As we near the Memorial Day sign post, Kane County, Daytona, and Tennessee have improved their records to around .500, with only Iowa lagging behind.
Rock Shoulders and Bijan Rademacher continue to be the compelling forces for the Cougars, while Matt Szczur, Christian Villanueva, and Rafael Lopez have stepped up their games for the Smokies. Iowa can’t seem to get the right combination of pitching and hitting, and serving notice in Daytona were Dustin Geiger and Jorge Soler. To find out more, check out Down on the Farm.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report covers games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (20-20)
Under the watchful eye of Theo Epstein, Kane County defeated Peoria 4-0 on Wednesday. The Cubs’ Team President took in the Cougars’ mid-week matinee and saw South African Tayler Scott pitch a beauty. Scott limited the Chiefs to only two hits in 7.1 innings while striking out two batters. Nathan Dorris went the rest of the way, as he gave up only one hit in 1.2 innings to earn his team-leading third save.
The only run the Cougars would need came in the first as Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-3) led off the game with a single and came all the way around from first on a base hit by Bijan Rademacher (2-for-4). Kane County picked up two more runs in the seventh as a triple from Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with two RBI) scored Rock Shoulders (1-for-3), who had singled earlier. A base hit by Marco Hernandez (2-for-3 with a RBI) plated Contreras. Insurance was added in the eighth as Rademacher and Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4) singled and Shoulders walked to load the bases. A base hit from Contreras brought home Rademacher, but Vogelbach was thrown out at the plate.
A day-night doubleheader was scheduled on Thursday to make up games lost to this spring’s poor weather. In game one, Kane County received a boost from the bullpen as they shut out Peoria 5-0. Brian Smith was given his first start of the season and was up for the task. Smith no-hit the Chiefs over four innings while striking out two batters. Eddie Orozco has shown steady improvement and he limited Peoria to a hit with a strikeout in his two innings of work. Jeffry Antigua set down the side in order in the seventh. The Cougars’ first run came in the second inning as Marco Hernandez (3-for-3) doubled and Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-3 with a RBI) delivered a two-out single to plate Hernandez. Kane County put things out of reach in the bottom of the sixth as Hernandez singled, David Bote (1-for-2) walked, and Oliver Zapata sacrificed them to second and third. Chen was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Gioskar Amaya (3-for-4 with a three RBI) thwarted that strategy with a double to clear the bases. A double from Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Amaya.
It looks as if Kane County decided to play “chuck the pill” rather than baseball in game two as six errors led to six unearned runs and an 8-2 defeat. Michael Heesch was starter and the only pitcher to be charged with an earned run. Heesch allowed six runs, two earned, in his three innings. Steve Perakslis was unscathed by the inept defense as he recorded three scoreless innings while striking out two batters. Outfielder Bijan Rademacher was brought in to save the bullpen and he was touched for two unearned runs in an inning of work. Kane County’s only runs scored in the second inning as Carlos Escobar was on board with a fielder’s choice when Marco Hernandez (1-for-3 with two RBI) launched his first home run of the year.
Extra innings are beginning to become a habit with Kane County as they lost 4-3 on Friday to Cedar Rapids in 12 innings. Dillon Maples had his second start and did well enough to win. Maples struck out five and allowed two earned runs in five innings. Lendy Castillo had his best outing of the season as he struck out four and gave up an earned run in five innings. However, Nathan Dorris ended up letting in the winning run as he had two strikeouts in 1.1 innings.
The Cougars struck first as Bijan Rademacher (3-for-5) doubled and came home on a throwing error. Jeimer Candelario (2-for-5) led off the seventh with a double and scored on a two-out single from Marco Hernandez (1-for-5 with a RBI). They tied the score in the eighth as Rademacher reached with a bunt single and raced home on a base hit from Dan Vogelbach (1-for-5 with a RBI).
Kane County experienced another pitching gem on Saturday as they blanked Cedar Rapids 4-0. Starter Pierce Johnson scattered six hits and struck out nine in six scoreless innings, while Justin Amlung added three more strikeouts in two innings as he continued to shut down the Kernels. Jeffry Antigua preserved the shut out, striking out two in the ninth.
The Cougars finally broke the game open in the seventh with two outs as Gioskar Amaya (1-for-3) was hit by a pitch and promptly stole second base. Oliver Zapata (3-for-4 with two RBI) stepped up and singled Amaya home and Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with a RBI) doubled in Zapata. The eighth inning saw Rock Shoulders (2-for-4 with a RBI) launched his ninth home run of the season in the eighth inning … and moved him into second place in the league in home runs. Zapata capped his day in the ninth as with his third home run.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (20-20)
Daytona scrounged only three runs in three games against Charlotte, while giving up 14 as they lost 7-1 on Wednesday. Austin Kirk has had a difficult time getting batters out this month. Kirk has posted a 7.80 ERA so far in May. Kirk was lit up for six earned runs while striking out four in four innings last Wednesday. Luis Liria seems to be trending in the opposite direction. Liria appears to be shaking off a tough start to the year and posted his second consecutive scoreless outing by blanking the Stone Crabs for two innings. A seemingly forgotten man in Sheldon McDonald also tossed two scoreless innings of relief, while Frank Del Valle struck out two and was touched for his first earned run in over two weeks in the ninth. The only run for the D-Cubs came in the fourth as Zeke DeVoss reached on a throwing error and moved to third on a single from Javier Baez (1-for-4). DeVoss scored on a fielder’s choice.
Daytona appeared to be glad to get out of Charlotte as the Stone Crabs completed the four-game sweep on Thursday as the D-Cubs lost 12-7. Daytona was never in this game as Charlotte teed off on starter P.J. Francescon for nine hits and five walks in five innings and scored ten runs (eight earned). Jeffrey Lorick also was hung with an unearned run as he struck out a batter in his 1.2 innings of work. David Cales surrendered the final run while striking out a batter in 1.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Daytona offense tried to battle back, but it was an upstream fight all the way. Dustin Geiger (3-for-5 with a home run) doubled with one out in the second and scored on a single by Chadd Krist (3-for-3 with five RBI). Geiger struck again in the fourth as he whacked a solo home run. Ben Carhart (1-for-4) followed with a single and scored on a double from Krist. A base hit by Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Krist. Daytona scored three more in the fifth as a walk to John Andreoli (1-for-4), a single by Jorge Soler (1-for-5), and another walk by Carhart loaded the bases. Krist delivered again as his double cleared the bases.
The rest of Cubs fans became aware on Friday of what readers of the CCO may have known for some time, which is that Dustin Geiger is a very good player as Daytona took game one of a doubleheader with Lakeland 5-1. Geiger literally lit up the scoreboard as he went 4-for-4 with three doubles, a triple, and four RBI. Geiger added four RBI to his league leading total to 35. Not to be outdone, Jorge Soler also went 4-for-4 with a home run and an RBI. Soler also scored three of the D-Cubs’ five runs. Both may have overshadowed Yeiper Castillo going the entire way while allowing an earned run and striking out two in a complete game seven-inning outing.
Both Dustin Geiger and Jorge Soler continued their onslaught in game two, but it ended up taking 12 innings for Daytona to secure a 7-4 victory. The D-Cubs had to scratch their way back into the game as pitching spotted Lakeland leads of 2-0 and 4-1. Daytona cut the lead in half in the second inning as Jorge Soler (3-for-6) singled and scored on another double by Dustin Geiger (3-for-4 with a RBI). They cut the lead in half again in the fourth inning as Javier Baez (2-for-5) walked, Soler doubled, and Geiger walked to load the bases. Baez then scored on a sacrifice fly from Ben Carhart. The top of the sixth saw Baez and Geiger single, with Baez scoring on a wild pitch. Carhart walked to put runners on first and second for Chadd Krist (2-for-6 with a RBI). Krist singled in Geiger. Things would stay tied until the top of the twelfth when Baez tripled and both Geiger and Carhart were walked to load the bases. A double from Taiwan Easterling (2-for-6 with two RBI) scored Baez and Geiger, and a Taylor Davis (1-for-6 with a RBI) single plated Carhart.
Spot starter Eduardo Figueroa allowed all of the Flying Tigers’ runs as he tossed three innings. Austin Reed continues to shine as he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two batters. Sheldon McDonald proved to be a workhorse and struck out a batter while tossing four scoreless innings. Frank Del Valle had enough in the tank to strikeout three over three innings to pick up the win.
It seems as if Daytona has found the tonic for their ills on offense in the Lakeland pitching staff as they hung on for a 6-5 victory on Saturday. The D-Cubs started fast and kept the pressure up as Javier Baez (3-for-5 with a RBI) doubled with two outs in the first inning and scored on a single from Jorge Soler (2-for-4 with a RBI). The D-Cubs loaded the bases in the second as a one out walk to Chadd Krist, a throwing error on a hit by Tim Saunders (1-for-5), and a single from Wes Darvill (3-for-5) loaded things up. Daytona ended up scoring only one run as Krist scored on a sacrifice fly from John Andreoli (1-for-5 with a RBI). Soler led off the third with a walk Dustin Geiger (2-for-5) followed with a single. Ben Carhart (1-for-5 with three RBI) then belted his first home run of the season that gave the D-Cubs a 5-1 lead. Daytona tacked on a much needed insurance run in the seventh as Darvill singled, stole second and scored on a single by Javier Baez.
Starter Zach Cates has been somewhat frustrating with uneven performances from game to game this season, and Saturday was no exception. Cates allowed three runs and struck out a batter in 5.2 innings. David Cales wasn’t at his best as he gave up two runs (one earned). Cales struck out four in 2.1 innings but it was his throwing error contributed to the unearned run. Hunter Cervenka continued to show why he is a candidate for promotion as he set down the Flying Tigers in order while striking out two and earning his fourth save.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (22-19)
Tennessee had their four game win streak snapped on Wednesday, as the Smokies bullpen allowed six runs in the eighth inning in route to an 8-4 loss to Jackson. Starter Eric Jokisch bounced back after three rough outings and allowed two earned runs while striking out five in 6.2 innings. Trey McNutt continues to struggle. McNutt recorded the final out in the seventh inning but the only out he was able to record in the eighth was on a sacrifice bunt. McNutt ended up allowing two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Brian Schlitter, who had not given up an earned run all season, took over and poured gas on the fire, as an error from catcher Jair Fernandez (2-for-3 with two RBI) helped open the floodgates as four more runs (two earned) came in. Fernandez helped put the Smokies on the board, as his home run followed a Jonathan Mota (1-for-3) single in the second inning that gave the Smokies a 2-0 lead. Tennessee manufactured a run in the fifth as Mota reached on a fielding error and Fernandez walked. A groundout and a wild pitch allowed Mota to score. Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-3) singled in the sixth and advanced to second on a groundout. Rubi Silva (1-for-3) walked, but was thrown out at second in a double steal. A Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a RBI) single plated Alcantara.
The Smokies got some power from an unexpected source on Thursday as they took the series with Jackson with a 6-4 win. Tennessee struck for two runs in the first inning as Ty Wright (2-for-4 with four RBI) homered with Rubi Silva on board. Wright struck again in the third as he launched his second home run of the game after an Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) double. With two out in the sixth, Christian Villanueva was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Jonathan Mota singled to put runners on the corners, and Villanueva scored easily on a double by Rafael Lopez (2-for-4 and a RBI). Mota ended up scoring on a wild pitch.
Starter Matt Loosen had another case of the yips as he walked six and gave up four earned runs on three hits while striking out five in four innings. A.J. Morris had probably his best outing of the season as he struck out three in three scoreless innings to earn the victory. Marcus Hatley shut out the Generals while allowing only one hit in his inning of work. Reliable Frank Batista set down the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save.
Tennessee struck early on Friday and held on to beat Chattanooga 4-3. Facing super-prospect Zach Lee, the Smokies scored all of their runs in the second inning as Ty Wright and Rafael Lopez (1-for-4) started things off with a walk and a single. Christian Villanueva (3-for-4 with a RBI) doubled in Wright and advanced Lopez to third. Lopez scampered home on a wild pitch on a third strike to Rubi Silva. A walk to Tim Torres (1-for-2) loaded the bases and Ronald Torreyes (1-for-5 with two RBI) delivered a two-out single that plated both Villanueva and Silva.
Kyle Hendricks was not as sharp as he has been, but was good enough for the win as he went seven innings while allowing three earned runs and striking out three batters. Perhaps limiting the exposure of Tony Zych may be the best way to utilize him as he set down the side in order in the eighth. Zac Rosscup got his second opportunity to close out a game, and this time was successful. Rosscup walked the first batter he faced before striking out the side.
The Smokies came out on top again on Saturday over the much ballyhooed Chattanooga team and beat the Lookouts 7-5. Tennessee set the tone in the first inning as Matt Szczur (3-for-5 with a RBI) led off the game with a single and scored on a double from Ronald Torreyes (2-for-5 with a RBI). Jonathan Mota (1-for-5) reached on a throwing error in the second and scored on an Anthony Giansanti (2-for-4 with a RBI) triple. Szczur doubled in Giansanti one out later. The Smokies broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth as Mota doubled and Jair Fernandez (2-for-4) singled and put runners on the corners. A double play brought in Mota. Two more runs scored in the seventh as singles by Szczur and Torreyes put two runners on for Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI). The 21-year old has bounced back at the plate recently and Alcantara delivered a double that scored Szczur. Christian Villanueva (1-for-5 with a RBI) singled in Torreyes. Alcantara would ice things in the ninth when he slugged his fifth home run.
Starter Dallas Beeler had his sinkerball working. Beeler struck out six and allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings to improve his record to 4-2. In a similar fashion to Tony Zych, manager Buddy Bailey limited Trey McNutt to one inning and he was effective. McNutt stuck out two in a scoreless inning. The frustration has now spread to Kevin Rhoderick, who followed up a good performance by allowing an earned run in an inning of work. Brian Schlitter was hung with an unearned run, but kept it together enough to pick up his second save.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (15-24)
In the Chicago Cubs version of the child’s game “Where’s Waldo”, rehabbing pitcher Matt Garza popped up in Des Moines on Thursday as Iowa defeated Tucson 1-0. Garza started and looked as if he was almost ready to join the parent club as he shut out the Padres for 6 innings while striking out six batters. Regularly scheduled starter Brooks Raley replaced Garza and completed the shutout. Raley struck out three in three scoreless innings to earn his first save.
The only run of the game came in the second inning as Dave Sappelt (1-for-4), Brian Bogusevic (1-for-3), and Josh Vitters (1-for-3) all singled to load the bases. Sappelt scored on a sacrifice fly from Donnie Murphy (1-for-3 with a RBI).
On Friday, Tucson jumped on Iowa early and kept applying the pressure in a 9-8 loss. Guillermo Moscoso had several good outings since arriving from extended spring training, but was roughed up for four runs (two earned) in five innings while tying an Iowa season high with eight strikeouts. With a 6-4 lead, Esmailin Caridad let the Padres take the lead as he gave up three earned runs in 0.2 innings. Casey Coleman may have been in left in too long as he let in two earned runs in his 2.1 innings. Hisanori Takahashi retired the side in the ninth, but the I-Cubs comeback fell short.
Iowa struck back after the rocky first inning as singles by Josh Vitters (3-for-3 with a RBI) and Darnell McDonald (2-for-4) started off the second inning. A single from J.C. Boscan (2-for-4) gave the I-Cubs their first run, and a double steal scored McDonald. Iowa added a run in the third as a double from Dave Sappelt (2-for-5 with a RBI) drove in Brett Lillibridge (2-for-5). Two more runs scored in the fourth as Logan Watkins (1-for-5 with a RBI) smacked a two out solo home run. Lillibridge singled and Brett Jackson (4-for-5) reached on a throwing error. A double from Sappelt scored Lillibridge, but Jackson was thrown out at the plate. Iowa tried to rally in the ninth. Ian Stewart was called on to pinch-hit and worked a leadoff walk. Edwin Maysonet (1-for-4 with a RBI) doubled Stewart to third, and pinch-hitter Brad Nelson hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home. A single from Brian Bogusevic (1-for-2) drove in Maysonet.
In somewhat of a repeat on Saturday, Tucson scored early and held the lead as Iowa lost 4-2. The Padres were able to get to starter Chris Rusin in the first inning for three runs, aided by two wild pitches, as Rusin ended his night allowing four runs (three earned) with three strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Zach Putnam got Rusin out of the seventh inning with a strikeout; and Rafael Dolis wobbled his way through a scoreless inning while giving up two hits and striking out a batter. Blake Parker also got himself into a jam in the ninth with a walk and a hit, but was able to finish up with a strikeout to end any further threat.
The I-Cubs tried to counter Tucson with a run in the first inning as Logan Watkins (1-for-4) led off with a double and scored on a groundout. Iowa’s only other run came in the fourth as Ian Stewart (2-for-4) singled and Darnell McDonald walked to put two runners on. Donnie Murphy (2-for-3 with a RBI) singled to score Stewart.
News and Notes
The Iowa Cubs activated IF Edwin Maysonet from the 7-Day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (SS) – .255/288/.478/.766 with nine doubles, four triples, six home runs, 23 RBI, three stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – .241/.349/.362/.711 with 14 doubles, a home run, 10 RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 2-3 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP, 40.2 innings pitched, 15 earned runs, 45 strikeouts, 12 walks (Kane County Cougars)
- Barret Loux (RHP) – 2-2 with a 8.22 ERA and a 2.30 WHIP, 23.0 innings pitched, 21 earned runs, 22 strikeouts, 16 walks (Iowa Cubs)
- Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP, 12.1 innings pitched, five earned runs, seven strikeouts, one walk (Kane County Cougars)
- Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .171/.254/.219/.473 with one double, two triples, five RBI, 10 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) – .257/.323/.393/.715 with 13 doubles, two home runs, 22 RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) - .288/.353/.431/.784 with seven doubles, five home runs, 23 RBI, three stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
- Logan Watkins (2B) – .230/.373/.407/.781 with seven doubles, four triples, three home runs, eight RBI, four stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
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