Welcome back to baseball! The minor league season opened Thursday night and the Cubs’ system flexed its collective muscles. Last year’s Midwest League Champions got off to a great start as Duane Underwood dominated for Myrtle Beach. Iowa could not hold a lead, but Tennessee did as the Smokies pulled away behind Corey Black and C.J. Edwards. It was tense times in South Bend as Jeffrey Baez and Cael Brockmeyer played long ball in the SB Cubs walk off win.
With all the details, here is the first Down on the Farm Report for the 2015 Minor League season.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (1-0)
It was drama to cap off the excitement of Opening Night as South Bend won in walk-off fashion 2-1 over Bowling Green. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the first batter, Cael Brockmeyer (3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run) blasted a home run to left field.
The SB Cubs got on the board first in the second inning after Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4 with a home run) clubbed a solo home run.
Starter Jake Stinnett had some of his own struggles as he also allowed a solo home run and walked two, but had four strikeouts in five innings while hitting 99 mph on the radar gun. Ryan Williams had a calm first outing, making the Hot Rods beat the ball in the ground as he had a strikeout and gave up a hit in two scoreless innings. James Farris made the fans nervous or gave them some thrills depending on your point of view. Farris walked two batters but left them stranded with two strikeouts in the eighth. After allowing a one out double in the ninth, Farris induced a groundout and struck out the last batter.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (1-0)
The former Midwest League Champs were slow getting started but exploded in their Carolina League debut as Myrtle Beach pounded Wilmington 9-1. The game was dominated by starter Duane Underwood as he only allowed an unearned run while striking out five and walking two in five innings. Jonathan Martinez came out of the pen and delivered a shutout inning, while James Pugliese pounded the bottom of the strike zone for two innings, recording a strikeout. Starling Peralta struck out two as he wrapped up the game in the ninth.
The offense got in gear in the second after Jacob Rogers (3-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBI) led off with a double and scored on a Shawon Dunston Jr. (1-for-3with a triple and an RBI) two-out triple. Rogers untied the game in the fourth inning with a one out solo home run. The Pelicans blew the game open in the fifth inning after Danny Lockhart (2-for-4 with a triple) began things with a triple. An RBI single by Carlos Penalver (3-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base) brought in Lockhart, and Penalver stole second base. Jacob Hannemann (3-for-5 with a RBI) followed with a single and Mark Zagunis (0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) walked to load the bases. A base hit by Billy McKinney (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Penalver and Hannemann scored on a single from Rogers. A one out base hit by Victor Caratini (2-for-4 with two RBI) plated Zagunis and McKinney.
Consecutive singles from Lockhart, Penalver, and Hannemann loaded the bases for Myrtle Beach to start the sixth. With a double play bringing in Lockhart. The eighth inning started with Dunston getting hit by a pitch and moving to third on two groundouts. A single by Hannemann drove in Dunston.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (1-0)
Tennessee rode two big innings and some great pitching to walk away a 7-2 winner over Mississippi in their Southern League opener. Corey Black drew the starting assignment and kept himself in the ballgame as he allowed an earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out four in five innings. Black also picked off two base runners. C.J. Edwards made his debut in the bullpen. Edwards fanned two and gave up an earned run on two walks and two hits in 2.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka finished things off by striking out two and allowing only one hit in 1.2 scoreless innings.
The Smokies got things going in the third inning after Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) drew a one out walk and moved to third on a single from Albert Almora (1-for-4 with a walk). Kyle Schwarber (1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI) walked and Chen came home with the first run after Christian Villanueva (0-for-4 with an RBI) coaxed a bases loaded walk. A base hit by Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3 with an RBI) drove in Almora and Schwarber. Almora led off the eighth inning with a walk and touched home on a triple from Schwarber. A wild pitch brought in Schwarber and Stephen Bruno (1-for-4 with a triple) ripped a two out triple. Another wild pitch allowed Bruno to score. Tennessee added some insurance in the ninth after Elliot Soto (1-for-4 with a double) began things with a double and came around on a ground rule double from Chen.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (0-1)
Iowa pitching could not hold off the Memphis’ offense as the I-Cubs lost to the Redbirds 7-4. Donn Roach got the opening nod for Iowa and gave up four earned runs on ten hits and a walk in 5.1 innings with two strikeouts. Drake Britton relieved and was ineffective, allowing two earned runs on two hits as he struck out a batter in 1.1 innings. Armando Rivero served up a solo home run in his 0.1 innings. Gonzalez Germen mopped up with a strikeout in a scoreless eighth inning.
The I-Cubs scored all of their runs in the third inning after Mike Baxter (2-for-4) led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Roach. John Andreoli (1-for-4) delivered a base hit and Addison Russell (2-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Baxter with a two out single. A base knock by Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a RBI and a stolen base) brought Andreoli home. Bryant then stole second and a single from Junior Lake (1-for-4 with two RBI) plated Russell and Bryant.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs signed LHP James Russell to a minor league contract, assigned to the Iowa Cubs.