Happy Memorial Day from the CCO!
No headline can be any bigger than the immediate splash made by Albert Almora at Kane County as the Cubs’ first round draft pick from a year ago has taken the Midwest League by storm. Almora’s start may be overshadowing a couple of his teammates as Rock Shoulders is now leading the league in home runs while Pierce Johnson is third in strikeouts and is pitching rather well for the Cougars. Speaking of league leaders, Daytona’s Dustin Geiger continues to lead the Florida State League in RBI. In Tennessee, Kyle Hendricks is fifth in ERA and sixth in WHIP for the Southern League. While out in Iowa, Chris Rusin is in the top 20 in ERA and eighth in WHIP for the Pacific Coast League. To find out how the leaders performed, check out Down on the Farm.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report covers games from Wednesday to Saturday and Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (23-24)
While Kane County lost to Peoria 9-2 on Wednesday, the big news was the arrival of a first round draft pick. Outfielder Albert Almora had been scheduled to open the season with the Cougars before breaking his hamate bone in Spring Training. Almora appeared ready to go as he went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in his debut. Kane County’s scoring was limited to the third inning as Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4) led off with a triple, and Almora brought him home one out later on a double. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a RBI) followed that with a double of his own that plated Almora. Starter Michael Heesch appeared to struggle with his location as he allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out three in 6.2 innings. Eddie Orozco was called in to bail Heesch out of the seventh inning, but was not successful. Orozco gave up another two earned runs before getting the final out. Brian Smith tried to keep the Kernels in check, but let in two more runs (one earned) with a pair of strikeouts.
Kane County battled Peoria for 14 innings on Thursday, their 12th extra innings game of the year, and came out on the losing end 9-8. The big story continued to be Albert Almora (4-for-7, RBI), as he has ran roughshod over Chiefs’ pitching for two days. The Cougars came out swinging in the first inning as Jeimer Candelario (2-for-7 with four RBI) made Peoria pay for walks to Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with two RBI) and Dan Vogelbach (1-for-6 with a RBI) with a two run double. Willson Contreras (1-for-5) led off the second inning with a single and moved to third as Chen reached on a fielding error. Contreras was out at home on Almora’s fielder’s choice, while a single by Vogelbach scored Chen. Almora and Vogelbach then scored on a base hit from Candelario. In the third, Contreras drew a two out walk, stole second, and moved to third on a single by Marco Hernandez (1-for-6). Hernandez stole second to put runners on second and third for Pin-Chieh Chen. Chen delivered a singled that plated both runners. A base hit by Almora drove in Chen for what would be the Cougars’ final run.
Starter Dillon Maples continued to struggle as he allowed eight runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings. However, Lendy Castillo seems reborn as Maples’ piggyback starter. Castillo struck out nine in 5.1 scoreless innings. Jeffry Antigua continued the strikeout parade, as he fanned four and shut out Peoria for two innings. But Justin Amlung couldn’t match his fellow relievers. Amlung gave up the winning run while striking out three in 2.1 innings.
While one first round draft pick has been drawing a lot of attention, another helped propel Kane County to an 8-1 victory Friday … and end a four-game skid. Pierce Johnson allowed only an earned run in his 6.2 innings to go along with eight strikeouts that moved him into third place in the Midwest League. Going the rest of the way for the Cougars was Steve Perakslis, who struck out two in 2.1 scoreless innings.
Two big innings was all Kane County needed, as Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4) reached on a throwing error to lead off the fourth. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-5) singled and Rock Shoulders walked to load the bases. Yaniel Cabezas (1-for-2 with three RBI) cleared the bases with a three run triple. David Bote (1-for-4 with two RBI) followed with a base hit that plated Cabezas. The Cougars seventh inning started with singles by Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5) and Albert Almora (1-for-3) and a walk to Vogelbach that loaded the bases. Shoulders drew a one out walk to force in Chen, and a single by Marco Hernandez (1-for-5 with a RBI) scored Almora. A wild pitch brought Vogelbach home, and Shoulders ended up scoring on a groundout.
To make up for an earlier postponement, Kane County played a doubleheader with Beloit on Saturday and they battled their way back and won in walk-off fashion 4-3. Jose Rosario started his second game and allowed three runs (two earned ) while striking out a batter in 5.1 innings. Nathan Dorris went the rest of the way with three strikeouts over 2.2 scoreless innings to collect his second victory.
The Snappers were up 2-0 in the bottom of the third when Albert Almora (3-for-4 with two RBI) reached on a throwing error and scored on a single by Dan Vogelbach (2-for-3 with a RBI). The Cougars tied things up in the fifth after singles by Oliver Zapata (1-for-2) and Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-4) put two on for Albert Almora. Almora laced a double that plated both Zapata and Chen. In the seventh, Almora singled and advanced to third on a double from Vogelbach. A sacrifice fly by Bijan Rademacher gave Kane County the win.
Kane County then made it a doubleheader sweep on Saturday with a 7-4 win over Beloit in the second game. Down 2-0 going into the bottom half of the first, Albert Almora was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a double by Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a RBI). The Cougars took the lead in the second as Bijan Rademacher (2-for-2 with a stolen base) and David Bote (1-for-2) singled and scored on a double from Oliver Zapata. A wild pitch and a throwing error scored Zapata all the way from second. With the score tied at four in the third inning, Rock Shoulders (2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI) untied things with his 11th home run of the season. In the fifth it was Shoulders going deep again, this time with Vogelbach on board, for his league leading 12th home run. Brian Smith, normally a reliever, got the call to start and made it to the fourth inning. Smith allowed four runs while striking out two batters. Ian Dickson was able to shut down the Snappers the rest of the way as he struck out four in three scoreless innings.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (24-23)
It probably was one of the best birthday gifts one could ask for as Daytona defeated Jupiter 6-4 on Wednesday. Austin Kirk celebrated his 23rd birthday by allowing an earned run while striking out two over five innings in route to his fifth win of the season. Luis Liria reverted back to some of his old ways as he gave up two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Hunter Cervenka earned his fifth save, tied for the most saves in the organization, but not before letting in an earned run to go along with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
The birthday presents started early as the D-Cubs offense gave Kirk a nice cushion in the first inning. Base hits by Zeke DeVoss (1-for-5 with two RBI) and John Andreoli (3-for-5) opened the game, and a double from Javier Baez (1-for-5 with a RBI) scored DeVoss. A single by Jorge Soler cleared the bases. Daytona added two more in the second as Andreoli singled, Baez reached on an error, and Soler walked to load the bases. Florida State League RBI leader Dustin Geiger (2-for-5 with two RBI) then delivered a two-run double.
Chadd Krist (1-for-3) doubled with one out in the third inning. A Wes Darvill (1-for-3) single moved Krist to third, and he scored on a groundout. A couple of more runs were added in the eighth as Taiwan Easterling (1-for-5) led off with a single and stole second base. Krist walked and a sacrifice bunt from Darvill moved everyone up a base. A throwing error on a ball hit by DeVoss allowed both Easterling and Krist to score.
Daytona could not get their bats going until late, and they came up short in an 8-4 loss to Jupiter on Thursday. Zach Cates was not able to hold the Hammerheads as he allowed four earned runs in five innings while striking out four batters. Jeffrey Lorick could not find the zone in his inning of work. Lorick walked three and gave up a hit that led to another earned run. Sheldon McDonald was his own worst enemy as his throwing error led to three runs (one earned) in two innings of work. The D-Cubs didn’t score until the fourth inning, when John Andreoli (3-for-5) singled and scored on a double by Jorge Soler (1-for-3 with a RBI). Daytona tried to climb back into it in the eighth, as a one out double by Wes Darvill (1-for-3) and a single from Andreoli put runners on second and third. A walk to Soler loaded the bases, and Darvill scored on a sacrifice fly. A double by Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with a RBI) plated both Andreoli and Soler.
The D-Cubs were enjoying a tenuous 2-1 lead on Friday when their pitching collapsed and they ended up losing 7-3 to Lakeland. Starter Ben Wells was the victim of the mounting error totals of Javier Baez (2-for-4), who was charged with two on Friday to raise his total for the season to 22. Wells went five innings and allowed three runs (one earned) while striking out two batters. The game got out of hand as Frank Del Valle had his first poor outing of the season. Del Valle gave up four earned runs to go along with two strikeouts in two innings. Austin Reed mopped up with two strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
Daytona got on the board early as a Dustin Geiger (2-for-4 with two RBI) base hit drove in John Andreoli (3-for-5 with two stolen bases) and Jorge Soler (1-for-3). Another run was added in the eighth as the bases were juiced by singles from Baez, Soler and Geiger. Baez scored on a groundout.
