Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/25/14

Iowa pitching set a franchise record for shutouts in a win, Kane County got back on track, and Boise posted a shutout Monday. Tennessee and Daytona both lost, while Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (69-69)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Iowa pitching set a franchise record with its league-best 14th shutout in an 8-0 win over host Tacoma.

  • RF Jorge Soler (.282) homered for the second time in as many games, a three-run shot in the third inning. Soler is 11-for-20 (.550) with 10 RBI over his five-game hitting streak, including 9-for-12 (.750) the last three games.
  • 1B Jonathan Mota (.248) went 2-for-3 with his second homer of the season and first since April 26.
  • DH Junior Lake (.293) singled twice and doubled (1) to extend his hitting streak to seven games (.324/12-for-37), dating back to his second game with Iowa on August 19.
  • RHP Alberto Cabrera (4-2, 3.39) provided 4.2 scoreless innings of relief for his fourth win.
  • Prior to the game, three 2014 Iowa Cubs were named to the All-PCL team: 2B Arismendy Alcantara, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, and RHP Blake Parker.

Tennessee Smokies (32-32)
1st Place (+1.0)

Tennessee dropped its fifth-straight contest, a 2-1 home loss to Jacksonville.

  • RHP C.J. Edwards fanned eight over five innings, giving up one earned run.
  • LF Pin-Chieh Chen (.242) came off the bench to record the only Tennessee multihit game, his second such game in a row. Chen has hit safely in his last five games (.429/9-for-21).
  • SS Anthony Giansanti (.230) tallied his 16th RBI despite going hitless for the second-straight game. It was the third time he has knocked in a run in a hitless effort.
  • LHP Andrew McKirahan (0-3, 2.96) suffered his third loss, pitching two frames of relief and allowing the winning run.

Daytona Cubs (37-26)
1st Place (+2.0)

Daytona could not keep a five-game winning streak alive as the Cubs fell to host Dunedin, 8-7—after trailing 7-1 after five.

  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.275) tied a season high with seven total bases, blasting a solo homer in the fourth, adding his third triple of the year and knocking in two (35).
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.312) extended his hitting streak to 13 games (.440/22-for-50), going 1-for-4 with an RBI (28).
  • LF Bijan Rademacher (.276) led off the ninth with a solo shot, finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI (52).

Kane County Cougars (42-21)
1st Place (+3.0)

Kane County took the lead in the top of the seventh with back-to-back blasts from DH Yasiel Balaguert and RF Jeffrey Baez, topping Burlington 8-3 on the road.

  • Balaguert (.243) went 2-for-4 with two runs, a double (16) and two RBI (48). Baez (.276) finished with just the one hit, driving in his 14th run.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.252) tallied three singles in his fourth multihit effort in the last six games.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.266) went 2-for-4 with his team-leading 25th double and two RBI (67).
  • RHP James Pugliese (4-0, 1.81) allowed an unearned run in the sixth, suffering a blown save (2) but earning his fourth win when the Cougars went ahead in the seventh.
  • RHP Jasvir Rakkar (0.00) earned his first hold and extended his scoreless streak to 17.0 innings in 10 outings.
  • Prior to the game, Cougars Manager Mark Johnson was named the 2014 Midwest League Manager of the Year.

Boise Hawks (16-15)
3rd Place (-5.0)

Boise shut out visiting Everett, winning 3-0 despite being outhit by the AquaSox, 8-5.

  • RHP Trevor Clifton earned the win in his fourth quality start, delivering a season-high seven scoreless innings.
  • The shutout was completed by RHP Ryan McNeil (9.64), who earned his first hold, and RHP Corbin Hoffner (1.35), who recorded the final four outs for his second save.
  • 3B Jesse Hodges (.263) singled and doubled (11) for the only Boise multihit game. Four of the five Hawks hits were doubles—from Hodges, CF Rashad Crawford (.266, 12 2B), 1B Danny Canela (.282, 15 2B) and C Mark Malave (.273, 7 2B).

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/24/14

It was a tough day for the Cubs’ affiliates, with only Daytona coming away victorious on Sunday. Boise had the day off and will resume play Monday night. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (68-69)
3rd Place (-4.0)

Iowa lost for the ninth time in its last 10 games, falling at Tacoma, 5-4 in 14 innings.

  • RHP Dallas Beeler pitched six strong innings, giving up no earned runs and fanning six.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.307) homered for the second-straight game, going 1-for-6 with a first-inning, two-run blast. His 43 total home runs on the season lead the minor leagues.
  • DH Jorge Soler (.278) reached base five times, going 3-for-5 with two walks and a seventh-inning, solo home run. He’s tallied eight hits in his last two games to go along with four RBI.
  • C Rafael Lopez (.286) and 1B Eli Whiteside (.202) recorded three hits apiece.

Tennessee Smokies (32-31)
1st Place (+1.0)

Tennessee lost its fourth-straight game, falling to visiting Jacksonville, 9-7. Tennessee pitching has allowed 50 runs in its last four games.

  • SS Addison Russell (.297) went 2-for-5 with a ninth-inning, two-run blast.
  • RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.233) went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, a double (7) and one stolen base (5).
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.347) went 3-for-5 with his 12th RBI of the season.
  • In his first start with the Smokies, Felix Doubront allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in 4.1 innings. He threw 95 pitches, with 59 of them going for strikes.

Daytona Cubs (37-25)
1st Place (+2.5)

Daytona won its fifth-straight game, beating host Lakeland, 7-1.

  • RHP Tayler Scott gave up one earned run over five innings.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.314) extended his hitting streak to 12 games (.456/21-for-46) and homered for the fifth-straight game, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI (27). He’s clubbed six home runs over the last five games, and has recorded eight multihit efforts during his 12-game hit streak.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.308) went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and his 12th double of the year.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (1.29) struck out three hitters in 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Kane County Cougars (41-21)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County had its 13-game winning streak snapped, falling at Burlington, 2-1.

  • RHP Daury Torrez gave up two unearned runs and struck out five in five innings.
  • SS Carlos Penalver (.214) went 2-for-4 with a double (17) and his 37th RBI of the campaign.
  • C Mark Zagunis (.292) went 1-for-3 with a walk and his first triple of the season.
  • RHP David Garner (3.38) allowed two hits and fanned one in three scoreless innings of relief.

Mesa Cubs (8-15)
5th Place (-7.5)

Mesa managed just two hits in a 5-1 loss at the AZL Angels.

  • 2B Varonex Cuevas (.319) and C Tyler Alamo (.205) recorded the two hits.
  • RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-4, 7.71) allowed one run and fanned three in two innings of work to suffer his fourth loss of the year.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/21/14

Daytona battled back, Kane County kept its streak alive, Boise improved to .500, and Mesa posted a shutout victory Thursday. Iowa’s ugly skid continued, while Tennessee couldn’t hold a lead. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (67-67)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Iowa fell to .500 with the team’s seventh-straight loss, a 7-2 decision at the Reno Aces.

  • CF Junior Lake (.316) hit a solo homer with two out in the fifth inning, his first at any level since June 17 at Miami with Chicago.
  • 2B Jonathan Mota (.224) went 2-for-4 with a run and his fourth double in his first multihit game since July 27 with Tennessee at Birmingham.
  • SS Elliot Soto (.206) snapped a three-game hitless skid (0-for-9) with two singles in four at-bats, knocking in his ninth run.

Tennessee Smokies (32-28)
1st Place (+3.0)

Tennessee jumped ahead with a three-run second, but surrendered the lead, falling 8-4 at Montgomery.

  • LF Lars Anderson (.341) went 2-for-4 with a run and his ninth double, extending his hitting streak to five games (.333/7-for-21).
  • 2B Stephen Bruno (.277) has hit in 11 of his last 12 games, singling twice yesterday and driving in two (39). He is hitting .326 (14-for-43) over the stretch.
  • C Charles Cutler (.312) tallied his 24th multihit game of the year, finishing 2-for-3 with a run.
  • RHP Tony Zych (5.30), RHP Zach Cates (4.85) and LHP Jeff Lorick (3.84) combined to allow just one unearned run on two hits over 5.2 frames of relief.

Daytona Cubs (33-25)
1st Place (+2.0)

Daytona came back from down 2-0 to take the series finale over visiting Clearwater, 5-4.

  • LHP Rob Zastryzny gave up one earned run over seven innings, fanning five to pick up the win.
  • LF Bijan Rademacher (.271) hit a solo shot in Daytona’s three-run fifth. Rademacher has five homers since the beginning of July after hitting just three through the first three months.
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.267) finished 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, his second with Daytona. Hannemann’s multi-RBI performance was his second since joining Daytona.
  • DH Kyle Schwarber (.281) extended his hitting streak to eight games (.393/12-for-30) with a solo homer to lead off the eighth, adding two walks and a stolen base (3). Schwarber has eight extra-base hits and four two-hit games during the streak.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.308) knocked his third triple with Daytona and fifth of the year.
  • LHP Austin Kirk (2.95) earned his first hold, allowing two unearned runs over 1.2 frames.
  • RHP Zack Godley (3.75) recorded the final out for his fifth save.

Kane County Cougars (39-20)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County set a new franchise record for home wins with their 51st such victory and season-high 11th win in a row. The Cougars took the series opener over Clinton, 7-3.

  • RHP Jonathan Martinez gave up three hits and no runs over five innings, striking out seven in the win.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.269) finished with a season-high four hits, a run and his team-leading 62nd RBI.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.240) recorded his 12th multihit effort with Kane County and second in as many games.
  • 2B Chesny Young (.338) doubled (5) and drove in two (6).
  • SS Danny Lockhart (.282) tripled for the third time this season.
  • DH Mark Zagunis (.250) doubled (3), scored three runs and stole his third base in just six games with the Cougars.
  • RHP Francisco Carrillo (2.16) recorded the final out for his fifth save of the season.

Boise Hawks (14-14)
3rd Place (-4.5)

Boise improved to .500, besting host Vancouver in a 13-inning marathon, 5-3.

  • DH David Bote (.276) doubled twice (11) and drove in three (16), including a two-run, game-winning double in the 13th inning. Three other Hawks—RF Charcer Burks (.326), 3B Jesse Hodges (.263) and SS Bryant Flete (.309)—recorded two-hit efforts.
  • 2B Jason Vosler (.275) hit his third triple of the season, finishing 1-for-5.
  • RHP Corbin Hoffner (1-1, 1.69) recorded his first win with Boise, tossing three innings of relief as part of a four-man, 10.2 scoreless-inning effort from the bullpen.

Mesa Cubs (8-12)
5th Place (-6.5)

Mesa shut out the visiting D-backs in a seven-inning contest, winning 6-0.

  • RHP Alex Santana gave up no earned runs over six innings, striking out four. Santana earned his third win in his first quality start. It was his third of four starts allowing zero earned runs.
  • RF Rubi Silva (.667) went 2-for-3 with an RBI (1) in his first game with Mesa.
  • 2B Ho-young Son (.321) tallied two hits, including his second double, and scored a run.
  • DH Eloy Jimenez (.240, 24 RBI) and C Alberto Mineo (.262, 23 RBI) drove in two runs apiece.
  • Rehabbing RHP Brian Schlitter completed the shutout with a perfect seventh inning before the game was called.

Cubs place Castro on bereavement list; move Jackson to DL

The Cubs today placed shortstop Starlin Castro on the bereavement list and placed right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson on the 15-day DL with a right lat strain. Infielder Logan Watkins and left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup have been recalled from Triple-A Iowa.

Both Rosscup and Watkins, who will wear uniform No. 45, will be available for the Cubs this afternoon when they resume their suspended game with the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field at 4:05 p.m.

Rosscup, 26, joins the Cubs for his fifth stint this season and has no record and a 7.50 ERA (5 ER/6.0 IP) in seven big league relief outings. He began the year with four scoreless appearances but allowed five runs in 2.0 innings covering three appearances during his last big league stay and was optioned to Iowa on July 20. With Iowa, Rosscup is 2-0 with four saves and a 2.10 ERA (7 ER/30.0 IP) in 29 relief appearances.

Watkins, 24, joins the Cubs for the first time this season after batting .256 (81-for-316) with 20 doubles, one triple, four home runs and 38 RBI in 101 games with Iowa this year. The left-handed hitter made his big league debut with the Cubs last season and batted .211 (8-for-38) with one double in 27 games.

Castro is batting .284 (141-for-496) with 31 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs and 64 RBI during his 2014 All-Star season. Bereavement list rules allow for a stay of a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days.

Jackson is 6-14 with 6.09 ERA (94 ER/139.0 IP) in 26 starts for the Cubs this season.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/20/14

Tennessee clinched a series win, Kane County made it 10 straight, and 2014 draft pick Jake Stinnett made his Boise debut in a victory Wednesday. Iowa and Daytona both lost, while Mesa had the night off and will resume play this afternoon. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (67-66)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Iowa surrendered a three-run lead to host Reno, dropping their sixth-straight game, 11-4.

  • 3B Kris Bryant (.312) hit his minor league-leading 41st home run of the season, his 19th with Iowa, and finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk and two RBI (47 with Iowa, 105 total).
  • LF Manny Ramirez (.209) hit his second double of the season, and C Rafael Lopez (.274) tallied his first triple of the year. Eight of the Iowa starting nine recorded at least one hit.
  • LHP Eric Jokisch’s loss snapped his streak of four-straight quality starts. At the plate, he recorded his second multihit game of the season (previously done, May 26 vs. Colorado Springs), going 2-for-3 and scoring a run.
  • RHP Marcos Mateo (3.82) allowed an inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, suffering his first blown save.

Tennessee Smokies (32-27)
1st Place (+3.0)

Tennessee clinched the series win with a 4-1 victory over host Montgomery.

