Put all that anticipation of September call-ups on hold as the Iowa Cubs are back in playoff contention with a weekend sweep thanks to John Andreoli, Javier Baez, and newcomer Emilio Bonifacio. Tennessee also is on a roll, wining five straight with fine pitching from Andres Santiago and Pierce Johnson.
Eugene had a rough weekend but maintained their first place lead on the bat of Ian Rice and pitching of Carson Sands. Myrtle Beach won in walk-off fashion courtesy of Jason Vosler, and Jeffrey Baez wowed them in South Bend.
And by the way, the AZL Cubs became the second affiliate to qualify for the playoffs.
Excitement abounds in today’s Down on the Farm Report!
Short Season Class-A – Eugene Emeralds (36-34)
Eugene was able to maintain their first place lead on Friday despite a 3-1 loss to Hillsboro. Emerging prospect Preston Morrison was practically untouchable in his three scoreless innings, giving up only one hit and striking out seven batters. Kyle Twomey also performed well, giving up an earned run as he struck out two in 2.2 innings. Hard throwing Pedro Araujo was touched for two earned runs as he had three strikeouts in 2.1 innings. Trey Masek struck out the side in the ninth. The Emeralds scored their only run in the fifth inning after Alex Bautista (1-for-4 with a double) led off with a double and came home after two ground outs.
The Emeralds fell into a first place tie on Saturday as they lost 3-0 to Hillsboro. The loss came despite out-hitting the Hops 6-3. Eloy Jimenez was 2-for-4 with a double. Ian Rice was 1-for-4 with a double and Adonis Paula 1-for-2 with a triple. Blake Headley went 1-for-4 and Alex Bautista was 1-for-3. Kyle Miller had two strikeouts in three scoreless frames. Casey Bloomquist gave up an earned run and struck out four in three innings. Scott Effross was out of control in walking three while allowing two earned runs in two innings. Craig Brooks set down the side in order in the ninth with two strikeouts.
On Sunday, Eugene finished their home regular season with a 10-4 victory over Hillsboro to maintain their first place lead. Both offenses were tight, as there was no scoring until the third inning, in which the Emeralds would never look back. Blake Headley (2-for-4) led off the third with a single. A double from Adonis Paula (1-for-3 with double) and a base hit by Donnie Dewees (2-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base) drove in Headley. P.J. Higgins (1-for-5 with an RBI) singled to score Paula. Dewees came home on a force play. Higgins reached on an error to start the fifth and Eloy Jimenez (2-for-5) singled. Higgins scored on a sacrifice fly. Another sacrifice fly brought in Jimenez. Ian Rice (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI) added a solo home run. In the seventh, Andrew Ely (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI) was hit by a pitch with one out. Alex Bautista (1-for-4 with an RBI) had a base hit and a double by Rice scored Ely. A fielder’s choice and throwing error allowed Tyler Alamo (1-for-4 with an RBI) to reach and Bautista and Rice to score. A single by Headley plated Alamo.
Carson Sands had it all working for him, as he allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out five in six innings. Greyfer Eregua had a rough time in the seventh, giving up two earned runs in only 0.1 innings. Tyler Peitzmeier bailed out Eregua as he had a strikeout in 1.2 perfect innings. Scott Frazier tossed a perfect ninth inning and fanned two batters.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (60-69)
Everything seemed to click for South Bend on Friday in their 10-3 victory over Great Lakes. Jake Stinnett had a performance most expected regularly this season, as he struck out three and allowed an earned run in seven innings. Jordan Minch wasn’t as lucky in giving up an earned run in only 0.2 innings. Sam Wilson continued the lefty look, surrendering an earned run with a strikeout in 1.1 innings.
It was the beginning of the Jeffrey Baez (4-for-5 with a home run, three RBI, and two stolen bases) Show in the first inning. Baez led off with a single and stole second. Charcer Burks (0-for-2 with an RBI) walked and Baez came home on an error. The third inning started with a single by Bryant Flete (2-for-4 with a double). Baez followed with a base hit and another stolen base. Flete scored on a sacrifice fly. Gioskar Amaya (3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and four RBI) added a solo home run in the sixth inning. The Cubs blew the game open in the seventh inning after Erick Castillo (0-for-4) reached on an error with one out. Baez singled with two outs and Burks drew a walk. A double by Amaya cleared the bases, scoring Castillo, Baez and Burks. David Bote (0-for-3 with two walks) walked and a single from Kevin Encarnacion (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Amaya. Singles by Rashad Crawford (2-for-4) and Flete in the eighth inning set up Baez, who then capped the scoring with a three-run home run.
A two-hour, 12-minute rain delay to start the game seemed to throw South Bend off on Saturday, as they lost 15-0 to Great Lakes. Starter Zach Hedges was pounded for ten runs (nine earned) as he struck out six in four innings. Daniel Lewis gave up an earned run with two strikeouts in an inning of work. Corbin Hoffner was the only Cubs pitcher untouched, as he fanned three in two scoreless innings. Infielder David Bote pitched two innings and allowed four earned runs. The Cubs’ offense could only muster five hits … Jeffrey Baez (2-for-3), David Bote (1-for-3 with a double), Jesse Hodges 1-for-3 with a double) and Erick Castillo (1-for-3).
South Bend survived a late inning scare to take the opener in their series with Bowling Green 4-3 on Sunday. David Bote (0-for-3) was hit by a pitch to start the second inning, followed by a double from Ian Happ (2-for-4 with a double and a home run). Bote scored on a ground out, and Happ came in on an error that allowed Vimael Machin (0-for-4) to reach. A double from Rashad Crawford (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) brought in Machin. Happ led off with fourth inning with a solo home run.
Erick Leal had his best outing since his near no-hitter a few weeks ago. Leal gave up two hits and struck out four batters in six scoreless innings. Alex Santana was his own worst enemy as committed two errors which led to three unearned run in 1.1 innings. Ryan McNeil had a strikeout in the final 1.2 innings to collect his second save.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (77-53)
A bullpen meltdown on Friday for Myrtle Beach led to a 7-5 loss to Wilmington. Duane Underwood Jr. had a solid effort in his first appearance after a stint on the disabled list. Underwood Jr. allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out three in four innings. Jeremy Null relieved and gave up two earned runs as he fanned four in four innings. Jasvir Rakkar was sent in to nail things down, but instead surrendered three earned runs, and the ballgame, in the ninth.
The defeat erased yet another valiant comeback by the Pelicans’ offense. Victor Caratini (3-for-5 with a double, a triple, and an RBI) led off the fourth inning with a triple and scored on a single from Cael Brockmeyer (1-for-3 with an RBI). Myrtle Beach took the lead in the bottom of the seventh after Chesny Young (2-for-4 with a stolen base) singled with one out and came around on a two-run home run from Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI). Back-to-back-to-back doubles from Jason Vosler (1-for-4 with a double), Jacob Rogers (2-for-5 with a double and an RBI), and Caratini scored two more runs.
The magic that has been such a big part of the Pelicans’ season was on display Saturday as they beat Wilmington 1-0 in 12 innings. Paul Blackburn had to leave the game after two scoreless innings in which he struck out a batter and gave up a hit and a walk. Tyler Ihrig was summoned from the bullpen and tossed five innings while striking out six over that stretch. Lefty Michael Heesch had five strikeouts as he pitched three innings, and David Berg fanned two in two innings. The game was decided in the bottom of the 12th as Jason Vosler (1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI) blasted a solo home run.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (72-60)
A winning record was assured for Tennessee on Friday night, as they blanked Jacksonville 7-0. Two big innings was all the Smokies offense needed. Willson Contreras (0-for-2 with two walks) walked with one out in the fourth and Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3 with a double) doubled. A single from Jeimer Candelario (1-for-2 with an RBI) drove in Contreras. Vogelbach scored on a ground out. Walks to Vogelbach and Candelario began the sixth inning. A single from Ryan Dent (1-for-4 with an RBI) scored Vogelbach. Andres Santiago (0-for-2 with a walk) walked and a base hit by Jacob Hannemann (1-for-5 with an RBI) brought in Candelario. Dent came home on a groundout, and a double from Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) plated Santiago and Hannemann.
Andres Santiago held up his end on the mound also as he yielded only two hits to the Suns. Santiago struck out six in eight innings. Fernando Cruz worked around a walk in the ninth.
Tennessee almost gave one away on Saturday, but they were able to get it back together for a 5-3 win over Jacksonville. Pierce Johnson continued his reign of terror against Southern League hitters as he struck out eight and allowed an earned run over seven innings. Corey Black ran into some trouble and gave up two earned runs in only 0.2 innings. Starling Peralta got the last out of the eighth and P.J. Francescon set down the side in order in the ninth for his 22nd save.
The Smokies tied the game at one in the second inning after Stephen Bruno (2-for-4 with two doubles) doubled with one out and Ryan Dent (4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI) singled. A sacrifice fly scored Bruno. Dent put Tennessee ahead in the fourth inning with a solo home run. Answering two runs in the top of the eighth inning, Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3) walked with one out and Bruno doubled with two gone. Dent belted his second home run of the game, a three run shot, to put the Smokies ahead.
On Sunday, the Smokies won their fifth straight game as they beat Jacksonville 4-3. Tennessee came back with three runs in the bottom of the second inning after the Suns scored two in the top half. Consecutive singles by Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4), Jeimer Candelario (2-for-2 with a home run), and Stephen Bruno (2-for-4) scored Vogelbach and Candelario. A groundout scored Bruno. With the scored tied at three in the sixth inning, Candelario broke the deadlock with a solo clout.
Felix Pena carried the load for the Smokies as he allowed three runs (two earned) and fanned six as he pitched seven frames. Rehabbing Neil Ramirez came on in the eighth and had a strikeout. Starling Peralta worked around two walks in the ninth to earn his fifth save.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (77-58)
The Iowa Cubs game on Friday was postponed due to rain.
