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Cubs Minor League Wrap: July 2

The Iowa Cubs keep rolling, as does Kyle Hendricks, although Christian Villanueva had to rescue the Smokies. Kane County continues to struggle. The Hawks make it six in a row.

Donnie Murphy. The guy in the Cubs uniform is Geovany Soto
Donnie Murphy. The guy in the Cubs uniform is Geovany Soto
Mike Ehrmann

I'm leaving the voting for the BCB Minor League Player of the Month open for another day because all the stuff that went down this morning kind of drowned it out. So you can still vote for the Player of the Month here. I'll announce both winners in tomorrow's wrap.

My award, my rules. So now it's time to choose the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month. Same rules apply.

The candidates are:

Iowa Cubs Brian Schlitter: I know a lot of you don't realize that Brian Schlitter is still pitching for the Cubs. After he pitched in the majors in 2010, he was claimed on waivers by both the Phillies and Yankees before it was discovered he needed Tommy John Surgery and was returned to the Cubs. He missed all of 2011 and went back to Daytona in 2012. Schlitter took over the closing duties in Iowa when Blake Parker was promoted to Chicago, and has converted all eight of his save opportunities. In June, Schlitter threw 11.1 innings in 11 games and had a 2.38 ERA and seven saves. Most impressively, Schlitter struck out ten batters in June and did not walk anyone.

Tennessee Smokies Kyle Hendricks: There's something about Smokies Park that turns Hendricks into Greg Maddux. In three home starts in June, Hendricks pitched 22 innings and allowed one run. He struck out 16 and walked only two. He wasn't quite as good on the road, but his overall line for June was 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA over five starts and 33 innings. Hendricks struck out 23 and walked only eight.

Daytona Cubs Ben Wells: A lot has been expected of Wells since the Cubs gave him $530k to sign in 2010, and in June he finally started to live up to that promise. In four starts in June, Wells was 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA. In 20.2 innings he struck out 19 and walked five.

Kane County Cougars Michael Heesch: Not a lot was expected out of the native Chicagoan when the Cubs took him as a senior signing in the 8th round of the draft last season to save cap space. But the left-hander has surprised everyone with his good results and good control. In five starts in June, Heesch was 1-2 with a 2.59 ERA. Over 31.1 innings, he struck out 17 and walked eight.

Boise Hawks Paul Blackburn: Before tonight, which is July so it doesn't count, Blackburn hadn't allowed an earned run yet this season. (He has allowed four unearned runs) In three starts since the Boise season started, last year's first round supplemental has pitched 15 innings and had an amazing 20 strikeouts to only two walks.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs grounded the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals), 6-2.

Guillermo Moscoso evened his record at 5-5 with 6.1 quality innings. He allowed two runs on only four hits. Moscoso walked four and struck out five.

Iowa gave Redbirds starter Michael Wacha his worst start of the season, and he allowed four runs for the first time this season. (In the minors. The Diamondbacks knocked him around a bit.) Shortstop Donnie Murphy gave Iowa a 2-1 lead when he connected off Wacha for his ninth home run of the year with a man on. Murphy also doubled in a 2 for 4 game. He scored twice.

In the seventh inning, first baseman Brad Nelson closed out the scoring when he connected for a two-run home run off Mitchell Boggs. It was Nelson's 14th home run of the season and he was 1 for 3 with a walk.

Third baseman Junior Lake loved hitting off Wacha, as he connected off him for two triples and a double. Lake was 3 for 4 and scored twice.

Left fielder Ty Wright went 2 for 4 with a double. He had the other two Iowa RBI.

The win now extends Iowa's lead over Memphis to four games.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies outlasted the Montgomery Biscuits (Rays), 4-3 in thirteen innings.

Even though the game was in Montgomery, starter Kyle Hendricks pitched five shutout innings. He surrendered six hits. Hendricks struck out five and didn't walk anyone.

Frank Batista blew the save when shortstop Elliot Soto made a run-scoring error with two out in the bottom of the ninth. Batista's final line was one unearned run on no hits over two innings. Batista walked one (also with two out in the ninth) and struck out four. He also had one big wild pitch after the walk.

Yeiper Castillo got the win in relief with three perfect innings. Castillo struck out two.

Third baseman Christian Villanueva put the Smokies ahead in the top of the 13th with an RBI double. Earlier, Villanueva hit a solo home run in the fifth inning for the first run of the game. It was his ninth home run this year. Villanueva was 2 for 6.

The other two Smokies runs came off the bat of catcher Rafael Lopez, who hit a two-run home run later in the fifth. It was his fifth home run. Lopez was 2 for 5.

With Ronald Torreyes off to the Astros, Arismendy Alcantara played second base. He was 1 for 4 with a double, two walks and a stolen base. It will be interesting to see if Alcantara stays at second.

Daytona Cubs

With a dry day in Daytona Beach, the Cubs naturally had a scheduled off-day. Thunderstorms in the forecast for tomorrow, naturally.

Kane County Cougars

The Kane County Cougars were poisoned by the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers), 5-3.

Tayler Scott started and took the loss. He allowed five runs, three earned, on five hits over 6.1 innings. Scott walked four and struck out only two.

Third baseman Jeimer Candelario gave Kane County an early 2-0 lead with a home run in the top of the first. It was Candelario's fourth home run. He went 1 for 4 and scored twice.

Boise Hawks

The Boise Hawks beat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants), 10-5.

Starting pitcher Paul Blackburn allowed his first earned runs of the season tonight in his fourth start. Blackburn pitched three innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on two hits. He had real control issues as he walked four and didn't strike anyone out.

Orbandy Rodriguez was awarded the win because Blackburn didn't go five. He threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits. He struck out two and didn't walk anyone.

Fourth-round pick Tyler Skulina made his professional debut tonight, pitching the seventh inning. He walked the first batter he faced, but retired the next three.

Jacob Rogers had one at-bat in this game and it was a three-run home run in the ninth inning. It was his second home of the year.

Second baseman David Bote hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, also his second of the year. Bote was 1 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored.

Catcher Lance Rymel went 1 for 3 with two walks. He scored three runs and had a two-run single in the top of the first inning.

AZL Cubs

Beat the Brewers, 6-4.

Dae-Eun Rhee allowed two unearned runs in a two-inning rehab appearance. Yes, minor leaguers can go on rehab assignments too.