Put me in coach. I’m ready to play, today! Centerfield took center stage in the organization this week. Iowa promoted Tony Campana to “The Show”. Jae-Hoon Ha made a big splash in his new assignment. Rubi Silva joined one of the hottest teams in baseball. New graduate Matt Szczur returned to the line-up, and looked like he never left. And Kyung-Min Na is a welcome addition in Peoria. Meanwhile, the kids show everyone how to make a ‘Bullpen Day‘ work.
All of that, and more, in this week’s Down on the Farm Report … Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (24-19)
Starting the week with a two game losing streak, Graham Hicks toed the bump for Peoria on Thursday. Hicks was brilliant in his three shutout innings of work, striking out three and walking none. Su-Min Jung piggy-backed on Hicks; in his 3.2 innings, Jung struck out six and allowed two earned runs. Casey Harman and Marcus Hatley came in and slammed the door, as the Chiefs defeated the Quad City River Bandits 3-2.
A new line-up saw production from the top of the order, as Pierre LePage and Arismendy Alcantara each went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Anthony Giansanti, now receiving more playing time in the outfield, cracked a solo home run.
Peoria’s second lefty, Cameron Greathouse, faced the Clinton LumberKings on Friday. Greathouse followed Graham Hicks’ lead from the previous night, tossing four innings of shutout baseball, as the Chiefs came away with a 3-1 victory. Alvaro Sosa followed Greathouse and allowed an earned run in two innings of work. Bryce Shafer added two scoreless innings for a hold. Hard-throwing Marcus Hatley struck out two in the ninth for his third save.
Greg Rohan and Anthony Giansanti led the way for Peoria’s offense, each going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Pierre LePage was 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored, and his seventh stolen base.
Yet another left-hander provided a lift for Peoria, as the Chiefs defeated Clinton Saturday, 5-3. Eric Jokisch hurled 4.1 scoreless innings and struck out five, as he piggy-backed Hayden Simpson. Simpson also struck out five in his 4.2 innings, allowing three earned runs.
Peoria’s offense kicked it into gear after the LumberKings scored three in five innings. Richard Jones smacked his sixth home run, driving in two in a 3-for-5 performance. Elliot Soto was also 3-for-5 with two RBI. Greg Rohan, Kyung-Min Na, and recently activated D.J. Fitzgerald all had multi-hit nights.
The latest in the lefty parade, Peoria saved the best for last as Austin Kirk mowed down the Clinton LumberKings 8-3 on Sunday. Kirk struck out six and allowed three earned runs in his six innings of work for his third victory. Yohan Gonzalez earned a hold for his two scoreless innings. Robinson Lopez, trying out a new role as closer, finished with a scoreless ninth.
Back from his college graduation, Matt Szczur resumed his leadoff role with a 2-for-4, two RBI performance that also included his eleventh stolen base. Ryan Cuneo drove in two runs as he hit his first professional home run.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (32-12)
A re-shuffled line-up took the field for the D-Cubs on Monday. However it was Daytona’s “veterans” that came through in a 5-4 victory over Fort Myers. Junior Lake, Evan Crawford, Justin Bour, and Michael Brenly each had two hits, while Mario Mercedes, Rubi Silva, and Dustin Harrington will have to wait until next time.
Nick Struck lasted only three innings, allowing three earned runs. Dae-Eun Rhee allowed only one earned run over his 3.1 innings and picked up his first victory. Ryan Buchter earned a hold with a scoreless inning; while Frank Bautista nailed down his tenth save.
Aaron Kurcz took the mound for Daytona on Wednesday and fired five scoreless innings as the D-Cubs defeated Palm Beach 5-1. Kurcz struck out two and walked one. Brent Ebinger followed and allowed an earned run in two innings of work, earning a hold. Ryan Searle finished with two scoreless innings.
A balanced attack saw Matt Cerda with the only multi-hit game for Daytona. Cerda was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Logan Watkins was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.