Rain on Friday meant a doubleheader on Saturday, as Iowa took the opener 5-1 over Sacramento. The I-Cubs had a big first inning started by singles from John Andreoli (1-for-3) and Emilio Bonifacio (1-for-4). Base hits from Javier Baez (2-for-4) and Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with two RBI) brought in Andreoli and Bonifacio. Mike Olt (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) reached on an error that scored Baez, and Villanueva came home on a sacrifice fly. Olt blasted a one out solo home run in the fifth. Eric Jokisch went all the way for Iowa, giving up a run on five hits and a walk while striking out two in seven innings.
In the nightcap, it took 12 innings, but Iowa was able to top Sacramento 2-1. Frank Batista pitched well in his return to the I-Cubs, striking out three in four scoreless innings. Armando Rivero and Trevor Cahill each shut out the River Cats for an inning apiece, but Rafael Soriano gave up the tying run in the seventh inning. Blake Cooper tossed two perfect innings, and Yoervis Medina had two strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Ryan Buchter struck out two in a three up, three down 12th for the win.
It looked as if a second inning run would hold up after Mike Olt (1-for-5) and Taylor Teagarden (2-for-5) singled. Olt scored on a ground out. John Andreoli (1-for-6 with a double) doubled to lead off the 12th inning, as base hits from Mike Baxter (2-for-5) and Christian Villanueva (2-for-6 with an RBI) scored Andreoli.
Iowa completed the sweep of Sacramento on Sunday with a 9-1 pounding. Dallas Beeler was at the top of his game, inducing 11 ground outs and striking out seven while allowing an unearned run in eight innings. Trevor Cahill had a strikeout as be pitched a scoreless ninth.
The I-Cubs quickly answered one run in the first with three of their own as John Andreoli (2-for-4 with a stolen base) led off with a single and scored on a double from Emilio Bonifacio (4-for-5 with a two doubles and two RBI). A base hit by Javier Baez (4-for-5 with an RBI) drove in Bonifacio. A double from Christian Villanueva (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) plated Baez. Andreoli ignited another scoring opportunity in the second inning with a two out walk and a stolen base. Bonifacio brought in Andreoli with a single. Adron Chambers (1-for-5 with a double) had a one out double in the third inning followed by a base hit by Taylor Davis (3-for-5 with a double and an RBI). Chambers scored a ground out. The top of the order struck again in the fourth. Consecutive singles by Andreoli, Bonifacio, and Baez put Andreoli in position to score on a sacrifice fly. A double by Chris Valaika (1-for-5 with a double and two RBI) drove in Bonifacio and Baez. A two out double from Davis brought in Valaika.
Arizona Rookie League – AZL Cubs (31-22)
The AZL Cubs maintained a first place tie on Friday despite a 9-1 loss to the AZL Athletics. Austyn Willis was tagged for three earned runs in three innings, while MT Minacci gave up three earned runs in 1.1 innings. Carlos Jimenez went 1-for-4 with a triple.
It went down to the wire, but the AZL Cubs secured a playoff appearance with a 3-2 win over the AZL Athletics on Saturday. Robert Garcia had a big night as he went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Carlos Sepulveda was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Jesus Camargo fanned seven as he allowed an earned run in five innings.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Neil Ramirez to the Tennessee Smokies on a rehab assignment; assigned C Taylor Davis to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; assigned INF Bryant Flete to the Tennessee Smokies from the South Bend Cubs;
The Tennessee Smokies placed INF Jonathan Mota on the 7-day disabled list; activated C Tyler Pearson from the 7-day disabled list. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans placed OF Trey Martin and RHP Daury Torrez on the 7-day disabled list; activated OF Shawon Dunston Jr. and RHP Duane Underwood Jr. from the 7-day disabled list. The South Bed Cubs placed RHP Dillon Maples on the 7-day disabled list; activated LHP Sam Wilson from the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
Note: Duane Underwood Jr. returns to the Top Prospect Watch, replacing Jen-Ho Tseng.
- Albert Almora Jr. (OF) – .274/.326/.399/.725, 25 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 45 RBI, eight stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Dylan Cease (RHP) – 1-2, 24.0 IP, 2.63 ERA, 7 ER, 25 K, 1.167 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 6-10, 96.1 IP, 4.39 ERA, 47 ER, 95 K, 1.359 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Jacob Hannemann (OF) – .235/.293/.358/.651, 19 doubles, eight triples, five home runs, 40 RBI, 17 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
- Eloy Jimenez (OF) – .284/.332/.428/.760, nine doubles, seven home runs, 29 RBI, three SB (Eugene Emeralds)
- Pierce Johnson (RHP) – 6-2, 88 IP, 2.15 ERA, 21 ER, 69 K, 1.125 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Justin Steele (LHP) – 3-1, 36.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, 12 ER, 34 K, 1.418 WHIP (Eugene Emeralds)
- Gleyber Torres (INF) – .290/.351/.380/.731, 22 doubles, five triples, three home runs, 61 RBI, 22 stolen bases (South Bend Cubs)
- Duane Underwood Jr. (RHP) – 6-3, 68.1 IP, 2.63 ERA, 20 ER, 45 K, 1.024 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Mark Zagunis (OF) – .273/.405/.420/.825, 24 doubles, four triple, eight home runs, 53 RBI, 11 stolen bases (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)