So maybe the Cubs have some good arms after all...
Kyle Hendricks had no issues adjusting to AAA, Johnson mowed down FSL hitters in between the raindrops, and Starlin Peralta was a little wild, but nobody was digging in -- and you could probably say the same thing about Paul Blackburn.
Iowa 2 - Fresno 1
- So technically when you move up another level to AAA, one step from the majors, the hitters should be more advanced and your margin for error should get smaller. Somebody forgot to tell Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks went 7 innings in his debut and gave up just one run, and even that was unearned. He walked just one and struck out 5. Meet the new league, same as the old league.
- Alberto Cabrera has to be a relief guy for now and today he kept the dominance going with a scoreless inning, as did Brian Schlitter, who picked up his 14th save.
- The I-Cubs got 4 hits, but that was more than enough. One of those hits was a solo shot by Brad Nelson, #17 on the year. Jae-Hoon Ha pitched in with an RBI single.
Tennessee 9 - Montgomery 8
- Eduardo Figueroa made his second Tennessee start and it didnt' go as well as his first outing, but it was good enough in this slugfest. Most of the slugging came against Figueroa himself, who allowed 3 HRs, which accounted for 4 of the 5 runs he gave up. He walked 2 and struck out one.
- Tony Zych was the key reliever. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings which was just enough to keep the Biscuits from getting close enough to make their late inning comeback meaningful. Closer Frank Batista survived two walks and a single to allow 2 runs, exactly the amount allowable for him to pick up his 15th save.
- CF Matt Szczur hasn't been tearing it up of late but he broke out today with a 4 hit day including a double and his 3rd HR of the year. He also stole his 21st base and scored 4 times. The big day raised Szczur's line to .283/.349/.374 on the year.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara hasn't played this many games in his career so he got a couple of much needed days off. Today it paid off as he had a pair of singles and a walk along with his 26th SB of the season. He's tailed off a bit, hitting just .234 since June, but Alcantara still has a respectable .269/.345/.441 line on the year.
- OF Rubi Silva had a pair of doubles and stole his 13th base on the year. Silva's strong season continues and he's hitting .289/.309/.488 on the year.
- In case you are wondering, Javier Baez went 1 for 5 with an RBI and 2 errors, giving him 9 at Tennessee so far.
Daytona 11- Clearwater 0
- It's nice to report a Daytona game in which one of their top two starters was able to actually pitch more than an inning. Pierce Johnson went 5 today and did not allow a run, gave up just 2 hits, and struck out 6. The only blemish was 3 walks and that's something Johnson has struggled with a bit more at Daytona (3.75 walks/9IP) than he did at Kane County (2.84 walks/9 IP), but he's still striking out around a batter per inning and he's 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA at Daytona. He's 9-6 with a 2.90 ERA overall.
- LHP Kyler Burke came on in relief and pitched 3 innings of one hit ball. He walked just one and struck out one. Burke is 4-0 with a 3.50 ERA and has yet to give up a run in a relief role, though that's only 3 appearances and 6 innings. He also has a 1.64 ERA vs. LH hitters vs. 4.32 against RH hitters. At a quick glance and given his age (25), Burke's future may be in the bullpen. Perhaps he's ready to a promotion to his home state of Tennessee.
- As we mentioned when he was a member of Kane County, Armando Rivero has been all kinds of nasty lately and he didn't miss a beat in Daytona, pitching a 1-2-3 9th, striking out 2 of the batters. Now that he's in a short relief role, which is where I always thought he fit best, he could move very quickly. Rivero has reportedly touched as high as 96 in this new role.
- Daytona walked 10 times as a team yesterday and LF Anthony Giansanti drew four of those free passes. He also singled and scored 3 runs.
- RF Bijan Rademacher was the DH today and he has cooled off a bit with the bat, but is still holding his own in the pitching friendly FSL. He went 2 for 5 today with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI and is hitting .260/.308/.406 at Daytona. Rademacher is a nice hitter and a good athlete out in RF, but there are reports of him hitting 95 off the mound in college. He's 22 so he's still got time to see if he can develop the power they'd like from a corner outfielder, but I wonder at what point the Cubs start approaching him about a switch to the mound. He hasn't failed at a level like Kyler Burke or Johermyn Chavez have, so I imagine it's not as clear cut at this point.
