Cubs Minor League Notes

Left-hander Clay Rapada was near perfection in his first eight appearances for West Tennessee to open the year, scattering three hits for a .081 average against. He gave up his first run of the season on Thursday night in the Double-A team's 4-2 loss to Mississippi.

Rapada's scoreless streak of 11 1/3 innings to open the year ended as he suffered his first loss in relief, giving up two go-ahead runs in the ninth inning in a previously tied game. The Diamond Jaxx fell to 10-5 but are tied with Chattanooga for first place in the Southern League's Northern Division.

A sidearmed style southpaw who got a brief taste of big league Spring Training last month (as in two batters faced), Rapada was only active for roughly two and a half months all of last season.

He joined Class-A Daytona in June after an unspecified injury held him over in Extended Spring Training the first two months and then had his season cut short in mid-August with an emergency appendectomy.

A non-drafted free agent from Virginia State University who joined the Cubs in 2002, Rapada has been used exclusively in late-inning situations this year by manager Pat Listach and saved four games in his first four appearances.

But Listach won't go as far as to say that Rapada is the team's set closer.

"It's not a sound decision yet," said the first-year Jaxx manager. "He's just happened to be the guy with the ball in the ninth inning. No one's gone to him and said, ‘Hey, you're the closer.' He's just so happened to be the guy with a one- or two-run lead lately."

Entering the year, Rapada was coming off two sound years at Class A. At Lansing in 2004, he boasted a solid 2.33 ERA in 57 appearances. With Daytona a season ago, he was usually effective in 27 appearances with a 3.83 ERA and 61 strikeouts to 16 walks.

Rapada will continue to get the ball in the late innings and handle closing duties whenever they present themselves to the 25-year-old.

"There'll be some games where Thomas Atlee or Rocky Cherry will close if he's not available," Listach added. "It all depends on who's available that day."

In Thursday's loss, first baseman Micah Hoffpauir extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 1-for-3 night at the plate, as did third baseman Scott Moore.

Moore is hitting .321 in 15 games and he, too, was an invite to big league Spring Training this year, going 4-for-13 in eight games there.

After struggling through his final two seasons with the Detroit Tigers farm system in 2003 and '04, the former first-round pick righted the ship in his debut season with the Cubs last year after coming over in the trade that sent Kyle Farnsworth to the Motor City.

Moore batted .281 in an all-star year at Daytona and led the team with 20 home runs and 82 RBIs in 128 games. This season, he has struck out 19 times in 56 at-bats but is tied with Hoffpauir and second baseman Eric Patterson for the team lead in hits with 18.

"Scotty's got some power. He runs good for a big guy and he's improving defensively," Listach said of the 6'2, 180-pound Moore. "Really, all of these guys on this team are good players and deserve to be prospects in this organization."

ELSEWHERE ON THE FARM … In Albuquerque, N.M., Iowa dropped their third straight to the Isotopes, 6-5, on Thursday night. They fell below .500 at 7-8 with five of the Triple-A club's eight losses by two runs or less.

Starter Rich Hill, who will be a major league pitcher either with the Cubs or not, struck out seven and walked four in six innings. He turned in the best performance by a Cubs starter in the four-game series thus far with two runs (one earned) and four hits allowed.

OF Felix Pie hit his second triple in as many nights and drove in his team-leading 16th run. Batting .333 through his first 15 games, Pie has hit safely in four straight games and seven of his last eight overall. OF Buck Coats also continued his hot hitting with a two-hit night, his fifth in the last seven games to raise his average to .349 in 11 games. Pie stole his fourth base; Coats his second.

In Vero Beach, Fla., Daytona won their third straight, 3-1, over the Dodgers. Starter Grant Johnson turned in his finest outing to date, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing four hits and striking out four. After allowing six walks in his first 11 innings this season, Johnson did not yield a free pass on Thursday night.

RHP Adalberto Mendez picked up his second save to extend his scoreless streak to 15 innings dating back to last year. He has allowed one hit in eight appearances for a .040 average against. OF Nic Jackson extended his hitting streak to nine games, raising his average to a season best .268 clip through 14 games. Catcher Jake Fox has hit safely in seven straight games and is batting .313 through 13 starts. Daytona improved to 5-9.

In Beloit, Wis., Peoria fell to four games under .500 with a 9-8 loss. The team has given up 17 runs in their last two games with the bullpen -- Justin Rayborn and Roberto Sotolongo -- surrendering seven runs in one inning on Thursday. Starter Jesus Yepez was solid for the third time out, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings. The left-hander has a 2.12 ERA in three starts.

Batting .294 through 12 games, OF Davy Gregg finished with a season-high four hits and has three multi-hit games in his last five starts. Peoria is 5-9.

Steve Holley is the publisher of Inside The Ivy. In addition to his work for Scout.com, he also covers Nicholls State University athletics for the Tri-Parish Times in southeast Louisiana. E-mail Steve at staff@insidetheivy.com.


Northsiders Report Top Stories