The Cubs’ minor league system ended the month of May with a mixed bag as South Bend saw the blossoming of Yasiel Balaguert. Myrtle Beach have their own emerging stars in Jeimer Candelario and Chesny Young, while Willson Contreras is stepping into the spotlight in Tennessee. And a few of old hands, namely Arismendy Alcantara, Matt Szczur and Javier Baez, led the way for Iowa.
The Cubs also welcomed another affiliate, as the Dominican Summer League began play on Saturday.
To see more on who else is bursting onto the scene, come inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (21-28)
In their biggest comeback of the season, South Bend turned a 5-0 deficit into a 6-5 victory over Lake County on Friday night. A big sixth inning was the catalyst. Jesse Hodges (1-for-3) and Jeffrey Baez (1-for-3) singled and Charcer Burks (0-for-3) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A double from Gleyber Torres (2-for-4 with a double and three RBI) wiped the bases clean, scoring Hodges, Baez, and Burks. Andrew Ely (1-for-4 with an RBI) followed with a base hit to drive in Torres. The SB Cubs took the lead in the seventh inning in grand style, as Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4 with a home run) and David Bote (1-for-4 with a home run) had solo home runs.
Starter Jake Stinnett remains a mystery as he struggled once again, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four in five innings. David Garner came to the rescue, blanking the Captains over two innings and striking out two batters. Francisco Carrillo followed suit, as he struck out two in two scoreless innings for his second save.
The South Bend Cubs game on Saturday, and the subsequent doubleheader on Sunday, were postponed due to weather.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (31-16)
It was a rarity for Myrtle Beach on Friday as the Pelicans’ offense and pitching was not in sync in a 2-0 loss to Carolina. Duane Underwood suffered his first loss of the season as he gave up two earned runs on four hits and two walks in six innings. Josh Conway tossed two scoreless innings. The Pelicans were limited to four hits … Carlos Penalver (1-for-2), Chesny Young (1-for-3), Kevin Brown 1-for-3) and Victor Caratini (1-for-4).
On Saturday, Myrtle Beach traveled to Potomac and came away with their 30th win of the season, beating the Nationals 11-1. Paul Blackburn was at the top of his game, allowing an earned run and striking out six in five innings. Michael Heesch pitched two scoreless innings, while James Pugliese had three strikeouts as he blanked Potomac for two innings.
Victor Caratini (1-for-4 with a double) led off the second inning with a double, and singles by Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with an RBI) and Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with two RBI) brought Caratini in. The Pelicans broke the game open in the fourth inning after Rogers walked and scored on a triple from Kevin Brown (3-for-3 with a triple, a home run, and three RBI). Back-to-back doubles by Danny Lockhart (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) and Mark Zagunis (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) plated Brown and Lockhart. It was long ball time then as Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a home run) led off the fifth inning with a solo shot and Brown went deep to start the sixth inning. Patience was the key to the seventh inning, as walks to Chesny Young (1-for-4), Candelario, Rogers, and Caratini brought in Young. Free passes to Penalver and Brown scored Candelario and Rogers, with Caratini scoring on a sacrifice fly. Penalver scampered home on a wild pitch.
The Pelicans broke out the big bats on Sunday as Myrtle Beach pounded past Potomac 7-2. The bases were quickly loaded by Myrtle Beach to begin the second inning after Jacob Rogers (2-for-4 with a home run) and Ben Carhart (1-for-4) singled while Carlos Penalver (1-for-3) walked. A two out base hit by Kevin Brown (1-for-5 with two RBI) brought in Rogers and Carhart. Danny Lockhart (1-for-3 with a home run) started the fourth inning with a solo home run. Two outs later, Chesny Young (3-for-5 with a triple) singled and came around on the suddenly emergent Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) home run, his second longball in as many days. The fifth inning started with a solo homer from Jacob Rogers. Young tripled with one out in the sixth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Tyler Skulina looks as if he is in the process of righting the ship for himself, as he allowed two earned runs and struck out three in six innings. In his Pelicans debut, Fernando Cruz had three strikeouts in three scoreless innings for his first save.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (27-23)
It was a wild and wooly affair in Tennessee on Friday as the Smokies outlasted Mobile 10-8. It was a quiet 1-1 game until everything broke loose in the fifth inning. Elliot Soto (2-for-3 with a stolen base) led off the game with a single and scored on a one out double from Kyle Schwarber (2-for-3 with a double and an RBI) in the first inning. Willson Contreras (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) began the fifth with a base hit and moved to third on a double by Billy McKinney (2-for-5 with a double, a triple, and two RBI). A two-out single from Anthony Giansanti (2-for-4 with three RBI) drove in Contreras and McKinney. In the sixth inning, Ryan Dent led off with a single. A sacrifice and a wild pitch advanced him to third base and a sacrifice fly brought him home. Schwarber and Contreras drew two out walks and scored on a triple by McKinney. Bijan Rademacher (0-for-4 with a walk) walked and a single by Giansanti scored McKinney. Pitcher Michael Wagner coaxed a walk, and Rademacher scored on a wild pitch. Contreras added the punctuation in the seventh, as his two-run homer drove in Schwarber, who had singled earlier.
