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

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

Signs that thing are starting to change in the minors arose at the end of the week as several players were promoted and traded. Kane County is starting to live up to some of their pre-season hype, due in large part to a nine-game hitting streak by Bijan Rademacher. Daytona had to battle weather conditions, but Jorge Soler seems to be heating up at the plate. The fortunes of Tennessee were starting to look bleak until a rehab start by Matt Garza. As for Iowa, they appear to be thankful to get out of Colorado Springs and sport a new look with some roster moves. Down on the Farm brings all of the details from the end of last week.

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 (17-15)

The potent Kane County offense was held in check for the first time this season as they lost to Burlington 4-0 on Wednesday. The shut out came as the Cougars began a six-game road trip. The still hot Bijan Rademacher was the sole excitement for the team at the plate. Rademacher went 2-for-2 to raise his season average to .371. Pierce Johnson started the game and sailed through the first three innings before allowing four earned runs in the fourth to go along with five strikeouts. Getting regular work has seemed to agree with the bullpen as the entire group has put together more consistent outings. Justin Amlung struck out two in two scoreless innings, while Matt Iannazzo also held the Bees without a run in two innings.

With rain cancelling Thursday’s game, a doubleheader was set for Friday as Kane County played their ninth extra inning contest and beat Burlington 2-1 in ten innings. Tayler Scott was dealing against the Bees at the outset. Scott held them scoreless with six strikeouts over the first four innings. But Scott gave up his first home run of his professional career in the sixth that tied the game at one and he left after 5.1 innings.  An earlier maligned bullpen was at its best in keeping the Cougars in the game as Steve Perakslis worked out of a jam to keep Burlington off the board for 1.2 innings. Nathan Dorris then delivered two perfect innings with two strikeouts and eventually picked up the victory. Ian Dickson pitched a scoreless tenth to earn his first save. The hottest man on Kane County was involved in both runs. Bijan Rademacher (2-for-4) led off the fifth inning with a single and came around on a base hit from Marco Hernandez (2-for-4 with a RBI). In the tenth, back-to-back one out singles by Rademacher and Yaniel Cabezas (1-for-3) put runners on first and third when Oliver Zapata (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Rademacher with the go-ahead run.

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Kane County was almost no-hit in game two, but turned on the juice in the late innings and won 4-1 to complete the sweep of the doubleheader with Burlington. The Cougars went five innings without notching a hit when David Bote (1-for-2) led off the sixth with his first knock in a Kane County uniform. Bote reached third on a failed pick-off attempt and came in on a bunt single by Oliver Zapata (1-for-2). On the play, Zapata took second as the Bees made another throwing error. Zapata moved to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly. The Cougars then didn’t mess around in padding their lead in the seventh as Rock Shoulders (1-for-3 with a home run) went deep for the seventh time this season. With an eight game hitting streak on the line, Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3 with a home run) delivered his first home run of the season.

On the heels on a fine pitching performance, Felix Pena had another good outing as he struck out six and allowed only one earned run in six innings. Eddie Orozco also appears to be finding his mojo as hung through a rough seventh inning to record his second save.

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Saturday saw Kane County open a series against Clinton with a 7-4 victory. Once again, the Cougars’ offense could not be held down as they began with an unearned run in the first as Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4) walked and scored on an error by the Lumber King’s centerfielder. Kane County tied the score when Willson Contreras (3-for-5 with two RBI) doubled and took third on a groundout. Contreras then stole home as part of a double steal, as Oliver Zapata, who walked earlier, stole second base. A fielding error brought Zapata home. The Cougars blew things open in the sixth as Contreras led off the inning with a home run. Walks to Bijan Rademacher (1-for-4) and Zapata, along with a single from Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5), loaded the bases. Gioskar Amaya (1-for-5 with two RBI) singled in Rademacher and Zapata. Kane County added another run in the ninth after Jeimer Candelario (1-for-5) singled and Rock Shoulders walked, Contreras knocked in Candelario.

Michael Heesch started for Kane County and was not as successful as he had been in his previous starts. Heesch gave up four earned runs and allowed 12 hits in six innings. Brian Smith got a save the hard way as he went three scoreless innings while striking out three batters.

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High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (17-16)

Despite a furious comeback, Daytona fell short in their series finale in St. Lucie on Wednesday and lost 6-5 in ten innings. The D-Cubs tried trading runs with the Mets early on, but St. Lucie was able to get to Austin Kirk. Kirk gave up five earned runs while striking out four in five innings. Eduardo Figueroa had his usual solid effort. Figueroa shut out the Mets for two innings while striking out three batters. But it seems as if manager Dave Keller left in the struggling Luis Liria too long. Liria held the Mets in check for two innings, but was unable to get the final out in the tenth. Liria struck out three in 2.2 innings but allowed the winning run to score.

Daytona got on the board in the second inning as Jorge Soler (3-for-4 with a home runs and two RBI) led off with a double and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice. Soler struck again in the fourth inning as he clobbered his fifth home run of the season. In the sixth inning, Soler made his presence felt again as Tim Saunders (2-for-5) hit a one out triple and scored on a double from Soler. The D-Cubs tied the score in the eighth as singles by Anthony Giansanti (1-for-3) and Saunders, along with a walk to Soler loaded the bases with two outs. Dustin Geiger (1-for-4, two RBI) drove in two with a single and tied the score at five. Geiger is third in the league in RBI.

Daytona came from behind twice on Thursday to beat Dunedin 4-3. After spotting the Blue Jays a run in the first inning, the D-Cubs answered with two in the second as Jorge Soler (1-for-3 with a RBI) doubled, John Andreoli (2-for-4 with a RBI) tripled, and Dustin Geiger (2-for-3 with a RBI) singled. Daytona stretched their lead to 3-1 in the third as Tim Saunders (1-for-4) scored on a double by Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a RBI). With the score tied at three in the sixth inning, Baez tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly.

P.J. Francescon took the hill for Daytona and allowed three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts in five innings. Left-hander Jeffrey Lorick returned from rehab in extended spring training and pitched a scoreless inning in route to his first win of the season. Austin Reed extended his own scoreless streak to four innings, and Hunter Cervenka earned his third save as he shut out Dunedin for two innings.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (16-18)

The Tennessee bats finally woke up but it seems that in doing so, they forgot to bring their gloves to the field as the lost 12-11 in 14 innings to Birmingham on Wednesday. Once again, the Smokies dug themselves an early hole they would not be able to get out of as starter Dallas Beeler gave up six runs in the first inning, three coming after a Christian Villanueva (1-for-7) error … one of four committed on the day by the Smokies. All totaled, Beeler ended up going 4.2 innings and was charged with seven runs (four earned) while striking out four batters. Brian Schlitter and a rehabbing Kyuji Fujikawa held the Barons for 1.1 and two innings respectively. A rare bad outing by Frank Batista allowed Birmingham to take leads in the ninth and tenth innings. Batista let in three earned runs in two innings. In his longest appearance of the season, Zac Rosscup struck out three over three scoreless innings. Marcus Hatley gave up what would be the winning run in the 14th inning.

The Smokies chipped away at Birmingham’s lead by scoring two runs each in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Down by three runs, Tennessee matched the Barons in the bottom of the ninth as a pair of doubles from Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-5 with a RBI) and Ty Wright (1-for-3 with three RBI) drove in two runs. Ronald Torreyes (1-for-6 with a RBI) reached on a single and scored. Rafael Lopez (3-for-5 with a RBI) singled in pinch-runner Johermyn Chavez to tie the score. The Smokies had to reach down and rally again in the tenth. A single by Elliot Soto (1-for-6) and Matt Szczur (2-for-7) was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base. Alcantara’s one out single scored Soto, and a Rubi Silva (2-for-7 with a home run and three RBI) base hit plated Szczur.

The offense showed up for Tennessee for a second game in a row but the pitching could not hold as they lost 9-7 to Birmingham on Thursday. The Smokies regained the lead in the bottom of the first inning as Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4) was hit by a pitch, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error. Rubi Silva (1-for-5 with RBI) tripled in Alcantara, and was aboard as Rafael Lopez (1-for-4 with two RBI) slugged his second home run. Lopez led off the fourth with a walk and scored when Jonathan Mota (1-for-3 with two RBI) clubbed his second home run.  Tim Torres (3-for-4) doubled and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice. And it was Torres again in the eighth inning as he singled and touched home on a double from Elliot Soto (1-for-4 with a RBI) that tied the game.

Alberto Cabrera was roughed up by the Barons to the tune of six earned runs on 13 hits with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Kevin Rhoderick stepped out of his comfort zone to eat up some innings as he allowed an earned run to go along with a pair of strikeouts in three innings. Trey McNutt replaced Rhoderick and he was not up to the task. McNutt gave up two runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings.

Tennessee’s offensive woes continued on Friday as their 5-4 loss to Birmingham was not as close as it seems. The Smokies got off to a strange 1-0 lead in the first inning as Matt Szczur (2-for-3 with a RBI) walked and stole his tenth base. Ronald Torreyes (1-for-3) walked and Arismendy Alcantara bunted Szczur to third. Szczur then scored on a sacrifice fly.  They were down 2-1 in the fourth when Rubi Silva (1-for-4 with a home run) knotted things up with his sixth home run.

Starter Eric Jokisch had his second rough start, but it appeared at times, that he was being squeezed by the home plate umpire. Jokisch struck out four but allowed five earned runs on eight hits and four walks in 4.1 innings … and exited with a few choice words to home plate umpire Jonathan Bailey. Brian Schlitter picked up the slack, as he remains unscored upon with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings. The Smokies seem to be adapting Frank Batista to a new role, as he was stretched out for his second straight appearance. Batista struck out two in two scoreless innings. Tennessee took advantage of some wildness from the Barons’ pitchers in the ninth as singles by Ty Wright (1-for-3 with a RBI) and Christian Villanueva (2-for-3) put runners on first and third. Walks to Rafael Lopez, Elliot Soto and Szczur forced in two runs before Torreyes made the final out.

The losing streak ended at seven on Saturday as Tennessee snapped Birmingham’s 11-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory. Rehabbing big-leaguer Matt Garza started for the Smokies and went 3.1 scoreless innings while striking out two before reaching his pitch limit. Matt Loosen was pushed back for the second time by a Garza rehab outing. Loosen took over and allowed three earned runs while striking out six batters. It was a high wire act but Marcus Hatley was able to battle his way to his first save. Hatley worked 1.2 innings and struck out the final batter he faced to close out the ballgame.

Tennessee manufactured their first run as Matt Szczur (2-for-4 with two RBI) singled, stole second and moved to third on a double by Ronald Torreyes (1-for-3). Szczur scored on a sacrifice fly. The fifth inning started with a double by Rafael Lopez (1-for-4) and a walk to Tim Torres. Both scored on a base hit from Szczur, who moved into scoring position with another stolen base. A fielding error would allow Szczur to score. The Smokies got what would be a needed insurance run in the eighth as Ty Wright (2-for-3) reached with a ground rule double. Pinch-runner Anthony Giansanti then scampered home on a double from Christian Villanueva (3-for-4 with a RBI).

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (13-20)

After a delay of over four hours, Iowa was able to come away with a narrow 8-6 win over Colorado Springs on Wednesday. Barret Loux came off the disabled list and weather delayed his first start. Loux was rocked by the Sky Sox for four earned runs in four innings while striking out four batters. Esmailin Caridad was on top of his game and tossed two scoreless innings. Hisanori Takahashi followed and let Colorado Springs back into the game as he struck out three but gave up two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Blake Parker got the final four outs to collect his fourth save.

The Iowa bats started producing in the second inning as Brad Nelson (3-for-5 with a RBI) singled and Donnie Murphy (2-for-4) doubled. A fielding error on a hit from Darnell McDonald (2-for-4 with two RBI) plated Nelson and Murphy. J.C. Boscan (3-for-4) singled, and McDonald touched home on a sacrifice fly. A base hit from Alberto Gonzalez (4-for-5 with a RBI) plated Boscan. The score remained tied at four until the sixth inning when Gonzalez singled and scored on a groundout from Josh Vitters (1-for-5 with a RBI). A Brian Bogusevic (2-for-5 with a RBI) double put Gonzalez on third base and a double by Nelson brought in Bogusevic. The winning margin came in the eighth inning as Bogusevic led off with a solo home run. Nelson then doubled and scored on a single by Darnell McDonald.

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It was all Colorado Springs on Thursday as Iowa lost 5-1. Drew Carpenter continued his struggles as he struck out six while allowing three earned runs in five innings. Casey Coleman was roughed up as he gave up two earned runs in an inning of work. Zach Putnam helped keep the I-Cubs close as he chipped in two scoreless innings. The Iowa offense would finally put a run on the board in the seventh inning as Darnell McDonald delivered a pinch-hit home run.

At this point it’s hard to say which is worse, Iowa’s offense or pitching. The I-Cubs are second to last in both batting average and earned run average. The evidence was on full display in their 11-1 loss to Colorado Springs on Friday. Starter Brooks Raley had a rough outing and gave up eight earned runs in four innings. Yoanner Negrin continues to be one of the bright spots for Iowa but he was tagged with an unearned run to go along with five strikeouts in three innings. Rafael Dolis was, well … Rafael Dolis. Dolis struck out a batter but walked two and allowed two earned runs in an inning of work.

The I-Cubs offense was so putrid that Raley had the only hit for the team until the sixth inning. Darnell McDonald (1-for-4) led off the seventh with a double and trotted home on a double from Logan Watkins (1-for-4 with a RBI) that accounted for Iowa’s only run.

After some rather embarrassing games, Iowa made their way to Reno and picked up a 4-1 win. Guillermo Moscoso was brilliant in his third outing for the club. Moscoso struck out seven while scattering six hits with an unearned run in seven innings. Zach Putnam continued his upward trend with a scoreless inning, while Blake Parker picked up his fifth save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Iowa offense didn’t waste any time in the second inning as Josh Vitters (1-for-5) led off with a double and strolled home on longball from David Sappelt (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI). That proved to be all the runs the I-Cubs would need, but they added two more in the ninth for good measure. J.C. Boscan (2-for-4) led off with a double and Donnie Murphy (1-for-3) was hit by a pitch. Brett Jackson (2-for-5 with two RBI) then delivered a two-out, two-run single that plated both Boscan and Murphy.

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News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Kameron Loe outright to Iowa, Loe refused the assignment and elected free agency; optioned RHP Rafael Dolis to Iowa; traded Iowa Cubs IF Alberto Gonzalez to the New York Yankees for PTBNL or cash considerations; traded Iowa Cubs RHP Drew Carpenter to Colorado for a player to be named later.  The Iowa Cubs placed IF Edwin Maysonet on the 7-Day disabled list; activated OF Brett Jackson from the 7-Day disabled list.

The Daytona Cubs assigned IF/OF Anthony Giansanti to Tennessee; LHP Jeffrey Lorick was assigned to Daytona from extended spring training; assigned RHP Starling Peralta to extended spring training; released C Micah Gibbs.

The Kane County Cougars assigned IF Wes Darvill and C Chadd Krist to Daytona; IF David Bote and C Carlos Escobar were assigned to Kane County from extended spring training.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (SS) – .244/280/.489/.758 with eight doubles, three triples, six home runs, 22 RBI, three 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) – .219/.343/.298/.641 with nine doubles, nine RBI (Kane County Cougars)
  • Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 1-2 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, 28.2 innings pitched, 12 earned runs, 30 strikeouts and 10 walks (Kane County Cougars)
  • Barret Loux (RHP) – 2-1 with a 6.41 ERA and a 2.08 WHIP, 19.2 innings pitched, 14 earned runs, 20 strikeouts and 13 walks (Iowa Cubs)
  • Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .188/.278/.247/.575 with a double, two triples, five RBI, nine stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Jorge Soler (OF) – .290/.374/.559/.933 with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs, 14 RBI, two stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Christian Villanueva (3B) – .235/.302/.339/.641 with nine doubles, a home run, 17 RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) - .292/.371/.458/.830 with five doubles, five home runs, 20 RBI, three stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
  • Logan Watkins (2B) – .246/.390/.421/.811 with six doubles, four triples, two home runs, seven RBI, four stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)

Note: RHP Dillon Maples, voted by our readers as part of our Top Prospect Watch, made his first start on Sunday. He will replace Stephen Bruno in next week’s Down on the Farm prospect watch.

Don’t Forget

The CCO has a Twitter feed 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+. 

Our Facebook Tuesday’s with Tom U Chat will not take place tomorrow, May 14, as Tom U will be on assignment. Please join us for another Q & A session on May 21.

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  • 07GreyDigger

    Two questions Tom.

    1. Is Brent Lillibridge still playing in Iowa?
    2. How has Logan Watkins been doing on both sides of the field? How long until he makes Darwin Barney expendable?

    • Tom U

      GreyDigger, Lillibridge is still playing and moving around to different positions in order to give other players a rest.

      I’m not saying this as a knock, but it looks like Watkins will need at least the whole season at Iowa before any consideration foe moving forward.

      On offense, he fluctuates a little, having good weeks and not so good weeks. That’s partially due to them having him in a role that he is not best suited for: lead-off. While he can hit at the top of the order occasionally, he is better suited as a number 2 man, with his bat control, strike zone discipline, and speed his assets.

      On defense, Watkins has been fine. The plan is to give him a start a week at shortstop, and he has played the outfield once or twice.

      • 07GreyDigger

        Good to hear. I imagine they wouldn’t move Barney unless they were bowled over anyway and with the way he’s hitting that’s not likely to happen.

        • DWalker

          If they think Watkins has a real future on the big league club, and hes borderline, they won’t waste a year on him by bringing him up early.

          • Tom U

            Right on DWalker! Watkins looks like he’ll need a solid year at the top level. There’s no sense in rushing him.

  • redlarczykg

    Looking at how the Top 10 Minor Leaguers are doing and knowing somewhat the other “talent” in the Cub’s system, I think it’s totally unrealistic to think in 2 or 3 years the Chicago Cubs will become a top team through the “building from within” approach.