Happy Memorial Day!
The aces were wild in South Bend, Myrtle Beach, and Tennessee as pitchers Ryan Williams, Duane Underwood, and Frank Batista each pitched gems while the SB Cubs and the Pelicans also received excellent performances from Jeremy Null and Paul Blackburn.
Including scores for the Venezuelan Summer League, the Down on the Farm Report looks at how things shape up at the first milepost of the 2015 season.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (20-24)
South Bend snapped a five game losing streak with their ace on the hill as they defeated Bowling Green 3-2 on Friday. Ryan Williams dominated for eight innings, giving up only two hits while striking out three batters. Brad Markey came on in the ninth and was immediately in trouble. Markey allowed two earned runs on four hits in 0.2 innings. James Farris recorded the final out for his fifth save.
The SB Cubs broke a scoreless tie in the second inning after Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-3 with two doubles) led off with a double and scored on a single from Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4 with an RBI). A two out base hit from Jeffrey Baez (2-for-3 with an RBI) drove in Balaguert. Justin Marra (1-for-3 with a home run) added a solo home run with two out in the fourth inning.
It’s been a season-long problem as the bullpen failed to hold a lead for South Bend on Saturday in a 6-3 loss to Bowling Green. Returning from the disabled list, Jake Stinnett had one of his best outings of the year. Stinnett struck out three and allowed an earned run on four hits and a walk in three innings. Ryan McNeil relieved and gave up an earned run in an inning of work. Tommy Thorpe continued to battle with ineffectiveness as he surrendered three earned runs in 2.2 innings. Jordan Minch finished up with 2.1 innings, yielding an earned run and striking out two batters.
All the runs for the SB Cubs came with two out in the third inning when Gioskar Amaya (3-for-4 with a stolen base) singled and Jason Vosler (1-for-3) was hit by a pitch. A double from Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in Amaya and Vosler, and Brockmeyer scored on a single by Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4 with an RBI).
South Bend got timely hitting and good pitching on Sunday as they beat Bowling Green 6-2. Jeremy Null bounced back from a poor outing and went six innings. Null struck out four and allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk. David Garner also put a bad outing behind him. Garner tossed two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. James Farris struck out a batter in an inning of work.
The SB Cubs broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning after Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-3) singled with one out and Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) doubled. A double from Andrew Ely (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in Brockmeyer and Balaguert. After one out in the fifth, errors led to Rashad Crawford (1-for-3) and Charcer Burks (1-for-3 with a triple) reaching and advancing to second and third base. A single by Gleyber Torres (2-for-4 with two RBI) brought in Crawford and Burks. A walk to Gioskar Amaya (0-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base) and a sacrifice fly put runners at second and third for Balaguert. Balaguert delivered a single that plated both Torres and Amaya.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (26-15)
Pitching and an explosive offense put Myrtle Beach back on the winning side of the ledger Friday as the Pelicans defeated Potomac 8-4. Ace Duane Underwood raised his record to 5-0 as he gave up two solo homers but struck out four in six innings. Juan Paniagua was hit a little hard as he allowed two earned runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two in 1.1 innings. Jasvir Rakkar slammed the door for his sixth save with a scoreless 1.2 innings.
The Pelicans were behind 2-0 in the third when singles by Danny Lockhart (2-for-4 with a double) and Trey Martin (2-for-3 with an RBI), along with a walk to Mark Zagunis (1-for-3 with two RBI) loaded the bases. A double by Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with a double and two RBI) drove in Lockhart and Martin. A one-out single from Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with two RBI) scored Zagunis and Chen. After a wild pitch, a two-out double from Kevin Brown (1-for-2 with a double and an RBI) plated Rogers. Lockhart began the fourth with a double and scored following a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly. In the eighth, Brown walked and Carlos Penalver (1-for-4) singled. A one out base hit by Martin brought in Brown, and a single from Zagunis scored Penalver.
It was an efficient effort for Myrtle Beach on Saturday as the Pelicans used good pitching and a big inning to dispatch Potomac 7-3. Paul Blackburn had a solid performance as he struck out five and allowed two earned runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. Josh Conway ate up some innings. Conway gave up an earned run with a strikeout in two innings. With no pressure, Zach Cates breezed through a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.
It was a big night for Jeimer Candelario (3-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI) as he got the Pelicans on the board in the second inning with a solo home run. The fourth inning was almost a rerun as Candelario blasted a one out solo shot. Jacob Rogers (2-for-4) followed with a single. A walk to Victor Caratini (1-for-3 with a double) and a base hit by Carlos Penalver (1-for-3) loaded the bases. A single by Danny Lockhart (1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base) drove in Rogers, and a base hit from Trey Martin (1-for-3 with two RBI and a stolen base) scored both Caratini and Penalver. After a double steal, Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-4 with two RBI) delivered a two-out base hit that scored Lockhart and Martin.
