An infielder is knocking at the door for the majors, but it’s not who you think it is. Christian Villanueva has had a monster week, with four home runs in four games for Iowa. In Tennessee, the Smokies have moved into first place thanks to efforts of pitchers Ryan Williams and Felix Pena.
It was All-Star time in the Midwest League as South Bend’s Charcer Burks, Gleyber Torres, and Cael Brockmeyer were named to the squad and came through in a win. Myrtle Beach remains in a funk despite a good outing from Daury Torrez.
With highlights from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, here is today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (24-29)
Just when you thought South Bend was turning things around, their bullpen imploded again as they lost to Cedar Rapids 9-5 on Wednesday. Zach Hedges had a decent start as he allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out two in six innings. After a fairly easy seventh inning, things spun out of control quickly for Ryan McNeil as he gave up two earned runs with three strikeouts in 1.1 innings. It went from bad to worse with David Garner, who surrendered four earned runs in 1.2 innings.
The SB Cubs manufactured a run in the first inning when Charcer Burks (1-for-4 with a double and a stolen base) walked, stole second, took third on a throwing error, and scored on a ground out. Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4) singled to start the second inning, and Kevin Encarnacion (2-for-3) drew a one out walk. Gioskar Amaya (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) drove in both runners with a home run to left. South Bend scored a consolation run in the ninth after Encarnacion singled and came around on a double from Rashad Crawford (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI).
The South Bend Cubs bounced back from a dispiriting loss the day before to beat Cedar Rapids 6-4 on Thursday. The SB Cubs teed off in the first inning. Charcer Burks (0-for-2 with two walks) led off with a walk and Gleyber Torres (1-for-4 with a double) doubled. Burks came home on a ground out, and a two-out double by Cael Brockmeyer (3-for-4 with two double, a triple, and two RBI) drove in Torres. A third double, this time from Kevin Encarnacion (1-for-4 with a double an RBI) brought Brockmeyer home. Two wild pitches allowed Encarnacion to score. Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4) had a one out single in the fifth inning and came around on a triple from Brockmeyer. A pair of doubles from Jesse Hodges (1-for-4 with a double) and Rashad Crawford (2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base) brought in Hodges with the final run.
Starter Trevor Clifton had an efficient game as he struck out three and allowed three earned runs in five innings. Brad Markey had five strikeouts as he gave up an earned run in three innings. Earning his seventh save, James Farris struck out a batter in the ninth.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (31-19)
Myrtle Beach had Wednesday off.
On Thursday, Myrtle Beach could not mount a consistent attack as the Pelicans lost 3-2 to Carolina. The Pelicans loaded the bases in the first but failed to totally capitalize. Mark Zagunis (1-for-4) singled, Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-3) walked, and a base hit by Chesny Young (2-for-4) loaded the bases with no outs. Victor Caratini (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) plated Zagunis, but the inning fizzled. Young began the third inning with a single and scored on a one out double from Caratini, but a double play wiped out any further chances.
Daury Torres certainly pitched well enough to win as he gave up three runs (two earned) with six strikeouts in six innings. James Pugliese fired two scoreless innings and had a strikeout, while Zach Cates struck out a batter in a perfect inning.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (31-23)
We now have a new leader, as Tennessee earned a share of first place on Wednesday afternoon by defeating Chattanooga 6-3. Wednesday also marked the Double-A debut of Ryan Williams, who was named the organization’s pitcher of the month. Williams had a rough second inning, but settled down and went 5.1 innings. Williams allowed three earned runs with four strikeouts. Gerardo Concepcion got the Smokies out of the sixth inning, and then Corey Black took over. Black was also making his first appearance as a reliever and he struck out three in two perfect innings. Veteran P.J. Francescon earned save number seven with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth.
The Tennessee offense turned the game around after Williams gave up three runs in the bottom of the second. Singles by Wes Darvill (1-for-4) and Bryant Flete (1-for-4) started the third inning. A walk to Bijan Rademacher (0-for-3 with two walks) loaded the bases. Darvill was out at home on a force, but Stephen Bruno (1-for-5) reached first. A base hit by Kyle Schwarber (3-for-4 with three RBI) drove in Flete and Rademacher. Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) wiped the bases clean by launching a three-run home run, scoring Bruno and Schwarber. The Smokies added a run in the seventh when Rademacher walked with one out and came home on a two out single from Schwarber.
Tennessee is now in sole possession of first place as the Smokies defeated Chattanooga 6-1 on Thursday. Felix Pena was electric as he struck out seven and allowed an earned run on four hits and a walk in seven innings. Working two perfect innings, Stephen Perakslis had two strikeouts.
Rehabbing outfielder Chris Denorfia (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI) started off the game with a double and moved to third on a single from Albert Almora Jr. (1-for-4). A force play and a ground out brought Denorfia home with the first run. It remained tied at 1-1 until the seventh inning when Stephen Bruno (1-for-3) reached on an error. A sacrifice and a single from Jacob Hannemann (1-for-4) scored Bruno. A base hit by Wes Darvill (1-for-4 with an RBI) and Bryant Flete (0-for-3) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A walk to Denorfia drove in Hannemann, and a two out single from Kyle Schwarber (2-for-4 with two RBI) scored Flete and Denorfia.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (28-25)
Pitching and poor defense put the I-Cubs in a hole on Wednesday as they lost to Albuquerque 9-7. Dallas Beeler remains ineffective as he allowed eight runs (four earned) on 11 hits and three walks. Beeler struck out two in five innings. Carl Edwards Jr. is still getting his feet wet as he gave up an earned run but struck out three in two innings. Yoervis Medina tossed a scoreless inning.
Iowa actually had a lead in the game. Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-5 with a stolen base) led off with a single and scored on a home run from the red hot Christian Villanueva (2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI). Down 6-2, the I-Cubs tried to claw their way back into the game starting with a solo home run from Rubi Silva (4-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI) in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, Adron Chambers (2-for-3) singled with one out and Javier Baez (1-for-3) reached on an error. Both advanced on a balk. A single by Villanueva drove in Chambers and Baez. Base hits from Chris Valaika (2-for-4) and Silva brought Villanueva home. Silva added another solo home run in the seventh inning.
The I-Cubs feasted on some rather poor pitching Thursday and beat Albuquerque 8-2. Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-2 with a double, three walks and two stolen bases) led off the game with a walk and scored on a double from Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and three RBI). A single by Rafael Lopez (3-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Villanueva. Pitcher Eric Jokisch (1-for-2 with a home run and two RBI) took matters in his own hands in the second inning as he launched a solo home run.
Villanueva drew a free pass to start the third and scored following a single from Lopez and a double play. Walks to Alcantara and Adron Chambers (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) began the fourth inning. Alcantara was wiped out on a double play. Chambers had an east trot home when Villanueva hit his fourth home run in as many days. The fifth started with a double by Chris Valaika (2-for-4 with two doubles), and he eventually scored on a sacrifice bunt. Back-to-back doubles from Alcantara and Chambers in the eighth inning closed out the scoring.
Eric Jokisch was as good on the mound as he was at the plate. Jokisch allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two in five innings. Drake Britton had two strikeouts in three scoreless innings. Gonzalez Germen worked around a walk and a hit in the ninth.
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs (3-2)
The D-Cubs came up big on Wednesday, defeating Red Sox-2 12-2. Second baseman Franklin Tineo had another monster game, going 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and five RBI. First baseman Richard Nunez went 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Wander Cabrera started and gave up an earned run while striking out five in three innings.
It was a long morning on Thursday for the DSL Cubs as they lost to Rangers-2 5-1. Pablo Ochoa allowed three earned runs while striking out three in four innings. Reliever Jesus Tejada gave up two earned runs and had a strikeout in four innings. Shortstop Yeiler Peguero was 4-for-5.
Venezuelan Summer League – VSL Cubs (8-7)
The VSL Cubs evened their season record on Wednesday with a 5-4 win over the VSL Tigers in 11 innings. Fidel Matos had the big hit, as he was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. Second baseman Jhonny Bethencourt also had a good day, going 3-for-5 with a double. Alex Pacheco struck out three in 2.1 innings of scoreless relief for the victory.
The V-Cubs moved into second place on Thursday by beating the VSL Tigers 7-4. Left Fielder Jose Rojas was the main man as he went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Fidel Matos was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Bryan Molina came on in relief of starter Freddy Tineo and struck out three while giving up an earned run in two innings to claim the victory.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned OF Chris Denorfia to the Tennessee Smokies on a rehab assignment; recalled OF/1B Mike Baxter from the Iowa Cubs, assigned INF/OF Varonex Cuevas to the Iowa Cubs from the AZL Cubs; assigned RHP Ryan Williams to the Tennessee Smokies from the South Bend Cubs; assigned C Tyler Pearson to the Tennessee Smokies form the AZL Cubs; assigned RHP Daniel Lewis to the South Bend Cubs from the Eugene Emeralds; assigned LHP Tyler Ihrig to the Eugene emeralds from the Tennessee Smokies.
The Tennessee Smokies placed INF/OF Anthony Giansanti on the 7-day disabled list.