Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/15/13

As the season moves into the second half, some stories remain the same. Kane County continues to struggle winning games while Tennessee and Daytona keep rolling along. Iowa is still hovering around .500, as are the AZL Cubs, but Boise found trouble winning north of the border.

Pierce Johnson, Zach Cates and Matt Loosen led the D-Cubs’ pitching staff with three excellent outings while Ivan Pineyro made his debut with five scoreless innings. Chang-Yong Lim also made his D-Cubs’ debut and pitched a scoreless frame as he works his way back from injury.

Scott Baker made his first rehab start with Kane County on Sunday and settled down after a rough first inning. Baker gave up four runs on a two-run triple and a two-run homer in the first with a pair of strikeouts. Baker threw 30 pitches, 18 for strikes, with poor fastball command. But after his first game action since Spring Training, Baker settled in and surrendered two hits and a walk over his last two frames. Baker gave up a hit in the second on 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, then worked his way out of jam in the third by inducing a double play. Baker allowed four runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Baker threw 56 pitches, 34 for strikes, in three innings.

Arismendy Alcantara had a good day at the Sirius/XM Futures Game on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field. Alcantara went 1-for-3 with a solo homer in his second at bat. Alcantara deposited the 1-1 pitch from Red Sox’s prospect Anthony Ranaudo into the second deck beyond the right field wall.

To see where this all leads to, 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 (13-16)

The growing pains of the lowest level of “A” ball were on display Wednesday as Boise lost to Vancouver 6-5. Starter Duane Underwood continued to show both his promise and lack of experience as he allowed four runs (three earned) with five strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Jasvir Rakkar had the long assignment for the night and was up to the task. Rakkar struck out three in 1.1 innings. Zack Godley had some control issues as he walked three and gave up an unearned run in two innings. Scott Frazier followed and surrendered the go-ahead run in an inning of work, while Tyler Bremer tossed a scoreless frame. Jose Dore (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) got the Hawks on the board in the first inning as he smacked his first homer of the season with Shawon Dunston Jr. (2-for-3) on board. Boise tied the score at five in the eighth after Lance Rymel (1-for-4) and Trevor Gretzky (1-for-3) singled and a base hit by Dunston loaded the bases. Danny Lockhart (1-for-4, RBI) singled in Rymel, while Gretzky and Dunston scored on a double play.

One bad inning was the difference on Thursday as Boise lost to Vancouver 4-0. The Hawks decided to ease in 2013 second round pick Rob Zastryzny by starting him but limiting him to only one inning. Zastryzny did his job by striking out a batter and working around a hit to keep the Canadians off the board. Regularly scheduled starter James Pugliese followed and seemed out of sync. Pugliese allowed four runs (two earned) with three strikeouts in four innings. Lefty Sam Wilson replaced Pugliese and struck out a batter in his scoreless inning of work. Corbin Hoffner struck out three batters over the final two innings. It was the bottom of the order that had the most success. Cael Brockmeyer was 2-for-3 and Trevor Gretzky went 2-for-3 with a double.

The road miseries continued during a Friday matinee as Vancouver beat Boise by an 8-4 score. Paul Blackburn was roughed up for four earned runs to go along with one strikeout in three innings. Tyler Skulina followed and also recorded a strikeout in two scoreless innings. However, things weren’t as rosy for Andrew McKirahan. The rehabbing lefty was touched up for three runs (two earned) but ended up striking out the side in an inning. Jasvir Rakkar continued his uneven season by giving up an earned run but striking out two in an inning. Ethan Elias also had two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. The Hawks closed the gap to 4-2 in the seventh as consecutive doubles by Jordan Hankins (2-for-4) and Shawon Dunston Jr. (3-for-5 with a RBI) scored a run. A double from Rony Rodriguez (1-for-4 with a RBI) plated Dunston. Two more runs scored in the ninth when Hankins and Dunston singled and advanced a base on a throwing error. A groundout scored Hankins while another error allowed Dunston to score.

It wasn’t pretty, but Boise was finally able to hold on for a victory against Vancouver on Saturday. Rehabbing starter Dae-Eun Rhee displayed pinpoint control as he struck out five in five scoreless innings. Loiger Padron was equally effective for three innings until running out of gas in the bottom of the ninth. Matt Iannazzo replaced Padron with two runners on base and surrendered a basehit to the only batter he faced to load the bases. Tyler Bremer struggled. Bremer allowed three inherited runners to score (two charged to Padron, one to Iannazzo) then surrendered one of his own before settling down and striking out two batters to nail down the victory.

The Hawks’ offense did not get into gear until Trevor Gretzky (1-for-3) led off the fifth with a walk. A wild pitch advanced Gretzky to third and Shawon Dunston Jr. reached on a throwing error. Gretzky scored on a sacrifice fly and Dunston stole second base. A double by Jacob Rogers (3-for-5 with a RBI) plated Dunston. In the sixth Justin Marra (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled and went to third on a double by Jordan Hankins (3-for-4). Kevin Brown (1-for-3 with a RBI) picked up his first RBI with a single that drove in Marra. Rogers hit his second double with one out in the seventh. Jose Dore (1-for-5) moved Rogers to third with a single and Rogers scored on a groundout.

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Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (4-17) (34–53)

Kane County took a trip east on Wednesday to meet a powerful South Bend team and lost 7-2. Things started well for the Cougars after Albert Almora (2-for-4) reached on a one out single and scored on Jeimer Candelario’s (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) fifth home run of the season. But that would be all for the Kane County offense. Felix Pena had a decent outing, limiting the Silver Hawks to three earned runs while striking out two in six innings. Dillon Maples continued his frustrating season. Maples allowed four earned runs and struck out three in two innings.

The misery continued for Kane County on Thursday as they lost 6-1 to South Bend. Brian Smith continued to struggle since moving into the rotation. Smith allowed five earned runs with one strikeout in five innings. Lendy Castillo gave up another earned run while striking out three in two innings. Nathan Dorris struck out a batter in a scoreless eighth inning. Albert Almora (2-for-5) laced a two out double in the third inning and scored on a single by Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a RBI).

Kane County snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on Friday as they fell 5-4 to South Bend. The Cougars were leading 4-3 after six and a half innings thanks to a three run sixth inning. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4) reached on a one out double and Willson Contreras (1-for-3) walked to put two on for Oliver Zapata (1-for-4 with a home run three RBI). Zapata smashed his fourth home run of the season. Kane County scored their first run in the third inning after Gioskar Amaya (2-for-3) tripled and scored on a groundout. Jose Rosario had his best effort of the season. Rosario allowed three runs (one earned) while striking out nine in six innings. Justin Amlung continued to be unreliable as he gave up two earned runs in an inning of work. Kane County then brought in closer Michael Hamann for some action after a long layoff. Hamann went an inning and struck out two batters.

It was another embarrassing loss for Kane County on Saturday, as they traveled to Western Michigan and dropped the opener 9-1 to the Whitecaps. The only run for the Cougars scored in the first inning as Dan Vogelbach (1-for-2 with a home run) hit his 14th home run. Tayler Scott was betrayed by the Cougars’ porous defense as he allowed six runs (one earned) with a strikeout in four innings. Sheldon McDonald tried to restore order with a 1-2-3 inning, but Armando Rivero was shelled once again. Rivero gave up three earned runs in 1.2 innings. Steve Perakslis picked up a strikeout in the final 1.1 innings.

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (14-7) (49-38)

It was a heartbreaking loss for Daytona on Wednesday. The D-Cubs were up 6-0 in the sixth inning but ended up losing 7-6 to Lakeland. Dustin Geiger (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) led off the second inning with his tenth home run of the season. Bijan Rademacher (3-for-4 with a RBI) reached on a throwing error and Taiwan Easterling reached on a fielding error. A single by Yaniel Cabezas (1-for-4 with a RBI) scored Rademacher. Brad Zapenas (2-for-4 with a RBI) picked up his first Daytona RBI with a single that plated Easterling. Elliot Soto led off the third with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball. A single by Geiger scored Soto. Zeke DeVoss (1-for-5) began the fifth with a single and stole second base. Elliott Soto doubled in DeVoss and scored on a two-out triple by Bijan Rademacher. Zach Cates was the second pitcher in a row to put together a good outing, but perhaps was left in too long. Cates allowed only three hits through six scoreless innings, but gave up two earned runs in the seventh. Luis Liria had been pitching better of late, but surrendered five runs (four earned) while recording only one out. Jeffrey Lorick picked up the final two outs of the innings.

It was superior pitching that was the difference on Thursday as Daytona beat Lakeland 2-1. Pierce Johnson had his second straight good outing. Johnson allowed an earned run while striking out four in six innings. Austin Reed got a save the hard way by shutting out the Flying Tigers with three strikeouts in three innings. The D-Cubs took the early lead in the second after Bijan Rademacher (1-for-4) crushed a one out triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. Taiwan Easterling (2-for-4) led off the seventh with a double and scored on a single by Taylor Davis (2-for-3 with a RBI).

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Rain on Friday forced Daytona to play two on Saturday and they shut out Jupiter 8-0 in game one. Ivan Pineyro dominated in his debut. Pineyro struck out three over five scoreless innings. Chang-Yong Lim made his Daytona debut by pitching a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Dayan Diaz also had a strikeout in an inning of work as he preserved the shutout. The D-Cubs broke out in the third after Zeke DeVoss (1-for-2 with a RBI) was hit by a pitch with two out. DeVoss stole second and scored on a double from Elliot Soto (1-for-4 with two RBI). Soto scored on a single by Wes Darvill (2-for-4 with two RBI). Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3) singled to start the fourth inning and scored on a double from Ben Carhart (1-for-3 with a RBI). A single by Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3 with a RBI) plated Carhart, and Yaniel Cabezas (1-for-1) doubled to put runners on second and third.  Pin-Chieh Chen walked to load the bases and Easterling scored on a single by DeVoss. Soto reached on a failed force attempt as Cabezas scored. A single by Darvill brought in Chen, while DeVoss scored on a double play.

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Daytona not only made it a sweep in game two, but posted another shutout as they defeated Jupiter 2-0. Matt Loosen extended his scoreless streak to 27 innings as he went the distance with four strikeouts. The only runs scored in the fourth inning after Elliot Soto (1-for-3) and Dustin Geiger (1-for-2) led off with consecutive singles. A double play wiped out Soto, but Chadd Krist (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) delivered his second home run of the season with Geiger on board.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (16-8) (50-43)

Tennessee completed a game suspended on June 28 as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday and the Smokies beat Jackson 7-2. A.J. Morris started the game and allowed an earned run in two innings. P.J. Francescon took the mound when the game resumed and he shut out the Generals for three innings. Carlos Gutierrez picked up his first save for Tennessee by striking out two while allowing an unearned run in two innings. The Smokies led 2-1 before the suspension, as the now departed Ronald Torreyes led off the game with a single. Base hits by Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-4 with a RBI) and Rubi Silva (2-for-3 with a RBI) loaded the bases, and Torreyes was forced in after Justin Bour (3-for-3 with two RBI) drew a walk. Alcantara scored on a sacrifice fly. When play resumed, Silva started things off with a walk. Singles by Bour and Christian Villanueva (1-for-2 with two RBI) scored Silva. A base hit from Rafael Lopez (1-for-3) loaded the bases, and Bour scored on a sacrifice fly. Tennessee then blew things open in the sixth after John Andreoli (1-for-2) reached with a bunt single and moved all the way to third on a passed ball and throwing error. Alcantara plated Andreoli with a two-out double, and Silva singled in Alcantara. Justin Bour then laced a double to plate Silva.

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In Wednesday’s regularly scheduled game, Tennessee made a big comeback late to steal the game away from Jackson 5-2. The Smokes answered the Generals in the second inning after Rubi Silva (2-for-3 with a home run) clubbed his 11th home run. That was all for the Tennessee offense until John Andreoli walked to start the fifth inning. Jonathan Mota reached on a throwing error and Chad Noble sacrificed them up a base. A wild pitch scored Andreoli, and Matt Szczur walked to put two runners on base. Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) then bashed his 13th home run to clear the bases. Eric Jokisch gave up a home run to lead off the game, but he surrendered only one other run the rest of the way as he struck out five in 5.2 innings. Kevin Rhoderick finished out the game and struck out two as he earned his third save.

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Tennessee made it three in a row on Thursday as they defeated Jackson 4-1. Alberto Cabrera turned in another dominant performance as he allowed an earned run and struck out three in seven innings. Tony Zych pitched a scoreless eighth, while Zac Rosscup struck out two and earned his third save. The Smokies started the scoring in the third inning after Jonathan Mota (2-for-3) drew a one out walk, and singles by Matt Szczur (1-for-4) and Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-4 with two RBI) drove him home. Mota led off the fifth with a triple and scored on a base hit from Alcantara. Justin Bour (1-for-3) was hit by a pitch, and a single by Christian Villanueva (1-for-5 with a RBI) scored Alcantara. Tennessee added a run in the ninth after Szczur walked, Alcantara singled and stole second. Bour was intentionally walked and a passed ball scored Szczur.

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It may have taken them a while, but Tennessee swept a doubleheader from Jackson on Friday. The Smokies won game one 2-0 in ten innings. Starter Austin Kirk had his best performance of the season in a Smokies’ uniform. Kirk struck out three and scattered four hits in six scoreless innings. Frank Batista had been struggling lately, but righted the ship by tossing three innings of shutout baseball while striking out two batters. Hunter Cervenka was shaky but worked around a hit and two walks to keep the Generals off the board in the tenth. It was the newest Smokie, Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a RBI) who came to the rescue in the tenth. Jonathan Mota (2-for-4) led off the inning with a single. A sacrifice and a base hit from Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) moved Mota to third. Baez then hit a sharp ground ball up the middle that plated Mota with the game’s first run. A fielding error allowed Alcantara to score an insurance run.

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It took extra innings again for Tennessee to complete the sweep as the Smokies took nine innings to beat Jackson 2-1 in game two. Yeiper Castillo was called out of the bullpen to make the start and did his job. Castillo struck out six and allowed an earned run in four innings. Fresh off of rehab, Marcos Mateo tossed two scoreless innings and struck out two batters. Kevin Rhoderick, who has recently showed signs of putting things back together for this season went three shutout innings with two strikeouts and earned his first victory. The Smokies had to stage a comeback and Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a home run) led the way. Baez hit his second Double-A home run that tied the game at one in the sixth inning. Consecutive doubles by Justin Bour (1-for-4) and Christina Villanueva (1-for-4 with a RBI) brought in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.

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Jackson probably couldn’t wait for Tennessee to get out of town as the Smokies beat the Generals for the sixth time in the series 5-0 on Saturday. Kyle Hendricks had his final start before going off the Southern League All-Star game as he struck out four through five innings. Carlos Gutierrez took over for Hendricks but had to leave with an undisclosed injury after 1.2 innings. Tony Zych did an excellent job on short notice. Zych picked up a strikeout in 1.1 innings. Zac Rosscup cleaned up with a strikeout and a 1-2-3 ninth. The Smokies got all the runs they would need in the first inning after Matt Szczur (3-for-5) led off with a single and scored on Javier Baez’s (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) third home run for Tennessee. Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with a home run) added a solo shot for his 12th homer of the season. It was time for John Andreoli (2-for-5 with a home run) to muscle-up in the third as he hit a solo home run, his first of 2013. Nate Samson (3-for-4) started off the seventh with a double, advanced to third on a single by Matt Szczur and scored on a groundout.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (48-49)

Iowa tried to make up ground on Wednesday but came up short as they lost 6-5 to New Orleans. Starter Nick Struck continued to give the I-Cubs little chance of staying in the ballgame, but he had some help as he allowed six runs (three earned) with two strikeouts in five innings. Esmailin Caridad did his job and held the Zephyrs without a run for two innings while striking out two batters. Michael Bowden also had two strikeouts as he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Down 5-0 in the third inning, Iowa started chipping into New Orleans’ lead after Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3) led off with a double. A double form Luis Flores (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Ha, and Logan Watkins drew a one out walk. Donnie Murphy (2-for-5 with a RBI) doubled in Flores, and Watkins scored on a sacrifice fly. In the sixth Junior Lake reached on a force, stole second, and scored on a single by Anthony Giansanti (2-for-4 with a RBI). The rally fell short in the ninth after Murphy reached with a two out single, Ty Wright (1-for-4 with a RBI) walked, and a base hit by Brad Nelson (3-for-5 with a RBI) plated Murphy.

The Iowa Cubs were never in the game on Thursday as they lost 4-1 to Albuquerque. Barret Loux started and allowed four earned runs with three strikeouts in 4.1 innings. The relief corps held the Isotopes scoreless the rest of the way. Jeffry Antigua pitched 1.2 innings, while Marcus Hatley, Eduardo Sanchez, and Brian Schlitter each tossed an inning. The I-Cubs scored a consolation run in the seventh after Brad Nelson (1-for-4) led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly.

It was almost a historical night on Friday as Iowa came close to their first no-hitter since 1984 in a 3-0 victory over Albuquerque. Guillermo Moscoso was having an up-and-down season until stepping to the mound on Friday. Moscoso was five outs away from pitching a no-hitter before surrendering the Isotopes only hit of the game with one out in the eighth inning. Moscoso struck out five batters and was replaced by Brian Schlitter. Schlitter recorded a strikeout while picking up his 11th save. Moscoso had to be at his best as the I-Cubs gave him little margin for error. Junior Lake reached on an error and scored on a single by Darnell McDonald (2-for-2 with RBI) in the fourth. Iowa finally created some breathing room in the seventh after McDonald singled, Jae-Hoon Ha reached on an error, and a double from J.C. Boscan (1-for-3 with two RBI) drove both of them home.

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It was a see-saw game on Saturday for Iowa as they lost 7-6 to Albuquerque. The game had seven lead changes as starter Chris Rusin allowed five runs (three earned) and struck out four in five innings. Yoanner Negrin was up next and surrendered two earned runs while striking out four in three innings. Casey Coleman suffered the loss afer he gave up two earned runs in the ninth. The I-Cubs took the lead in the first when newly re-signed Edgar Gonzalez (3-for-5 with a home run) hit a solo home run. Junior Lake (4-for-4 with a RBI) singled, stole second, and scored on a base hit from Brad Nelson (1-for-4 with a RBI). Iowa scored two more runs in the fourth after Junior Lake doubled and stole third. Darnell McDonald (2-for-3 with a RBI) singled in Lake. Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) walked and a soft liner by J.C. Boscan (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in McDonald. In the sixth, McDonald walked and trotted home after Ha belted his second homer for the I-Cubs. Gonzalez reached on a one-out double in the seventh and scored on a single by Junior Lake.

Rookie League – AZL Cubs (9-10)

The Cubs exploded for nine runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings on Wednesday as they defeated the Padres 14-2. Light hitting catcher Wilfredo Petit was 1-for-4 with four RBI, while Xavier Batista went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Six pitchers combined for the win, with Trevor Graham and Tyler Ihrig making their professional debuts.

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The long awaited arrival of Juan Carlos Paniagua was worth it as he struck out four in three scoreless innings as the Cubs defeated the Padres 6-2. Zak Hermans pitched two innings and struck out three batters. Zak Blair had a big night and went 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Rashad Crawford went 2-for-4 with two triples and an RBI.

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The Cubs fell apart in a tight ballgame on Friday and allowed the Reds to score seven in the ninth in route to a 7-0 loss. Once again, rehabbing pitchers were prominent as Jose Arias tossed a scoreless inning while Starling Peralta struck out three as he shut out the Reds for three innings. Kelvin Freeman was 2-for-4 with a double while Jeffrey Baez went 2-for-4 and stole his 14th base.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs assigned IF Edgar Gonzalez to the Iowa Cubs; assigned IF Josh Vitters to the AZL Cubs; assigned C Chad Noble to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; assigned RHP Marcos Mateo to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs; assigned C Lance Rymel to the Tennessee Smokies from the Boise Hawks; assigned RHP Chang-Yong Lim to the Daytona Cubs from the AZL Cubs; assigned RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua to the AZL Cubs from the DSL Cubs; assigned RHP Angel Mejias to the VSL Cubs from the AZL Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Scott Baker on a rehab assignment to the Kane County Cougars. The Iowa Cubs placed C Luis Flores on paternity leave. The Daytona Cubs released RHP Luis Liria. The Kane County Cougars placed C Neftali Rosario on the 7-Day disabled list; activated IF Rock Shoulders from the 7-Day disabled list.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Albert Almora (OF) – .341/.376/.503/.879 with 13 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 19 RBI, four stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)
  • Javier Baez (SS) – .206/.250/.471/.721 with three home runs, five RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Paul Blackburn (RHP) – 0-2 with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, 26.0 innings pitched, seven earned runs, 25 strikeouts, 12 walks (Boise Hawks)
  • Trevor Gretzky (OF) – .262/.279/.310/.589 with two doubles, and one RBI (Boise Hawks)
  • Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, 22.0 innings pitched, seven earned runs, 21 strikeouts, 15 walks (Daytona Cubs)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-2, Save with a 8.31 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP, 34.2 innings pitched, 32 earned runs, 34 strikeouts, 31 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) 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP, 3.0 innings pitched, no earned runs, four strikeouts, no walks (AZL Cubs)
  • Duane Underwood (RHP) – 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP, 20.0 innings pitched, 16 earned runs, 18 strikeouts, 11 walks (Boise Hawks)
  • Christian Villanueva (3B) – .257/.312/.450/.762 with 23 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs, 47 RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .274/.345/.448/.793 with 17 doubles, 14 home runs, 58 RBI, four stolen bases (Kane County Cougars)

Note: OF Trevor Gretzky replaced injured IF/OF Tim Saunders in the Top Prospect Watch

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth