Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/03/14

First place remains in the grasp in four of the Cubs’ eight minor league teams. It all started at the top as Iowa took four straight from Omaha thanks to the efforts of Kris Bryant, Manny Ramirez, Josh Vitters, and Brett Jackson. Tennessee received excellent pitching from Corey Black and Pierce Johnson with support from a resurgent Elliot Soto, Jae-Hoon Ha, and newcomer Kevin Brown.

Daytona stumbled out of first despite the continued efforts of Albert Almora. Kane County maintained first place as the Cougars split a pair with Peoria with Ben Carhart coming up big. Jesse Hodges has come to life as Boise searches for some middle ground in their boom-or-bust pattern. Meanwhile, the kids are alright down in Arizona as Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, and Ryan Williams all helped keep the AZL Cubs in first place.

Along with summaries from the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuelan Summer League, here is today’s Down on the Farm Report.

Editor’s Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Thursday to Sunday. Thursday’s report covers games Monday through Wednesday. Late Games by the Boise Hawks and the AZL Cubs will be carried on the following report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (8–11)

It looked as if Boise had the game in hand Monday night, until the bullpen had a serious meltdown and the Hawks lost 11-5 to Tri-City. The Hawks built their lead in the first inning after Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4 with a stolen base) led off the game with a single and stole second base. A base hit by Rashad Crawford (2-for-5 with three RBI) drove in Baez. A single from Mark Zagunis (2-for-4 with a double) put runners on the corners. Crawford scored on a groundout. Boise extended their lead in the fourth after Alex Tomasovich (1-for-2) and Jesse Hodges (2-for-4) began the inning with singles, and both runners were sacrificed up a base. A fielder’s choice wiped out Tomasovich at home, but allowed Baez to reach. A single from Crawford plated Hodges and Baez. The Hawks added a run in the seventh after Zagunis led off with a double and scored on a throwing error. Starting pitcher Ben Wells didn’t pitch badly. Wells allowed two earned runs while striking out four in five innings. Greyfer Eregua allowed the Dust Devils to tie the score as he gave up three earned runs with two strikeouts in two innings. Veteran Jasvir Rakkar came on in the eighth and simply imploded. Rakkar surrendered six earned runs in only 0.2 innings. Alberto Diaz came in and picked up the final out.

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PrintBoise hopefully found their identity Tuesday as the Hawks crushed Tri-City 14-3. The Hawks began the game with a double from Jeffrey Baez (3-for-5 with a double, home run and three RBI) and he scored on a one out triple by Mark Zagunis (2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI). Danny Canela (4-for-4 with an RBI) followed with a single that plated Zagunis. Boise broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth after Jesse Hodges (3-for-5 with two home runs and six RBI) reached on a one out single and moved to second on a base hit from Zak Blair (2-for-5). With two outs, Baez brought in Hodges with a single. The Hawks manufactured a run in the sixth after Canela singled, advanced to third on a double from Mark Malave (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI), and scored on a groundout. Boise exploded in the eighth inning after Rashad Crawford (2-for-5) led off with a single and moved to second on a throwing error. A wild pitch advanced Crawford to third and he scored on a single by Zagunis. Canela put runners on the corners with a base hit and Zagunis scored on a single by Malave. Hodges cleared the bases with a home run. Blair restarted the inning with a base hit and scored on a two out home run from Baez. The Hawks weren’t done. In the ninth, Canela singled and Justin Marra (1-for-5 with an RBI) had a one out base hit. Hodges then blasted his second home run of the game.

Starter Tyler Ihrig allowed the Boise offense to relax as he struck out five and gave up two earned runs in six innings. Trey Lang continues to be impressive as he had a strikeout in a scoreless inning. Francisco Carrillo mopped up and was nicked for an unearned run while striking out two in two innings.

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Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (54-28)

After a rainout on Monday, it only took one inning Tuesday for Kane County to defeat Peoria 6-1. All the runs for the Cougars scored in the third inning after Carlos Penalver (1-for-4) and Shawon Dunston Jr. (2-for-4 with three stolen bases) led off with singles to put runners on the corners. Dunston stole second and Penalver scored on a passed ball. Jacob Hannemann (0-for-3) drew a one out walk and scored, along with Dunston, on a home run from Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI). With two out, Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4) and Jacob Rogers (1-for-4) had base hits and scored on a double from Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI).

Starter Paul Blackburn was in control as he scattered four hits and struck out three in six scoreless innings. Fresh off the disabled list, Jose Arias had a strikeout as he shut down the Chiefs for two innings. In his debut as the Cougars’ new closer, James Pugliese gave up an earned run with a strikeout to close out the game.

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Kane County took one on the chin Wednesday as the Cougars lost 8-5 to Peoria. Tyler Skulina was not able to get out of the first inning as he hit his pitch count limit and allowed three earned runs in 0.2 innings. Corbin Hoffner was rushed in to replace Skulina and gave up three earned runs while striking out a batter in 3.1 innings. Gerardo Concepcion got in his first action since coming off the disabled list and surrendered an earned run and struck out two in three innings. Michael Heesch was charged with an unearned run in two innings. The Cougars tried to make a comeback in the sixth inning after David Bote (1-for-4 with an RBI) walked with two out. Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI) doubled in Bote. Hannemann scored on a single from Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with an RBI). Kyle Schwarber (2-for-4) followed with a base hit and Carhart scored on a single from Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4 with an RBI). Walks to Jacob Rogers (0-for-2) and Will Remillard (0-for-1) started the seventh inning. Bote drove in Rogers with a two out single. Hannemann then plated Remillard with a base hit.

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High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (34-47)

An off-day on Monday didn’t do the Daytona offense any good as the only managed for hits in a 3-0 loss Tuesday to Brevard County. Jose Rosario was the starter and certainly didn’t help the situation. Rosario allowed three runs (two earned) while striking out two in 5.2 innings. Stephen Perakslis relieved and notched two strikeouts in 2.1 scoreless innings. Tyler Bremer made his Daytona debut and worked around two hits in the ninth. The D-Cubs offense was led by Albert Almora, who was 1-for-4 with a triple. Marco Hernandez was also 1-for-4, while Pin-Chieh Chen went 2-for-3 and WesDarvill was 1-for-3.

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Daytona fell to third place in the Florida State League North with a 4-3 loss Wednesday to Brevard County. The D-Cubs had the lead, but the pitching was not able to hold it as Justin Amlung allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out a batter in five innings. Starling Peralta had three strikeouts as he gave up an earned run in two innings. Yao-Lin Wang worked around a walk with a strikeout in a scoreless eighth. Daytona took the lead in the second after Bijan Rademacher (0-for-3) and Wes Darvill (0-for-3) began the inning with walks. A force play put runners on the corners as Gioskar Amaya (0-for-3) reached. Rademacher scored on a single by Jordan Hankins (1-for-3 with an RBI). Albert Almora (3-for-3 with a double) led off the third inning with a single, advanced to second on a throwing error and scored on a single by Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3 with two RBI). The fifth inning saw Almora reach on a one out double, move to third on a fielding error and score on a sacrifice fly.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (43-40)

A tight game on Monday did not end in Tennessee’s favor as the Smokies lost 3-2 to Montgomery in ten innings. Starting pitcher Matt Loosen pitched well enough to win after allowing two earned runs while striking out five in six innings. Jeffrey Lorick relieved and struck out three of the four batters he faced while throwing 1.1 perfect innings. Lendy Castillo worked around a hit in 1.2 innings with two strikeouts. Tony Zych took over in the tenth and struck out a batter, but gave up the winning run. The Smokies’ runs came in the second inning after Kevin Brown (1-for-4) singled with two out and scored on a double from Elliot Soto (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI). A base hit by Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Soto.

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The comeback kids were at it again Tuesday as Tennessee put on a late surge to slip past Montgomery 6-5. With a shake-up in the lineup, Elliot Soto (3-for-4 with a double and an RBI) walked to start the first inning, moved to third on single by Stephen Bruno (1-for-5), and scored on a double play. The Smokies regained the lead in the sixth inning after Charles Cutler (2-for-3) singled and Luis Flores (1-for-4) reached on a throwing error with one out. Kevin Brown (2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) delivered a two out triple that plated both Cutler and Flores. Behind 5-3 in the eighth, Cutler walked and singles by Jonathan Mota (3-for-4 with a double) and Flores loaded the bases. A base hit by Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3 with an RBI) plated Cutler and kept the bases juiced. A groundout scored Mota, and a two out single from Soto brought Flores in with a go-ahead run.

Corey Black had a short but good outing with a strikeout in 4.2 scoreless innings. Jeffrey Lorick recorded the final out of the fifth, but P.J. Francescon was rocked for four earned runs in 1.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka did not fare much better and gave up an earned run in 0.2 innings. Zach Cates struck out two as he shut down the Biscuits for an inning, while Frank Batista picked up his third save with a strikeout in the ninth.

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Tennessee increased their first place lead Wednesday as the Smokies shutout Montgomery 7-0. Charles Cutler (0-for-3) began the second inning with a walk, as Jonathan Mota (1-for-4) singled and Luis Flores (1-for-3 with a home run and an RBI) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kevin Brown (3-for-4 with a double and two RBI) doubled in Cutler and Mota. A base hit by Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-4 with a double and three RBI) plated Flores and Brown. Elliot Soto (1-for-5) had a one out single, and a base hit by Stephen Bruno (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Ha. It was the bottom of the order in the third again as Brown singled and scored on a double from Ha. Flores added the punctuation in the fifth with a solo home run.

Pierce Johnson was finally back in Tennessee after a stint on the disabled list and a few weeks at Kane County. Johnson worked 7.1 innings and limited the Biscuits to one hit while striking out five batters. Andrew McKirahan scuffled a bit but was able to hold Montgomery scoreless for 1.2 innings while striking out two batters.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (45-38)

It is the stuff legends are made of as the old, the new, and the somewhat forgotten combined to give Iowa a 7-6 victory over Omaha in 10 innings on Monday and possession of first place. Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI) reached on a fielding error ahead of Manny Ramirez (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI), who cut the lead in half with his first home run for the I-Cubs. Iowa was still behind 5-2 in the eighth when walks to Rafael Lopez (1-for-3), Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4), and Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double) left the bases loaded for Bryant, who put the I-Cubs in the lead with a Grand Slam home run. With the game tied at six in the bottom of the tenth, Baez led off with a double and was sacrificed to third. Bryant and pinch-hitter Logan Watkins were intentionally walked to get to Josh Vitters (1-for-5 with an RBI) … and a line drive single by Vitters produced a walk-off victory.

Carlos Pimentel was given a rare non-doubleheader start and allowed four earned runs while striking out eight in five innings. Arodys Vizcaino had a strikeout in a scoreless inning, but Yoanner Negrin gave up an earned run as he struck out three in two innings. Blake Parker had a rough outing and surrendered the tying run while striking out two in the ninth. Marcus Hatley shut down the Storm Chasers with a perfect tenth inning.

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Iowa was able to come after Omaha in waves on Tuesday as they won the first game of a day-night doubleheader 5-3. Kyle Hendricks earned his league leading tenth victory as he struck out seven and allowed three earned runs in six innings. Zac Rosscup had a strikeout in a perfect seventh inning for his first save. The I-Cubs cut the Omaha lead in half in the first inning after Matt Szczur (1-for-2 with a stolen base) drew a one out walk and scored on a double from Chris Valaika (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI). Iowa then took the lead in the second inning when Logan Watkins (1-for-2 with a stolen base) walked with one out and moved to third on a double by Eli Whiteside (1-for-2 with a double). Both runners scored on a triple from Brett Jackson (2-for-3 with a triple and three RBI). With the game tied at three in the fifth, Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3 with a stolen base) and Szczur reached on one out singles, and pulled off a double steal that put both runners in scoring position. Alcantara scored on a sacrifice fly. Iowa padded the lead in the sixth after Watkins reached with a two-out single and stole second base. After a walk to Whiteside, Watkins scored on a single by Jackson.

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In a tense game two, Iowa completed a comeback to sweep Omaha 7-4 in eight innings. Playing behind 2-0 in the fourth inning, Javier Baez (0-for-2) led off with a walk and scored on a double from Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI). A single by Rafael Lopez (1-for-3) put runners at the corners, and a base hit from Matt Szczur (2-for-4 with two RBI) drove in Bryant with the tying run. It would stay 2-2 until the top of the eighth when the Storm Chasers pushed across two runs. In the bottom of the inning, Baez once again walked and a single by Chris Valaika (1-for-3) advanced Baez to third. An infield hit by Bryant allowed Baez to score, as a sacrifice bunt by Lopez put the runners in scoring position. Szczur delivered a base hit that plated Valaika with the tying run. With two out, Brett Jackson (2-for-3 with double, a home run, and three RBI) ended the game with a three-run home run. Zak Hermans was called up from Kane County to start the game and did a credible job. Hermans allowed two earned runs and struck out two in 3.2 innings. Alberto Cabrera relieved and had two strikeouts in 2.2 scoreless innings. Armando Rivero was supposed to come on and shut down Omaha, but instead gave up two earned runs as he struck out five in two innings.

