It was a wonderful night all-around for the Minor-League Cubs squads, with the Iowa Cubs, the Smokies, the Daytona Cubs and the Kane County Cougars each picking up a nice “W” after the Major League team sealed yet another walk-0ff.
Double-A Final: Tennessee Smokies 4, Jacksonville Suns (Marlins) 0
The Smokies, now three games under .500 at 29-32, played terrific baseball on both ends of the spectrum Friday night, with the pitcing staff combining for nine shutout, six hit innings with eight punch outs along the way. Smokies’ starter for the night was Eduardo Figueroa, who worked just three-and-a-third innings, while throwing just 53 pitches (29 strikes). While Figueroa didn’t last long by any means, the 6’1″ right-hander did prevent the Suns from scoring, before handing it off to the bullpen. However, Figueroa did create some buzz with a solo homer off of Chipper Smith in the 3rd. After Figueroa’s early departure, P.J. Francescon, Zach Cates, Hunter Cervenka, and Armando Rivera combined to toss 5 2/3 scoreless frames out of the bullpen on three hits to thoroughly shut down the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate, featuring an impressive ninth from Rivera in which he struck out the side. The offense of the night was paced by a couple clutch singles, with Jeudy Valdez driving in two in the sixth and Rubi Silva driving in Valdez with a single in the eighth for the 4-0 shutout victory.
Triple-A Final: Iowa Cubs 2, Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies) 1
The Iowa Cubs, or more specifically Javier Baez, defeated the 26-34 Sky Sox in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel, moving the I-Cubs to a very respectable four games over (31-27) through the first 58 games of 2014. With all the excitement of the draft these past couple days, good ‘ole Javy B reminded us he’s still a top-10 prospect, finishing 2-for-4 with a two-run bomb and a double off the right-field wall. Baez’ two-run blast obviously proved to be the difference in this one, with a big thanks to Chris Rusin and his gem. Rusin, now at a very nice 3.14 ERA, tossed a great game, going eight innings on just six hits and a run, striking out two without issuing a single free pass. Tonight was pretty indicative of what Rusin brings to the table, with a low strikeout total and fairly solid control. Blake Parker, who posted a sub-3.00 ERA in fairly substantial MLB action last season, closed this one out for Iowa, serving up a hit and a walk but working out of it thanks to a couple punchouts and a failed stolen base attempt for the very nice “W”.
Advanced Class-A Final: Daytona Cubs 10, Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins) 7
After what seemed to be a close game blown by a shaky bullpen, the Daytona offense picked up their fellow teammate and erupted for seven runs in the seventh inning, good enough for a 10-7 victory. Dan Vogelbach got things started early for his Daytona ballclub, clubbing an opposite-field three-run shot in the first, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. After the Cubs’ starter, Tayler Scott, served up three runs on three hits in five-plus innings, the Cubs and Hammerheads were all tied up at three apiece. Immediately after Scott’s departure, things got dicey with the bullpen, with Stephen Perakslis surrendering four earned runs to damper fans’ hopes at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona. However, the Daytona offense got to work right away to pick up their teammate, exploding for seven runs in the seventh to go up 10-7 for good. In the outburst, Vogelbach drove in another with a single, Willson Contreras doubled home two, Wes Darvill singled home Vogelbach, Jeimer Candelario doubled in a run, Darvil scored on a wild pitch and infielder Marco Hernandez drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly to score Candelario.
Class-A Final: Kane County Cougars 12, Clinton Lumberkings (Mariners) 5
After the Daytona Cubs jumped all over the Hammerheads, the Kane County Cougars would no be out done, piling on with two sets of four-run innings and a three-run frame to score 11 of the 12 runs on the night, with a huge game from third-baseman Jordan Hawkins. The Cougars did not get a great start from promising right-hander Daury Torrez, as the 6’3″ 20-year-0ld served up nine hits and four earned runs in five innings, while striking out five. Torrez has had a fine season with the Cougars, as his ERA still rests at 3.67. Another promising young righty, Edwin Diaz, had a rough go of it tonight for the Lumberkings, surrendering six runs (three earned) on eight hits in five frames. Kane County collected 14 knocks in the pounding tonight, featuring a five-for-five contest from the 5’10′ third-baseman Jordan Hankins. Hankins doubled home two as well as part of the offensive attack. The Cougars did get a couple other big nights of course, with Shawon Dunston finishing with two hits, 2 RBIs and three runs scored and Trey Martin notching a hit and 3 RBIs in three official at-bats to improve the Cougars’ record to 41-20.