As Independence Day marks the traditional halfway point in the baseball season, the Cubs’ affiliates are all hoping for a better second half, as the top five teams were able to only eek out three wins to start the week.
Young players are taking some of the spotlight, as Dan Vogelbach and Tim Saunders are impressing in Mesa, while Jeimer Candelario keeps on hitting in Boise. Dustin Geiger remains a player to be reckoned with in Peoria, while Daytona has recently seen a burst from Elieser Bonne.
Further up the chain, Greg Rohan made a big splash in his Tennessee debut, and Randy Wells tries to demonstrate there is still something salvageable to his career.
Providing you all the information, along with recaps of the Arizona Rookie League and the Dominican Summer League, is today’s Down on the Farm Report. Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.
Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (6-13)
Boise came back down to earth after a wild-and-wooly win the day before to lose 2-1 on Sunday to Tri-City. James Pugliese had his best start of the season, as he went four scoreless innings and struck out five batters. Roderik Pichardo relieved and gave up an earned run while working one inning. Eighth round draft pick Michael Heesch saw his first action, as he pitched two scoreless innings; as fellow 2012 draftee Eduardo Orozco also went two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. However, Rafael Diplan couldn’t find the plate, walking three and surrendering an earned run, and the game, in 0.2 innings. Dong-Yub Kim (2-for-4, double) provided the game’s only excitement for the Hawks, as he hit his third home run of the season. Chadd Krist was 3-for-3, while Jeimer Candelario was 2-for-5.
The Hawks scored all of their runs in the first two innings on Monday, but their pitching didn’t hold as they lost 7-5 to Tri-City. Gioskar Amaya remains a triples machine, as he hit his fifth of the season while going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Stephen Bruno was 2-for-4 with a double as he drove in two more runs. Starter Tayler Scott did well enough, as he struck out four and allowed two runs (one earned) in 4.1 innings. However, Hayden Simpson didn’t fare as well, allowing three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings. Su-Min Jung also had a hard time, pitching two innings and giving up two earned runs.
After showing some signs that their fortunes are turning around, a trip to Tri-City was disastrous as the Hawks were swept on Tuesday, losing 6-4. The offense couldn’t get things going, as Jeimer Candelario was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Rock Shoulders drove in two with a double, as he was 1-for-4. Ian Dickson lasted only one inning, allowing three runs (two earned). Rafael Diplan held down the fort, tossing three scoreless innings. But Pete Levitt continued his struggles, as he gave up two runs (one earned) in 2.2 innings. Roderik Pichardo threw the last 1.1 innings and let in a final earned run.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (38-43)
Peoria kept things close against Kane County on Sunday, until the Cougars broke the game open in the ninth to defeat the Chiefs 7-2. Starling Peralta has his best start of the season, allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out two over eight innings. Larry Suarez came on in the ninth and served up four earned runs. Taiwan Easterling was 3-for-3 with a stolen base, while Dustin Geiger was 2-for-3.
The Chiefs laid an egg on Monday night, as they were shutout and three-hit by Kane County, losing 6-0. As for the hits, Zeke DeVoss (double), Paul Hoilman, and Pin-Chieh Chen were the lucky players for Peoria. While Jose Rosario struck out seven, he allowed six runs (four earned) in seven innings. Sheldon McDonald held the Cougars scoreless for two innings and struck out three batters.
While Tuesday’s contest with Kane County was closer, the results were the same as Peoria lost 4-1. The Chiefs called-up knuckleballer Joe Zeller to start and he lasted five innings, giving up two earned runs. Hunter Cervenka then held the line as he struck out four in three scoreless innings. But the usually reliable Luis Liria had an off night, as he allowed two earned runs in the ninth. Peoria’s offense staggered again, being held to three hits for the second night in a row. Dustin Geiger was 1-for-4, while Wes Darvill and Yasiel Balaguert each doubled, and were 1-for-3.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (37-44)
Hitting and defense betrayed Daytona on Sunday, as they lost 5-3 to Lakeland. The D-Cubs managed four hits, as Rebel Ridling led all by going 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. Matt Loosen was victimized by three Daytona errors as he allowed four runs (three earned) and struck out two in six innings. AJ Morris stemmed the tide by tossing two scoreless innings and striking out two batters. Jeffrey Lorick allowed the Flying Tigers an insurance run in the ninth.
