Welcome to The CCO’s Thursday addition of Down on the Farm. In today’s report, Kane County records their first wins of the season thanks to OF Bijan Rademacher. Jorge Soler and the Daytona Cubs flexed their muscles against Brevard County. Tennessee dropped a tight pair of games to Pensacola, despite the efforts of Jae-Hoon Ha and Matt Szczur. And Iowa continued to scuffle in Round Rock, as they remain winless for the season.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (2-4)
The players from the Boise Hawks 2012 Northwest League runner-up the are finding that things are not as easy in full season Low-A ball as they lost their second straight extra inning ballgame on Sunday to Quad Cities 3-1. Michael Heesch had his first professional start, and seemed to calm down a young squad by tossing 6.1 innings and allowing an earned run while striking out five batters. Felix Pena relieved the lefty and was throwing bullets. Pena kept the River Bandits off the board for 5.2 innings and also recorded five strikeouts. An exhausted bullpen then turned to Eddie Orozco, who gave up two earned runs in the top of the 13th inning and was hung with the loss. Once again, the Cougars’ offense revolved around Rock Shoulders, Oliver Zapata, and Willson Contreras. Shoulders went 2-for-3, while Zapata was 2-for-5. Contreras had a 1-for-3 day, with his single driving in Dan Vogelbach (1-for-6) for Kane County’s only run.
The Cougars made things interesting on Monday as they finally brought home their first win, beating Clinton 6-5 in ten innings. It looked like things would be going Kane County’s way as starter Lendy Castillo limited the Lumber Kings to an earned run in five innings while striking out four batters. Left-hander Brian Smith followed and allowed only one hit while recording a strikeout over two scoreless innings. Justin Amlung entered in the eighth inning and gave up a pair of earned runs in the eighth then allowed the Lumber Kings to tie it up in the ninth. However, Amlung was able to right the ship in the tenth and ended up with the win after holding Clinton scoreless.
The offensive star of the game was Bijan Rademacher. The right fielder started out his day in the fourth inning by nailing a runner at second to complete a 9-6 double play. He then came to the plate the bottom of the inning and delivered a two-run single. With the score tied 5-5 in the tenth inning, Rademacher calmly stepped up and stroked an RBI single to score Rock Shoulders (2-for-5). Chadd Krist (3-for-5 with two doubles) and Gioskar Amaya (3-for-5 with a triple and a stolen base) also contributed in the victory.
Give the fans their money’s worth must be the message given to Kane County players, as they waited until the ninth inning for the second day in a row before securing a 6-5 victory over Clinton on Tuesday. After spotting the Lumber Kings two runs in the first, the Cougars seemed to take control as singles by Rock Shoulders (2-for-3), Marco Hernandez (2-for-4, stolen base) and Willson Contreras loaded the bases to start the second. Bijan Rademacher (2-for-3) walked to bring in a run, while a sacrifice fly and an error brought in two more. Shoulders then led off the sixth with a solo home run. Rademacher was able to extend the score to 5-3 in the eighth as his double plated Hernandez. With the game tied at five in the ninth, a single by Jeimer Candelario 2-for-5) plated Gioskar Amaya (2-for-5) with the winning run.
Pierce Johnson had his second start of the season and after a shaky first, Johnson settled down. Johnson went five innings and struck out four while allowing two earned runs. Both Jeffry Antigua and Eddie Orozco were their own worst enemies, as their errors led to the three runs that tied the score. Antigua went three innings with one strikeout, while Orozco was credited with the win in his inning of work.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (3-2)
As the cliché goes “you can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them”. Try as they would on Sunday, Brevard County couldn’t contain Daytona as the D-Cubs won 9-0. What looked like a pitcher’s duel broke wide open in the sixth inning as Jorge Soler (2-for-4 with two RBI) crushed his second home run of the season. Micah Gibbs (1-for-4) also went yard and drove in two. Overshadowed by some of Daytona’s high-powered talent, John Andreoli remains the leading hitter as he went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI. Stephen Bruno (2-for-4) added another RBI.
P.J. Francescon became the second Daytona pitcher to flirt with a no-hitter this season. Francescon remained untouched until the fifth inning and ended up with nine strikeouts as part of hit shutout performance. He then yielded to Yeiper Castillo, who was seeing his first action in the Cubs’ system. Castillo struck out three batters in two innings. Luis Liria and Austin Reed each added a scoreless inning of relief.
