Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/02/13

Matt Garza completed his first rehab start Wednesday with the Smokies. While Tennessee lost the rain-shortened game, Garza threw 42 pitches, 25 strikes, in 2.2 IP. Garza walked two batters and gave up a hit and run in his first game action since last July. Garza is expected to make his second rehab start on Monday in an Iowa Cubs’ uniform.

While there was plenty of offense at times, pitching was at the forefront to start this week.  Daytona’s Zach Cates and Tennessee’s Kyle Hendricks flirted with no-hitters. Two pitchers making their first starts for 2013, Daytona’s Yeiper Castillo and Iowa’s Guillermo Moscoso had great performances. Meanwhile Daytona’s PJ Francescon and Iowa’s Brooks Raley each had solid efforts. To learn more, and to see some of the offensive thunder, take a look inside today’s 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 (9-13)

The Kane County bullpen crumbled in game one of a doubleheader on Monday, and the Cougars lost 7-6 to Lake County. Starter Felix Pena had things in control as he allowed two earned runs and struck out three in six innings. But Ian Dickson served up a three-run home run that brought the Captains within one run. Dickson went 0.2 innings and was charged with four earned runs before he yielded to Matt Iannazzo. The lefty side-armer gave up two walks and two hits, along with the winning run. The Cougars had a comfortable 6-2 lead going into the seventh as Pin-Cheih Chen led off the game and stole second base. A single and stolen base by Marco Hernandez (1-for-4) put runners on second and third and Chen scored on a groundout. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) started off the fourth inning with his third home run. A walk to Jeimer Candelario put a runner on board as Rock Shoulders (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) slammed his fifth home run. A single by Willson Contreras (2-for-3) and walks to Bijan Rademacher and Wes Darvill (1-for-2 with a triple) loaded the bases. Contreras scored on a double play. Kane County thought they had an insurance run in the sixth as Contreras singled, took second on a throwing error, stole third base, and scored on a groundout.

Game two saw Kane County blow a lead for the second time in the same day as they lost 4-2 to Lake County. The Cougars evened the score at one in the third as Chadd Krist walked and scored on a bloop single by Oliver Zapata (1-for-1 and a stolen base) and a throwing error. Kane County took the lead in the fourth as Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3 with a home run) blasted his second home run of the day. Michael Heesch was doing well until the fifth inning when the wheels came off the cart and he allowed three earned runs. For the game, Heesch gave up four earned runs and struck out seven in five innings. Steve Perakslis pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

On Tuesday, Kane County finally had enough hitting to overcome their pitching as the Cougars beat Lake County 13-9. Lendy Castillo had another shaky outing as he gave up 10 hits and seven earned runs in four innings. Justin Amlung followed the Cougars trend of losing focus after the offense ties the game or takes the lead. Amlung allowed the go-ahead run to score while striking out two batters in his three innings of work. Nathan Dorris nailed things down but not without some concern. Dorris struck out four in two innings but surrendered an unearned run in the ninth.

The Cougars tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second inning as Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a home run) led off with a solo home run. They re-took the lead 4-2 in the fourth inning as singles by Contreras, Wes Darvill (2-for-5) and Oliver Zapata (1-for-5 with a RBI) loaded the bases. Pin-Chieh Chen (4-for-6 with three RBI) then laced a double off the glove of the left fielder that plated Contreras and Darvill. Zapata walked home on a sacrifice fly. Down 7-4 in the seventh inning, Kane County tied things up again as Rock Shoulders (2-for-5 with a RBI) reached on a throwing error. Contreras and Darvill walked to load the bases. Shoulders scored on a single by Yaniel Cabezas (3-for-6 with two RBI), and Chen drilled a single up the middle that drove in Contreras and Darvill. Faced with yet another deficit in the eighth, Dan Vogelbach (4-for-6 with a home run and two RBI) tied the score at 8-8 with a solo home run. A double by Shoulders put a runner in scoring position, as a throwing error helped Darvill reach safely and brought Shoulders home. Darvill stole second and scored on a single by Cabezas. The Cougars tacked on three more in the ninth as a double by Jeimer Candelario (1-for-5) scored Chen. A double by Shoulders plated Candelario, and Shoulders scored on a fielding error.

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High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (13-12)

Daytona displayed the high-flying offense many thought would be their trademark this season in their 7-4 win over Palm Beach on Sunday. The D-Cubs traded runs with the Cardinals in the second inning as Dustin Geiger (1-for-1 with three walks) drilled a two-out double and came home on a single by Ben Carhart (3-for-4 with three RBI). It was in the third when the pyrotechnics began as a two-out walk and a balk advanced Zeke DeVoss to second base. Tim Saunders (2-for-5 with a RBI and two stolen bases) singled in DeVoss, and then stole second base. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) then launched a two-run home run that gave the D-Cubs a 4-1 advantage. Daytona stretched the lead to 6-1 in the fifth as Saunders led off with a single and advanced to third on a base hit by John Andreoli (1-for-4 with two stolen bases). Saunders then stole home while Andreoli swiped second base. Carhart then singled in Andreoli. The D-Cubs added another run in the seventh as Baez singled but was caught in a rundown on a hit by Anthony Giansanti (1-for-3). After a walk to Geiger, Carhart collected his third RBI of the game with a single that plated Giansanti.

A generally good performance by starter P.J. Francescon was bookended by a couple of bad innings. Francescon allowed an earned run on two hits in the second and he served up a solo home run in the sixth. All totaled, Francescon went six innings and struck out five while allowing two earned runs. Austin Reed was still all over the place, but kept Palm Beach off the board. Reed gave up a hit and a walk while striking out two in a scoreless inning. Frank Del Valle worked around a leadoff walk with a strikeout and double play in eighth. But Del Valle had a hard time sealing it in the ninth as he surrendered a two-out single and home run that rounded out the scoring.

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With an assist by a rainstorm, Daytona came out on top of a pitcher’s duel on Monday to beat Palm Beach 2-1. Yeiper Castillo got his first start of the season and was up to the task. Castillo struck out eight in four scoreless innings. Luis Liria shook off some of the bad vibes he’s had this season with two shutout innings that included a strikeout. Hunter Cervenka was hung with an unearned run, but struck out four as he earned the victory.

Dustin Geiger (1-for-2 with a home run) broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning by blasting a solo home run … his twenty-second RBI of the season. Tim Saunders (0-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base) led off the eighth inning with a walk, and moved to third on a double play. John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a RBI) then laced a single that plated Saunders before the heavens opened and the rain came.

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While Daytona’s offense was on full display on Tuesday, it was pitching that took the spotlight as they defeated Palm Beach 11-4. Starter Zach Cates reached his pitch limit in the sixth inning, but not before striking out seven and holding the Cardinals hitless. David Cales replaced Castes and promptly gave up two singles, but worked around them to keep Palm Beach off the board. Recently activated Starling Peralta showed his rust, allowing four earned runs in 1.2 innings. Frank Del Valle came in to get the final out.

Daytona manufactured runs early before blowing the game wide-open. Tim Saunders (1-for-3) was hit by a pitch to start the game and promptly stole second base. An error on a bunt attempt by Zeke DeVoss (2-for-3 with a RBI) put runners on first and third. A groundout scored Saunders, and John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a RBI) doubled in DeVoss. Saunders singled, DeVoss walked and Jorge Soler (1-for-4 with a RBI) was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases to start the third. A wild pitch scored Saunders, and Andreoli walked to re-load the bases. A sacrifice fly plated DeVoss, and Ben Carhart (2-for-4 with two RBI) doubled in Soler. Saunders scored for the third time on a double by DeVoss after he reached with a walk. The D-Cubs then broke things wide open in the seventh as a single by DeVoss was followed by doubles from Javier Baez (1-for-5 with two RBI) and Jorge Soler. Dustin Geiger (0-for-2 with a RBI) walked one out later and Carhart reached on a fielding error as Soler scored. Micah Gibbs was hit by a pitch and Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4 with two RBI) delivered a two-run single.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (14-10)

The bad weather this spring reached eastern Tennessee, as a rainout on Sunday meant a doubleheader on Monday. In game one, Pensacola scratched out three runs off Eric Jokisch as the Smokies lost 3-0. Jokisch had been among the league leaders in ERA before giving up three earned runs in five innings while striking out a batter. Frank Batista and Tony Zych each posted a scoreless inning. The Smokies managed two hits … Matt Szczur (1-for-3) and Ronald Torreyes (1-for-3 with a stolen base).

Game two saw the same lack of offense and an identical score. But this time Tennessee came out on top 3-0. Smokies’ pitchers combined on a one-hitter as starter Kyle Hendricks struck out eight in six innings. Marcus Hatley had two strikeouts in his scoreless inning and was awarded the win. The only runs came in the bottom of the seventh, as Rubi Silva (1-for-3) reached on a single and Johermyn Chavez walked. Jair Fernandez (1-for-3) singled, but was thrown out after manager Buddy Bailey decided to hold Silva at third. Pinch-hitter Jae-Hoon Ha then drilled a walk-off homer, his first of the season.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (9-15)

After being embarrassed by Omaha a day earlier, Iowa turned the tables on Sunday and they won 10-6. The I-Cubs’ offense stepped on the gas in the first inning and never looked back as Logan Watkins (2-for-6 with a stolen base) led off the game with a triple and scored on a groundout. Ian Stewart (0-for-2 with three walks and a RBI) walked to set up Ryan Sweeney (1-for-4 with two RBI) for his sixth home run of the season. In the second inning Alberto Gonzalez was on board after a throwing error when Brett Jackson (1-for-5 with three RBI) left the ballpark and gave Iowa a 5-0 lead. Stewart walked again and Brent Lillibridge (3-for-4 with a RBI) doubled to put runners on second and third. A Brian Bogusevic (3-for-4 with three RBI) single scored two more runs to make it 7-0. Lillibridge led off the fifth inning with a solo home run, and Bogusevic added a solo shot of his own in the seventh inning. Singles by Watkins and J.C. Boscan (2-for-5), and a walk to Brett Jackson loaded the bases. Ian Stewart then drew his third walk of the game to bring in Iowa’s final run.

Starter Brooks Raley was cruising through five innings. Raley gave up only two earned runs before surrendering two solo home runs in the sixth that ended his day. Raley allowed four earned runs with a strikeout in six innings. Hisanori Takahashi set down the side in order in the seventh, and Zach Putnam worked around a single in the eighth. But Rafael Dolis served up a two-out, two-run home run in the ninth that made the game appear closer than it actually was.

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It looked more like a mutant form of tee-ball rather than baseball on Tuesday as Iowa lost to Round Rock 10-9. The I-Cubs rocked former Cub Randy Wells and scored seven runs in the first three innings. But starter Nick Struck had his own troubles as he allowed five earned runs in three innings. Esmailin Caridad didn’t fare any better. Caridad giving up four earned runs, but struck out five in three innings. Cory Wade let in what would be the winning run in the eighth inning. Blake Parker struck out two in a scoreless ninth.

Iowa tied the score at three in the second inning as Brad Nelson (4-for-5 with three RBI) doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Logan Watkins (2-for-4 with a RBI) walked and Brett Jackson (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) delivered his second home run. Iowa kept the line moving in the third as hits by Ryan Sweeney (2-for-4), Brian Bogusevic (1-for-5 with a RBI), Nelson, Tim Torres (1-for-4, RBI), and Watkins plated four more runs. The I-Cubs also had successive singles by Sweeney, Brent Lillibridge (1-for-5 with a stolen base), Bogusevic, and Nelson that accounted for two more runs.

Guillermo Moscoso made his first start for Iowa on Tuesday, and he mowed down Round Rock in a 7-2 win. The 29-year old was claimed off of waivers in March and was in Mesa participating in extended spring training before reporting to Des Moines. Moscoso struck out six and allowed an earned run in five innings for his first victory. The beleaguered bullpen was sharp, with Yoanner Negrin giving up an earned run and striking out three in two innings. Casey Coleman and Rafael Dolis each added a scoreless inning.

The longball provided Iowa with its first runs in the second inning as Brent Lillibridge (2-for-4 with a home run) hit solo home run with one down. Brian Bogusevic (3-for-4 with a RBI) doubled and Brad Nelson (2-for-2 with a home run and two RBI) cracked his fifth home run of the season. As they moved to the fourth inning, another Bogusevic double and walks to Nelson and J.C. Boscan (1-for-3) loaded the bases. Edwin Maysonet (1-for-4 with three RBI) cleared the bags with a three–run double. The I-Cubs added an insurance run in the eighth as Lillibridge singled and scored on a triple by Bogusevic.

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News and Notes

The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Barret Loux, IF Donnie Murphy, and OF Darnell McDonald on the 7-day disabled list; activated IF Tim Torres and IF Josh Vitters from the 7-day disabled list; assigned RHP Guillermo Moscoso to Iowa from extended spring training. The Daytona Cubs placed RHP Yao-Lin Wang on the 7-day disabled list; activated RHP Starling Peralta from the 7-day disabled list.

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

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • SuzyS

    Rule 5 draft is a funny animal…On the one hand. the Cubs weathered last season with A Ball pitcher Lendy Castillo. I believe the Cubs set Castillo back, if not ruining him completely as he struggles in low A ball this season.
    On the other hand, this year we have Hector Rondon that is contributing on the mlb roster with a future that looks really bright…if he can stay healthy.
    Good luck to both of them.

  • Tom U

    A very Happy Birthday to former Cubs outfielder and Cubs radio announcer Keith Moreland

    • paulcatanese

      Agree Tom, and maybe ask him if he remembers being that slim?:)

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

        He looks like a ballplayer that’s for sure…

  • redlarczykg

    Tom U,
    Is Gerardo Concepcion still with the Cubs?
    Is Kyle Burke out of baseball?
    Any word from Iowa about Brett Jackson’s struggles this spring?

    • Tom U

      Both are still with the organization and at EXT. However, I haven;t seen either show up in any box scores lately.

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

    Ryan Sweeney is only 28. Could he be working his way into the “plans?” At that age, let’s bring him up and if he produces either flip him for prospects or pencil him in as a long-term outfielder.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Where do they play him though? He’s a fourth OF at best. They have three of those already!

  • 07GreyDigger

    Tom,

    Who would you say the impact arms are in the system? and the ones to watch out for in your report?

    • Tom U

      That depends on how you define “impact”.Right now, the pitchers closest to the majors that are performing the best are Eric Jokisch, Brooks Raley, and Frank Batista, in that order.

      However, none of them are considered to be the type of pitcher desired by this front office. Also not a part of that could be Ben Wells, a sinker-ball pitcher who is performing well.

      The pitcher management most likely will hang their hat on is Pierce Johnson, with Ryan McNeil, Josh Conway, and Duane Underwood in the mix.

      Strap yourself in, its going to be a long ride.

      • texcubnut

        Tom, I’m sure you left out Arodys Vizcaino because he is injured, but I believe management thinks he can be an impact arm either in the bullpen or in the rotation. I hope they are right.

        • Tom U

          Correct on both counts.

      • redlarczyk

        Tom, your making my point that the labeling by many Baseball front office people of what a good prospect is a hard thrower. The Cubs current starting staff have Wood and Villanova showing you can be effective if you can spot your pitches.

  • paulcatanese

    Tom, wouldn’t it be a good idea to move Stewart down to a lower class in the minors to get his confidence back? That is of course if he has any. At any rate if he can’t cut It there how can he hope to succeed at the major league level? Right now I feel there are dozens
    (a little strong maybe) that are performing better at his current level.
    Just mind-boggling that he is still even in baseball.

    • Tom U

      Paul, I’m afraid I am the wrong person to answer that question. In my opinion, Stewart should not even be a part of this organization.

      • paulcatanese

        Not really Tom, as we both feel the same way. I don’t think he will for long.

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