Results tagged ‘ Tennessee Smokies ’
Cubs top prospect Javier Baez playing for the Tennessee Smokies in 2013.
The Cubs have had success at the Double-A level since teaming up with the Tennessee Smokies in 2007. On Wednesday, the clubs worked out a deal that will hopefully extend that success.
The Chicago Cubs and the Tennessee Smokies announced a four-year Player Development Contract extension, keeping the club’s Double-A affiliate in Kodak, Tennessee, through the 2018 season.
“We are pleased to reach agreement with the Tennessee Smokies on a four-year Player Development Contract extension,” said Jason McLeod, Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development. “Our front office has enjoyed our relationship with the Smokies, and the players who have come through Tennessee have spoken very highly of the Smokies and their fans. We thank Randy Boyd, Doug Kirchhofer, Brian Cox and the entire Smokies family for their commitment to providing a great experience for our Double-A players.”
This PDC extension will bring the Cubs and Smokies affiliation to 12 seasons by the end of the 2018 campaign. Since beginning their affiliation with the Cubs in 2007, the Smokies have participated in postseason play in five of seven seasons and have advanced to the Southern League Championship series three times. Tennessee has posted a 553-485 record (.533) as of June 10, with six of seven completed seasons ending with a winning record. The .533 winning percentage is best among all affiliates in Smokies history.
“Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod have been great partners,” said Smokies owner Randy Boyd. “The Cubs have strong ownership and an outstanding organization. We look forward to continuing this affiliation for many more years.”
Tennessee has seen many of the Cubs top prospects over the last two seasons, including No. 1 prospect Javier Baez in 2013 and No. 2 prospect Kris Bryant this year. In total, 35 Smokies have gone on to make their major league debuts with the Cubs, including Jeff Samardzija, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Welington Castillo.
“There’s no question the talent that has come through Kodak recently has been some of the best in baseball, and it’s an amazing opportunity for fans to see the stars of tomorrow pass through here,” said Smokies General Manager Brian Cox. “The impact the players and coaches have made in East Tennessee has been tremendous and the future is clearly bright for both the Chicago Cubs and Tennessee Smokies.”
Last week, Double-A Tennessee Smokies starter Eric Jokisch was put on the seven-day disabled list for arm fatigue. It’s safe he’s feeling better after his return on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old southpaw became the first Smokies pitcher to toss a nine-inning no-hitter in 28 seasons, throwing 108 pitches and striking out eight. The Virginia, Ill., native’s four walks were the only blemishes on his record.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva snared a line drive in the ninth and shortstop Javier Baez made a diving catch on a looping fly ball a batter later to keep the effort intact.
Jokisch is 9-10 on the year with a 3.57 ERA and 114 strikeouts over 128.2 innings. He was the Cubs’ 11th-round pick in 2011 from Northwestern University.
Alberto Cabrera and five other Smokies were named to the Southern League All-Star team. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs minor league affiliates went an impressive 4-1 on Tuesday, with Iowa, Tennessee, Boise and Mesa all picking up wins. Daytona had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.
Iowa Cubs (44-42)
Iowa recorded nine extra-base hits in a 6-2 victory over visiting Memphis.
- SS Donnie Murphy (.264) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double (11), a home run and two RBI (32).
- 1B Brad Nelson (.266) logged his second-straight multi-RBI game, going 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI (50).
- 3B Junior Lake (.324) recorded a season high three extra-base hits, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, adouble (8) and two triples (2).
- LF Ty Wright (.250) was 2-for-4 with a double (4) and two RBI (10). He’s hit safely in four of his last five games.
- RHP Casey Coleman (2.82) and RHP Marcus Hatley (5.17) combined for 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.
- Yesterday, LHP Chris Rusin was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star Team and was called up to Chicago.
Tennessee Smokies (7-5)
Tennessee outlasted host Montgomery in a 13-inning affair, beating the Biscuits 4-3.
- RF Matt Szczur (.298) extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 1-for-5 with a walk and a stolen base (18). He’s hitting .372 (16-for-43) with four doubles, six runs scored and eight RBI during the streak.
- 3B Christian Villanueva (.248) went 2-for-6 with a double (21), a home run and two RBI (40).
- C Rafael Lopez (.253) clubbed his fifth home run of the season, going 2-for-5 with the homer and two RBI (22).
- RHP Yeiper Castillo (1-2, 4.60) struck out two while tossing 3.0 scoreless innings of relief to earn his first win.
- Yesterday, six Smokies were named Southern League All-Stars: INF Arismendy Alcantara, INF Christian Villanueva, C Rafael Lopez, OF Matt Szczur, RHP Alberto Cabrera and RHP Kyle Hendricks.
Kane County Cougars (2-10)
Kane County mustered just five hits in a 5-3 loss at Wisconsin. The Cougars have lost four of their last five games.
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.247) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run, two RBI (28) and one stolen base (1).
- SS Marco Hernandez (.258) extended his hitting streak to four games, going 1-for-3 with a walk and one RBI (24).
- CF Albert Almora (.343) went 1-for-4. He’s hitting .464 (13-for-28) against left-handed pitching.
- LHP Sheldon McDonald (0.00) tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. He hasn’t allowed a run in his first three appearances with the Cougars (7.0 IP).
Boise Hawks (11-8)
Boise won its sixth-straight game with a 10-5 victory over host Salem-Keizer.
- 2B David Bote (1-for-4, BB, 2 R, HR, RBI) and 1B Jacob Rogers (1-for-1, R, HR, 3 RBI) each hit a home run.
- C Lance Rymel (.235) went 1-for-3 with two walks, a season-high three runs scored and two RBI (5).
- 3B Dan Lockhart (.296) logged his second-straight, multihit game, going 2-for-5 with a double (2) and two RBI (5).
- RHP Orbandy Rodriguez (1-2, 6.75) worked 2.0 scoreless innings, earning his first win of the season.
- RHP Tyler Bremer (1.93) recorded the final six outs for his second save.
Mesa Cubs (6-5)
Mesa won its fourth-straight game, defeating the visiting AZL Brewers 6-4.
- SS Giuseppe Papaccio (.313) went 2-for-4 with a double (1) and a career-high three RBI (6).
- LF Kevin Brown (.280) registered his second-straight multihit game, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and oneRBI (2).
- RHP Marcos Mateo (1-0, 0.00) struck out the side in the fifth inning and recorded the victory.
- RHP Erick Leal (0.75) allowed an unearned run on four hits in 2.0 innings of relief, converting his first save.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
A little rain wasn’t going to stop Matt Garza. With elbow and lat issues keeping the the 29-year-old out of action since July and rehab stints getting pushed back by rain and a dead arm, it’s been awhile since he’s taken the mound in a competitive atmosphere.
“I didn’t think there was anything that was going to stop me from going out there,” Garza said of his rainy Wednesday return with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. “A long delay—I sat on a bike for a long time.”
Poor whether caused the game to be delayed for more than an hour and a half, and it was eventually called in the bottom of the fifth. But Garza had a successful, pain-free outing, going 2.2 innings (42 pitches), with one earned run on one hit and two walks. He was back at Wrigley Field on Thursday to check in with the major league squad before heading out to Iowa for his second rehab start on Monday.
“I was just glad to throw strikes, glad they were swinging. It’s a good sign,” Garza said. “I put the ball in the zone a lot, so that’s all I was looking for.”
The right-hander has been on the DL since July 21 of last season after aggravating his throwing elbow. Then early in the spring, he tweaked his lat, causing him to miss all of Spring Training. Manager Dale Sveum said the club would make some decisions about a potential return to the big league club after Garza’s third rehab start. Even though the ace can finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel, he said his focus is solely on his Monday start.
“I’m just looking forward to [start] No. 2,” he said. “When I get to three, we’ll make those decisions. But right now, I’m just going to prep my body for No. 2, prep my mind for No. 2—going to go from there.”
Garza was 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 103.2 innings for the Cubs in 2012.
The Smokies return slugger Justin Bour. (Photo by Rodger Wood)
Coming off of a 2011 Florida State League title, many believed the Tennessee Smokies were destined to repeat in 2012. But that didn’t happen, as the team hovered around .500 for much of the year, finishing 72-68.
This year’s Smokies might not have the hype of the 2012 squad, but after retaining 17 players and adding a few highly touted prospects, a league title could again be in their sights.
The 2013 offense is fronted by a few key returnees in Justin Bour and Matt Szczur. Bour, a 24-year-old first baseman, was the rock in the middle of the order last season, hitting .283/.360/.455 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 17 homers and a franchise-record 110 driven in. If he’s not moved up, he could near that RBI total again, especially considering Szczur and newcomer Arismendy Alcantara will bat ahead of him in the lineup.
Former fifth-round pick Szczur was all over Single-A hitting before his call-up last season. Though he struggled at Double-A (.210/.285/.357 in 35 games), he performed well in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .264 and drawing 14 walks in 105 at-bats. He also stole nine bases.
The 21-year-old Alcantara was promoted after a stellar 2012 in Daytona, where he hit .302/.339/.447 with 13 doubles and swiped 25 bags. The versatile infielder will likely line up at short, and he’s a tough out at the plate.
