Iowa is on a tear, with Tyler Colvin and Fernando Perez leading the way; winning five straight against some of the Pacific Coast League’s best teams. Tennessee is struggling to find their rhythm offensively, while Logan Watkins has found his in Daytona. Peoria has stumbled out of the box to start the second half of the season, and new stars are emerging in Boise. Plus, Matt Szczur will represent the Cubs organization in the XM Radio Future’s Game.
All of this, and more, in this week’s Down on the Farm Report. Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (5-4)
Ben Wells had his second quality start, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing an earned run while striking out three, as Boise defeated Tri-City in its home opener 3-2 on Wednesday. Wells’ piggyback starter, Juan Rosario, went 3.2 innings allowing an earned run, got credit for the win. Bryce Shafer blanked the Dust Devils for his first save.
Pin-Chieh Chen continued his tear, with a five-game hitting streak. Chen was 2-for-4 Wednesday night. Paul Hoilman was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while Ben Klafczynski was also 2-for-3 with a run-scoring triple. Hoilman also turned a nifty 3-6 double play with shortstop Wes Darvill.
Sometimes, the life of a starting pitcher in the low minor leagues just isn’t fair. Yao-Lin Wang struck out four and allowed only one earned run in his four innings. He then watched the rest of the pitching staff cough up six runs as Boise lost to Tri-City 7-2 on Thursday. Pin-Chieh Chen extended his hitting streak to six games, and was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Dustin Harrington was 2-for-3.
After squandering a 5-0 lead in fourth innings, the Boise Hawks came back to defeat Tri-City 10-6 on Friday. Starting pitcher Austin Reed was cruising through three innings, but allowed six earned runs in the fourth. Jin-Yeong Kim bailed Reed out with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. Bryce Shafer went the last 1.2 innings, striking out three for his second save.
Paul Hoilman was the big bat for Boise, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Ben Klafczynski was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Wes Darvill was 2-for-2 with three runs scored, while Chad Noble and Kenny Socorro were 2-for-3 each. Pin-Chieh Chen extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Wes Darvill and Brad Zapenas swapped positions on Saturday, and it seemed to pay off offensively as Boise ended up pulling away from the Spokane Indians to a 10-4 victory. Darvill, starting at second, reached base in all four plate appearances, including going 3-for-3 with a double, RBI, and three runs scored. Zapenas moved to shortstop, was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two RBI. Yaniel Cabeza was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI, while Wilson Contreras was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI.
Lefty Willengton Cruz started and allowed three earned runs in four innings, striking out three batters. Hector Mayora was the piggyback starter, and allowed an earned run while striking out two in his three innings. Yilver Sanchez mopped up the final two innings.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (33-39)
In their first game back from the All-Star break, the Peoria offense looked promising as they scored two runs in the first inning. However, that’s all they would score as the Chiefs dropped a 6-2 loss to Kane County on Friday. The lone offensive highlight was Richard Jones’ 2-for-4 with an RBI effort. Austin Kirk struggled for the second straight outing, allowing four earned runs while striking out five batters.
Starter Eric Jokisch but the Chiefs behind the eight-ball Saturday night, letting in two runs in the first inning, Jokisch would end up surrendering nine earned runs in 3.1 innings, as Peoria lost to Kane County 11-5. PJ Francescon made his Single-A debut and allowed an earned run in an inning of work. Greg Rohan continues to be the offensive leader for the Chiefs, hitting 3-for-5 for the evening.
High Class-A Daytona Cubs (49-24)
Just assigned back to Daytona from Tennessee, Juan Serrano looked a little unprepared for his first start, as the D-Cubs lost to Clearwater 6-5 on Thursday. Serrano allowed four earned runs, including three home runs, in four innings. Aaron Kurcz came on in relief and allowed two earned runs in two innings while striking out five batters. David Macias and Logan Watkins each had multi-hit games, while Luis Flores drove in two runs.
Evan Crawford shook the D-Cubs out of their post-All-Star game doldrums by blasting a leadoff home run, as Daytona defeated Clearwater 5-2 on Friday. Crawford was would go 2-for-5 for the evening. Red-hot hitting Logan Watkins was 2-for-4, while Jae-Hoon Ha drove in two runs.
Starter Brett Wallach had one of his better outings, allowing two runs (one earned) with three punch-outs in 4.1 innings. Jeffry Antigua relieved Wallach and struck out five in 2.1 scoreless innings. Marcus Hatley continued the scoreless streak for 1.1 innings, while Frank Batista closed it out for his fifteenth save.
Logan Watkins led the way, as the D-Cubs came from behind to close out their series against Clearwater with a 4-1 victory on Saturday. Watkins, who struggled at the beginning of the season, has hit at a .419 clip over the past month. Against the Threshers, Watkins was 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored. Evan Crawford was also 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Michael Burgess was 2-for-5.
On the rehab trail, Angel Guzman pitched two innings to start the game, allowing an earned run. Eduardo Figueroa came in relief and blanked Clearwater for 3.2 innings, striking out four batters. Jordan Latham continued the trend for 2.1 innings; while Frank Batista picked up his sixteenth save while striking out three in an inning of work.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (44-29)
In the first game back from All-Star break, Tennessee activated Trey McNutt for the start on Thursday. McNutt clearly wasn’t ready, as he only pitched to five batters, walking four and allowing two earned runs without recording an out. Four other pitchers took the hill, including Matt Spencer mopping up, as the Smokies lost 7-0 to Birmingham. Steve Clevenger was 3-for-4 with a double, while Ryan Flaherty was 2-for-4.
Brooks Raley pitched his best game of the season, but needed a come from behind effort from the Tennessee offense and the Smokies defeated Birmingham 4-3 on Friday. Raley has his longest outing, going seven innings and allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out four batters. Kevin Rhoderick came on and blanked the Barons for an inning, striking out two batters. Rafael Dolis also went scoreless for his eighth save.
No Smokie really stood out offensively, but Nelson Perez delivered a two-run homer to get Tennessee on the board. Matt Spencer was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
Tennessee’s second half offensive struggles continued, as the Smokies managed only seven hits in a fourteen inning loss to Birmingham on Saturday, 2-1. Tennessee wasted a stellar effort by Nick Struck, who went six innings with only an unearned run, while striking out five batters. Manager Brian Harper then burned though five relievers in trying to secure the victory, only to have outfielder Nelson Perez give up the winning run in his first professional pitching appearance. Ryan Flaherty and Matt Spencer were the only Smokies to collect more than one hit.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (35-42)
In the second half of a double-header on Wednesday, Iowa rode some hot bats to an 8-5 victory over Memphis. Tyler Colvin led the way, going 2-for-4 with a home run, stolen base, and three RBI. Fernando Perez was 3-for-4 with a double. Bobby Scales was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, while Chris Robinson was 2-for-3 with two doubles. Scott Moore was also 2-for-3.
Jay Jackson continues to struggle, allowing five earned runs while striking out five in six innings. Jackson did help himself with an RBI single. John Gaub pitched a scoreless seventh for his third save.
Tyler Colvin had a monster night, as the I-Cubs defeated Memphis 7-3 on Thursday. Colvin was 3-for-4 with his second home run in as many nights, and four RBI. Ty Wright joined Colvin with three hits, going 3-for-5, while Bobby Scales was 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Robert Coello was brought back up from Tennessee and allowed only an earned run in five innings. Marco Carrillo allowed two earned runs while striking out two in 2.2 innings, picking up a hold. Marcos Mateo threw a scoreless 1.1 innings for his second save.
The I-Cubs came from behind in a strange game, as they bested the Memphis Redbirds 5-3 on Friday. Strange because their leading hitter for the evening, Fernando Perez at 2-for-4, neither scored nor drove in a run. Strange because Bryan LaHair and Welington Castillo blasted solo homers, but those were the duo’s only hits. And strange because pitcher Jay Jackson, in a pinch-hitting role, delivered a two-run single.
Alberto Cabrera started and gave up three earned runs in five innings, while striking out seven batters. Justin Berg relieved and went scoreless for an inning for his third win. Scott Maine pitched the final three scoreless innings, striking out six for his eighth save.
Iowa stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to top the Albuquerque Isotopes 4-3 on Saturday. Ramon Ortiz continues to be a workhorse, allowing three earned runs in six innings while striking out seven batters. Blake Parker chipped in another three strikeouts, as he held the ‘Topes scoreless for two innings. John Gaub earned his fourth save.
Ty Wright was the stand out in an evening of somewhat undistinguished performances. Wright was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Jonathan Mota was also 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Brad Snyder was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Darwin Barney was 1-for-3 in a rehab assignment.
News and Notes
The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Justin Berg and placed RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx on the 7 day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Robert Coello was assigned to Iowa from Tennessee. Iowa activated RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx from the 7 day disabled list and RHP Justin Berg was assigned to Tennessee from Iowa. Tennessee activated RHP Trey McNutt from the 7 day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Esmailin Caridad was assigned to Tennessee from Iowa.
Right-handed pitcher Juan Serrano was assigned to Daytona from Tennessee. Outfielder Rubi Silva was assigned to Peoria from Daytona. Right-handed pitcher PJ Francescon was assigned to Peoria from the AZL Cubs. The Boise Hawks released OF DJ Fitzgerald. Catcher Jose Guevara was assigned to Boise from the disabled list; SS Kenny Soccoro was assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Infielder-Outfielder Vismeldy Bieneme and C Carlos Romero were assigned to the AZL Cubs from Boise. Jeff Stevens was assigned to Tennessee from Iowa.
Matt Szczur will represent the Cubs organization in the XM Radio Futures Game during All-Star weekend (each organization receives a maximum of two players). The game will be held on Sunday afternoon, July 10 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Top Prospect Watch
- Michael Burgess (OF) – .193, .295 OBP, .669 OPS, 14 Doubles, Triple, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 9 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 4 BB, 2.00 WHIP (Chicago Cubs)
- Micah Gibbs (C) – .263, .398 OBP, .714 OPS, 5 Doubles, HR, 11 RBI, Stolen Base, 22% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) – .276, .382 OBP, .821 OPS, Double, 2 Triples, 2 RBI, Stolen Base (Boise Hawks)
- Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .285, .321 OBP, .781 OPS, 13 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Brett Jackson (OF) – .265, .386 OBP, .845OPS, 8 Doubles, 3 Triples, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 13 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
- D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .273, .273 OBP, .576 OPS, Double, RBI (Chicago Cubs)
- Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-3, 3.19 ERA, 36.2 IP, 13 ER, 22 K, 13 BB, 1.39 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 1-4, 5.33 ERA, 54.0 IP, 32 ER, 44 K, 24 BB 1.56 WHIP (Peoria Chiefs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .318, .373 OBP, .821 OPS, 12 Doubles, Triple, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 16 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Peoria Chiefs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) -.284, .322 OBP, .776 OPS, 17 Doubles, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)
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