There were only a total of 11 hits on Sunday as Myrtle Beach lost in a true pitcher’s duel, 1-0 to Potomac. Tyler Skulina pitched well enough to win. Skulina allowed an earned run while striking out six in six innings. The bullpen also did their job, as James Pugliese struck out two in two innings and Jasvir Rakkar had a strikeout in a perfect inning. The Pelicans offense did not hold up their end. Jordan Hankins was 2-for-3 and Chesny Young (1-for-4), Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4) and Ben Carhart (1-for-4) had hits in the loss.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (23-21)
Another ace has emerged as Tennessee limited Montgomery to two hits on Friday and topped the Biscuits 4-1. You now have to count Frank Batista as the leading pitcher in the Southern League as he ranks in all of the major pitching categories. Batista leads the league in wins (5-0) and ERA (1.11) while placing third in WHIP (0.84) and tenth in strikeouts (40). Batista made easy work of the Biscuits as the make-shift line-up behind him contributed to an unearned run. Batista struck out seven and gave up two hits and a walk in 6.1 innings. P.J. Francescon cleaned up the seventh inning with a strikeout. Carl Edwards Jr. pitched the last two inning and had four strikeouts and two walks for his fourth save.
All the runs the Smokies would need came in the fifth inning after Elliot Soto (0-for-2 with a walk) and Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4 with an RBI) walked. Soto and Giansanti scored on a Kyle Schwarber (1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) home run, his tenth longball of the season. Jacob Hannemann (1-for-3) and Bryant Flete (2-for-4) singled to start the ninth. After a sacrifice, Hannemann scored on a base hit from Giansanti.
Tennessee received an excellent pitching performance for the second straight night but the offense was not up to the task Saturday as the Smokies lost to Montgomery 2-1. The Smokies took the early lead after Elliot Soto (1-for-4 with an RBI) led off the game with a single. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with an RBI) drew a two out walk and Soto scored in a base hit from Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with an RBI).
Right-hander Corey Black came back from a stint on the disabled list and struck out six while giving up only one hit in five innings. Tyler Ihrig followed and worked around a hit in 0.2 innings. Starling Peralta tossed a perfect 1.1 innings. The usually reliable Michael Jensen had a rare rough outing. Jensen allowed two earned runs on two hits and a hit batsman.
One inning made the difference on Sunday as Tennessee lost to Montgomery 4-0. Ivan Pineyro was cruising until the six the inning when he allowed four runs (three earned). Pineyro went 5.2 innings and give up six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Andres Santiago pitched 1.1 innings while Fernando Cruz added another inning.
The Smokies collected eight hits but could not capitalize on scoring chances. Kyle Schwarber (3-for-4), Billy McKinney (2-for-4), Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4), Willson Contreras (1-for-4) and Jacob Hannemann (1-for-3) had hits in the loss.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (22-20)
It was the I-Cubs’ bullpen to the rescue on Friday night as they rallied to beat Tacoma 10-9. Carlos Pimentel had a rough start as he gave up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits, two walks and five strikeouts in four innings. Joe Ortiz picked up some of the slack, tossing two scoreless innings. Gonzalez Germen allowed the Rainiers to tie the game as he was charged with an unearned run while striking out three in an inning. Drake Britton and Brian Schlitter each recorded a strikeout in a scoreless inning to sew things up.
Iowa rallied after a 3-0 deficit in the second inning. Christian Villanueva (4-for-5 with an RBI) and Taylor Davis (3-for-4) singled, and Villanueva scored on a double from Rafael Lopez (2-for-5 with a double and two RBI). A Taylor Teagarden (1-for-4 with an RBI) base hit brought in Davis, and a single by John Andreoli (2-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Lopez. Teagarden and Andreoli scored on a Rubi Silva (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) double. Silva crossed the plate two outs later on a ground out. A double from Javier Baez (2-for5- with a double, a home run, and two RBI) and a single by Villanueva brought in the seventh run of the inning. Two more runs scored in the fourth after Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-5) singled and scored on a home run from Baez. The heroes that started things for the I-Cubs on Friday finished things off in the ninth as two out singles from Villanueva, Davis, and Lopez brought in the game-winner.
Saturday was a good-old fashioned laugher as the I-Cubs returned to a winning record in 13-7 win over Tacoma. Dallas Beeler resembled the pitcher that made the Cubs’ 40 man roster as he struck out six and was charged with an unearned run in six innings. However, Hunter Cervenka was ineffective as he allowed two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Dan Schlereth had a strikeout to end the seventh inning and was replaced by Yoervis Medina. The Rainiers teed off on Medina, as he gave up two earned runs on four hits in 0.2 innings. Brian Schlitter ended a poor night for the pen with another two earned runs in 1.1 innings.