- 1B Dustin Geiger found his power stork again and hit 2 HRs with 5 RBI. He also walked and scored 3 times. Geiger seemed to struggle a bit with the loss of teammates Jorge Soler and Javier Baez hitting in front of him but he has begun to look like his old self again. He's hitting .287/.369/.459 with 13 HRs as a hitter and has driven in 76 runs. I mentioned in the 1B piece earlier that I think Geiger still has a shot to make it as a 1B if he can develop 20 HR power and continue to hone his defense. He's not going to put up gigantic numbers but a solid all-around approach that includes a 10% walk rate and good situational hitting may make up for some of that.
Kane County 7 - Burlington 0
- Starlin Peralta is rounding into form but still hasn't found that control that caused him to take that leap forward last year. But when a guy is capable of a mid 90s fastball (peak 97) and is coming at you downhill from his 6'4" frame -- and adds a little uncertainty with a bit of wildness, I don't imagine it's easy to dig in if you're a hitter. Peralta pitched 5 innings of one hit ball and walked 5 hitters en route to his second win at Kane County. Peralta has yet to allow a run in 13.2 innings but has walked 10 batters while striking out 11. He's getting there but better control has to be the next step in his comeback.
- Justin Amlung has a polished 4 pitch repertoire but it's hard to say any of those pitches are dominant. He has been most effective in that long relief role and that was the case today as he pitched 2.1 innings of one hit ball today. He has a 4.24 ERA.
- Nathan Dorris pitches with an 87-88 mph fastball and a big slow (low 70s) curve. When he commands both pitches, he's tough out of that relief role. He went 1 scoreless inning and struck out 2. Dorris has a 3.35 ERA on the season.
- Gioskar Amaya left the game early and as of this writing I havent' found out why or how serious it is. Marco Hernandez came into hit for him while Giuseppe Papaccio moved over to 2B. Hernandez went 2 for 2 while Papaccio went 1 for 3 with a double, RBI, and run scored.
- Dan Vogelbach hit his 17th HR of the year, a 3 run shot in the 3rd that put the came out of reach for Burlington. Vogelbach continues to have a solid, but not dominant year as he has worked on refining his approach this season. I think it will pay off even more next season -- but for now Vogelbach has still been very good with a 282/.360/.453 line.
- C Neftali Rosario made an appearance. Some of you may remember Rosario as the most talented and highest drafted catcher out of a class that also included current catching prospects Rafael Lopez and Justin Marra. Rosario hasn't been able to remain healthy but he's still just 20 years old, so it's not too late for him to catch up, but like teammate Reggie Golden, he has missed a lot of development time and will have to work hard to make up for it.
Boise 7 - Vancouver 5
- Paul Blackburn had a similar outing to Starlin Peralta in that he was a little wild, but effective. He limited the damage to one run by allowing just 2 hits in 3 innings. He also struck out one. We haven't seen the same Blackburn that we have from the first couple of starts when he was hitting 95 and throwing strikes, so I wonder if the minor injury that kept him out of a few starts, is still affecting him a bit.
- I'm getting cautiously excited about Duane Underwood's performance of late. He still has a gaudy 5.54 ERA but he pitched 3 no-hit innings and walked just one batter. He struck out 2. He has still been inconsistent but he's shown flashes in 2 of his last 3 outings of starting to tap into that tremendous talent.
- Jose Arias moved one step closer to a return to Kane County with a scoreless inning at Boise.
- 3B Kris Bryant seems to be settling in quite nicely at Boise now. He hit his 4th HR to go with a walk and 2 runs scored. Bryant is hitting .294/.362/.627 -- just under a 1.000 OPS. If you erase that 5 strikeout debut the way Bryant seemingly has from his mind, he's hitting .326/.377/.696 (.1073 OPS) with a 9.4% walk rate and a 17% strikeout rate. Not bad, not bad at all...but it's still just over 50 PAs.
- OF Yasiel Balaguert is having himself a fine year at Boise after tremendous struggles last year as he transitioned into a new culture after a bit of a layoff from baseball. He looks to be in better shape this season and seems to be looking more and more like the hitter the Cubs thought he could be as perhaps one of their better under the radar signings out of Cuba. He hit a huge 3-run HR that turned out to be quite necessary as the Boise late inning RPs struggled to close the door. It was Balaguert's 6th HR of the season. He also doubled and is hitting .273/.352/.474 on the year -- and he's still just 20 years old.
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