First, I'd like to apologize for the extreme lateness of the JOT today. Usually, I bang them out at work (I get here an hour early and write it). Today that didn't happen because I was very busy all day. It'll probably happen again tomorrow. Perhaps someday this will actually be my job, but I'm probably several years away from that happening, if ever.
Next, I'd like to speak about Kris Bryant. He signed yesterday and is apparently going to Boise to start the year. If you live in the Boise area, make sure you see him over the next few weeks, as I'd be very, very surprised if he was there more than 2 or 3 weeks. He'll be away at Hillsboro and Eugene over the next few weeks, too. The Hillsboro Hops have the coolest logo in the minors, too.
I think 0-4, BB, R is the platonic ideal of Logan Watkins. Brad Nelson had a nice 3-5 performance. He hasn't really been considered for the outfield should Soriano get traded or the Cubs find themselves in need of a replacement bat (and for good reason: Nelson is not on the 40-man roster), but he's the quintessence of AAAA so he'd be fine there. Anthony Giansanti was rewarded for his pinch-hit skills with a start in RF: he went 2-4 with and RBI. Junior Lake played 3B and was 0-5 with a run scored and a stolen base.
Nick Struck was terrible once again. In 5 innings, he allowed 6 runs. Only three were earned, but only because of his own throwing error (and Nick Struck's pitches have all been throwing errors lately). Michael Bowden pitched a stellar ninth, and was called up to replace Brooks Raley after the game. Hope you stick in the bigs this time, Michael.
Jackson Generals 2 @ Tennessee Smokies 7 (7 innings)
Interestingly, Javier Baez didn't start. He pinch hit for Ronald Torreyes, who was DH, and went 0-3 with a strikeout. He only has that lone HR so far in AA. Arismendy Alcantara played SS and was dynamite, per usual. He went 3-4 with 2 runs scored, and RBI, and a double. Rubi Silva was 2-3 with a walk, so similarly great. Justin Bour, making up for lost time, had his 6th double of the year and went 3-3 with a walk. Christian Villanueva was 1-2 with a walk and 2 RBI.
It was a piggyback start for the Smokies. AJ Morris went 2 and allowed 1, PJ Francescon went 3 and allowed none, and Carlos Gutierrez allowed 1 in 2 innings.
Tennessee Smokies 5 @ Jackson Generals 2 (7 innings)
I'm really confused why the home team switched. Arismendy Alcantara but the hurt on a ball, hitting a 3-run blast in the 5th inning. Rubi Silva also had a solo shot, contributing to a 2-3 day. John Andreoli was 0-1, but walked twice. Javier Baez was 0-4 with no strikeouts, and committed his 2nd error in Tennessee. He now has more errors than hits.
Eric Jokisch took the bump and went 5.2 fairly strong innings. Though he only allowed 2 innings, he walked 6 and allowed a home run (and 6 hits total). He got quite lucky. Kevin Rhoderick was nails in relief, allowing no baserunners in 1.1 innings.
The Cubs got plenty of hits, but wasted a few opportunities. Bijan Rademacher was a home run short of the cycle, but only translated that performance into a run and an RBI. Dustin Geiger was 2-4 with a HR. Elliot Soto had the team's other XBH, a double. He was 2-5 with that double and a single. He scored twice.
Zach Cates went 7 very strong innings. He allowed 7 baserunners and 2 runs, but only struck out 1. Luis Liria quickly exploded, allowing 5 runs in 0.1 innings. Jeffrey Lorick allowed all 3 inherited runners to score for the blown save.
Gioskar Amaya drew the leadoff spot and went 1-5 with 2 strikeouts. Albert Almora took his spot at the 2 hole, as is typical, and went 2-4 with a double, as is typical. A+ is in his future. Dan Vogelbach went 0-4. Jeimer Candelario went 2-3 with a HR and a walk. While .248/.333/.368 isn't especially hot, as a 19-year old in A ball, it's really not so bad. Both Marco Hernandez and Giuseppe Papaccio are SS by trade and went 1-4. Papaccio was the DH.
Felix Pena started and threw a quality start (6 IP, 3 ER). Dillon Maples took relief and allowed 4 runs in 2 innings (though he walked none). They are messing with his delivery, which is not really what you want to hear regarding a top pitching prospect. He's probably going to bust mega-hard.
I was hoping for big things from Justin Marra this year. So far, he's struggled, and went 0-4 with a pair of K's here. Jose Dore did the most damage with a 2-run shot in the 1st inning. Shawon Dunston also had a pair of hits and a walk.
Duane Underwood took the start and was really bad. In 2.2 frames, he allowed 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, but did strike out 5 (eventually). Jasvir Rakkar struck out 3 in 1.1 innings. Zack Godley allowed a single unearned run in 2 innings, but walked 3. Scott Frazier took the loss with an earned run in the 7th. Tyler Bremer finished the Hawks off with a scoreless 8th.
Everyone was awesome. As a team, they were 12-34, 1 2B, 4 3B, 10 BB, 3 SO. Pitcher were awesome, too.