The Cubs’ minor league system saw two of its teams trending the wrong way as Tennessee has lost seven straight despite a homer binge by Kris Bryant, while Daytona has lost five games in a row. Kane County split their four games to end the week as the Cougars received a combined shutout by Justin Amlung, Michael Wagner, and Tyler Bremer. And between the raindrops, Iowa was able to go 2-3 as home runs by Ryan Kalish, Arismendy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, and Brett Jackson provided the thunder.
So scroll down to see the rest of the story in today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report covers games from Thursday through Sunday. Thursday’s report covers games Monday through Wednesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (38–19)
Even good teams lay an egg every now and then as Kane County could not convert nine hits into any runs and were shut out 5-0 by Clinton on Thursday. Another good effort by Tyler Skulina ended up being wasted as he allowed two earned runs and struck out a batter in five innings. Michael Heesch may not be entirely ready after spending nearly two months in extended Spring Training. Heesch gave up two earned runs with two strikeouts in 1.1 innings. Jose Arias had four strikeouts but surrendered an earned run in 1.2 innings. Ben Carhart continues to be productive at the plate as he went 3-for-3, while Cael Brockmeyer was 3-for-4.
Kane County bounced back from a poor effort with one of their patented late inning rallies on Friday and defeated Clinton 4-1. Starter Daury Torrez was a little shaky and gave up an earned run in the first inning before he settled down and struck out three in five innings. James Pugliese pounded the zone as he struck out five batters in three innings. Tyler Bremer earned his fourth save with three strikeouts in the final inning.
The Cougars did not get their bats revved up until the sixth inning when Ben Carhart (1-for-4) was hit by a pitch to start things off. Will Remillard (1-for-4) singled one out later, and then Jacob Rogers (2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) stepped up and launched his fifth home run of the season. Kane County added a run in the seventh after Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5) led off with a single and scored after one out base hits by Carhart and Jordan Hankins (2-for-5 with an RBI).
A sputtering offense and a bullpen failing to hold a lead combined to give Kane County a 5-3 loss in Peoria on Saturday. Juan Carlos Paniagua had one of his best efforts of the season. Paniagua allowed two earned runs and struck out four in six innings. Corbin Hoffner was in charge of holding the lead but gave up three earned runs as he struck out a batter in two innings. The Cougars jumped out to an early lead after Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5 with a double and a stolen base) led off the game with a double and Danny Lockhart (2-for-5) singled. Ben Carhart (0-for-4) reached on an error that allowed Hannemann to score, and a single by Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4) loaded the bases. Two batters later, Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-3 with an RBI) was hit by a pitch to force in Lockhart. Kane County added a run in the second after Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI) hit his first home run of the season.
The Cougars had three pitchers combine for a shutout as they put some distance between themselves and Peoria in the standings after Kane County beat the Chiefs 2-0 on Sunday night. Justin Amlung continues to be a find as a starting pitcher as he went 5.2 scoreless innings and struck out eight batters. Michael Wagner has settled down since needing to return to extended Spring Training earlier as he had four strikeouts in keeping Peoria off the board for two innings. It was a little bit of an adventure for Tyler Bremer, but he was able to work around a walk and a hit in 1.1 innings to earn his fifth save.
Kane County first got on the board in the third inning after Trey Martin (1-for-4) led off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. A sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice plated Martin. The only other run came in the fifth as Ben Carhart (1-for-3 with a triple) tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (20-34)
There’s not too much to say about Thursday’s effort, except for that Daytona’s pitching absolutely fell apart as the D-Cubs lost 8-1 to Palm Beach. Starling Peralta pitched four scoreless inning, and then could only get one batter out in the fifth as he allowed two earned runs after striking out five in 4.1 innings. Tyler Ihrig was battered for three earned runs as he struck out three in 1.2 innings. Austin Reed was also hit hard as he surrendered three earned runs in two innings. Zack Godley was the only pitcher unscathed as he tossed a scoreless inning. Daytona’s only run scored in the fourth inning after Dan Vogelbach (0-for-3) walked to start the frame and Chadd Krist (2-for-4) singled. The runners were bunted over a base and a single by Zeke DeVoss (1-for-2 with an RBI) plated Vogelbach.
The misery continued for Daytona on Friday as they lost 7-2 to Palm Beach. Rob Zastryzny struggled once again as he allowed five earned runs and struck out five in 3.2 innings. Stephen Perakslis also continues to have a rough time as he gave up two earned runs with a strikeout in 2.1 innings. Fresh off the disabled list, Zach Cates tossed a scoreless inning. Also returning to the team was Michael Jensen, who had two strikeouts as he shut out the Cardinals for two innings. The D-Cubs scored their first run in the third inning after Marco Hernandez (2-for-4) singled and Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-3) drew a one out walk. A base hit by Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4 with an RBI) plated Hernandez. Dan Voglebach (1-for-3 with a double) led off the seventh with a double and scored on a single from Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with an RBI).
Daytona allowed a fragile lead escape them as they lost 4-3 to St. Lucie on Saturday. Felix Pena once again put together an excellent with nothing to show for it. Pena protected a 1-0 lead by going five scoreless innings and striking out a batter. Jose Rosario made his first appearance back from extended Spring Training and gave up four earned runs with a strikeout in an inning of work. Trevor Graham relieved and struck out three batters in two scoreless innings. The D-Cubs had the lead in the first inning after Zeke DeVoss (1-for-2 with a stolen base) walked and scored on a double from Albert Almora (2-for-4 with a double, a RBI, and a stolen base). That would be Daytona’s only run until the ninth inning when Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4) singled and Willson Contreras (1-for-4) reached on a fielding error. Gioskar Amaya (0-for-3) walked to load the bases Marco Hernandez (1-for-4 with two RBI). Hernandez drove in Vogelbach and Contreras.
It was a miserable end to a bad week for Daytona as they were shut out 6-0 by St. Lucie on Sunday. The D-Cubs offense was pitiful, scratching out only four hits as Rock Shoulders was 1-for-4, Gioskar Amaya went 1-for-2, while Dan Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario each went 1-for-3. The defense let down the pitching staff as Tayler Scott tossed 5.1 innings and gave up two runs (one earned) while striking out two batters. Zack Godley did not fare much better as he was touched for four runs (two earned) with a strikeout in 1.2 innings. Austin Reed was the only Daytona pitcher unscathed as he pitched a perfect inning.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (26-30)
Tennessee lost their fourth straight game on Thursday as the Smokies squandered a lead to Huntsville and lost 4-3. The Smokies took the lead in the fifth inning after John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a stolen base) led off with a walk and stole second. Wes Darvill (2-for-4 with a double) singled to put runners on the corners. Rafael Lopez (1-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Andreoli with a base hit. Darvill later scored on a fielding error. Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a home run) added to the lead in the seventh inning with his 16th home run of the season. Joe Gardner had a superb second outing as he struck out two and gave up only one hit in 6.1 scoreless innings. However, Lendy Castillo could not get out of the seventh inning as he allowed four runs (two earned) without recording an out. Jeffrey Lorick replaced Castillo and was able to hold the Stars scoreless for 1.2 innings with a strikeout.
Tennessee could not keep pace in a pitcher’s duel on Friday as they lost 5-1 to Huntsville. The game was scoreless until the fifth inning as the Stars would score four runs (three earned) off of Julio Rodriguez, who struck out a batter in 5.1 innings. Tony Zych struck out a batter as he pitched a perfect 1.2 innings. Austin Kirk allowed an earned run in his one inning of work. The only run for the Smokies came in the ninth as Kris Bryant (1-for-3 with a home run and a stolen base) homered for the third straight game.
The Smokies’ bullpen was not able to hold onto a tenuous lead as Tennessee lost 2-1 to Birmingham on Saturday. Joel Pineiro finally demonstrated some veteran poise as he had two strikeouts and gave up an earned run in seven innings. Hunter Cervenka was unable to get out of a jam in the ninth as he allowed an earned run in 1.1 innings and struck out two batters. Armando Rivero worked around a walk by getting the final two outs in the ninth on strikeouts. Tennessee took the lead in the fourth after Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a double) led off with a double and Charles Cutler (1-for-3) walked one out later. A double by Dustin Geiger (1-for-3 with a double, a RBI, and a stolen base) drove in Bryant.
It’s beginning to sound like a broken record as the Tennessee pitching staff failed to hold a lead yet again on Sunday and the Smokies lost 4-3 to Birmingham. The Smokies’ offense provided a lead in the first inning after Wes Darvill (1-for-5) reached with a one out single and Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) hit his sixth homer in the last eight games. Tennessee added a run in third inning but missed a chance for more after Jeudy Valdez (2-for-3with a stolen base) singled and stole second base. On a bunt attempt, John Andreoli (0-for-2 with a stolen base) reached on an error as Valdez moved to third. Andreoli then stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Valdez scored on a groundout by Bryant, but that would be all. Starter Corey Black was partially responsible for the collapse as he allowed three earned runs but struck out six in 5.2 innings. Jeffrey Lorick struck out two as he tossed 1.1 perfect innings. While an error led to an unearned run in the eighth, Tony Zych wasn’t really fooling anyone and was bailed out by catcher Rafael Lopez (1-for-4), who caught a runner stealing. Arodys Vizcaino worked around a walk in the ninth.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (29-25)
After having their doubleheader with Memphis delayed over four hours on Wednesday, game two was suspended and resumed in the sixth inning on Thursday afternoon and Iowa lost 2-1. Carlos Pimentel was given the start and struck out six while allowing an earned run in five innings. Marcus Hatley took over as the game was picked up the next day and gave up an earned run while striking out three in an inning of work. The I-Cubs tied the game in the third inning after Luis Flores (1-for-1) singled and came home on a triple by Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI).
On Thursday, the I-Cubs were no-hit for 8.2 innings until Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4) singled as they lost 4-0 to Memphis. Tsuyoshi Wada drew the unfortunate assignment as he went six innings and struck out eight while allowing four earned runs. Alberto Cabrera only gave up a walk and struck out two in two scoreless innings.
The I-Cubs had another doubleheader delayed for over four hours on Friday due to the weather that led to a postponement of game two. In game one, Iowa used some of its muscle to get past Memphis 6-4. Ryan Kalish (2-for-4 with a home run) led off the game with a solo home run on the second pitch of the night. In the third inning, Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI) tied the game at two with a solo blast of his own. Iowa then took the lead in the fourth after Logan Watkins (0-for-3) walked, moved to second on a single from Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with a double and a RBI), and scored on a sacrifice fly. The I-Cubs increased their lead in the fifth when Kalish singled but was wiped out on a force play that allowed Alcantara to reach. A base hit by Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a stolen base) put runners on the corners. Baez stole second to get into scoring position. A fielder’s choice brought in Alcantara and Baez scored on a double from Villanueva. Iowa put the exclamation point in the game in the seventh after Alcantara swatted his second solo home run of the game.
Kyle Hendricks did not have a typical showing as he allowed four earned runs while striking out three in five innings. Yoanner Negrin only gave up a hit in an inning of work, while Blake Parker earned his ninth save by striking out two in the bottom of the seventh.
An anemic offensive attack wasted a good pitching effort on Saturday as Iowa lost 2-1 to Nashville. Chris Rusin pitched well enough to win as he allowed two earned runs and struck out five in seven innings. Marcus Hatley recorded a strikeout in a perfect eighth inning. The I-Cubs tied the game in the seventh inning after Brett Jackson (2-for-3with a triple) tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Iowa brought out the big sticks on Sunday as they beat Nashville 5-2. After a scoreless first, Chris Valaika (1-for-2 with an RBI) led off the second with a single and one out later scored on a home run by Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI). In the seventh, Luis Flores drew a one out walk and pinch-hitter Brett Jackson (1-for-1 with a home run and two RBI) blasted a two-run homer. The I-Cubs put the icing on the cake in the eighth after Logan Watkins (1-for-1with a double) doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Eric Jokisch nudged his record over .500 as he struck out five and was nicked for an unearned run in six innings. Jeffry Antigua and Marcus Haley each threw a scoreless inning, but Frank Batista ran into some trouble in the ninth. Batista gave up an earned run on a walk and a base hit and was replaced after one out by Blake Parker. Parker struck out the final two batters for his tenth save.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned RHP Blake Parker to the Iowa Cubs
The Cubs assigned INF Elliot Soto to the Tennessee Smokies; assigned RHP Jose Rosario to the Daytona Cubs from the Boise Hawks; assigned C Lance Rymel to the Boise Hawks from the Daytona Cubs; assigned RHP Josh Davis and LHP Tyler Ihrig to extended Spring Training from the Daytona Cubs. The Tennessee Smokies placed INF Stephen Bruno on the 7-day disabled list. The Daytona Cubs activated RHP Zach Cates from the 7-day disabled list; activated RHP Michael Jensen and 1B Rock Shoulders from suspension.
Top Prospect Watch
Arismendy Alcantara (INF) – Iowa Cubs
Albert Almora (OF) – Daytona Cubs
Corey Black (RHP) – Tennessee Smokies
Paul Blackburn (RHP) – Kane County Cougars
Jacob Hannemann (OF) – Kane County Cougars
Kyle Hendricks (RHP) – Iowa Cubs
Tyler Skulina (RHP) – Daytona Cubs
Duane Underwood (RHP) – Kane County Cougars
Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Daytona Cubs
Rob Zastryzny (LHP) – Daytona Cubs