Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/16/13

Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/16/13

The lows seemed to outnumber the highs to start the week, as both Kane County and Daytona could not manage a win between them. Iowa wasn’t much better, taking only one out of three from Reno. Tennessee was the only Cubs’ affiliate to show some life as the Smokies won four in a row thanks to Rafael Lopez and Christian Villanueva.  These stories, along with the opening of the Venezuelan Summer League, are inside 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 (17-18)

The tenth extra innings game that Kane County has played this season didn’t end in their favor as they lost to Clinton 7-6 on Sunday. After spotting the Lumber Kings a three run lead, the Cougars went on a six run spree that started in the fourth inning with a solo home run from Jeimer Candelario (2-for-4 with a RBI), his first of the season. Kane County added five more in the sixth as Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-4) singled and Bijan Rademacher walked. A base hit from Dan Vogelbach (1-for-5 with a RBI) plated Chen, and a walk to Candelario loaded the bases. Rock Shoulders (1-for-5 with four RBI) cleared the bases with a grand slam, his eighth home run of the year. Twenty-one year old phenom Dillon Maples was recalled from extended spring training for his first start of the season, and performed admirably for someone with so little experience. Maples struck out two and allowed three earned runs in five innings. The game was then turned over to Lendy Castillo, and that’s when things started to slip away. Castillo walked the first two men he faced, and when he seemed to be working his way out of the inning, gave up a three-run home run that tied the game. Castillo struck out four and allowed four earned runs in 4.1 innings.

Kane County was shut out for the second time on the road trip as they lost 4-0 to Clinton on Monday afternoon. The starter for the Cougars was Pierce Johnson, who had his second so-so outing since flirting with a no-hitter. Johnson allowed four runs (three earned) and struck out six in six innings. Jeffry Antigua bounced back from a rough appearance last Monday and struck out five in two scoreless innings. There was not much to report about the offense, as both Gioskar Amaya and Dan Vogelbach went 2-for-4.

Kane County seemed to lose their cool on Tuesday, as well as the game … the Cougars fell 8-4 to Peoria. Ian Dickson was the surprise starter for the Cougars after spending most of his time in the bullpen this year. Dickson did well for his first start in nearly two weeks. Dickson allowed two earned runs while striking out four in four innings. Things started to unravel when Justin Amlung took the mound. The Chiefs tied the score in the fifth with two earned runs. Some controversy occurred when catcher Willson Contreras (2-for-2 with a RBI) argued whether he dropped the ball in a play at the plate. Contreras was ejected and a runner was allowed to move to third and scored on a sacrifice fly. Altogether, Amlung gave up four runs (three earned) and struck out two in three innings. Steve Perakslis pitched the final two innings and let in another two earned runs. Prior to the argument, Contreras was having a great game. Contreras singled in the second and plated Rock Shoulders (2-for-4 with two RBI), who had doubled, and gave the Cougars the early lead. Contreras then belted a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth that tied the game at two. Kane County re-tied the game in the fifth as Oliver Zapata (1-for-5) singled and Gioskar Amaya (1-for-2) walked. A walk to Jeimer Candelario loaded the bases, and Rock Shoulders singled in Zapata and Amaya.

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (17-18)

With a three day lay-off, the Daytona bats were silent on Monday as they lost 3-0 to Charlotte. Also contributing the D-Cubs offensive woes was the fact that they were facing a 24-year old pitcher with five years of professional experience. Only Zeke DeVoss and Ben Carhart had a decent effort, both players went 2-for-4. Zach Cates started and pitched okay considering the lack of run support. Cates struck out three and allowed three earned runs in six innings. Frank Del Valle continued his season-long success as he blanked the Stone Crabs for an inning while striking out two. Luis Liria may be the most effective when used on a limited basis. Liria also struck out two in a scoreless inning. David Cales kept Daytona’s hopes alive as he shut out Charlotte in the ninth.

Daytona could only muster four hits against Charlotte on Tuesday and they lost the game 4-2. The D-Cubs manufactured the first run of the game in the fifth inning as John Andreoli (1-for-3) reached on a single and eventually scored on a base hit by Chad Noble (1-for-3 with a RBI). Daytona tied the game in the sixth as Zeke DeVoss walked, moved to third on a Javier Baez (1-for-4) single and scored on a sacrifice fly. Starter Ben Wells couldn’t hold back the Stone Crabs in the sixth. Wells allowed two earned runs, while striking out four batters in 5.1 innings. Jeffrey Lorick recorded the final two outs of the inning, but Eduardo Figueroa gave up two earned runs in the seventh inning. Austin Reed tried to keep the D-Cubs in it with two scoreless innings of his own.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (19-18)

After getting pushed around by Birmingham for a few games, Tennessee found someone more to their level on Sunday as they shut out Jackson 5-0. Kyle Hendricks is beginning to emerge as the Smokies most consistent pitcher. Hendricks struck out four in 6.2 shutout innings. A.J. Morris rebounded from a bad outing and held the Generals in check for an inning while striking out two batters. With Tennessee’s closers not being that effective right now, Zac Rosscup was brought in and struck out three in 1.1 scoreless inning.

Tennessee would get all the runs they needed in the second inning as Christian Villanueva (1-for-2 with a RBI) doubled to lead things off and scored later in the inning on consecutive groundouts. Tim Torres (1-for-4) was able to reach second on a throwing error, and scored on a single from Jair Fernandez (1-for-4 with a RBI). A base hit from Matt Szczur (3-for-5 with two RBI) drove in Fernandez. The Smokies added a run in the fourth as Torres doubled and scored on a Matt Szczur single. Ronald Torreyes (1-for-4) doubled to lead off the fifth and a single from Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) put runners on the corners. Torreyes scored on a sacrifice fly.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Tennessee came back with four runs in the top of the ninth on Monday to beat Jackson 6-4 and even their season record. The Smokies relief pitching kept them in the game as they used a new combination of pitchers. Dallas Beeler started and was touched up for three runs (two earned) while striking out three in six innings. Buddy Bailey then went to Tony Zych, who was a little wild. Zych walked two and gave up two hits and an unearned run in an inning of work. Tennessee then switched to Trey McNutt, who also lacked some control as he also walked two but ended up striking out the side. The Smokies called on Kevin Rhoderick to close thing out, and he set down the Generals 1-2-3 with two strikeouts to earn his first save.

Tennessee jumped out to the lead in the second inning as Rafael Lopez (2-for-4 with a RBI) doubled and a single from Christian Villanueva (1-for-4) moved him to third. Lopez scored on a Rubi Silva (2-for-4 with two RBI) double. The Smokies cut their deficit to one in the seventh inning as Tim Torres (1-for-4) smacked a two out double, stole third and strolled home on an Anthony Giansanti (2-for-4 with a RBI) double. Tennessee tied the score in the top of the ninth as both Rafael Lopez and Rubi Silva hit solo home runs. Torres reached on a throwing error and Giansanti followed with a single. Matt Szczur (2-for-5 with a RBI) doubled in Torres and advanced Giansanti to third. Giansanti scored on a sacrifice fly.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

There were some thrills as Tennessee extended their win streak to four games on Tuesday by beating Jackson 3-2 in ten innings. Against highly touted pitcher Taijuan Walker, starter Alberto Cabrera seemed to take his game up a notch. Cabrera allowed a solo home run to the first batter he faced then shut the Generals down for seven innings while striking out seven batters. Marcus Hatley made short work of Jackson in his inning of work. Hatley set them down in order with a pair of strikeouts. In what now seems to be closer roulette, Zac Rosscup was called upon to nail things down in the ninth. Rosscup struck out two, but he allowed the Generals to tie the game. Tennessee then went to an old reliable, as Frank Batista recorded a 1-2-3 inning to pickup his fourth save.

Ronald Torreyes (1-for-5) doubled to lead off the fourth inning. Torreyes moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on a groundout that tied the score. Tennessee took the lead in the fifth as Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with a home run and a double) homered for the second time this season. It would stay that way until the tenth inning, when Tim Torres (1-for-2, triple) walked to lead off and moved to second on a one out single by Matt Szczur (3-for-5). A grounder by Torreyes forced Szczur at second and put runners on the corners. Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-5, two RBI) then executed a perfect drag bunt to bring in Torres with the eventually winning run.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (14-22)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (and dating myself), Iowa watched another game slip away as they lost to Reno 9-8 on Sunday. The I-Cubs jumped out to a 6-1 lead that began in the second inning with a solo home run from Brad Nelson (2-for-4 with two RBI). Logan Watkins walked to lead off the third and Brett Jackson (3-for-4) doubled to put runners on second and third. A one out walk to Josh Vitters (1-for-3) loaded the bases for Dave Sappelt (1-for-5 with three RBI), who cleared the bases with a triple. Sappelt then crossed the plate on a groundout. Iowa added another run in the fifth as Jackson singled and scored on a double from Brian Bogusevic (1-for-5 with a RBI). Starter Chris Rusin, who gave up an earned run in the second inning, allowed the Aces to get back into the game by letting in another four earned runs. Rusin exited without recording an out in the sixth inning. Casey Coleman slammed the door on Reno for two innings. The I-Cubs tacked on two more runs in the eighth as Nelson singled and Luis Flores (1-for-3) doubled. Pinch-hitter Ian Stewart (1-for-1 with two RBI) laced a triple that brought both runners home. But Reno drew closer in the bottom of the inning as Hisanori Takahashi recorded only one out while serving up a solo home run. Rafael Dolis replaced Takahashi and got out of the inning, but Rafael got back into trouble in the ninth as he allowed another earned run and left with a runner on base. Blake Parker then came in and after getting an out served up a walk-off home run.

One inning was all Iowa would need on Monday as they beat Reno 6-4. The I-Cubs scored all of their runs in the sixth inning, as a single by Logan Watkins (1-for-4) and walks to Brett Jackson and Dave Sappelt loaded the bases. A single from Josh Vitters (1-for-4 and a RBI) moved everyone up ninety feet and scored Watkins. Brad Nelson (1-for-4 with two RBI) then delivered a base hit that scored Jackson and Sappelt. Donnie Murphy (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) capped the scoring with his first home run of the season.

The pitching staff was supported by a defense that turned five double plays as starter Nick Struck lasted six innings. Struck allowed four runs and struck out four batters. Esmailin Caridad kept the Aces in check for two innings, while Zach Putnam set down the side in order in the ninth to collect his second save.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The good feelings from the previous night’s victory were soon wiped out on Tuesday as Iowa lost to Reno 11-1. Starter Barret Loux was lit up for seven earned runs in 3.1 innings. Yoanner Negrin followed and allowed three runs, two earned, with three strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Hisanori Takahashi kept the Aces off the board for an inning, but Casey Coleman gave up an earned run and struck out a batter in an inning of work. The I-Cubs scored their only run in the fourth on back-to-back doubles from Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4) and Brad Nelson (2-for-4 with a RBI).

Venezuelan Summer League

The Venezuelan Summer League started on Monday and the Cubs are bucking a trend as the VSL has seen participation go down from 12 teams in 2001 to only four last year. The league currently has five teams (Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Tampa Bay also have teams), and it is possible that the Cubs would like some of their younger players to start playing meaningful games earlier than the early-to-mid-June starts of the Dominican Summer League, the Arizona Rookie League, and Short-Season A Boise.

It was an inauspicious start for the VSL Cubs as they lost 22-11 in their opener to the VSL Rays. Shortstop Bryant Flete hit at the top of the lineup and went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and a RBI. The player to watch may be centerfielder Arnaldo Calero. With a short stint in the Venezuelan Winter League, Calero seemed primed and ready for a good year. Calero went 3-for-4 with a double, two stolen bases and two RBI. First Baseman Delis Arcila drove in three as he smacked a three-run homer as part. But none of the pitchers had a good day. Twenty-one year old lefty Alberto Diaz was hung with three unearned runs in his inning of work.

The score was a little more down to earth on Wednesday, but the VSL Cubs still wound up on the short end as they lost to the VSL Phillies 8-7. Highly touted 19-year old left hander Chris Pieters was roughed up for four runs (two earned) in 0.2 innings. Twenty year old lefty Agusto Colinas held the Phillies scoreless  for two innings. Arnaldo Calero once again was the big man offensively. Calero went 3-for-5 with three doubles. First Baseman Eufran Vargas went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs. To demonstrate the developmental aspect of the league, pitcher Alberto Diaz lined-up at DH and went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs assigned RHP Dillon Maples to Kane County from extended spring training.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

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  • Ray Ray

    Matt Szcur is having a pretty good year so far in AA. He is pretty even vs RHP and LHP. .301 Avg and .370 OBP. 13 out of 16 in Stolen Bases. Hopefully he continues to improve.

    • Tom U

      Ray Ray, I believe we are seeing the transition of Matt Szczur from athlete to baseball player. Szczur initally struggled after Justin Bour and Jae-Hoon Ha went down with injuries. Now, Szczur, along with Rafael Lopez and Christian Villanueva, have been taking up some of the slack in the Smokies’ offense.

      • Ray Ray

        thanks Tom

        • Tom U

          My pleasure!

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

      That is great to see!

  • Ray Ray

    Tom….Have you seen Loux pitch this year? Is his velocity down? To say he has not been good is an understatement.

    • Tom U

      I saw Loux pitch one game and his velocity is okay. I believe he was pushed up a little too quickly, and his control isn’t good enough for his level. Batters are able to wait him out until he has to throw strikes, then they are ready for him.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Brett Jackson has picked it up slightly. He’s hitting .247 with 27 K in 89 AB……his walk rate is 9 BB so far.

    • Tom U

      Rip, I believe that Jackson will be a work in progress all season. One thing that he should be commended for is taking coaching to rebuild his swing and learn how to be a more consistent hitter. So many players at this level will not take coaching (think Corey Patterson) and go on to have a sketchy career.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Do you think he’ll be up in June/July?

        • Tom U

          Only if he starts showing more improvement and disciple at the plate. Maybe more like August.

        • bluekoolaidaholic

          Yep, right along with your pal Stewart, 1 for 1(triple), 2 rbi They are going to call him up just to spite you hahaha

          • Brp921

            Hey if Stewart’s hitting and deserves a call up I say bring him up.

  • Kevin

    Good to finally see Maples. Any news on Paul Blackburn?

    • Tom U

      Kevin, he will most likely begin the season with Boise.

  • John_CC

    A post for the positive half around here:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/05/the-cubs-are-fun-to-watch-again/

    If you just want to find the negative in everything, don’t bother, it’s about what you are missing by not wanting to see it.

    • Ray Ray

      That is a negative spin to your positive post.

      • John_CC

        Touche.

        But am I wrong?

    • Brp921

      Good article. There are some subtle signs of the improvement in the system.

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

      Love the article. I basically agree with everything he wrote. It is a fun time to be a Cubs fan. The future looks bright and the guys on the field currently are fun to root for.

    • Tony_Hall

      Pretty much what we have been saying, we know we aren’t going to be winning anything right now, so try to find players and trends to enjoy watching as this team gets better over the next few years.

  • Denver Mike

    Tom, I read elsewhere earlier this week that it may be time to “sound the alarms” on Javier Baez. I personally think it’s a bit premature, but a .733OPS and 45/5 K/BB over 155PA is a bit concerning. All the bat speed in the world isn’t going to do anyone any good when they whiff at a 29% clip. What are your thoughts on his progression moving forward?

    • Brp921

      Isn’t he new to this level? I think he just needs time.

    • Tom U

      Denver Mike, I’ll have some news about Baez and a few other players when I complete my article about my recent trip to Kane County. Stay tuned!

      • Denver Mike

        Looking forward to it!

    • paulcatanese

      IMO not to worry, plus Tom will expand I’m sure.
      On the other hand I think that Soler will make the trip to Chicago over Baez, simply because of the position difference. Much easier for an outfielder to make the transition vs an infielder, so many extra things to accomplish . But both will be their soon, just my opinion. Soler for sure though, maybe even this year.

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

        That’s exciting to hear from you Paul!

      • John_CC

        I agree on Soler. He seems to have the better “hit tool” as they say – better eye at the plate, 13/19 BB/K currently, a much higher OBP and plenty of power. This considering he hadn’t played baseball for a season before the Cubs signed him.

        But this year would be a stretch as he played of all 65 minor league games since 2012.

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

    What’s going on with Reggie Golden?

    • Tom U

      Boardrider, Golden has been doing well in EXT and will either break camp with Boise or move to Kane County in the next couple rounds of promotions.

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

        Good to hear! What do you think of him? You see him with the club in a few years?

        • Tom U

          Boardrider, Golden’s worst enemy is himself. If he keeps in shape goes along with the hitting philosophy, he should progress well.

  • paulcatanese

    Gee Tom, Campana was 2/5 with stolen base #10 in that game, and is hitting leadoff them, just thought I would throw that one in:):)

    • paulcatanese

      Going to try to get to Reno or Sacramento to catch a game, both are equal distance from where I live, would be an overnighter though.

      • calicub

        I looked into to it too now that its summer but I don’t think the I-Cubs have anymore games in Sac, Reno or Fresno…

  • BosephHeyden

    Was looking at the MLB standings, and, look at that, we’re a game ahead of the Brewers in the Central. All of a sudden baby steps are becoming toddler steps.

    • paulcatanese

      That’s a plus for the season, onwards and upwards.

      • paulcatanese

        They (Cubs) are really not that bad a team, I admit at the beginning I thought they would have been as bad as last year. Barring cleaning house (again) in the middle of the year, it could be very palatable for the rest of the year.
        I know a lot of people want a World Series from these guys and trading off is a necessary evil in their minds, I respect that, but on the other hand I want to look forward to each and every game and it’s improvement in the standings for the year. It means much more to me when they win with these guys than constantly moving them in and out.
        The insight that Tom brings with the minors and his opinion also carries a lot of weight with me and lets me know how close or how far away help is forthcoming. The idea of “let the kids play” was one of my hopes for the last couple of years. I have changed in that quest and think they are being brought along at a more intelligent approach, and the ones that are brought up now will actually help.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments. I particularly like the tone of everything today. A very good discussion.

  • Ray Ray

    Garza’s ready! Bring him up!