The most dominant thing in the news from the Cubs minor leagues at the beginning of the week wasn’t Kris Bryant, but he ran a close second to the rain. Bad weather cancelled and delayed games but didn’t slow down Bryant, who was 6-for-8 with two home runs and two RBI in three games. That did not seem to help Tennessee as they lost three straight while Daytona split a pair as they were rocked by a couple of suspensions. Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez homered in a Memorial Day romp for Iowa, while the machine that is Kane County rolled to three straight victories behind Ben Carhart and some great pitching.
So put on your poncho, pull up your umbrella and enjoy today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report will covers games from Thursday to Sunday. Thursday’s report covers games Monday through Wednesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (36-17)
The late inning magic that has served the Cougars so well this season was on display on Monday as they came from behind against Peoria to win 5-4 in walk-off fashion in 11 innings. Kane County took the early lead in the second after Jacob Rogers (2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) belted his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot. Finding themselves down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Ben Carhart (1-for-5), Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4), and Rogers had consecutive singles to score Carhart. After one out and ejection of manager Mark Johnson, Danny Lockhart (2-for-5) loaded the bases with a single and David Bote (2-for-5) was hit by a pitch to force in Balaguert with the tying run. The Chiefs took the lead 4-3 in the top of the 11th, but Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-5 with a double) led off the 11th with a double, moved to third on a groundout, and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Pinch-hitter Jordan Hankins (1-for-1 with a home run) then ended the game with a solo home run.
Justin Amlung received his third start of the season and allowed an earned run while striking out four in five innings. Just off the disabled list, lefty Michael Heesch was given a rude greeting as he gave up two earned runs and struck out two in 1.1innings. James Pugliese kept Peoria at bay as he had a strikeout in three scoreless innings. Jose Arias surrendered an earned run but had a strikeout in the last 1.2 innings to pick up the victory.
Kane County once again used a big inning late on Tuesday afternoon to defeat Peoria 5-4. The Cougars grabbed the early lead in the first after Jacob Hannemann (2-for-4 with a triple) started the game with a triple. Danny Lockhart (0-for-2) followed with a walk. Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with an RBI) lined a single to left that plated Hannemann. Behind 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Jacob Rogers (0-for-2) drew a one out walk and Jordan Hankins (1-for-3 with a double) doubled to put runners in scoring position. Rogers was picked off of third, but David Bote (0-for-2) walked and Shawon Dunston Jr. (1-for-3) had a base hit to load them for Trey Martin (2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI). Martin then launched his fourth career home run, a Grand Slam.
Duane Underwood continued his season-long success as he has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last five appearances. Underwood went six innings and gave up two earned runs while striking out two batters. Michael Wagner had his second straight good showing as he struck out two and allowed an earned run in 1.1 innings. Tyler Bremer took the Cougars the rest of the way and recorded three strikeouts while surrendering an earned run in 1.2 innings for his third save of the season.
The Cougars continued to steamroll their way to the playoffs on Wednesday by knocking off Clinton 7-1. Starter Paul Blackburn managed the game despite giving up ten hits in 4.2 innings. Blackburn allowed an earned run and struck out four batters. Zak Hermans took over and received his first victory after he struck out four in 3.1 perfect innings. Corbin Hoffner was able to work around a hit and a walk in the ninth.
Kane County put the pressure on in the first inning after Danny Lockhart (3-for-5 with a double) and Ben Carhart (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI) hit back-to-back one out doubles that scored Lockhart. One out later, a single by Jacob Rogers (2-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Carhart. The Cougars used back-to-back doubles to score again in the second with Shawon Dunston Jr. (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) and Trey Martin (3-for-4 with a double and an RBI) doing the honors. The fourth inning began with consecutive singles by Rogers, Will Remillard (1-for-5) and Jordan Hankins that plated Rogers. Remillard later scored on a ground out. Kane County used singles by Lockhart, Carhart, and Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-5 with an RBI) in the seventh inning to add another run. The Cougars added their final run in the eighth inning after Martin singled and scored on a fielding error
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (20-30)
Daytona began their week on Tuesday clinging to a one run lead before blowing things open and beating Palm Beach 8-4. Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4) and Bijan Rademacher (1-for-4) started the first inning with singles. Chen later scored on a groundout. With one out in the second, Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) reached on an error and scored on a double from the recently activated Lance Rymel (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI). However, the D-Cubs found themselves losing by a run in the fifth inning when Chen singled with two outs and Rademacher reached on an error. A base hit by Albert Almora (2-for-4 with three RBI) scored Chen and Rademacher and Almora scored on a triple from Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI). The Cardinals crept to within a run, but Almora and Vogelbach led off the eighth with singles. Almora ended up scoring on a fielder’s choice, with Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with an RBI) taking first. A double by Amaya drove in Vogelbach and Contreras.
Tayler Scott found a happy medium as he was neither dominant nor dominated as he had been in most of his starts. Scott allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out three in 5.2 innings. Zack Godley continues to have a rough go of it in the Florida State League as he was nicked for an unearned run in 0.2 innings. Andrew McKirahan was able to hold Palm Beach scoreless for 2.2 innings while striking out four and picking up his fourth save.
The D-Cubs had a “bullpen day” backfire on them as they lost 7-2 to Palm Beach on Wednesday. With a pitching staff hit by injuries and suspensions, manager Dave Keller asked reliever Nathan Dorris to start against the Cardinals and he received somewhat predictable results. Dorris blanked Palm Beach for two innings before allowing five earned runs and striking out two batters in 4.1 innings. Josh Davis made his first appearance since his promotion to the D-Cubs and struck out two while giving up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. Steve Perakslis tossed two scoreless innings with a strikeout. Daytona took the first lead in the game after Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3 with a double) started the second with a double and scored on a single by Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with two RBI). The scene would repeat itself in the seventh inning after Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double) doubled and scored on a base hit from Contreras.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (26-26)
The Smokies blew a three run lead on Monday and wound up losing 5-4 to Huntsville. Tennessee staked starter Joel Pineiro to three runs and he held that lead until the bottom of the fifth when he gave up two earned runs. By the time Pineiro exited after 6.1 innings and two strikeouts the game was tied at three. Jeffrey Lorick had probably his best outing of the season as he struck out two batters in 1.2 scoreless innings. But P.J. Francescon could not hold in the ninth as he surrendered two earned runs, and the ballgame, in 0.2 innings.
Kris Bryant (2-for-3 with a home run) continued to tear through Southern League pitching as his solo home run in the first inning gave the Smokies the early lead. Tennessee added to that in the second inning by putting runners at the corners on a single by Dustin Geiger (1-for-4) and Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) reaching on an error. Another error allowed Geiger to score and Wes Darvill (0-for-3) to reach first base. Ha scored on a sacrifice fly. Tennessee took the lead in the ninth after Geiger reached on an error, Ha singled, and Geiger scored on a base hit from pinch-hitter Rafael Lopez (1-for-1 with an RBI).
Tennessee could not convert 11 hits into more than one run as the Smokies lost 2-1 in 10 innings to Huntsville on Tuesday. It looked as if the Smokies only run would hold up. Kris Bryant (0-for-1 with four walks) walked with one out in the third and singles by Rafael Lopez (2-for-4) and Dustin Geiger (2-for5 with an RBI) plated Bryant. Corey Black had another impressive outing. Black struck out six in 5.1 scoreless innings. Two of the Smokies’ shakiest pitchers Tony Zych and Lendy Castillo, held the Stars without a base runner for 2.2 innings. But closer Armando Rivero gave up the tying run in the ninth on a solo home run. Austin Kirk could not find the plate in the tenth and gave up a single while walking three and handing Huntsville the win.
For the second straight night Tennessee went to extra innings with the same result as the Smokies lost 2-1 to Huntsville in 11 innings. The only run for the Smokies scored in the sixth after Kris Bryant (4-for-4 with a double, and a home run) tied the game at one with his 15th home run. Starter Dae-Eun Rhee deserved a better fate as he struck out eight and gave up an earned run in seven innings. Arodys Vizcaino struck out two in a perfect inning, while Hunter Cervenka had two strikeouts in two scoreless innings. P.J. Francescon allowed an earned run in 0.2 innings.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (27-22)
Iowa had a good, old fashioned romp on Monday as they beat Colorado Springs 12-3. Things started out well after Matt Szczur (2-for-5 with a double) and Arismendy Alcantara (4-for-4 with a double, a triple, two RBI, and a stolen base) singled to begin the game and Szczur scored on a double from Javier Baez (3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI, and a stolen base). Alcantara later scored on a sacrifice fly. It was Alcantara again in the third inning as he tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly. The I-Cubs then exploded in the fifth after Alcantara walked, Baez singled, and both moved up ninety feet on a double steal. A base hit by Chris Valaika (4-for-4 with two RBI) scored Alcantara, and one out later Casper Wells (0-for-4) walked to load the bases. Logan Watkins (1-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base) ripped a single that plated Baez and Valaika, and Watkins stole second to put runners in scoring position. Luis Flores (0-for-4) walked to reload the bases as starting pitcher Eric Jokisch (2-for-3 with a double and two RBI) singled in Wells and Watkins. Iowa put the game out of reach in the eighth after Jokisch led off with a walk and made it to third on a double by Szczur. Alcantara doubled in Jokisch and Szczur and a double from Baez plated Alcantara. Singles by Valaika and Christian Villanueva (1-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Alcantara.
Eric Jokisch did it all for Iowa as he tossed 8.1 innings and struck out four while allowing two runs (one earned). Jokisch exited on the ninth and Frank Batista came in and gave up a home run before recording the final two outs.
Tuesday’s game with Memphis was rained out, and game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader was delayed for over four hours because of the weather. All that inactivity was reflected on the scoreboard as Iowa lost 1-0. Dallas Beeler did what he could to help the team by going the distance. Beeler allowed an earned run and while striking out five in 6.1 innings. The I-Cubs only managed three hits … Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3), Brett Jackson (1-for-3) and Eli Whiteside (1-for-2).
Game two between the I-Cubs and Memphis Redbirds on Wednesday night was still in progress after midnight. A recap of the game will be posted in Monday’s report.
Venezuelan Summer League
The first of two Caribbean developmental leagues, the Venezuelan Summer League, began play on May 12. Last season, the VSL Cubs lost in the playoffs and had the league batting and RBI champion in INF Roney Alcala, as well as highly regarded prospect RHP Adbert Alzolay. This year’s squad appears to be heavy on the developmental side with an average age of 19.1 and only 10 out of 29 players on the team over the age of 20. Currently, the VSL Cubs have a record of 3-10, which is last in the five team league. The V-Cubs outfielder Luis Hidalgo is third in the league with a .575 slugging percentage and is seventh in the league in hitting (.350) and RBI (8) and is tied for second with two home runs. Switch-hitting shortstop Humberto Garcia is batting .326/.383/.442/.825 with four RBI and a league leading 10 stolen bases. Leading pitchers on the team are RHP Enrique De Los Rio, who is fifth in the league with a 1.11 WHIP and his 3.86 ERA is seventh, along with a 0-1 record and six strikeouts in 11.2 innings. Right-handed reliever Salvador Jerez is fifth in the league with a 3.09 ERA, and is 1-0 with five strikeouts in 11.2 innings. Close behind is RHP Harrinson Bermudez, who has pitched only 9.2 innings but has a 2.79 ERA and 1.241 WHIP.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned OF Ryan Kalish to the Iowa Cubs; recalled RHP Blake Parker from the Iowa Cubs.
The Iowa Cubs placed OF Josh Vitters on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to May 24. The Daytona Cubs suspended RHP Michael Jensen and 1B Rock Shoulders indefinitely for violation of team rules; placed RHP Yao-Lin Wang on the 7-day disabled list; activated C Lance Rymel from the 7-day disabled list.