  • SS Addison Russell (.306) hit his third homer in as many games, a two-run shot in the first, and added a single in his sixth-straight game with at least one RBI (31). Russell is 9-for-23 (.391) with three homers and 11 RBI in his last five games.
  • CF Albert Almora (.245) has hit safely in eight of his last nine games (.371/13-for-35).
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka (3-3, 2.95) earned his third win with 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.
  • RHP P.J. Francescon (3.51) followed with two shutout frames to earn his seventh hold.
  • RHP Blake Cooper (1.64) recorded his first save with a scoreless ninth.

Daytona Cubs (32-25)
1st Place (+3.0)

Clearwater took the lead at Daytona with a five-run fifth, beating the Cubs, 7-3.

  • LF Bijan Rademacher (.270) hit his sixth triple (tied for second on the team and eighth in the league) and singled in his 22nd multihit game of the year.
  • SS Marco Hernandez (.272) recorded his second-straight multihit game, going 2-for-3 with a run, a walk and an RBI (48).
  • DH Kyle Schwarber (.277) extended his hitting streak to seven games (.393/11-for-28). Schwarber has doubled in five of his last six games, with four two-hit games in that span.

Kane County Cougars (38-20)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County tied a franchise record for home wins with their 50th such victory and 10th in a row. The Cougars scored five in the bottom of the eighth to beat visiting Burlington, 7-3.

  • CF Jeffrey Baez (.276) hit his fourth homer, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, as part of a 2-for-4 effort. He has three multi-RBI games on the season.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.235) and DH Yasiel Balaguert (.247) tallied two singles apiece. It was Candelario’s 11th multihit effort of the year, while Balaguert has had 18 such contests.
  • RHP Jasvir Rakkar (3-0, 0.00) earned his third-consecutive win in relief, contributing 1.1 perfect frames to bring his scoreless streak to 14.0 innings over eight outings.

Boise Hawks (13-14)
3rd Place (-4.5)

Boise evened the series at one win apeice with a 4-1 victory at Vancouver.

  • RHP Jake Stinnett fanned four over 2.2 hitless innings in his Boise debut.
  • SS Bryant Flete (.303, 6 2B) and C Mark Malave (.274, 6 2B) each singled, doubled and scored twice.
  • RF Charcer Burks (.326) knocked in two (13).
  • RHP Jeremy Null (1-0, 1.86) contributed 3.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn his first win of the year.

Cubs, Giants set to resume Tuesday’s suspended game Thursday afternoon

As announced today by Major League Baseball, the Tuesday, August 19, game against the San Francisco Giants is scheduled to resume tomorrow at Wrigley Field.  The game will resume at 4:05 p.m. CT with the Cubs batting in the bottom of the 5th inning.  Following the conclusion of the game, the Cubs and Giants will play their regularly-scheduled game at 7:05 p.m.

Ticket holders from the Tuesday, August 19, game may redeem their tickets for tomorrow’s 4:05 p.m. game and remain for the regularly-scheduled 7:05 p.m. contest against the Giants.  Ticket holders for tomorrow’s 7:05 p.m. game may also attend the 4:05 p.m. game from their ticketed seats.

To redeem tickets, fans must present the Tuesday, August 19, game ticket at the Wrigley Field Ticket Office. Tickets may be redeemed for the best comparable seats and are subject to availability. They cannot be refunded or exchanged for cash value.

Tuesday, August 19, ticket holders who cannot make tomorrow’s  game may opt for a complimentary weeknight game at Wrigley Field during the remainder of the 2014 season as announced today by the team.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/19/14

Daytona split a doubleheader, Kane County secured a win with a pair of late runs, and Mesa pitched a shutout Tuesday. Iowa, Tennessee and Boise were all on the losing end of the ledger. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (67-65)
3rd Place (-3.0)

A two-run homer by Manny Ramirez was not enough to top visiting Salt Lake. The Bees came back to beat Iowa, 4-2.

  • Ramirez (.206) launched his third homer and knocked in both Iowa runs (10).
  • After going 0-for-4 in his first game with Iowa this season, CF Junior Lake (.444) singled four times to record his first four-hit game at any level since August 2, 2013, with Chicago.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.307) doubled (14) and walked in his return to the Iowa lineup. His first-inning walk was his third walk in three consecutive plate appearances spanning three separate games.

Tennessee Smokies (31-27)
1st Place (+3.0)

After an Addison Russell grand slam, Tennessee’s bullpen could not hold a four-run lead in the ninth, as the team fell at Montgomery, 7-6, on a walk-off, three-run homer from Biscuits RF Taylor Motter.

  • RHP C.J. Edwards pitched five innings of scoreless ball, fanning seven.
  • SS Addison Russell (.301) hit his second homer in as many games, a two-out grand slam in the seventh, and knocked in five runs (29) in his fifth-straight game with at least one RBI. He added his ninth double to finish 2-for-5. Russell has 12 total bases and seven RBI in the last two games.
  • CF Albert Almora (.234, 5 2B) and 1B Lars Anderson (.338, 8 2B) tallied one double apiece.
  • RHPs Matt Loosen (5.74, 1 H) and Zach Cates (5.25, 4 H) each recorded a hold before RHP Frank Batista (4-1, 1.09) surrendered the lead, suffering his first loss and allowing four unearned runs.

Daytona Cubs (32-24)
1st Place (+3.0)

GAME 1: Daytona needed extra frames to take the first half of a home doubleheader vs. Clearwater, 4-3. C Kyle Schwarber tied the contest with a two-out homer in the seventh before the Cubs won on a walk-off error in the bottom of the eighth.

  • Schwarber (.270) finished 2-for-4 with the game-tying solo shot and his sixth double. His six total bases were the most he has had in one game since July 29 vs. Bradenton.
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.255) doubled twice (7) to snap a three-game hitless skid (0-for-12). It marked his first multidouble game since June 4 with Kane County.
  • SS Marco Hernandez (.266) recorded his seventh triple, tied for fifth in the league.
  • RHP Stephen Perakslis (4-0, 4.02) earned his fourth win with three hitless innings of relief.

GAME 2: Daytona could not complete the doubleheader sweep, dropping the second game to visiting Clearwater, 5-2, despite outhitting the Threshers, 10-8.

  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.278) extended his hitting streak to six games (.417/10-for-24), including four-consecutive two-hit efforts.
  • DH Dan Vogelbach (.272) and SS Marco Hernandez (.269) each tallied two of Daytona’s eight singles.

Kane County Cougars (37-20)
1st Place (+1.0)

Kane County scored twice in the eighth to top visiting Burlington, 4-3, for the Cougars’ ninth-straight win.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn gave up one earned run over five innings.
  • After hitting four homers in his first 191 minor league games, CF Trey Martin (.243) hit his third in the last five games, setting a new career high with four on the season.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.265) finished 1-for-3 with a double (24) and two RBI, bringing his total to a team-leading 61.
  • RHP Zak Hermans (3-3, 4.00) earned the win with three innings of one-run relief.
  • RHP Francisco Carrillo (2.25) recorded his fourth save, tossing a scoreless ninth inning.

Boise Hawks (12-14)
T-3rd Place (-4.5)

Boise was blanked by host Vancouver despite recording eight hits. The Hawks fell, 2-0.

  • LF Kevin Brown (.287) went 3-for-4 with his 10th double of the season. He has four extra-base hits in his last three games.
  • RF Charcer Burks (.325) finished 2-for-4 with his fifth double. He has seven hits and three RBI in his last three games (.583/7-for-12).
  • RHP Ryan Williams (1-1, 1.59) surrendered two unearned runs over four innings while fanning six. He recorded his first loss of the year in the relief effort.

Mesa Cubs (7-12)
5th Place (-6.5)

Mesa shut out the visiting AZL Giants, 7-0.

  • 2B-SS Varonex Cuevas (.313) finished 3-for-5 with his first triple and an RBI (4), his first since July 28 vs. the AZL D-backs.
  • RF Eloy Jimenez (.246) singled and drove in his 22nd run, good for second on the team (Gleyber Torres, 26).
  • LHP Carson Sands (3-0, 0.56) tossed three scoreless frames to earn his third win, tying him for the team lead. Sands has allowed just one earned run in 16 innings pitched over eight games.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/18/14

Tennessee scored a bunch of runs late, and Kane County was victorious on an extra-inning, walk-off single Monday. Iowa, Boise and Mesa were all handed losses, and Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (67-64)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Iowa fell to third place with the club’s fourth-straight setback, surrendering a 4-1 lead to lose to visiting Salt Lake, 7-5.

  • 2B Logan Watkins (.257) doubled twice (20) for the only Iowa extra-base hits. He also knocked in three runs (37) for the third time this season.
  • LF Ryan Kalish (.238) tallied three singles, a run and an RBI (25). He has seven hits in his last four games (.500/7-for-14), and has posted a .333 average (11-for-33) in 12 August games.
  • C Rafael Lopez (.273) recorded his third multihit game in his last six, going 2-for-4 and scoring a run.

Tennessee Smokies (31-26)
1st Place (+3.0)

Tennessee scored five runs in the eighth inning to secure a 7-1 win at Montgomery. It was the Smokies’ sixth-straight win.

  • RHP Corey Black gave up one run over five innings, striking out four to pick up the win.
  • SS Addison Russell (.297) hit his ninth homer in 38 games since joining Tennessee and recorded at least one RBI for the fourth-straight game. He finished 2-for-5 with two runs, a double (8) and two RBI (24).
  • CF Albert Almora (.236) went 2-for-5 with a double (4). He has six hits in his last three games (.400/6-for-15).
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.338), 3B Christian Villanueva (.246) and DH Charles Cutler (.308) all tallied two hits apiece. Both of Villanueva’s base hits were doubles (15).
  • RHP P.J. Francescon (3.62, 6 H), LHP Hunter Cervenka (3.04, 13 H) and RHP Blake Cooper (1.69, 4 H) combined for three frames of scoreless relief, each earning a hold.

Kane County Cougars (36-20)
1st Place (+1.0)

It took Kane County an extra frame to win the team’s eighth-straight contest on a walk-off single from LF Shawon Dunston in the bottom of the 10th. The Cougars topped visiting Burlington, 2-1.

  • Dunston (.284) finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk and the club’s only RBI (33). It was his second consecutive multihit game and his seventh in 16 games this month.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.264) singled twice.
  • RHP Jen-Ho Tseng spun his seventh quality start in 16 tries with Kane County, going six innings and giving up one earned run. He has allowed more than two earned runs just three times all season.
  • RHP Jasvir Rakkar (2-0, 0.00) made his seventh appearance without allowing a run (12.2 IP). He tossed 1.2 hitless frames to earn his second win.

Boise Hawks (12-13)
3rd Place (-4.0)

Boise surrendered a three-run lead to fall 7-3 at Salem-Keizer.

  • LF Kevin Brown (.265) hit his second homer in as many days, a two-run shot in the third inning.
  • RF Charcer Burks (.316) tripled (2) for the second-straight night, going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI (11). He has five hits and three RBI in his last two games (.675/5-for-8).
  • DH Justin Marra (.287) singled twice in his 14th multihit game of the year.

Mesa Cubs (6-12)
5th Place (-7.5)

Mesa managed just one run on four hits off the host AZL White Sox, dropping the decision, 4-1.

  • 3B Adonis Paula (.265) recorded the lone Mesa multihit game, singling, doubling (6) and knocking in his 15th run.
  • RF Eloy Jimenez (.238) and LF Ricardo Marcano (.269) recorded the remaining two Mesa hits, both singles.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Cubs Rizzo showing power and patience


(Photo by Stephen Green)

The following story can be found in the August issue of Vine Line.

Of course Anthony Rizzo has seen the video. Like so many others who saw it happen live or viewed the highlight replay with mouths agape, Rizzo has watched the home run he hit off the Reds’ Alfredo Simon on June 23.

The blast (pictured on our August cover) was ridiculous—and nearly impossible. Simon threw Rizzo a high, hanging breaking ball that was so far off the plate the Cubs’ first baseman almost needed the proverbial 10-foot pole to reach it. But he did more than just reach it. He hit it well out over the left-field wall at Wrigley Field.

If Rizzo was impressed with himself, it wasn’t for the reasons you might think. Sure, it was a home run, but more important for the slugger, it was a piece of hitting that summed up how things have been going for him this season.

“The biggest thing is if I was trying to hit a home run there, I would have rolled over to the second baseman,” he said. “I just saw the pitch and went with it. That’s really all I need to do is just put a good swing on the ball. Good things have been happening. Fortunately enough, it was lifted in the air.

“I saw the ball well. I saw it up, out.”

At this point, bells should go off, heads should nod, and hallelujahs should be sung to the rafters, for therein lies the key to Rizzo’s success. Despite the fact that he is one of the Cubs’ veteran players, he just turned 25 years old this month, which means he’s still learning to be a major league hitter. And this season, it seems like he’s taken a big developmental step forward. Though he hasn’t necessarily altered his approach, the results have changed dramatically for the better.

As Monday’s 4-1 win over the Mets—one where he ripped a go-ahead home run—Rizzo’s on-base percentage was nearly 40 points above his career norm. His .376 OBP ranks ninth in the NL.

Through his first 122 games, Rizzo had a hitting line of .276/.376/.507 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 28 home runs, 67 RBI, 64 walks and 100 strikeouts. If you extrapolate those numbers over an entire season, they’re pretty darn good, which is why some are now grouping the 2014 All-Star in with the elite first basemen in the game.

But before you start talking about him having a bounceback season after “struggling” in 2013, know this: Anthony Rizzo carries a quiet defiance about the kind of season he had last year, when he hit .233/.323/.419 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI.

“I think last year was a good year,” he said. “I drove in a lot of runs. I walked a good amount (76 times). I had a lot of doubles (40). But the average obviously wasn’t there, and some people look at average. Some people don’t. In my opinion, it wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t a great year, but it was kind of a baseline year.”


That said, this year has felt completely different from last year for both Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, the spotlight has been laser focused on the Cubs’ young cornerstone players. If the team plans to contend soon, it needs both—each signed to team-friendly, long-term contracts—to show better than what they did last year.

To help that along, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer hired new manager Rick Renteria to surround the Cubs’ young players with an aura of positivity and encouragement. Along with the new manager came a new hitting coach in Bill Mueller. While Renteria and Mueller knew all about Rizzo, they arrived with fresh perspectives and no preconceived notions.

“Coming in, you just go on what you’ve seen from video watching or from when they came in and played the Dodgers, seeing a glimpse,” said Mueller, who was with Los Angeles’ front office last year. “So there was nothing I had really built up until getting here and getting to know the guys personally and then seeing them before that relationship [started] to grow.

“He’s a very talented player, first off. I think with the new breath of fresh air with Ricky and the staff, that’s been a nice complement to come into the season. The whole staff has handled this group in a very positive way. That type of atmosphere has led some of these guys to have good starts.”

Renteria said he noticed the positive vibes emanating from Rizzo from the beginning of Spring Training. The new skipper also had time to visit with his first baseman during the Cubs Caravan and the Cubs Convention in January.

“He came into this season—to the spring, actually—with an idea that he wanted to improve on using a little bit more of the field, having better at-bats, not chasing pitches in off the plate,” Renteria said. “He’s done a really nice job of adjusting to doing that. I think he made a very big, conscious effort of working on his approach.

“When you have guys that are learning how to hit and have power, I think your approaches can pay big dividends because when you start squaring up the ball, the strength, in and of itself, gives you an opportunity to drive the ball out of the ballpark. That’s been really, really good. We’re really happy with the way he’s progressing, and hopefully it continues.”


Unlike the Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto—a player many compare Rizzo’s abilities to—who is willing to talk swing mechanics and hitting all day long, Rizzo is generally content to let others analyze his approach. In fact, he doesn’t really appear to like talking about himself when it comes to hitting.

“I kind of have the same mindset every year,” Rizzo said. “I work pretty hard in the offseason with my trainer. Really, it was no different this past year. [It was] the same things we’ve done the last five or six years in the offseason. It was getting ready for the season. At the same time, I didn’t hit more or less. I just stayed with it. I came to spring and wanted to get confident again.”

The comparisons between Rizzo’s combination of power and patience and Votto’s might be more apt than people realize. This winter, Rizzo was able to spend some quality batting-cage time with the 2010 NL MVP while the pair, along with Padres pitcher Casey Kelly, worked out together in Florida.

Like Rizzo, the Reds’ standout is a left-handed batter—and if there’s anyone a young player should want to emulate, it’s stat geek darling Votto, who gets on base at a dizzying rate. Given Major League Baseball’s grinding schedule and a rash of injuries, Votto hasn’t been able to watch much of Rizzo in 2014, but he likes what he has seen.

“I haven’t been able to see him enough, but I definitely see improvement in performance—more home runs, obviously, and a guy who seems to be walking a little bit more,” Votto said. “He’s a cool guy. He’s a nice guy. He’s a very, very easy guy to get along with. I can see why he’s having the type of success he’s having. He’s very talented.”

It can be difficult at times for left-handed hitters to hit left-handed pitchers, but that’s been another marked improvement for Rizzo this year. After going .189/.282/.342 with just seven of his 23 homers against left-handed pitchers a year ago, Rizzo put up a .302/.407/.516 with eight homers against lefties.

“For me, it’s just seeing the ball,” he said. “It’s never comfortable facing left-handers, especially the relievers who are just nasty. I just focus on seeing the ball. I feel if I see it, my hands will be good enough to put the bat on it.”

Generally, when left-handed hitters have success against left-handed pitchers, it’s because they try to go with the pitch, and by doing so, they “see” it longer on its path to the plate. But for a hitter as naturally gifted as Rizzo, it also has a lot to do with confidence.

“The general key might be that you have a lot of confidence in yourself right against left, and when you have things in your mind that you can attach your confidence to when you get in that box, those things sometimes translate,” Mueller said. “I think that’s what’s happening to Riz. He’s very confident in spots, and those translations are happening whether it’s a lefty or a righty, whether it’s a starter or a reliever. He’s putting together some really good approaches and some good at-bats. Sometimes when things are really starting off on the right foot, that carries over a little bit. You can gain some momentum with that.”

Given the preponderance of advanced stats and information available these days to even the casual fan, it’s easy to analyze—and overanalyze—a player’s performance. Whether or not you think Rizzo had a down year last year, whether or not you think his new approach is here to stay, whether or not you think he’s on pace to become a perennial All-Star, it’s important to remember failure is a big part of the sport, and the best players are able to learn from their struggles. Ultimately, baseball is a game, and it should be fun.

“I always tell myself, even now when I struggle, that it’s a process,” Rizzo said. “You look at guys throughout the year who have progressed every year and have gotten better, and that’s all you really want to do is just get better every year. The more at-bats you get, the more you feel like you’re going to learn in this league. It’s just a process.

“It was fun last year. It was. What’s fun about it is you put all this work in and when you do get results, it’s nice and rewarding. But it’s still fun. It sounds weird, but when you struggle, you appreciate the game too because it’s so hard. You have to have fun here. It’s too long of a season not to have fun whether you’re going good or bad. It’s about staying even-keeled whether you’re going good or bad. You have to come in and be the same person.”

—Bruce Miles, Daily Herald

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/17/14

Tennessee continued its winning streak, Kane County claimed both games in its doubleheader, some late runs were enough for Boise and Mesa managed a doubleheader split Sunday. However, Iowa and Daytona both fell. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (67-63)
T-2nd Place (-2.0)

Iowa dropped its third-straight contest, falling at home to Salt Lake, 3-2.

  • LF Josh Vitters (.218) and C Eli Whiteside (.199) had two hits apiece.
  • RHP’s Marcos Mateo (3.86) and Armando Rivero (1.78) combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief.
  • Iowa hitters went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Tennessee Smokies (30-26)
1st Place (+3.0)

Tennessee extended its winning streak to five games with a 7-3 victory at Montgomery.

  • RHP Felix Pena gave up two earned runs over 6.1 innings, fanning four to get the win.
  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.229) went 3-for-4 with a fourth-inning, two-run homer.
  • DH Taylor Davis (.355) and CF Albert Almora (.226) had three hits apiece. Almora drove in one (7).
  • LF Pin-Chieh Chen (.221) went 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI (7).
  • 2B Stephen Bruno (.277) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and his 26th double of the season.

Daytona Cubs (31-23)
1st Place (+2.0)

Daytona could not take advantage of five Tampa errors, as the D-Cubs fell on the road, 8-7.

  • C Willson Contreras (.233) homered for the second-straight game, going 2-for-4 with an eighth-inning, three-run blast.
  • RF Bijan Rademacher (.269) went 1-for-3 with a seventh-inning, solo shot.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.262) went 2-for-5 with a double (5) and his first triple of the season.
  • RHP Zack Godley (3.79) tossed two scoreless innings of relief

Kane County Cougars (35-20)
1st Place (+1.0)

GM 1: Kane County held host Wisconsin to just two hits in a 9-0 victory.

  • RHP Daury Torrez gave up one hit over five innings, striking out three to earn his 11th win of the season.
  • CF Jeffrey Baez (.273) went 1-for-2 with a seventh-inning, solo home run.
  • C Victor Cartini (.256) went 3-for-4 with a run scored and a game-high three RBI (12).
  • RF Yasiel Balaguert (.246) and SS Carlos Penalver (.209) had two hits apiece.
  • RHP David Garner (3.12) tossed two scoreless frames to earn his first save of the year.

GM 2: Kane County completed the doubleheader sweep with a 2-0 victory at Wisconsin.

  • RHP Ben Wells pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits to pick up the win.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.275) went 1-for-3 while homering for the second time on the day.
  • SS Carlos Penalver (.212) was 2-for-3 with a run scored and a double (16).
  • RHP Francisco Carrillo (2.57) struck out the side in the seventh for his third save of the year.

Boise Hawks (12-12)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Boise scored all seven of its runs in the last three innings, beating host Salem-Keizer, 7-6.

  • 3B Jesse Hodges (.269) went 2-for-4 with an eighth-inning, solo blast.
  • LF Kevin Brown (.266) went 2-for-5 with a ninth-inning, two-run shot.
  • CF Rashad Crawford (.278), RF Charcer Burks (.293) and 1B Dan Canela (.301) had two hits apiece.
  • RHP Daniel Lewis (1-0, 1.29) earned his first win while RHP Corbin Hoffner (3.86) earned his first save.

Mesa Cubs (6-12)
5th Place (-7.5)

GM 1: Mesa held the visiting AZL White Sox to just three hits in a 3-0 victory.

  • LHP Jose Paulino fanned eight batters, giving up no runs over five innings in the win.
  • 3B Adonis Paula (.257) went 1-for-3 with a fourth-inning, solo home run.
  • RHP James Pugliese (0.00) struck out two over two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first save.

GM 2: The AZL White Sox defeated Mesa, 2-1, in a makeup game from July 13.

  • SS Gleyber Torres (.279) and 2B Andrew Ely (.341) recorded both of Mesa’s hits.
  • RHP Pedro Araujo (2.84) struck out four hitters while allowing an unearned run in two innings of relief.

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