And the AZL Cubs saw the return of one-time Top Ten prospect Trey McNutt for the first time since 2013.
There’s also a lot more, so take the time to look through all of today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Short Season Class-A – Eugene Emeralds (9-6)
Eugene took sole possession of first place of the Northwest League Southern Division on Wednesday with a 6-2 win over Hillsboro. Justin Steele remains among the league leaders in ERA (1.06, third), WHIP (0.765, second) and strikeouts (21, second) with his performance against the Hops. Steele allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out six in six innings. Francisco Carrillo, trying to work out the issues that he had in Single-A, earned his first save as he had three strikeouts in three scoreless innings.
Eloy Jimenez (3-for-4 with a home run) continues to be blistering hot as he began the fourth inning with a solo home run. Ian Happ (0-for-3 with a walk) reached on an error and a one out single from Tyler Alamo (2-for-4 with an RBI) put runners at the corners. A force wiped out Alamo at second but allowed Frandy Delarosa (1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base) to reach and Happ to score. Delarosa stole second and came home on a base hit from Ho-young Son (1-for-3 with an RBI). Jimenez started the sixth inning with a single. Happ walked and a base hit by Matt Rose (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Jimenez. Alamo singled in Happ and Rose scored on a base hit from Adonis Paula (1-for-4 with an RBI).
As Harry Carey used to say “the big opossum walks late” as Eugene used two late runs to extend their first place lead on Thursday, beating Hillsboro 2-1 in 11 innings. Ian Happ (2-for-3 with a home run) started the ninth with a walk and moved to second on a ground out. A two out single from Blake Headley (1-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Happ with the tying run. Happ did the damage himself in the 11th inning, blasting a solo home run.
Oscar De La Cruz was practically untouchable as he fanned nine and allowed an earned run on four hits through six innings. Pedro Araujo worked around a walk and a hit to deliver two scoreless innings. Dave Berg struck out two as he tossed two perfect innings. Jared Cheek earned his first professional save as he went 1-2-3 in the 11th inning.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (33-42)
It took 10 innings Wednesday, but South bend lost the rubber game of their series with Lansing 3-2. Brad Markey received his first start of the season and allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out three in five innings. Having one of his better outings, Jordan Minch struck out a batter in three scoreless innings. Another lefty, Sam Wilson, followed and gave up the winning run after striking out four in two innings.
The Cubs struck early after consecutive singles by Gleyber Torres (3-for-5 with two stolen bases), Kevin Encarnacion (1-for-3), and Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4 with an RBI) in the first inning scored Torres. Torres started things again in the third inning with a base hit and a stolen base. A ground out and a wild pitch brought Torres home.
It was only one bad inning for South Bend on Thursday, but that inning cost them the ballgame as they lost 5-0 to Bowling Green. Erick Leal had faced the minimum through four innings, but gave up five earned runs, including a Grand Slam, in the fifth inning. Daniel Lewis was asked to pick up the pieces and he struck out two in three scoreless innings. Corbin Hoffner had a strikeout in the ninth. The Cubs were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position as Yasiel Balaguert was 2-for-4 while Gioskar Amaya and Rashad Crawford went 2-for-3.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (43-33)
The Pelicans welcomed Salem for a series Wednesday and prevailed in a tight 8-7 game. The pitching staff has to be commended for sticking with it as starter Fernando Cruz was ineffective, allowing four earned runs while striking out five in three innings. Getting his first Carolina league appearance, David Garner was nicked for an unearned run as he struck out two in three innings. Juan Paniagua relieved and gave up an earned run while striking out a batter in two innings. Collecting his 10th save, Jasvir Rakkar surrendered an earned run and had two strikeouts in the ninth.
Myrtle Beach answered the Red Sox four runs in the top of the third with four of their own as Mark Zagunis (2-for-3 with an RBI) walked and Chesny Young (2-for-5 with a double and two RBI) singled, both advanced a base on a wild pitch. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with an RBI) reached on a fielding error that allowed Zagunis to score. A double by Jacob Rogers (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in Young and Candelario. A ground out and a sacrifice fly plated Rogers. Danny Lockhart (1-for-4) and Kevin Brown (1-for-4) started the fourth with singles and after a balk advanced the runners, Zagunis walked to load the bases. Young doubled in both Lockhart and Brown. Zagunis scored on a ground out. The difference maker came in the eighth after Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-4) singled and Lockhart reached on an error. A one out base hit by Zagunis scored Chen.
Myrtle Beach’s Thursday night game was postponed due to rain and lightning.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (43-32)
Tennessee’s game on Wednesday was postponed due to rain.
There was a little something for everyone in Tennessee’s 4-2 win over Montgomery on Thursday. Starting pitcher Pierce Johnson looked ready for another level as he allowed an earned run and struck out five in five innings. Tayler Scott provided quality middle relief, giving up an earned run while striking out a batter in 2.2 innings. With his 11th save, P.J. Francescon moved into second place in the Southern League as he had a strikeout in 1.1 scoreless innings. The pitching staff was also aided by outstanding defensive plays by Jacob Hannemann and Elliot Soto.
Taylor Davis (1-for-3 with a home run and an RBI) tied the game with one swing to lead off the fifth inning, as his solo shot was his fourth with the Smokies. Wes Darvill (1-for-2 with a triple, an RBI, and a stolen base) drew a one out walk and scored when Jacob Hannemann (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) hit a two out double. Tennessee got some breathing room in the seventh after Elliot Soto (1-for-3) had a one out single and came around on a triple from Darvill. Albert Almora Jr. (1-for-4 with a home run) put the game out of reach in the eighth with a one out solo home run.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (42-37)
Iowa never stopped fighting Wednesday night as they topped Round Rock 4-3. The I-Cubs came back from a 1-0 deficit in the second inning after Christian Villanueva (0-for-3 with an RBI) walked and Junior Lake (2-for-4 with a double) doubled. A sacrifice fly brought in Villanueva, and Lake scored on a wild pitch. Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4) singled to start the third inning. John Andreoli (1-for-3 with a double) followed with a walk. A base hit by Kyle Schwarber (3-for-4 with a double and an RBI) brought in Alcantara. With the game tied at three in the bottom of the eighth, Schwarber singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After another wild pitch moved him to third, Schwarber was replaced by pinch-runner Rubi Silva. A ground out allowed Silva to score the go-ahead run.
Carlos Pimentel had an effective start as he allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out nine in six innings. Carl Edwards Jr. could not shut down the Express and gave up an earned run while striking out three in two innings. Brian Schlitter closed things out with a scoreless inning and a strikeout for his seventh save.
After spotting Round Rock a four run lead, Iowa came all the way back to beat the Express 5-4 on Thursday. Starter Drake Britton seems to alternate between good and bad outings. While Britton was charged with only an earned run, he ended up surrendering four runs as he was pounded for eight hits and struck out five in six innings. Armando Rivero kept the I-Cubs in the ballgame by striking out a batter in two scoreless innings. Gonzalez Germen had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
The I-Cubs chipped away at Round Rock’s four run lead in the second after Mike Olt (3-for-4 with a double and an RBI) led off with a single and scored on a two out double from Taylor Teagarden (3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI). Singles by Jonathan Mota (3-for-4 with an RBI) and John Andreoli (1-for-4) and a walk to Jorge Soler (1-for-3) loaded the bases to start the third. A one out base hit by Olt brought in Mota and Andreoli. Olt just missed a game-tying home run to begin the eighth and settled for a double. A single from Junior Lake (1-for-2) drove in Olt, but Lake was out in a play at second. Two out singles by Teagarden and Chris Valaika (1-for-4) set up Mota, who delivered the game-winning RBI with a base hit.
Arizona Rookie League – AZL Cubs (5-5)
The AZL Cubs had an off day on Wednesday.
While it was disappointing to see the AZL Cubs drop a 9-6 game to the AZL Athletics, the real story was the return of a top prospect. For the first time since 2013, Trey McNutt was on the mound in a meaningful game. McNutt started and gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings, but it is the first step for this talented but injury-plagued prospect. Wladimir Galindo continues to rip the ball with authority as he was 2-for-4 with a double, triple, and two RBI.
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs (15-13)
The D-Cubs put up four runs late to get past the DSL Tigers 5-2 on Wednesday. Starter Junior Marte was on top of his game as he struck out eight in six scoreless innings. Third baseman Fidel Mejia was 1-for-4 with two RBI while outfielder Tony Rijo went 2-for-2 with a double.
Venezuelan Summer League – VSL Cubs (18-22)
The VSL Cubs are now amidst a losing streak was they dropped a 13-8 ballgame to the VSL Rays, their third straight loss. No one on the pitching staff did well, as Freddy Tineo allowed four earned runs in three innings. Outfielder Jose Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double and a home run and two RBI. Second baseman Jhonny Bethencourt went 3-for-5 with two doubles.
The V-Cubs now have four consecutive losses as they bowed to the VSL Rays on Thursday 13-5. It was a bullpen collapse as starter Yapson Gomez allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out two in four innings. Jose Gonzalez once again came through as he went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. First baseman Fidel Matos was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned LHP Kyle Twomey to the Eugene Emeralds. The Iowa Cubs placed OF Adron Chambers on the 7-day disabled list.