One inning was all the Daytona needed on Saturday as they defeated Lakeland 5-4. The second inning proved to be key as a double by Jorge Soler (1-for-4), a walk to Dustin Geiger, and a single from Chadd Krist (1-for-3) loaded the bases. Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3 with two RBI) singled in Soler and Geiger. Tim Saunders (2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) hit his first home run of the season that cleared the bases and gave Daytona a 5-0 lead.
Starter Kyler Burke blanked the Flying Tigers for three innings while striking out two batters. Eduardo Figueroa allowed an earned run in 1.1 innings, before Hunter Cervenka put together his worst outing of the season. Cervenka gave up three earned runs in 1.2 innings. Luis Liria notched his second save with a scoreless ninth.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (24-23)
After a day off, Tennessee was back in action on Thursday as pitching dominated in their 2-0 victory over Huntsville. Starter Kyle Hendricks had one of his best efforts of the season, as he struck out seven in seven scoreless innings. Brian Schlitter worked around two hits to keep the Stars off the board for another inning. Marcus Hatley bounced back from a tough outing to record his second save.
All the scoring happened in the fourth inning. Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-2 with a home run) led off the inning with his sixth home run of the season. Rafael Lopez (1-for-3) reached on a two out single and scored on a double from Tim Torres (1-for-3 with a RBI).
Huntsville broke open a 1-1 tie as yet another bullpen collapse by Tennessee led to a 6-2 loss on Friday. Yeiper Castillo, called up from Daytona as Dallas Beeler was placed on the disabled list, gave up a solo home run but was able to mow down the Stars with seven strikeouts in six innings. Trey McNutt followed and, this time, limiting him to an inning didn’t aid matters as he served up a two-run home run. Kevin Rhoderick was hung with an unearned run as he pitched an inning, while Tony Zych also gave up a two-run home run in his inning of work.
The Tennessee offense had consisted of a solo home run by Rubi Silva (2-for-4 with a home run) in the second inning. The Smokies mounted a feeble comeback in the ninth as Silva singled and moved to second on defensive indifference. Pinch-hitter Anthony Giansanti drove Silva in with a single.
Pitching was the undoing of Tennessee again on Saturday as they lost to Huntsville 7-2. Alberto Cabrera started for the Smokies and was unable to hold back the Stars. Cabrera allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out seven in six innings. A.J. Morris gave up another two earned runs in 1.1 innings. Brian Schlitter recorded a strikeout in 1.2 scoreless innings.
The only run for Tennessee came in the fifth, as Arismendy Alcantara belted his seventh home runs with Cabrera, who had walked earlier, on base.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (21-25)
On Wednesday, Iowa lost 9-4 to Las Vegas. Guillermo Moscoso joined the squad late and was enjoying some success until he was lit up by the 51’s. Moscoso allowed eight earned runs in four innings that included a grand slam. Casey Coleman was called on to restore order and did his job. Coleman held Las Vegas scoreless for two innings while striking out two batters. Hisanori Takahashi took over in the eighth and pitched the final two innings while giving up an earned run and struck out two batters. The I-Cub offense tried to make a game of it as Brian Bogusevic (1-for-2, RBI) homered to lead off the third inning. Brett Jackson (1-for-3) followed with a triple, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Edwin Maysonet (2-for-5 with a home run) led off the fifth with a solo homer, while Donnie Murphy (1-for-3 with a home run) popped his own solo homer in the sixth inning.
Iowa rode the arms of their pitching staff on Thursday as they shut out Las Vegas 4-0. Chris Rusin scattered six hits over six innings while striking out four batters. Yoanner Negrin has been Iowa’s most consistent pitcher, and he was up to the task as he blanked the 51’s for two innings while recording two strikeouts. Eduardo Sanchez saw his first action as a member of the Cubs’ organization. Sanchez struck out two in a scoreless inning.
The I-Cubs never looked back after the first inning as Logan Watkins (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) led off the game with a home run. A single by Brett Jackson (1-for-3) and a walk by Dave Sappelt (2-for-3 with a RBI) put two runners on. Jackson scored on a throwing error. Rusin started the fifth inning off with a double and scored on a single by Sappelt. Josh Vitters (2-for-3) began the sixth with a walk, and moved to third on pinch-hitter Ian Stewart’s single. A base hit by Watkins drove in Vitters.
The I-Cubs got decent pitching and just enough offense on Friday to squeak out a 5-4 victory over Oklahoma City. Nick Struck has been showing signs of becoming more consistent lately. Struck allowed three runs while striking out four in 5.1 innings. Esmailin Caridad got Struck out of the sixth inning, but after walking a batter to lead off the seventh, Caridad had to leave the game with an apparent arm injury. Hisanori Takahashi took over and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning. Zach Putnam got the long save as he shut out the Red Hawks the rest of the way that included two strikeout in two innings.
A big first inning set the tone as singles by Brian Bogusevic (1-for-4) and Dave Sappelt (1-for-3), as well a walk to Josh Vitters (1-for-2 with a home run) loaded the bases. Ian Stewart drew a walk to force in Bogusevic, and Sapplet scored on a walk to Darnell McDonald. A single by J.C. Boscan (1-for-3 with two RBI) drove in Vitters and Stewart. Vitters added what would be the winning run in the third as he cracked his third home run of the season.
Iowa won for the third day in a row on Saturday as they beat Oklahoma City 7-3. Brooks Raley allowed two earned runs in the first inning then settled down and ended up pitching 3.1 innings with six strikeouts. Casey Coleman went the rest of the way as he tossed 2.2 scoreless innings to record his first save. Iowa answered the RedHawks runs with four of their own in the second as singles by Brad Nelson (2-for-4) and Donnie Murphy (1-for-4), as well as a walk to Ian Stewart loaded the bases. A double from Luis Flores (2-for-2 with two RBI) scored Nelson and Murphy, while Stewart came home on a groundout. Flores was able to scamper home on a single by Brian Bogusevic (3-for-5). Two more runs scored in the sixth as Nelson singled and scored on Edwin Maysonet’s (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) third home run of the season. The I-Cubs added an insurance run in the eighth as the sacks were juiced after a single by Maysonet and walks to Flores and Logan Watkins (1-for-3, RBI). A single by Bogusevic plated Maysonet.
News and Notes
The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Esmailin Caridad on the 7-Day disabled list. The Tennessee Smokies assigned RHP Marcus Hatley to the Iowa Cubs; placed RHP Dallas Beeler on the 7-Day disabled list; released C Jair Fernandez. The Daytona Cubs assigned RHP Yeiper Castillo and C Chad Noble to the Tennessee Smokies; activated RHP Yao-Lin Wang from the 7-Day disabled list; activated LHP Kyler Burke from extended spring training. The Kane County Cougars activated OF Albert Almora from extended spring training.
Top Prospect Watch
- Albert Almora (OF) – .571/.625/.810/1.435 with five doubles, four RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Javier Baez (SS) – .265/.301/.475/.776 with 12 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 25 RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – .254/.347/.364/.711 with 16 doubles, a home run, 16 RBI (Kane County Cougars)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP, 47.1 innings pitched, 16 earned runs, 53 strikeouts, 14 walks (Kane County Cougars)
- Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-0 with a 6.59 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, 13.2 innings pitched, 10 earned runs, 11 strikeouts, four walks (Kane County Cougars)
- Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .185/.255/.258/.514 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, nine RBI, 13 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Jorge Soler (OF) – .299/.375/.510/.885 with 11 doubles, a triple, six home runs, 23 RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Christian Villanueva (3B) – .247/.313/.389/.702 with 14 doubles, three home runs, 24 RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) - .291/.359/.429/.788 with 10 doubles, five home runs, 28 RBI, three stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
- Logan Watkins (2B) – .230/.371/.408/.779 with seven doubles, four triples, four home runs, 11 RBI, four stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
Note: Albert Almora replaced Barret Loux on the Top Prospect Watch