowa Cubs)
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