The spotlight moved to the lower levels of the Cubs minor league at the end of the week, as most of the affiliates were on the uptick. Boise put together a four-game winning streak thanks to Dan Vogelbach’s five home runs and outfielder Izaac Garsez. Jorge Soler moved from the rookie league to Peoria and was a big hit, literally, with a grand slam.
Excellent pitching efforts by Nick Struck and Dae-Eun Rhee were backed by the offense of Jae-Hoon Ha for Tennessee, while struggling remained the key word in Daytona and Iowa.
Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (26-30)
Once again, the Hawks had some late innings concerns on Wednesday but were able to weather the storm as they defeated Everett 8-6. Boise took the lead early, taking advantage of two hit batsmen and an error, as Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4) drove in Gioskar Amaya (1-for-3, double, stolen base, three runs scored) with a single. Candelario was on board in the third when Dan Vogelbach (1-for-5) launched his fourth home run. Getting a look in left field, Rock Shoulders (1-for-5) blasted a grand slam in the fifth inning for his seventh home run. Willson Contreras also contributed with a 2-for-4 performance that included a double.
Jose Arias had what is becoming a typical performance. Arias struck out six but allowed three earned runs in five innings. It was also feast-or-famine with Hayden Simpson. Simpson recorded four strikeouts but also gave up three earned runs in three innings. Eduardo Orozco is emerging as a closer to the Hawks. Orozco picked up his third save with a scoreless ninth.
It was bombs away for Boise on Thursday as two home runs were the difference in a 3-2 victory over Everett. Dan Vogelbach tied the games twice with two solo home runs, and, according to play-by-play announcer Mike Safford “they weren’t cheap!” Vogelbach was 2-for-4 for the evening. Vogelbach’s fourth and fifth longballs in a four-game span. The go ahead run came in the eighth as Izaac Garsez (1-for-3) tripled and touched home on a sacrifice fly by Gioskar Amaya.
Tayler Scott was not as dominant as he had been, but got the job done with six strikeouts and two earned runs allowed in five innings. Matt Iannazzo kept the Hawks in the game with two scoreless innings that included two strikeouts. Tyler Bremer went the rest of the way, shutting out the Aqua Sox for two innings. Bremer struck out the side in the ninth for his first save.
Both Dan Vogelbach and Boise was sad to leave Everett, as the Hawks took four out of five from the Aqua Sox with Friday’s 11-8 victory. For the second consecutive night, Dan Vogelbach blasted two home runs. Vogelbach went 3-for-4 on the night with five RBI. Jeimer Candelario set the table with a 4-for-5 effort that included two doubles, two RBI, and three runs scored. A resurgent Marco Hernandez joined Vogelbach in the home run department. Hernandez went deep with a solo homer and finished the game 2-for-5 with two runs driven in. Steady Stephen Bruno (2-for-4) also plated a run.
Starter Ian Dickson piddled away a six run lead, allowing six earned runs, but striking out five, in three innings. After a rough outing his last time out, Hunter Ackerman showed improvement. Ackerman gave up an earned run and struck out three in two innings. Rafael Diplan followed with nearly the same line, one earned run and a strikeout in two innings. Manager Mark Johnson now seems to have the back end of his bullpen figured out, with Nathan Dorris emerging as his left-handed closer. Dorris earned his second save by striking out two in two scoreless innings.
It was another debut for another member of the 2012 draft class on Saturday as a poised Boise squad defeated Salem-Keizer 4-1. Just up from the rookie league, first round draft pick Pierce Johnson was scheduled to pitch the first two innings. Johnson did okay in his Boise debut. Johnson allowed an earned run and struck out two batters. Regularly scheduled starter Felix Pena then stepped in, struck out four and blanked the Volcanoes over five innings. Eduardo Orozco continued the trend, and picked up a long save with two scoreless innings.
The Hawks were consistent on offense, with everyone but Rock Shoulders hitting safely. Willson Contreras (3-for-4) scored half of the runs, while Gioskar Amaya went 2-for-5. Izaac Garsez smacked his first homer of the season. Garsez was 1-for-3 with two RBI, and fellow outfielder Trey Martin (2-for-3) drove in a run. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4) raised his RBI total to 21 but did not hit a home run.
Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (52-63)
Relief pitching marred another outstanding performance by a starter as Peoria lost to Burlington on Wednesday 9-8 in 14 innings. One the heels of Starling Peralta’s 14 strikeout performance, Yao-Lin Wang was almost his equal as he had ten whiffs while giving up only one earned run in six innings. Wang was given a comfortable lead thanks to home runs by Paul Hoilman (2-for-6, two RBI) and Tim Saunders (2-for-5, three RBI, two stolen bases). A Dustin Geiger (2-for-7, three RBI) double plated Zeke DeVoss (3-for-7, stolen base) and Pin-Chieh Chen in the top of the eighth and pushed the lead to 6-1. However, Luis Liria continued his adventures on the mound. Liria let in three earned runs in 1.1 innings. Austin Reed then allowed two runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings as the Bees tied the game. Sheldon McDonald did his part as he tossed three scoreless innings. But after the Chiefs posted two runs in the top of the 14th, Pete Levitt committed two errors on pickoff attempts that led to three runs (one earned) and gave the victory to Burlington.
Peoria got a measure of revenge Thursday after letting one slip away the previous night, edging Burlington 5-4. The see-saw affair saw seven lead changes, with Zeke DeVoss coming out of a prolonged offensive funk. DeVoss went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBI, and a stolen base. Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5) also drove in two, while Dustin Geiger was 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Joe Zeller had trouble finding the zone again, as four hits and two walks led to four runs (three earned) in four innings. Jeffry Antigua came to the rescue by stopping the Bees’ attack with three strikeouts in 2.1 scoreless innings. Larry Suarez finished things out, as he slammed the door over the last 1.2 innings.
It was decent opening night for Jorge Soler, but it was a shame he couldn’t pitch as Peoria lost to Burlington 10-5. The newest organizational bonus baby was 1-for-4 with two RBI in his debut for the Chiefs, but the real story on Friday was pitching, or the lack of it. Michael Jensen had his worst outing of the season. Jensen allowed six earned runs in five innings. Justin Berg remains an accident waiting to happen. Berg tossed two innings and gave up four runs (one earned), as errors by Zeke DeVoss, Chadd Krist, and Wes Darvill didn’t help. Bryce Shafer mopped up with a scoreless inning. Chadd Krist tried to balance things by going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Yaniel Cabezas was 2-for-3.
The Chiefs slammed their way to a win on Saturday, as a grand slam by Jorge Soler was the difference in a 5-3 victory over Beloit. The big fly in the third inning was set up by Snapper infielders Tyler Grimes and Miguel Sano, who had issues with their fielding. Two errors and a wild pitch put Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5), Dustin Geiger (1-for-5, double) and Paul Hoilman (1-for-4) on board for Soler (1-for-4), who delivered his first homer for Peoria in grand style. A resurgent Wes Darvill was also 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the evening.
Starter Zach Cates continues to get pounded. Castes allowed three earned runs and struck out three through 4.1 innings. Luis Liria ended his free fall, as he shut down Beloit over 2.1 innings, striking out three batters. Sheldon McDonald struck out two in two scoreless innings, but had to be bailed out by Larry Suarez in the ninth. Suarez was able to get the last out for his second save.
High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (52-63)
A postponement of Wednesday’s game due to weather conditions led to a doubleheader on Thursday, with Daytona taking the opener 8-4 over Lakeland. Robert Whitenack continues the long road back from Tommy John surgery. Whitenack was touched for four earned runs in four innings. However, Ryan Searle stopped the Flying Tigers in their tracks, striking out three in 2.2 scoreless innings. Jeffrey Lorick went the rest of the way. Lorick struck out two and slammed the door shut with 1.1 scoreless innings to get the win. Ronald Torreyes (1-for-3) drove in two runs, while Rafael Lopez (1-for-2) added an RBI.
Game two was no contest, as Lakeland ran away with things, defeating Daytona 7-1. Kyle Hendricks was given the start and performed fairly well, striking out three and serving up a solo home run in three innings. Kyler Burke followed and had trouble. Burke allowed four earned runs in 2.2 innings. Hunter Cervenka wasn’t much better, giving up two earned runs to go along with two strikeouts in 1.1 innings. Elieser Bonne was the only bright spot for the D-Cubs’ offense. Bonne was 2-for-5 with a double and scored the only run. Taylor Davis (1-for-3) doubled in Bonne.
With their best starter on the mound and a four run lead, things looked good for Daytona on Friday. However, their pitching soon fell apart and they lost 8-5 to Dunedin. Matt Loosen was cruising along until the fifth inning, when he gave up four earned runs while recording only one out. Eduardo Figueroa was able to keep the score at 5-5 with 2.2 scoreless innings that included two strikeouts. But Scott Weismann served up a two-run homer in the eighth. The bottom of the order did the damage for the D-Cubs. Elieser Bonne (1-for-4) drove in two. Rafael Lopez and Micah Gibbs were each 2-for-4 with Lopez driving in one run while Gibbs ended up with two RBI.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (55-62)
The Smokies bowed out of Wednesday’s game with Huntsville early, losing 7-2. Dallas Beeler did not have his best stuff, as he allowed six runs (five earned) in three innings. Casey Harman was the long man and ate three innings while giving up an earned run. Casey Weathers, Tony Zych, and Frank Batista each provided a scoreless inning, but the damage had already been done. Tennessee couldn’t solve the Stars’ pitching, as Junior Lake, now batting in the five-hole, was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Matt Szczur also drove in a run as he went 1-for-5 with a triple.
The cardiac kids survived another scare on Thursday, as Tennessee sweated out a 5-3 victory over Huntsville. In his second appearance with the club, rehabbing pitcher Lendy Castillo was able to work through two hits and a walk without allowing any runs. Scheduled starter Nick Struck handled the delay better than Dae-Eun Rhee. Struck allowed an earned run while striking out seven batters in seven innings of work. But Frank Batista had a rare bad outing and allowed things to get interesting with two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Brian Schlitter recorded the final out and picked up his third save.
Matt Szczur put the Smokies out in front early with a leadoff home run, as he was 1-for-3 with two walks and a stolen base. Jae-Hoon Ha seemed to be back in form after a stint on the DL. Ha was 1-for-1 with a double and four walks. And if runs were involved then Justin Bour (1-for-5) has to be in the thick of it as he drove in two. Logan Watkins also joined in the fun with a 1-for-2 performance that included a RBI and a stolen base.
It was too little, too late for Tennessee on Friday as they bowed to Huntsville 4-3. The Smokies’ offense couldn’t muster any runs until the last three innings. Matt Szczur is beginning to heat up as he was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Logan Watkins remained dependable, also driving in a run and going 2-for-4 with a double. Nelson Perez was also 2-for-4 with a double. Eric Jokisch had another quality effort, striking out six and allowing an earned run in five innings. Trey McNutt had his best outing in quite a while, as he was touched for an unearned run in two innings. But Kevin Rhoderick continues to scuffle. Rhoderick gave up two earned runs in the ninth to hand the ballgame to the Stars.
A classic pitcher’s duel was on tap Saturday, as Tennessee’s Dae-Eun Rhee came out on top in a 2-0 victory over Huntsville. Rhee flirted with trouble all evening. Rhee allowed six hits and struck out three while not walking a batter over six scoreless innings. Tony Zych picked up where Rhee left off. Zych struck out three over two perfect innings. Brian Schlitter brought it home. Schlitter completed the shutout and earned his fourth save.
While Matt Szczur was 2-for-3, Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) was the real hero as his single brought in pinch-runner Nick Struck with the go-ahead run in the sixth. Struck came in for Elliot Soto, who singled in place of Rhee. Matt Cerda (1-for-3) doubled and scored in the seventh on a Michael Brenly (1-for-3) single for the winning margin.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (44-76)
A Wednesday matinee saw the bullpen totally lose it as Iowa fell to Reno 5-1in ten innings. The game was actually close, as starter Ryan Rowland-Smith struck out four and allowed one earned run through six innings. Continuing his rehab stint, Blake Parker tossed a perfect inning in relief of Rowland-Smith. But Jay Jackson started the tenth and gave up four earned runs. Marcus Hatley recorded the last out in the tenth, but it was too little-too late. Rowland-Smith (1-for-2) scored the I-Cubs’ only run on a sacrifice fly by Greg Rohan.
An off day on Thursday did little to change the fortunes of the I-Cubs, as they lost 4-3 on Friday to Las Vegas. Chris Rusin gave what can be considered a pedestrian effort. Rusin allowed three earned runs and struck out two in 5.2 innings. Michael Bowden continues to test the concept of the AAAA player, as he provided 1.1 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.76. Inconsistency has characterized Jaye Chapman’s tenure with the club. Jaye Chapman gave up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Iowa is still searching for an identity on offense, as Greg Rohan (1-for-4) continues to show he is a clutch performer by driving in two runs. Tony Campana was 2-for-4 with a double, but after leading off the game with a single was thrown out trying to steal second base.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled RHP Lendy Castillo from the Tennessee Smokies; optioned LHP Scott Maine to the Iowa Cubs. The Tennessee Smokies placed RHP Jacob Brigham on the 7-Day disabled list; RHP Yoannis Negron was returned to the Tennessee Smokies from Olmecas de Tabasco; assigned IF Nate Samson to the Iowa Cubs. The Daytona Cubs assigned IF Elliot Soto to the Tennessee Smokies. The Peoria Chiefs placed IF Kenny Socorro on the 7-Day disabled list. The Boise Hawks placed OF Dong-Yub Kim on the 7-Day disabled list .The AZL Cubs assigned OF Jorge Soler to the Peoria Chiefs and assigned RHP Pierce Johnson to the Boise Hawks.
CCO’s Prospect Watch
- Javier Baez (IF) – . 091, double, four RBI, stolen base (Daytona Cubs)
- Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 287, 11 doubles, five home runs, 33 RBI, two stolen bases (Boise Hawks)
- Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .243, 23 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 31 RBI, 33 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
- Junior Lake (IF) – . 282, 19 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 36 RBI, 17 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 innings, five strikeouts, four walks, 1.50 WHIP (Arizona Cubs)
- Matt Szczur (OF) – .230, three doubles, three triples, home run, four RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .268, 19 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 44 RBI, 13 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 373, five doubles, eight home runs, 21 RBI (Boise Hawks)
- Robert Whitenack (RHP) – 1-5, 6.50 ERA, 44.1 innings, 28 strikeouts, 24 walks, 1.96 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
- Tony Zych (RHP) – 0-1, 5.87 ERA, 15.1 innings, 21 strikeouts, eight walks, 1.83 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
Note: Due to his promotion, Josh Vitters was removed from the CCO’s Prospect Watch
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