Alberto Cabrera is a Tennessee newcomer who will head a rotation that features three returnees. The 24-year-old Cabrera pitched in relief for the first time in his career last season and reached the majors, where he went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 21.2 innings. Eric Jokisch, Dae-Eun Rhee, Dallas Beeler and call-up Kyle Hendricks round out the starting staff.
Buddy Bailey returns to manage the Smokies, who play Friday night at 7 p.m. CST. Here’s the roster Bailey will have to work with to start season:
Frank Batista RHP
Dallas Beeler RHP
Alberto Cabrera RHP
Marcus Hatley RHP
Kyle Hendricks RHP
Eric Jokisch LHP
Trey McNutt RHP
A.J. Morris RHP
Kevin Rhoderick RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee RHP
Zach Rosscup LHP
Brian Schlitter RHP
Tony Zych RHP
Tennessee Smokies infielder Logan Watkins was named the organization’s 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo by Rodger Wood)
Today we continue our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The Double-A Tennessee Smokies are next in the spotlight.
For all the talent we’ve written about in the lower levels of the Cubs system, it was the Tennessee Smokies who featured two full seasons from the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
Two nights ago, infielder Logan Watkins and right-hander Nick Struck were honored by Jason McLeod and farm director Brandon Hyde in a pre-game ceremony at Wrigley Field. Watkins was a 21st-round pick out of high school in the 2008 draft, and he’s shown a consistent ability to get on base throughout his minor league career. This year, he hit for a .281/.383/.422 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) and collected 76 walks in 588 plate appearances. His 13 percent walk rate was three percentage points higher than his already lofty career standards, and his slugging percentage was nearly 50 points higher despite having roughly the same batting average. In other words, it was a career year.
Of course, Watkins’ skill set is broader than just patience. He has versatility in the field—spotting at shortstop and center field in addition to second base—and the speed to rack up double-digit triples and stolen bases. He bats left-handed too. A 23-year-old sleeper to track as he likely moves to Iowa next year.
Struck also is turning out to be a late-round sleeper. A 2009 39th-round pick out of an Oregon community college, Struck emerged as the Smokies’ ace a season after he split time between three levels (A, AA and AAA). His 155 innings led the team, and he finished with a 3.18 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Just as importantly, his hits and walks allowed ticked down from a year ago, while his strikeouts climbed to just over seven per nine innings.
Struck isn’t a high-ceiling type—in other words, someone with a high-90s fastball or a wipeout breaking ball—but he’s succeeded with poise, pitch ability and a versatile four-pitch mix. He turns 23 this month and also is likely to wind up in Iowa next season.
First Half / 35-35, tie-second place, 7.0 GB
Second Half / 37-33, tie-second place, 4.0 GB
Storylines: This is a team that the Cubs front office hopes will develop some future contributors in Chicago. Matt Szczur struggled in his first taste of Double-A, but he has the toolset to hit for average and use his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield alongside Brett Jackson. Right-hander Trey McNutt has had mixed success since his breakout campaign two years ago, but this summer, the Cubs found a new home for his plus fastball and power breaking ball in the bullpen. Shortstop Junior Lake also is smoothing out rough edges, but he has a ceiling that few prospects in the higher levels can match. Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha deserves special mention after a successful all-around campaign including a home run in the Futures Game.
With a 2-1 Smokies win over the Montgomery Biscuits on Tuesday, outfielder Brett Jackson continued to prove why he is one of the Cubs’ top prospects. Both of the Smokies’ runs came from solo homers by the 2009 first-round pick.
The 6-foot-2 Jackson struck the first time in the top of the third, tying the game at 1-1 on a two-out home run to right-center off of Shane Dyer. But both teams were unable to come through with any more timely hits, and the game went into extras.
In the top of the 10th, Jackson hit his second off of Zach Quate, and Jeff Stevens shut out the Biscuits in the bottom of the frame to close the win.
While he hasn’t yet made his major league debut, Jackson is on track to make an appearance in the Wrigley outfield, perhaps by the time rosters expand in September. Here’s what our annual Minor League Prospectus had to say about Jackson, who also was featured on the cover:
“Most observers predict it won’t be long before Jackson patrols centerfield at Wrigley. His plus speed allowed him to steal 30 bags between high A and Double A, and he showed above-average power with 12 homers, 66 RBIs and 32 doubles. His strikeout numbers (126) are offset by a keen eye (73 walks). Though Jackson bowed out of the Arizona Fall League due to a staph infection, he should be fine by spring training.”
Brett Jackson career stats: