Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/08/13

Nothing could overshadow the big news out of the minors to end this week as Javier Baez was promoted to Double-A Tennessee. Pierce Johnson had his best start with the D-Cubs that helped keep Daytona on track. There were a lot of moves throughout the system while Boise and Iowa kept struggling but Kane County managed to win a couple of games.

To find out more, check out 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 (11-12)

Boise had a six game winning streak stopped on Wednesday as they were denied the sweep of Salem-Keizer by losing 11-3. Starter Loiger Padron was unable to get out of the second inning, as he was touched for seven earned runs while striking out two in 1.2 innings. Corbin Hoffner had his first poor outing of the season. Hoffner gave up four earned runs and recorded three strikeouts as he ate up 3.1 innings. Scott Frazier, Andrew McKirahan and Matt Iannazzo each tossed a scoreless frame. The Hawks’ offense made a futile attempt at a comeback in the third inning. Carlos Penalver (1-for-4) led off with a double and Shawon Dunston Jr. (1-for-5) reached on a fielding error. A sacrifice fly scored Penalver, and a double by Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4) placed runners on second and third. A double from Justin Marra (1-for-3 with two RBI) drove in Dunston and Balaguert.

On Thursday, the Boise bullpen could not keep Tri-City in check as they lost 7-5. Duane Underwood had his best start of the season as he allowed five runs (two earned) and struck out three in 4.2 innings. Jasvir Rakkar came on in long relief and gave up the go-ahead runs. Rakkar went 3.1 innings while striking out three and surrendering two earned runs. Carlos Martinez-Pumarino had a strikeout in a scoreless ninth. The Hawks were already down 2-0 in the fourth when Shawon Dunston Jr. (1-for-4 with a RBI) drew a one out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single from Jacob Rogers (1-for-5 with a RBI). Consecutive singles by Lance Rymel (1-for-4), Jose Dore (1-for-4), Danny Lockhart (3-for-4), and Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with two RBI) scored Rymel and Dore in the fifth. Boise tied the score at five in the seventh when Lockhart singled, advanced to third on two wild pitches, and scored on a groundout.

Control was once again the issue for Boise pitchers on Friday as they lost 9-3 to Tri-City. Trey Lang continued to struggle with his command as he threw three wild pitches and allowed eight run (seven earned) while striking out three in two innings. Ethan Elias was called on to soak up some innings and held the Dust Devils scoreless over three innings. Trey Masek took over and also had trouble with location. Masek uncorked a wild pitch and gave up an earned run as he struck out three in two innings. Tyler Skulina and Orbandy Rodriguez each had a strikeout and pitched a scoreless inning. The Hawks actually took the lead in the second inning as walks to Rony Rodriguez and Cael Brockmeyer, along with a single by Danny Lockhart (1-for-4) loaded the bases. Rodriguez scored on a sacrifice fly, and Carlos Penalver (1-for-3 with two RBI) lined a double to left that plated Brockmeyer and Lockhart.

Suddenly, it seems like Boise doesn’t know how to win as they dropped their fourth straight on Saturday by losing 5-3 to Tri-City. James Pugliese had one of his roughest outing of the year. Pugliese was touched up for five earned runs while striking out six in five innings. Scott Frazier followed and struck out a batter as he pitched two scoreless innings. Newly promoted Zack Godley was impressive with two strikeouts as he kept the Dust Devils off the board for an inning. Matt Iannazzo tried to keep the Hawks in the ballgame by striking out two in his scoreless inning. Boise scored all of their runs in the third inning after Danny Lockhart (2-for-4) and Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-3) reached with one out singles. Jacob Rogers (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) then blasted his third home run of the season to clear the bases.

Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (4-12) (34–48)

The once promising season for Kane County continued to slowly unravel on Wednesday as they lost 4-2 to Wisconsin. The numbers for starter Michael Heesch are reflective as he has a 3.69 ERA but only a 3-7 record. Heesch tossed six innings on Wednesday and allowed four earned runs. Armando Rivero and Steve Perakslis each recorded a strikeout as they both tossed a scoreless inning. The Cougars tied the game one in the third after Gioskar Amaya (1-for-2) singled and Brad Zapenas (1-for-2) reached on a throwing error. A two out single from Dan Vogelbach (3-for-4 with two RBI) scored Amaya. Albert Almora (1-for-3) led off the sixth with a walk and scored on a double by Vogelbach.

Kane County got back to winning on Thursday. The Cougars got on top of the explosive Quad Cities team and kept up the pressure by winning 7-4. Small ball was the theme in the first inning as Kevin Encarnacion (1-for-3) led off with a walk and Albert Almora was hit by a pitch. Both moved up a base on a wild pitch and a double by Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with three RBI) plated the two runners. A one out single by Marco Hernandez (2-for-3 with a RBI) scored Vogelbach. It was the top of the order again in the fourth as Encarnacion reached on a one out single and Almora was hit by another pitch. Base hits by Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3 with a RBI) scored Encarnacion and Almora. The Cougars added two more in the eighth as Gioskar Amaya (3-for-4 with a home run) led off with his fourth home run. Reggie Golden (1-for-4) doubled and moved to third on a single by Oliver Zapata (1-for-4). Golden scored on a double-play.

Felix Pena drew the starting assignment and struck out five while allowing two earned runs over 4.2 innings. Nathan Dorris provided a bridge as he worked 1.1 scoreless innings and turned things over to Dillon Maples. Maples backed into his first career save as he gave up two earned runs but pitched three innings.

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Call it a mini-roll as Kane County made it two in a row on Friday as they rallied to beat Quad Cities 8-7. The Cougars were able to score a couple of runs in the first inning as Albert Almora (2-for-4 with a home run) had a one out triple and Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) brought him home with his 13th home run. Kane County didn’t score again until the sixth inning when Almora went deep with his third homer of the season. A walk to Kevin Encarnacion began the eighth inning and a single by Vogelbach moved him to third. A walk to Jeimer Candelario loaded the bases, and Marco Hernandez (1-for-3 with a RBI) drew a walk to plate Encarnacion. Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch to force in Vogelbach. Giuseppe Papaccio (2-for-4 with a RBI) collected his first Single-A RBI with a base hit that plated Hernandez. A double by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-4 with two RBI) plated Candelario and Contreras.

Starter Brian Smith had a pedestrian effort as he allowed three earned runs and struck out a batter in five innings. Although he gave up three earned runs in three innings, Lendy Castillo still picked up his second victory of the season. Justin Amlung also gained his first save despite letting in an earned run in an inning of work.

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So much for the good times … Kane County managed only three hits on Saturday as they lost to Quad Cities 5-0. Jose Rosario remains winless for 2013 as he allowed five earned runs and struck out a batter in five innings. Sheldon McDonald maintained his ERA of 0.00 since returning to the Cougars by striking out three in three scoreless innings. Michael Hamann got in some work. Hamann picked up a strikeout as he shut out the River Bandits for an inning. Three separate Cougars managed a hit: Albert Almora (1-for-2), Marco Hernandez (1-for-3), and Carlos Escobar (1-for-3).

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (10-4) (45-35)

Daytona wasted a good pitching effort on Wednesday as they lost to Brevard County 5-1. Matt Loosen has turned his season around since returning to the D-Cubs from Tennessee. Loosen struck out six batters in five scoreless innings. Eduardo Figueroa replaced Loosen and was lit up for five runs (four earned) in two innings. Larry Suarez was asked to mop up and struck out a batter in a scoreless innings. Daytona only managed four hits as they scratched out a consolation run in the ninth when Javier Baez (1-for-3) and Ben Carhart (1-for-3) drew walks and Baez scored on a single by Wes Darvill (1-for-4 with a RBI).

Once again pitching was in the forefront on Thursday, but this time Daytona came out on top as they beat Brevard County 3-1. Ben Wells pitched his game as he recorded 11 groundouts and limited the Manatees to two hits while striking out three over seven scoreless innings. Carlos Gutierrez allowed an earned run but struck out two in two innings to collect his first save. It all started with two out in the third inning as Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-2) reached on a bunt single and stole second base. But it didn’t matter as Tim Saunders (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) blasted his third home run of the season. The D-Cubs put the low scoring game out of reach in the sixth inning after Dustin Geiger (2-for-4 with a home run) hit his ninth home run of the year.

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For a third straight night Daytona received excellent pitching and beat Brevard County 5-2 on Friday. Zach Cates allowed two earned runs and struck out four over six innings. Luis Liria worked around a hit to shut out the Manatees for an inning. Frank Del Valle had three strikeouts in two innings as he picked up his fifth save. Wes Darvill (1-for-5 with a home run) gave the D-Cubs the early lead as he blasted a solo home run. In the third Javier Baez (1-for-3) singled, stole second and third, and scored on a throwing error. A single by Dustin Geiger (2-for-4 with two RBI) and another by Chadd Krist (1-for-2 with a RBI) plated a second run. Taylor Davis (1-for-4) singled to lead off the fourth, and walks to Pin-Chieh Chen and Baez loaded the bases. Dustin Geiger drove in both Davis and Chen.

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What looked like an easy win on Saturday had Daytona hanging on for a 6-5 victory over Dunedin. As the saying goes, it hurts with two as Wes Darvill drew a two out walk in the first inning. Dustin Geiger then reached on a fielding error. A single by Ben Carhart (3-for-5 with two RBI) plated Darvill. It stayed that way until the fourth when a base hit by Carhart and a double from Bijan Rademacher (2-for-4 with a RBI) plated another run. Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-2) led off the fifth with a triple and Zeke DeVoss (3-for-5 with three RBI) singled Chen in. Two groundouts and a walk to Geiger put runners on the corners for Carhart. Ben Carhart sliced a single to left to score DeVoss. Chen drew a two out walk in the sixth, stole second and scored on a single by DeVoss. Rademacher started the eighth with a double and a double play moved him to third. It was DeVoss again, as he singled in Rademacher with his third RBI of the night.

It was a great effort for his first Daytona win by Pierce Johnson as he struck out five in five scoreless innings. Austin Reed saw his first action in what seems like forever and pitched two scoreless innings. However, Jeffrey Lorick was rocked for five earned runs as he struck out two in an inning. Dayan Diaz picked up his first save as he worked out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (10-6) (44-41)

In a real pitcher’s duel on Wednesday, Tennessee was able to use their power to scrape together enough runs to beat Montgomery 3-1. A.J. Morris continues to flourish in his role as a starter as he blanked the Biscuits for six innings with two strikeouts. Kevin Rhoderick struck out a batter in 1.2 scoreless innings. Zac Rosscup made things interesting in the ninth by allowing an earned run, but composed himself and struck out three batters in 1.1 innings in route to his second save. The Smokies struck first in the third inning after Matt Szczur (2-for-4) reached with a one out single and stole second base. A base hit by John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Szczur with the first run of the game. Tennessee added to their lead in the seventh and eighth innings as both Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a home run) and Justin Bour (1-for-4 with a home run) hit solo home runs.

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As the old saying goes ‘The big opossum walks late’ as Tennessee scored four late runs to beat Huntsville 4-1 on Thursday. The Smokies’ offense didn’t start clicking until the sixth inning when Matt Szczur (2-for-4) led off with a triple and scored on a single by Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with a RBI). Justin Bour (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) then made it easy for Alcantara as he was on board for Bour’s seventh home run. Tennessee added some insurance in the eighth after John Andreoli (1-for-4) singled, stole second base and scored on a single by Christian Villanueva (3-for-4). Eric Jokisch had his second straight good outing. Jokisch struck out a season high nine batters and allowed an earned run in six innings. P.J. Francescon is starting to look more comfortable in his bullpen role as he went two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. Tony Zych also had two strikeouts as he set down the side in the ninth for his first save.

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Tennessee jumped out ahead on Friday and used their pitching to slam the door on Huntsville as the Smokies beat the Stars 3-1. Matt Szczur hit to start the game and scored on a ground rule double by Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI). Alcantara then stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly. Pitcher Alberto Cabrera (1-for-3) helped his cause in the third inning with a leadoff single. After Cabrera was wiped out in a double play, Alcantara drilled his 12th home run. Cabrera wasn’t too shabby on the mound. Cabrera struck out seven batters and allowed an earned run in 7.2 innings. Hunter Cervenka struck out the only batter he faced, and Frank Batista fanned two in a scoreless inning to collect his 12th save.

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With anticipation in the air, Tennessee took the field on Saturday but came up flat as they lost 8-2 to Huntsville. The buzz was about Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a home run), who was promoted to the Smokies the day before. Baez got Tennessee on the board with his first swing as he drilled a home run over the wall in center on a 2-1 pitch. The long ball was the source of the Smokies’ other run as Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a home run) belted his 11th of the season leading off the fourth inning. It appears that something was wrong with starter Austin Kirk, as he left after only two innings in which he surrendered six earned runs with two strikeouts. Yeiper Castillo did some yeoman’s work as he gave up an earned run with four strikeouts in five innings. Kevin Rhoderick tossed two more innings and allowed an earned run.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (45-45)

Iowa pitching gave away what looked like a win on Wednesday as they lost 6-5 to Memphis. Starter Yoanner Negrin had trouble all evening. Negrin allowed five earned runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings. Esmailin Caridad was able to get Negrin out of the sixth, and Michael Bowden struck out three in two scoreless innings. Brian Schlitter gave up the winning run in the top of the ninth. Down 3-0, the I-Cubs tied the game in the fourth inning as they got back-to-back-to-back home runs from Brad Nelson (1-for-4 with a home run), Junior Lake (1-for-4 with a home run), and Ty Wright (1-for-3 with a home run). Iowa then took the lead on the fifth as Logan Watkins (1-for-4) led off with a single and Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) cracked his first Triple-A home run.

The I-Cubs came up with four runs in the tenth inning on Thursday as they defeated Albuquerque 9-5. Iowa was down 3-0 when they scored their first run in the fifth inning after Junior Lake (1-for-4 with a home run) led off with his fourth home run. The I-Cubs then stormed back starting in the seventh inning when Luis Flores (2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) cracked a solo home run with two outs. Pinch-hitter Anthony Giansanti doubled and scored on a double by Logan Watkins (1-for-5 with a RBI). Iowa tied the score in the ninth thanks to pinch-hitter Tim Torres. Torres homered with Ty Wright (3-for-5 with a RBI) on board. In the tenth, Brad Nelson reached on a two out throwing error. Lake walked and Wright singled in Nelson. Darnell McDonald (1-for-5 with two RBI) tripled in Lake and Wright. McDonald scored when Flores followed with a base hit.

Nick Struck had what is becoming a typical effort. Struck allowed five runs (four earned) in six innings. Eduardo Sanchez held the Isotopes in check for two innings, while Casey Coleman earned the victory by striking out two in two scoreless innings.

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Friday’s game was supposed to be the organizational debut of the newly acquired Jake Arrieta, but rain suspended the game after Arrieta gave up and earned run with a pair of strikeouts in an inning. Play was resumed on Saturday and Iowa’s pitching could not hold off Albuquerque as the Cubs lost 10-3. Esmailin Caridad picked up where Arrieta left off and allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings. Jeffry Antigua followed and gave up another two earned runs in two innings, while Marcus Hatley let in two more earned runs in an inning of work. Eduardo Sanchez then surrendered three runs (two earned) in the eighth inning. The I-Cubs actually took the lead in the second after Darnell McDonald (1-for-4 with a RBI) reached on a throwing error. McDonald moved to third on a single by J.C. Boscan (1-for-4) and scored on another throwing error. It was McDonald again in the sixth as he singled and eventually scored on a base hit by Logan Watkins (2-for-4 with a RBI). A single by Junior Lake (1-for-3) and a double by Ty Wright (1-for-4) put runners on second and third in the seventh inning. Lake scored on a groundout.

In Saturday’s regularly scheduled game, Iowa received excellent pitching but no run support and they lost 1-0 to Albuquerque. Barret Loux went the distance and struck out six while allowing an earned run in six innings. The I-Cubs could not get things together on offense. Jae-Hoon Ha, Brad Nelson, Junior Lake, Tim Torres and Anthony Giansanti each collected hits but the team went 0-for-4 with RISP and left eight men on base.

Rookie League – AZL Cubs (7-7)

Zak Hermans made his professional debut and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning while Daury Torrez allowed an earned run with three strikeouts in five innings as the Cubs beat the Angels 2-1 on Thursday. Jesse Hodges went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Kevin Brown drove in the other run as he went 1-for-4 with a stolen base.

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Outfielder Charcer Burks had his first professional hit and was 1-for-4 while fellow outfielder Kevin Brown went 1-for -4 with a double as the Cubs lost to the Rangers 3-1 on Friday. Chang-Yong Lim once again pitched a scoreless inning and Alex Santana allowed two earned runs and struck out two in five innings.

It was a mess for the Cubs’ pitching as Carlos Rodriguez was hung with three unearned runs in two innings as they lost to the Rangers 11-4 on Saturday. Outfielder Rashad Crawford was 2-for-2 with an RBI, while Charcer Burks scored his first run and went 1-for-4.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs assigned LHP Jeffry Antigua to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; assigned IF Brad Zapenas to the Tennessee Smokies from the Kane County Cougars; assigned IF Javier Baez to the Tennessee Smokies from the Daytona Cubs; assigned IF Elliot Soto to the Daytona Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; assigned IF Giuseppe Papaccio and C Neftali Rosario to the Kane County Cougars from the AZL Cubs; assigned LHP Rob Zastryzny and RHP Zack Godley to the Boise Hawks from the AZL Cubs.

The Tennessee Smokies signed IF Nate Samson; sent RHP Dae-Eun Rhee on a rehab assignment to the Boise Hawks. The Daytona Cubs placed LHP Kyler Burke on the 7-Day disabled list. The Boise Hawks placed RHP Carlos Martinez-Pumarino and OF Jacob Hannemann on the 7-Day disabled list.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Albert Almora (OF) – .340/.373/.513/.886 with 11 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 18 RBI, three stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
  • Javier Baez (SS) – .274/.338/.535/.873 with 19 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs, 57 RBI, 12 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs) .250/.250/1.00/1.250 with a home run and a RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Paul Blackburn (RHP) – 0-1 with a 1.00 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP, 18.0 innings pitched, two earned runs, 20 strikeouts, six walks (Boise Hawks)
  • Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, 16.0 innings pitched, six earned runs, 14 strikeouts, seven walks (Daytona Cubs)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-2 with a Save and a 7.71 ERA with a 1.78 WHIP, 32.2 innings pitched, 28 earned runs, 31 strikeouts, 10 walks (Kane County Cougars)
  • Juan Carlos Paniagua (RHP) – 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.49 WHIP, 12.1 innings pitched, no earned runs, 13 strikeouts, two walks (DSL Cubs)
  • Tim Saunders (IF/OF) – .226/.316/.321/.637 with eight doubles, two triples, three home runs, 27 RBI, 21 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Duane Underwood (RHP) – 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP, 17.1 innings pitched, 13 earned runs, 13 strikeouts, eight walks (Boise Hawks)
  • Christian Villanueva (3B) – .259/.313/.455/.768 with 22 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, 42 RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .284/.355/.461/.815 with 17 doubles, 13 home runs, 55 RBI, four stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)

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Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein