Pitching was the hallmark of the start of this week in the minors as Ryan Williams dazzled in his first professional start for South Bend. Jen-Ho Tseng picked up where he left off last year, as the CCO Minor League Pitcher of the Year in his debut for Myrtle Beach. Meanwhile Tennessee and Iowa got outstanding efforts form minor league veterans Frank Batista and Yoanner Negrin.
So strap on the catcher’s gear, it’s time to catch today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (3-3)
South Bend moved on to Dayton on Monday night and an hour rain delay before they could get started. When play resumed, the SB Cubs seemed a little cold as they lost to the Dragons 6-1. Trevor Clifton could not find the plate as he walked four and allowed three earned runs in only 0.2 innings. Placed behind the eight-ball, Jordan Minch did the best that he could as he struck out two and gave up an unearned run in 3.1 innings. James Farris went the rest of the way, letting in two earned runs and striking out four in four innings.
South Bend grabbed the early lead in the top of the first as Chesny Young (2-for-4) had a one out single and Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) doubled with two outs to drive Young in.
In the rubber game of the series Tuesday, the SB Cubs saw their bullpen collapse and give Dayton the game in a 3-2 loss. Ryan Williams started and was electric through six innings, striking out seven and allowing an earned run. Ryan McNeil was forced to work hard for a scoreless innings as he gave up a hit and walked two, but also struck out two batters. Tommy Thorpe had a hard time in his two innings, rarely fooling anyone as he yielded both the game tying and game winning runs. Thorpe picked up a strikeout in 1.1 innings.
South Bend got on the board first in the second inning when Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-3 with a double) led off with a double and scored on a one out base hit from Gleyber Torres (2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base). The SB Cubs added to their lead in the third inning after Trey Martin (2-for-4 with a double and a triple) had a one out triple but was out at home on a fielder’s choice that allowed Chesny Young (0-for-4) to reach and take second on the play. A single from Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Young.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-3)
A rainout on Monday meant a doubleheader on Tuesday and Myrtle Beach took the opener 5-3 over Salem. Jen-Ho Tseng did not look like the delay affected him as he went five innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out five batters. Tayler Scott made his debut in a new role as a reliever. Scott labored a bit but was able to strike out three while giving up an earned run in two innings to pick up a save.
The Pelicans took advantage of some breaks in the second inning. Jacob Rogers (1-for-3) led off with a single. With one out, Victor Caratini (1-for-1) was hit by a pitch and Danny Lockhart (0-for-2) walked to load the bases. A double from Carlos Penalver (1-for-2 with a double and two RBI) brought in Rogers and Caratini. Chris Denorfia (0-for-1) reached on a fielding error that allowed Lockhart and Penalver to score.
Myrtle Beach added a run in the fourth after Caratini started the inning with walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Penalver drew a one out walk and Denorfia was hit by a pitch. A single by Mark Zagunis (1-for-2 with an RBI) drove in Caratini
Game two saw the mistakes on the Myrtle Beach side as they lost to Salem 3-1. Jonathan Martinez got his first start of the season and held the Red Sox to an earned run on two hits and walk while striking out four in five innings. Josh Conway had his struggles but held Salem in check as he worked out of a bases loaded situation. Conway struck out two batters in an inning of work. However, Gerardo Concepcion practically gave the game away. Concepcion walked two (one intentional) and gave up a hit that allowed two earned runs to score.
The Pelicans took the lead in the first after Jacob Hannemann (1-for-2) started the inning with a single and Mark Zagunis (2-for-3 with a double) doubled. Hannemann scored on a ground out. Myrtle Beach threatened again in the third when Hannemann walked and Zagunis singled, but Zagunis was thrown out at third on a sacrifice fly that would have let Hannemann score.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (3-2)
Tennessee started both the week and the season off right by taking the rubber game of their opening series with Mississippi on Monday 10-4. The Smokies came out of the gate in the first inning. Albert Almora (2-for-6 with a double and an RBI) cracked a one out double, while Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI) and Kyle Schwarber (1-for-4) drew two out walks. Bijan Rademacher (1-for-4 with an RBI) crossed up the defense by laying down a perfect bunt single to score Almora. Patience was the key for Tennessee in the third inning. Villanueva and Dan Vogelbach (2-for-3 with two doubles) walked with one out. A two out single by Elliot Soto (1-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Villanueva, while Ryan Dent (1-for-3) followed with another walk. Frank Batista (1-for-3 with an RBI) collected his first professional hit to drive in Vogelbach. A triple from Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with a triple and three RBI) cleared the bases, bringing home Soto, Dent, and Batista. A base hit by Almora allowed Chen to touch home. Villanueva added to the lead in the sixth inning with a solo home run, his first of the season. In the eighth, it was the power-hitting third baseman, Villanueva, again, this time with Vogelbach aboard for a two-run shot.
After being in the bullpen for the Smokies for the past three seasons, Frank Batista got a chance as a starter and showed he was capable. Following a rough first inning in which he gave up an earned run, Batista was outstanding as he finished with three strikeouts in six innings. Fernando Cruz had another rough outing. Cruz allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks in two innings. Andres Santiago pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Tennessee had an off day on Tuesday.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (3-2)
Moving on to New Orleans on Monday, Iowa was able to score late and pull out a 4-1 victory. The I-Cubs struck first in the second inning after Rafael Lopez (2-for-4 with a double) singled with two outs and scored on a double from Mike Baxter (2-for-2 with a double and an RBI). The game remained tied 1-1 until the sixth inning when Junior Lake (2-for-5 with a stolen base) singled, went to second on a ground out, stole third base and scored on a throwing error. Lopez doubled and Baxter and walked. Pitcher Gonzalez German (0-for-1) reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Adron Chambers (1-for-4 with an RBI) walked to drive in Lopez, and Baxter came home on a sacrifice fly.
Minor league veteran Yoanner Negrin got the start and flashed what makes him a serviceable pitcher, striking out five and giving up an unearned run in 4.2 innings. Gonzalez German struck out two in 1.1 innings, while James Russell was welcomed back into the organization with two strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Joe Ortiz tossed a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Iowa was postponed Tuesday due to rain.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Zac Rosscup from the Iowa Cubs; assigned LHP James Russell to the Iowa Cubs; assigned LHP Jeffry Antigua to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs.