Bombs Away! The Cubs’ minor league system went on a spat of home run hitting as 16 players hit a total of 20 homers over 20 minor league games. Iowa received “big flies” form Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Chris Valaika, Logan Watkins, and Eli Whiteside. Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, and Christian Villanueva went deep for Tennessee, while Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Rock Shoulders, and Dan Vogelbach left the park for Daytona. Kane County got homers from Cael Brockmeyer, Jeimer Candelario, and Jacob Rogers, while Jesse Hodges hit one for Boise.
So make sure you bring your mitt as you take in 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 Class-A – Boise Hawks (21–16)
There was no late inning magic for Boise on Thursday as they lost to Spokane 12-5. Josh Conway was hit hard for the first time this season. Conway allowed five runs (three earned) with a strikeout in 2.2 innings. Jasvir Rakkar kept the Indians off the board with a strikeout in 1.1 scoreless innings. Ryan McNeil gave up four earned runs and struck out a batter in 2.2 innings. Trey Lang tossed the final 2.1 innings and surrendered three earned runs. The Hawks tied the score in the bottom of the first after Rashad Crawford (1-for-5) reached on an error with one out and moved to second on a single by Mark Zagunis (2-for-5). A two out base hit from Jesse Hodges (2-for-4 with a two RBI) plated both Crawford and Zagunis. Boise tied the score once again in the fifth after Crawford and Zagunis led off with singles. A two out base hit by Justin Marra (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) scored Crawford and Zagunis. Chesny Young (1-for-3) followed with a walk. And a single by Jason Vosler (3-for-4 with an RBI) scored Marra.
In a real show of character Boise rallied Friday night and beat Spokane 10-7 … and with the victory moved into a tie for first place. Things looked grim for the Hawks after starter Trevor Graham allowed five runs (four earned) with a strikeout in two innings. Josh Davis continued his wretched season as he gave up two earned runs in two innings. Brad Markey finally put an end to things as he had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Francisco Carrillo picked up the win and struck out three in three scoreless innings.
The Hawks tied the game in the bottom of the first after Rashad Crawford (2-for-5 with a double) reached with a one out single and scored on a double from Mark Zagunis (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI). The offense would not get in gear again until the sixth inning when Crawford led off with a single and Zagunis was hit by a pitch. A double by Danny Canela (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in Crawford and Zagunis. And a double from Jesse Hodges (2-for-3 with a double and an RBI) scored Canela. A fielding error allowed Chesny Young (2-for-4 with two RBI) to reach and Hodges to score. A single by Jason Vosler (2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) put runners at the corners, and Young scored on a groundout. Boise took command of the game in the seventh as Zagunis led off with a walk. Hodges reached on a one out single and Zagunis scored on a base hit from Justin Marra (1-for-4 with an RBI). A single from Young plated Hodges, and Marra and Young scored on a triple by Vosler.
Boise remained tied for first place Saturday as the Hawks held on for a 12-9 win over Salem-Keizer. Ben Wells was in all of his sinkerball glory as he recorded 11 ground outs and struck out a batter while allowing two earned runs in five innings. James Norwood gave up an earned run with a strikeout in pitched two innings. But the wheels almost fell off the cart as David Garner surrendered three earned runs in 0.2 innings. Sam Wilson did not fare much better as he yielded three earned runs in the final 1.1 innings.
The Hawks tied the game in the second inning after Jesse Hodges (3-for-5 with a triple and a home run) hit a solo home run. Justin Marra (2-for-4 with two RBI) walked and moved to second on a single from Chesny Young (2-for-4 with two RBI). A two out base hit by Jason Vosler (1-for-3 with an RBI) scored Marra. Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4 with two RBI) reached to lead off the fifth on a dropped third strike. Rashad Crawford (1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI) extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a one out triple that plated Baez. Crawford scored on a double from Mark Zagunis (2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI). Danny Canela (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI) followed with a double that allowed Zagunis to score and a one out single by Marra plated Canela. A two out base hit by Alex Tomasovich (2-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Marra. The seventh saw Hodges club a one out triple and score on a single from Marra. Young and Vosler drew walks around a fly out, and a single from Baez plated both Marra and Young. Boise picked up two more runs in the eighth after Canela and Hodges singled and advanced a base on a wild pitch. A base hit by Young scored both runners.
On Sunday, Boise lost all hope of a first half title as the Hawks lost 6-1 to Salem-Keizer. The loss, along with a win by Hillsboro gave the Hops the first half championship and a spot in the Northwest League playoffs. Tyler Ihrig didn’t get much help from his defense as he allowed six runs (four earned) with a strikeout in seven innings. Ryan Williams struck out three in two scoreless innings. The Hawks scored a consolation run in the ninth after Jeffrey Baez (1-for-3) singled but was out at second on a force from Rashad Crawford (0-for-4). A single from Danny Canela (1-for-3 with an RBI) scored Crawford.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (63–35)
It was a sterling effort for the Kane County pitching staff Thursday as the Cougars defeated Lansing 3-0 in 10 innings. Duane Underwood had an excellent night. Underwood allowed only three hits and struck out three in six innings. Rehabbing reliever Kyuji Fujikawa struggled with a few full counts but struck out two in a scoreless inning. Gerardo Concepcion had his best outing of the season as he struck out three batters. All of the Cougars’ runs came in the top of the tenth after Trey Martin (2-for-4) led off with a single and was sacrificed to second base. Kevin Brown(0-for-4) walked and a base hit from Ben Carhart (2-for-3) loaded the bases. Jacob Rogers (3-for-5 with two RBI) hit a single that deflected off the glove of the Lugnuts’ first baseman and scored Martin and Brown. A one out base hit by pinch-hitter Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-1 with an RBI) plated Carhart.
Kane County followed up a sparking pitching effort with another gem Friday as the Cougars trounced Lansing 10-1. Jen-Ho Tseng carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and wound up allowing only one base hit as he struck out three in six scoreless innings. Kyuji Fujikawa pitched for the second straight night and was nicked for an unearned run with two strikeouts in 0.2 innings. Michael Wagner went the rest of the way as he struck out a batter in 2.1 innings.
The fun started for the Cougars in the second inning after Jeimer Candelario (2-for-5 with a double and a home run) led off with a solo blast. Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5) and Shawon Dunston Jr. (3-for-4 with a double and two RBI) began the third with singles and Ben Carhart (1-for-3) walked to load the bases. Hannemann scored on a sacrifice fly. And both Dunston and Carhart scored on a two-out home run from Cael Brockmeyer (3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI). In the fourth, Trey Martin (2-for-5 with a stolen base) singled, stole second and scored on a two out base hit from Dunston, and Dunston ended up scoring on a fielding error. Kane County added two more in the seventh after Dunston doubled and a Carhart walked. A double from Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) brought in Dunston, and Carhart scored on a sacrifice fly. The eighth inning saw Martin, David Bote (1-for-5), and Hannemann single to load the bases, and Martin scored on a sacrifice fly.
Well, they all can’t be great ones as Kane County traveled to Lake County Saturday and lost 4-2. Paul Blackburn had a rare poor outing as he allowed four earned runs with a strikeout in six innings. Jose Arias tossed two perfect innings with three strikeouts. The Cougars cut the lead in half in the fourth inning after Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with a double) doubled with two outs. Jacob Rogers (1-for-3) followed with a walk. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3 with an RBI) singled in Carhart but was thrown out at second. Kane County added a run in the ninth when Kevin Brown (0-for-3) walked and Rogers reached with a one out single. A two-out walk to Will Remillard (1-for-3) loaded the bases, and a single by Trey Martin (2-for-4 with an RBI) scored Brown.
It was another rough day on the road for Kane County Sunday as the Cougars fell to Lake County 9-5. Tyler Skulina could not get out of the third inning as he allowed five earned runs with three strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Michael Heesch brought things back under control as he fanned six in 3.1 scoreless innings. James Pugliese and Corbin Hoffner each pitched an inning and each gave up two earned runs. The Cougars jumped out ahead in the top of the first after Shawon Dunston Jr. (1-for-4) had a one out single and moved to third on a double from Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with a double). A wild pitch allowed Dunston to score, and Carhart came in on a home run from Jacob Rogers (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI). Kane County did not score again until the ninth when Rogers led off with a single and went to third on a double by Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double). A single by Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) drove in Rogers. Candelario scored on a sacrifice fly.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (43-53)
The Daytona pitchers once again could not hold a lead as they lost 7-5 to Fort Myers Thursday. Nathan Dorris scuffled through another outing as he allowed five earned runs and struck out two in 4.2 innings. Michael Jensen was hung with the loss after he gave up an earned run with a pair of strikeouts in 2.1 innings. Austin Kirk yielded an earned run as he pitched the final two innings. The D-Cubs scored in the first after Albert Almora (0-for-4) reached on a force and moved to third on a single from Kyle Schwarber (2-for-4). Almora scored on a sacrifice fly. Wes Darvill (1-for-4 with a double) led off the second with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout. A one-out single by Schwarber in the third put a man on for Dan Vogelbach (2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI), who smashed his ninth home run of the season. The final run scored in the fourth after Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a triple) tripled with one out and crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly.
There are going to be some tired players in Daytona after Friday’s marathon in which the D-Cubs won 11-7 in grand style Friday over Fort Myers in 17 innings. It was another shaky outing for Rob Zastryzny as he allowed five earned runs and struck out six in five innings. Justin Amlung didn’t make matters any better as he gave up two earned runs, but struck out seven in four innings. Zack Godley put a halt to things as he had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Stephen Perakslis ate up some innings as he struck out two in four innings. Yao-Lin Wang went the rest of the way as he held the Miracle scoreless while striking out four in two innings.
The D-Cubs began to modestly chip away at the lead in the first inning after Albert Almora (2-for-5 with a double) reached with a one out single. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-7) and Willson Contreras (2-for-7 with a double, home run, and an RBI) walked with two outs. A single from Bijan Rademacher (1-for-7 with an RBI) scored Almora. It would stay that way until the sixth innings when Contreras led off with a double and went to third on a two out single from Gioskar Amaya (3-for-6 with an RBI). Contreras then scored on a base hit by Wes Darvill (2-for-8 with an RBI). Daytona pulled to within two runs in the seventh after Almora singled and Kyle Schwarber (2-for-5 with a home run and an RBI) walked. A wild pitch advanced the runners a base and Rademacher walked to load the sacks. A single from Billy McKinney (2-for-6 with two RBI) scored Almora and Schwarber, and a base hit by Amaya plated Rademacher. The D-Cubs reduced the deficit to one in the eighth after Schwarber belted his first home run for Daytona. Contreras tied the score in the ninth after he led off the inning with a solo home run. The two teams then flailed away for six innings until the bottom of the 17th when McKinney led off with a single. A sacrifice moved McKinney to second and Daytona played it cautiously as he was held at third on a base hit from Amaya. Marco Hernandez (1-for-6) was intentionally walked to bring up Rock Shoulders (1-for-3 with a home runs and four RBI), who entered the game in the 11th inning. Shoulders then ended the game with a walk-off Grand Slam home run.
After a marathon on Friday, Daytona played a more conventional game Saturday and lost 5-3 to Fort Myers. Tayler Scott had what can be described as a typical outing. Scott allowed four earned runs and struck out two in five innings. Tyler Bremer was shaky as he walked four and struck out two while allowing an earned run in 1.2 innings. Needing a fresh arm, Jasvir Rakkar was called up from Boise and tossed a scoreless inning. Starling Peralta pitched a perfect 1.1 innings. The D-Cubs grabbed the early lead after Marco Hernandez (0-for-4 with a stolen base) led off the game with a walk, stole second base, and scored on a one out base hit from Kyle Schwarber (1-for-4 with an RBI). Daytona cut the lead in half in the fifth after Billy McKinney (1-for-4) singled, moved to third on a one out double Gioskar Amaya (1-for-2 with a double and an RBI), and scored on a groundout. The D-Cubs inched a little closer in the seventh after Amaya walked and scored a double from Jordan Hankins (1-for-w with a double and two RBI).
Daytona took over full possession of first place Sunday when they defeated Fort Myers 9-1. The D-Cubs wasted no time in the first as Albert Almora (4-for-5) and Kyle Schwarber (2-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base) singled with one out. A two-out passed ball advanced the runners a base, and Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) followed with a walk. Billy McKinney (1-for-5 with a double and three RBI) delivered a double that cleared the bases and plated Almora, Schwarber and Contreras. Daytona added two in the seventh after Marco Hernandez (2-for-5 with a double and two RBI) was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to third on a single from Almora. A wild pitch advanced Almora a base, and a single from Schwarber scored Hernandez and Almora. The D-Cubs stuck in the dagger in the eighth after Rock Shoulders (2-for-5 with a double) and Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4 with a stolen base) singled. Amaya stole second and put two runners in scoring position. Jordan Hankins (1-for-5) reached on a dropped third strike, and a one out double from Hernandez plated Shoulders and Amaya. A two-out walk to Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a double) loaded the bases, Contreras doubled in in Hankins and Hernandez.
Felix Pena finally received some run support and did not disappoint as he allowed an earned run and struck out seven in seven innings. Zack Godley and Austin Kirk each threw perfect innings with a strikeout.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (48-51)
It was a fun one for Tennessee on Thursday as the Smokies beat Huntsville 4-1. The longball was the key for the Smokies as Addison Russell (2-for-4 with a home run and an RBI) got the Smokies on the board in the fourth inning with a solo home run. Russell had a two out single in the sixth inning and was able to come around on a blast from Jorge Soler (1-for-2 with a home run and two RBI). The exclamation point came in the ninth as Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI) ripped a solo homer of his own.
Corey Black moved into third in the Southern League in strikeouts (91) as he fanned eight and allowed an earned run on six innings. Hunter Cervenka had a strikeout as he tossed a scoreless inning. Lendy Castillo and Andrew McKirahan split up the eighth and kept the Stars off the board. Frank Batista recorded his 80th career save with a scoreless ninth.
Rain on Friday meant a doubleheader Saturday and Tennessee bowed 1-0 to Huntsville in game one. Pierce Johnson pitched well enough to win as he allowed an unearned run and struck out three in five innings. Hunter Cervenka had two strikeouts in a perfect inning. The Smokies offense managed only four hits: Elliot Soto (2-for-3), Addison Russell (1-for-3) and Christian Villanueva (1-for-2).
Tennessee made it 0-for-Saturday in game two as the Smokies lost 5-0 to Huntsville. It doesn’t matter what the pitching does when you can only scratch out three hits as Elliot Soto was 1-for-2 and Stephen Bruno went 2-for-3. Eduardo Figueroa may be on thin ice as he allowed four earned runs and struck out four in 3.1 innings. Jeffrey Lorick held the Stars at bay with a strikeout in 1.2 scoreless innings. Lendy Castillo was nicked for an unearned run as he tossed an inning.
The Smokies made up for their scoring drought in a big way Sunday as Tennessee pounded Huntsville 10-3. Jeffry Antigua drew his second straight starting assignment and allowed two earned runs while striking out a batter in four innings. P.J. Francescon had the long man assignment, tossed 2.1 innings and gave up an earned run. Andrew McKirahan pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, and Zach Cates had a strikeout in a perfect inning.
Tennessee scored first after Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-5) reached on a force play and scored on a home run from Addison Russell (2-for-4 with two home runs and six RBI). The Smokies broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth after pinch-hitter Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4) reached on a force, and singles by Emilio Bonifacio (4-for-5) and Ha loaded the bases. Russell then cleared the bases with a Grand Slam home run. In the seventh, Jorge Soler (1-for-3) led off with a single and he scored on a home run from Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI). Tennessee wasn’t done in the ninth as Soler and Dustin Geiger (0-for-4) drew walks and scored on a double from Jonathan Mota (3-for-5 with a double and two RBI).
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (54-47)
Iowa came back from All-Star break and went on the road to Round Rock where they defeated the Express 7-0 on Thursday. Dallas Beeler opened the second half by shutting down the Round Rock attack. Beeler gave up three hits and struck out four in seven innings. Hard-throwing Marcus Hatley struck out two in the eighth, while Armando Rivero had a strikeout in a perfect ninth.
Kris Bryant (3-for-5 with a double and a home run) started the scoring for Iowa in the second inning with a solo home run. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI) followed suit in the fourth as Baez began the inning with a solo blast of his own. The seventh saw Matt Szczur (3-for-5 with a stolen base) bunt for a single with two out and steal second base. Brett Jackson (2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI) drove in Szczur and scored on a double from Baez. In the ninth, Szczur singled and scored on a triple from Jackson. A sacrifice fly brought Jackson home and Bryant restarted things with a base hit. Chris Valaika (2-for-5) singled and moved Bryant to third. Bryant scored on a sacrifice fly.
The “big fly” remained prominent in the Lone Star State Friday as Iowa beat Round Rock 4-1. The I-Cubs tied the game in the conventional way in the top of the second after Ryan Kalish (1-for-4) singled with one out and moved to third on a base hit from Rafael Lopez (1-for-3). A single by Lars Anderson (3-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Kalish. Iowa took the lead for good in the third inning after Javier Baez (2-for-5 with a home run) reached with a one out single and scored on a Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) home run, his 11th since being promoted to the team. Baez was not to be outdone as he added a solo home run, his 16th, in the fifth inning.
Starter Tsuyoshi Wada fanned ten and allowed an earned run in six innings. Alberto Cabrera picked up where Wada left off and struck out two in two innings. Blake Parker struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 19th save.
Iowa won Saturday’s game in Round Rock 5-4 after scoring all of their runs in the second inning. Chris Valaika (2-for-4 with a home run) clubbed his tenth home run of the season. Two outs later, Eli Whiteside (1-for-4 with a home run) and Logan Watkins (1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI) went back-to-back with solo home runs. Matt Szczur (1-for-5) and Brett Jackson (2-for-5 with a double) followed with singles, and both Szczur and Jackson scored on a double from Javier Baez (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI).
Eric Jokisch had a rough outing as he allowed four runs (three earned) while striking out four in four innings. Carlos Pimentel replaced Jokisch and settled things down as he struck out four in three scoreless innings. Marcos Mateo worked around a hit in the eighth, and Blake Parker had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for save his 20th save.
Iowa could not make it four in a row Sunday as it took 12 innings from them to lose to Round Rock 4-3. Chris Rusin had a very good game. Rusin allowed two earned runs and struck out five in seven innings. Arodys Vizcaino fanned two in an inning of work. Armando Rivero went two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Marcus Hatley pitched the final 1.1 innings and struck out two batters. Iowa had the lead in the second after Chris Valaika (2-for-5 with a double) led off with a double and scored on a two out double from Lars Anderson (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI). A single by Logan Watkins (1-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Anderson. The I-Cubs looked as if they had the upper hand in the 11th after Kris Bryant (1-for-6 with a double) led off with a double and scored on a single from Rafael Lopez (1-for-5 with an RBI).
Arizona Rookie League – AZL Cubs (11–10)
The rally for the A-Cubs was too little, too late Thursday as they lost 3-2 to the Diamondbacks. Jose Paulino allowed three runs (two earned) with two strikeouts in two innings. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez was 2-for-4, while catcher Erick Castillo went 1-for-4 as each scored a run.
The fickle nature of rookie baseball played a role in Friday’s 7-3 loss to Brewers for the AZL Cubs. Starter Jesus Castillo tossed three scoreless innings but had to sit down for Jefferson Mejia, who allowed four earned runs and struck out four in 2.1 innings. Second baseman Andrew Ely was 1-for-4 with a home run.
The A-Cubs hung on tight Saturday and eked out a 5-4 win over the Brewers. Alex Santana went 3.2 innings and struck out seven while allowing two earned runs. Yomar Morel picked up his third save with a strikeout as he was tagged for two unearned run in the ninth. Catcher Tyler Alamo was 1-for-4 with an RBI, while outfielder Eloy Jimenez went 1-for-4 and drove in two runs.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Kyuji Fujikawa to the Kane County Cougars on a rehab assignment; assigned RHP Jasvir Rakkar to the Daytona Cubs from the Boise Hawks; assigned RHP Stephen Perakslis to the Boise Hawks from the Daytona Cubs. Cubs optioned LHP Zac Rosscup to Triple-A Iowa.
Top Prospect Watch
Albert Almora (OF) – Daytona Cubs
Corey Black (RHP) – Tennessee Smokies
Paul Blackburn (RHP) – Kane County Cougars
Eloy Jimenez (OF) – AZL Cubs
Pierce Johnson (RHP) – Tennessee Smokies
Jorge Soler (OF) – Tennessee Smokies
Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Daytona Cubs
Rob Zastryzny (LHP) – Daytona Cubs