It’s a brand new day for the Cubs’ Farm System. Here’s hoping for sunny skies ahead.
The system’s teams responded by going a collective 12-7 over the past weekend, buoyed by Tennessee’s five-game winning streak. Iowa has also won four out of its past five games, while Peoria and Boise each posted a 2-2 record. Brett Jackson continues to be on fire in Iowa, while Matt Spencer, Rebel Ridling and Justin Bour delivered key home runs. Chris Rusin and Ryan Searle also had top-notch pitching performances.
All of that and more in this edition of the CCO’s Down on the Farm Report. Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (29-34)
After spotting rival Tri-City five runs on Wednesday, Boise came roaring back as Ryan Cuneo’s double in the bottom of the ninth scored Reggie Golden for a 7-6 victory. Cuneo was the offensive star of the game, driving in three runs with his double and second home run. Golden also stepped up for the Hawks, going 2-for-4 and scoring three runs. Mario Mercedes had a nice welcome back, plating a run while having a 3-for-4 evening. Paul Hoilman and Wilson Contreras were each 2-for-4.
Willengton Cruz had a difficult night, allowing five runs (four earned) in four innings. Juan Sandoval followed and gave up an earned run in 2.1 innings. Dustin Fitzgerald slammed the door on the Dust Devils with a scoreless 1.2 innings. Bryce Shafer was the beneficiary of the late inning heroics, as he struck out the side in ninth to set up the win.
The bumpy road of the low minors just got a little bumpier for Ben Wells on Thursday, as Boise fell to Spokane 8-2. Wells was rocked for eight runs (seven earned) and eleven hits in his 3.1 innings. Kyler Burke came in and stopped the Indians in their tracks, striking out six in 3.2 scoreless innings. Charles Thomas, also a converted position player, went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Zeke DeVoss was one of the only offensive threats for the Hawks, going 2-for-4. Ryan Cuneo drove in two with a double.
Boise tied the game with Spokane at 2-2 in the ninth on Friday, only to lose in a 3-2 squeaker. Yao-Lin Wang provided both the good and the bad in his 4.1 innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out six batters. Sheldon McDonald struck out three in 3.2 scoreless innings. However, Hector Mayora failed to come through in the ninth, allowing the winning run while recording only one out. Dustin Harrington had the Hawks only multi-hit game, driving in Oliver Zapata, who had tripled earlier. Ryan Cuneo had a pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie the score.
The Hawks brought out the big bats on Saturday, as they rode three home runs to a 7-3 win over Spokane. Brad Zapenas launched his first of the year to give Boise a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Ryan Cuneo (2-for-5, double, three RBI) stayed hot by hitting his fourth homer since joining the team. Wilson Contreras (2-for-5) also hit his first home run, a solo shot in the sixth inning. Pin Chieh Chen, Mario Mercedes, and Wes Darvill contributed multi-hit games.
Starter Juan Rosario had it working for him that night, as he struck out five and let in three runs (two earned), in six innings. Joe Zeller took the Hawks the rest of the way, striking out three in three scoreless innings for his third save.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (55-69)
Three unearned runs turned out to be the margin of victory, as Peoria fell to Wisconsin 7-4 on Wednesday. Rafael Valdes’ fielding error in the sixth led to those unearned runs, although Valdes tried to makeup for it by going 3-for-4. Rubi Silva and Micah Gibbs attempted to get the Chiefs back into the game. Silva hit his second home run and drove in two while stealing his sixth base. Gibbs cracked his second home run as part of a 2-for-4, two RBI evening. Taiwan Easterling was also 2-for-5. Starling Peralta was the victim of the poor defense, as he allowed seven runs (four earned) while striking out three in 5.2 innings of work. Ramon Garcia remains un-scored upon, as he tossed 2.1 innings of relief. Robinson Lopez, back off the disabled list, had an uneventful ninth inning.
In a back-and-forth game on Thursday, Peoria repelled the invaders from the north as they defeated Wisconsin 5-4. Dustin Geiger had a big night for the Chiefs, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Micah Gibbs’ bat has emerged from a slumber, as he was 2-for-3 with a double and a run driven in. Rubi Silva and Richard Jones were each 2-for-5, while Anthony Giansanti coaxed three walks.
Luis Lira was given another chance at starting, and the results were mixed. Lira gave up three earned runs but struck out six in four innings. P.J. Francescon had one of his better outings, going three innings while only letting in an unearned run. Roderik Pichardo tossed the final two innings and was credited with the win.
Some dominant pitching and more of the “new found” offense on Friday was the recipe for success in Peoria’s 8-2 victory over Wisconsin. Frank Del Valle returned to the form he displayed in Extended Spring Training, striking out seven in 5.1 scoreless innings. Alvaro Sosa continued the trend by blanking the TimberRattlers for another 1.2 innings. Pete Levitt allowed two runs (one earned) while finishing off the last two innings.
Richard Jones was the big wheel on offense, going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Leadoff man Arismendy Alcantara went 3-for-5 with a triple and a run driven in. Dustin Geiger drove in two, while Rubi Silva and Jesus Morelli each contributed an RBI and had multi-hit games.
The hard-luck story for pitcher Brett Wallach continued, as he suffered from shoddy defense in Peoria’s 6-2 loss to Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Wallach allowed five runs, but only two were earned as he struck out four in his 4.1 innings of work. Robinson Lopez served up a gopher ball in his 1.2 innings, while Yohan Gonzalez and Dan Berlind each tossed a perfect inning. Dustin Geiger provided half of the scoring for the Chiefs by belting his first Peoria home run. Richard Jones was 2-for-4 with a double.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (72-51)
Daytona looks like they are ready to return to their slugging ways of earlier this season, as they pounded out eleven hits on Thursday in a 4-3 win against Brevard County. Evan Crawford paced the attack from the leadoff spot, going 3-for-5 with his 13th stolen base and two RBI. Matt Cerda was 2-for-4 while plating a run. Justin Bour was also 2-for-6, while Elliot Soto scored two runs.
Casey Harman continued his rise as a starter, allowing two earned runs while striking out six in four innings. Aaron Kurcz harpooned the Manatees for two scoreless innings, striking out two batters. Kyle Smit continues to have his ups-and-downs, allowing an unearned run in two innings. With his 24th save of the year, Frank Batista closed out the victory.
There wasn’t much to “The Angel Guzman Factor” in Friday’s game, but that didn’t prevent the D-Cubs from being nipped by the Dunedin Blue Jays 3-2. Angel Guzman couldn’t make it past four outs, giving up an earned run. Dae-Eun Rhee was called on early and flashed his stuff, striking out 11 but giving up two earned runs in 6.2 innings. Jordan Latham mopped up by striking out two in the ninth. Logan Watkins provided half the offense by blasting his fourth home run; Jake Opitz walked and later scored on an error.
Daytona tried to slug toe-to-toe with Dunedin on Saturday, but came up short as they lost to the Blue Jays 8-5. It what seemed like a “bullpen day”, Jeffrey Lorick went only three innings and gave up three runs (two earned). Eduardo Figueroa let in a run in his 1.2 innings, while Brent Ebinger was tagged with two unearned runs in 1.1 innings. Juan Serrano also suffered an unearned run in two innings of work, and Kyle Smit gave up an earned run in an inning. Jake Opitz tried to keep the D-Cubs in the game by going 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Elliot Soto was also 3-for-4. Logan Watkins was 2-for-5 with a double, and Justin Bour cracked his 22nd home run in a 2-for-5 evening.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (75-50)
In Eric Jokisch’s Double-A debut on Wednesday, Tennessee turned to a veteran line-up to secure an 8-6 win against Jackson. Jokisch showed his inexperience, allowing five runs (four earned) in four innings. Oswaldo Martinez and Jeff Stevens each had two inning stints and halted the Generals. Marcus Hatley gave up an earned run in his inning of work.
James Adduci made sure ‘the new kid” had some run support, as he was 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBI. Nelson Perez also supplied two RBI and a double in going 2-for-4, while Rebel Ridling put up identical numbers, minus one RBI. Josh Vitters and Steve Clevenger were each 2-for-5.
Tennessee turned to “The Thunder from Down Under” on Thursday to bring home a 4-1 victory over Jackson. Australian Ryan Searle, who has been going deeper into ballgames since being converted into a starter, went seven innings and gave up only one earned run while striking out six batters. Jeffrey Beliveau finished the game off by shutting out the Generals for two innings.
Junior Lake was installed back into the leadoff spot and paid dividends, going 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBI. Rebel Ridling smacked his 17th round-tripper, and also went 2-for-4. Jae-Hoon Ha had a double and drove in a run.
On Friday, fans got to see glimpses of the Trey McNutt many were expecting this season, as the burly right-hander mowed down Jackson in a 3-2 victory. In one of his longest outings, McNutt struck out five while allowing two earned runs in seven innings of work. Marco Carrillo did what he does best … get people out, with a scoreless eighth inning. Only a walk marred Marcus Hatley’s near perfect ninth, earning him his fourth save.
Junior Lake’s RBI double put the Smokies on the board in the seventh inning; Nelson Perez followed with his eighth home run to put them ahead for good. Steven Clevenger was 2-for-4 with a double, and scored the first run.
Tennessee flexed their muscles and came up big in an extra innings affair on Saturday, beating Jackson 7-4 in 11 innings. Team home run leader Rebel Ridling moved into fifth in the Southern League by going deep twice as part of a 3-for-4, two RBI game. Junior Lake made it two home runs in the past three games with a two-run shot, while Ty Wright plated three with a pinch-hit double in the top of the 11th.
Larry Suarez continued to work on getting stretched out from his former relieving role, as he pitched five innings and allowed three earned runs while striking out three batters. Kevin Rhoderick has scuffled a little lately, giving up an earned run in an inning. The bullpen then demoted the Generals the rest of the way, with Jeff Stevens, Jeffrey Beliveau, and Oswaldo Martinez allowing no runs and only two hits over the remaining five innings.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (59-69)
From the Harry Caray dictionary, “the big opossum walked late” again on Wednesday, as the I-Cubs scored four runs in the top of the ninth to pull out a 9-7 victory over Salt Lake. In the thick of it was Brett Jackson (2-for-4, triple, RBI), who walked and scored the go ahead run.
However, it was Luis Montanez’s big night, as he was 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI, one of his doubles driving in Jackson. Not to be overshadowed was Bryan LaHair going 2-for4 with a double, two runs driven in, and his 34th home run. Marwin Gonzalez also chipped in, plating a run in a 2-for-4 evening.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx’s return to Triple-A was more of the same from him, seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings, but six earned runs, including three home runs. Hung-Wen Chen returned from loan to the Mexican League and went 1.1 innings with an earned run and two strikeouts. Carlton Smith held the Bees in check for an inning, while Scott Maine, back from a whirlwind call-up to the parent club, struck out five in two innings.
A fresh approach helped bring about another Iowa victory on Thursday, as they buzzed Salt Lake 8-7. Marwin Gonzalez was installed behind Brett Jackson in the batting order, just as they were in Tennessee, and produced similar results. Jackson was 2-for-5 with a double, stolen base, and two runs scored. Gonzalez had a sacrifice, and RBI double, and drove in another run. Deuces were wild that night, as Scott Moore, D.J. LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty and Chris Robinson each went 2-for-4, Flaherty with two RBI.
Unfortunately, Alberto Cabrera was, well, Alberto Cabrera. He allowed six earned runs and struck out four over 4.1 innings. Fortunately, the rest of the bullpen brought their “A” game. Robert Coello hurled 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. Justin Berg gave up an earned run in his inning, while John Gaub picked up his seventh save, striking out two in the ninth.
Chris Rusin found whatever he was missing during his last start on Friday as the I-Cubs completed a four game sweep of Salt Lake City win a 4-1 win. Rusin struck out four and allowed one earned run in seven innings. Blake Parker held serve with a scoreless inning, while Scott Maine struck out the side for his 11th save.
D.J. LeMahieu is finally getting his stroke back, as he was 3-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. Luis Montanez was 3-for-5 with an RBI. The new minor league version of the “daily double” also clicked, as Marwin Gonzalez brought home Brett Jackson.
In the midst of a 3-3 tie on Saturday, Iowa gave up seven runs to Oklahoma City in the seventh inning, then rallied but fell short in an 11-10 loss. Matt Spencer was the hero of the attempted comeback, as he whacked a pinch-hit grand slam for his first Iowa home run. Brett Jackson continues to set the table, as he was 3-for-5 with a double, while D.J. LeMahieu was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Scott Moore and Ryan Flaherty were each 2-for-4, and starting pitcher Nick Struck contributed a single. Struck actually left the game with a lead, as he allowed three runs (one earned) and struck out four in six innings. He gave way to Carlton Smith, who promptly gave up six earned runs in 0.2 innings. Hung-Wen Chen poured gas on the fire, serving up a home run in his 1.1 innings. John Gaub let in the game-winning run in the top of the ninth.
News and Notes
Iowa C Welington Castillo was placed on the inactive list (birth of child), activated 3B Marquez Smith from the 7-Day disabled list. Catcher Carlos Romero was assigned to Iowa from the AZL Cubs. Peoria placed OF Smaily Borges on the 7-day disabled list. Outfielder John Andreoli was assigned to Peoria from the AZL Cubs. First baseman Ryan Cuneo was assigned to Boise from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Hector Mayora was assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Left-handed pitcher Graham Hicks assigned to AZL Cubs. Shawon Dunston, Jr. and Javier Baez reported to the AZL Cubs.
Top Prospect Watch
- Michael Burgess (OF) – .224, .322 OBP, .733 OPS, 23 Doubles, Triple, 16 HR, 62 RBI, Stolen Base, 10 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 2-3, 6.28 ERA, 28.2 IP, 20 ER, 28 K, 22 BB, 1.85 WHIP 3 Holds, Save (Iowa Cubs)
- Micah Gibbs (C) – .251, .365 OBP, .686 OPS, 11 Doubles, Triple, 2 HR, 24 RBI, Stolen Base, 26% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
- Reggie Golden (OF) – .241, .333 OBP, .718 OPS, 9 Doubles, 5 Triples, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 5 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
- Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .259, .289 OBP, .680 OPS, 15 Doubles, Triple, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
- Brett Jackson (OF) – .316, .387 OBP, .986 OPS, 9 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 HR, 20 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Iowa Cubs)
- D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.284, .317 OBP, .680 OPS, 6 Doubles, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
- Trey McNutt (RHP) – 3-5, 4.56 ERA, 79.0 IP, 40 ER, 56 K, 31 BB, 1.65 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-3, 8.04 ERA, 15.2 IP, 14 ER, 10 K, 10 BB 2.04 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .254, .287 OBP, .671 OPS, 7 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
- Josh Vitters (3B) -.283, .318 OBP, .760 OPS, 24 Doubles, 2 Triples, 12 HR, 67 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)
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