The stars are shining bright, as eleven members of the Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs have been named All-Stars. As roster shuffling plays havoc with offenses, new stars are on the rise. Ryan Cuneo is enjoying life at Peoria, while Nick Struck made a big splash in his Double-A debut. Nelson Perez had a sizzling performance, while there were signs of life in Iowa.
All of this, and more, in this week’s Down on the Farm Report … Before we begin, I’d like to say that it is understandable to see the amount of frustration with the parent clubs’ season to this point. It becomes especially hard for those who felt that they could see these types of events coming. Improper behavior will not speed up the clock or change what has already happened. By trying to keep this the classiest of all Chicago Cubs’ sites, it can be hoped that the energy generated will work in a positive direction.
And now, on to the report …
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (30-27)
Starting the week with a three game losing streak, Peoria felt like it had to prove something Thursday night. While the offenses in Daytona and Tennessee get all the publicity, the Chiefs decided to show they had a little thunder of their own. They pounded out twenty hits, as Peoria defeated Lansing 11-5.
The big stick of the night belonged to Ryan Cuneo, who was 3-for-4 with two walks and four RBI, including a two-run homer. Matt Szczur also had a big night, going 4-for-6 with three runs scored and blasting his third home run. Arismendy Alcantara, Greg Rohan, Richard Jones, and Micah Gibbs each had three-hit nights.
Dallas Beeler put together one of his longest outings, 5.1 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out six batters. Alvaro Sosa was roughed up in his 1.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned). Casey Harman came on to blank the Lugnuts over 2.1 innings, striking out four batters, to earn his first victory.
The Chiefs got off on the wrong foot with a loss to Great Lakes to start their road trip on Friday. However, Peoria bounced back in grand style again, thrashing the Loons 11-4 on Saturday. Cameron Greathouse again was the story. Greathouse didn’t have his best stuff, allowing four runs (three earned), but continually pitched himself out of jams during his 5.1 innings. Yohan Gonzalez slammed the door on Great Lakes with 1.2 scoreless innings. Big Larry Suarez snuffed out any hope for the Loons with two scoreless innings.
With the exception of Richard Jones, no hitter really stood out on Saturday, with each Chief hitting safely. Jones was 2-for-5 while thumping his ninth homer. Greg Rohan and Kung-Min Na joined Jones with multi-hit games. Arismendy Alcantara had a triple and drove in three runs.
High Class-A Daytona Cubs (41-16)
The Charlotte Stone Crabs learned something on Wednesday that the rest of the Florida State League is finding out, if you beat the D-Cubs, be prepared for what happens next. After shutting out Daytona 7-0 on Tuesday, Daytona pounded out fourteen hits in a 10-3 thrashing of Charlotte. Matt Cerda led the way, going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Justin Bour also had two hits, including his fourteenth home run. Michael Burgess had a three-run homer, while Jae-Hoon Ha, Logan Watkins, and Rafael Valdes each had multi-hit games.
Jeffrey Lorick struggled with his command, issuing four walks, but hung tough, allowing only one earned run in 5.2 innings. Juan Serrano shut the Stone Crabs down for 2.1 innings to earn his first hold. Oswaldo Martinez had a bumpy ninth, allowing two earned runs.
After three straight losses, the D-Cubs were looking to end the week on a positive note. Daytona staked Dae-Eun Rhee to an early lead, and then watched him cruise to a 10-4 victory over Brevard County. Rhee allowed three earned runs over his six innings, as he struck out five Manatees. Marcus Hatley added two more strikeouts in his inning of work. Jeffry Antigua pitched the final two innings, giving up an earned run while striking out two batters.
Michael Burgess and Jake Opitz powered Daytona’s offense. Burgess was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI; Opitz was 3-for-5 with a homer and an RBI.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (36-21)
After a Monday loss, Nick Struck took the mound for the first time in Double-A on Tuesday, and didn’t disappoint. Struck tossed six innings in his debut, allowing one earned run and striking out four batters. He also contributed at the plate with one hit in two at bats. Ty’Relle Harris, Jeffrey Beliveau, and Rafael Dolis blanked Huntsville the rest of the way to bring home a 2-1 victory for Tennessee.
The Smokies’ offense has had some troubles recently with all of the roster shake-ups. Matt Spencer (3-for-4) drove in Brett Jackson for a run in the first inning. Tennessee wouldn’t score again until the ninth, when Blake Lalli’s single plated Ryan Flaherty.
On Wednesday, Huntsville didn’t have an answer for Chris Rusin, as the lefty throttled the Stars for five innings. Rusin ended up allowing two earned runs in six innings, while Ryan Searle, Kyle Smit, and Chris Carpenter allowed only one unearned run the rest of the way in a 7-3 Smokies’ victory.