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Make it four in a row for Iowa over Omaha as the I-Cubs put on a late surge to eke past the Storm Chasers 4-3. Starter Chris Rusin pitched a good ballgame and allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out three in seven innings. Marcus Hatley had a little trouble in the eighth innings as he gave up an earned run with two strikeouts. Blake Parker had a walk and a strikeout in the ninth for his 18th save.

Iowa was the first team on the board in the second inning after Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a double, RBI, and a stolen base) led off with a single, stole second and scored on a base hit from Ryan Kalish (1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base). The I-Cubs tied the score in the sixth after Javier Baez (1-for-3 with a double and a stolen base) laced a one out double and scored on a two out double by Bryant. Iowa took the lead for good in the eighth when Josh Vitters (1-for-4 with a double) began the inning with a double and scored on a two out triple from Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI). Matt Szczur (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) doubled in Alcantara.

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Arizona Rookie League – AZL Cubs (6–3)

The AZL Cubs maintained their first place lead Tuesday as they came from behind to beat the Reds 6-4. Seventeen-year old outfielder Eloy Jimenez had his first professional start and went 2-for-4 with a double. Shortstop Gleyber Torres had a big evening and went 3-for-3 with an RBI. Tenth round pick Ryan Williams made his professional debut and picked up two strikeouts while pitching a perfect inning for the victory.

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Dominican Summer League

The DSL Cubs remain in second place in the Boca Chica North Division as their 19-8 record puts them four games behind the DSL Rangers. Once again, the only offensive player ranked in the league top ten in any category is infielder Jenner Emeterio (.262/.413/.377/.790), who is tied for tenth with 13 stolen bases. Infielder Carlos Jimenez continues to lead the regulars at .349/.383/.472/.854 and with 21 RBI, and is tied for the team lead with two home runs. First baseman Jose Paniagua is tied with Jimenez at two home runs and is second with 17 RBI along with a .311/.407/.533/.941 line. Right handed pitcher Santiago Rodriguez remains tied for the league lead with a 0.00 ERA, as he is 4-0 with a 0.91 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 32 innings. Oscar De La Cruz is tenth in the league with a 0.84 ERA and has 28 strikeouts and a 0.94 WHIP, along with a 3-0 record, in 32 innings.

Venezuelan Summer League

The VSL Cubs worked their way out of the cellar as their record of 16-26 ties them for last with the VSL Rays.  The V-Cubs have several players among the league leaders. Outfielder Luis Hidalgo ranks in the league top ten on all three major categories: fifth with a .333 batting average, fifth with three home runs, and tenth with 17 RBI. Third baseman Wladimir Galindo leads the league with five home runs and is eighth with a .298 average and fourth with 23 RBI.  Teammate Miguel Rico is tied for second with four home runs and is eighth in the league with 20 RBI, while hitting .287. Corner infielder Rico is eighth with 19 RBI and is batting .248. Switch-hitting infielder/outfielder Humberto Garcia is now second in the league with 15 stolen bases, while outfielder Luis Ayala is fourth with 10 stolen bases. Lefty Yapson Gomez remains fourth in the league with a 2.03 ERA, sixth with a 0.95 WHIP, and is 2-1 with 24 strikeouts in 40 innings. Enrique De Los Rio is ninth in the league with a 3.19 ERA and is tenth with a 1.23 WHIP, along with a 1-2 record and 29 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs released INF Zak Blair and OF Oliver Zapata, assigned RHP Zak Hermans to the Iowa Cubs from the Kane County Cougars; assigned RHP Pierce Johnson to the Tennessee Smokies from the Kane County Cougars; assigned OF Pin-Chieh Chen to the Tennessee Smokies from the Daytona Cubs; assigned RHP Tyler Bremer to the Daytona Cubs from the Kane County Cougars; assigned RHP Zak Hermans to the Kane County Cougars from the Iowa Cubs; assigned INF Jason Vosler to the Boise Hawks; assigned RHP Yoanner Negrin to the Boise Hawks from the Iowa Cubs; assigned INF Chesny Young and RHP Brad Markey to the Boise Hawks from the AZL Cubs; assigned INF Varonex Cuevas to the AZL Cubs from the Boise Hawks; assigned RHP Ryan Williams to the AZL Cubs; assigned C Erick Gonzalez to the DSL Cubs.

The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Marcos Mateo from the 7-day disabled list. The Tennessee Smokies placed LHP Jeffrey Lorick, OF Rubi Silva and INF Christian Villanueva on the 7-day disabled list. The Daytona Cubs activated RHP Yao-Lin Wang from the 7-day disabled list. The Kane County Cougars activated RHP Jose Arias and LHP Gerardo Concepcion from the 7-day disabled list.

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  • GaryLeeT

    Iowa with an impressive run into 1st place. No doubt Bryant’s arrival had a lot to do with that. Last night’s win to complete the sweep, had every run scored with 2 out RBIs.

    • Jeff Wilson

      Clutch hitters! Been a long time since we had those on a regular basis!

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Zagunis looks like another guy that doesn’t belong spending too much time in Boise. Hopefully his success will translate as he progresses and that he can stay behind the plate.

    I’d like to see Schwarber get to Daytona and play with Vogelbach and Almora. Success seems to breed success as we’re seeing in Iowa and I think those 3 could feed off each other in Daytona and start to ascend together.

    Glad to see Pierce and Cory back starting games in Tennessee. Just need CJ back and we’ll have our vaunted threesome again at that level.

    Gleyber seems to hit everything in Arizona. In a limited sample he and Eloy look like they could both be the real deal.

    The boys in Iowa are just feeding off each other and growing into a monster! BJax and Sczcur are even getting in on the fun!

    So much talent at just about every level. True pipeline of players coming at every position. And we’re likely going to get one more high draft choice by the end of the season. Although that’s no guarantee because we’re only 10 games below .500 and with our pitching we’re in just about every game. I don’t suspect that we’ll drop off a cliff without Shark and Hammel either. We already lose Shark’s games and Hendricks or Beeler should keep us competitive. Hammel will hurt but again Hendricks and Beeler seem capable.

    • Jeff Wilson

      I somewhat agree, but think (hear) that the morale will drop losing Shark.
      I totally agree about guys feeding off each other, wouldn’t it be great if BJax and Sczur start catching fire? :-)

  • Denver Mike

    I was looking through some minor league numbers last night, during the 4.5hr marathon at the ML level I had plenty of time. A few things stood out to me:

    – Since his demotion to AA Christian Villanueva is picking it back up again (.311/.367/.467, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7RBI in 11 gms), but back in Kane County Jeimer Candelario is not (.150/.190/.225, 3 2B , 6RBI in 11 gms)

    – After a slow start in Daytona, Dan Vogelbach is almost back on pace with where he was last year (.277/.364/..436, 19 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI in 78 gms). I’d like to see him get a late promotion to AA for a taste this year, and start there again next year.

    – If the Cubs minor league staff can straighten out Jorge Soler’s leg issues, it’s still not out of the question to see him in Chicago come Sept 2015 or May 2016. His line of .333/.407/.625 with 7 2B and 7 RBI at AA before the injury was really promising. Although he only has 50 PA between AA and AZL so far this year, he was promoted to AA this year after only 236 PA in Daytona last year. If he can get back on the field soon he could still end up with around the same number of PA in AA this year, and if his numbers stay strong could start next year at AAA. As a side note, I saw a picture of him standing next to Manny earlier this week and Soler is a monster, let get him back on track!

    – Very limited sample, but Torres and Jiminez are off to promising starts in the AZL.

    – Speaking of the AZL, Charcer Burks has the most PA of anyone on the AZL Cubs so far, and isn’t disappointing: .410/.425/.641, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB in 10 gms. He just turned 19 in March which is likely leading to his 11 Ks in 40 PA, but I didn’t know much about him coming out of the 2013 draft (9th round).

    – I’m interested in seeing the revised BA top 50 list that is coming out Monday (?) I think. I have a feeling Bryant will be moving ahead of Baez, and I also think we’ll see Alcantara creep into the top 20.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      BP’s mid-season list posts Monday

      • Denver Mike

        Thank you, with there being what seems like 100 different Top XX out there nowadays I mixed up BP and BA!

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          You’re welcome. And you’re exactly right. All of the midseason lists are about to post.

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  • Vivid_Reality

    Eloy Jimenez – Birthdate: 11/27/1996 (17 y, 7 m, 6 d)

    I thought 19 years old looked off.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you for catching, corrected.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.