Starter Corey Black seemed to have the game under control, as he gave up an earned run in five innings on three hits and a walk while striking out six batters. Michael Wagner, replacing the promoted Carl Edwards Jr., allowed two earned runs and struck out a batter in 1.1 innings. Starling Peralta shut down the BayBears for 1.2 innings. Gerardo Concepcion was absolutely hammered in the ninth, surrendering five earned runs in 0.1 innings. P.J. Francescon got the final two outs for his sixth save.
Tennessee returned to their high flying days on Saturday with a 7-3 victory over Mobile. The Smokies matched two runs by the BayBears in the first inning with two of their own as Kyle Schwarber (2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI) walked with two outs and scored on a single from Willson Contreras (1-for-2). A throwing error allowed Contreras to reach third, and he came home on a base hit by Billy McKinney (1-for-4 with an RBI). Schwarber gave Tennessee the lead in the third inning with a solo home run. Schwarber struck again in the fifth inning, this time a two-run shot with Elliot Soto (1-for-5) on board after a single. Tennessee put the game out of reach in the eighth as Stephen Bruno (1-for-3 with an RBI), Jacob Hannemann (1-for-3 with an RBI), and Anthony Giansanti (1-for-3 with an RBI) drew walks to load the bases. A sacrifice fly scored Bruno, and a fielding error brought in Hannemann.
Starter Felix Pena did not have one of his better nights, giving up three earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six in four innings. In his Double-A debut, Tayler Scott tossed three scoreless innings and struck out two for his first Tennessee victory. Stephen Perakslis and P.J. Francescon each had a strikeout in a scoreless inning to wrap up the win.
The Smokies were not up to the task on Sunday in a 5-1 loss to Mobile. Tennessee starter Ivan Pineyro had a hard time getting out of his own way, allowing four earned runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out three in four innings. Andres Santiago ate up some innings, giving up an earned run and striking out a batter in four innings. Tyler Ihrig worked a scoreless ninth inning. The only run for Tennessee came in the second inning after Willson Contreras (1-for-4) and Billy McKinney (2-for-3) singled. Contreras scored after a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (25-24)
On Friday, the I-Cubs were humbled by El Paso, losing 14-2. Dallas Beeler remains ineffective, allowing nine earned runs on five hits and two walks. Beeler surrendered a two-run and three-run home runs. Joe Ortiz was pressed into service with predictable results, giving up three earned runs while striking out two in three innings. Yoervis Medina has yet to make an impact, as he yielded two earned runs and had two strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Only Gonzalez Germen was untouched, striking out two in a scoreless inning.
It was still a game when Iowa scored in the second inning after Taylor Teagarden (1-for-3) walked with two outs and scored on a triple from Rubi Silva (1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI). Iowa added a run in the seventh inning when Teagarden singled, advanced to second with two outs on a wild pitch, and scored on a base hit from Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-4 with an RBI).
While it was not as bad as the previous night, Iowa returned the favor to El Paso on Saturday with an 8-3 victory. It all started with two outs in the second inning with singles by Chris Valaika (2-for-5) and Rubi Silva (1-for-4). Valaika scored on a base hit from pitcher Drake Britton (1-for-2 with an RBI). A single by Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) drove in Silva. Back-to-back doubles by Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) and Rafael Lopez (2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base) in the fourth inning brought in Villanueva with another run. Alcantara led off the fifth inning with a solo home run. Adron Chambers (1-for-5 with a double) followed with a double. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) singled, and a fielding error allowed Villanueva to reach and Chambers to score. A wild pitch and a throwing error brought Baez home. After singles by Valaika and Lopez in the eighth, Valaika scored on a throwing error. With one out in the ninth, Matt Szczur (3-for-5 with three stolen bases) singled, stole second, and scored on a double from Baez.
Drake Britton was given his first starting assignment since 2013 and responded well, giving up an earned run while striking out two in four innings. Jack-of-all-trades Blake Cooper relieved and shut the Chihuahuas down for two innings. In his first Triple-A action, Carl Edwards Jr. was greeted rudely, as he walked three and allowed two earned runs in an inning of work. Armando Rivero had an uneventful two innings to finish out the game.
It was a slugfest on Sunday as the two teams combined for 25 hits with Iowa coming out on top 8-4 over El Paso. The game started modestly enough. Back-to-back doubles by Matt Szczur (2-for-5 with a double) and Javier Baez (3-for-5 with a double and two RBI) led to the game’s first score. The I-Cubs’ offense remained stuck in neutral until the seventh inning when pinch hitter Adron Chambers (2-for-2 with an RBI and a stolen base) led off with a bunt single. Arismendy Alcantara (0-for-5 with a walk) walked, and a single by Baez drove in Chambers. A walk to Taylor Davis (0-for-4 with a walk) loaded the bases, and a base hit by Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Alcantara, but Baez was thrown out at third. A walk to Taylor Teagarden (2-for-4) reloaded the bases, with another free pass to Chris Valaika (1-for-3 with an RBI) bringing Davis home. Jonathan Mota (2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI) then cleared the bases with a triple that scored Villanueva, Teagarden and Valaika. With his second hit of the inning, Chambers plated Mota.
Veteran Felipe Paulino appears to be settling in as he allowed an earned run on four hits and a walk in four innings. Yoanner Negrin had one of his bad outings, as he gave up two earned runs but struck out three in two innings. Pitching better than his previous appearance, Yoervis Medina worked around a walk in a scoreless inning. Gonzalez Germen struck out the side in the eighth inning, but not before surrendering an earned run. Brian Schlitter had a three up, three down ninth inning.
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs (0-1)
The DSL Cubs opened their season on Saturday with a 2-0 loss to Mets-2. Starter Deibi Torres had a fine outing, allowing an earned run and striking out two in five innings. Third baseman Rafael Mejia was practically the entire Cubs offense, going 3-for-4. Outfielder Tony Rijo and DH Fidel Mejia were each 1-for-4.
Venezuelan Summer League – VSL Cubs (4-7)
The VSL Cubs game on Friday was postponed due to weather.
On Saturday, the DSL Cubs wasted a good pitching effort from Carlos A. Rodriguez as they lost to the VSL Tigers 4-1. Rodriguez struck out seven and allowed an earned run on three hits in six innings. Catcher Gustavo Polanco and first baseman Roberto Vahlis were the offense, as Polanco went 1-for-4 with a double while Vahlis was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs released LHP Hunter Cervenka; assigned RHP Carl Edwards Jr. to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; assigned RHP Michael Wagner to the Tennessee Smokies from the Eugene Emeralds; assigned RHP Tayler Scott to the Tennessee Smokies from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, assigned RHP Fernando Cruz to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from the Tennessee Smokies.
Top Prospect Watch
Note: OF Mark Zagunis replaces 1B Dan Vogelbach, who is on the disabled list. Carl Edwards Jr.’s statistics as a member of the Iowa Cubs will begin next week.
- Albert Almora Jr. (OF) – .248/.289/.331/.620, four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 13 RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 1-4, 37.1 IP, 3.62 ERA, 15 ER, 41 K, 1.205 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (RHP) – 2-2, 4 saves, 23.2 IP, 2.66 ERA, 7 ER, 36 K, 1.183 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Billy McKinney (OF) – .298/.333/.421/.754, five doubles, a triple, five RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Kyle Schwarber (C) – .327/.454/.633/1.087, seven doubles, a triple, 12 home runs, 31 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Jake Stinnett (RHP) – 1-2, 33 IP, 6.27 ERA, 23 ER, 27 K, 1.939 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Gleyber Torres (INF) – .331/.406/.410/.816, nine doubles, two triples, 30 RBI, eight stolen bases (South Bend Cubs)
- Jen-Ho Tseng (RHP) – 2-2, 31.2 IP, 4.26 ERA, 15 ER, 22 K, 1.168 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Duane Underwood Jr. (RHP) – 5-1, 45 IP, 1.60 ERA, 8 ER, 30 K, 0.978 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Mark Zagunis (OF) – .303/.440/.421/.861, nine doubles, three triples, a home run, 18 RBI, five stolen bases (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)