With the Cubs’ 2015 season unfortunately in the rear view mirror, the focus now turns to warmer climes where baseball is still being played. Tennessee’s Willson Contreras and Jeimer Candelario remain among the league leaders in the Arizona Fall League. Myrtle Beach reliever David Garner has now joined the Smokies’ duo in putting up good numbers.
Christian Villanueva continues to lead the Mexican Pacific League in home runs, and Bryant Flete is among the hitting leaders in the Venezuelan Winter League. Meanwhile, in the Dominican Winter League, Arismendy Alcantara continues to come back from a poor regular season.
For all of the box scores, news, and notes, a look inside today’s Down on the Farm Report is worth it.
Note: Coverage of the Winter Leagues runs from Sunday to Saturday
Arizona Fall League
The Solar Sox were back in action on Monday, but with a familiar result as they lost to Scottsdale 10-6. Rob Zastryzny got the start and pitched two scoreless innings before getting charged with three earned runs. Zastryzny pitched four innings and had four strikeouts. Willson Contreras was Zastryzny’s catcher and was 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored. Mark Zagunis is still searching for his first hit of the fall, as he went 0-for-2 with two walks.
Mesa finally got into the win column on Tuesday in a dramatic come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Scottsdale. Cubs’ prospects featured prominently as Jeimer Candelario belted a two-run home run in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 4-3. Candelario finished the game with two hits including the two-run homer. David Garner stymied the Scorpions over two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk but striking out five batters. Pierce Johnson started and gave up three earned runs on three-run homer to Clint Frazier. Johnson struck out four in four innings.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Solar Sox on Wednesday, as they fell to Peoria 5-3. Mesa had another Cubs’ prospect step up big as Willson Contreras clobbered a two-run home run in the eighth inning to tie the game at three. Contreras went 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored. Mark Zagunis got his first hit of the fall as he went 1-for-2 with two walks, while Cael Brockmeyer was 0-for-4 in his first start.
On Thursday, it was a story of bad execution by Mesa as they lost 5-3 to Peoria. The Javelinas’ pitchers found a way to cool two of the AFL’s hottest hitters, as Jeimer Candelario and Willson Contreras each went 0-for-4. Coming on in the eighth inning, Corey Black gave the Solar Sox a chance to come back by tossing a scoreless inning.
Mesa’s pitching was once again manhandled on Friday as they lost to Salt River 5-1. The staff gave up 11 hits and walked six, providing no hope for a sluggish offense. Jeimer Candelario remained the most consistent performer for the Solar Sox, as he was 1-for-4 in the loss. Mark Zagunis played left field and was 1-for-3 with his team high eighth walk.
The combination of weak pitching and lack of offensive cohesion resulted in yet another loss for the Solar Sox on Saturday, this time 5-4 to Salt River. It was a mixed bag for starter Rob Zastryzny. While Zastryzny was able to fan seven in five innings, he still allowed the Rafters to cut the lead in half by surrendering two earned runs on six hits. Corey Black also had mixed results, striking out two as he pitched an inning. But Black also allowed a runner, who reached on an error, to score an unearned run. Only David Garner seemed to do his job, recording a strikeout in a perfect inning. Willson Contreras went 1-for-4 with a double, and RBI, and a walk but committed a costly throwing error.
Dominican Winter League
Cibaenas was not able to generate any offense on Tuesday as they lost 5-1 to Este. Starter Michael Roth gave up four runs with one out in the second in and was replaced by Frank Batista. Batista walked two and struck out two in 3.2 scoreless innings.
Estrellas de Oriente
Oriente started the week off right by putting up nine runs in the eighth inning on Sunday to beat Este 12-5. Juan Paniagua got into his first game of the season, relieving starter Scott Diamond and getting a strike out in 0.2 scoreless innings.
Tigres del Licey
It was a tight contest for Licey on Sunday, as they were able to get past Escogido 3-1. Arismendy Alcantara batted second, played second and he had a big day. Alcantara went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored in the win.
Back in action on Tuesday, the Tigers may have wished for another day off as they were thrashed by Cibao 13-1. Arismendy Alcantara went 0-for-2 with a walk in the loss.
A three run eighth inning threw Wednesday’s game into extras as the Tigres edged Cibaenas 5-4 in 10 innings. Arismendy Alcantara got Licey on the board with an RBI single in the third inning as he went 1-for-4 with a walk.
It took a little moxie for the Tigers to come away with a 4-3 win over Cibaenas on Friday. Arismendy Alcantara reached on a dropped third strike in the seventh inning and scored the go-ahead run. For the game, Alcantara was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Toros del Este
Este was stunned last Sunday as Oriente scored nine in the eighth inning to beat the Toros 12-5. Taylor Davis was stationed at first base and went 0-for-3 with an RBI in the loss.
The Toros rode a four-run second inning to a 5-1 victory over Cibaenas on Tuesday. Taylor Davis took over at first base in the fifth inning and was 0-for-2.
Mexican Pacific League
Aguilas de Mexicali
Mexicai breezed to their seventh win on Tuesday as the beat Culiacan 8-1. Blake Parker relieved starter Steve Landazuri and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning.
Tomateros de Culiacan
Culiacan finally got their second win of the season on Sunday as they beat front-running Jalisco 8-4. Ryan Buchter picked up his third hold of the season as he struck out a batter in a perfect inning.
The Tomateros were not able to close things out on Wednesday, giving up nine runs in the eighth inning to lose 9-2 to Mexicali. Ryan Buchter was the third pitcher of the fateful inning, allowing two earned runs and recording one out.
It seemed as if practically no one was interested in pitching on Thursday, as both teams combined for 25 hits as the Pickers lost to Mexicali 5-2. Ryan Buchter pitched the ninth inning and struck out two while allowing not hits or walks.
Friday saw another wild offensive contest as both teams combined for 19 runs and 21 hits, as Culiacan came out on top over Mazatlan 11-8. Ryan Buchter nailed down the victory as he recorded a strikeout in a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Yaquis de Obregon
It was a little closer than Obregon cared it to be, but the Tribe nudged their record over .500 on Tuesday with an 8-6 win over Mazatlan. Christian Villanueva started at third base and was 1-for-4 in the win.
They saved the best for last on Wednesday as all three runs were scored in the last three innings, with the Yaquis edging out Mazatlan 2-1 in 10 innings. Christian Villanueva provided the walk-off for Obregon with an RBI single. Villanueva was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
With a 5-1 victory over Mazatlan on Thursday, the Tribe moved into a three-way tie for second place in the LMP. Christian Villanueva continued his fall tear, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in the win.
Obregon saw their three game win streak end on Friday as they lost 5-1 to Los Mochis. Christian Villanueva was 0-for-3 with a walk in the loss.
A furious comeback by the Yaquis came up short on Saturday as they lost to Los Mochis 6-5. Christian Villanueva was relegated to DH duties as he went 2-for-5 in the loss.
Venezuelan Winter League
Aguilas de Zulia
It took 10 innings on Sunday, but Zulia was finally able to get past Magellanes 8-4. Bryant Flete was back at second base and went 1-for-6 in the victory.
Wednesday was a night to forget for Zulia as they were embarrassed by Caracas 13-0, the Eagles managed only three hits, one of them belonging to pinch-hitter Bryant Flete, who singled in the ninth.
The Aguilas nudged their record one game closer to .500 on Thursday with a 4-3 victory over Caracas. Playing second base, Bryant Flete remained consistent as he went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
It was dry one for the Eagles on Friday, as they managed only six hits in a 5-0 loss to LaGuaira. Although Bryant Flete went 0-for-3, he remained among the league’s top hitters with a .353 average.
Bravos de Margarita
Margarita just could not muster enough runs on Sunday as they lost 3-2 to Caracas. Felipe Paulino relieved starter Eric Berger after five innings and had three strikeouts in three scoreless innings. P.J. Francescon also struck out a batter in a perfect ninth inning.
Once again, things did not seem in sync for the Braves on Saturday as they lost 4-3 to Caracas. Felipe Paulino was the starter and looked like the pitcher Iowa Cubs’ fans were used to seeing. Paulino gave up four earned runs on five hits and three walks in 3.1 innings.
Tigres de Aragua
Everybody got into the act on Wednesday as Aragua romped over Lara 8-2. Gioskar Amaya entered the game defensively at second base in the eighth. Amaya doubled in a run in his only at bat in the ninth.
The Tigers could not overcome a big deficit on Thursday as they lost 8-5 to Lara. Gioskar Amaya started at second base and went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI, and a run scored.
News and Notes
The Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson has accepted the position of Pitching Coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Tennessee Smokies Pitching Coach Storm Davis has accepted the position with the Texas Rangers.
Former INF Tim Saunders was named Head Freshman Baseball Coach of Pickerington Central High School in Pickerington, OH.