Iowa struck early after Matt Szczur (0-for-1) was hit by a pitch with one out in the first inning. Javier Baez (3-for-4 with two RBI) singled and a two-out double from Taylor Davis (2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI) drove in Szczur and Baez. Rafael Lopez (1-for-4 with an RBI) followed with a base hit that plated Davis. The second inning began with a Chris Valaika (2-for-5) single and he scored on a home run from Rubi Silva (3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and four RBI). In the sixth inning, John Andreoli (1-for-3) and Valaika led off with singles and scored on a double from Silva. A base hit by Jonathan Mota (2-for-3 with an RBI) plated Silva. With Tacoma threatening in the late innings, Iowa put the game away in the eighth after consecutive singles from Silva, Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with an RBI), and Mota loaded the bases. Baez delivered a base hit that allowed Silva and Alcantara to score. Lopez drew a two out walk to reload the bases, and a double by Taylor Teagarden (1-for-2 with a double and three RBI) cleared them with Mota, Baez, and Lopez scoring on the two-bagger.
It was a strange beginning for Iowa on Sunday but it ended with a good result as they beat Tacoma 7-3. Starter Donn Roach was experiencing some tightness prior to the game but decided to give it a try. After one out, Roach was injured on a ground ball off of his leg and had to be removed from the game. Blake Cooper did yeoman’s work in an emergency role after giving up a home run with an earned run apiece charged to Roach and Cooper. Cooper went on to pitch 3.2 innings and record two strikeouts. Fresh off of the disabled list, Yoanner Negrin had two strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Even though Gonzalez Germen gave up two earned runs, he picked up the long save as he pitched three innings in relief.
The I-Cubs countered a long ball in the top of the first with two of their own in the bottom half as Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-5 with a home run and an RBI) led off with a solo shot and Javier Baez (2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI) had a one-out blast. Christian Villanueva (4-for-5 with a double) followed with a single and moved around to score on a wild pitch, an error and a sacrifice fly. Iowa added a run in the fourth when Taylor Teagarden (1-for-2) singled, Chris Valaika (2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base) walked, and an error along with a sacrifice fly scored Teagarden. Baez began the fifth inning with another solo home run. Back-to-back doubles from Villanueva and Taylor Davis (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) scored Villanueva with a two-out double by Valaika plating Davis.
Venezuelan Summer League – VSL Cubs (2-4)
On Friday, the bullpen betrayed the V-Cubs as they lost 8-3 to the VSL Phillies. Carlos A. Rodriguez had a good first start, allowing an earned run and striking out four in five innings. First baseman Fidel Matos drove in two runs and catcher Gustavo Polanco went 2-for-4 with a double.
The VSL Cubs dropped their second straight to the VSL Phillies on Saturday, losing 3-2. Nineteen-year old Ivan Medina did well in this first appearance of the season, as he stuck out three in three scoreless innings. Second baseman Henrry Pedra was 1-for-3 with an RBI while shortstop Rafael Narea was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned LHP Hunter Cervenka to the Tennessee Smokies form the Iowa Cubs; assigned RHP Daniel Lewis from the South Bend Cubs to the Eugene Emeralds.
The Iowa Cubs activated OF Adron Chambers and RHP Yoanner Negrin from the 7-day disabled list; placed LHP Dan Schlereth on the 7-day disabled list. The Tennessee Smokies activated RHP Corey Black and INF Stephen Bruno from the 7-day disabled list; placed OF Bijan Rademacher on the 7-day disabled list. The South Bend Cubs activated RHP Jake Stinnett from the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
- Albert Almora Jr. (OF) – .267/.305/.342/.647, four doubles, a triple, a home run, 10 RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 1-3, 32.2 IP, 3.31 ERA, 12 ER, 37 K, 1.102 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (RHP) – 2-2, 21.2 IP, 2.91 7 ERA, 34 K, 1.292 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Billy McKinney (OF) – .286/.342/.400/.742, four doubles, two RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Kyle Schwarber (C) – .310/.438/.605/1.043, six doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 26 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Jake Stinnett (RHP) – 1-2, 28 IP, 5.79 ERA, 18 ER, 23 K, 1.964 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Gleyber Torres (INF) – .331/.412/.414/.826, eight doubles, two triples, 25 RBI, eight stolen bases (South Bend Cubs)
- Jen-Ho Tseng (RHP) – 1-2, 25.2 IP, 5.26 ERA, 15 ER, 16 K, 1.364 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Duane Underwood Jr. (RHP) – 5-0, 39 IP, 1.38 ERA, 6 ER, 29 K, 0.974 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .315/.433/.485/.920, 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs, 24 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)