Just when the Smokies needed to win, they have found some wins. The Cubs’ Double A affiliate woke up Sunday morning seven games back in the division and with a chance to make some significant ground. The first place Chattanooga Lookouts were coming into the Smokies’ house for a five game set. If Tennessee could pull off the sweep, they would enter the home stretch of the season in prime position to steal a playoff slot.

On Sunday they won the first game of that five game series.
They won again on Monday. The Chattanooga lead is down to five.

Make no mistake, minor league players are a competitive bunch. Winning matters to them. Playoffs matter to them. The Smokies want this sweep. This is some of the best minor league baseball you are likely to watch or listen to all season.

Every Tennessee home game is broadcast through the MiLB.TV package (not free) and is radio broadcast via the internet (free). If you feel like taking a day off from the Chicago Cubs, watch or listen to a Smokies game as they attempt to make a last minute surge into the postseason.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Cubs found themselves on the wrong end of an 11-3 blowout.
Tennessee – The Smokies put up four in the bottom of the eighth to pull away for the 5-1 win.
Daytona – Daytona had Monday off. For real. This one was a scheduled off day, not a rain out.
Peoria – Let’s just say the Chiefs’ have had better days. They lost this game 8-1.
Boise – The Hawks kept this one close despite four errors, but they lost in the end 8-7.
Arizona – The AZL Cubs scored just one run on eight hits in this 5-1 loss.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Esmailin Cardiad pitched two scoreless innings for the Cubs, lowering his ERA to 3.13 in the process.
  • [Iowa] James Adduci reached three times on two hits and a walk. One of those hits was his second triple.
  • [Tennessee] Nick Struck allowed just one run in his six inning start. Trey McNutt and Brian Schlitter held Chattanooga scoreless for the rest of the game.
  • [Tennessee] Struck helped his own cause in this game. He doubled (his first) and scored, and now has a season batting average of .043.
  • [Tennessee] Junior Lake finished 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. Michael Brenly also drove in two.
  • [Tennessee] Not only did Jae-Hoon Ha go 2 for 3 with a walk, he also cut down a runner at home.
  • [Peoria] Timothy Saunders is riding a personal 12 game hitting streak that began when he was a member of Daytona on July 31.
  • [Boise] Daniel Vogelbach and Marco Hernandez both homered for the Hawks. It was Vogelbach’s ninth with Boise, and Hernandez’s fifth.
  • [Boise] Ian Dickson had a pretty good game. He allowed two unearned runs on three hits over five innings while striking out four.
  • [Boise] After reaching base five times on two singles, a double, and two walks, Stephen Bruno is now in possession of an 11 game hitting streak that dates back to August 8. The young infielder has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games.
  • [Arizona] Paul Blackburn struck out four over four innings while giving up just two hits.
  • [Arizona] Carlos Penalver had two more hits and his fifth stolen base yesterday. That marked his third straight multi-hit game and his fifth in the past six games.

Other Minor League Notes

  • After dropping their second consecutive road game to Yakima, the Hawks’ lead is down to four games. They could really use a win today before they head to Vancouver.
  • fortyonenorth

    What’s the story with Bruno? His numbers are impressive. It looks like the Yanks drafted him a few years ago, but he didn’t sign, so I’m assuming he’s a college kid. 2012 Cubs low-round pick. Good prospect?

    • MoneyBoy

      2012 7th round pick from U of Virginia, signed a tad over slot at $150,000. Listed as 5 ft 9 in, 175 lbs

    • BluBlud

      Bruno seems to be a pretty good prospect. What’s impressive to me is his average has actually gone up every month since he has arrived. Also, his average is higher on the road then it is at home, which suggest that there isn’t one ballpark boosting his numbers. His stolen base % is pretty pathetic, but he has only 7 attempts. For his size, and probably lack of dominate power, he is going to need to improve in that area. But if his bat stays as is, he could be a future utility guys at the next level.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Future utility is probably the best description of him, but I would not rule him out as a starting second baseman just yet.

        I’m not too surprised that he has had a fairly easy time of it in the minors so far (college guys often do). Right now I’m mainly looking to see when he will start to struggle and how he will respond to those struggles.

  • JR

    Anyone, know if Lake is improving defensively? I haven’t heard much on that dude recently. He is such a wildcard..

    • Brandon – AA Correspondent

      He played 3rd base last night and did quite well. The night before at Shortstop, he had 2 more errors. You’re right…he is a total wild card. you simply never feel comfortable when a ball is hit his way……but last night…..he was quite good at 3rd base. My personal opinion is that he is much better at 3rd base because he can simply “react” and let his talents take over. He is tall and has a great arm. I like him better at 3rd base and with the SS talent in the system, I believe a permanent move may be coming.

      I have been hard on Junior Lake this season. he drives me completely nuts. But….to be fair; he had 2 huge RBI last night in the 8th inning which decided the game. Infield in….bases loaded. No outs. He delivered a 2 run single (high chopper over the SS head). AWESOME!! But….if infield is at normal depth, it is a double play ball….who cares….we won!! Way to go Junior. haha

  • JB88

    May I make a formatting suggestion? Rather than list the highlights AAA to AZL, would you consider listing it by most impressive performance? I also wouldn’t mind seeing the performances and stat lines of the top prospects on a day to day basis. It is great to see what Soler, Baez, or Amora did when they perform well, but it would also be great to know what they are doing when they didn’t have a good day at the plate. TIA.

    • JR

      Luke you do a great job, but I agree with JB88. Hearing about Soler, Baez, Almora, and Voges good or bad would be awesome on a daily basis..

  • koyiehillsucks

    Saunders just keeps on hitting…

  • TampaCubsphan35

    Thanks to Bleacher Nation and Brent and Luke, I will be attending my first minor league game this evening(weather permitting) to see the Daytona Chiefs vs Clearwater Thrashers!! A year ago at this time the only thing I knew about the Cubs minor leagues was we had a team in Iowa. This site website has brought my enthusiasm for the Cubs organization to a whole new level. Thanks!!!!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Outstanding. Enjoy!

  • Steve

    If I hear ” possible utility / 4th outfielder type”, I might just vomit.

  • The Dude Abides

    Luke in your opinion who is the top AA pitcher & offensive player? Same with AAA if you don’t mind. Thanks

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Going to have to think about the pitcher a bit. I’ll get back to you.

      • Brandon – AA Correspondent

        Just my 2 cents…..but here’s how I see it
        Top AA (starting) pitcher in the Cubs system would be tossup between Eric Jokisch and Nick Struck. I think Jokisch has the higher ceiling. But hard to argue either way with the success that Nick Struck kas had this year.

        In the bullpen, I think closer Frank Batista and Tony Zych are the current front runners. Batista has been solid all season…..but I see greatness in Zych. Brian Schlitter is also coming on stong. From where I sit, if I could take 1 player to Chicago today to get outs….it would be Tony Zych.

        • Brandon – AA Correspondent

          Top offensive player from current TN Smokies would be Juston Bour. He is almost at .300. Is an RBI machine and has some pop. Really like Logan Watkins too. If you need a big hit…..these are the guys to deliver.

          From a potential standpoint, I’d say that current AA Smokies with a pretty high ceiling are also Burgess, Ha, and Szczur. Lake does not make the list becuase I think he has not shown the ability to make the adjustment to breaking pitches.

          If I had to pick a guy to get a big hit in a key situation….Watkins and Bour stand out ahead of their current peers. No question about it. Watkins does all the little things to help you win games, and also has delivered several key hits with 2 outs. Bour has been a beast and in my opinion is the front runner for Southern Legaue MVP.

  • Zach

    What is Taylor Scott ceiling. He looks like he is missing alot of bats. What is his scouting report like

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Cubs gave him a nice bonus, and he’s still learning to pitch in the States (he came from South Africa, primarily as a soccer player, if I remember correctly). But you hit on the precise problem (without saying it): he’s NOT missing many bats. His ERA looks great, but he’s not striking anyone out. Tends to be the case that if you aren’t missing a ton of bats in short season A-ball, your career trajectory doesn’t look great. There’s still time, though.

  • Tommy

    Hey Lukester,

    I noticed in your article you said Timothy Saunders came to Peoria from Daytona. Does this type of thing happen often – a player being moved from high A to low A ball? Any idea what the reason was behind him being moved?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It wasn’t about development for him – just roster shuffling, and given his college experience, I think the Cubs thought he’d be better able to handle the rapid transitions better than most.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He was jumped to Daytona to back up Arismedy Alcantara, but when the Cubs apparently decided to shut Alcantara down for the season due to injury they took the opportunity to bump Baez up to Daytona. They still wanted Saunders playing regularly, though, so they dropped him to Peoria to take over at short there.

      Next season Saunders could start anywhere from Tennessee to Peoria and it would not surprise me.

  • Njriv

    Question, whats going on with Juan Carlos Paniagua?

    • MightyBear

      Thanks Nj, I’ve been wondering about him as well.

  • nkniacc13

    I don’t think that he has been offically cleared by MLB

  • http://Yes Dude

    And probably won’t. Deals with yanks and another team were rejected by MLB due to age discrepancy, which from what I understand he is still attempting to sign at the same age he submitted for previous two teams

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If the Cubs did not think MLB would approve the deal with the age / name listed, the Cubs would not have done the deal. They are operating under a spending cap for international free agents; money agreed to with one player cannot be given to another. The Cubs would not shackle themselves with an agreement that severely hamstrings their ability to sign other players if they had reasonable doubt that MLB would just overturn the deal (eventually).

      I’m not sure what the holdup is (quite possibly MLB doing extra doubly due diligence), but I’m not really worried about it yet.