It was not a good way to start a week as the minor league system had to rely on individual achievement rather than team results. Carlos Sepulveda is emerging as a player to notice in South Bend, and Gioskar Amaya is heating up for Myrtle Beach. Chesny Young continues to roll in Tennessee while Willson Contreras remains a force for Iowa. And down in the Dominican Republic, Jonathan Sierra is starting what hopes to be a long and successful career.
As the first half of the minor league season concludes this week, the Down on the Farm Report has all of the latest from the Cubs’ affiliates.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (37-25)
South Bend maintained their grip on first place with a 6-4 win over Bowling Green on Friday. Preston Morrison was just good enough as he allowed three earned runs and struck out two in 5.1 innings. Kyle Twomey picked up an inning in relief and had three strikeouts, while Craig Brooks tossed 1.2 innings. James Norwood gave up an earned run in the ninth, but collected his fifth save.
The S-Cubs never looked back after Carlos Sepulveda (2-for-4 with a double) scored on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Ian Rice (1-for-3) came home on a single from Tyler Alamo (2-for-3 with an RBI) in the fourth inning, and a double from Eloy Jimenez (1-for-5 with a double and two RBI) plated Sepulveda and Donnie Dewees (0-for-3 with an RBI) in the fifth. A sac fly brought in Eddy Julio Martinez (3-for-4) in the sixth inning.
Pitching could not hold off Bowling Green on Saturday, as South Bend lost 7-4. The S-Cubs scored four runs in the first inning after Carlos Sepulveda (1-for-4) scored on a single by Donnie Dewees (1-for-4 with an RBI), and a base hit from Eloy Jimenez (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) plated P.J. Higgins (0-for-3) and Dewees. A sacrifice fly would later bring in Jimenez.
Casey Bloomquist was the victim of his defense, as he allowed five runs in four innings, but only one of them was earned. John Williamson surrendered two more earned runs as he pitched two innings, and Pedro Araujo had two strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
The second best hitting team in the Midwest League was held to just two hits on Sunday as South Bend lost to Bowling Green 6-0. P.J. Higgins was the only member of the S-Cubs to hit safely as he was 2-for-4. The game took a strange turn in the second inning after Eddy Julio Martinez was ejected and the line-up had to be shaken up to replace him.
Carson Sands was disappointing in his start as he allowed three earned runs and was pulled after two innings. Greyfer Eregua did the heavy lifting as he gave up two earned runs in four innings. Scott Effross yielded another earned run in two innings.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (33-29)
Friday saw Myrtle Beach taken to the woodshed by Lynchburg, as they lost 7-1. Jonathan Martinez continues to confound, as last season’s Carolina League ERA and WHIP leader has been hit hard. Martinez surrendered six runs (five earned) and struck out three in four innings. James Pugliese was summoned early from the pen and gave up an earned run and had three strikeouts in three innings. Jordan Minch tossed a scoreless inning. The only run for the Birds came in the sixth inning after a single by Jeffrey Baez (2-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Gleyber Torres (0-for-4).
Myrtle Beach finally broke through on Saturday and defeated Lynchburg 2-1. Zach Hedges led a stellar pitching effort as he allowed an earned run and struck out four in 7.2 innings. Tommy Thorpe gave up only one hit in an inning of work, and Ryan McNeil recorded the final out for his fourth save.
Gioskar Amaya (2-for-3 with a double and a home run) broke a scoreless deadlock with a solo home run in the third inning. Jason Vosler (1-for-4 with a double) doubled and came home with what would be the winning run on an error in the seventh inning.
Once again, the Pelicans’ offense could not support a fine pitching effort as they lost 3-2 to Lynchburg on Sunday. Trevor Clifton continues to establish himself as the organization’s best pitching prospect as he allowed two earned runs and struck out six in five innings. Daury Torrez had one of his better efforts as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings. Jordan Minch labored to get one out, and Dillon Maples gave up an earned run in 0.1 innings. Daniel Lewis got the final two outs of the eighth inning. The scoring was provided by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-3 with two home runs and two RBI), who whacked solo home runs in the fifth and eighth innings.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (27-36)
The dysfunction continued for Tennessee on Friday night as they lost to Chattanooga 6-2. Brad Markey pitched well enough to win as he allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings. Stephen Perakslis remained a punching bag as he gave up four earned runs in two innings. David Berg pitched a perfect inning.
If the offense were more consistent, perhaps a few outcomes would have been different this season. The Smokies scored in the first inning after Billy McKinney (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) doubled in Chesny Young (1-for-3 with a double). But Tennessee was not able to mark again until the ninth when a double by Danny Lockhart (1-for-3 with a double and an RBI) brought in Ben Carhart (2-for-4).
Tennessee fell hard on Saturday as they lost 8-1 to Chattanooga. Duane Underwood Jr. still cannot turn the corner as he gave up four earned runs and struck out six in six innings. Starling Peralta continued his uneven season as he allowed four earned runs in an inning. Nick Sarianides and Jose Rosario each tossed a scoreless inning.
The lone run came in the bottom of the ninth after Jacob Hannemann (0-for-3) scored on a sacrifice fly following a single by Chesny Young (2-for-4 with a double).
On Sunday, Tennessee could finally muster enough runs to support their pitching as they beat Chattanooga 5-4. Paul Blackburn took the hill and had six strikeouts while allowing two earned runs in seven innings. Juan Paniagua made it save number three as he gave up an earned run and struck out a batter in two innings.
Another new line-up combination saw production from the bottom half as David Bote (2-dor-4 with an RBI) drove in Victor Caratini (3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI) and Kelly Dugan (1-for-2 with a double and an RBI) scored on an error in the second inning. A base hit by Trey Martin (1-for-4 with an RBI) plated Bote in the sixth inning. In the seventh, a triple by Caratini brought Chesny Young (1-for-4) home. Caratini scored on a sacrifice fly.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (29-31)
Iowa could have used the slaughter rule on Friday as they lost to Round Rock 11-4. Jake Buchanan was clocked by the Express as he surrendered seven earned runs in four innings. Giovanni Soto and Felix Pena were touched for two earned runs apiece, while Corey Black and Spencer Patton each tossed a scoreless inning.
All the runs for the I-Cubs came in eighth inning after Willson Contreras (3-for-4 with a double and an RBI) doubled in Kris Negron (1-for-3). A double by Matt Murton (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) brought in Contreras. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3) and Murton scored on a throwing error.
The shaky Iowa pitching staff was pummeled again by Round Rock, as they lost 14-9 on Saturday. Aaron Brooks, on a Major League rehab, gave up four earned runs and struck out four in three innings. Alex Sanabia was thrashed for eight earned runs as he pitched four innings. Armando Rivero surrendered two more earned runs in two innings.
A triple by Mark Zagunis (2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) drove in Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a double) in the third inning, and Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3) scored on a single from David Freitas (3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI) in the seventh. A four-run fifth inning was highlighted with a three-run triple by John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a triple and three RBI) to bring in Zagunis, Matt Murton (1-for-5 with two RBI), and Juan Perez (1-for-5). A double from Freitas plated Andreoli.
Iowa pitching was once again at the heart of a loss, this time 10-7 to Round Rock on Sunday. Drew Rucinski was at his inconsistent best as he surrendered five earned runs and struck out four in 4.2 innings. Gerardo Concepcion poured gas on the fire as he gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Miguel Mejia and Dallas Beeler held the Express, but Carl Edwards Jr. allowed three earned runs in the eighth. Spencer Patton had two strikeouts in the ninth.
John Andreoli (2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) led off the game with a solo home run and drove in Munenori Kawasaki (0-for-5) with a single in the second inning. Dan Vogelbach (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) belted his 10th home run in the third with Mark Zagunis (2-for-4) on base. A triple by Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI) plated Andreoli in the fourth inning. In the seventh, a double from Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in Vogelbach and Matt Murton (1-for-5 with a double).
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs-1 (2-5)
The D-1 Cubs broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth on Friday to beat the DSL Pirates 4-3. Catcher Henderson Perez (1-for-4) singled in the ninth and pinch-runner Moises Colassante scored on a sacrifice fly. Reliever Elvis Diaz struck out two in two scoreless innings for the win.
On Saturday, D-1 made it two in a row as they defeated the DSL Indians 3-0. High profile outfielder Jonathan Sierra went 1-for-2 with an RBI. Edison Novas pitched four innings of scoreless relief and had three strikeouts.
Dominican Summer League – DSL Cubs-2 (4-3)
It was a pitching nightmare for D-2 on Friday as they lost 12-9 to DSL Rojos. Emilio Ferrebus was hit hard as he gave up four earned runs in 3.1 innings. Second baseman Luis Diaz had a good game as he went 3-for-5 with three RBI.
D-2 nudges their record over .500 on Saturday with an 8-5 win over Orioles-2. Outfielder Yovanny Cuevas is beginning to hit his stride as he was 3-for-5 with a double and a stolen base. Ivan Medina picked up the win with three innings of scoreless relief.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned OF Alex Bautista to the Iowa Cubs from extended Spring Training; assigned INF David Bote to the Tennessee Smokies from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans; assigned OF Daniel Spingola to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from the South Bend Cubs; assigned C Tyler Pearson to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from extended Spring Training; assigned OF Roberto Caro and INF Josh Silver to the South Bend Cubs from extended Spring Training.
The Tennessee Smokies placed INF Stephen Bruno on the 7-day disabled list.