After spotting the Palm Beach Cardinals four runs on Thursday, Daytona stormed back with a seven-run fifth inning. Leading the way was Justin Bour, who was 5-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Evan Crawford and Mario Mercedes joined Bour with multi-hit games. Logan Watkins continues to dig himself out of his hole by going 1-for-4 with two RBI as the D-Cubs defeated the Cardinals 8-6.
Brett Wallach served up a two-run homer as part of his four earned runs in 4.2 innings. However, Wallach struck out nine while walking only two batters. Jordan Latham got Wallach out of the fifth, and then allowed two earned runs then next inning. Ryan Butcher came in and put out the fire, earning his first win. Frank Bautista added a scoreless 1.2 innings for his eleventh save.
Nick Struck rebounded from his poor outing on Monday by tossing five innings of three hit ball as he led Daytona to their 30th victory of the season Friday. Struck allowed one earned run and struck out four to defeat Palm Beach 3-2. Eduardo Figueroa followed Struck and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings. In a rarity for Ryan Searle, he actually allowed an earned run in his 1.1 innings, but picked up his first save.
The D-Cubs made the most of their six hits, with Junior Lake starting the scoring with a solo shot. Evan Crawford and Michael Brenly had Daytona’s other RBI.
It seems that the ‘Bullpen Day‘ has been a theme running through the organization. Daytona had one on Saturday, but unlike the parent club, pitched a shutout. Dae-Eun Rhee started and went 4.1 innings, striking out two batters. Juan Serrano followed and continued blanking Palm Beach for 2.2 innings, getting credit for the win. Corey Latham earned a hold for his scoreless inning, while Frank Bautista picked up his twelfth save with a scoreless ninth.
The top of the line-up provided the spark for Daytona. Junior Lake and Matt Cerda each went 3-for-5, while Michael Burgess cracked a two-run double as the D-Cubs defeated the Cardinals 3-0.
Comeback was the work of the day for the D-Cubs as they spotted St. Lucie three runs, and then posted seven of their own to defeat the Mets 8-4. Jeffrey Lorick got Daytona in a hole by allowing four runs (three earned) in his 5.2 innings of work, but hung on for the victory. Brent Ebinger stopped the bleeding with 1.1 scoreless innings, earning a hold. Ryan Buchter then came on struck out the side in the eighth. Buchter added another strikeout in the ninth to record his first save.
Daytona’s two best hitters provided the firepower Sunday evening. Junior Lake was 3-for-5 with a double, solo homer, stolen base, and two RBI. Evan Crawford was 4-for-5 with a double, stole base, and an RBI. Matt Cerda, Justin Bour, and Logan Watkins also had multi-hit games, Watkins also adding a stolen base.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (28-16)
Avenging a 2-1 Tennessee loss on Monday, the Smokies defeated Chattanooga 6-2 on Tuesday. D.J. LeMahieu, who had his hitting streak stopped at 16, came back with a vengeance, going 3-for-5 with a double. Josh Vitters was also 3-for-5 with a double. Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Flores each had multi-hit games, while Jae-Hoon Ha had an RBI triple.
Rob Whitenack was simply overpowering, pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out five batters to raise his record to 4-0. Jeffrey Beliveau continued the shut out with a perfect inning of work. Rafael Dolis allowed two runs in mop up work.
A Wednesday matinee saw Tennessee come up with three runs in the ninth inning to defeat Chattanooga 5-3. The Smokies’ offense hasn’t missed a beat with all the new faces, pounding out twelve hits. Rebel Ridling led the way for Tennessee going 2-for-3 including a solo blast. Jae-Hoon Ha, Ryan Flaherty, and Blake Lalli joined Ridling with two hits. Ha drove in two runs of the Smokies’ five runs.
Trey McNutt got his sixth start, allowing an earned run in three innings of work. Ty’Relle Harris followed with two earned runs in three innings. Marco Carrillo slammed the door with two scoreless innings, picking up the win. Blake Parker earned his third save.
