High drama was the key words to end the week in the Cubs minor league system. Iowa had a dramatic comeback on Sunday capped by a three-run home run from Arismendy Alcantara. Daytona benefitted from three RBI by Zeke DeVoss as it had to walk a tightrope to win 11-9 on Saturday.
And the system had another No-Hitter, this time from Tyler Skulina and Nathan Dorris of Kane County on Saturday.
For all the thrills, chills, and spills, come inside today’s Down on the Farm.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report covers games from Thursday to Sunday. Thursday’s report covers games Monday through Wednesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (28-15)
Kane County returned home on Thursday and wound up losers of four straight as the Cougars were defeated by Quad Cities 7-0. After allowing an earned run in the second inning, it all fell apart for starter Duane Underwood in the third following an error by Ben Carhart. Five unearned runs would cross the plate and Underwood exited after three innings with only one strikeout. Gerardo Concepcion relieved and gave up an earned run with three strikeouts in four innings. Jose Arias went the rest of the way and fanned two batters in two scoreless innings. Jacob Rogers paced the now frigid Cougars offense. Rogers went 2-for-4. Carlos Penalver was 1-for-4 with a stolen base, while Jordan Hankins was 1-for-4 and Shawon Dunston Jr. went 1-for-3.
The Cougars shook a four game skid on Friday night as they beat Quad Cities. Kane County returned to their pattern of opportune hitting and got on the board in the fifth inning. Trey Martin (1-for-2) drew a one out walk and scored on a double from Danny Lockhart (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI). Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) reached on an error, and Lockhart scored on an error that allowed David Bote (1-for-4) to reach on base. Ben Carhart (2-for-4 with an RBI) singled in Penalver. The Cougars tacked on an insurance run in the seventh after Martin singled and scored on a double by Penalver.
Paul Blackburn is emerging as the ace of the staff as the Cougars’ starter limited the River Bandits to an earned run while striking out eight in six innings. James Pugliese held Quad Cities in check by allowing an earned run with three strikeouts in two innings. Tyler Bremer slammed the door with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning.
On Saturday, starter Tyler Skulina and reliever Nathan Dorris combined on the eighth No-Hitter in Kane County history as the Cougars defeated Quad Cities 3-0. Skulina recorded five strikeouts in 7.1 innings, while Dorris struck out one in 1.2 innings as both pitchers had their sinkers working. The Cougars’ offense provided Skulina with the only run he would need in the bottom of the first inning. Jacob Hannemann (0-for-1) walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with an RBI). Kane County put the game out of reach in the fifth inning after Trey Martin (1-for-3 with a double) led off with a double and scored when Shawon Dunston Jr. (0-for-3) reached on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. A wild pitch advanced Dunston to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly from Hannemann.
Following the emotional high of a no-hitter the previous night, Kane County ended the weekend on a low note as the Cougars lost to Quad Cities on Sunday afternoon 10-3. The Cougars tied the game at one in the first when Ben Carhart (3-for-4) singled with one out and scored on a double from Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI). It was 10-1 in the seventh when Jacob Rogers (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI) led off the inning with a solo home run. Kane County added a final run in the ninth when Carhart reached with a base hit and scored on a double by Rogers. Daury Torrez had an uncharacteristic bad outing as he gave up seven runs (six earned) and struck out four in 4.2 innings. Michael Wagner continued to struggle at this level as he allowed three earned runs in 2.1 innings. Jose Arias finished up the game with two strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (14-25)
After a rainout on Thursday, Daytona was able to squeeze out enough runs to put together a 2-1 victory over Fort Myers on Friday. Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-4 with a double and a stolen base) led off the game with a double, stole third, and scored on a groundout. The D-Cubs would not score again until the seventh inning, when consecutive singles by Albert Almora (2-for-4 with an RBI), Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3 with a stolen base), and Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3), along with a double play, scored Almora.
Hard luck Felix Pena continued his trend of fine outings with little to show for them as he allowed an earned run and struck out two in four innings. Zach Cates only gave up one hit in three scoreless innings and he struck out two batters. Andrew McKirahan worked out of a jam in the ninth to collect his second save as he went two innings with three strikeouts.
A topsy-turvy game on Saturday night had every Daytona player in the lineup reaching base and the D-Cubs needed every run they could get to defeat Fort Myers 11-9. It looked as if the D-Cubs would have the game in the bag after Chadd Krist (2-for-5 with a double and two RBI) reached in the second inning on a throwing error and scored on a two-out double from Marco Hernandez (1-for-5 with a double and an RBI). Zeke DeVoss(3-for-6 with three RBI) singled in Hernandez. Bijan Rademacher (1-for-2) was hit by a pitch to start the third inning and scored on a double from Krist. Rock Shoulders (1-for-4) walked and a double by Jeimer Candelario(2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) plated Krist. Shoulders and Candelario scored on a single by DeVoss. Daytona manufactured a run in the fourth after Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-3 with a triple, RBI, and a stolen base) singled, stole second, and scored on a base hit from Krist. Candelario began the fifth with a single and base hits by DeVoss and Gioskar Amaya (3-for-6 with an RBI) brought him around. After the Miracle narrowed the gap to 8-5, Daytona added a run in the seventh when Chen walked and scored on a double from Dan Vogelbach (2-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI). The D-Cubs added what became two insurance runs in the ninth when Albert Almora (2-for-6) singled with two out and scored on a triple by Chen. A double by Vogelbach plated Chen.
It looked as if Tayler Scott was set up for an easy victory with all the early run support. But the South African surrendered five earned runs with two out in the fifth inning and was pulled. Michael Jensen kept Fort Myers in check for 2.1 innings while striking out a batter. With what became a six run cushion, Steve Perakslis was supposed to go the rest of the way but yielded four earned runs after walking three in the ninth. Perakslis gave way to Austin Reed after two outs, and Reed finally recorded the last out.
The D-Cubs laid a real egg on Sunday afternoon as they were embarrassed by Fort Myers 10-1. Starter Ben Wells was unable to get past the second inning as he allowed four earned runs while striking out a batter and walking five. Starling Peralta kept Daytona in the game by tossing four scoreless innings and fanning three batters. But Zack Godley was hammered for six earned runs with two strikeouts in 0.2 innings. Andrew McKirahan struck out three of the four batters he faced as he worked 1.1 scoreless innings. Daytona temporarily took the lead in the second innings when Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4) singled, moved to second on an error, and scored on a double from Marco Hernandez (1-for-2 with a double and an RBI).
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (23-20)
The Smokies let some sloppy play assist in letting a game get away from them on Thursday as Tennessee lost 6-5 to Mississippi in 11 innings. Tennessee opened up the game with three runs as John Andreoli (2-for-4 with two stolen bases) started things off with a single. Andreoli stole second and scored on a base hit from Stephen Bruno (1-for-6 with an RBI). Kris Bryant (2-for-6 with a double and an RBI) traded places with Bruno on a force out and was able to trot home on a home run by Rafael Lopez (2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI, and a stolen base). The Smokies broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning after pinch-hitter Anthony Giansanti (1-for-2) led off with a single. A wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt moved Giansanti to third. A two out double from Bryant plated Giansanti. Behind a run in the eighth inning, Jeudy Valdez (0-for-3 with a stolen base) drew a two out walk. Valdez stole second base, and a fielding error allowed him to score. Joel Pineiro drew his first starting assignment of the season and gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out three in five innings. Fresh off the disabled list, Lendy Castillo recorded a strikeout in a scoreless inning. Jeffrey Lorick continues to get rocked as he allowed two earned runs in two innings, while Armando Rivero racked up five strikeouts in two perfect innings. Austin Kirk wound up yielding the winning run with one out in the 11th inning.
The Tennessee offense was stymied on Friday as the Smokies managed only five hits in a 2-0 loss to Mississippi. Corey Black was the victim of the lack of run support as he pitched well enough to win by giving up two earned runs and striking out six in 5.1 innings. Tony Zych continued to dig out of a self-made hole by tossing 1.2 scoreless innings. Arodys Vizcaino fanned two as he worked a perfect inning. The Smokies never posed a serious threat as Dustin Geiger (2-for-4), Kris Bryant (1-for-4), Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3) and Wes Darvill (1-for-3) collected the only hits.
After winning ten out of their first thirteen games this month, Tennessee is starting to sputter as the Smokies bowed to Mississippi 8-3 on Saturday afternoon to extend their losing streak to four games. Behind 1-0 in the sixth inning, the Smokies took the lead after John Andreoli (1-for-3) walked to start off the inning. Charles Cutler (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) hit his first home run in nearly a year to put Tennessee ahead. Singles by Kris Bryant (1-for-3), Dustin Geiger (1-for-4), and Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Bryant. Matt Loosen could not hold a lead as he allowed the Braves to tie the score by surrendering three earned runs and striking out five in six innings. Coming into the game with a 1.16 ERA in 11 appearances, P.J. Francescon was lit up for five earned runs in 1.2 innings. Austin Kirk struck out the final batter of the eighth inning.
The combination of lack of run support and failure of pitchers to hold leads created a familiar story for Tennessee as the Smokies lost 4-2 to Mississippi on Sunday. In a game where Tennessee managed only five hits pitching was staked to a 2-1 lead but failed to hold onto it. Starter Dae-Eun Rhee allowed two earned runs with a strikeout in six innings. Jeffrey Lorick gave up two runs (one earned) in his inning of work, while Lendy Castillo recorded a strikeout in a scoreless inning. The Smokies scored all of their runs in the in the fourth inning after Stephen Bruno (1-for-4) led off with a single and was wiped out on a force that allowed Kris Bryant (1-for-4) to reach. Rafael Lopez (0-for-3) walked and Dustin Geiger (1-for-4) singled to load the bases. A base hit from Rubi Silva (1-for-3 with an RBI) plated Bryant and Lopez scored on a sacrifice fly.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (21-18)
Iowa starter Kyle Hendricks took command on Thursday and may put together the second best pitching performance for the I-Cubs this season in beating Round Rock 2-0. Hendricks was dominant as he gave up only three hits in eight innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts. Blake Parker set down the Express in order in the ninth for his seventh save. Iowa made a fragile two run lead hold up after Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a double) doubled with one out in the second inning. Two batters later, Jonathan Mota (1-for-3 with an RBI) singled in Villanueva. Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-3 with a double and a triple) led off the third inning with a double and scored on a base hit by Josh Vitters (1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base).
It was a sloppy game all around on Friday as pitching could not hold, the offense could not get untracked, and the defense gave away runs as Iowa lost to Round Rock 5-1. Eric Jokisch held the Express to two runs until the seventh inning when they broke through for two more. For the evening, Jokisch went 6.1 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) while striking out five batters. Marcus Hatley could have bailed Jokisch out, but he gave up a run scoring double as he worked 1.2 innings and struck out four batters. Marcos Mateo pitched the ninth and was touched for an unearned run. The I-Cubs tied the game at one in the fifth when Brett Jackson (1-for-4 with a double) doubled, was sacrificed to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Iowa’s pitching staff let one slip away on Saturday night as they lost to Round Rock 7-6. The I-Cubs built a lead in the first inning after Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-2 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base) walked and scored on a home run from Javier Baez (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI). In the third inning, doubles by Logan Watkins (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) and Alcantara allowed Watkins to score. With the game tied at three in the sixth, Alcantara led off with a walk and stole second base. Baez then walked and a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners a base. A single by Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base) scored Alcantara and Baez. Behind 7-5 in the seventh, Iowa could only muster one run as Eli Whiteside (2-for-4 with a double) doubled and scored on a single from Watkins. Starter Dallas Beeler pitched well enough to win, especially with the run support he was given. Beeler gave up three earned runs and struck out six in 5.1 innings. However, Eduardo Figueroa allowed an inherited runner to score and gave up three earned runs in 1.1 innings. Alberto Cabrera was also visited by his old bugaboo as he let two inherited runners score while surrendering an earned run and striking out three in 2.1 innings.
In a rarity for the Cubs’ minor leagues this season, the Iowa offense was able to provide run support and bail out a shaky pitching effort as the I-Cubs beat Round Rock in comeback fashion 9-8 on Sunday. Tsuyoshi Wada also had a rare poor performance as he allowed six earned runs and struck out five in seven innings. Marcus Hatley earned the victory but not before giving up two earned runs and striking out a batter in an inning of work. Blake Parker prevented any more damage as he had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
The I-Cubs tied the game at three in the third inning after Jonathan Mota (1-for-2 with an RBI) walked and Luis Flores (1-for-2) singled to put runners on the corners. A double by Logan Watkins (1-for-3 with a double, RBI, and a stolen base) plated Mota, with Flores scoring on a groundout. Watkins later touched home on a sacrifice fly. In the fourth Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and an RBI) led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Brett Jackson (1-for-4 with a stolen base), and scored on a sacrifice fly. Watkins led off the fifth inning with a walk. One out singles by Javier Baez (2-for-4 with an RBI) and Chris Valaika (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) allowed Watkins to score. Down 8-5 in the eighth inning, Iowa crept closer as Villanueva led off with a solo home run. A one out single by Mota and a walk to Flores set up Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-5 with a home run and four RBI), who drilled a three-run homer for what would be the game-winning runs.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned RHP Joel Pineiro to the Tennessee Smokies from extended spring training; assigned LHP Nathan Dorris to the Daytona Cubs from the Kane County Cougars.
The Iowa Cubs placed 1B Lars Anderson on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to May 17. The Tennessee Smokies placed LHP Hunter Cervenka on the 7-day disabled list; activated RHP Lendy Castillo from the 7-day disabled list. The Daytona Cubs placed RHP Felix Pena on the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
Arismendy Alcantara (INF) – Iowa Cubs
Albert Almora (OF) – Daytona Cubs
Corey Black (RHP) – Tennessee Smokies
Paul Blackburn (RHP) – Kane County Cougars
Jacob Hannemann (OF) – Kane County Cougars
Kyle Hendricks (RHP) – Iowa Cubs
Pierce Johnson (RHP) – Tennessee Smokies
Duane Underwood (RHP) – Kane County Cougars
Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Daytona Cubs
Rob Zastryzny (LHP) – Daytona Cubs