Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/17/13

Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/17/13

All-Star season is upon us as Daytona went into their break on Thursday while Kane County will take off following Sunday’s game. Tennessee ended a losing streak as Kyle Hendricks continues to impress. In Iowa, Steve Clevenger looks to be ready for bigger and better things as he led the I-Cubs to two straight victories.

Along with highlights from the Florida State League All-Star game and our Top Prospect Watch, here is today’s Down on the Farm Report.

Editor’s Note: Monday’s report covers games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Short-Season A – Boise Hawks (1-1)

Boise opened their 2013 season in Eugene on Friday, and while not as high profile as last season, proved to be a good team in their own right as they won 7-0. Twenty-year old James Pugliese, who was drafted in 2011, opened for the Hawks and simply dazzled the Emeralds by blanking them over five innings while allowing three hits and striking out seven. Jasvir Rakkar kept the strikeout machine going as he fanned three in two scoreless innings. Veteran lefty Matt Iannazzo tossed a shut out inning, and Michael Hamann returned from an arm injury to complete the game with a scoreless inning.

The big inning was the third, as David Bote (1-for-3 with a RBI) led off with a single. Shawon Dunston Jr. (4-for-6) followed with a base hit, and a throwing error moved the runners up a base. An RBI single by Carlos Penalver (1-for-5 with a RBI) plated Bote and moved Dunston Jr. to third. An attempted double steal with Penalver taking second resulted in a throwing error that scored Dunston Jr. A double by Kevin Encarnacion (2-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Penalver, while the next batter, Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with a home run), walked. Rogers was out at second on a force that allowed Trevor Gretzky to reach, and Encarnacion came home as a pick-off attempt resulted in a throwing error. Lance Rymel was hit by a pitch, and Danny Lockhart (2-for-4with a RBI) singled to bring home Gretzky. Rogers belted the first Boise home run of the season to lead off the seventh. In the ninth, Bote drew a bases loaded walk to force in Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4). Balaguert walked to lead off the inning, moved to second as Rymel was hit again, and third on a walk to Lockhart.

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It was a pitcher’s duel in Eugene on Saturday and Boise ended up on the losing end 1-0. Paul Blackburn was simply overpowering for the Hawks. Blackburn allowed one hit and struck out eight through five scoreless innings. Corbin Hoffner had a different approach but was still effective. Hoffner recorded five groundouts and a strikeout as he blanked the Emeralds for three innings. But Tyler Bremer served up a home run to the first batter he saw, and with it, the ballgame. Only three Boise players had hits, Shawon Dunston Jr. went 1-for-4 while Jacob Rogers and Jose Dore each went 1-for-3.

Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (29-36)

With rain cancelling their game on Wednesday, Kane County got back into action on Thursday and beat Burlington 4-1. Tayler Scott kept the ball down. Scott allowed an earned run while striking out two and inducing 11 groundouts in 7.2 innings. Steve Perakslis went the rest of the way and struck out two batters in 1.1 scoreless innings for his second save. The big man in the Cougars’ line-up once again was Albert Almora (3-for-4 with three RBI). Almora tripled in the third inning and plated Reggie Golden (1-for-3). Brad Zapenas (1-for-3) got his first start of the year and singled with one out in the fifth. After a throwing error and a walk to Bijan Rademacher (1-for-2), Zapenas scored on a single from Almora. Rademacher had a one out single and was driven in on a double from Almora. Almora took third on the throw home and later scored on a groundout.

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Kane County was locked in a scoreless struggle with Wisconsin on Friday until the game broke open in the fifth and the Cougars went on to lose 5-1. Michael Heesch escaped trouble in the first and fourth innings, but wasn’t so lucky in the fifth and sixth as he allowed five earned runs. Nathan Dorris tossed a scoreless inning, while rehabbing Shawn Camp struck out three and blanked the Timber Rattlers over two innings. The only run for the Cougars came in the eighth, as Willson Contreras (2-for-3) tripled and scored on a groundout.

Some of Kane County’s highly touted pitchers were unable to subdue Wisconsin on Saturday, as they lost 11-5 in a game that wasn’t as close as it may seem. Dillon Maples continued his struggles. Maples allowed four runs, two earned, on two hits with four walks in only 0.2 innings. Justin Amlung was brought along slowly last season with the thought of becoming a top closer. However, Amlung has not lived up to his reputation as he gave up three earned runs and struck out three in 2.1 innings. Felix Pena ate up some innings as he is rounding back into form after a trip to the DL. Pena let in an earned run while striking out five in four innings. The parent club made Lendy Castillo a Rule 5 draft choice last year, but he has failed to show any promise as he was touched up for three runs (two earned) in two innings. Down 7-0, the offense made it look a little more respectable as Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a RBI) doubled to lead off the third inning. A groundout moved Contreras to third, and he scored on a double by Bijan Rademacher (3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI). An Albert Almora (2-for-5) single put runners on the corners and Almora moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Another groundout brought in Rademacher, and a single from Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3 with a RBI) plated Almora. In the fourth, Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4) doubled and came home on a single from Contreras. The Cougars added a run in the bottom of the ninth as Rademacher hit his second home run of the season.

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (32-30)

Once again, the unpredictable Florida weather forced a doubleheader on Wednesday and Daytona dropped game one, 6-3 to Fort Myers. In what looks like a pattern, starter Ben Wells had some early success by striking out batters before getting away from his game. Wells’ strength is keeping his sinkerball down and inducing groundouts but he changed what was successful and as a result he was hammered for five runs (three earned) in the fourth inning. Wells finished with five strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Sheldon McDonald was called on to get Wells off the hook, but he gave up an earned run with an inherited runner. McDonald pitched 1.2 innings and struck out a batter. Larry Suarez struck out two as he held the Miracle scoreless for the final 1.2 innings. The D-Cubs actually took the lead in the third inning as Jorge Soler (2-for-4) singled and scored, as Dustin Geiger walked and Ben Carhart (1-for-3 with a RBI) drove in Soler with a base hit. After a walk to Chadd Krist (2-for-3 with a home run), Geiger came home on a groundout. Daytona put a run on the board in the sixth on Chadd Krist’s first home run in a D-Cubs’ uniform.

Daytona attempted a furious comeback in game two, but wound up on the short end as they lost to Fort Myers 5-4. Matt Loosen looked a lot like the pitcher that went 11-5 last year. Loosen struck out six while allowing two earned runs in four innings. Austin Reed has not been able to string together good performances this season, and Wednesday was no different as he gave up three earned runs with four strikeouts in three innings. Down 2-0, the D-Cubs cut the lead in half in the fifth inning as John Andreoli (3-for-5 with a RBI) led off with a double and scored on a single from Tim Saunders (1-for-3 with a RBI). Daytona added another run in the sixth as Wes Darvill and Taylor Davis walked to start things off and Darvill scored on a single by Andreoli. Zeke DeVoss (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) made the game close in the seventh as he cracked his third homer of the season with Ben Carhart along for the ride.

With all of the rainouts recently, as well as the pending All-Star break, Daytona used an odd pitching alignment on Thursday to beat Fort Myers 5-1. Reliever Yao-Lin Wang got the call to start and showed he still has the ability to get that job done. Wang struck out three in four scoreless innings. Starter Kyler Burke then came in to get some work as he allowed an earned run in an inning, while P.J. Francescon was also called on and delivered a scoreless inning. The game was then turned over to the bullpen as Jeffrey Lorick blanked the Miracle for an inning, and Eduardo Figueroa contributed another 1.1 innings. Frank Del Valle came in and struck out the final two batters.

The D-Cubs got the scoring going in the fourth inning, as Zeke DeVoss (1-for-3) doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice fly, and scored on a groundout. In the fifth, Tim Saunders (2-for-3) laced a two-out double to left and scored on a single by Yaniel Cabezas (1-for-3 with a RBI). Cabezas took second on the throw home, and scored on a base hit from John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a RBI). Jorge Soler (1-for-4) singled to start off the sixth and moved to third on a double by Dustin Geiger (2-for-4). Chadd Krist (1-for-4 with two RBI) cleared the bases with a double of his own.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (32-34)

Tennessee continued to limp their way along in the first half of 2013 as they lost 3-2 on Thursday to Mississippi. Alberto Cabrera pitched just good enough to win, and just bad enough to lose as he allowed two earned runs and struck out seven in seven innings. The train wreck that is Trey McNutt’s season continued to careen down the tracks as he gave up two hits and the winning run in his inning of work. Hunter Cervenka struck out a batter as he tossed a scoreless ninth. The Smokies scratched out their only runs in the seventh innings as Ty Wright (1-for-4) led off with a single. A one-out base hit by Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4) and a passed ball put runners on second and third. Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur (1-for-2 with a RBI) singled to score Wright and advanced Giansanti to third. Szczur took second on a throwing error. Giansanti later scored on a groundout.

Tennessee dropped their fourth straight game on Friday by losing 4-3 to Mississippi. The offense could not support the pitching as starter Austin Kirk allowed three earned runs through five innings while striking out three batters. Tony Zych was hung with the loss due to an unearned run on two passed balls as he struck out two in an inning of work. Trey McNutt worked back-to-back games for the first time this season and was successful in holding the Braves scoreless for an inning. Zac Rosscup and Frank Batista each pitched an inning as they blanked Mississippi the rest of the way. The Smokies were able to cut the lead to 3-1 in the third as Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-2) drew a one out walk, Christian Villanueva was hit by a pitch, and Rubi Silva singled to score Alcantara. Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-3) led off the fourth with a triple and scored on a single from Jonathan Mota (3-for-4 with a RBI). A throwing error and a sacrifice bunt advanced Mota to third, and Ronald Torreyes (3-for-4 with a RBI) doubled him home after a Matt Szczur (1-for-4) walk.

With their ace on the mound, Tennessee halted their losing streak on Saturday with a 5-2 victory over Mississippi. Kyle Hendricks is making an early bid for Minor League Pitcher of the Year as he once again went deep into the game. Hendricks tossed seven innings of one run, three-hit ball while striking out batters. Kevin Rhoderick had one of his better outings as he pitched a scoreless inning. Frank Batista had a rare hiccup as he gave up an earned run in the ninth but was able to close out the game with a strikeout.

The Smokies got their offense revved up in the second inning as Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with a RBI) reached on a one-out single and trotted around the bases on Jonathan Mota’s (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) fifth home run. That would be all the offense until the eighth inning when Matt Szczur (2-for-3) and Ronald Torreyes were hit by pitches. Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with two RBI) doubled in Szczur and Torreyes, stole third, and scored on a sacrifice fly.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (32-36)

The efforts of two players carried Iowa to a 5-1 victory over Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Chris Rusin continues to sharpen his form as he struck out three through seven scoreless innings. Barret Loux relieved in order to get some innings, and may have been ready for this role as he allowed an earned run, but ended up striking out the side in an inning of work. Brian Schlitter slammed the door on the RedHawks as he struck out two in a scoreless inning. Brian Bogusevic (2-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI) turned out to be all the offense needed launched his seventh home run in the second inning with Donnie Murphy (1-for-4) on base. Bogusevic delivered again in the seventh as Brad Nelson walked ahead of him and got the free walk home on Bogusevic’s eighth home run. The I-Cubs added a run in the ninth as Junior Lake (2-for-4) singled, stole second, advanced to third on an error, and scored on a groundout.

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A furious comeback went for naught on Thursday as Iowa lost 9-8 to Oklahoma City in 12 innings. Down 6-0, the I-Cubs started to rally in the sixth inning as Dave Sappelt (2-for-6 with a home run four RBI) led off with a double and scored on a single from Brent Lillibridge (1-for-6 with a RBI). Steve Clevenger (2-for-5 with a RBI) and Brad Nelson (1-for-4) started off the seventh with singles, and a one out base hit by Brian Bogusevic (1-for-5) loaded the bases. Clevenger came home on a fielding error, while Donnie Murphy (3-for-6 with two RBI) singled in Nelson and Bogusevic. Iowa cut the lead to one in the eighth when Junior Lake (1-for-6) stroked a two out single and Bogusevic walked. Sappelt then launched his second home run of the season. The ninth inning saw the I-Cubs tie the game as Logan Watkins (1-for-4) walked and scored after Brett Jackson (1-for-5) singled and Clevenger doubled.

Starter Nick Struck had another miserable outing. Struck allowed six runs (five earned) while striking out three in five innings. Michael Bowden didn’t fare much better. Bowden gave up two earned runs in 1.1 innings. Hisanori Takahashi kept Iowa in the game by striking out two in 3.2 scoreless innings. Marcus Hatley took the loss as he let in the winning run after striking out two through 1.2 innings.

Friday’s game with Omaha was suspended in the fifth inning tied at five due to rain. It was resumed on Saturday and Iowa used a four-run sixth to take the game 9-5. Starter Brooks Raley looked a little out of sorts as he had been with the parent club for a few days in the wake of Zach Putnam’s injury before Hendry Rodriguez reported. Back with the I-Cubs, Raley was shaky in the first inning and allowed four earned runs. Raley ended up allowing five runs while striking out two in five innings of work. When play was resumed, Jeffry Antigua, just back from Kane County, pitched remarkably well. Antigua shut out the Storm Chasers for three innings. Another recently called-up pitcher, Larry Suarez, pitched around a single and a walk to close in the ninth.

Iowa chipped away at the lead as Steve Clevenger (3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) got the I-Cubs on the board in the first inning with a two-run home run after Brent Lillibridge (1-for-4) singled and stole second to lead off the inning. Two more runs scored in the second as Junior Lake (1-for-3 with a RBI) led off with a single and Darnell McDonald walked. Two groundouts brought Lake in and McDonald scored on a wild pitch. Iowa tied the game in the fifth as Clevenger singled, moved to third on a double from Brad Nelson (2-for-3 with two RBI), and scored on a sacrifice fly. After a disagreement that led to the ejection of Omaha’s manager in the sixth inning, Luis Flores walked and Edwin Maysonet (1-for-3 with a RBI) doubled. A one out single by Brett Jackson (1-for-5 with a RBI) plated Flores, and pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A sacrifice fly brought in Maysonet, while Jackson and Bogusevic scored on a single from Nelson.

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In Saturday’s regularly scheduled game, Iowa used some power hitting to hang onto an 8-7 victory over Omaha. The game was actually touch-and-go until the sixth inning when the I-Cub offense blew things open. Iowa scored in the first inning as Steve Clevenger (2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI) walked and advanced to third on a double by Dave Sappelt (2-for-5). Clevenger scored on a wild pitch and then led off the third inning with a solo home run. On to the sixth as Logan Watkins (1-for-5) reached on a one-out single as Clevenger struck again with his second homer of the game and tied the score at four. Sappelt restarted the inning with a double and walks to Brian Bogusevic (1-for-3) and Junior Lake (2-for-4) loaded the bases. Donnie Murphy (1-for-2 with a home runs and four RBI) then crushed a grand slam to put the I-Cubs out in front for good.

Yoanner Negrin started for Iowa and seems to be settling into this role. Negrin allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out two in five innings. Barret Loux was used for the second time in relief and the results are promising as he was hung with an unearned run while striking out three in three innings. Casey Coleman was asked to nail down the victory but ran into trouble. Coleman gave up three earned runs in only 0.1 innings. Brian Schlitter came to Coleman’s rescue and got the final two outs for his third save.

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Florida State League All-Star Game

It was a relatively quiet evening for most of the Cubs’ prospects as their North team lost 8-1 to the South in the Florida State League All-Star game on Saturday. Lead-off hitter John Andreoli had an RBI, but went 0-for-4 while first baseman Dustin Geiger drew a walk and was 0-for-3. Shortstop Javier Baez hit two doubles and was 2-for-4, while Jorge Soler left the game after making a starting appearance in right field.

Javier Baez caused quite a stir earlier in the day as he smashed nine home runs in the preliminary round of the Home Run Derby. However, Baez would come in second as Brevard County first baseman Nick Ramirez wound up with 13 homers.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs assigned LHP Jeffry Antigua to the Iowa Cubs from the Kane County Cougars; assigned RHP Larry Suarez to the Iowa Cubs from the Daytona. The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Alex Burnett on the 7-Day disabled list.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Albert Almora (OF) – .420/.453/.568/1.021 with eight doubles, one triple, one home run, 11 RBI, three stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
  • Javier Baez (SS) – .280/.335/.548/.883 with 17 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 44 RBI, six stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 4-5 with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, 62.2 innings pitched, 24 earned runs, 69 strikeouts, 19 walks (Kane County Cougars)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-2 with a 8.51 ERA and a 1.89 WHIP, 24.1 innings pitched, 24 earned runs, 23 strikeouts, 24 walks (Kane County Cougars)
  • Juan Carlos Paniagua (RHP) – 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 2.25 WHIP, 1.1 innings pitched, no earned runs, two strikeouts, two walks (DSL Cubs)
  • Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .216/.313/.281/.594 with four doubles, two triples, one home run, 15 RBI, 20 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Jorge Soler (OF) – .281/.343/.467/.810 with 13 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 35 RBI, five stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Christian Villanueva (3B) – .257/.327/.426/.753 with 20 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 32 RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .264/.336/.445/.781 with 13 doubles, 11 home runs, 45 RBI, three stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
  • Logan Watkins (2B) – .236/.348/.376/.723 with 10 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 18 RBI, five stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)

Note: RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua replaces 3B Jeimer Candelario. RHP Duane Underwood will replace 2B Logan Watkins in next week’s Top Prospect Watch.

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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