Marwin Gonzalez was the hot hand for Tennessee, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Steve Clevenger blasted a three-run homer, his fourth of the year. Josh Vitters was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Junior Lake collected his first Double-A hit.
In the rubber game against Huntsville, starter Trey McNutt gave up two earned runs in his two innings, to spot the Stars an early lead. However, the game was turned over to the Smokies bullpen, which shut out Huntsville the rest of the way. Workhorse Ty’Relle Harris went three innings and struck out one batter. Lefty Jeffrey Beliveau struck out three more Stars in his two innings to earn the victory. Kevin Rhoderick chipped in with two more strikeouts in his inning for his third hold. Rafael Dolis then nailed down the 3-2 victory with a scoreless ninth for his fifth save.
However, the man of the night was Nelson Perez, who easily had his best game as a Smokie. Perez was 3-for-3 with a triple, RBI, and two runs scored. After coming in as a pinch hitter, Blake Lalli was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Pitcher Nick Struck helped the cause by laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt pinch-hitting for McNutt.
After consecutive losses on Friday and Saturday night, the Smokies needed a lift on Sunday. And they got it from someone who appears to be their new ace, Nick Struck. After giving up three earned runs in his first two innings, Struck settled down to blank the Jackson Generals over the next four innings, striking out two batters.
Tennessee then rallied with five runs over the next two innings. Matt Spencer drove in Rebel Ridling for the first run. The next inning, Blake Lalli hit a bases loaded triple and scored on an overthrow to put the Smokies up 5-3.
Jeffrey Beliveau pitched a perfect seventh inning, but Chris Carpenter gave up two earned runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. Rafael Dolis went 1-2-3 in the ninth to set up the Smokies.
Steve Clevenger doubled to start the bottom of the ninth. Matt Spencer was walked and Junior Lake was safe on an attempted sacrifice bunt to load the bases. The next two Smokies lined out, leaving it up to Brett Jackson.
Jackson delivered a walk-off single, as Tennessee pulled out the victory 6-5.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (27-30)
Iowa started out the week right, but had to hang on tight as they defeated Round Rock 8-6 on Monday. The I-Cubs leapt out to a 7-0 lead, thanks in part to Jonathan Mota’s two-run triple and Welington Castillo’s two-run home run. Marquez Smith, Scott Moore, and Matt Camp contributed multi-hit performances.
Ramon Ortiz yielded only three earned runs in eight innings, striking out three, before giving way to Blake Parker in the ninth. Parker failed to record an out, as he allowed three earned runs. Esmailin Caridad nailed down the win, striking out two in earning his third save.
Old faces brought about another win on Tuesday, as Iowa routed Nashville 7-2. Augie Ojeda came off the disabled list and went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Bryan LaHair and Matt Camp joined Ojeda in having multi-hit games, while Ty Wright scored three runs and stole a base.
However the star of the night was Casey Coleman. Coleman shrugged off a demotion from the parent club to toss 5.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out six batters. Coleman even helped himself by going 2-for-3 at the plate. Thomas Diamond, John Gaub, and Marco Carrillo blanked Nashville the rest of the way, Diamond earning a hold.
On Wednesday, Iowa beat Nashville in typical I-Cub fashion, getting out to a big lead, and then hanging on by their fingernails. Jay Jackson had his best effort of the season, showing the kind of stuff that many people feel will land him in Chicago. Jackson went seven innings, allowing one earned run and striking out three batters. Blake Parker had a nice bounce-back effort, muffling the Sounds for an inning. Then Marcos Mateo imploded, allowing four earned runs while failing to record an out in the ninth inning. Esmailin Caridad came to the rescue, striking out the side for his fourth save as the I-Cubs won 7-5.
Iowa was swinging from the heels on Wednesday, as home runs from Scott Moore (three-run shot), Marquez Smith, and Bobby Scales accounted for five of Iowa’s seven runs. Welington Castillo also had a pair of hits.
After dropping the final two games of the series to Nashville, Iowa came home to face the Omaha Storm Chasers on Saturday. The I-Cubs relied on veterans to propel them to a 10-4 victory. Bryan LaHair and Bobby Scales (3-for-4) each blasted two-run bombs and had three RBI, while Augie Ojeda, Welington Castillo, and Fernando Perez each boasted multi-hit games.
Ramon Ortiz continues to roll along. Ortiz scattered ten hits, allowing two earned runs while striking out two in seven innings. Thomas Diamond continues to struggle, giving up two earned runs in only 0.2 innings. John Gaub cleaned up Diamond’s mess to earn his sixth hold, while Esmailin Caridad pitched a scoreless ninth.
Sunday saw yet another victory, Iowa Cubs’ style. Starter Casey Coleman carried a no-hitter into the top of the sixth inning with the I-Cubs leading 8-0. A leadoff double for Omaha broke up the no-hit bid and an error led to an unearned run. After giving up an earned run Coleman exited and Jeff Stevens gave up four earned runs in 0.2 innings. Blake Parker restored order, but John Gaub allowed two more earned runs to tie the score at 8-8.
The I-Cubs jumped out to the early lead, thanks mostly to the efforts of Bryan LaHair and Scott Moore. LaHair (2-for-3, home run, four RBI) and Moore (1-for-4, double, two RBI) accounted for six of Iowa’s eight runs.
With one out in the ninth, Fernando Perez singled and went to third on Bobby Scales’ single. Scales was thrown out trying to stretch the single to a double. Defensive replacement Matt Camp then singled in Perez for the game winner. Marcos Mateo, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, got credit for the win.
Dominican Summer League
The Dominican Summer League began on May 28. The Cubs have two teams in the league. Both the Cubs 1 and the Cubs 2 team are currently 3-2.
Outfielder Jeffrey Baez is currently leading Cubs 1 with a .429 batting average, with a home run and six RBI through five games. Shortstop Francisco Sanchez is hitting .318 with two homers and six RBI. Right-handed pitcher Giberto Abreu has started two games and has a 1.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
On Cubs 2, 2B Antonio Gonzalez has a .368 average, while SS Carlos Penalver is hitting .333. Right-handed pitcher Jose Arias has nine strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.78 through two appearances, including one start, and nine innings.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs called up IF D.J. LeMahieu and OF Tyler Colvin. Catcher Welington Castillo was optioned to Iowa; RHP Jeff Stevens was designated for assignment. Iowa activated IF Augie Ojeda and placed RHP Justin Berg on the 7 day disabled list. Catcher Steve Clevenger, RHP Nick Struck, RHP Robert Coello, RHP Dallas Beeler, and IF Junior Lake were assigned to Tennessee.
Tennessee activated OF Brett Jackson and placed RHP Robert Whitenack (Tommy John Surgery) and RHP Trey McNutt (bruised ribs) on the 7 day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Hung-Wen Chen was loaned to Campeche in the Mexican League. Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha was assigned to Daytona from Tennessee. Left-handed pitcher Jeffry Antigua was assigned to Daytona from Extended Spring Training; RHP Matt Loosen was assigned from the Boise Hawks. Daytona activated RHP Oswaldo Martinez from the 7 day disabled list. Utility player David Macias was assigned to Peoria from Daytona. Peoria Chiefs placed 2B Pierre LePage on the 7-Day disabled list retroactive to May 30 due to a groin injury.
The Florida State League announced that Daytona Cubs 1B Justin Bour, SS Junior Lake, LF Evan Crawford, closer Frank Bautista and SP Aaron Kurcz have been selected to be 2011 Florida State League All-Stars.
The Peoria Chiefs announced that six Chiefs players will represent the West in the Midwest League All-Star game. Among the six are three starters: OF Matt Szczur, 2B Pierre LePage and 3B Greg Rohan. Catcher Micah Gibbs and 1B Richard Jones will be among the reserves while LHP Austin Kirk is on the pitching staff.
Major League Baseball’s Amateur Draft will be held on Monday, June 6. The Chicago Cubs will have the ninth selection in the first round.
Top Prospect Watch
- Michael Burgess (OF) – .198, .304 OBP, .705 OPS, 11 Doubles, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 7 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 1-1, 5.23 ERA, 10.1 IP, 8 ER, 5 K, 4 BB, Hold, Save 1.26 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Micah Gibbs (C) – .307, .451 OBP, .820 OPS, 4 Doubles, HR, 10 RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) is in extended Spring Training
- Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .267, .320 OBP, .764 OPS, 3 Doubles, Triple, HR, 7 RBI, Outfield Assist (Tennessee Smokies) .295, .328 OBP, .805 OPS, 10 Doubles, 2 Triples, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 7 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Brett Jackson (OF) – .264, .464 OBP, .853 OPS, 7 Doubles, 3 Triples, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 13 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
- D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .358, .386 OBP, .878 OPS, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies) 1-for-5 (Chicago Cubs)
- Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-2, 2.70 ERA, 36.2 IP, 11 ER, 22 K, 9 BB, 1.25 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 1-3, 4.96 ERA, 45.1 IP, 25 ER, 41 K, 19 BB 1.50 WHIP (Peoria Chiefs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .333, .394 OBP, .835 OPS, 10 Doubles, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 14 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Peoria Chiefs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) -.265, .304 OBP, .713 OPS, 11 Doubles, 5 HR, 26 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
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