Congratulations to the Boise Hawks, who became the third Cubs minor league team to make the playoffs! They lost badly tonight, but Salem-Keizer's 15-1 win over Eugene clinched both halves of the season for the Volcanoes. Under the playoff procedures for the Northwest League, the teams with the second-best overall record, Boise, then becomes the second playoff team.
It's time to vote for the BCB Cubs Minor League Player of the Month for August! I thought that this vote would be a runaway, but there are actually several strong candidates as it was a good month for this system.
The same rules apply as always. Vote for whomever you want, but this isn't meant to be a "top prospect award."
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs outfielder Ty Wright: Wright is a long-time organizational soldier and he was a major reason the Cubs made a late push for the playoffs, even though it fell short. Wright hit .305 in August with three of his nine home runs this season coming in August. His OBP was .379 and his SLG was .488. He had 15 RBI in 24 games.
Tennessee Smokies shortstop Javier Baez: Baez has getting most of the attention from Cubs fans this season and deservedly so. He's tied for second in all the minors in home runs with 37 this season and he hit eight of them in August. Even more impressive was his batting average, which was .357 with a .398 OBP. He had 11 doubles to go with those eight home runs to give him a .661 SLG. Over 29 games, Baez had 30 RBI. He made some big plays on defense as well.
Daytona Cubs/Boise Hawks third baseman Kris Bryant: The Northwest League was too easy for the Cubs number one pick but the Florida State League wasn't much harder. Between the two leagues, Bryant hit .381 with seven home runs and 21 RBI over 24 games. His OBP was .438 and his SLG was .762. Those batting average and OBP numbers were goosed a bit by his time in Boise when he hit .500 with a .538 OBP in nine games, but he he hit a solid .315 with five of his seven home runs for High-A Daytona.
Kane County Cougars third baseman Jeimer Candelario: Candelario has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal debut season for the Cubs in Kane County. His August wasn't great with a .243 batting average, but 16 walks gave him a .349 OBP and four home runs, five doubles and a triple left him with a solid .421 SLG.
Boise Hawks outfielder Kevin Encarnacion: Encarnacion got off to a strong start this season in Boise which earned him a promotion to Kane County, but after a hot start there, he slowed down and was sent back down to Boise at the end of July. But the Northwest League is not proving to be much of a challenge as he hit an eye-popping .370 with 5 home runs and 22 RBI in 26 games. His OBP was .433 and his SLG was .583. I don't know how many of them came in August, but Encarnacion has four outfield assists in only 40 games in Boise.
The season ends tomorrow for Iowa and Kane County. (So go out to Geneva if you haven't yet!) Tennessee, Daytona and Boise have the playoffs yet to come.
The Iowa Cubs drowned out the Nashville Sounds (Brewers), 4-3 in ten innings
It was a good start for Justin Grimm, who allowed only one run on five hits over six innings. Grimm struck out six and walked three.
Marcus Hatley got the win after throwing scoreless bottom of the ninth and tenth innings. Hatley allowed one hit but no walks. He struck out three.
The Cubs were down to their last out in the top of the ninth when shortstop Edwin Maysonet singled home Ty Wright and Edgar Gonzalez to tie the game. Maysonet was 1 for 4. Wright and Gonzalez were both 2 for 5.
Iowa took the lead in the top of the tenth on the first home run of the season by first baseman Greg Rohan. Rohan was 1 for 4.
The Tennessee Smokies choked the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers), 4-3.
Dae-Eun Rhee gave up a run in each of the first three innings. His final line was three runs on five hits over four innings. Rhee struck out three and walked one.
Matt Loosen had a strong relief appearance, resulting in his third Smokies win and eighth overall. Loosen did not allow a run or a hit over four innings. He did walk two batters while striking out five.
Tony Zych pitched a perfect ninth inning for his third save. Zych struck out one.
The Smokies were trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning when shortstop Javier Baez came to the plate with two men on. Baez deposited the ball over the center field fence and tied the game. It was Baez's 20th Tennessee home run and 37th home run of the year, tying Houston's George Springer for second-most in the minors this season. Baez also had a double in a 2 for 4 game.
The game was still tied going into the ninth when left fielder Brett Jackson doubled home John Andreoli to give Tennessee a 4-3 lead. Jackson was 2 for 5 with a walk. He also scored on the Baez home run.
Second baseman Arismendy Alcantara went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He also scored on the Baez homer.
The Daytona Cubs got back on the winning track by spearing the Brevard County Manatees (Brewers), 7-4.
Kyler Burke started and exited after four innings. He allowed four runs on six hits, including a two-run home run in the first inning. Burke struck out six and walked only one.
Sheldon McDonald, Austin Reed, Jeffrey Lorick and Zach Cates combined to shut the Manatees out the rest of the way, allowing only two hits. Reed gave up both of those hits with two outs in the top of the sixth, which was the one inning he worked. Reed struck out one.
Cates pitched a perfect ninth for his third save. He struck out one.
Third baseman Kris Bryant was 2 for 3 with a double and a two-run triple in the first inning. Bryant also walked once and scored one run.
Catcher Chadd Krist was 2 for 4 and doubled home Bryant in the sixth inning. Krist scored once.
First baseman Dustin Geiger was 2 for 4 with two runs scored. DH Daniel Vogelbach was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored.
Kane County Cougars
The Kane County Cougars swatted the Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals), 11-2 in a game that ended after eight innings because of rain.
Nathan Dorris improved his record to 7-3 after he gave up only one run on four hits over five innings. Dorris walked one and struck out one.
Justin Amlung pitched the final three innings for his second save. Amlung allowed one run on five hits. He struck out two and did not walk anyone.
With his famous mother and father in the audience, left fielder Trevor Gretzky hit his first professional home run with the bases empty in the fifth inning. Gretzky was 1 for 3 with a walk.
After being the only Cougar named to the Midwest League Postseason All-Star Team, first baseman Rock Shoulders went 3 for 4 with a double and a walk. Shoulder had three RBI and scored twice.
Shortstop Marco Hernandez was 2 for 5 with two stolen bases. He scored one run and had one RBI.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario was 1 for 3 with two walks and three runs scored.
The Boise Hawks were leapfrogged by the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks), 14-3. But they don't care, because Salem-Keizer beat Eugene.
Starter Jose Rosario didn't have much tonight, but he sort of took one for the team, pitching five innings and allowing eight runs on twelve hits, including two home runs to Zach Esquerra. Rosario did strike out five and walked only one.
Center fielder Kevin Encarnacion hit his ninth home run and eighth for Boise with a man on in the third inning. Encarnacion was 1 for 3 with a walk.