Streaks are now the news in the minors as Daytona has won six straight thanks to the hot hitting of John Andreoli and Ben Carhart. Kane County has reeled off four straight wins on pitching gems by Pierce Johnson and Felix Pena, and a red-hot Bijan Rademacher. However, a back injury to Jae-Hoon Ha has the Tennessee offense scuffling, despite a near no-hitter from Dallas Beeler. Meanwhile, the bad spring weather forced Iowa to cancel three games. To find out how they all did, take a look inside of today’s Down on the Farm.
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 (13-13)
A leaky bullpen put Wednesday’s game in peril after being dominated by Kane County, but the Cougars were able to salvage a 5-4 victory over Bowling Green in ten innings. The extra inning affair was the seventh that Kane County has played this season (3-4 record). Starter Pierce Johnson pitched a gem, allowing an earned run and striking out four in 6.2 innings. Eddie Orozco has been anything but the automatic performer he was last season. Orozco showed a glimpse of last year’s form as he struck out two in a scoreless inning. Jeffry Antigua had been the closest the Cougars have had to a stable presence in the pen, but he was rocked for three earned runs by the Hot Rods in the ninth inning to tie the game. Antigua collected himself and retired the side in the tenth. Antigua ended up allowing three earned runs with four strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
The Cougars once again jumped out to an early lead, thanks to the red-hot Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5). The outfielder started out slowly, but has now become the leadoff man that was envisioned before the start of the season. Chen led off with a single, moved to second on a walk by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-3), stole third base, and came home on an error. An error helped Bijan Rademacher (0-for-2 with two walks) reach in the third inning, as Oliver Zapata (1-for-4) followed him with a single. A base hit by Amaya loaded the sacks, and Rademacher scored on a groundout. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a RBI) then delivered a two-out single that scored Zapata. Kane County added another run in the fifth when Amaya started the inning with a double and touched home on a double by Rock Shoulders (1-for-4 with a RBI). Bowling Green then stymied the Cougars’ offense until the tenth inning. Chen doubled and was sacrificed to third. He trotted home with the winning run on a Dan Vogelbach (1-for-5 with two RBI) walk-off single.
The spring weather caused yet another cancellation on Thursday, so a doubleheader with Bowling Green was played Friday. In game one, Kane County rallied in the 11th inning to push past the Hot Rods 4-2. With the thought of having to spare his bullpen a bit, manager Mark Johnson may have stuck with starter Tayler Scott too long. Scott had shutout Bowling Green through five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth. Scott allowed two earned runs in the sixth that tied the game. Scott ended up pitching 5.2 innings with a strikeout. The much maligned bullpen got a chance to shine against the top-rated Hot Rods, with Steve Perakslis striking out two in 2.1 scoreless innings. Sidewinder Matt Iannazzo held Bowling Green in check the rest of the way as he struck out four in three innings. The Cougars took the early lead as Oliver Zapata (1-for-4, and Gioskar Amaya (2-for-5 with a double) led things off with singles. An error on a pick-off attempt scored Zapata. In the fifth inning walks to Chadd Krist (1-for-2) and Marco Hernandez, along with an error on Zapata’s bunt attempt, loaded the bases. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-2 with a RBI) walked to force in Krist and make the score 2-0. It remained 2-2 until the bottom of the eleventh when pinch-hitter Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-1) singled and stole second with two out. A walk-off home run by Rock Shoulders (2-for-6 with two RBI) made the score 4-2.
Kane County made it a series sweep in game two, their first series sweep of the season, as they defeated Bowling Green 3-1. Ian Dickson has been a strikeout machine this season but has had trouble with limiting runs. However, he had no trouble with the Hot Rods as he was hung with an unearned run but struck out four in 4.2 innings. Young Canadian left-hander Brian Smith also had his strikeout pitch working as he fanned five in 2.1 scoreless innings for the victory. The Cougars answered the Hot Rods’ run in the first inning with one of their own in the second as Jeimer Candelario (1-for-2) walked and scored on a double by Rock Shoulders (1-for-2 with a RBI). The score remained 1-1 until the fifth inning with Marco Hernandez (1-for-3) and Oliver Zapata (1-for-2) had one-out base hits. Zapata was thrown out as part of a double steal, but Hernandez moved to third. A fielding error on a hit by Pin-Chieh Chen brought in Hernandez. Candelario had a one out double in the sixth, and came around to score on a single from Bijan Rademacher (1-for-2).
With Dayton coming to town on Saturday, Kane County extended their win streak to four games by beating the Dragons 6-1. Felix Pena totally throttled the Dayton offense, allowing only one earned run while striking out seven in seven innings. Justin Amlung further squelched the attack for two scoreless innings.
Oliver Zapata (2-for-4 with a RBI) was the first player to mark for the Cougars, as he blasted an opposite field solo home run in the third inning. Kane County added another run in the fourth as Jeimer Candelario walked and went to third on a single by Rock Shoulders (1-for-3). A double play brought Candelario in with the second run. After Dayton closed the gap to 2-1, the Cougars exploded for four runs in the seventh. Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5) led off with a single. A sacrifice moved Chen to second, and Dan Vogelbach walked. Chen stole third base, and Shoulders walked to load things up. Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with three RBI) smoked a three-run double to clear the bases. A double by Bijan Rademacher (3-for-4 with two doubles, a RBI and a stolen base) plated Contreras.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (16-12)
Daytona completed a four-game sweep on Wednesday by defeating Palm Beach 3-1. Ben Wells is emerging as one of the pitchers to watch this season. Wells had his sinker working for him and gave up three hits and a walk in seven innings while allowing an earned run and striking out three batters. Eduardo Figueroa also had his strikeout pitch working as he fanned three in two scoreless innings to collect his first save.
There may not be any Daytona player hotter than Ben Carhart (2-for-3 with two RBI) is right now. Carhart scored the game-tying run in the fifth inning as he led off with a double and scored on a single by Anthony Giansanti (2-for-3 with a RBI). Carhart struck again in the sixth inning as a double by Jorge Soler (1-for-3 with a stolen base) and a walk to Dustin Geiger put two runners on base … and both scored on Carhart’s second double of the game.
With Daytona’s 6-2 victory over Lakeland on Thursday, their fifth straight, you can officially call them a team on a roll. Pitching has started to come around as Austin Kirk scattered ten hits over six innings while allowing two earned runs and striking out four batters. After having a shaky start to the season, Austin Reed had his second straight solid outing as he tossed two scoreless innings. David Cales shut out the Flying Tigers the rest of the way.
The D-Cubs answered Lakeland’s two runs to start the game with Stephen Bruno (2-for-4 with a RBI) and Dustin Geiger (1-for-4 with a RBI) reaching on singles to start the second inning. Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with a RBI) then slapped a base hit that plated Bruno, and both runners advanced later on a wild pitch. Chad Noble (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Geiger, and Carhart scored on a sacrifice fly. Bruno reached on a force play in the fourth inning, went to third on a single by Geiger, and scored on a passed ball. Daytona added two more in the fifth as Tim Saunders was hit by and pitch and moved to third on a single by John Andreoli (2-for-5). An RBI single from Javier Baez (1-for-5) plated Saunders and a double by Bruno brought in Andreoli.
In a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates, Daytona extended their win streak to six games by defeating Lakeland 11-5 on Saturday. A scoreless tie was broken in the fourth inning as John Andreoli (3-for-4 with a RBI) led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. It remained that way until the sixth inning, when Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3) singled and scored on Andreoli’s second triple of the game. Andreoli came in again on a sacrifice fly, and Jorge Soler (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) belted a solo home run. The D-Cubs broke it wide open in the seventh, as Ben Carhart (2-for-5) singled and Chad Noble was hit by a pitch. They then pulled off a double steal and advanced to second and third. After a one out walk to Andreoli to load the bases, Zeke DeVoss was given a free pass to bring in Carhart. Javier Baez (0-for-3 with two RBI) was hit by a pitch to force in Noble. Soler then walked as Andreoli scored his third run of the game. A single by Dustin Geiger (1-for-5 with two RBI) plated DeVoss and Baez.
P.J. Francescon baffled Lakeland for six shutout innings by scattering three hits and a walk and striking out five batters. However, Starling Peralta gave the Flying Tigers a glimmer of hope as he allowed five earned runs in 1.2 innings. Sheldon McDonald went the rest of the way and tossed 1.1 scoreless innings.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (15-13)
In a rain shorten affair on Wednesday, Tennessee lost 3-0 to Mississippi in a rehab start by Matt Garza. The veteran was pitching to live hitting for the first time in nearly three months and the rust showed, as he gave up a hit and walked two in 2.2 innings. Garza allowed an earned run and did not pick up a strikeout. When Garza neared his pitch limit, the Smokies rushed in Kevin Rhoderick to relieve Garza and he responded with 1.1 scoreless innings. Regularly scheduled starter Matt Loosen seemed to be thrown off by Garza and the rain delays, as he allowed two earned runs in 0.2 innings before the game was called. Rubi Silva and Rafael Lopez went 1-for-2 and recorded the Smokies only hits.
For the second time this week, a Tennessee player flirted with a no-hitter as the Smokies blanked Mississippi. Aided by two defensive gems from Christian Villanueva, Dallas Beeler went 6.2 scoreless innings while striking out five and allowing only one hit. Zac Rosscup continued his dominating middle relief by striking out two in 1.1 innings. Brian Schlitter yielded a couple of hits in the ninth, but kept the Braves off the board to complete the shutout.
Tennessee broke a scoreless tie in the fourth as Ronald Torreyes (2-for-5) led off with a double. A sacrifice bunt moved him to third and Villanueva (2-for-5 with a RBI) singled to bring in the first run of the game. Rubi Silva (3-for-4 with a triple) walked and touched home on a base hit by Johermyn Chavez (2-for-5). Rafael Lopez (1-for-3, RBI) was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Jonathan Mota (2-for-3 and two RBI) cracked single to score Silva. Lopez blasted his first Double-A home run in the eighth to make the score 4-0. The Smokies broke things open in the ninth as the bases were juiced by singles from Silva and Chavez and a walk to Lopez. A sacrifice fly brought home Silva and pinch-hitter Ty Wright (1-for-1 with two RBI) delivered a double that drove in Chavez and Lopez.
A lack of execution from everyone from the manager to the last reliever contributed to Tennessee’s 3-2 loss to Mississippi in 11 innings on Friday. The Smokies left six runners in scoring position with two outs for the game. The Smokies scored an unearned run in the first as Ronald Torreyes (2-for-5) reached on an error and Ty Wright (2-for-4 with a RBI) drove him in with a double. Manager Buddy Bailey missed a chance to increase the lead to 2-0 in the fourth as he held Christian Villanueva (1-for-4), who had doubled, on a single by Rubi Silva (1-for-5) rather than sending him home. The runners were stranded and the score remained 1-0. In the top of the seventh, pitcher Alberto Cabrera reached second on a fielding error from the Braves centerfielder. Cabrera then used a delayed steal to advance to third base. Cabrera spun his wheels a bit, but eventually scored on a single from Torreyes. Cabrera had flirted with danger all game, but relied on his eight strikeouts to bail himself out as he tossed six scoreless innings. A.J. Morris could not find the plate as he allowed two earned runs off of two hits and two walks in 0.1 innings. Trey McNutt took over, and after giving up a sacrifice fly, escaped with no further damage. McNutt went on to hold Mississippi in check for 1.2 innings and hand things over to Marcus Hatley. Hatley suffered from the same lack of control the plagued Morris, but worked his way out with three strikeouts. Closer Frank Batista was brought in to buy time for the Smokies’ offense. But after a 1-2-3 tenth Batista was out of his element as he gave up the winning run with one out in the 11th inning.
Things went from bad to worse on Saturday as Tennessee was shut out 8-0 by Mississippi. Eric Jokisch just didn’t “have it” and allowed an uncharacteristic six earned runs in three innings. Tony Zych and Kevin Rhoderick each pitched two innings and each gave up an earned run while striking out two batters. Brian Schlitter was the only Smokies pitcher unscathed as he tossed a scoreless inning. Arismendy Alcantara, Rafael Lopez, Jonathan Mota, and Jokisch had Tennessee’s four hits.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (9-16)
Once again, Iowa had a pitcher perform well enough to earn a victory, only to lack offensive support as they lost 1-0 to Round Rock on Wednesday. Chris Rusin held the Express in check for four innings before giving up an earned run in the fifth. Rusin finished up with five strikeouts in seven innings. Hisanori Takahashi and Zach Putnam each contributed a scoreless inning. The punchless I-Cubs attack had only Logan Watkins to show for itself. The leadoff hitter reached base all four times in the game as he was 3-for-3 with a walk and a double.
Iowa’s games on Thursday and Friday were cancelled due to snow. Saturday’s game was postponed due to rain.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Matt Garza on a rehab assignment to the Tennessee Smokies; optioned 3B Ian Stewart to the Iowa Cubs. The Iowa Cubs place OF Brett Jackson on the 7-Day disabled list. Tennessee OF Jae-Hoon Ha has been out with an unspecified back injury, but has not been placed on the disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (SS) – .252/278/.486/.773 with seven doubles, two triples, five home runs, 20 RBI, two stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Stephen Bruno (IF/OF) – .362/.436/.478/.914 with eight doubles, six RBI, two stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – .231/.366/.319/.685 with eight doubles, eight RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, 24.2 innings pitched, eight earned runs, 25 strikeouts and seven walks (Kane County Cougars)
- Barret Loux (RHP) – 2-1 with a 5.74 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP, 15.2 innings pitched, 10 earned runs, 16 strikeouts and 10 walks (Iowa Cubs)
- Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .188/.303/.234/.537 with one double, one triple, five RBI, nine stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jorge Soler (OF) – .267/.360/.453/.814 with five doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI, two stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Christian Villanueva (3B) – .208/.283/.313/.596 with seven doubles, a home run, 16 RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) - .289/.337/.382/.719 with one double, two home runs, nine RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Logan Watkins (2B) – .279/.436/.465/.901 with four doubles, three triples, two home runs, five RBI, two stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
Another Tuesday’s with Tom U. Chat from 7:00pm CDT until 8:00pm CDT (that’s from 2:00pm to 3:00pm GMT for our international followers) will take place on Facebook tomorrow, May 7. Join us for a Q & A session.
The CCO has a Twitter feed solely dedicated to the Cubs minor league teams, prospects, and players @TheCCO_Minors … and now, minor league coverage has been included on the CCO’s Facebook page. Stay up to date with all minor league happenings by following Chicago Cubs Online on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
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.