Class AA Southern League—Tennessee Smokies (17-18)
Tennessee secures second place in the North Division but trailed the Birmingham Barons (White Sox) by 7.5 games at the quarter mark. They were 9-10 at home and 8-8 on the road. The Smokies have been four games over .500 several times and despite a seven-game and a four-game losing streaks, have never been more than three games below .500. The Smokies longest win streak in five games, four of those coming on the road at Huntsville April 15-19. Tennessee has scored 11 runs twice, although they lost one of those games to the Barons 12-11. They allowed a season-high 16 runs to Birmingham on May 7. Weird first quarter stat: Smokies are 0-5 in games where they didn’t play the day before, either a day off or a rain out, including opening day.
Tennessee hit .245 over the first 35 games averaging 4.5 runs. They were third in the Southern League in walks (137) and stolen bases (46) and ranked fourth in on-base-percentage (.330) and runs scored. They were seventh in slugging in the 10-team league.
The Smokies pitching staff was in the middle of the pack in nearly every category, fifth in ERA 3.68 and sixth in WHIP 1.36. They’ve tossed three shutouts and the bullpen has nailed down seven saves.
Tennessee at the Plate,
CF Matt Szczur got off to a good start (.287/.365/.372) batting at the top of the order. He had 15 walks and 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Last year in 35 game at Tennessee, Szczur had a line of (.210/.285/357). OF Rubi Silva (.268/.280/.520) is among the Southern League leaders in total bases with 64. He hit six homers, 18 RBI, and swiped seven bases in nine attempts, a huge improvement over last year. 2B Ronald Torreyes got a late start at AA but is hitting .288 since joining the team from extended spring training in 25 games. SS Arismendy Alcantara has shown some pop belting four homers but hit (.244/.313/.374) and committed 11 errors. 3B Christian Villanueva hit .239 but tied Silva for team lead in RBI. 1B Justin Bour (.216/.348/.373) played in 15 games before heading to the disabled list with a fractured wrist. He was near the top of the leader board in RBI with 14 before the injury and second in the SL last year with 110. OF Jae-Hoon Ha went on the DL with back problems on May 7. He leads the team in hitting (.305) and OBP (.408).
On the Mound,
LH Eric Jokisch was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April but finished the first quarter at 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA after a pair of rough outings in May. He allowed three earned runs in his first 24 innings but surrendered 14 in his last 12 frames. 23-year-old Kyle Hendricks went 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA and a .240 BAA. The right-hander fanned 32 in 37.2 innings and walked nine. Alberto Cabrera (3-1 4.31 ERA) led all Smokies pitchers with 39 strikeouts. RHP Dallas Beeler was reliable in his seven starts working into the fifth inning in all of them. His BAA was .219 and went 3-2 with a 3.14 ERA. All Cub fans eyes were on Tennessee as Chicago’s Matt Garza made two rehab starts for the Smokies. He pitched six innings allowing four hits, one earned run, four walks with two strikeouts. Cubs right-handed relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa tossed two scoreless innings in his rehab appearance for Tennessee. RHP Brian Schlitter (0-1 0.00 ERA) and LHP Zach Rosscup (0-0 1.08) were effective out of the bullpen. Schillter didn’t allow an earned run in 17.1 innings while Rosscup fanned 25 in 16.2 innings and had a BAA of .153. Frank Batista (1-1 2.93) led the Smokies with three saves while Trey McNutt (1-3 4.80 ERA) had two.