With the end of the season just weeks away, several of the Cubs’ affiliates are trending in the right direction. Iowa is four games out of first place as Felipe Paulino and Carlos Pimentel pitched back-to-back gems. Tennessee has a new version of the “Bash Brothers”, as Willson Contreras and Jeimer Candelario have slugged the Smokies to victory.
As usual, pitching is the story in Myrtle Beach as Jeremy Null, Paul Blackburn, and Brad Markey all had good outings. James Norwood and Jake Stinnett also pitched well for South Bend, and Oscar De La Cruz opened some eyes in Eugene.
With the AZL Cubs and the DSL Cubs in playoff races, and the conclusion of the Venezuelan Summer League, the Down on the Farm Report has something for everyone.
Short Season Class-A – Eugene Emeralds (22-26)
Back in action following All-Star break, Eugene’s offense remained challenged as the Ems lost to Salem-Keizer 3-2 on Thursday. Carson Sands got the second half opening start and was charged with two runs (one earned) with four strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Mark Malave came on in relief and gave up an earned run while striking out three in two innings. Greyfer Eregua finished up as he had a strikeout in 2.1 scoreless innings.
The Emeralds scored first after Kevonte Mitchell (1-for-3 with a double) led off the third inning with a double. A single from Donnie Dewees (1-for-4) put runners at the corners. A double play allowed Mitchell to come home. Eugene manufactured a run in the sixth inning after Frandy Delarosa (2-for-4 with a stolen base) singled, stole second, took third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The pitching could hold no longer for the Emeralds’ offense on Friday as Eugene lost 9-2 to Salem-Keizer. Lefty Jose Paulino pitched well enough to win, as he had three strikeouts and allowed two earned runs in six innings. Tanner Griggs started the slide as he gave up an earned run and struck out two in 1.1 innings. Jared Cheek was simply tattooed as he surrendered six earned runs and lasted only 0.1 innings. Trey Masek got the final out of the eighth inning, while Scott Frazier had a strikeout in a perfect ninth inning.
Once again, Eugene scored first. Ian Rice (2-for-3) began the second inning with a single and came around on a two out base hit from Alex Bautista (1-for-4 with an RBI). The Emeralds posted a consolation run in the eighth inning after Matt Rose (0-for-4) reached on an error and score on a double by Blake Headley (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI).
It was pitching that dominated on Saturday as the Emeralds squeaked past Salem-Keizer 1-0. Oscar De La Cruz throttled the Volcanoes, striking out seven and scattering four hits in six innings. Craig Brooks chipped in three strikeouts in two perfect innings. Pedro Araujo worked around two hits as he tossed an inning to pick up his first save. The only run of the game came in the second inning. Alberto Mineo (1-for-3 with a triple) led off with a triple and scored on a single from Adonis Paula (2-for-3 with an RBI).
Eugene put together back-to-back good games as the Emeralds beat Boise 6-3 on Sunday. Donnie Dewees (1-for-4 with an RBI) led off the game with a single and Sutton Whiting (0-for-3) reached on an error. A base hit from Andrew Ely (2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI) brought in Dewees. Ian Rice (1-for-3 with a double) was hit by a pitch. A ground out scored Whiting and Ely came home on a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly drove in Rice. Rice doubled to start the sixth inning and came around following an error and a wild pitch. The seventh began with a walk to Alex Bautista (0-for-3 with a walk) and a single by Kevonte Mitchell (2-for-4). Bautista scored on a sacrifice fly.
Ryan Kellogg was stretched out a little as he allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out three in three innings. Adbert Alzolay was remarkable again in relief, striking out two in five scoreless innings. Tyler Peitzmeier had little trouble in the ninth with two strikeouts to collect his first save.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (50-60)
The South Bend Cubs are beginning to make some noise as they moved to within four games of first place with a 4-1 victory over Clinton on Friday. Red hot Jeffrey Baez (2-for-3 with a stolen base) singled with one out in the third inning and came around on an Ian Happ (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) home run, his first Low-A homer. Gleyber Torres (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI) reached on an error with one out in the fifth, advance to second on a wild pitch and stole third base. A two-out single from David Bote (1-for-3 with an RBI) drove in Torres. The Cubs took advantage in the seventh inning after Baez had another base hit and made his way to third base on a throwing error. Baez scored on a sacrifice fly.
James Norwood had one of his better performances of the season as he struck out four and scattered three hits in five scoreless innings. Dillon Maples was the lone blemish, giving up an earned run in 1.2 innings. Corbin Hoffner picked up his sixth save as he shut down the Lumber Kings for 2.1 innings.
On Saturday, the SB Cubs raised their second half record to .500 as they dominated Clinton 5-1. Jake Stinnett posted his second straight good outing as he fanned six and allowed an earned run in seven innings. Jordan Minch and Daniel Lewis each tossed a scoreless inning.
With two outs in the second inning, South Bend manufactured a run after Charcer Burks (1-for-2) and Erick Castillo (1-for-4) singled, Vimael Machin (1-for-3) walked, and Rashad Crawford (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) was hit by a pitch to force in Burks. Back-to-back doubles with one out in the third inning by Ian Happ (1-for-3 with a double) and David Bote (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) resulted in Happ touching home. Bote later scored after two wild pitches. Crawford blasted a solo home run in the fourth inning. In the sixth, Machin and Crawford began things with singles. Machin was wiped out on a double play. Crawford came home on a base hit from Gleyber Torres (1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base).
The South Bend pitching staff lost all of the team’s momentum as they fell 9-5 to Clinton on Sunday. Zach Hedges certainly played his part, giving up three runs (one earned) and striking out six in five innings. Ryan McNeil allowed two earned runs as he had two strikeouts in two innings. Michael Wagner was given a tie ballgame, but surrendered four earned runs in two innings.
The Cubs rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the first with three of their own after a single from Gleyber Torres (3-for-5 with an RBI) and walks to Gioskar Amaya (1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI) and David Bote (0-for-3 with a walk) loaded the bases. In his South Bend debut, Matt Rose (1-for-4 with two RBI) singled in all three runners. South Bend extended their lead in the second after Jeffrey Baez (3-for-5 with two doubles and a stolen base) doubled with two outs and came home on a base hit from Torres. The Cubs tied the game at five in the seventh when Baez singled and scored on a triple from Amaya.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (67-46)
On Friday, Myrtle Beach was in control from the very beginning as the Birds beat Fredrick 8-4. The Pelicans led off the game with walks to Mark Zagunis (0-for-2 with a walk), Carlos Penalver (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI), and Jason Vosler (0-for-2 with three walks). A single by Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Zagunis, and a one out base hit from Ben Carhart (3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) drove in Penalver and Vosler. Brockmeyer drew a one out walk in the third, and Carhart was given a free pass with two outs. A single from Trey Martin (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Brockmeyer, and a wild pitch brought in Carhart. Penalver cracked a solo home run in the fourth inning, and Carhart led off the fifth with a solo shot of his own. Kevin Brown (1-for-3 with a double) doubled with one out and Zagunis was hit by a pitch in an ugly incident that led to the pitcher’s ejection. A single by Penalver drove in Brown.
Jeremy Null continues to try and find his way at this level as he allowed three runs (two earned) but struck out six in 5.2 innings. James Farris chewed up some innings as he gave up an earned run with a strikeout in 2.1 frames. David Berg worked around two hits in the ninth.
The Myrtle Beach offense went into hibernation Saturday as the Pelicans lost 2-1 to Fredrick. The only run came in the third inning after Carlos Penalver (1-for-3 with a triple) tripled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly. Paul Blackburn was nicked for two unearned runs as he had three strikeouts in six innings. Tyler Ihrig struck out two in three scoreless innings.
The pendulum swung back on Sunday as Myrtle Beach had an offensive explosion to beat Fredrick 10-2. After spotting the Keys a run in the first inning, it was all Pelicans after Jordan Hankins (0-for-3 with two walks) walked with two out in the second. Trey Martin (2-for-3 with a stolen base) singled and a double from Danny Lockhart (4-for-4 with a double and four RBI) drove in Hankins. A base hit by Chesny Young (3-for-4 with two RBI) scored Martin and Lockhart. Fredrick walked the bases loaded to start the sixth inning after Carlos Penalver (0-for-4 with a walk), Hankins, and Martin drew free passes. A single by Lockhart brought in Penalver and Hankins, but Martin was thrown out at third. Young walked and a two out base hit from Jason Vosler (2-for-3 with an RBI) plated Lockhart. Myrtle Beach answered a run in the eighth inning with four of their own as Martin singled and stole second. A base hit by Lockhart scored Martin, and singles from Young and Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Lockhart. Vosler walked and a base hit by Victor Caratini (1-for-5 with an RBI) brought in Young. A single by Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI) scored Chen.
Brad Markey has been a revelation as a starting pitcher, as the 23-year old raised his record to 4-0 with Myrtle Beach. Markey struck out five and allowed an earned run in six innings. Michael Heesch had two strikeouts and gave up an earned run in two innings. Josh Conway finished up with two strikeouts in the ninth.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (59-51)
Tennessee scored runs when they mattered most as they bookended Jackson for a 6-5 victory on Friday. Bijan Rademacher (1-for-4 with a double) started the game with a double and a single by Albert Almora Jr. (3-for-4 with a double) put runners at the corners. Rademacher came home on an errant pick-off attempt. Tommy La Stella (0-for-4 with a walk) walked and a base hit from Willson Contreras (3-for-5 with a double) loaded the bases. Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with an RBI) drew a walk to force in Almora, and a free pass to Billy McKinney (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) brought in La Stella. A ground out scored Contreras, and a single from Wes Darvill (2-for-3 with an RBI) plated Candelario. The Smokies’ offense remained dormant until the bottom of the ninth when Contreras doubled and scored on a one out single from McKinney.
Starter Andres Santiago was staked to a big lead but lost his concentration. Santiago gave up five earned runs and struck out four in 5.1 innings. Juan Paniagua got Tennessee out of the sixth inning with a strikeout, and Corey Black fanned four in two scoreless innings. Starling Peralta also struck out two as he picked up the win.
It was a fun one to be on the right side of on Saturday night as Tennessee beat Jackson 14-1 in a laugher. Pierce Johnson continued to show his dominance of the Southern League as he struck out seven and allowed an earned run on three hits and a walk in seven innings. Gerardo Concepcion and Matt Brazis each tossed a scoreless inning.
With the game scoreless after two frames, things started modestly for the Smokies. Jacob Hannemann (3-for-5 with an RBI) and Albert Almora Jr. (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) had one-out singles in the third. A force play wiped out Almora but allowed Tommy La Stella (1-for-5) to reach. Willson Contreras (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI) doubled in Hannemann. A single from Billy McKinney (2-for-4 with a double and three RBI) scored La Stella and Contreras. Things got out of hand in the fourth inning when Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double) led off with a walk, and singles from Bijan Rademacher (3-for-4 with two RBI) and Jacob Rogers (1-for-4 with two RBI) plated Candelario and Rademacher. Base hits by Jonathan Mota (2-for-5 with a double and three RBI) and Hannemann brought in Rogers, and a double from Almora scored Mota and Hannemann. A single by La Stella and a walk to Contreras loaded the bases, with Almora forced in on a free pass to McKinney. Rademacher drew a one out walk to bring in La Stella, and a two-out double from Mota plated McKinney and Rademacher. Tennessee added a run in the eighth inning when McKinney doubled and scored on a one out single from Rademacher.
The Smokies never looked back on Sunday as Tennessee beat Jackson 8-3. Jacob Hannemann (1-for-4) walked to start the contest and Albert Almora Jr. (2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base) singled. A fielder’s choice found Hannemann nailed at the plate and Willson Contreras (1-for-3 with three RBI) reaching. Jeimer Candelario (2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI) made up for it by belting a three-run home run. Almora singled with one out in the third and Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3 with a double and a stolen base) followed with a walk. Almora and Rademacher pulled off a double steal. Almora scored on a sacrifice fly. A base hit by Candelario drove in Rademacher. The bottom of the order produced in the seventh after Wes Darvill (0-for-4) reached on an error and Tyler Pearson (1-for-3) singled. A one out double from Almora plated Darvill, and a base hit with two outs by Contreras scored Pearson and Almora.
Rob Zastryzny remains inconsistent as he looked sharp for four innings but gave up three earned runs in his final two. In six innings, Zastryzny allowed eight hits and two walks while striking out seven batters. Starling Peralta hurled two perfect innings and had two strikeouts. P.J. Francescon struck out a batter in the ninth.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (64-51)
It was only one inning, but boy, what an inning as the Iowa Cubs moved to within a half game of second place with a 4-0 victory over Omaha on Friday. Taylor Davis (1-for-3 with a double) doubled with one out in the sixth and Mike Baxter (0-for-1 with two walks) followed with a walk. A single from John Andreoli (2-for-4 with an RBI) brought in Davis, and a base hit by Adron Chambers (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Baxter. A force play allowed Andreoli to come home and Javier Baez (0-for-4 with an RBI and two stolen bases) to reach. Baez stole second and third and scored on a single from Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with an RBI).
There was a change in the standings as Iowa moved in second place with a 4-1 victory over Omaha on Saturday. Felipe Paulino had his finest game of the season as he struck out six and allowed only two hits in seven innings. Ryan Buchter had a strikeout as he tossed a scoreless inning. Brian Schlitter gave up an earned run in the ninth.
The I-Cubs broke a 0-0 deadlock in the third inning after Chris Valaika (1-for-2) and John Andreoli (2-for-3) singled and Mike Baxter (0-for-3 with a walk) walked to load the bases. A force play allowed Valaika to score. Valaika was hit by a pitch to start the seventh and Javier Baez (0-for-2 with an RBI) drew a two out walk. Christian Villanueva (1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) launched a three-run homer to bring in Valaika and Baez.
Iowa put some distance between themselves and Omaha on Sunday with a 3-0 shutout. Carlos Pimentel was in command as he limited the Storm Chasers to two hits with three strikeouts in seven innings. Joe Ortiz worked around a hit in 0.2 innings, while Blake Cooper got the final out of the eighth. Brian Schlitter went 1-2-3 with a strikeout for his 17th save.
It was Iowa’s game from the very beginning after John Andreoli (0-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base) started the first with a walk and advanced to third on an errant pick-off attempt. A single by Adron Chambers (1-for-3 with an RBI) drove in Andreoli, and another bad pick-off had Chambers scooting to third. Javier Baez (1-for-3) drew a walk, and Chambers came home on a double play. Mike Olt (1-for-3 with a home run) added to the lead with a solo home run in the seventh inning.
Arizona Rookie League – AZL Cubs (21-16)
The AZL Cubs maintained their tenuous hold on first place with a 6-0 win over the AZL Athletics on Saturday. A rehabbing Eric Jokisch appeared ready for bigger things as he struck out six through five innings. Austyn Willis completed the shutout with a strikeout in four innings. Carlos Sepulveda remained hot as he was 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Robert Garcia went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base.
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs (37-23)
The DSL Cubs saw their 10-game win streak end on Friday in a 2-1 loss to Rangers-2 in 10 innings. Starter Pablo Ochoa was solid, striking out three in five scoreless innings. Designated hitter Yovanny Cuevas was 2-for-5 with a double, while catcher Richard Nunez was 1-for-3 with a double.
The D-Cubs remained in striking distance of first place on Saturday with an 8-5 victory over Rangers-2. Sucre Valdez came on in relief and struck out six in three scoreless innings. Catcher Richard Nunez was 1-for-4 with a double and three RBI, while outfielder Samir Lara was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
Venezuelan Summer League – VSL Cubs (30-40)
With one game to go, the VSL Cubs are trying to close out the season on a high note as they beat the VSL Rays 12-6 on Friday. Versatile Henrry Pedra went 2-for-3 with a double and five RBI, while slugging second baseman Jhonny Bethencourt was 2-for-5 with a triple and four RBI. Jose Leidenz raised his record to 3-0 with a strikeout in two scoreless innings of relief.
In a somewhat fitting ending to the VSL season, the V-Cubs had their last game cancelled due to rain.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned OF Matt Szczur to the Iowa Cubs; recalled OF Matt Szczur from the Iowa Cubs; assigned INF Matt Rose to the South Bend Cubs from the Eugene Emeralds.
The South Bend Cubs placed 3B Jesse Hodges on the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
- Albert Almora Jr. (OF) – .261/.315/.384/.699, 17 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 38 RBI, seven stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Victor Caratini (C) – .241/.332/.337/.670, 22 doubles, three home runs, 45 RBI (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Dylan Cease (RHP) – 0-2, 16.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 5 ER, 15 K, 1.225 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 4-9, 79 IP, 4.78 ERA, 42 ER, 76 K, 1.417 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (RHP) – 3-1, 27.2 IP, 2.93 ERA, 9 ER, 35 K, 1.229 WHIP (Iowa Cubs)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 6-0, 61.2 IP, 1.61 ERA, 11 ER, 49 K, 1.119 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Billy McKinney (OF) – .280/.341/.402/.744, 24 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 33 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Carson Sands (LHP) – 2-13, 37.2 IP, 4.06 ERA, 17 ER, 24 K, 1.540 WHIP (Eugene Emeralds)
- Gleyber Torres (INF) – .311/.369/.404/.773, 21 doubles, five triples, two home runs, 58 RBI, 21 stolen bases (South Bend Cubs)
- Mark Zagunis (OF) – .272/.316/.384/.700, five doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI, three SB (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)