Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Jairo Asencio (37) throws during the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
The regular season ends tomorrow and the Boise Hawks playoff series starts tomorrow. Peoria still has a game at Kane County tomorrow, and I know that a lot of you are planning to go. Tennessee has one last game at Pensacola.
You choice for the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month is Boise Hawks Stephen Bruno! That's no surprise, really, because even though other players had good months, Bruno's was RBI Baseball for NES good. He finished the season with a 22-game hitting streak which he'll carry over to next season. One assumes he won't be playing for Boise though.
Now it's time to vote for the Minor League Pitcher of the Month. The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs Jairo Asencio: The Cubs claimed Asencio on waivers from the Cleveland Indians on June 1 and he pitched effectively most of June and July in Chicago. So it should come as no surprise that once he got sent down to Iowa that he'd excel. Asencio took over as Iowa's closer in August and had five saves in five chances. In twelve games he went 0-1 with a 1.46 ERA. He struck out 13 and walked only four in 12.1 innings.
Tennessee Smokies Nick Struck: Struck was 3-0 in August, which gave him 14 on the season. That will certainly end up leading the whole Cubs organization this season. Struck saved the best for last: retiring twelve straight batters in a 5.2 inning relief appearance on the 31st. Struck threw 36.2 innings over six appearances, striking out 29 and walking only eight.
Daytona Cubs Frank Del Valle: Del Valle has been a swingman for Daytona this season with fifteen starts and seven relief appearances. The Cuban left-handed made three starts and one relief appearance for 19 innings. Although his record was 0-2, he had a 2.84 ERA and an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio with twenty strike outs and only five walks.
Peoria Chiefs Starling Peralta: Peralta found his strikeout groove in August as he struck out 42 batters in only 35 innings after not coming close to striking out a batter an inning in any other month. Peralta had six starts in August and went 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA. He did walk 17 batters though.
Boise Hawks Felix Pena: The pitching in Boise hasn't quite kept up with the Big Green Machine's hitters, but the Northwest League is a tough place to pitch. Having said that, Pena played a big role in Boise's second-half title. Pena pitched 28.1 innings over six games and finished with a 4-1 record and a 2.86 ERA. Pena is a ground ball pitcher and he kept his pitches down with a 1.71 Ground out/Air out ratio in August. He struck out 21 and walked only ten.
Only three games today and only three tomorrow. After that, it's just Boise.
The Tennessee Smokies reeled in the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Reds), 7-3 in 15 innings. It was the longest game of the season for the Smokies.
Dae-Eun Rhee started and allowed only one run on five hits over six innings. Rhee walked three and struck out five.
Tony Zych hadn't allowed a run since August 2, but he gave up two today on three hits in two-thirds of an inning in relief of Rhee. He walked two and didn't strike out anyone.
After that, the bullpen settled down and Frank Batista pitched 1.1 innings without allowing a hit. Then Brian Schlitter tossed three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out four. Finally, Casey Harman pitched the final four scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and one walk. It was Harman's first win of the season in what was his 39th and no doubt final game. He struck out one.
The Smokies took the lead in the fifteenth inning with a three-run home run by shortstop Junior Lake, It was Lake's first hit of the game and he finished with a line of 1 for 5 with a walk. He also had a sacrifice fly earlier to give him four total runs batted in.
Third baseman Matthew Cerda was 3 for 7. He scored once and had one batted in. Left fielder Jae-Hoon Ha was 2 for 6 and scored once. Center fielder Rubi Silva was 2 for 7. He also tripled and scored in the fifteenth inning to give an extra insurance run to Tennessee.
Catcher Michael Brenly went 2 for 5 with two walks, but as you know if you were watching WGN, he threw out Billy Hamilton trying to steal second base. He threw out one other batter trying to steal, but since that was a catcher with only one previous stolen base this season, we're not quite so impressed with that one.
Second baseman Logan Watkins was 2 for 6 with a double and a sacrifice fly. He scored once and had two RBI. He also made a spectacular leaping catch on a line-drive in the bottom of the 15th.
Starter Ryan Searle went six innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. He walked one and struck out four.
Eduardo Figueroa entered the game in the top of the ninth with one out and got a ground out and a line out to end the inning. He got his fourth win when Dayona came scored in the bottom of the inning.
With one out in the ninth, left fielder Nelson Perez tripled in his final at-bat of the season. John Andreoli pinch-ran for him and scored on catcher Taylor Davis's game-ending single (which just missed being a home run). Perez was 1 for 4 and Davis was 2 for 4 with a double.
Shortstop Javier Baez crushed two solo home runs today, one in the fifth inning and one in the seventh. The second one went over the batter's eye in center field. Baez had four home runs in Daytona and sixteen overall. He was 2 for 3 and was intentionally walked in the ninth inning after Perez's triple.
Today was the last game of the season for the Daytona Cubs and they finished it in a quick 2:02. In fact, Daytona finished playing before Tennessee did, and their game started two and a half hours later.
In any case, Daytona finished the season with a 59-74 overall record. They were 29-36 in the second half.
The Peoria Chiefs were prey for the Kane County Cougars (Royals), 5-4 in ten innings.
Starling Peralta allowed three runs on three hits over 5.1 innings. He walked three and struck out eight.
Steve Perakslis allowed a run in his Peoria debut to allow the Cougars to tie the game in the eighth. He gave up three hits and neither walked nor struck anyone out.
Austin Reed took the loss when he gave up a run in the tenth. He pitched 1.2 innings and four hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Right fielder Jorge Soler was 3 for 5 with his third home run. It was a solo home run in the eighth inning.
First baseman Jacob Rogers was 2 for 5. He scored once and knocked one in. Shortstop Tim Saunders went 2 for 4 with a walk.
A day off before the playoffs start tomorrow. The game starts at 7:45 Central Time and you can listen at BoiseHawks.com