Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/13/13

All eyes seems to have turn to Daytona at the start of the week as Javier Baez looked to claim his spot as the top prospect in the system with a four home run night. The D-Cubs also showed off their speed by stealing ten straight bases in a doubleheader on Sunday. Kane County went into a three game nose dive, while Tennessee’s offense continued to sputter.  Iowa won two in a row with fine relief pitching from Eduardo Sanchez, Michael Bowden, and Casey Coleman.

Along with recaps from the Dominican and Venezuelan Leagues, 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 (28-33)

Kane County couldn’t escape some bad pitching for a few innings on Sunday as they lost 8-4 to Cedar Rapids. Dillon Maples continues to struggle and is perhaps demonstrating he may be a little out of his league right now. Maples gave up four earned runs in only two innings while walking seven and only striking out one batter.  Justin Amlung was pressed into duty and held serve. Amlung blanked the Kernels for two innings and recorded two strikeouts. Felix Pena, in his second appearance since coming off the DL, had a tough time getting batters out as he surrendered four earned runs in two innings. Nathan Dorris tried to keep the Cougars in the game by tossing two scoreless innings. Kane County was actually ahead 1-0 after the first inning as Bijan Rademacher (2-for-5) singled to lead off the game and scored on a double from Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3 with a RBI). The Cougars sliced the lead in half in the fourth when Marco Hernandez (1-for-4 with a home run) drilled his second homer of the season. Albert Almora (2-for-5) started off the fifth with a single and stole second base, as Dan Vogelbach (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) tied the score with his tenth home run.

The Cougars ended their road trip with a Monday matinee and a 6-2 loss to Cedar Rapids. Pierce Johnson struggled through 4.2 innings giving up seven hits and five earned runs while striking out four batters. Lendy Castillo went the rest of the way and he allowed an earned run with three strikeouts in 3.1 innings. Kane County scored their runs in the last two frames. Oliver Zapata (2-for-3) led off the eighth with a single and eventually scored on a groundout. A similar scenario happened in the ninth, as Rock Shoulders (2-for-4) doubled and scored on a groundout.

Tuesday saw Kane County give a huge lead to Burlington, but the Cougars tried to make a game of it before they ended up losing 7-6. Jose Rosario has given up 22 runs in 22.1 innings so far this season and he allowed seven (six earned) in five innings on Tuesday. Rehabbing Cubs’ reliever Shawn Camp worked around a couple of errors for a scoreless frame. Lefty Brian Smith allowed two baserunners in the ninth, but was otherwise perfect in this three innings, shutting out the Bees and striking out three batters. Down 4-0 before they even got to swing the bat, the Cougars came back and tied the score at four in the first. Albert Almora (1-for-4) and Dan Vogelbach (1-for-5) reached on one out singles, and Jeimer Candelario (3-for-5 with a RBI) doubled in Almora. Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) stepped in and delivered a three run homer, his sixth of the season. Kane County inched closer in the sixth as Contreras led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. Reggie Golden (1-for-4 with a RBI) then doubled in Contreras. After a Marco Hernandez (2-for-4) single, Golden scored on a passed ball.

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (32-28)

The storms subsided enough in Florida on Sunday for Daytona to play a doubleheader, and the D-Cubs beat Brevard County 8-2 in the opener. Kyler Burke continued to be impressive since his return from extended spring training, as he allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out five in five innings. Yao-Lin Wang pitched the final two innings, striking out a batter as he held the Manatees scoreless. The D-Cubs got started early as John Andreoli led off the game with a walk, stole second, and scored on a single by Tim Saunders (2-for-3 with a RBI). Saunders then stole second, and eventually scored on a single by Dustin Geiger (2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI). The third inning started like the first as Andreoli walked, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error. Saunders then walked and stole second, moving to third on a groundout that scored Andreoli. After Geiger walked, Saunders scored on a wild pitch. The fifth inning saw Jorge Soler (1-for-4 with a RBI) hit a one out double and trot home on Geiger’s seventh home run. Ben Carhart (1-for-2) followed with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly. Back to back doubles by Saunders and Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a RBI) in the sixth completed the scoring.

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Daytona sweated out a tense struggle in the nightcap as they defeated Brevard County 3-2. Starter P.J. Francescon allowed two first inning earned runs as he went on to pitch five innings and strike out seven batters. Eduardo Figueroa punched out four Manatees in two scoreless innings. John Andreoli (2-for-3) singled and Zeke DeVoss (1-for-2 with a RBI) walked to lead off the game. Andreoli and DeVoss then pulled off a double steal and Andreoli ended up scoring on a groundout. It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when Andreoli singled and scored on a double from DeVoss. Dustin Geiger (1-for-3 with a RBI) laced a one out single that plated DeVoss with the winning run.

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It was The Javier Baez (4-for-4 with four home runs and seven RBI) Show on Monday night as the shortstop issued notice that he is still the top prospect in the organization. Baez was the main cog in Daytona’s 8-6 victory over Fort Myers. Baez started the evening out with his first home run, a two run shot, with Tim Saunders (1-for-3) aboard, in the first inning. Ben Carhart (1-for-4) led off the second with a single and scored on a triple from Zeke DeVoss (1-for-4 with a RBI). A base hit by John Andreoli (1-for-3 with a RBI) drove in DeVoss. Baez started the third inning with a solo home run that increased the D-Cubs lead to 5-1. The fifth inning saw Baez come to the plate with Andreoli and Sanders on base and Javier Baez launched his third home run of the game. But Baez wasn’t done, as he came up to bat in the seventh with two out and blasted his fourth home run of the game.

Zach Cates ended up benefiting from Baez’s performance as he allowed four runs (three earned) and struck out six in six innings. Luis Liria gave up another two earned runs while striking out two in an inning of work. Larry Suarez worked 1.1 scoreless innings, while Frank Del Valle struck out the last two batters of the game to earn his fourth save.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (32-31)

Extra innings seems to be the theme for this year’s minor league season as Tennessee took 11 innings on Sunday to defeat Mobile 5-3. Yeiper Castillo was so-so in his third start for the Smokies. Castillo allowed two earned runs while striking out two in four innings. Hunter Cervenka got the early call and held the BayBears scoreless for 2.1 innings. Tony Zych worked around two walks to keep Mobile off the board for an inning. While Frank Batista gave up the tying run as he pitched a season high 3.2 innings but struck out two and ended up with his second victory.

Tennessee took some time to get their offense going as Rubi Silva (1-for-4 with a home run) belted his ninth home run of the season that gave the Smokies the early lead. Tennessee took the lead again in the sixth as Christian Villanueva walked and scored on a double from Anthony Giansanti (1-for-6 with a RBI). Giansanti moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. Jonathan Mota (3-for-5 with a home run) put the Smokies ahead to stay in the eleventh as he smacked his fourth home run of the season. One out later, Matt Szczur (1-for-4) singled and scored on a double from Ty Wright (1-for-2 with a RBI).

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On Monday, Tennessee relief pitching spoiled an excellent starting effort as the Smokies fell 4-3 to Mobile. A.J. Morris got the call for his second start and looked like he had been doing it all season. Morris tossed 5.1 innings while allowing an earned run and striking out four batters. Zac Rosscup followed and gave an uncharacteristic two earned runs in an inning of work. Trey McNutt did a little heavy lifting as he held the BayBears scoreless for 1.2 innings with a pair of strikeouts. But Kevin Rhoderick continued his nightmare of a season as he let in the winning run score the bottom of the ninth after recording two outs. The Smokies’ sometimes rickety offense was sputtering as Rafael Lopez (2-for-4) led off the second with a double and moved to third on a groundout. Jonathan Mota (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Lopez with a ground rule double. Tennessee took advantage of Mobile miscues in the third as Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) singled, moved to second on a pick-off attempt, and scored on a combination fielding error and throwing error. A single by Christian Villanueva (2-for-4) and a double from Lopez put runners on the corners to start the sixth but only one run scored when Villanueva crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly.

The Tennessee offense continued to stumble on Tuesday as they once again wasted a good pitching effort by losing 3-2 to Mobile. After going 3-0 to start the season, Eric Jokisch has struggled Jokisch struck out seven in 6.2 innings but allowed three runs (two earned). Tony Zych handled the pitching chores the rest of the way and blanked the BayBears for 1.1 innings while recording two strikeouts. The Smokies managed a run in the third as Jonathan Mota (2-for-4) and Elliot Soto (1-for-3) led off with singles and moved up ninety feet on a sacrifice by Jokisch. Matt Szczur (2-for-4 with RBI) lined a single to drive in Mota. Szczur and Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4) reached on one out singles in the eighth and Szczur scored on a base hit from Ty Wright (1-for-4 with a RBI).

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (29-34)

Iowa took three out of five games from powerful Round Rock as they survived a rollercoaster Sunday afternoon to defeat the Express 10-7. The I-Cubs started out fast with back-to-back solo home runs from Brett Jackson (2-for-4 with a home run) and Brad Nelson (3-for-4 with two home run and three RBI). Wildness led to a run in the second and as Junior Lake (3-for-5 with a RBI) and Brian Bogusevic (1-for-5) singled and both Ian Stewart and Dave Sappelt walked to force in Lake. In the third, a walk to Nelson and a single by Steve Clevenger put runners on first and third. After a walk to Stewart, Brent Lillibridge (1-for-4 with two RBI) doubled in both Lake and Stewart. A single by Logan Watkins (2-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Lillibridge. Jackson led off the fourth with a walk, and scored following singles by Nelson and Clevenger. Two more runs scored in the eighth as Jackson singled, stole second and scored on Brad Nelson’s second homer of the day.

Brooks Raley had an afternoon he may want to forget as he allowed seven earned runs and struck out three in five innings. Eduardo Sanchez halted the Express by striking out three in two scoreless innings. Michael Bowden slammed the door by shutting out Round Rick for two innings, as he struck out four and picked up his first save.

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The I-Cubs made it two in a row on Monday as they hung on for dear life to a 7-6 win over Oklahoma City. Yoanner Negrin received his second start of the season and did okay. Negrin allowed five earned runs but struck out eight in five innings. Casey Coleman is fast becoming a dependable reliever and he was able to strike out two in three scoreless innings. Brian Schlitter gave up an earned run in the ninth, but was able to regroup enough to record his second save.

Iowa seemed to score in bunches as Brad Nelson (2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI) led off the second inning with a solo home run. Donnie Murphy (2-for-5) restarted the inning with a single, and was wiped out in a force that allowed Junior Lake (1-for-5) to reach. Lake then stole second, and Ian Stewart walked. After a flyout, Luis Flores walked to load the bases. Logan Watkins (2-for-5 with two RBI) grounded a single to center that plated both Lake and Stewart. In the fifth, Nelson connected again for a solo shot. After Murphy singled and was caught stealing, Lake and Stewart hit back to back doubles. Darnell McDonald (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Stewart with the I-Cubs’ third straight double. Iowa added a much needed insurance run in the eighth as Flores walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, and score on a single from Dave Sappelt (1-for-4 with a RBI).

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Middle relief proved to be the undoing of Iowa on Tuesday as the lost 8-5 to Oklahoma City. Guillermo Moscoso struggled in a few of his previous games and put together another so-so outing on Tuesday. Moscoso allowed three earned runs while striking out two in five innings. Alex Burnett followed and was unable to find the plate. Burnett walked three and gave up two earned runs in an inning. Marcus Hatley was hung with three unearned runs as a throwing error opened up the floodgates in his inning. Hisanori Takahashi finished the game with a scoreless inning. Brett Jackson (1-for-4 with a home run) put Iowa on the board in the first inning as he belted his sixth home run. In the sixth inning Steve Clevenger (1-for-5) and Junior Lake (1-for-3 with a RBI) sandwiched singles around a walk to Brad Nelson that plated Clevenger. Dave Sappelt (1-for-3) and Ian Stewart (1-for-3 with a RBI) walked to lead off the seventh, and Logan Watkins (1-for-5) singled to load the bases. A fielding error scored Sappelt and Stewart. Ian Stewart hit his fifth homer, a solo shot, in the eighth inning.

Dominican Summer League

The DSL Cubs went 2-3 this past week but remain in second place with a 5-3 record. Second baseman Dalfis Otiz has moved into the team lead with a .375 average that includes a home run, six RBI, and three stolen bases.  Jhonny Pena has seen his average dip, and is now hitting .318 with a home run and two RBI. Outfielder Jenner Emeterio has taken over the DSL lead with seven stolen bases, but needs to pick things up offensively as he is hitting only .176 with two RBI. Big 18-year old right hander Luis Hernandez is among the league’s leading pitchers. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has a 0.00 ERA in 8.2 innings for a 1-0 record and six strikeouts. Hernandez is also fourth in the league with a 0.46 WHIP. Nineteen-year old righty Luis Guillen also has a 0.00 ERA and is tied for the team lead with nine strikeouts in seven innings, as well as having a 1.43 WHIP.

Venezuelan Summer League

While the VSL Cubs went 1-3 over the past week to lower their record to 11-13, they still remain in second place. Infielder/outfielder Roney Alcala slipped to fifth place in the league in hitting. Alcala is batting .362 with two homers, while his 15 RBI are good for fifth place. Shortstop/second baseman Bryant Flete moved into first place with nine stolen bases, and has a .272 average while driving in 11 runs. Third baseman Miguel Rico remains tied for the league lead with five home runs, and has improved his average to .218. Right-handed pitcher Greyfer Eregua continues to lead the league with a 0.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP as well as posting 21 strikeouts in 24 innings. Right-hander Francisco Carrillo has moved into seventh in the league by posting a 1.08 WHIP to go along with a 3-1 record and a 2.21 ERA. Carrillo is second in the league with 25 strikeouts.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs assigned OF LHP Jeffry Antigua to Kane County from Iowa; assigned C Lance Rymel to Boise from Tennessee; assigned RHP Michael Hamann to Tennessee from extended spring training; assigned IF David Bote to Boise from Kane County; assigned IF Brad Zapenas to Kane County from extended spring training. The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Yoanner Negrin from the paternity list. The Kane County Cougars placed RHP Eddie Orozco on the 7-Day disabled list.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax