The Cubs got good performances this weekend from their front-runners as Double-A Tennessee is now a 20-game winner and Kyle Schwarber leads the Southern League in home runs.
Myrtle Beach sports the best record in the Carolina League with Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn, and Pin-Chieh Chen all contributing to a sweep.
South Bend and Iowa continue to hover around .500, with Ryan Williams still impressive and John Andreoli coming on strong.
And starting today, a new team joins the season as the Venezuelan League begins play.
So come inside today’s Down on the Farm Report to get a glimpse at the future …
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (18-19)
It was a tough one for South Bend on Friday as the SB Cubs lost a classic pitcher’s duel to Great Lakes 1-0. Trevor Clifton was the hard-luck loser, striking out seven and allowing just one earned run on four hits and three walks in six innings. Jordan Minch pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three batters.
The SB Cubs managed only four hits … Charcer Burks (2-for-4 with a double), Andrew Ely (1-for-4 with a double) and Jesse Hodges (1-for-4).
The South Bend Cubs took out their offensive frustrations from the previous night on Saturday, as they crushed Great Lakes 10-4. The game was not as close as the score would make it, as the SB Cubs jumped out to a 9-0 lead.
With two out in the first inning, Gioskar Amaya (1-for-5 with a home run) and Justin Marra (2-for-5 with a double and a home run) went back-to-back with solo home runs. Everything started with two out again in the second inning after singles by Jeffrey Baez (2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base), Rashad Crawford (2-for-4), and Charcer Burks (2-for-5 with a double, five RBI, and a stolen base) scored Baez. Burks stole second base, and a ground rule double from Gleyber Torres (1-for-5 with a double and two RBI) drove in Crawford and Burks. South Bend loaded the bases with one out in the third inning on base hits by Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-5), Andrew Ely (1-for-5), and David Bote (2-for-4 with a double). A force play allowed Baez to reach and Brockmeyer to score. A stolen base by Baez and a walk to Crawford reloaded the bases, as Burks cleared them with a double to plate Ely, Baez, and Crawford. Another run came in the fifth inning as Baez and Crawford singled and Baez scored on a force play.
While the SB Cubs offense was doing its thing, so was starter Ryan Williams, who continues to be a study in pinpoint control. Williams allowed three runs (all unearned) and struck out seven while issuing no walks in six innings. Francisco Carrillo was also nicked for an unearned run as he had three strikeouts in two innings. James Farris mopped up in the ninth, striking out two batters.
On Sunday, South Bend did not look prepared as they lost to Great Lakes 7-4. With scheduled starter Jake Stinnett going on the disabled list, manager Jimmy Gonzalez turned to Ryan McNeil to make his first start of the season. McNeil did not appear ready as he allowed three earned runs on five hits and a walk in one inning. Freshly called-up Brad Markey got his first Single-A experience and struck out two while only giving up a walk in four innings. Another new face, Daniel Lewis, was not as lucky as he surrendered three earned runs in his first 1.2 innings. Even the previously effective David Garner was not immune, yielding an earned run in 1.1 innings.
The SB Cubs tied the game at three in the fifth inning after Jesse Hodges (0-for-3 with a walk) walked, Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4) singled and Rashad Crawford (2-for-4) loaded the bases. A double by Gleyber Torres (3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI) drove in Hodges and Baez, and Crawford scored on the throw. In the seventh inning, South Bend got back-to-back doubles from Charcer Burks (1-for-4 with a double) and Torres to add another run.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (23-12)
Myrtle Beach was back in action on Friday, as they put some breathing room between themselves and second place Carolina with a 7-3 win. The game was not as close as the score indicates as Duane Underwood dominated and touched over 100 mph on the stadium radar. Underwood struck out three and scattered four hits over five scoreless innings. Another flame-thrower relieved and Juan Paniagua also dazed the Mudcats. Paniagua struck out a batter in two scoreless innings. Josh Conway was touched for an unearned run in an inning. Getting some work in, closer Jasvir Rakkar was ineffective in a non-save situation and allowed two earned runs on two hits.
Two big innings were all that was needed to put Carolina away. Ben Carhart (2-for-5) singled to start the second inning for the Pelicans. Following a one out base hit by Trey Martin (1-for-5), newly arrived Pin-Chieh Chen (3-for-3 with a triple and two RBI) tripled in Carhart and Martin. A two out single by Mark Zagunis (3-for-5 with two RBI) scored Chen. The score remained 3-0 until the sixth inning, when Carhart started things off again with a base hit. Victor Caratini (1-for-4 with a double) doubled, and Chen was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
A double by Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) brought in Carhart and Caratini. Chen scored on a single from Zagunis.
It took 12 innings on Saturday, but Myrtle Beach put more distance between them and Carolina with a 3-2 win. Once again, the Pelicans received some excellent pitching. Starter Paul Blackburn had one of his best outings of the season. Blackburn allowed an earned run on four hits and two walks while striking out a batter in five innings. Tayler Scott continued his incredible run in the bullpen. Scott struck out three in three scoreless innings. Myrtle Beach then saw what has been the career story for Zach Cates, who has consistently failed to come through in pressure situations. Cates allowed the Mudcats to tie the score in the ninth on an earned run, but struck out two in the tenth inning. James Pugliese bailed out the Pelicans, holding Carolina scoreless for two innings for his third victory.
The Pelicans tried to make two runs in the fourth inning hold up. Jeimer Candelario (3-for-6 with a double and an RBI) led off with a single and Ben Carhart (2-for-5 with a double) followed with a double. A sacrifice fly plated Candelario, and a two out single by Carlos Penalver (1-for-5 with an RBI) scored Carhart. Mark Zagunis (2-for-6 with a triple) tripled to start the top of the 12th and he came home on a one out double from Candelario.
Myrtle Beach built a three run lead on Sunday but had to sweat out a 6-5 victory over Carolina to sweep their series. The Pelicans got another trying effort from Tyler Skulina, who allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four in four innings. Coming in on his regular day in the rotation, Daury Torrez had two strikeouts and held the Mudcats scoreless for two innings. Michael Heesch had three strikeouts but caused some concern as he gave up two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Jasvir Rakkar extinguished any threat as he struck out three in the final 1.1 innings for his fifth save.
The Birds were aggressive from the onset after Mark Zagunis (1-for-4) singled and Chesny Young (2-for-4) walked to start the game. One out walks to Jacob Rogers (0-for-4 with a walk) and Victor Caratini (0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI) brought in Zagunis, and a sacrifice fly scored Young. Myrtle Beach regained the lead in the seventh inning after Zagunis walked with one out, moved to second on a balk, and scored after singles by Young and Jeimer Candelario (2-for-5 with an RBI). Young scored on a throwing error by the Carolina catcher. The Pelicans tacked on to their lead in the eighth after Kevin Brown (1-for-3 with an RBI) had a one out single and scored on the first home run in a Myrtle Beach uniform for Pin-Chieh Chen (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI).
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (21-16)
Tennessee flexed some of their offensive muscle on Friday in defeating Montgomery 9-4. Felix Pena remained consistent, striking out eight and allowing four earned runs on eight hits and a walk in seven innings. Unconventional closer P.J. Francescon picked up his fifth save as he struck out a batter in two scoreless innings.
The Smokies had rehabbing major-leaguer Tommy La Stella batting lead-off. La Stella went 0-for-4 in his first action against live pitching. The scoring began modestly enough for Tennessee after Billy McKinney (1-for-5 with a double and an RBI) reached on an error and Elliot Soto (2-for-4) singled to start the second inning. McKinney later scored on a ground out.
With the game tied at one in the fifth, Kyle Schwarber (3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and three RBI) walked with two outs and came in on a double from Dan Vogelbach (2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI). The Smokies responded to two runs in the top of the seventh with three of their own after Albert Almora Jr. (2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and an RBI) walked with one out and was aboard when Schwarber slammed his seventh home run of the season. Vogelbach followed with a walk and scored on a double from McKinney. In the eighth, Jacob Hannemann (3-for-4 with a stolen base) led off with a single and stole second base. A wild pitch brought in Hannemann. Pinch-hitter Ryan Dent walked. A double from Almora drove in Dent, and a single by Schwarber plated Almora. The final run scored on a double from Vogelbach to score Schwarber.
While it wasn’t quite the offensive output of the previous night, Tennessee once again jumped out ahead and coasted to a 6-3 win over Jackson on Saturday. Dan Vogelbach (0-for-1 with three walks) walked to open the second inning. Singles by Willson Contreras (1-for-4) and Elliot Soto (1-for-3) loaded the bases. A one out double from Ryan Dent (1-for-3 with a double and three RBI) cleared the base paths and scored Vogelbach, Contreras, and Soto. Tommy La Stella (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI) had a two out double to drive in Dent. La Stella led off the fifth inning with a single and scored on an Albert Almora (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) two-run homer, his first longball of the season.
Jeffry Antigua continued to provide quality innings as he struck out two and allowed an earned run on six hits and four walks in 6.1 innings. Gerardo Concepcion was not as lucky. Concepcion gave up two earned runs and struck out two in an inning of work. Starling Peralta retired the only two batters he faced. Carl Edwards Jr. worked around a walk to strike out the side in the ninth for his second save.
It was a Sunday doubleheader for Tennessee and Jackson as the Smokies throttled the Generals 5-0 in game one. Frank Batista remains impressive as a starter as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Batista allowed three hits and struck out four as he went the distance, seven innings.
Tommy La Stella (0-for-1 with a walk) led off the game for Tennessee with a walk and Albert Almora (2-for-3 with a stolen base) had a base hit. A force play wiped out Almora and allowed Kyle Schwarber (2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI) to reach. A double by Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) drove in La Stella, and a sacrifice fly scored Schwarber. In the third inning, Schwarber did it all by himself as he banged a solo home run. After Almora walk, Schwarber cranked his second homer of the contest to put the Smokies up 5-0.
It was a pitching gem in game two and Tennessee came out on the short end, losing 1-0 to Jackson in eight innings. Andres Santiago was tapped for the spot start and struck out four in five scoreless innings. Stephen Perakslis chipped in a shutout frame with a strikeout. Michael Jensen pitched two innings but was hung with an unearned run when a passed ball put a runner in scoring position. The Smokies recorded only four hits … Billy McKinney (2-for-2 with a double), Anthony Giansanti (1-for-3) and Ryan Dent (1-for-3).
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (18-19)
The Iowa offense showed what it is capable of on Friday night as they outlasted Nashville 6-5 to nudge their record to 18-17. John Andreoli (2-for-3 with a home run, an RBI, and two stolen bases) got the game off to a good start when he cracked a leadoff home run. Andreoli singled to begin the third inning and after a one out single by Javier Baez (3-for-4 with two RBI and two stolen bases), scored on a sacrifice fly. The I-Cubs roared back in the sixth inning after the Sounds took a 3-2 lead. Mike Baxter singled and stole second base. Rubi Silva (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) jacked his first Triple-A home run. Andreoli and Arismendy Alcantara (0-for-4 with a walk) restarted things with walks with both scoring on a single by Baez.
Eric Jokisch was effective in six innings. Jokisch allowed three runs (one earned) on three walks and five hits while striking out three batters. Blake Cooper struck out the side in the seventh, but ran into trouble in the eighth inning as he left with four strikeouts and an earned run in 1.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka pitched to only one batter and gave up a base hit. Gonzalez Germen gave up an earned run in 1.2 innings, but still earned the save.
After being pushed around by Oklahoma City two weeks ago, Iowa at least established they are more on an even field with them in a 1-0 loss on Saturday. Carlos Pimentel had his third straight high quality start. Pimentel scattered five hits and struck out four in five scoreless innings. Joe Ortiz stepped out of his comfort zone to deliver three scoreless innings with a strikeout. Drake Britton was charged with an unearned run in 0.2 innings as a Javier Baez (1-for-3 with a double) error led to the winning run.
The I-Cubs were only able to eke out four hits … Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3), Taylor Teagarden (1-for-3) and Mike Baxter (1-for-3).
It was a demoralizing Sunday for Iowa as they lost to Oklahoma City 7-5. Starter Dallas Beeler still does not look ready to pitch as he was hammered for five earned runs in the first inning. Beeler went on to strike out five in four innings, but the damage had already been done. Another floundering pitcher, Armando Rivero, was no help a he gave up two runs (one earned) and struck out a batter in 1.2 innings. Hunter Cervenka and Blake Cooper shut down the Dodgers the rest of the way.
The I-Cubs got themselves back min to the game in the fifth inning after Jonathan Mota (1-for-5 with an RBI) led off with a home run. Taylor Davis (3-for-3 with three doubles and an RBI) doubled and scored on a single from Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4 with a stolen base). Matt Szczur (1-for-3 with a double and a stolen base) walked and stole second. Alcantara scored on a sacrifice fly. A base hit by Mike Baxter (1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base) drove in Szczur. Rubi Silva (2-for-4) started the sixth inning with a single and scored on a double from Davis.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent INF Tommy La Stella to the Tennessee Smokies on a rehab assignment; optioned OF Matt Szczur to the Iowa Cubs; assigned LHP Tyler Ihrig to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs; assigned C Erick Castillo to the Tennessee Smokies from the Eugene Emeralds; assigned RHP Daniel Lewis and RHP Brad Markey to the South Bend Cubs from the Eugene Emeralds.
The Iowa Cubs placed OF Adron Chambers on the bereavement list. The Tennessee Smokies placed RHP Corey Black and INF Stephen Bruno on the 7-day disabled list. The South Bend Cubs placed RHP James Norwood and RHP Jake Stinnett on the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
Note: RHP Corey Black replaces RHP Jake Stinnett on the Top Prospect Watch.
- Albert Almora Jr. (OF) – .292/.333/.377/.711, four doubles, a triple, a home run, 11 RBI, two stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Corey Black (RHP) – 1-2, 36.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 15 ER, 41 K, 1.227 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 1-2, 27.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 8 ER, 31 K, 1.012 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (RHP) – 2-2, two saves, 17.2 IP, 3.57 ERA, 7 ER, 27 K, 1.302 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Billy McKinney (OF) – .357/.400/.643/1.043, four doubles, two RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Kyle Schwarber (C) – .333/.448/.657/1.105, six doubles, a triple, nine home runs, 23 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Gleyber Torres (IF) – .338/.423/.431/.854, eight doubles, two triples, 23 RBI, eight stolen bases (South Bend Cubs)
- Jen-Ho Tseng (RHP) – 1-1, 21 IP, 5.14 ERA, 12 ER, 11 K, 1.381 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Duane Underwood Jr. (RHP) – 4-0, 33 IP, 1.09 ERA, 4 ER, 25 K, 0.909 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .344/.464/.549/1.013, 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs, 22 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)