Playoff bound! That’s the storyline for the Kane County Cougars who clinched a first half title. Jordan Hankins went 5-for-5 in a game, while Juan Carlos Paniagua struck out nine in another. The Daytona Cubs’ five-game winning streak was snapped but Dan Vogelbach is on a tear and hitting .371/.488/.600 over his last 10 games. It was all or nothing for Tennessee as Eduardo Figueroa and Dae-Eun Rhee were the principals in two shut outs. Meanwhile in Iowa, the offense struggled but ended the week on a positive note thanks to Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara.
It’s a new part of the season in the minors, as the draft is over and the Boise Hawks begin play at the end of the week. So pull up a chair and enjoy the last four-team Down on the Farm report for the 2014 season.
Editor’s Note: Monday’s report covers games Thursday through Sunday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (42–21)
The never say die attitude of Kane County was on display Thursday as the Cougars defeated Clinton 7-3 … and reduced their magic number to two. The Cougars received outstanding pitching as starter Tyler Skulina allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out five in six innings. Michael Wagner continues to shine as he had a strikeout in three scoreless innings for his first save.
The offense was playing catch-up even in the first inning. Jacob Hannemann (2-for-4 with a double, RBI, and a stolen base) led off the game with a double and scored two outs later on a double from Jordan Hankins (2-for-4). Kane County tied the score again in the fifth after Hannemann ignited the rally again with a one out single. Hannemann stole second with two outs and Ben Carhart (1-for-3) drew a walk. A single by Hankins drove in Hannemann and Carhart scored on a passed ball. The Cougars took the lead in the sixth after Jacob Rogers (1-for-2 with a double) walked and scored on a series of errors that allowed Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-3) to reach. Kane County broke the game open in the eighth after Rogers doubled but was thrown out at home on a single by Brockmeyer. A base hit by Trey Martin (1-for-1) moved Brockmeyer to third. Martin stole second and a single by Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with an RBI) plated Brockmeyer and Martin. Penalver ended up at third after a throwing error and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Kane County Cougars became the Midwest League’s Western Division First Half Champions on Friday with a 12 -5 victory over Clinton. It looked as though the celebration would need to wait another day after the Lumber Kings jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the third, but the Cougars would not be denied. Trey Martin (1-for-3 with three RBI) reached on a fielding error and advanced to second on a throwing error. Martin stole third base and scored on a single from Danny Lockhart (2-for-3 with an RBI). Kane County took the lead in the fourth after Jordan Hankins (5-for-5 with a double and two RBI) began things with a double and scored as Yasiel Balaguert (0-for-5) reached on a throwing error. One out later, Carlos Penalver (3-for-5 with a stolen base) singled and stole second base, with Balaguert moving to third. Shawon Dunston Jr (2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and three stolen bases) doubled in both runners. Dunston stole third and scored on a groundout. The Cougars broke the game open in the sixth after Penalver and Dunston started off the inning with singles. Penalver scored on a sacrifice fly and Dunston stole second and third. Jacob Hannemann (0-for-4 with an RBI) walked and Dunston scored on a wild pitch. Lockhart walked and Hannemann scored on a single by Hankins. Kane County poured it on in the seventh when Jacob Rogers (0-for-5) reached on a fielding error and scored on a single by Penalver, who took second on a throwing error. A wild pitch moved Penalver to third and Dunston walked. Martin delivered an RBI single to score Penalver and Dunston scored on a groundout. Singles by Lockhart and Hankins plated Martin.
Daury Torrez had a rough go of it as he allowed four earned runs and struck out five in five innings. Jose Arias was supposed to relieve, but he did not make it through warm-ups. Zak Hermans was hastily summoned and served up a home run to the first batter he faced. Hermans settled down quickly and went three innings. Michael Heesch went the rest of the way with a strikeout.
The Cougars did not have a let-down Saturday after clinching the title the night before and beat Cedar Rapids 5-2. Juan Carlos Paniagua was simply overpowering. Paniagua struck out nine in six scoreless innings. Bouncing right-hander Josh Davis was charged with two runs (one earned) to go along with two strikeouts in two innings. Closer Tyler Bremer notched his sixth save as he struck out a batter in the ninth.
Kane County broke open a scoreless tie in the fourth after Ben Carhart (2-for-4 with a home run) led off the inning with a solo home run. Jordan Hankins (1-for-3) followed with a single and Yasiel Balaguert (0-for-2) was hit by a pitch. One out later, Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-3 with two RBI) walked to load the bases. Hankins scored on a sacrifice fly. The Cougars started a rally in the fifth after Danny Lockhart (1-for-3) drew a one out walk and Carhart had a base hit. After a wild pitch and a walk to Balaguert, Jacob Rogers (1-for-2 with an RBI) drew a free pass that forced in Lockhart. A single by Brockmeyer plated Carhart and Balaguert.
Kane County ended an exciting weekend on a down note by losing 3-2 to Cedar Rapids on Sunday. Paul Blackburn certainly pitched well enough to win as he allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out four in five innings. Young lefty Alberto Diaz made his first appearance and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings. Corbin Hoffner picked up a strikeout in the final 1.1 innings. The Cougars took the lead in the bottom of the first after Danny Lockhart (1-for-2) drew a one out walk. Ben Carhart (3-for-4) singled and a double by Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) plated Lockhart. Carhart scored on a sacrifice fly, but Balaguert was thrown out at home.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (25-36)
Things looked bad for Daytona on Thursday until they faced a down-on-his-luck former major leaguer and came away with a 5-4 victory over Jupiter. The D-Cubs were losing 3-0 when former Cubs closer Kevin Gregg entered the game in the seventh inning. Jeimer Candelario (2-for-3 with a home run) greeted Gregg with a solo home run. Rock Shoulders (0-for-4) made it all the way to second on a fielding error and a single by Marco Hernandez (2-for-4) scored Shoulders, with Hernandez advancing to second on an error. A double from Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with a double and an RBI) drove in Hernandez and tied the score. Chen would score two outs later on a double by Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base) that gave Daytona the lead. Tied at four in the bottom of the ninth, Albert Almora (2-for-5), Vogelbach, and Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a stolen base) singled to load the bases and Almora scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
Once again, Felix Pena had an outstanding effort but had little to show for it. Pena struck out seven in four scoreless innings. Austin Reed was hammered for three earned runs as he struck out a batter in 1.1 innings. Zack Godley had his best effort in a D-Cubs uniform as he was touched for an unearned run with three strikeouts in 3.2 innings to earn the victory.
Hopes for Daytona looked sunk on Friday, but a seven-run seventh inning gave them a 10-7 victory over Jupiter. The D-Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after Albert Almora (1-for-4) singled with one out and Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3 with a triple) walked. Dan Vogelbach (2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI) then crushed a three-run home run. As Daytona looked at a 7-3 deficit in the seventh inning, Zeke DeVoss (0-for-3), Almora and Rademacher walked to load the bases. A single by Vogelbach scored DeVoss, while a double from Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI) plated Almora and Rademacher. Wes Darvill (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Vogelbach, and a double by Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) scored Contreras. Darvill scored on a wild pitch and Candelario scored on a sacrifice fly.
Tayler Scott started and didn’t pitch badly. Scott allowed three earned runs and struck out six in 5.2 innings. Stephen Perakslis was hammered for four earned runs in an inning and he was replaced by Michael Jensen. Jensen picked up two strikeouts in two scoreless innings to move his record to 3-2.
After winning five straight, Daytona had a real stinker on Saturday as they were shut out 8-0 by Jupiter. The D-Cubs managed only three hits as Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3), Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4) and Chadd Krist (1-for-4 with a double). Nathan Dorris, still being stretched out as a starter, was okay as he allowed two earned runs and struck out three in 4.2 innings. Starling Peralta was rocked for four earned runs in 2.1 innings. Seeing his first action in a meaningful game in 2014, Jasvir Rakkar gave up two earned runs in an inning of work. Austin Kirk mopped up with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth.
Daytona made a valiant comeback attempt on Sunday but the hole was too deep as they lost to Clearwater 8-7. Justin Amlung made his first start as a D-Cub and struck out five in five innings while allowing three earned runs. Jose Rosario was pummeled as he gave up five earned runs while striking out two in 1.2 innings. Andrew McKirahan had a strikeout as he recorded the final four outs. All of Daytona’s runs came in the eighth inning, which started innocently with a walk to Gioskar Amaya (1-for-3 with two RBI). Rock Shoulders (1-for-3 with a double) doubled. Shoulder and Amaya scored on a single by Marco Hernandez (2-for-4). A double from Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with a double) put runners in scoring position. Hernandez and Chen scored on a base hit by Albert Almora (2-for-5). Bijan Rademacher (0-for-4) walked, and Almora scored on a one out double by Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI). One batter later, Amaya singled in Rademacher and Contreras.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (30-35)
There is not much to say about Tennessee’s 6-0 loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. The Smokies only managed four hits … Jonathan Mota (2-for-4 with two doubles), Kris Bryant (1-for-4) and Elliot Soto (1-for-3 with a double). Starting pitcher Julio Rodriguez walked six and was rocked for five earned runs in four innings while striking out three batters. Tony Zych also wasn’t fooling anyone as he gave up an earned run in two innings. Lendy Castillo blanked the Suns for two innings with three strikeouts.
It was all hands on deck for the Tennessee pitching staff on Friday as the Smokies combined on a 4-0 shutout of Jacksonville. Eduardo Figueroa was recently assigned to the Smokies and tossed 3.1 scoreless innings to start the game. P.J. Francescon had three strikeouts as he pitched 2.2 innings. Zach Cates and Hunter Cervenka each came in for an inning, while Armando Rivero struck out the side in the ninth.
Starting pitcher Eduardo Figueroa (1-for-3) decided to take matters into his own hands in the third inning and blasted a solo home run. Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a double) began the sixth with a one out double, and out later Anthony Giansanti (1-for-3 with a double) drew a walk. Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-4) then loaded the bases on a ball the Suns’ pitcher could not field cleanly. Bryant and Giansanti scored on a single by Jeudy Valdez (1-for-4 with two RBI). In the eighth, Valdez reached on a fielding error and made it all the way to second. Valdez scored on a base hit from pinch-hitter Rubi Silva (1-for-1 with an RBI).
An injury ravaged rotation got some good news on Saturday as Tennessee pitched their second straight shut-out and defeated Jacksonville 5-0. Dae-Eun Rhee, the only pitcher left standing from the season opening rotation, was in total control as he scattered five hits, walked two, and struck out a batter in seven innings. Besieged lefty Jeffrey Lorick had his best outing of the season with a perfect inning of work. Arodys Vizcaino put the exclamation point on the win for the pitching staff with a strikeout in the ninth.
The Smokies broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning after Kris Bryant (3-for-3 with a double and a home run) reached with a one out single and stole second base. Charles Cutler (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) drove in Bryant with his second home run of the season. John Andreoli (1-for-4) led off the sixth with a base hit and advanced to second on a throwing error. Two groundouts allowed Andreoli around to score. Leading the Southern League in all Triple Crown categories, Bryant began the ninth with a solo home run, his 20th of the season. Cutler and Jonathan Mota (1-for-4) followed with singles and after a one out walk to Dustin Geiger (0-for-3), Cutler scored on a sacrifice fly.
Tennessee was able to tie Sunday’s game in the top of the ninth but came up short as the Smokies lost 6-5 to Jacksonville. The Smokies had an early lead after Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI) reached with a two-out double and scored on a single by Jonathan Mota (1-for-4 with an RBI). Down 5-1 in the sixth, Tennessee fought back after Elliot Soto (1-for-4) had a base hit and scored on Bryant’s minor league leading 21st home run. In the ninth, Dustin Geiger (1-for-4 with a home run) started the rally with a solo home run. Pinch-hitter Rubi Silva (1-for-1 with a triple) tripled and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Starter Matt Loosen had a rough go of it as he was touched for five runs (four earned) and struck out three batters. Lendy Castillo spearheaded the bullpen’s effort to keep the game close by shutting down the Suns for two innings and recording a strikeout. Zach Cates and Tony Zych each tossed a scoreless inning, but a walk by Armando Rivero and a throwing error allowed the winning run to score.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (32-28)
It was almost over before things got started on Thursday, as Iowa lost 6-2 to Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox tagged starter Kyle Hendricks for five earned runs in the first two innings. Hendricks went six innings and strike out five batters. Marcos Mateo and Yoanner Negrin each tossed a scoreless inning, but Jeffry Antigua gave up an earned run in the ninth. The I-Cubs did not get on the board until the sixth inning when Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with a home run) launched a solo home run. In the seventh, Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a double) doubled with two outs and Brett Jackson (0-for-3) was hit by a pitch. A single from Rafael Lopez (1-for-3) loaded the bases and pinch-hitter Logan Watkins drew a walk to plate Villanueva.
It was a rare pitcher’s duel with Colorado Springs on Friday with Iowa coming out on top 2-1. Chris Rusin was his most dominant since his no-hitter. Rusin struck out two and allowed an earned run in eight innings. Blake Parker took over in the ninth and struck out in route to his 12th save. The runs for the I-Cubs came in the third inning after Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) led off with a single and scored on a Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI) home run, his eighth of the season.
The Iowa offense seems to be stuck in neutral recently and they lost 5-1 to Colorado Springs on Saturday night. The I-Cubs had their first on only lead of the night in the third inning after Ryan Kalish (0-for-3) drew a one out walk and scored on single by Javier Baez (1-for-3 with an RBI). Eric Jokisch was the unfortunate starter as he went seven innings and allowed three earned runs while striking out six batters. Zac Rosscup had two strikeouts in a scoreless inning, while Marcus Hatley was touched up for two runs (one earned) in the ninth.
On Sunday, Iowa received great pitching and just enough offense to beat Colorado Springs 3-0. Starter Dallas Beeler had his swing-and-miss stuff going as he fanned five in seven innings. In another rehab appearance, Zac Rosscup picked up a strikeout in an inning of work. Blake Parker struck out two as he notched his league leading 13th save.
The I-Cubs first scored in the fourth inning after Javier Baez (2-for-4 with an RBI) led off with a single and stole second base. A base hit by Chris Valaika (2-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Baez. Iowa got some breathing room in the seventh after Rafael Lopez (2-for-3) singled and two outs later scored on a triple by Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI). A base hit from Baez allowed Alcantara to cross the plate.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs released RHP Joel Pineiro; assigned RHP Eduardo Figueroa to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs; assigned RHP Zach Cates to the Tennessee Smokies from the Daytona Cubs; assigned C Lance Rymel to the Tennessee Smokies from the Boise Hawks; assigned RHP Jasvir Rakkar to the Daytona Cubs from the Boise Hawks; assigned RHP Justin Amlung to the Daytona Cubs from the Kane County Cougars; assigned RHP Josh Davis, LHP Alberto Diaz, and C Antonio Valerio to the Kane County Cougars from Extended Spring Training.
The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Marcos Mateo and OF Josh Vitters from the 7-day disabled list. The Daytona Cubs placed RHP Austin Reed on the 7-day disabled list. The Kane County Cougars placed RHP Jose Arias and RHP Duane Underwood, along with C Will Remillard on the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
- Note: Catcher Willson Contreras replaces RHP Corey Black, who is on the disabled list, on the prospect watch.
Arismendy Alcantara (INF) – Iowa Cubs
Albert Almora (OF) – Daytona Cubs
Paul Blackburn (RHP) – Kane County Cougars
Willson Contreras (C) – Daytona Cubs
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