Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/19/14

Home runs, promotions and All-Star Games highlighted the first part of the week in the Cubs’ system. Kyle Schwarber hit two homers and was bumped up a level following the game. While Kane County and Tennessee received mid-season breaks, two Smokies that participated in the Southern League All-Star Game received promotions.

The D-Cubs broke out of their offensive funk Wednesday with two big flies that included a Grand Slam off the bat of Rock Shoulders after Rob Zastryzny was hung with a tough loss the night before. Meanwhile in Des Moines, the I-Cubs posted two straight wins and got back to .500 before the roster overhaul.

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

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (4–1)

It took ten innings on Monday, but Boise was handed their first loss as the Hawks bowed to Tri-City 4-3. Josh Conway, the 2012 fourth round draft pick, made his professional debut after dealing with injuries for the past two years. Conway was on a strict pitch count as he struck out three batters in three scoreless innings. Adbert Alzolay made his stateside debut and went three innings and allowed an earned run while striking out two batters. Josh Davis relieved and was not as fortunate as he gave up two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts in two innings. Francisco Carrillo was unable to close the book and surrendered the winning run in the tenth inning. The Hawks figuratively stole a run in the first inning after Jeffrey Baez (0-for-3 with two walks and two stolen bases) was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on a double from Oliver Zapata (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI). Justin Marra (0-for-3) began the fourth inning with a walk and a wild pitch advanced him to second. A single by Zak Blair (1-for-5) put runners on the corners and Marra scored on a groundout with Blair taking second. Blair scored on a base hit by Rashad Crawford (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI).

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PrintBoise made up for the previous night’s loss in a Tuesday matinee by crushing Tri-City 12-3. Jeffrey Baez (2-for-6 with a home run and two RBI) started the game out right by thumping a solo home run. Two batters later, Kyle Schwarber (3-for-4 with a double, two home runs, and two RBI) blasted his own solo home run. Danny Canela (2-for-4 with a home run) followed with a walk and scored on a two out double from Justin Marra (3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, and four RBI). Jesse Hodges (1-for-3) was hit by a pitch and Giuseppe Papaccio (1-for-2) singled to load the bases. A walk to Oliver Zapata (0-for-3 with an RBI) forced in Marra. Marra crushed his own solo home run in the third inning. Baez led off the fourth with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Schwarber walked and Canela reached on a force attempt that plated Baez. One out walks to Hodges, Papaccio, and Zapata loaded the bases in the fifth and a groundout allowed Hodges to score. A single by Kevin Brown (1-for-5 with an RBI) scored Papaccio. The sixth saw Canela club his first home run, a solo shot. The eighth inning saw Schwarber hit his second solo home run of the game. Once again, Canela followed with a walk and David Bote (0-for-4) was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch advanced the runners a base, and a double from Marra plated both Canela and Bote.

The beneficiary of the offensive outburst was Trevor Graham, who had a team high seven strikeouts as he allowed an earned run in five innings. Rehabbing Yao-Lin Wang returned to the Hawks for the first time in two years and worked a perfect inning. Greyfer Eregua struggled a bit and gave up two earned runs while striking out three in two innings. Alberto Diaz worked around a hit and a walk in a scoreless ninth.

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Boise and Eugene were still playing Wednesday’s game at the time of this report.

Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (45-25)

The Kane County Cougars completed their first half of the season on Sunday and are currently on All-Star break.

Kane County resumes its season Thursday against Cedar Rapids at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (26-42)

The three-day break for the All-Star game did nothing for Daytona as they lost 7-2 to Tampa. Justin Amlung continues to flounder in a starting role as he allowed four earned runs and had a strikeout in three innings. Jose Rosario had six strikeouts but gave up two earned runs in three innings. Austin Kirk added two innings but surrendered an earned run with a strikeout. Zack Godley worked around a walk as he struck out the side in the ninth. The D-Cubs were down 6-0 in the fifth when Wes Darvill (1-for-4) and Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4) reached on one out singles. Darvill scored one out later on a base hit from Marco Hernandez (1-for-4). In the sixth inning, Willson Contreras (1-for-3 with a home run) put Daytona on the board again with a solo home run.

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Daytona received a sparkling pitching performance on Tuesday, but it didn’t matter as they lost 1-0 to Tampa. Starter Rob Zastryzny has shown remarkable improvement over his past five appearances and had another great effort as he allowed an earned run and struck out six in 6.2 innings. Michael Jensen continues to impress in relief as he had four strikeouts in 2.1 scoreless innings. The D-Cubs were limited to four hits … Wes Darvill (1-for-4), Albert Almora (1-for-4), Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3) and Marco Hernandez (1-for-2). Willson Contreras had his hitting streak snapped at 20 games.

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Daytona broke out the bats Wednesday and topped Tampa 11-2. Tayler Scott had a good outing and allowed two runs on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts in six innings. Stephen Perakslis pitched two scoreless innings and Jasvir Rakkar pitched a perfect ninth.

The D-Cubs offense pounded out 14 hits with six going for extra bases. Gioskar Amaya (3-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBI) had a huge night while Pin-Chieh Chen (3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a RBI) also tallied three hits. Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a RBI) and Albert Almora (1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored) also collected hits. Bijan Rademacher (2-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored) continues to impress.

The D-Cubs six runs in the first inning and all 11 in the first four innings. Pin-Chieh Chen led off the first with a triple and scored on a groundout by Wes Darvill. Albert Almora restarted the inning with a single to left. Vogelbach singled to left and Rademacher singled to right to load the bases. Rock Shoulders (1-for-5 with a home run and four RBI) cleared the bases with a Grand Slam. And Gioskar Amaya followed with a solo shot … back-to-back jacks for the D-Cubs.

Wes Darvill led off the second with a double. Vogelbach walked with one out and Rademacher plated Darvill with a single to left. Shoulder reached on an error that loaded the bases. Amaya doubled in Vogelbach and Rademacher. The D-Cubs added a run in the third after Albert Almora walked and scored on a double by Dan Vogelbach. Pin-Chieh Chen singled in Amaya with two outs in the fifth.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (33-36)

The Tennessee Smokies completed their first half of the season on Sunday and are currently on All-Star break.

The Smokies face the Chattanooga Lookouts Thursday night at Smokies Park. Dae-Eun Rhee is the Smokies’ scheduled starter.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (35-35)

It continued being a disastrous West Coast swing Monday afternoon as Iowa lost to Sacramento 5-1. Chris Rusin took the hill for the I-Cubs and gave up five runs (four earned) and struck out three in six innings. Frank Batista went the rest of the way and allowed only one hit in two scoreless innings. Iowa cut the River Cats’ lead in half in the sixth inning after Ryan Kalish (1-for-4 with a home run) cracked a solo home run.

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Back at home Tuesday after a less than successful road trip, Iowa hosted El Paso but lost 8-5 to the Chihuahuas. Starter Eric Jokisch set a season high with ten strikeouts, but also allowed five earned runs for the second straight outing in 6.1 innings. Marcos Mateo was hit hard as he gave up three earned runs in an inning of work. Carlos Pimentel worked around a walk and a hit in 1.2 innings with a strikeout. The I-Cubs started the game off right as Matt Szczur (2-for-4 with a double) doubled and scored on a throwing error. Chris Valaika (2-for-4 with a home run) led off the second with a solo home run. That would be all for Iowa until the eighth when Christian Villanueva (0-for-3) led off with a walk. A two out single for Ryan Kalish (1-for-4) set up Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI), who crushed a three run home run.

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Iowa held on for a 3-1 victory over El Paso Wednesday at Principal Park. Dallas Beeler tossed six innings of shutout ball with six strikeouts and two walks while scattering three hits. Marcus Hatley was very good once again and pitched a scoreless seventh. Zac Rosscup struggled again. Rosscup was lights out while he was on a rehab assignment but he has struggled in back-to-back appearances since he was optioned down. Rosscup gave up a run on two hits and a walk in the eighth. Blake Parker walked the tightrope and allowed El Paso to load the bases with a pair of hits and a walk before he closed the door for his 14th save.

Josh Vitters (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) had a big night. Vitters drove in Rafael Lopez (2-for-4 with a RBI) with Iowa’s second run in the first inning after Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-2 with two walks, a run scored and two stolen bases) walked, stole second and scored on a single by Lopez.

Josh Vitters hit a solo shot, his seventh of the year, in the fifth inning. Brett Jackson (0-for-4 with two strikeouts) made two sensational diving catches to help keep El Paso off the board late in the game.

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News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Yao-Lin Wang to the Boise Hawks on a rehab assignment, assigned LHP Alberto Diaz to the Boise Hawks from the Kane County Cougars, assigned RHP Adbert Alzolay to the Boise Hawks from extended Spring Training. The Cubs sent C/OF Kyle Schwarber to the Kane County Cougars from the Boise Hawks. Kris Bryant was assigned to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies. RHP Armando Rivero was assigned to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies. RHP Arodys Vizcaino was assigned to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies. 3B Jordan Hankins was assigned to the Daytona Cubs from the Kane County Cougars.

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Quote of the Day

"Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure." – W.J. Slim

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  • Tom U

    I’d like to thank Neil for finishing today’s report while I was away at my son’s college orientation.

  • redlarczykg

    With the Iowa bullpen loaded now and the way Parker is pitching, I’d like to see Parker brought up and have Grimm go down to be stretched out as a starter. The Cubs are short on power arms as starters in the farm and Grimm could work on his control and off speed pitches.

    • John_CC

      You have to like the sudden depth…Grimm, Ramirez, and even Viscaino could all possibly be starters. Since the odds are low of all making the successful transition it still leaves the bullpen pen solid.

  • The Dude Abides

    Neil/Tom – any updates on the 10 players that were voted on for season long coverage? Not sure when and how often that is compiled. Thanks

  • cubtex

    Christian Villanueva, Jeffry Antigua, Frank Batista Sent Down to AA Tennessee .

    I thought Villanueva would go.

    • Tony_H

      Not like it is a shock, same position and he has struggled this year.

      Antigua was on the DL, so they must have another move, I would think.

      • cubtex

        no but there was some discussion that he would go to 2B and Alcantara would move to the OF. It’s the right move. He has struggled big time in AAA.

        • Tony_H

          That was talk that I saw as well, but too many 2B options in Iowa. Valaika is playing 2B tonight.

        • John_CC

          Alcantara could be in the first wave of promotions to Chicago. I did not like the idea of moving a great 2Bman to make room for a Light hitting 3Bman to learn the position at AAA. “Not sense” my nephew would say.

  • Tony_H

    Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs 2m
    Draft picks Stinnett, Sands, Steele, Norwood all officially signed, per Cubs

    • Tony_H

      Stinnett signed for $1M, saving 250k.

  • cubtex

    Class-A Daytona infielder Jeimer Candelario transferred to Class-A Kane County.

    • cubtex

      He and Villanueva have really struggled this year and if you add Olt to that mix…..this is all the more reason to give Kris Bryant every opportunity to stick at 3rd.

      • Tony_H

        I think Baez will be at 3B when he gets promoted and Bryant will be in RF, at least to start their careers.

        • Denver Mike

          While I think that is likely, I hope Bryant can improve his defense and force the FO’s hand to keep him at 3B. Move Baez to 2B and Alcantara to CF.

          1. Alcantara – CF
          2. Rizzo – 1B
          3. Bryant – 3B
          4. Baez – 2B
          5. Heyward – RF
          6. Castro – SS
          7. Lake – LF
          8. Castillo – C

          I think we could be a .500 team next year with that lineup, even if Samardzija and Hammel are gone.

          • Tony_H

            We don’t have Heyward and I doubt the Braves will give him up without us giving up quite a bit. I think they will sign a FA OF and I put that player in CF or LF with Bryant in RF. Valbuena, Watkins, Alcantara are all options for 2B. Lake is just not in the lineup and is either traded or in a back-up role if we are truly putting out a lineup to win next year.

            1. Span CF
            2. Valbuena 2B
            3. Rizzo 1B
            4. Bryant RF
            5. Castro SS
            6. Baez 3B
            7. Alcantara LF
            8. Castillo C

            Plus I am expecting at least 1 SP for the top half of our rotation, if not 2.

          • Denver Mike

            Heyward isn’t on the Cubs? I must have him confused with Justin Ruggiano. (Sarcasm alert)

            I forgot Heyward isn’t a FA until after next year, but either way he was just used as an example of the type of FA I’d like to see the FO spend their money on. I also know there aren’t any FA OFs this year that are of that caliber. Span? Ok I guess, but at 31 next year what good is he going to do when his legs go? See: Michael Bourn.

            I personally think Alcantara and Lake have more upside than Watkins or Valbuena, who ideally are utility/bench guys on a good team. Lake may turn out to be a bench guy at best as well, but I’m giving him the rest of the year before I make that call.

            I do agree that more money is going to go towards pitching.

          • Tony_H

            Same with using Span, just an example. If they can get him for 2 years that might work out good. Nothing special and definitely not if we have to go to a Bourn type contract. No thanks.

            FA OF’s
            Melky Cabrera
            Nelson Cruz
            Nick Markakis*
            Colby Rasmus
            Seth Smith
            Denard Span*

            Not that many too choose from, but they could also go the trade route.

            Valbuena has no more upside, we are seeing the best he can be right now, that’s for sure, but since OF is our weakness, why not keep him to play 2B and let Alcantara play OF for now. Watkins I would put on the bench. I just don’t think Lake is ever going to figure it out and be anything more than a 4th/5th OF.

          • Denver Mike

            Agreed, my theory sort of got throw out when I realized Heyward wasn’t a FA until 2016, so while Valbuena isn’t that intimidating or exciting of an option, he likely is the best option for next year. Unless, that is, we get an OF back via trade this year or during the offseason.