Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 04/25/13

Iowa and Daytona continued their season long struggles this week in Memphis and against Dunedin respectively. But both teams saw glimmers of hope from pitcher Brooks Raley and infielder Tim Saunders. Kane County evened their record by splitting a pair with Peoria. Pin-Cheih Chen started to heat up and Dan Vogelbach has remained steady. However, Tennessee was stung a couple of times as some of their top rated talent failed to produce. All this, and more, in today’s addition of Down on the Farm.

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 (8-8)

On Sunday, some of the Cougars’ players were able to bite the hand that once fed them as they came from behind to beat Peoria 7-6. Early on, it looked like it would be all Kane County as they took a 4-0 lead. Trey Martin (3-for-4 with a RBI) led off the bottom of the third with a single and scored on a triple by Oliver Zapata (1-for-4 with a RBI). A Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4 with two RBI) double brought home Zapata. An inning later, Rock Shoulders (2-for-4) started things with a double and a base hit from Chadd Krist (2-for-4 with a RBI) drove him in. The fifth inning saw Dan Vogelbach draw a two-out walk and steal second base. Vogelbach scored on a Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a RBI) double.

Felix Pena cruised through five innings before the wheels came off. Pena then allowed five earned runs while recording only two outs in the sixth. Ian Dickson replaced Pena and let in another earned run, but was able to shut down the Chiefs the rest of the way. Dickson went 3.1 innings and struck out three batters. The offense bailed out Pena after his meltdown in the top of the sixth. Krist singled to start the bottom of the sixth, and scored one out late on a double by Trey Martin. Chen knocked in Martin, and advanced to second on the throw. Chen then gave the Cougars the lead for good as he scored on a single by Marco Hernandez (1-for-4 with a RBI).

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Defense and the bullpen betrayed Kane County on Monday as they lost 9-6 to Peoria. The Cougars jumped out to a lead, as one out singles by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-5) and Dan Vogelbach, (2-for-4 with two RBI) a force out by Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3), and a walk to Rock Shoulders loaded the bases. Chadd Krist walked and forced in a run. Marco Hernandez (2-for-4 with two RBI) doubled in two more runs. Oliver Zapata (1-for-3) led off the second inning with a single, stole second, and moved to third on a single from Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4). A base hit by Amaya and sacrifice fly by Vogelbach plated two more runs. However, Kane County couldn’t come back after a big inning seventh inning by the Chiefs despite Vogelbach blasting a solo home run. Lefty Michael Heesch started for the Cougars and allowed two earned runs while striking out five in six innings. But errors by Amaya and Candelario contributed to five runs (one earned) being charged to Brian Smith in 0.2 innings. Matt Iannazzo saw his first action for Kane County as he went 2.1 innings while allowing two earned runs

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (8-11)

It was all Dunedin on Sunday as Daytona was two-hit in route to a 9-1 loss. One of the hits was by Tim Saunders (1-for-4) in the fourth, as he moved to third on a couple of groundouts and score the D-Cubs’ only run on a wild pitch. Jorge Soler (1-for-4) led off the second with a single, the D-Cubs only other hit. Ryan Searle had another rocky start as he went four innings and gave up five earned runs while striking out four batters. Austin Reed also continued to be shaky, as he allowed four runs (two earned) and struck out two in two innings. On the comeback trail, David Cales was sharp as he had three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

Things were a little different on Monday as Daytona jumped out to a big lead and held on for a 7-4 victory over Dunedin. After spending most of Sunday on the bench, Javier Baez (3-for-5 with a RBI) kick started the offense with a two-out single in the first inning. A fielding error on a ball by Jorge Soler and a walk to John Andreoli (1-for-4) loaded the bases. Dustin Geiger (3-for-5 with three RBI) then delivered a two-run single. The second inning saw the D-Cubs load the bases again, as Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4) and Tim Saunders (1-for-4 with a RBI) sandwiched singles around a walk to Zeke DeVoss. A wild pitch plated Easterling, and then Baez stroked an RBI base hit that scored DeVoss. Saunders came home a groundout by Soler. A sacrifice fly by Saunders in the fourth plated DeVoss. DeVoss reached and went all the way to third on a throwing error. Daytona closed out their scoring in the seventh as Baez doubled and came around on a single by Geiger.

Austin Kirk looked in control until the fourth inning when he gave up two earned runs. He also allowed two earned runs in the sixth, as he couldn’t record an out as he would end his day with five innings pitched, four earned runs, and eight strikeouts. Zach Cates made his first relief appearance, and held the Blue Jays scoreless for 1.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka throttled Dunedin for 2.2 more innings while striking out two and picking up his first save.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Daytona ran into a buzzsaw on Tuesday as they managed only four hits in a 3-0 loss to Dunedin. Ben Carhart was the only D-Cub to reach scoring position. Carhart was 2-for-3 with a double. Zeke DeVoss was 1-for-4, while John Andreoli went 1-for-3. P.J. Francescon pitched well enough to win, as he went five innings while allowing an earned run and striking out four batters. Yao-Lin Wang was touched up for two earned runs in 1.1 innings, while Frank Del Valle had four strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (11-8)

The Smokies had plenty of opportunities to put the game away on Sunday, but allowed Montgomery to chip away as Tennessee would end up losing 9-6 in eleven innings. Tennessee but four on the board in the second inning, as Jae-Hoon Ha was hit by a pitch, Rubi Silva (2-for-5 with a RBI) doubled, and Johermyn Chavez (1-for-4 with a double) walked to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Ha, and a walk to Anthony Giansanti (2-for-2) re-loaded the bases. A two–run single by Matt Szczur (1-for-4 with two RBI) drove in Silva and Chavez, while a base hit from Jonathan Mota (1-for-5 with a RBI) plated Giansanti. The Smokies squandered a chance in the fourth but added a run in the fifth as Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-6) reached on a single and eventually came around on a base hit by Silva. Their final run came in the sixth as a force-out by Alcantara brought home Szczur, who had walked earlier in the inning.

Alberto Cabrera failed to capitalize on the large cushion that his offense gave him, and may have eased up some as he allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks in 5.1 innings. Marcus Hatley kept the Biscuits in check for 1.2 innings, but the momentum seemed to turn as Kevin Rhoderick gave up two earned runs in an inning that tied the score. Trey McNutt held Montgomery scoreless for two innings and struck out a batter in the process. But Tony Zych was victimized by a throwing error from Ronald Torreyes … which led to three unearned runs and cost Tennessee the ballgame.

A tight game on Monday broke wide open in the sixth, as Tennessee sent their best to the mound and won 8-3 over Montgomery. Eric Jokisch wasn’t as sharp as he had previously been, but battled his way to keep the Biscuits off the board for three innings. After giving up a double, two runs scored after an error by Christian Villanueva. Jokisch kept on chugging but ran out of gas in the seventh. For the day, he allowed three runs (one earned) and struck out three batters. Brian Schlitter was asked to take the Smokies the rest of the way and he responded with 2.2 scoreless innings.

Tennessee drew first blood in the second inning as Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3) stroked a one-out double. After a walk to Rafael Lopez (1-for-3 with a RBI), Elliot Soto (1-for-3 with a RBI) singled home Ha. Soto then got in a rundown on a steal attempt, and Lopez made it home before Soto was tagged for the second run. The offense then exploded for five runs in the sixth as Matt Szczur (1-for-4) led off with a double and was bunted over to third. Szczur trotted home on a single by Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two stolen bases), who then stole second base. An RBI single by Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a RBI) plated Alcantara. A double from Rubi Silva (1-for-4) and a walk to Ha loaded the bases. A groundout brought in Villanueva, and a Jonathan Mota (1-for-4 with two RBI) single drove in Silva and Ha. The Smokies added a run in the seven as Alcantara blasted a solo home run.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Tennessee experienced another meltdown from Trey McNutt on Tuesday as the Smokies lost a heartbreaker 4-3 to Montgomery. McNutt came in to pitch the ninth with Tennessee leading 3-1. Two walks, three hits, and three earned runs later, the Smokies walked away losers. The performance of McNutt spoiled a masterful outing by starter Kyle Hendricks, who allowed an earned run and struck out nine in seven innings. Although he gave up a two-out double, Zac Rosscup was equally impressive as he struck out the side to improve his season total to 16 strikeouts in nine innings. With the announcement that Justin Bour has a broken wrist, it looks like it will be Jonathan Mota (2-for-4 with two RBI) for a while at first base. Mota cracked a solo home run in the second and doubled home Johermyn Chavez (2-for-3) in the seventh. Tennessee picked up what they thought was an insurance run in the eighth as Arismendy Alcantara, who reached on a force, scored on a single by Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with a RBI).

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (6-12)

The pitching staff did well enough to win on Sunday, but received no run support as Iowa lost to Memphis 1-0. Drew Carpenter had his best outing as a member of the organization. Carpenter threw 5.2 scoreless innings while striking out six batters. Recently down from the parent club, Hisanori Takahashi kept the Redbirds at bay with 1.1 scoreless innings. Yoanner Negrin picked an unfortunate time to give up his first earned run as he also struck out two in his 1.2 innings. There was not much to say about the offense, as they managed only six hits. Darnell McDonald went 1-for-3 and stole second base.

Iowa jumped out ahead on Monday and held on for a 4-2 victory over Memphis. Logan Watkins (1-for-3) led off the game with a double, and scored the first run on an Ian Stewart (1-for-3, two RBI) double. A single by Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4 with two RBI) scored Stewart. It stayed 2-0 until the fifth inning as pitcher Brooks Raley (1-for-3) singled and Watkins walked. The runners moved up ninety feet as Raley advanced on a fly out and Watkins stole second. A sacrifice fly by Stewart finally brought in Raley. As they moved to the sixth, Bogusevic doubled to start things off then trotted home on Brad Nelson’s (2-for-4 with two RBI) third homer of the season.

Brooks Raley wasn’t as sharp as he was in his last outing, but was good enough. Raley allowed two earned runs and struck out three in 5.2 innings. Zach Putnam has seemed to settle down recently. Putnam struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings. Rafael Dolis and Blake Parker shut the Redbirds out the rest of the way. Parker struck out two and picked up his second save.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Iowa finished their set in Memphis with a 4-1 loss on Tuesday. Nick Struck had a decent, but not notable, outing. Struck allowed two earned in six innings, which is usually enough to win most ballgames. Casey Coleman struck out the side in his only inning of work. Yoanner Negrin has come back to earth a little, as he gave up two earned runs in the eighth inning. The I-Cubs scratched out a consolation run in the seventh as Brian Bogusevic (1-for-4) doubled with two outs and came home on a Brad Nelson (1-for-3 with a RBI) single.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs sent IF Alberto Gonzalez outright to Iowa; assigned OF Ty Wright to Tennessee.  The Tennessee Smokies placed 1B Justin Bour on the 7-day disabled list; activated IF Elliot Soto from the 7-day disabled list; assigned IF Anthony Giansanti to Daytona. Matt Loosen was assigned to Tennessee from Extended Spring Training. The Daytona Cubs placed C Taylor Davis on the 7-day disabled list; activated IF Tim Saunders from the 7-day disabled list; RHP David Cales was assigned to Daytona from Extended Spring Training; assigned IF David Bote to Extended Spring Training.

Special Announcement

Tom U. will be participating in the eighth annual Race to Wrigley 5K on May 11. If you would like to make a pledge, please visit our fundraiser page at Race to Wrigley 5K Run.

All donations go to Chicago Cubs Charities.

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Quote of the Day

"A day without laughter is a day wasted." - Charlie Chaplin

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  • Vivid_Reality

    Why doesn’t Eric Jokisch get more love? He is probably our most consistent threat and he has been pretty good over his career so far. The fact that he is a lefty only adds to his appeal.

    • Tom U

      Vivid, it comes down to one word: “stuff”. Major league personnel people are obsessed with “stuff” when it comes to pitchers, and will overlook results in favor of it.

      In a sense, Jokisch, because he is a change-up pitcher, has been dismissed in the same vein that Jamie Moyer was early in his career.Yet pitchers like him and Frank Batista continue to produce positive results. Then they are pushed aside for pitchers like Alberto Cabrera, Trey McNutt, and Tony Zych, who seem to take their talents for granted and squander their abiliities.

      • cc002600

        I think that is short-sighted thinking by these guys. I’m starting to think that hard throwers are nice but is it sustainable ? in other words, can their arm / shoulder hold out ? Or can they keep up that velocity over long period of time? Seems to me, the answer is no in most cases.

        I don’t know, I think I’d rather have guys with movement, who know how to pitch. (Think Maddux / Glavine)

  • Tom U

    On its anniversary, here’s a link to what may have been the greatest play in baseball history

    http://tinyurl.com/cyevwtg

    Please watch the video

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

      Thanks, Tom! Always appreciated what Monday did there.

    • SuzyS

      Thanks Tom, I remember watching that and cheering Rick Monday on at the time.
      Nixon was ramping up Viet Nam and protesters were rampant. It was definitely a time of turmoil for the U.S.

      Monday’s action that day definitely was a bright light in a troubled time.

      As always, thanks for the great work you do, Tom.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

        The play took place in ’76, the U.S. ended their involvement in Vietnam in ’73.

        • SuzyS

          My bad…re Nixon etc….but flag burning was still prevalent along with a national morale problem…(a hangover from Vietnam that lasted until the Reagan era).
          Actually, the next event that primed the nationalistic consciousness…(in my faulty recall) was the US Olympic Hockey win over Russia where the crowd went nuts screaming USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!
          Without looking that up…I think that was 1980.

          • Dorasaga

            This kind of protest wasn’t uncommon. Not a lot of security guards back then. America used to be a free country. People could bring all kinds of stuffs to stadiums and airports, at the gate and through the gate. 911 really changed us. We became less generous, more suspiciosu, and more divided. Somehow, I feel, Terrorists Win.

      • Tom U

        Thanks Suzy. your compliment was nice to see after a rough day.

    • Dorasaga

      Yup. I translated and annotated for my baseball friends in Asia.

      :-))

  • DWalker

    “The fifth inning saw Dan Vogelbach draw a two-out walk and steal second base.”

    Did I really read this right, Vogelbach stole second?

    • Tom U

      Yup

  • 07GreyDigger

    So does Baez look any better this year yet? I know he had a rough start.

    • Tom U

      Short answer, No. Not only is his .225 batting average bad, his .253 OBP borders on outrageously bad. His 25 strikeouts lead the team, outpacing second place (and another “anointed” prospect) Zeke DeVoss by seven.

      I typically don’t get on young players struggling. It’s part of the developmental process. But three things irk me about the Baez situation.

      First is that Baez is tied with John Andreoli for the most games played on the team. Andreoli is hitting over 100 points higher, and his .447 OBP is nearly double of Baez.

      Secondly, Baez has only batted in the third spot in the line-up, except on Sunday, the first game he sat out (incidentally, he replaced Stephen Bruno, a player hitting over 150 points higher than him).

      Lastly, Baez is the only Daytona player to line-up at one position. So much for the front office saying that he would also play 3B, 2B, and OF this year.

      Any other player than Baez would have been either moved down in the line-up or benched.

      • John_CC

        It sounds like you would like to give up on Baez. Do you really think they should bench him because he is struggling at the plate? If a kid isn’t given a chance at single A then where?

        • Tom U

          John, nothing is further from the truth. Baez deserves a chance, but he should also be playing by the same rules that every other minor leaguer has to.

          His teammates Taiwan Easterling and Micah Gibbs had to move in the batting order and sit out because of their production. Why shouldn’t Baez? Daytona has also sat more productive players such as Stephen Bruno and Chad Noble. Ben Carhart, Zeke DeVoss, and Dustin Geiger have all sat out a couple of games, and all are doing better than Baez.

          What does not kill you will make you stronger.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I must say I agree. He already knows how much they have invested, don’t want him to get a star complex.

          • Ray Ray

            1st round draft choices play by a different set of rules in every organization.

          • Dorasaga

            I guess you also need to count Baez’s defense at a prime position. Not too many choices for exceptional SS defense down there, maybe?

      • Ray Ray

        You know as well as I Tom that 1st round draft choices get more opportunities than others. The club has a lot invested in Baez and he is a talented kid. This is something that all teams do with top draft choices. He will be given every opportunity to succeed. I hope he does because this organization needs him to!

  • John_CC

    I’ve read some really good things about Alcantara’s progress. Do you think he could be at 2B within a couple years?

    • Tom U

      John Alcantara is very interesting because not just possesses the qualities of a Gold Glove shortstop, but as one of the elites at the position.

      The speed and range Alacantara has is not only second to none in the organization, I’d be hard pressed to find someone in the majors (Elvis Andrus maybe?). His arm strength can be considered well above average for a Third Baseman, making him at the elite level for shortstop.

      Alcantara does have some lapses in concentration. He has received at least three cheap errors due to Jonathan Mota playing at first.

      Offensively, he is a slasher in a similar vein as Starlin Castro and some other shortstop in the organization (I forget his name). I believe that Alcantara has more natural power than Castro, and I know he has more speed than Baez.

      With all other factors set aside, Alcantara would be my shortstop, with Castro and Baez looking for other positions.

      • John_CC

        Thanks for sharing your take on him. I’ve read that he has been working on and improving his plate discipline and his walk rate has risen quite a bit. Isn’t he a better OBP guy than the other SS mentioned? I read a comparison with Jimmy Rollins, mostly because of his physical size but also fast hands good power.

      • Dorasaga

        J-Ro (Jimmy Rollins)?, Brendan Ryan, Simmons… and that A’s back in 2006-08 signed multiple years for his glove? The list might go on?

        • Dorasaga

          Miguel Tejada; what a shame he was a liar.