It appears that Daytona will almost never be out of a game this season, as they came up just short on Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to Clearwater. After a poor season in 2012, Zach Cates was out to show that he was still a good pitching prospect and moved in that direction on Tuesday. Cates allowed three runs (one earned) while striking out seven in 3.2 innings. Rubber-armed Eduardo Figueroa came in and didn’t have his best stuff. Figueroa walked two and gave up two earned runs while striking out three in 2.2 innings. Lefty Sheldon McDonald held the Threshers scoreless the rest of the way and struck out a batter in 2.2 innings. The D-Cubs’ scoring began in the third as Zeke DeVoss (1-for-5) crushed a solo home run. Getting a start in centerfield, Tim Saunders walked in the fifth. After a Jorge Soler (2-for-4, RBI) single, Saunders came home on a double by Stephen Bruno (1-for-5, RBI). Soler was in the middle of things in the seventh as his single drove home Javier Baez (1-for-5), who tripled to start the inning. A Ben Carhart (1-for-3) walk in the eight would lead to the final run for Daytona as he scored on a Taylor Davis (1-for-4, RBI) triple.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (2-3)
Tennessee dug themselves a hole on Sunday after coming off a 12-inning marathon on Sunday. To the Smokies’ credit they almost climbed out of it but ended up losing 5-4 to Pensacola. Kyle Hendricks got his first Double-A start as a member of the Cubs’ organization and went five innings while striking out five and allowing five runs. Hendricks also had his first at bat since high school. Tony Zych came in to try and give the Smokies a chance, and held the Blue Wahoos scoreless for 1.2 innings while striking out a batter. After getting in a jam in the seventh inning, A.J. Morris replaced Zych and was able to hold back Pensacola for another 1.1 innings. Tennessee kept pecking away on offense, as Justin Bour went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Jae-Hoon Ha continued his torrid start at the plate, going 1-for-4 with and a RBI and a stolen base. Newcomer Jair Fernandez also chipped in, as he was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Monday was a get-away day for Tennessee, as they completed their only trip to Pensacola with a 2-1 loss. The Smokies got on the board quickly, as Matt Szczur (2-3, stolen base) and Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) singled to lead off the game, with Szczur coming home on a sacrifice fly by Justin Bour. But that was it for the Tennessee’s offense on a blustery day in western Florida. Rubi Silva was the only other Smokie to reach. Silva went 1-for-4 with a stolen base. Dae-Eun Rhee had his first start of the season and pitched well enough to win. Rhee allowed an earned run while striking out a batter in 4.1 innings. Brian Schlitter got Rhee out of a jam in the fifth inning, but wasn’t as lucky in the sixth. After a questionable error call on second baseman Elliot Soto, Schlitter gave up an RBI single for an unearned run. Zac Rosscup created his own trouble by serving up a leadoff double to start the seventh, but corrected by striking out the side. Trey McNutt also recorded a strikeout in a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (0-6)
The pitching woes continued for Iowa on Sunday as they were swept by Albuquerque 7-3. The Cubs 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Nick Struck got his first start, and gave up four earned runs while picking up a strikeout in five innings. Casey Coleman came in for Struck and allowed two earned runs in two innings with two strikeouts. Jensen Lewis finished the day for the I-Cubs and served up a solo home run. Ryan Sweeney continued his torrid hitting by going 2-for-3 while belting a solo home run. Brett Jackson (1-for-4) and Darnell McDonald (1-for-4, double) had the only other Iowa hits.
Iowa moved on to Round Rock on Monday, but still had trouble getting people out as they lost 13-5. A high profile acquisition in the off-season, Barret Loux was shelled for six earned in the first inning, including a grand slam by Express first baseman Chris McGuiness. Jaye Chapman replaced Loux in the second inning and gave up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. Cory Wade bailed Chapman out but ran into his own trouble in the seventh inning. Wade allowed a total of five earned runs in three innings. Blake Parker stopped the bleeding by shutting Round Rock down for the final 1.1 innings. Parker struck out a pair. Logan Watkins (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) hit his first Triple-A home run. Brett Jackson also went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Donnie Murphy went 2-for-4 with a double, while Brian Bogusevic was 2-for-3.
While pitching has been a problem so far for Iowa this season, on Monday the hitting also failed them as they lost 4-2 to Round Rock. Chris Rusin was back on the hill after a decent Opening Day start and was greeted warmly by former teammate Jim Adduci with a two run homer in the first inning. Rusin regrouped a bit but not before allowing a total of four earned runs in six innings with two strikeouts. The previously hard-hit Zach Putnam followed and this time delivered a scoreless inning that included a strikeout. Rafael Dolis cleaned things up in the eighth and held the Express without a run. There was not much offense, as Darnell McDonald (1-for-3) put the I-Cubs on the board with a solo home run. Brett Jackson went 2-for-4 with a triple, while Ty Wright was also 2-for-4.