News, Notes and Game Recaps from July 20

Big news of the day happened off the field as the Cubs traded Daniel Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn to the Mariners for LHP Mike Montgomery and RHP Jordan Pries. Eugene clinched the first half title in the NWL.

Cubs acquire Montgomery, trade Vogelbach, Blackburn

The Cubs got their lefty reliever. On Wednesday, the Cubs announced they had traded minor leaguers Daniel Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn to Seattle for LHP Mike Montgomery and RHP Jordan Pries.

Considered one of the top pitching prospects in the minors after getting drafted, the Royals former first-round pick spent five years with KC and was traded to Tampa Bay with Will Myers in the deal for Wade Davis and James Shields. He lasted two seasons in AAA in the Rays system before heading to Seattle before the start of 2015 season for Erasmo Ramirez.

Montgomery started 2015 in Tacoma and was promoted to Seattle on June 2 and made MLB debut against the Yankees. In 11 starts with Seattle, Montgomery went 4-6 with a 4.60 ERA and two complete game shutouts. He fanned 64 in 90 innings with a 1.43 WHIP.

In 2016, Montgomery worked the first 30 games out of the bullpen  (2-3, 2.15 ERA, 50.1 IP, 16 BB, 44 K, 1.05 WHIP) and made two starts in July (1-1, 3.18 ERA, 11.1 IP, 2 BB 10 K). Montgomery can run his fastball up to 97 but sits in the mid-90s and relies on his curve. The lefty also throws a sinker, change and cutter per Brooks Baseball.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein told reporters that Montgomery was a pitcher that could help the Cubs now and into the future. Epstein also said Montgomery had been coming into his own a little bit which means the Cubs scouts liked what they saw.

The Cubs also acquired Jordan Pries, a six-foot right-hander that was drafted by the M’s in 2011 in the 30th round out of Stanford. The college arm moved quickly through the M’s system and spent last three seasons in AAA. His best season with Mariners came in 2014 when he went 9-8 with a 4.06 ERA in 24 starts in AAA with a 1.32 WHIP in 142 innings.

The 2015 season was hampered by two stints on the DL and ended the year at 7-4 with a 5.20 ERA in 16 starts with .280 BAA and 1.39 WHIP. Pries has a career 2.7 BB/9 and a 7.6 K/9 but in AAA those numbers were 3.1 BB/9 and 6.8 K/9. He throws a fastball in the high 80s to low 90s and a breaking ball.

Pries started 2016 in AA and was 5-2 with a 5.46 ERA in 59.1 innings before being promoted to Tacoma on July 4. In seven AAA games, (three starts) Pries was 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 24.2 IP with a 1.26 WHIP and .253 BAA. Pries will immediately move into Iowa’s rotation and will likely become the 18th different starting pitcher for Iowa this season.

Vogelbach was the Cubs second-round pick in 2011 and has made his way up the organizational ladder, reaching AAA in 2016. Off to his best year in six seasons, the 23-year-old is batting .318/.425/.548 (all above career marks) with 16 homers, 18 doubles and 64 RBI in 81 games. 

Vogelbach had two stints on the DL last year in Tennessee (.272/.403/.425, 7 HR, 76 games) after spending the 2014 season in Daytona (.268/.357/.429, 16 HR, 76 RBI). Vogelbach, a member of the Cubs 40-man roster, still needs to prove he can hit major league pitching but a move to the AL will give the Florida native an opportunity. Vogelbach will report to Tacoma.

Blackburn was the Cubs Pitcher of the Month for April and the former first-round compensation pick in 2012 was the first high school pitcher drafted by Theo Epstein and the new front office. Blackburn pitches to contact and sports a fastball (88-93), a curve ball in the upper 70s, and a change-up.

In his fifth season with the Cub and Rule 5 eligible after the end of the season, Blackburn has spent a season at each level and was 6-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 18 starts in AA. The California native sports a career 3.21 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 375.2 minor league innings. Blackburn will head over to Jackson in the Southern League.

Pacific Coast League—AAA—Game 1—Salt Lake (Angles) 5, Iowa 0; GAME 2—Iowa 6, Salt Lake 3

Tyler Skaggs fanned 12 in the opener and Iowa used a four-run fifth to earn the split.

Hitting Recap: GAME 1—Only two hits for the Cubs—singles by DH Matt Murton (.325) and 2B Juan Perez (.258). Rehabbers Dexter Fowler went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Jorge Soler was 0-for-3 with three punchouts.....GAME 2—Fowler was on base with a walk and a single and scored twice hitting leadoff in the nightcap. RF Mark Zagunis (.272) was 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI while CF John Andreoli(.240), C Tim Federowicz (.326) and 3B Jeimer Candelario (.302) all drove in runs.

Pitching Chart: GAME 1—Drew Rucinski made his team-high 19th start and took the loss, yielding three runs on five hits and a walk. Rucinski fanned three and threw 72 pitches, 42 for strikes. Gerardo Concepcion had his first scoreless outing since being in Chicago, blanking the Bees for two frames. Joe Nathan had a tough night, recording an out while walking the base full. C.J. Riefenhauser got the final two outs of the seventh but not before allowing two inherited runners to score....GAME 2— Jake Buchanan worked into the sixth and earned his ninth win of the season in the 96-pitch effort. Buchanan (9-5, 4.53 ERA) allowed three runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Corey Black got the final four outs for his fourth save.

I-Cubs Notes: Pierce Johnson gets the ball with a noon start at Principal Park...... Tommy Birch of the Des MOines Register reported that Dexter Fowler would be rejoinig the Cubs on Friday. Jose Soler is expected to stay in Iowa longer.

Southern League—AA—Mississippi (Braves) 8, Tennessee 2

Mississippi scored four runs in the first and took the series opener.

Hitting Recap: P Stephen Perakslis knocked in the first run with a RBI ground out in the 6th and C Gioskar Amaya  (.140) smacked a solo homer (1) in the 8th. LF Bijan Rademacher ripped a pair of doubles and 1B David Freitas was 2-for-4. 

Pitching Chart: Tyler Skulina threw 75 pitches over five innings and fell to 3-9 with a 5.69 ERA. Skulina allowed eight runs on nine hits, including a first-inning two-run homer. RH Stephen Perakslis blanked the Braves over three innings and Juan Paniagua worked a scoreless ninth.

Smokies News: Jen-Ho Tseng (5-3, 3.31 ERA) gets the ball on Thursday night against the Braves. 

Carolina League—High A—Myrtle Beach

Pelicans have the day off and send Jake Stinnett (7-3, 4.48 ERA) to the mound on Thursday night against Wilmington (Royals) for the first of a four-game series.

Midwest League—Low A—Burlington (Angles) 7, South Bend 5

Burlington won its seventh straight with a three-run ninth to take the series opener.

Hitting Recap: RF Eddy Martinez (.267) was a single away from the cycle as the went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. It was homer #8 for the Cuban native who ran his RBI total to 51. DH Eloy Jimenez (.330) returned to the lineup and was 1-for-4 while CF Donnie Dewees (.281) had two hits, scored once and knocked in a run in the first.

Pitching Chart: Justin Steele had another positive outing as the lefty threw 63 pitches over five innings, surrendering two runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Casey Bloomquist gave up two runs in three innings of relief on five hits. John Williamson only got one out in the ninth as he left after a triple and a walk. James Norwood allowed both inherited runners to score as a double, a wild pitch and a single plated three runs.

SB-Cubs News: 1B/3B Matt Rose was promoted from Eugene to South Bend. The Cubs have released 3B Josh Silver (.228/.307/.266, 23 G), signed out of the Independent League in June.

Northwest League—Short-Season—Eugene 4, Hillsboro (D-Backs) 0

Eugene clinched the first half title with win over Hillsboro behind another strong pitching performance from Jose Paulino.

Hitting Recap: Eugene scored the only run they would need in the second when 3B Vimael Machin hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring DH Wladimir Galindo (.229). LF Robert Garcia (.296) slugged his second homer of the year over the left-field wall in the third while Connor Myers (triple) and Darryl Wilson (sac fly) plated runs in the fifth. Galindo finished 2-for-4.

Pitching Chart: LH Jose Paulino (IFA11-DR) tossed seven shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 0.51. The left-hander fanned seven, allowed the only two hits for the Hops, and walked one for game score of 83. LH Wyatt Short worked around a pair of walks in the eighth and Jared Cheek worked a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down the first half title.

Emeralds Notes: Eugene heads over the border to take on Vancouver and send Manuel Rondon (3-0, 1.57 ERA) to the mound.

Arizona Rookie League—Cubs 7, Angels 6

Cubs scored four times in the bottom of the 9th for the walk-off win.

Hitting Recap: Cubs scored four times in the bottom of the 9th with two outs as Luis Ayala’s walk-off single scored LF Yohan Matos (.302) with the winning run. An error allowed the first run of the frame to score while Matos and 2B Jhonny Bethencourt (.222) followed with RBI single. CF Ayala (.348), Bethencourt and Matos all finished with two hits. 

Pitching Chart: Javier Assad got the start and lasted three innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. Ho-young Son tossed a scoreless frame and Jose Leidenz got charged with two unearned runs over three innings. Eugenio Palma (2-0, 1.50 ERA) fanned three and picked up the win with two scoreless innings.

Dominican Summer League— Yankees 1 (5), Cubs 1 (1)

Cubs dropped their fifth straight at the hands of the Yankees.

Hitting Recap: Cubs scored their only run of the game in the third when CF Jose Gutierrez (.255) and DH Henderson Perez (.181) pulled off the double steal with Gutierrez crossing home. Perez finished 3-for-5 while Gutierrez went 1-for-3 with a triple and a walk. 

Pitching Chart: Jesus Tejada (1-2, 3.20 ERA) got the start and allowed three runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings. Elvis Diaz gave up two runs over 2.2 frames and Juan Rengifo worked a scoreless ninth.

Cubs Notes: Cubs trail first-place Rangers 1 (27-11) by 11.5 games.

Dominican Summer League—Giants 5, Cubs 2 (1)

Giants (19-19) scored five times in the bottom of the eighth to down the Cubs (24-14).

Hitting Recap: Only five hits for the Cubs—all singles. Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the 8th when RF Tony Rijo (.198) walked, took third on a single from 2B Ronaldo Lopez (.157) and scored on an errant pickoff throw.

Pitching Chart: Hector Garcia blanked the Giants for seven innings as the 18-year-old from Mexico fanned three while allowing four hits and a walk. Luiz Escanio (2-1, 1.38 ERA) gave up five runs (one earned) in the 8th and got charged with a blown save and the loss.

Cubs Notes: Cubs are 1.5 games behind the Mariners (26-13). They have a team batting average of .247 and a team ERA of 3.28.

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