The big sticks came back for Daytona on Monday, as they used a sixth inning rally to defeat Lakeland 7-3. The D-Cubs welcomed back Matt Cerda, who was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a stolen base. Also driving in two was Micah Gibbs, as he went 1-for-2, while Elieser Bonne was 3-for-3.
PJ Francescon notched his first Daytona win, as he went six innings and struck five, allowing three earned runs. Ryan Searle pitched two perfect innings, while Brian Schlitter shut down the Flying Tigers in the ninth.
A Daytona rally in the bottom of the eighth came up a little short as the D-Cubs lost to Lakeland 9-8 on Tuesday. Starter Austin Kirk was not in his usual form, as he allowed five earned runs while striking out three in only four innings. Matt Spencer is still experiencing his growing pains as he transitions from outfielder to pitcher, as he went 2.1 innings and gave up two earned runs. Scott Weismann has hit a bump in the road recently, as he let in the final two earned runs as he pitched 2.2 innings. Rubi Silva paced the attack for Daytona, as he was 3-for-5, including a triple and two RBI. Also plating two was Elieser Bonne in a 2-for-5 effort that included a triple. John Andreoli and Rebel Ridling were each 2-for-4 with an RBI, as Ridling doubled and Andreoli collected his 28th steal.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (41-42)
It was a blue Sunday for Tennessee, as they were blanked by Chattanooga 3-0. The Smokies were not able to push one across the plate despite seven hits, with a Justin Bour 3-for-4 performance that included two doubles leading the way. Nate Samson was also 2-for-4. Nick Struck was gunning for his tenth win, but it was not to be as he went five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) while striking out two batters. Casey Harman struck out four, but gave up an earned run as he went two innings. Casey Weathers pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
The Smokies once again provided some thrills for their fans on Monday, as they held on for a 6-4 victory over Chattanooga. Greg Rohan said hello to Double-A pitching, as he went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI in his Tennessee debut. Michael Burgess and Junior Lake were each 2-for-5, while Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI.
It has been a tough season for Dae-Eun Rhee, as he allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings. Tony Zych earned his second hold with a scoreless inning, while Ty’Relle Harris also received a hold by blanking the Lookouts for two innings. Earning his 14th save, Frank Batista had a 1-2-3 ninth.
Tennessee pitching continued to struggle with holding leads, allowing a 5-0 lead to evaporate as the lost 11-6 to Chattanooga on Tuesday. Trey McNutt tossed 88 pitches in only four innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out four batters. Jeffry Antigua struck out five, but gave up three earned runs in 2.1 innings. While continuing to deal with blister issues, Kevin Rhoderick has been hit hard, letting in five runs (three earned) in 0.2 innings. Casey Weathers then served up the final earned run for the Lookouts in the eighth. Michael Burgess continues to surge at the plate, as he was 2-for-5 with a triple and four RBI. Logan Watkins (2-for-5) also had a triple.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (35-51)
It was “swing from the heels day” Sunday in Nashville, as Iowa lost a 13-12 slugfest. The Sounds scored all of their runs early, as starter Frankie De La Cruz didn’t have it, allowing nine runs (seven earned) in 4.1 innings. Esmailin Caridad finished up the fifth inning, giving up another four unearned runs. Mike MacDougal, Jay Jackson, and Michael Bowden held Nashville scoreless the rest of the way, each tossing a scoreless inning with Jackson striking out two and Bowden fanning three batters. Adrian Cardenas, Josh Vitters, and Blake Lalli each had three hits, with Lalli driving in three runners. Brett Jackson and Matt Tolbert each had two hits and two RBI.
