As the minor league seasons approach the midway point the All-Star squads for the Midwest and Florida State Leagues have been set with several Cubs’ prospects named to their respective rosters.
Kane County continues to battle to reach the .500 mark while Daytona rides great pitching from Austin Kirk, Ben Wells, and Frank Del Valle to push their record to two above break-even. Tennessee is now a season high five games over as Kyle Hendricks, A.J. Morris, and the top of their batting order secured three straight wins. In Iowa, Brooks Raley and Casey Coleman were able to eke out a win against New Orleans. For more details, see what’s inside of this version of 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 (25-30)
Persistence paid off for Kane County on Sunday as they were able to come back and beat Cedar Rapids 3-2 in 10 innings. The thirteenth extra inning game for the Cougars started with Michael Heesch on the mound. Heesch allowed the only two earned runs in the third inning. Heesch went six innings and struck out four batters. Steve Perakslis did a great job working out of a jam to hold the Kernels scoreless for three innings as he fanned three. Eddie Orozco set down the side in order in the tenth to earn his third victory.
The Cougars pecked away as Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a home run) got them on the board in the third inning with his eighth home run. It was Vogelbach again in the sixth as he hustled for a double to lead things off. Vogelbach moved to third on a sacrifice fly and scored on a wild pitch. In the tenth, Albert Almora (3-for-4) smacked a one out double. An intentional walk to Vogelbach and a single by Jeimer Candelario (3-for-5) loaded the bases. Rock Shoulders drew a walk to force in the winning run.
Kane County looked as if they had the game in hand after five innings on Monday, but the bullpen absolutely fell apart and they lost to Cedar Rapids 10-4. Dillon Maples had his most impressive outing of the season. Maples struck out seven over five scoreless innings. However, piggyback Lendy Castillo had one of his worst outings. Castillo allowed five earned runs in 0.2 innings. Justin Amlung didn’t fare much better and gave up five runs (four earned) in an inning of work. Nathan Dorris got the Cougars through the rest of the game by shutting out the Kernels for 2.1 innings while striking out three batters. Singles by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-5) and Albert Almora (1-for-4) started the game for Kane County, with a base hit by Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a RBI) scoring Amaya. In the second inning, Reggie Golden (2-for-4 with a home run) led off with his first home run of the season. David Bote followed with a walk and Amaya reached on a throwing error. Bote scored on a fielder’s choice with Almora making it to second on another throwing error. Almora then stole third and came home on a single by Rock Shoulders (2-for-4 with a RBI).
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (29-27)
Daytona stepped on the gas early on Sunday and never looked back as they defeated Brevard County 5-0 in a six and a half inning, rain shortened game. Tim Saunders started the game with a walk and stole both second and third base. Ben Carhart (2-for-3) walked and Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Saunders. A base hit by Jorge Soler (1-for-4 with two RBI) scored Carhart and Baez scored after two wild pitches. In the sixth, Dustin Geiger (1-for-4) doubled, a passed ball moved him to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Carhart and Baez reached on one out singles in the top of the seventh and Carhart scored on a groundout. Austin Kirk went the distance as he struck out seven through six scoreless innings for his sixth victory of the season.
The D-Cubs couldn’t overcome a bad relief performance on Monday as they lost to Bradenton 5-3. Zach Cates pitched well enough to win as he went five innings and allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out two batters. Yao-Lin Wang, a usually reliable pitcher, had a bad outing as he gave up three earned runs and struck out three in three innings. The Daytona offense seemed out of sync, but managed a run in the second as Tim Saunders (1-for-3) singled and scored on a double from Yaniel Cabezas (2-for-3 with a RBI). Another run was added in the third when Javier Baez (1-for-4) doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly. The eighth inning saw Cabezas crack another double. A single from John Andreoli (1-for-4) moved him to third and Cabezas scored on a groundout.
The pitching staff bounced back on Tuesday as Daytona blanked Bradenton 1-0. Ben Wells had his sinkerball working. Wells recorded eight groundouts while striking out four batters as he held the Marauders scoreless over five innings. Frank Del Valle got the long save as he pitched four innings and struck out four. And he also helped himself out of a jam by picking off a runner at second base. The only run of the game came in the sixth as Yaniel Cabezas walked, advanced to third on a single by Tim Saunders (2-for-4) and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (31-26)
A rainout on Sunday meant a doubleheader on Monday and Tennessee took both ends of the twin bill from Jackson. The Smokies won game one 2-0. Kyle Hendricks was fresh off of being named the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month and celebrated by going the distance for his sixth victory. Hendricks scattered seven hits while striking out seven in seven innings. Matt Szczur (1-for-2) led off the bottom half of the first inning with a double and scored on a single from Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3 with a RBI). The Smokies added an insurance run in the fifth as Elliot Soto (1-for-2) led off with a double and scored on a double from Ronald Torreyes (1-for-2 with a RBI).
A.J. Morris made his first start since 2010 in game two as Tennessee took the nightcap 7-1. Morris went 4.1 innings while striking out two and allowing an earned run. Tony Zych and Kevin Rhoderick each pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings to collect the win and the save respectively. The Smokies never looked back after the fourth inning when Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) homered with Ronald Torreyes (3-for-3 with two RBI) on board. Ty Wright (1-for-4) restarted the inning with a single and Anthony Giansanti was hit by a pitch. A groundout moved the runners up ninety feet and Wright scored on a wild pitch. A single by Chad Noble (1-for-3 with a RBI) drove in Giansanti. In the fifth, Torreyes singled and eventually scored on a double from Rafael Lopez (1-for-1 with a RBI). Two more runs scored in the sixth as Elliot Soto walked and a base hit from Matt Szczur (1-for-3) put two on base. A double by Torreyes scored both runners.
Tennessee survived six runs off their starter by pounding out fifteen hits as they beat Jackson on Tuesday 8-6. Yeiper Castillo was manhandled by the Generals as they scored six earned runs on six hits with three walks. Castillo went six innings and struck out four batters. Hunter Cervenka held Jackson scoreless for 1.2 innings with two strikeouts and earned his first Double-A victory. Frank Batista recorded a four out save, his eighth of the season, with the assist of a runners interference call.
The Smokies scored in bunches as the second inning started with a one out walk to Rafael Lopez (1-for-4) and a single from Chad Noble (4-for-5 with a RBI). Matt Szczur (3-for-5 with three RBI) doubled in both Lopez and Noble, and Szczur trotted home on a home run by Ronald Torreyes (2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI). In the fifth, Ty Wright (2-for-5 with a home run) smacked a solo shot of his own, his third of the season. Wright then singled to lead off the seventh inning, and moved to third on a double from Lopez. A single by Chad Noble scored Wright and Lopez took third. Szczur grounded into a fielder’s choice that plated Lopez with the go ahead run. Szczur then stole second and scored on a single by Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-5 with a RBI).
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (25-32)
A tired bullpen contributed to a 5-3 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. After using five relievers and going 13 innings the night before, starter Chris Rusin was asked to go as many as he could. Rusin gave up a pair of earned runs in the seventh and those runs proved to be the difference as Rusin went seven innings and allowed five earned runs while striking out four batters. Michael Bowden made his 2013 I-Cubs debut and struck out three in 1.2 innings. Casey Coleman got the final out. Iowa scored two in the third as Rusin led off with a single and was bunted to second by Logan Watkins (1-for-4 with a RBI). A base hit by Dave Sappelt (2-for-4) moved Rusin to third and Rusin scored on a sacrifice fly. Brent Lillibridge (1-for-4 with a RBI) doubled in Sappelt. Iowa added a run in the seventh as Luis Flores (1-for-4) singled, advanced to third on two groundouts and scored on a Logan Watkins single.
Another extra innings ballgame taxed the bullpen enough to allow New Orleans to defeat Iowa 10-5 in 13 innings. Nick Struck was shaky from the beginning. Struck worked out of a first inning jam but allowed five earned runs on ten hits while striking out four in five innings. The I-Cubs’ offense stormed back to tie the game and the comeback started in the third inning as Brett Jackson (4-for-6 with a home run and two RBI) blasted his fourth home run. In the fifth Darnell McDonald walked to start the fifth inning. Logan Watkins (1-for-6) reached on an error. A single by Jackson scored McDonald, and Brent Lillibridge was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rehabbing Steve Clevenger (1-for-3 with three RBI) doubled to clear the bases. Lefty Jeffry Antigua took over for Struck and held the Zephyrs for 2.1 innings, while Brian Schlitter did the same for 1.2 innings. Hisanori Takahashi struck out five as he worked a season high three scoreless innings. However, Eduardo Sanchez was ripped by the New Orleans offense. Sanchez gave up five runs (three earned) in the thirteenth inning.
Iowa salvaged their final game of the series with New Orleans on Tuesday by beating the Zephyrs 10-2. Brooks Raley had to leave a game early again. Raley was hit in the biceps but before he left he surrendered an earned run while striking out in 3.1 innings. Casey Coleman picked up the slack by tossing 3.2 innings of shutout ball with two strikeouts. Marcus Hatley gave up an earned run in an inning, while newcomer Alex Burnett pitched a scoreless inning.
The I-Cub offense came up big in the fifth inning as Casey Coleman and Logan Watkins (3-for-5) reached with one out singles, and Brian Bogusevic walked to load the bases. A Brett Jackson (1-for-5 with two RBI) base hit scored Coleman and Watkins, and a fielder’s choice by Dave Sappelt plated Bogusevic. Steve Clevenger (2-for-4) singled to put two runners on for Brad Nelson (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) … and his home run cleared the bases. Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a home run) followed with a solo shot of his own. In the sixth inning, Watkins singled and eventually scored on two throwing errors. Iowa added two more in the eighth as pinch-hitter Darnell McDonald doubled and came home on the sixth homer of the year by Brian Bogusevic.
The Florida State League and the Midwest League announced the members of their respective All-Star teams this week, and several of the Cubs’ prospects figured prominently.
Daytona outfielder John Andreoli, infielder Javier Baez, first baseman Dustin Geiger, and outfielder Jorge Soler were named to North squad of the Florida State League. Outfielder Bijan Rademacher, first baseman Rock Shoulders, and first baseman Dan Vogelbach along with left-hand pitcher Nathan Dorris, right-hand pitchers Felix Pena and Tayler Scott will represent Kane County for the West Division in the Midwest League.
Dominican Summer League
The DSL Cubs opened play on Saturday and are tied for the league lead with a 3-0 record. Jhonny Pena appears to have moved to first base from catcher and leading the team in hitting with a .456 average that includes a home run and two RBI. The surprise has been infielder Varonex Cuevas. The soon-to-be 21-year old has kicked around with the DSL Cubs for the past two years, but may be showing a glimmer of hope as he is batting .444 and leading the team with three stolen bases. Centerfielder Roberto Caro has taken over the leadoff spot in the line-up and is hitting .333 with two stolen bases. The early pitching leader is 17-year old left-hander Jesus Perez. Perez has pitched four scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a 0.75 WHIP. Twenty-one year old righty Carlos Llano leads the team with six strikeouts in 2.1 innings and has a 3.86 ERA.
Venezuelan Summer League
The VSL Cubs remain in second place by going 3-2 over the last week to run their record 10-8. Infielder/outfielder Roney Alcala has moved into fourth place in the league in hitting. Alcala is batting .370 with two homers, while his 14 RBI are good for fifth place in the league. Shortstop/second baseman Bryant Flete is thirteenth in the league with a .310 average and second in the league with six stolen bases, while driving in 10 runs. Third baseman Miguel Rico remains tied for the league lead with five home runs, but saw his average slip to .190. Right-handed pitcher Greyfer Eregua continues to lead the league with a 0.50 ERA and 0.83 WHIP while posting 14 strikeouts in 18 innings. Right-hander Francisco Carrillo is right behind Eregua with a 0.87 WHIP to go along with a 3-0 record, 1.04 ERA, and a league leading 23 strikeouts.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned OF Pin-Chieh Chen to Tennessee from Kane County; assigned LHP Austin Kirk to Tennessee from Daytona; assigned RHP Matt Loosen to Daytona from Tennessee; assigned C Neftali Rosario from extended spring training to Kane County.
The Tennessee Smokies placed OF/IF Tim Torres on the 7-Day disabled list. The Kane County Cougars placed C Willson Contreras on the temporary inactive list; activated RHP Felix Pena from the 7-Day disabled list.