In a full slate of minor league games Thursday, Tennessee and Kane County both pitched shutouts, Mesa secured a victory, and Iowa split a doubleheader. On the down side, Daytona gave up a late lead, and Boise’s bats were quiet. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (41-37)
2nd Place (-1.5)
Game 1: Iowa won the first game of the road doubleheader, topping the Sky Sox, 7-3.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.294) led off the ninth with his ninth homer, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs, a double (20) and two RBI (35).
- CF Ryan Kalish (.233) had his first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with a run, his fourth double, two RBI (10) and two stolen bases (6).
- 1B Chris Valaika (.306) added two singles, a run and his 37th RBI.
- RHP Kyle Hendricks tossed his fourth-consecutive quality start, and 10th in 15 starts this season. He pitched six innings of two-run ball, striking out four, to pick up the victory.
Game 2: Player/coach Manny Ramirez made his season debut with Iowa, going 0-for-4 and reaching on an error as the I-Cubs fell in the nightcap at Colorado Springs, 7-6.
- SS Javier Baez (.237) went 3-for-4 with two runs, two doubles (13) and his team-leading 44th RBI.
- Iowa totaled six doubles on the night—two from Baez and one each from 3B Kris Bryant (1-for-4, RBI), PH Ryan Kalish (1-for-3, R), C Eli Whiteside (1-for-3) and Alcantara (1-for-4, R).
Tennessee Smokies (6-2)
1st Place (+1.5)
Tennessee blanked host Jackson for a 4-0 victory.
- RHP Corey Black pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out three and picking up his third win of the season.
- Five Smokies recorded two hits apiece—2B Stephen Bruno (.300), 3B Christian Villanueva (.364), RF Rubi Silva (.255), LF Jonathan Mota (.192) and SS Elliot Soto (.152). Villanueva has three-straight multihit games (7-for-13).
- DH Charles Cutler (.322) hit a double (9) and knocked in a run (27) in four tries. He had the Smokies’ only extra-base hit.
- Following Black’s 5.1 scoreless frames, LHP Hunter Cervenka (2.87) and RHP P.J. Francescon (3.12) completed the shutout, throwing two and 1.2 innings, respectively.
Daytona Cubs (5-3)
T-1st Place (–)
RHP Michael Jensen (L, 4-3) allowed visiting Dunedin to take the lead with two earned runs in the ninth, and Daytona lost, 5-3.
- SS Marco Hernandez (.276) was the only Cub to record multiple hits, including his eighth double.
- Team RBI leaders 1B Dan Vogelbach (.271, 35 RBI) and CF Albert Almora (.254, 34 RBI) each added one to their season totals.
Kane County Cougars (5-2)
T-2nd Place (-0.5)
RHP Daury Torrez tossed eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over Wisconsin.
- Torrez struck out seven and gave up five hits over eight innings in the win.
- C Kyle Schwarber (.455), C Ben Carhart (.293) and 1B Jacob Rogers (.263) each went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Schwarber and Carhart hit their third and 15th doubles, respectively.
- CF Trey Martin (.231) doubled in four tries and knocked in two (22).
- RHP James Pugliese (1.24) polished off the win with a perfect ninth inning.
Boise Hawks (5-9)
4th Place (-4.0)
Boise managed just five hits in a 10-0 loss to visiting Hillsboro.
- CF Rashad Crawford (.243) hit his second double and his third triple of the season.
- DH Justin Marra (.325) went 2-for-3 with his fifth double. He leads the team with eight extra-base hits.
- RHPs Greyfer Eregua (6.00) and David Garner (1.50) finished the game with four scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and fanning six.
Mesa Cubs (4-1)
1st Place (+0.5)
Mesa improved to a league-best 4-1, topping the visiting Athletics, 7-4.
- DH Jorge Soler hit his first homer, a two-run shot, and finished 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI. In three games this season, he is 5-for-10 (.500) with three runs, two doubles, a homer and four RBI.
- CF Charcer Burks (.524) added a solo shot in the eighth. In five games, he is 11-for-21 (.524) with nine runs, four doubles, a triple, a homer, seven RBI and four stolen bases.
- LHP Andin Diaz (1-0, 0.00) earned the win in his first appearance, spinning three scoreless innings and striking out two.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria is all about forward momentum. He doesn’t waste time worrying about trade rumors or other distractions. Instead, he’s focused on creating a positive learning environment and developing the team’s young major league talent. When we sat down with the skipper during a three-game sweep of the Mets in mid-June, things seemed to be heading in the right direction. We talked to Renteria about the team’s learning curve, Anthony Rizzo’s development as a hitter and the bullpen’s burgeoning youth movement.
To read the full interview, pick up the July issue at the ballpark or at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia, which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed this season at Wrigley Field so much. I have been looking forward to Wrigley’s 100th birthday for a few years now because I knew it would give Vine Line a chance to really delve into the organization’s history.
We not only produce the magazine, but we also create the scorecards sold at the Friendly Confines during every home series. To tie in with the Cubs’ 10 Decades, 10 Homestands promotion, we’ve been populating the covers with photos specific to the years being celebrated—which means we’ve spent countless hours searching the team’s photo archives for just the right shots.
When the Yankees were in town during the 1930s homestand, we found a picture from the 1932 World Series between the North Siders and the Bronx Bombers. When the Cubs were honoring the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1940s series, we found a photo of the league’s tryouts, which were held at Wrigley Field in 1943.
In the interest of full disclosure, my home is littered with black-and-white photographs of everything from the Chicago Theater to my relatives during WWII to the Cubs at Spring Training on Catalina Island. I love this stuff, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent a few evenings looking through the photo archives just for fun.
In other words, this is probably something I shouldn’t get paid to do (though I probably don’t need to spread that news around).
Some of the things that caught my eye when we were planning our 2014 content for the magazine last year were the memorable program and scorecard covers the team used from the 1930s through the 1960s. We liked them so much, we decided to dedicate the valuable back page of the magazine (The Score) to featuring some of the best of the best this season.
When we wanted to learn more about the scorecards, we went to that amazing wellspring of arcane Cubs information from every era, team historian Ed Hartig, who has been an invaluable resource for all the historical content we’ve published this year. It turns out, for decades, most of the scorecard designs were the brainchild of one man, Otis Shepard, former art director for the William Wrigley Jr. Co. and longtime member of the Cubs board of directors. For our monthly Wrigley 100 feature, we look into the life and career of Shepard and how he came to design some of the Cubs’ most iconic images.
It’s also the July issue, which means it’s almost time for the Midsummer Classic. For our annual All-Star issue, we set out to find the most valuable Cubs player in each of Wrigley Field’s 10 decades. To do this, we used the stats website Fangraphs to compile the highest Wins Above Replacement totals for each decade. WAR essentially takes all of a player’s offensive and defensive efforts and outputs them into a single number designed to measure how many wins he provides over an average replacement player. There are definitely some names you would expect (I don’t think we could have a list like this without Mr. Cub), but there are also a few surprises (Rick Reuschel, anyone?).
Finally, Vine Line had a dream opportunity in May when the Yankees came to town. We worked with Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III to bring together two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. The legendary players sat down for a tête-à-tête that is every baseball fan’s dream come true.
Of course, we’re good for more than just history lessons. Follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline for the best of the Cubs past, present and future.
And let’s keep that whole “shouldn’t get paid” thing between us.
Tennessee had a big inning, Daytona posted a shutout, and Boise snapped its lengthy losing streak Wednesday. On the other side of the ledger, Kane County surrendered a lead late, while Iowa and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Tennessee Smokies (5-2)
1st Place (+1.0)
Tennessee scored three in the sixth inning to jump ahead of host Jackson, winning by a final score of 4-2.
- RHP Matt Loosen picked up the win, giving up an earned run over six innings and striking out five.