The Smokies revamped line-up now features Jae-Hoon Ha and Marwin Gonzalez at the top. This moved the organization’s best hitter, D.J. LeMahieu to third in the batting order, and he has flourished. LeMahieu continued to torch Double-A pitching by going 3-for-5 in Thursday’s 9-7 victory over the Mobile BayBears. Clean-up hitter Rebel Ridling also enjoyed a three-hit night, while Ryan Flaherty and Josh Vitters are performing in the fifth and sixth spots in the batting order. Flaherty was 2-for-4 with four RBI including a three-run bomb, his ninth homer of the season. Vitters was 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Luis Flores collected his first Double-A homer, a two-run shot.
Alberto Cabrera had a shaky outing, allowing four earned runs and walking four in his six innings, but nevertheless picked up his fifth victory. Just off the DL, Kyle Smit appeared rusty, giving up three earned runs in only a third of an inning. However, the mighty Smokies’ bullpen locked down the BayBears the rest of the way. Kevin Rhoderick, Jeffrey Beliveau, and Rafael Dolis held Mobile scoreless the rest of the way.
Make it four in a row for the Smokies, as Matt Spencer blasted two home runs and drove in five as Tennessee defeated Mobile 6-5. Blake Lalli joined “The Morristown Masher” with a 2-for-4 night, thumping his fourth homer. Ryan Flaherty also had a 2-for-4 game.
After a good performance in his last outing, Brooks Raley slipped backward as he allowed four earned runs in his five innings. Tennessee welcomed back Chris Carpenter, who picked up the victory with 1.1 innings of one-run baseball. Kevin Rhoderick and Rafael Dolis then shut down the BayBears, Rhoderick with his second hold while Dolis earned his third save.
Patience was the key for the Smokies on Saturday, as Tennessee drew six walks to go along with nine hits as they dominated Mobile 11-2. Ryan Flaherty drove in three as he went 2-for-4. D.J. LeMahieu and Nate Samson also had two hits, while Matt Spencer blasted his tenth homer.
Tennessee followed the organizational trend by having a ‘Bullpen Day‘. Hung-Wen Chen drew the starting assignment, allowing an earned run in his two innings. Kyle Smit followed with two scoreless innings and was credited with the victory. Ty’Relle Harris was next and gave up an earned run in his inning or work. Jeffrey Beliveau added two scoreless innings. Saving the best for last, Marco Carrillo struck out three in the final two innings.
D.J. LeMahieu remained scalding hot as Tennessee took one away from Mobile 4-2 on Sunday. Down 2-0 to the BayBears in the bottom of the sixth, the Smokies erupted for three runs, thanks to Ryan Flaherty’s tenth home run, a three-run shot. Nate Samson and LeMahieu had singles to set up Flaherty. LeMahieu, 3-for-4 on the day, drove in Tennessee’s final run in the eighth, singling in Jae-Hoon Ha, who had doubled ahead of him.
Rob Whitenack continues to impress, striking out three and allowing only two earned runs in his five innings of work. Kevin Rhoderick also struck out three in his two scoreless innings to earn his second victory. Chris Carpenter, looking a little bit more comfortable, went scoreless for an inning to earn a hold. Now seeming comfortable in his new role, Rafael Dolis picked up his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (20-23)
Iowa began to make up for a bad week by outlasting the Reno Aces 9-6 on Monday. Brad Snyder had a night to remember, gong 4-for-4 with three doubles, a stolen base, and an RBI. Steve Clevenger hit his first Triple-A home run, and was 2-for-4 with two RBI. Marquez Smith also had a homer, as he joined Luis Montanez and Bobby Scales with a two-hit night.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched six innings, allowed three runs (two earned) to get his third win. Justin Berg picked up his first save after Jeff Stevens allowed three earned runs in two innings.
After a loss on Tuesday and an off day, Iowa got back on the winning track on Thursday, defeating Tucson 8-2. Robert Coello spotted the Padres two earned runs in the first inning. Coello cruised through the next five, striking out six to earn his third victory. Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, and Justin Berg each pitched a scoreless inning.
The I-Cubs collected only nine hits, none for extra bases, yet made them all count. Steve Clevenger led the way, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Jonathan Mota drove in three with his only hit, while Luis Montanez and Tyler Colvin collected the only other RBI.
Down 10-4 to the Tucson Padres after six innings on Friday, Iowa rallied back for seven runs over the last four innings, including three in the bottom of the ninth, to win 11-10. Ramon Ortiz allowed nine runs (eight earned runs) in 5.2 innings. Marcos Mateo followed with another earned run in a third of an inning. Making his Triple-A debut, Blake Parker blanked Tucson over two innings. Esmailin Caridad added a scoreless ninth inning for the victory.
The star of the night was Steve Clevenger. Clevenger was 4-for-5, including a double and a solo home run, with three RBI. Multi-hit nights were recorded by Brad Snyder, Bobby Scales, Scott Moore, Jonathan Mota, and Luis Montanez. Fernando Perez even got into the spirit, cracking a two-run home run.
Win number twenty came in a rain-shortened victory on Saturday, as Iowa topped Tucson 4-3 in six innings. Steve Clevenger again was the hitting star, going 2-for-2 and raised his average to .519. Bryan LaHair was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Matt Camp drove in two runs.
J.R. Mathes was credited with the victory after allowing three earned runs in his five innings of work. Marcos Mateo picked up his first save, hurling a scoreless inning.
Iowa lost to Tucson 16-7 on Sunday. Of note, Randy Wells pitched four innings for the I-Cubs, allowing six earned runs, including a two-run home run, and striking out three batters. Wells threw 68 pitches, 43 for strikes. Anthony Rizzo hit the two run blast off Wells in the first before Wells settled down. After three innings, Wells had thrown only 36 pitches, 25 for strikes. Wells labored through the fourth and threw 32 pitches, 18 for strikes.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned OF-1B Tyler Colvin and RHP Marcos Mateo to Iowa; recalled LHP Scott Maine, RHP Justin Berg and called up OF Tony Campana. Right-handed pitcher Blake Parker assigned to Iowa Cubs from Tennessee and RHP Randy Wells was assigned to Iowa from Peoria; RHP Chris Carpenter assigned to Tennessee from Iowa. Tennessee activated RHP Kyle Smit from the 7-Day disabled list. Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha was assigned to Tennessee. Outfielder Rubi Silva, C Chad Noble, and IF Dustin Harrington were assigned to Daytona.
Daytona placed 2B Gian Guzman on the 7-Day disabled list. Peoria Chiefs activated OF Matthew Szczur from the temporarily inactive list and D.J. Fitzgerald from the disabled list. Peoria placed OF Smaily Borges on the 7-Day disabled list. Outfielder Kyung-Min Na, RHP Randy Wells, and 1B Ryan Cuneo were assigned to Peoria. Left-handed pitcher Jeffry Antigua was assigned to Extended Spring Training.
Top Prospect Watch
- Michael Burgess (OF) – .212, .301 OBP, .719 OPS, 9 Doubles, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 5 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 2-1, 6.41 ERA, 19.2 IP, 14 ER, 20 K, 17 BB, 2 Holds, Save 1.88 WHIP (Iowa Cubs) 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, 1.71 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Micah Gibbs (C) – .298, .433 OBP, .814 OPS, 4 Doubles, HR, 8 RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) is in extended Spring Training
- Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .311, .344 OBP, .867 OPS, 10 Doubles, 2 Triples, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 7 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs) .296, .296 OBP, .741 OPS, 2 Doubles, Triple, 3 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Brett Jackson (OF) – .295, .420 OBP, .938 OPS, 7 Doubles, 3Triples, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
- D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .367, .394 OBP, .900 OPS, 13 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-2, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 6 ER, 16 K, 5 BB, 1.32 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-1, 4.63 ERA, 35.0 IP, 18 ER, 29 K, 14 BB 1.60 WHIP (Peoria Chiefs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .327, .407 OBP, .780OPS, 5 Doubles, 9 RBI, 11 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Peoria Chiefs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) -.265, .303 OBP, .739 OPS, 10 Doubles, 5 HR, 23 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO