As the first half of the minor league season closed, all teams are now in play as both the Northwest League and the Arizona Rookie League opened this weekend. The first half concluded with Myrtle Beach the Carolina League South Division Champions on the strength of pitchers Josh Conway and Daury Torrez.
First round draft pick Ian Happ has made a splash for Eugene by cracking two home runs in the first three games he has played in.
With all the details from South Bend, Arizona, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela along with our Top Prospect Watch, it’s a big Monday Down on the Farm Report.
Short Season Class-A – Eugene Emeralds (1- 3)
Eugene had its first victory of the season on Friday thanks to pitching overcoming the defense as they beat Everett 7-5. For the second straight night, the Ems’ defense was shaky as they committed four errors and a passed ball. In his first start, Justin Steele carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before being charged with two unearned runs. Steele struck out nine in five innings. Jordan Brink was also put into jeopardy by the defense as he was nicked for three runs (one earned) and struck out two in 2.2 innings. Corbin Hoffner struck out a batter to end the eighth and turned the game over to new closer, Alex Santana. Santana worked around a walk and a hit in the ninth to collect his first career save.
The Emeralds’ offense finally got into gear as Tyler Alamo (1-for-2) led off the second inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A base hit by Adonis Paula (3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI) drove in Alamo. Eugene got some breathing room in the fifth inning after Ho-young Son (1-for-3 with a double) doubled and moved to third following a ground out, a walk to Varonex Cuevas (0-for-2 with an RBI), and a wild pitch. A fielder’s choice allowed Kevonte Mitchell (0-for-5 with an RBI) to reach and Son to score. Tied at two in the seventh, Son was hit by a pitch and Paula doubled. A sacrifice fly advanced the runners, moving Paula to third and scoring Son. Paula then came home on a wild pitch. The Ems put the game away in the eighth after Ian Happ (1-for-5) reached second on a throwing error and moved to third on a ground out. A wild pitch brought in Happ while Alamo walked. Frandy Delarosa (1-for-4) singled and a two-out double from Paula plated Alamo and Delarosa.
Pitching and defense were the culprits again for Eugene as they lost 10-4 to Everett on Saturday. Oscar De La Cruz had his first start stateside and struck out six but allowed three runs (two earned) and committed an error. Dillon Maples was also a victim of the defense, as he yielded four unearned runs with two strikeouts in two innings. Converting from outfielder to pitcher, Jae-Hoon Ha had two strikeouts and gave up two earned runs as he worked an inning. Pedro Araujo could not escape the onslaught, surrendering an earned run in an inning.
The Emeralds actually tied the score at one in the fourth inning after Ian Happ (1-for-4 with a home run) led off with his first professional home run. Ho-young Son (0-for-4 with a stolen base) reached on a force out in the sixth, stole second and scored after singles by Adonis Paula (1-for-4) and Varonex Cuevas (1-for-2 with an RBI). In the seventh, Eloy Jimenez (0-for-5) reached on an error and Justin Marra (2-for-4) drew a one out walk. A two out triple from Alberto Mineo (1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) drove in Jimenez and Marra.
The Emeralds could not survive one bad inning on Sunday as Eugene lost to Everett 9-8. The offense did everything they could to pull things out, but the mountain was too high to climb. Eugene took the first lead in the third inning when Ricardo Marcano (1-for-1 with an RBI) was hit by a pitch. Varonex Cuevas (4-for-4 with a double and an RBI) and Kevonte Mitchell (1-for-6) had base hits. A single from Eloy Jimenez (2-for-5 with four RBI) drove in Marcano and Cuevas. It was nearly an identical situation in the fifth inning, as Marcano walked and Cuevas singled. A base hit by Jimenez plated both runners. Ian Happ (2-for-4 with a double and a home run) drilled a solo home run to start the seventh inning. The eighth started with a double by Ho-young Son (2-for-5 with a double). Son scored on a single by Marcano. A double by Cuevas plated Marcano. In the ninth, Frandy Delarosa (1-for-5 with a double) led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single from Cuevas.
Jose Paulino started and looked in control until the sixth inning. The lefty had struck out seven but gave up three earned runs before ceding to Alex Santana. However, Santana was not up to the task, as he allowed six earned runs while recording one out. Corbin Hoffner kept the Ems in the game by tossing two scoreless innings with a strikeout.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (29-38)
South Bend remains a team out of sync as they lost to Western Michigan 8-4 on Friday. The Cubs just can’t seem to get their pitching, offense, and defense to work together as Jeremy Null was out after three innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out a batter, and committing an error. Ryan McNeil wasn’t much better. McNeil allowed two earned runs and struck out three in three innings. The defense also was not kind to Jordan Minch, as he was tagged with three unearned runs with four strikeouts in three innings.
The SB Cubs grabbed the early lead after Charcer Burks (2-for-4) led off the game with a single and advanced to second on a balk. A ground out and a wild pitch scored Burks. Cael Brockmeyer (0-for-3 with a walk) and Jason Vosler (0-for-3 with a walk) walked with one in the fourth inning. The runners advanced on an errant pick-off attempt. A single by Kevin Encarnacion (2-for-3 with two RBI) drove in Brockmeyer and Vosler. Rashad Crawford (0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base) started the fifth inning with a walk, stole second, and came home on a single from Gleyber Torres (2-for-4 with an RBI).
On Saturday, South Bend snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Western Michigan 3-2. It all started with a single by Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-4 with an RBI) in the second inning. Andrew Ely (2-for-3) had a one out base hit, and Brockmeyer scored on a ground out. A two out double from Jesse Hodges (1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI) allowed Ely to score. The third inning began with a walk to Charcer Burks (1-for-3) and a single by Gleyber Torres (2-for-4). Burks scored on a double play.
Starter Erick Leal had the game under control as he allowed two earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four in six innings. Brad Markey pitched two perfect frames and struck out a batter. With a strikeout in a scoreless ninth, James Farris earned his ninth save.
The South Bend Cubs finished the first half of the season on a high note, defeating Western Michigan 5-1 on Sunday. In a season that showed a lot of shaky performances, lefty Tommy Thorpe is finally being able to show something as a starting pitcher. Thorpe struck out five and scattered four hits while not issuing a walk in five innings. Daniel Lewis is still trying to find his niche, as he allowed an earned run and struck out a batter in two innings. Delivering two perfect innings, Michael Wagner had two strikeouts.
The game changed quickly in the third inning after David Bote (1-for-3 with a stolen base) walked and Jesse Hodges (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) crushed a two-run home run. Rashad Crawford (2-for-3) followed with a single, with Yasiel Balaguert (0-for-3 with a walk) and Cael Brockmeyer (0-for-3 with a walk) drawing two out walks. A base hit by Jason Vosler (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Crawford. In the fourth, singles by Hodges, Crawford, and Charcer Burks (1-for-2) loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly scored Hodges. The SB Cubs manufactured a run in the sixth after Bote singled and stole second. One out walks to Crawford and Burks had the sacks filled, with another sacrifice fly plating Bote.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (41-28)
The Magic Number remained at two as Myrtle Beach held up their end on Friday, beating Lynchburg 7-4. Mark Zagunis (4-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI) started the game off right with a lead-off home run. Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4 with two doubles) followed with a double. A single by Chesny Young (2-for-4 with an RBI) and a double play brought in Chen. It was the same combination in the third inning. Zagunis homered with one out and Chen doubled, with a single by Young driving in Chen. A wild pitch, a ground out, and a base hit by Jacob Rogers (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Young. A one out single from Trey Martin (1-for-3) and a two-out base hit by Zagunis led to another run in the fourth inning. The Pelicans added one for insurance in the eighth after Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a home run) went deep with his fifth home run.
After being bumped a day due to weather, Tyler Skulina was a little rocky. Skulina held the Hillcats without a hit but walked six and gave up three unearned runs in four innings. Zach Cates came on for Myrtle Beach and struck out four in two scoreless innings. Michael Heesch went 1.1 innings and gave up an earned run while striking out a batter. With three strikeouts in 1.2 perfect innings, Jasvir Rakkar collected his eighth save.
Playing the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, Myrtle Beach learned that they reached the playoffs while losing to Lynchburg 2-0. Winston-Salem gave the Pelicans a hand by defeating second place Salem to give Myrtle Beach the Carolina League Southern Division first half crown. Jen-Ho Tseng started for the Birds and allowed two earned runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out two in five innings. Tyler Ihrig had a strikeout in two perfect innings. The Pelicans managed only three hits as both Jeimer Candelario and Kevin Brown were 1-for-3, while Victor Caratini was 1-for-2 with a double.
With the playoffs secured in game one, the Pelicans went out and won their 40th game of the season, beating Lynchburg 5-4 in eight innings. Myrtle Beach jumped out to a big lead in the first inning. Mark Zagunis (1-for-4) and Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-3) singled, and Zagunis scored on a wild pitch. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-2 with an RBI) drew a one out walk. A single by Kevin Brown (1-for-3 with an RBI) scored Chen. A base hit from Danny Lockhart (2-for-3 with an RBI) drove in Candelario and a single by Jordan Hankins (1-for-4 with an RBI) plated Brown. The eighth started with a walk to Chen. Singles by Chesny Young (1-for-4) and Candelario brought in Chen with the game-winner.
It was not one of the best efforts for starter Jonathan Martinez, as he allowed three earned runs on three hits and five walks while striking out four in three innings. Josh Conway stemmed the tide, as he struck out two in two innings. It was also a rare bad outing for James Pugliese as he gave up the tying run while striking out two in two innings. Juan Paniagua had two strikeouts in a perfect eighth for his third victory.
The Pelicans did not take Sunday off after securing the first half title, closing things out with a 4-1 victory over Lynchburg. Everybody got into the act as all nine starters collected at least one hit. Chesny Young (2-for-4) led off the game with a walk and scored after singles from Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4 with a stolen base) and Jeimer Candelario (2-for-4 with an RBI). Chen scored on a sacrifice fly. Base hits by Chen and Candelario, and a walk to Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with a home run) opened the third inning. A two-out single from Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with an RBI) brought in Chen. Rogers added the exclamation point in the seventh inning with a solo home run.
Starter Daury Torrez evened his record at 5-5 by striking out five and allowing an earned run on four hits and two walks in six innings. Fernando Cruz struck out a batter in two innings. It was save number nine for Jasvir Rakkar, as he had a strikeout in the ninth.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (39-30)
Tennessee completed a suspended game Friday, and with a 6-3 loss to Mississippi was eliminated from playoff contention. Felix Pena was breezing through the Braves line-up on Thursday before the game was suspended. Pena struck out six and gave up only three hits in four scoreless innings. Andres Santiago was tabbed to pick-up the game on Friday and was hammered for five earned runs in four innings. Gerardo Concepcion allowed an earned run as he pitched the ninth.
Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI) doubled to lead off the game, moved to third on a throwing error, and scored on a ground out. Walks to Dan Vogelbach (0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI), Taylor Davis (0-for-3 with a walk), and Billy McKinney (3-for-3 with a double) started the fourth inning. Vogelbach was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. Davis later scored on a force play. The Smokies tied the game at three in the bottom of the seventh after Wes Darvill (1-for-3 with an RBI) singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A two out single by Hannemann drove in Darvill.
The Smokies dealt their staff ace in the regularly scheduled game on Friday as they beat Mississippi 4-2. Still leading the Southern League in ERA (1.70), Frank Batista once again gave a solid performance. Batista allowed two earned runs and struck out a batter in six innings. P.J. Francescon entered the game in the seventh and had two strikeouts in route to his eighth save.
Behind 1-0 in the second inning, Willson Contreras (1-for-2 with a double) doubled with one out and Billy McKinney (2-for-2 with an RBI) singled. A base hit by Stephen Bruno (1-for-3 with an RBI) brought in Contreras, while a single from Bryant Flete (2-for-3 with an RBI) scored McKinney. Tennessee recaptured the lead in the when McKinney walked, Flete singled, and a two out double by Jacob Hannemann (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) plated McKinney. Rehabbing Major Leaguer Mike Olt (1-for-2) and Contreras walked in the fifth inning. Olt scored on a single from McKinney.
With nothing to play for but pride Saturday, Tennessee went out and destroyed Mississippi 11-2. No good blow out is achieved without excellent pitching as starter Ivan Pineyro scattered three hits and struck out four in six scoreless innings. Corey Black had a little trouble as he allowed two earned runs and struck out two in two innings. Starling Peralta had a strikeout in the ninth.
After four scoreless innings, Mike Olt (2-for-4 with a double and a triple) started the fifth with a double and scored a home run from Billy McKinney (3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and three RBI). Pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. (2-for-2 with a triple, three RBI, and a stolen base) began the sixth with a single and stole second. Back-to-back base hits by Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5) and Stephen Bruno (2-for-5 with two RBI) scored Almora and Hannemann. Bruno was thrown out at second. Bijan Rademacher (2-for-5 with a double, a home run, and an RBI) blasted a solo home run. The offense reset with a triple from Olt, who scored on a single by McKinney. Taylor Davis (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI) walked and a base hit from Wes Darvill (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in McKinney. Bryant Flete (0-for-4) reached on a fielding error, and a triple by Almora drove in Darvill and Flete. The Smokies added one for good measure in the seventh after Rademacher led off with a double and scored on a two out double from Davis.
Tennessee closed out the first half of the season nine games over .500 on Sunday with a 9-2 victory over Mississippi. It was two big innings that did it for the Smokies as Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5) led off the fifth with a single and Mike Olt (1-for-3 with a double) drew a one out walk. A base hit by Dan Vogelbach (2-for-5 with three RBI) drove in Hannemann, and Willson Contreras (2-for-5) reached on a force play. A double from the scorching hot Billy McKinney (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) plated Olt, and a single by Stephen Bruno (3-for-4 with a double and three RBI) brought in Contreras and McKinney. Pinch-hitter Anthony Giansanti opened the sixth inning by being hit by a pitch, stealing second after one out. Walks to Albert Almora Jr. (0-for-4 with a walk) and Olt loaded the bases, and a single from Vogelbach scored Giansanti and Almora. Contreras followed with a base hit, and a sacrifice fly brought Olt home. Vogelbach came around on a double from Bruno, and a Bryant Flete (1-for-3 with an RBI) single drove in Contreras.
It appears Ryan Williams is here to stay with Tennessee as the starter earned his third win as a member of the Smokies by giving up an earned run while striking out two in six innings. Rehabbing Major Leaguer Neil Ramirez struck out the side in the seventh inning. Tayler Scott allowed an earned run as he pitched an inning, while Michael Jensen had a strikeout in the ninth inning.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (36-33)
The I-Cubs opened up the throttle and blew past the Round Rock Express on Friday, winning 9-3. After spotting Round Rock three earned runs in the first inning, Donn Roach settled down and went seven innings with one strikeout. Carl Edwards Jr. only yielded a walk as he struck out a batter in two scoreless innings.
John Andreoli (1-for-5 with a double and an RBI) reached on a force play in the first inning, scoring after an error and a ground out. Taylor Teagarden (1-for-3 with an RBI) singled with two out in the fourth and came home on a double from Junior Lake (1-for-2 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base). Iowa took the lead in the fifth inning after Ryan Dent (1-for-4 with a double) doubled and scored on a two out double from Andreoli. A single by Matt Szczur (1-for-4 with an RBI and two stolen bases) drove in Andreoli. Singles by Jonathan Mota (1-for-3) and Adron Chambers (2-for-5) opened the seventh inning. A fielding error scored Mota and allowed Andreoli to reach. Szczur was hit by a pitch, which caused the benches to be cleared and led to Lake being ejected from the game. A single by Christian Villanueva (1-for-5 with two RBI) scored Chambers, with Andreoli and Szczur coming in on a sacrifice fly. A base hit by Rubi Silva (1-for-1 with an RBI) plated Villanueva and resulted in the ejection of manager Marty Pevey. Pevey argued that Silva was interfered with while rounding third on a throwing error, causing him to be thrown out at the plate.
In a game marked by a 2:29 rain delay, Iowa lost to Round Rock 1-0 on Saturday. Dallas Beeler struck out three in 1.1 scoreless innings before the rains came. Yoanner Negrin replaced Beeler and also had three strikeouts as he held the Express for 2.2 innings. The only run of the game came off of Armando Rivero, who had a strikeout in two innings. Gonzalez Germen and Brian Schlitter each pitched a scoreless inning. The I-Cubs managed only four hits … Matt Szczur (1-for-2), Rafael Lopez (1-for-3), Chris Valaika (1-for-3) and Christian Villanueva (1-for-4).
Iowa experienced the other side of a loss on Sunday as they were buried by Round Rock 14-8. What it was, Drake Britton did not have “it” on Sunday as he yielded an astonishing 11 earned runs, including two Grand Slams, in 2.2 innings. Joe Ortiz followed and was equally ineffective, surrendering two earned runs in 1.1 innings. Jeffry Antigua did his best to eat innings as he allowed an earned run while pitching three innings. Only Blake Cooper was unscathed, as he had two strikeouts in a perfect inning.
The I-Cubs fought back from a 4-0 deficit after the first inning when Junior Lake (3-for-4 with a stolen base) singled with one out and scored on a home run from Chris Valaika (1-for-2 with a home run and two RBI). Jonathan Mota (1-for-1 with an RBI) followed with a walk and scored when Rubi Silva (3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI) ripped a two-run home run. Iowa tacked on a run in the eighth inning when Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-6 with a double and an RBI) double and came home two wild pitches later. A walk to Lake and a pair of singles from Adron Chambers (1-for-4) and Ryan Dent (1-for-2 with an RBI) brought in Lake in the ninth, and base hit by Alcantara and Silva drove in Chambers and Dent.
Arizona Rookie League – AZL Cubs (0-1)
The season opener must have contained some nerves for the AZL Cubs as they lost 4-0 to the AZL Brewers on Saturday. Starter Austyn Willis came out firing, striking out five in five scoreless innings. Designated Hitter Joe Martarano went 2-for-4 in the loss.
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs (12-7)
The DSL Cubs slipped to one game out of first place on Friday as they lost 8-3 to Yankees-2. Starter Junior Marte pitched well, striking out four while allowing an earned run in five innings. Third baseman Rafael Mejia was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base.
The D-Cubs lost their second in a row as the bowed to Mets-2 on Saturday 5-2. Hector Garcia didn’t get any defensive help, as he allowed four runs (one earned) and struck out two in three innings. Designated Hitter Tony Rijo was 2-for-4 with a double, while outfielder Yovanny Cuevas was 1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.
Venezuelan Summer League – VSL Cubs (16-14)
It took 12 innings on Friday but the VSL Cubs outlasted the VSL Tigers 4-2. First Baseman Roberto Vahlis drove in the last run as he was 1-for-5 with an RBI, while shortstop Francisco Garay was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Juan Rengifo won the game in relief as he struck out three in 3.2 scoreless innings.
The V-Cubs were on the wrong side of a slugfest on Saturday, losing 9-8 to the VSL Tigers. Emilio Ferribus was blitzed for seven earned runs as he had two strikeouts in 2.1 innings. Outfielder Jose Gonzalez was 3-for-4, and first baseman Daniel Diaz was 1-for-4 with two RBI.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent INF/OF Mike Olt to the Tennessee Smokies on a rehab assignment; assigned C Erick Castillo to the South Bend Cubs from the Eugene Emeralds; assigned INF/OF Ian Happ to the Eugene Emeralds; assigned LHP Carlos A. Rodriguez to the AZL Cubs from the VSL Cubs.
The Tennessee Smokies placed INF Elliot Soto on the 7-day disabled list. The South Bend Cubs sent RHP Trey Masek to the AZL Cubs on a rehab assignment; placed C Gioskar Amaya on the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
Note: LHP Justin Steele replaces RHP Jen-Ho Tseng on the Top Prospect Watch
- Albert Almora Jr. (OF) – .244/.285/.340/.625, eight doubles, three triples, two home runs, 20 RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 2-5, 44.1 IP, 4.67 ERA, 23 ER, 45 K, 1.331 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (RHP) – 0-0 with a save, 9 IP, 4.00 ERA, 4 ER, 9 K, 1.333 WHIP (Iowa Cubs)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 1-0, 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, no ER, 6 K, 1.000 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Billy McKinney (OF) – .304/.352/.473/.825, 11 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 18 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Kyle Schwarber (C) – .364/.391/.591/.982, a triple, a home run, six RBI (Chicago Cubs)
- Justin Steele (RHP) – 0-0, 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, no ER, 9 K, 0.0800 WHIP (Eugene Emeralds)
- Gleyber Torres (IF) – .312/.381/.390/.770, 11 doubles, two triples, a home run, 38 RBI, 10 stolen bases (South Bend Cubs)
- Duane Underwood Jr. (RHP) – 6-2, 63.1 IP, 1.85 ERA, 13 ER, 41 K, 0.932 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .285/.400/.425/.825, 12 doubles, a triple, four home runs 31 RBI, a stolen base (Tennessee Smokies)