- Tennessee’s nine hits were spread out over eight hitters, with DH Christian Villanueva (.357) recording the lone multihit effort. He went 2-for-4 and has five hits in the last two nights.
- LF Anthony Giansanti (.248) blasted his second homer of the season to add an insurance run with two outs in the ninth.
- LHP Jeff Lorick (5.40) allowed one earned run in two innings to earn his eighth hold.
- RHP Frank Batista (1.23) completed the ninth, recording all three outs for his first save.
Daytona Cubs (5-2)
T-1st Place (+1.0)
Daytona blanked the visiting Blue Jays, 7-0, backing a solid outing from RHP Jose Rosario with three home runs.
- Rosario pitched six strong innings, giving up no earned runs and fanning four to earn the win.
- DH Dan Vogelbach (.271) finished 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, a homer and two RBI. He is hitting .353 with six doubles and four homers in 68 at-bats at DH (compared to .242 with 12 doubles and three homers in 194 at-bats at first base).
- 1B Rock Shoulders (.215) and C Chadd Krist (.212) hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.289) recorded his 12th multihit game of the season, going 2-for-4 with two runs.
Kane County Cougars (4-2)
3rd Place (-1.0)
Kane County surrendered a one-run lead in the sixth to fall 3-2 to visiting Wisconsin.
- RHP Tyler Skulina gave up one earned run, striking out five over five innings.
- C Kyle Schwarber (.421) went 2-for-4 with his second home run in a Cougars uniform and his first stolen base at the professional level.
- CF Jacob Hannemann (.251) finished 1-for-3 with a run and two stolen bases (23). He has posted back-to-back games with multiple stolen bases for the first time in his career.
- RHP Zak Hermans (2-2, 5.17) recorded just one out, allowing two runs (one earned) and recording both his first hold and second loss of the season.
- RHP Corbin Hoffner relieved Hermans and suffered his third blown save, allowing two inherited runners to score in the sixth but giving up no more runs in 2.2 innings.
Boise Hawks (5-8)
4th Place (-3.0)
Boise snapped a seven-game skid with an 8-4 victory over Spokane, their first road victory of the season.
- RF Jeffrey Baez (.176) led off the game with his second homer, finishing the day 1-for-5 with a run and two RBI (8).
- DH Kevin Brown (.320) added a two-run shot and a single in five tries.
- 1B Mark Malave (.333) has hit in five straight games, singling twice on the day and knocking in one (2).
- LHP Tyler Ihrig’s quality start was Boise’s first in 13 games this season. He leads the team with 18.0 innings pitched.
Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rondon (left to right) have all been big contributors this season for the Nationals. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Nearly everyone picked the Nationals to run away with the NL East in 2014, but it has been a tightly bunched division in the early going, with the Nats just a game up on Atlanta as Thursday’s play began. Washington’s offense has been solid, and their pitching is about as good as it gets in the National League. Unfortunately, one of the bigger stories for the team thus far has been new manager Matt Williams calling out Bryce Harper for his apparent lack of hustle on an early-season ground out. Harper, who is known for his all-out, but often reckless effort, took the criticism in stride. Shortly thereafter, he hurt his thumb stretching a double into a triple, and he has missed a large portion of the season. He is due to return soon, though he’ll still miss the Cubs series.
(2nd in NL, 3.5 RA/G)
The Nats have the makings of a dominating rotation, but the arms didn’t quite perform to expectations in the early going. Former No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg is getting plenty of strikeouts and isn’t walking many, but he’s been very unlucky, with a ridiculous .356 BABIP resulting in a 3.70 ERA. University of Illinois product and Friday’s starter Tanner Roark is having a solid season (7-4, 2.79 ERA), while Saturday’s Game 1 starter Gio Gonzalez hasn’t yet lived up to his career numbers. Offseason acquisition and Thursday’s starter Doug Fister has been the addition everyone expected after coming back from injury in early May. Since his return, he has posted a 6-2 record with a 2.65 ERA. The bullpen is led by closer Rafael Soriano, who has converted 18 of 20 saves this season. Blake Treinen will start Game 2 of the doubleheader Saturday night.
(8th IN NL, 4.0 RS/G)
Harper’s loss was costly, especially considering no one has really stepped up in his absence. Veterans Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth have been strong, while Denard Span is bouncing back nicely after a rough 2013 season. His return has allowed the Nats to keep the offense clicking, even after losing Ryan Zimmerman for several weeks to a thumb injury. Danny Espinosa has stepped into a full-time role at second base, and the hot-hitting Anthony Rendon has moved back to his college position at third. The now healthy Zimmerman has looked solid since his move to the outfield, but it will be interesting to see what the Nats do with him once Harper comes off the DL.
The Cubs came to terms with catcher Mark Zagunis, the organization’s third-round pick in the 2014 MLB draft, on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Zagunis batted .330 with two homers, 10 doubles and 39 RBI in 53 games in his junior season at Virginia Tech. He posted a .426 on-base percentage, tallying 32 walks and swiping 16 bases. He was an All-ACC second-teamer for the second time in his career and was a semifinalist for the 2014 Johnny Bench Award.
In his time with the Hokies, Zagunis was a .338 hitter and had a .979 fielding percentage while playing primarily behind the plate. He stole 52 bases, becoming just the second player from Virginia Tech to record 50-plus stolen bases in a career since the school joined the ACC.
With this signing, the Cubs have inked 21 of their first 22 picks, with only sixth-rounder Dylan Cease still without a deal.
It was a solid day for the Cubs minor league sides, as they went a combined 5-1 Tuesday. Boise was the only squad unable to add a win to the victory column. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (40-36)
T-2nd Place (-1.0)
Kris Bryant hit a go-ahead homer for the third-straight game, as Iowa beat visiting Albuquerque, 6-2.
- Bryant (.238) is 5-for-21 with five home runs in six games since joining Iowa, including four homers in the last three games. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk, a run and three RBI (9). Between his time in Tennessee and now Iowa, Bryant has homered once every 9.96 at-bats this season (27 HR, 269 AB)
- Bryant and SS Javier Baez (1-for-2, 2 BB, RBI) were named to the All-Star Futures Game at Minnesota’s Target Field on July 13.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.290, 19 2B, 33 RBI) and LF Josh Vitters (.238, 9 2B, 25 RBI) had two hits apiece, including a double and an RBI each. Alcantara has five multihit efforts in his last six games, going 10-for-24 (.417) with five runs, three doubles, a triple and four stolen bases over the stretch.
- LHP Tsuyoshi Wada fanned 10 for the second time this season, earning the win with his 10th quality start of the campaign.
Tennessee Smokies (4-2)
1st Place (+0.5)
Tennessee moved into sole possession of first place with a rain-shortened, 6-2, win at Jackson.
- RHP Dae-Eun Rhee gave up one earned run over 5.2 innings, striking out three for the win.
- 3B Christian Villanueva (.333) went 3-for-4 with a run, three doubles (4) and two RBI (6). It was his first game this season with three extra-base hits.
- DH Stephen Bruno (.298) went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and his 23rd RBI. Each of the Smokies outfielders—CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.202, 17 RBI), RF Rubi Silva (.252, 36 RBI) and LF Anthony Giansanti (.246, 8 RBI)—went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
- RHP Lendy Castillo (3.10) earned the save (1), striking out the only batter he faced to end the game.
Daytona Cubs (4-2)
T-1st Place (–)
After Dunedin tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the eighth, CF Albert Almora gave Daytona the lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo homer. The Cubs won, 6-5.
- Almora (.254) finished 3-for-5 with two singles and the solo shot, his third of the season.
- RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.277), LF Bijan Rademacher (.287) and 1B Rock Shoulders (.214) had two hits each as part of a 13-hit Cubs attack. Eight out of nine D-Cubs hitters had at least one hit.
- LHP Andrew McKirahan (2-1, 1.11) earned his second relief victory of the season.
Kane County Cougars (4-1)
T-1st Place (–)
The Cougars scored six runs in the first three innings, topping the visiting Timber Rattlers, 9-3.
- CF Jacob Hannemann (.250) finished 3-for-4 with two runs, a walk, his team-leading fifth triple, two RBI (31) and two stolen bases (21).
- SS Carlos Penalver (.244), 1B Jacob Rogers (.258) and RF Trey Martin (.235) added two singles apiece.
- DH Yasiel Balaguert (.238, 13 2B), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.125, 2 2B) and LF Kyle Schwarber (.400, 2 2B) each tallied a double.
- Martin set a Cougars record with five stolen bases, surpassing Michael Richard who stole four bags in a game in 2008.
- RHP Michael Wagner (3.33) earned his third hold with three scoreless frames.
Boise Hawks (4-8)
4th Place (-3.0)
Boise lost its seventh-straight game on the road, falling 7-3 at Spokane. The Hawks have been outscored 50-27 over the seven-game skid, after outscoring their opponents 40-23 in their first five games (4-1).
- 3B Jesse Hodges (.143) went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI on his first homer, a two-run shot in the seventh inning.
- SS Varonex Cuevas (.115) finished 1-for-3 with a run and his first double of the season.
- RF Jeffrey Baez (.174) tallied one hit in four tries, recorded his sixth RBI and swiped his seventh base, good for third in the league.
Mesa Cubs (3-1)
1st Place (+1.0)
Mesa earned their third win over the visiting Angels with a 4-2 victory at home.
- RHP Luis Hernandez pitched five scoreless innings, striking out two to get the win.
- SS Gleyber Torres (.333) and C Tyler Alamo (.385) ripped two singles each, while CF Charcer Burks (.556) and RF Shamil Ubiera (.222) both doubled once in three at-bats.
- After five scoreless frames from Hernandez, RHPs Brad Markey (9.00) and Jose Arias (0.00) each tossed a scoreless inning for their first holds.
- RHP Pedro Araujo (4.50) followed with one earned run in two frames to earn his first save.
- The Cubs have scored 37 runs in their first four games (9, 15, 9, 4).
Only Iowa and Mesa picked up victories Monday, with Tennessee, Daytona and Boise all on the losing end of the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Kane County had a scheduled off-day and will pick up the action Tuesday night. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (39-36)
3rd Place (-2.0)
3B Kris Bryant hit his third homer in two nights as the I-Cubs topped the visiting Isotopes, 4-3, for their second consecutive one-run win. Iowa is 11-8 in one-run games on the season.
- RHP Dallas Beeler earned the win, pitching six innings, giving up three earned runs and striking out two.
- Bryant (.222) is 4-for-18 with four home runs in five games since joining Iowa. He finished 1-for-2 with two walks, a run, the solo shot and one RBI (6). Between his time in Tennessee and now Iowa, Bryant has homered once every 10.23 at-bats this season (26 HR, 266 AB).
- 1B Chris Valaika (.304) went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double. In his last six games, he is 11-for-24 (.458) with four runs, four doubles, two homers and four RBI.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.286), SS Javier Baez (.226) and LF Matt Szczur (.244) all tallied two singles apiece. Baez also swiped his 14th bag, tied for 11th in the league.
- After Beeler’s seventh quality start in 10 tries, RHP Arodys Vizcaino (13.50, 1 H) and LHP Zac Rosscup (2.76, 6 H) each threw a scoreless frame to earn holds. RHP Blake Parker followed with a scoreless ninth to convert his league-leading 16th save.
Tennessee Smokies (3-2)
T-1st Place (–)
Tennessee fell to 3-2 in their five-game home series with Chattanooga to begin the second half of the season. The Lookouts jumped ahead with a three-run first and never looked back, winning 7-3.
- Tennessee tallied just four singles on the day, including a pinch-hit, two-out single from Taylor Davis (.286, 13 RBI) to knock in two in the seventh inning.
- After Gardner lasted just 3.2 innings, LHP Jeffry Antigua (1.80), RHP Lendy Castillo (3.15), LHP Jeff Lorick (5.45) and RHP Tony Zych (3.93) combined to allow just one earned run over 5.1 innings, fanning six and walking just one.
Daytona Cubs (3-2)
T-1st Place (–)
Daytona did not produce a run on seven hits and two walks, falling 8-0 to host Tampa.
- 3B Jordan Hankins (.286) notched Daytona’s lone extra-base hit with a third-inning double (1).
- RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.273) and CF Albert Almora (.247) each swatted two singles.
- RHP Stephen Perakslis (5.25) provided 3.1 scoreless innings of relief. Five of his last seven relief appearances have been for more than three outs. He has kept opponents scoreless in six of his last eight games.
Boise Hawks (4-7)
4th Place (-3.0)
After beginning the season 4-1, the Hawks have dropped their last six, all on the road, including yesterday’s 12-6 defeat at the hands of first-place Spokane.
- 1B Daniel Canela (.278) launched his second homer of the season to lead off the fourth. He ranks third on the team with 17 total bases.
- LF Kevin Brown (.317) went 2-for-4 with a run, a double (6), a triple (1) and two RBI (8).
- Eight of the nine Hawks hitters recorded at least one hit.
Mesa Cubs (2-1)
T-1st Place (–)
Down 6-3, Mesa took over with a five-run sixth inning to beat the host Angels, 9-6.
- CF Charcer Burks (.600) continued his tear, going 3-for-4 with two runs, two doubles (3), two RBI (6) and a stolen base (2). After three games, Burks leads the Arizona League in average, slugging percentage (.933) and OPS (1.533). He sits tied for the league lead in OBP (.600, tied with teammate Alberto Mineo), runs (7), hits (9) and doubles (3).
- Four Mesa hitters—1B Alberto Mineo (.556), DH Tyler Alamo (.333), LF Ricardo Marcano (.267) and 3B Adonis Paula (.250)—finished with two hits in five tries at the plate.
- C Tyler Pearson (.200) recorded his first hit of the season, a fourth-inning triple. He scored two runs.
- RHP Jeferson Mejia (1-0, 0.00) struck out nine over five innings of relief, allowing two unearned runs and earning his first win.
- The Cubs have scored 33 runs in their first three games (9, 15, 9).
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The Reds were bitten by the injury bug early in 2014, with Mat Latos and Aroldis Chapman missing significant time. Somehow the team has managed to tread water while awaiting their return and currently finds itself at .500. Cincinnati has one of the best pitchers and one of the best hitters in the game in Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto, respectively. They also have speedster Billy Hamilton, who has the potential to be a very exciting player if he can continue to get on base. Still, the Reds have their work cut out for them if they hope to catch the streaking Brewers and the always-excellent Cardinals in a tough NL Central division.
(7th in NL, 3.8 RA/G)*
The Reds staff has been led by an absolutely dominant Johnny Cueto, and now Cincy will have its co-ace Latos back, as he recently returned from the DL after dealing with minor offseason elbow surgery. Former reliever Alfredo Simon has stepped in admirably and is currently tied for the NL lead in wins, and Mike Leake has been solid. The biggest surprise so far may be the struggles of Homer Bailey, who received a huge contract prior to the season. Closer Chapman began the year on the shelf, but Jonathan Broxton was strong in his stead. Chapman’s return has helped solidify things as the relievers return to more appropriate roles.
(10TH IN NL, 3.9 RS/G)*
Joey Votto continues to be one of the toughest outs in baseball, having posted a .410 on-base percentage, and Devin Mesoraco has been a revelation when he’s stayed healthy and on the field. Though Jay Bruce has struggled with batting average, his ability to hit for power while taking walks has helped make him a valuable player. On the other side of the ledger, the middle infield has been an offensive black hole, with Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart both delivering sub-.700 OPSs. At the top of the order is Hamilton, who has game-changing speed, struggled to get on base early this season, but has upped his average to .273 and swiped 31 bases.