Down on the Farm: Oneri Fleita, VP of Player Personnel

Throughout the season, Vine Line Online will speak with players, managers and front-office personnel in the minor-league system. Today, “Down on the Farm” checks in with Oneri Fleita, Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel, about what he has learned about the system through a month and a half. Keep coming to the blog for reports, player profiles, interviews and stories during the week.

The State of the Farm

Sometimes it is tough for organizations to gage the strengths and weaknesses of their minor-league pools because of how raw the players still may be. For Fleita, this is not the case.

“I feel like for the first time we have some catching depth,” Fleita said. “We have Steve Clevenger, who’s a converted guy, and he’s catching in Double A with Chris Robinson. These are all guys who have caught in the major leagues. Welington Castillo has done a nice job in Daytona and Josh Donaldson in Peoria. That’s a nice little piece of depth we have.”MCGEHEE C SPRING 0208 7.JPG

Chicago also finds itself with a bevy of talented young third basemen.

“We feel pretty good at third base with [Peoria’s] Josh Vitters, Jovan Rosa and Marquez Smith, [pictured Iowa’s] Casey McGehee [and Tennessee’s] Kyle Reynolds,” Fleita said. “That’s been another area of strength, third base.”

Starting pitching has proven over and over again to be the key to success at the major-league level and Fleita is doing everything he can to ensure the Cubs will develop more starters for the future. Alessandro Maestri and Jose Ceda, for example, have been moved from the bullpen to the Daytona rotation.

“We are really trying to develop as many starters as we can,” said Fleita. “So we are taking every good arm and trying to get them into the rotation because to develop a 200-plus-innings pitcher is probably our biggest goal in the minor-league system.”

Zach Martin

Read on for a level-by-level report of the Cubs farm system.

iowa cubs.gifIowa Cubs
(AAA): 15-18 Overall
Northern Division T-2nd Place (-1.5)

Iowa barraged Tacoma with a 14-run, 16-hit attack, earning their second straight win, 14-2.

Kevin Hart (ND 0-0, 2.70)  3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

HOMERS – Casey McGehee (4), Josh Kroeger (2), Tony Richie (2)

? C Tony Richie went 4-for-5 with two doubles, three runs scored, four RBI and a stolen base … he raised his season average to .325.
? Starter Kevin Hart looked solid in his second start of the year for the I-Cubs, throwing 3.2 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits while walking none and striking out six.
? CF Andres Torres went 1-for-4 with two walks and a run scored, extending his hitting streak to 23 games (32-for-86, .372) … his current hitting streak ranks fourth longest in I-Cub history.
? The last I-Cub to have a hitting streak longer than 22 games was Roosevelt Brown, who had a 26-gamer from August 6 to September 3, 1999. … Steve Saggs (1977) and Mike Squires (1978) hold the franchise’s longest streaks with 33-games apiece.

Tennessee Smokies (AA): 14-20 Overallsmokies.gif
North Division 5th Place (-9.0)

Tennessee rode an early offensive outburst to their third win in four games, dispatching of the Lookouts, 6-4.

LHP James Russell (ND, 0-0 2.70) 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K

HOMERS – Steve Clevenger (1)

? C Steve Clevenger went 2-for-5, hitting his first homer of the year, a three-run shot in the third inning to put the Smokies ahead, 5-1.
? Each of the top three hitters had two-hit games (Matt Camp 2-for-5, Nate Spears 2-for-3, and Tyler Colvin 2-for-5) … they have combined to go 11-for-26 (.423) with nine RBIs, four walks, and nine runs scored over the last two games.
? RHP Grant Johnson and RHP Jim Henderson combined for 3.0 innings of one-hit, shutout relief to preserve the two-run victory.

Daytona Cubs: 16-18 Overall
daytona.gifEast Division T-3rd Place (-5.0)

The Daytona offense came alive in the ninth inning, but their comeback was too little, too late, as the Cubs fell to Sarasota 3-2.

RHP Adam Harben (L 1-5, 6.12) 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

? RF Jim Adduci went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, raising his average to .349, good for second in the Florida State League … he also ranks second in the league in hits (45), walks (21) and on-base percentage (.444).
? 1B Blake Lalli had the only other two-hit game for Daytona, going 2-for-4 with a double.

Peoria Chiefs: 12-21chiefs.gif
Western Division 8th Place (-12.0)

Clinton jumped ahead early, and Peoria’s three-run ninth inning was not enough as the Chiefs dropped a 7-3 decision.

RHP Alberto Cabrera (L 1-4, 6.21) 3.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K

HOMERS – Marquez Smith (3)

? 3B Marquez Smith went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI on his third home run of the year, a solo shot with two out in the ninth.
? The Peoria bullpen combined for 4.1 innings of relief, allowing just one unearned run on two hits, with no walks and four strikeouts.

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