A pitcher’s duel on Monday turned into a rout, as Iowa lost 4-1 to Nashville. Starter Chris Rusin had his good stuff going, as he went six scoreless innings and struck out five batters. However, Jeff Beliveau was as bad as Rusin was good, allowing four earned runs in 0.1 innings. Alberto Cabrera finished up the final 1.2 innings and held the Sounds scoreless. Matt Tolbert and Dave Sappelt were each 2-for-3, while Josh Vitters drove in the only run as he was 2-for-4 with a double.
The question on many Cubs fans’ minds may be “Has Randy Wells finally woke up and smelled the coffee?” as Iowa rode Randy Wells to a 3-2 victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Wells had his best performance in a long time, as he went five innings and struck out four while giving up an earned run. The game was then turned over to some pitchers who, at times, have disappointed this season. Ryan Rowland-Smith tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, while Jay Jackson was touched for an earned run in 1.2 innings. Earning his first save, Michael Bowden struck out two in the ninth. The offense was relatively quiet, as seven hits were dispersed over as many players. Josh Vitters drove in two, as he was 1-for-3, while Brett Jackson stole his 18th base and finished 1-for-4 at the plate.
Arizona Rookie League
Things continue to look good for the AZL Cubs, as they raised their record to 8-4, 1.5 games out of first place. Dan Vogelbach had a breakout game this week, as he was 4-for-5 with a triple, home run, and three RBI to raise his season average to .432 with eleven RBI. Lower round picks Tim Saunders and Jacob Rogers remain impressive, as Saunders maintained a .471 average while Rogers is hit .550, tying Vogelbach for the team lead in homers with two. Outfielder Izaac Garsez is also beginning to press for upward consideration, as he is now batting .3345 with a homer and five RBI through seven games. This week also saw the first appearance of 17 year-old catcher Alberto Mineo for the Italian League.
Left-handers Brian Smith and Hunter Ackerman are the only pitchers with two starts for the Cubs, while rehabbing Justin Berg pitched two scoreless innings. Alvido Jimenez leads the team with ten strikeouts, but has an ERA of 5.91. Dominican Loiger Padron has shown some promise, as he has struck out seven and has a 2.16 ERA in three appearances.
Dominican Summer League
Cubs-1 can’t seem to get over the hump, as a record of 13-14 is good for fourth in the Baseball City division. Shortstop Jenner Emeterio maintained offensively last week, hitting .378while increasing his RBI total to 11. Outfielder Jeffrey Baez is now rounding into form, batting .284 and tied for fourth in the league with 13 stolen bases Carlos A. Rodriguez has moved into seventh in the league with 32 strikeouts, and his ERA of 1.38 is among the leaders for starting pitchers.
The Cubs-2 team has some punch at the top of their lineup, but little else as they have a record of 13-14, sixth in the Boca Chica South division. Outfielders Roberto Caro and Kelvin Encarnacion lead the attack, as Caro is hitting .372 while Encarnacion is at .333, with his five home runs good for second in the league. Outfielder Shamil Ubiera has raised his average to.317 with his 16 RBI tied for second on the team. Right-handed pitcher Daury Torres’ ERA of 1.38 ties him with fellow organization member Carlos A. Rodriguez while his 0.83 WHIP is fifth among league starters.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled RHP Chris Volstad from the Iowa Cubs; optioned RHP Casey Coleman to the Iowa Cubs. Tennessee Smokies IF Matt Cerda was assigned to the Daytona Cubs. The Daytona Cubs assigned IF Greg Rohan to the Tennessee Smokies. The Peoria Chiefs placed C Anthony Giansanti on the 7-Day disabled list; recalled IF Kenny Socorro from the 7-Day disabled list. The Boise Hawks assigned RHP Joe Zeller to the Peoria Chiefs and IF Gregori Gonzalez to the AZL Cubs; released OF Eduardo Gonzalez.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO