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tennessee smokiesThe Tennessee Smokies are the second half winners of the Southern League North division and the first Cubs farm team to clinch a spot in the playoffs this season.

This is a good day.

Now the Smokies can consider lining up their rotation for the playoffs, give some key players a day or two of rest, and generally relax a little as they play out the rest of the season and wait for their shot at the Southern League crown. And make no mistake, this team has a real chance to win that crown.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Iowa beat first place Omaha 2-1.
Tennessee - Start with a shut out, add a division title, and you have the Smokies 6-0 win.
Daytona - The Daytona game was suspended after three innings with the Cubs leading 2-0.
Kane County - Kane County lost this one 4-2.
Boise - The Hawks got three in the seventh to not only beat Hillsboro 4-3, but to also reclaim a share of first place.
Arizona - Arizona, along with most of the rest of the Arizona Rookie League, was rained out.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Yoanner Negrin pitched the entire game for the Cubs. He allowed the one run on just 6 hits and a walk while striking out 6.
  • [Iowa] Mike Olt walked three times in this game, and Jae-Hoon Ha singled twice and picked up an outfield assist.
  • [Tennessee] This was a glimpse of the Matt Loosen we saw in Daytona. Through 7 innings he allowed just 3 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 7. Armando Rivero and Frank Batista completed the game.
  • [Tennessee] Javier Baez hit his 18th Double A home run and now leads the Smokies in that category (despite playing just 48 games there). He finished 2 for 3.
  • [Tennessee] Matt Szczur (2 for 2) and John Andreoli (1 for 2, 2 walks, 14th steal) also had good days at the plate.
  • [Kane County] Willson Contreras, Marco Hernandez, and Oliver Zapata all had multi-hit games for the Cougars.
  • [Boise] The bullpen pitched very well in this one. Jasvir Rakkar struck out 6 in his 3 shutout innings, Loiger Padron pitched 2 no hit innings and struck out 2, and Eddie Orozco fanned 3 in a one-hit ninth.
  • [Boise] Carlos Penalver finished 2 for 2 with 2 walks and his 8th steal. Kevin Encarnacion hit his 6th home run.

Other News

  • Iowa is at home, and they are the best home team in the division, so this may not be quite over yet. They trail Omaha by five games, but with Omaha in town they have the chance to cut into that gap. They will still need to climb over Memphis as well, and their margin for error is virtually nonexistent. Their elimination number is down to three. The odds of Iowa sneaking in to the playoffs are very slim, but there is a chance.
  • Daytona’s magic number is down to four. That could shrink today, though, if the weather holds. They complete two games and play a third one. And then they have a doubleheader tomorrow.
  • Kane County is out of the playoff race, but they are on MiLB.TV. Most of the players on that team will go to the video black hole that is the Florida State League next season, so watch them while you can. This series against Wisconsin is one of your rare chances.
  • The Northwest League South division is a three way tie between Boise, Hillsboro, and Salem-Keizer. Salem-Keizer is already in the playoffs as a result of winning the first, and if they win again the other playoff team would the team with the next best overall record. Boise holds a ten game lead over Hillsboro in that particular race. To make the playoffs all Boise has to do, then, is finish ahead of the Hillsboro Hops.
  • Cedlandrum

    What would help the Icubs is if the big league club would send Watkins back down since he isn’t being used.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, other than getting work in practices with MLB coaches I would think they want him to get at bats. It has been very confusing why they brought Watkins up just to sit on the bench.

      Since Tennessee has clinched perhaps bring Baez up to help Iowa get into the playoffs. :D

      • On The Farm

        To be fair the emergency of Donnie Baseball has lessened the need for the MLB club to need Watkins. Other than they like knowing he is availalbe off the bench in an emergency I don’t know why he has been up this entire time.

  • ssckelley

    I found it interesting that they batted Olt in the cleanup spot last night.

    • Cedlandrum

      The pitcher they faced is a lefty. They had to drop Nelson lower because he doesn’t hit lefties well. Looking at that Iowa lineup is just depressing.

      • ssckelley

        Help is on the way though, many of the players on the Iowa roster are veteran fill ins that I doubt will get resigned next season. I can’t see players like Maysonet, Gonzalez, and even Nelson making the team next year.

        • Cedlandrum

          There really isn’t much of a difference between Nelson and Bour or Gonzalez and Mota. There is a good amount of filler in Tennessee too, like Mota and Samson. Torres was there for parts of the year with Elliot Soto. We will see some veteran minor league free agents Iowa next year too.

          All that said, you are right the core of Iowa should be much better next year with potentially:

          Baez, Alcantara, Villenuava, Vitters, Olt, Jackson, Silva, and Szczur

          • ssckelley

            You might be right on Bour and Nelson, but the difference is their age. Nelson is already 30 and Bour is only 25 and needing to move up with other first basemen coming up behind him. I know Nelson has put up good numbers at Iowa but unless he can the MLB team next spring as a bench player I do not see any room for him in the minors.

          • On The Farm

            And they could even see Bryant June through August, so yeah Iowa should be in good shape next season. Tennesee’s pitching staff should be nasty with Pierce Johnson, CJ Edwards, Corey Black, and Pineyro. Not to mention their lineup should have two of the big 4(5) Soler and Bryant. Daytona will have the same issue Kane County had this season, a lineup of the KC infield: Vogelbach, Amaya, Hernandez, and Calendario. OF should feature Rademacher, Almora, and maybe Golden(?) with Shoulders maybe sneaking up to rotate DH with Vogelbach. The problem will come with the pitching in Daytona, Will the 2013 draftee’s mixed with a few of the KC promotes, and Daytona repeats be enough to make them a competitive team? Who knows right now, but the bats are there.

            • mdavis

              I think Candaleiro should start the year back in KC. He’s held his own, but still really young for the league and hasn’t really been dominant. and I believe Olt will be given every opportunity to break camp with the Cubs as their everyday 3B

              • On The Farm

                I think his wOBA, BB%, ISO, and even his above average wRC+ suggest he could move on to Daytona, but I understand the argument to hold him back. I just don’t see how much more he has to prove in KC though, so that’s why I think he should be promoted.

                • JeffR

                  I would think its probably 50/50 and could have a lot to do with where he’s needed and how he does this fall/winter. Though if Bryant starts at double AA Candeleiro will be the top 3rd base prospect in A ball so it will be about what is best for him.

            • JB88

              With Hannemann’s advanced age, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Daytona quickly either.

              • On The Farm

                But he has been away from baseball long enough (on his mormon mission) that I think he will start the season in KC, especailly since he missed even more time this season due to injury. The Daytona OF will already be crowded so my money is on Hannemann to start in the MWL and if he shows he can hit them, he could be promoted in June, which is right about the time Almora (doubtful) and Rademacher will have hopefully made their statement in Florida and show they are ready for AA.

                • JB88

                  Oh I agree. But if Almora is promoted to AA at some point next season, Hannemann is a logical promotion candidate.

                  • On The Farm

                    Sorry I read that as Hannemann starting in Daytona. My bad

  • roz

    Is it safe to say that Baez starts next year at AAA?

    • Cedlandrum

      I would think so.

  • Jp3

    I’d like to see Baez go for 40 HRs. He needs 5 in his last 6 games before the playoffs… That would be quite the feet. Does he lead the minors right now?

    • Jp3

      He’s got more HRs than Sano currently. Not sure anyone would have taken that bet in April.

    • C. Steadman

      George Springer has 37 between AA&AAA…don’t think anyone else has more but could be wrong…Springer was the only name that came to mind

    • Richard Nose

      I was looking at Sano and Springer, check out their K rates. I’m too lazy to do division, but they’re both just as bad if not worse than Baez. Makes me feel a little better knowing that he’s not the only one of the premier young power hitters going through that.

    • On The Farm

      “That would be quite the feAt” FIFY

      But Baez is now going to hit 7 in 6 games to make you look silly for thinking that would be an amazing feat for him to accomplish when in reality its just another day at the ball park for him.

  • Senior Lake

    “Javier Baez hit his 18th Double A home run and now leads the Smokies in that category”

    He’s also going to end up as Daytona’s home run leader. That’s pretty impressive.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Maybe. Geiger is only three behind him and Daytona has enough games left (not including the playoffs) to catch up.

      But Baez will finish no lower than second.

  • cubchymyst

    Luke, if you had to pick one of Szczur and Andreoli which one do you take. They seem to have very similar skill sets centered around getting on base and stealing a bit, but both have yet to show much power despite their size.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Szczur.

      I like both as fourth outfielder types in the majors, but I think Szczur has a better chance to reach that or even become a league average starter in center one day.

      • http://www.hookersorcake.com Hookers or Cake

        Andreoli is a year younger and comparing his stats to Szczurs last year and they are similar. Both split time at A+ & AA. The main difference being that Andreoli hit for a better average .304 vs .267 and stole at a little better rate 37-5 vs 44-14. Szczur did have a little better strikeout and walk rate though AND looks to be the better fielder. I haven’t seen them in person so I dunno. Both would be limited to CF as neither have corner power.
        The concern with Szczur is his declining SB% 21-11 and lack of power 7 total homeruns over last two seasons. 1000+Abs
        Ad him to Ha, Lake, and maybe Jackson… Seems like we’ve got the 4th & 5th OFers spots locked down! Sorry Sappelt!

    • C. Steadman

      too bad one of them didnt bat LH…they are almost a clone of each other..i wouldve liked to see them be 4th and 5th OF’s at Wrigley in the future

  • Jon

    You know, I’d say hell with it and bring up Olt in September, maybe a change of scenery would do him good of course, Olt wouldn’t be able to notice said change in scenery..(RIMSHOT!)

    • Danny Ballgame

      He has been playing well over his last 10 games. .259/.429/.856. If the trend continues, bring him on up

      • Danny Ballgame

        .259/.429/.407/.836 sorry for the smurf up

        • Jon

          Yeah, his start was so horrendous in Iowa, it would be impossible to recover that(in terms of producing a solid overall stat line) so give him a month in the bigs with no pressure to see what he can do.

          • Danny Ballgame

            Agreed. He can play solid third, and if he IS getting his eyesight back, it could work out. It’s not like Donald Baseball is a long term fit at the hot corner.

            • On The Farm

              No kidding, its been like, 4 games since he hit a homerun.

              • Danny Ballgame

                Total bust

            • Nate

              He may also be getting his confidence back in the box. A shot like he took can mess with a guys head for a while. I’d watch how Heyward comes back for a possible example. I’m guessing it will be rough for a while.

              • frank

                Very true–Marlon Byrd looks pretty good right now, but look how long it took him to get back to what he was before he got hit.

                • hansman1982

                  Marlon Byrd has been a tremendous player these past 3.5-4 months.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            “[Iowa] Mike Olt walked three times in this game”

            I hope this isn’t because he is now completely blind and just not swinging at anything!

            But really, I was surprised to see that Olt’s OPS is not nearly as bad as a 200 BA would usually produce. His excellent minor league season was not that long ago (2012 AA OPS of .977) and I’m pretty enthusiastic that he may still return to form and be a force in the MLB.

  • papabear

    Friend of mine goes to all Iowa game – two week said Olt was hammering the ball into a lot of “hard luck outs”.

    He thought Olt was seeing the ball a lot better.

  • North Side Irish

    Video of the Baez HR…doesn’t show where the ball lands, but every report said it was deeeeep.

    http://smokiesonradio.com/2013/08/27/video-javier-baez-two-run-homer-caps-off-second-half-title/

    I don’t like the slow trot/watching the ball thing he does at the beginning, but I do like that Baez and Villanueva have their own handshake. Cubs need a handshake guy.

    • JB88

      Someone posted a Vine video of the HR from the vantage point of the Smokies’ batter’s box. The HR was right down the line. I wonder if Baez didn’t run out of the box because there was a question of whether it would be fair or not.

      OT, but Silva’s lack of a reaction was semi-priceless. Literally didn’t move, didn’t cheer, reacted as though he expected Baez to crush a 2-run HR. Or at least that is how I took it.

      • JB88

        “Someone” = someone on Twitter, that is.

    • JeffR

      “Cubs need a handshake guy.” Lol I love it. Someone said on twitter last night it was like 415 ft or somewhere around that distance. Pretty much a no doubter.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Looked foul off the bat, but that’s a spot where Baez likes to hit them. I’ve seen him drill a couple line drives to that part of the park (including one in person).

        • AA Correspondent

          The Baez HR was indeed a no doubter. No only over the regular fence fence, but over the secondary (black) fence and up into the trees. These “shrubbery” shots have become an awesome site to see (especially when fans decide to go pillaging through the forrest to find the ball).

          The best part of the HR last night, is that most people in the ballpark knew it was coming. I sit in the front rown behind the Smokies dugout, and the team lines up on the rail with each at bat in anticipation. They knew it was coming. The hittign coach knew it was coming and the bat boy knew it was coming.

          The kid has unbelieveable bat speed and can turn a fastball into a distant memory. His K’s usually come on low breaking balls.

          What a night!!!

          Go Smokies!

    • andoalex

      I’m pretty excited they have their own handshake, I think it bodes well for Baez being a good clubhouse guy. Was it this year or last year that people were saying his attitude rubbed them the wrong way? It seems like that may have changed now because you don’t have special handshakes with guys you don’t really like.

      • Rich H

        He was said to be arrogant his first year in Arizona. He hit a home run and stared down the pitcher all the way around the bases. I do not remember what slight the opposition supposedly did but Baez got the rest of the day off for it.

  • David

    so Tennessee will be playing Birmingham September 5th and 6th in Birmingham, correct?

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