Bears

Iowa Salvages Series Finale in Albuquerque

Iowa Salvages Series Finale in Albuquerque

Thursday April 14, 2011
Posted: 4:00 p.m.

CUBSIOWA AAA
The I-Cubs finally found some solace in Albuquerque, taking the final game of a four-game set Thursday afternoon at Isotopes Park. Iowa had dropped three in a row before picking up a 10-6 victory behind the five-RBI effort of Bobby Scales.

Iowa will head to Des Moines for its home-opener Friday night against Memphis having split eight games on a season-opening road trip.

Scales had a pair of doubles, bringing in two runs with one of them in the fourth inning. His bases-clearing, three-run double in the seventh gave the I-Cubs the final push they would need to end the trip on a positive note. His seventh-inning double proved to be critical because the Isotopes scored twice in the ninth, cutting the lead to 10-6.

Lou Montanez added three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs.

Robert Coello 1-1, despite allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings, picked up the victory. The New Jersey native has allowed 11 run in nine innings in his two starts this season.
Tennessee AA
The Smokies roughed up an old friend Thursday night as they bounced visiting Montgomery, 11-2.

Former Cub and Tennessee ace Chris Archer got the nod for the Biscuits and his former mates did him no favors, scoring three times on five hits in 4 23 innings. Archer also walked three in suffering his first loss of the season.

Brett Jackson was 1-for-3, extending his season-long hitting streak to seven games while D.J. LeMahieu and Josh Vitters led a group of five players that had two hits apiece. Rebel Ridlings sixth-inning grand slam proved to be the decisive blow. The red-hot Smokies had 15 hits in all and continue to lead the Southern League in hitting.

Rafael Dolis allowed a run on four hits while striking out five in his six innings to secure the win.
Daytona A
Tony Plagmans bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth lifted Lakeland to a 4-3 victory over Daytona Thursday night at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The Flying Tigers scored their run without the benefit of a hit. Daytona loaded the bases on a pair of hit batsmen and an intentional walk. After the Cubs induced a fielders choice that got a runner at the plate, Frank Batista walked in the winning run.

Aaron Kurcz started and lasted only 3 23 innings for the Cubs. He gave up three runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. The bullpen was solid until the ninth-inning meltdown, which culminated with Jeff Beliveau and Batista being unable to find the plate.

Wellington Castillo drove in two runs for the Cubs.
Peoria A
Sergio Burreal broke up a no-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning Thursday night but it did little to take the sting out of Peorias 5-1 loss to Burlington at Community Field.

The Bees A.J. Griffin kept the Chiefs out of the hit column by striking out nine and walking only two before Burreal spoiled the no-hit bid. By that time, however, Burlington had built a 5-0 lead with all of the runs coming against Peoria starter Dallas Beeler, who lasted only two innings.

Greg Rohan, who has a season-long, seven-game hitting streak, collected one of Peorias three hits and drove in the run.
WHITE SOX Charlotte AAA
Jeffrey Marquez struggled with his control Thursday night for Charlotte and as a result, his effort didnt yield the kind of success he in his season-opening performance.

The Knights began their road trip at Gwinnett County with a 3-1 loss and Marquez was at the center of the Braves attack, walking five and allowing five hits over five innings. He surrendered two runs, only one of which was earned, the Knights could never catch up to what was a strong effort by Gwinnett pitchers.

Included in that group was highly touted Julio Teheran, who allowed a run on three hits in four innings. He, too, was a bit wild, walking four but didnt factor in the decision.

Alejandro De Aza had two of Charlottes five hits. Dayan Viciedo went 0-for-3 and is hitting .185.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators needed a quartet of pitchers to support their big effort at the plate but in the end it all came together Thursday for a 9-5 victory at Delmarva.

Kannapolis had nine hits, including two-hit efforts from Juan Silverio and Brady Shoemaker, each of whom has a seven-game hitting streak. Ken Gilbert added a homer and drove in four. Chase Cooney pitched three shutout innings to earn the victory.
Birmingham AA
Matt Zaleski pitched a brilliant game for Birmingham Thursday night but it went for naught as the Barons dropped a 2-0 decision to visiting Chattanooga.

Zaleski allowed a run on four hits over seven innings, striking out six. He has a 0.73 ERA through two starts. Tyler Kuhn had four of Birminghams seven hits.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Bears receive Sports Illustrated's top offseason grade in NFC North

Bears receive Sports Illustrated's top offseason grade in NFC North

The Chicago Bears are less than one month from the start of training camp, but the praise for general manager Ryan Pace's offseason continues to pour in.

Pace and the Bears received an A for their offseason -- the best grade in the NFC North -- from Sports Illustrated. A big part of the perfect score was the overhaul at wide receiver.

Chicago had one of the weakest receiving groups in the NFL last season—the team ranked dead last in passing yards per game (175.7)—so that position was clearly an area of focus this offseason for general manager Ryan Pace. The additions of Allen Robinson from Jacksonville, Taylor Gabriel from Atlanta and Anthony Miller via the draft will boost a stagnant group, assuming Robinson returns fully healthy from last September’s ACL tear. If 2015 first-round pick Kevin White can stay healthy for a full season for the first time in his ill-fated career, it’s an added bonus.

Much is expected from the revamped group of pass-catchers even though none of them have an overwhelming history of production. Robinson had a dominant season in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns), but his last two seasons involved mediocre production in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. Gabriel's never topped more than 621 yards in a season and tight end Trey Burton has been a backup his whole career. Miller has yet to play a snap in the NFL and White, now entering his fourth season, is still looking for his first touchdown catch.

Mitch Trubisky has a lot of work to do once training camp kicks off. Not only must he master coach Matt Nagy's offense, but he must do so while building chemistry with all of his new receivers. Growing pains will happen, but the upside and expectations for the Bears in 2018 are higher than they've been in many years, and it's all because of a great offseason had by the front office.

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

A recap of the Blackhawks' selections in the 2018 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports, including analysis from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and VP of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

Round 1, pick 8: Adam Boqvist, defenseman

Round 1, pick 27: Nicolas Beaudin, defenseman

Round 3, pick 69: Jake Wise, center

— What you need to know: Wise, 18, scored 11 goals and dished out 32 assists in 38 games for the United States National Team Development Program last season. He also scored a goal and added four assists in seven games during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. Wise will play at Boston University next year.

— Scouting report: Wise is 5-foot-10, 194 pounds and is known to be an excellent skater. He's also responsible in his own end, which is a trait the Blackhawks always appreciate in their younger players.

— Player reaction: "I thought the Hawks were probably one of the teams I was going to go to for the longest time. I don’t know why, but I always had a gut feeling. And to go to the Blackhawks, it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable organization and I couldn’t be happier."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's just a really smart two-way centerman. He had a great start to the season and then he missed some time and it was ironic when he came back, it was the same time Jack Hughes joined the team and all of a sudden they had a No. 1 and No. 2 center and the team really took off."

Round 3, pick 74: Niklas Nordgren, forward

— What you need to know: Nordgren, 18, compiled 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 28 games for Jr. A SM-liiga in the HIFK U20 league, and produced at a point-per-game rate in the playoffs with six goals and four assists in 10 games. He also reigstered 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in seven games for Finland during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. He plans to return to Finland next season.

— Scouting report: Nordgren is an undersized winger (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) but has the ability to score and can play in any situation.

— Player reaction: "Pretty exciting to get [drafted by the] Blackhawks, one of my favorites teams in the NHL."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He has great instincts around the net, he has a really good stick in traffic. I think if you look and track his goals you'll find they're goal scorers goals. He gets in the dirt, he's not afraid and he's just got a really great release."

Round 4, pick 120: Philipp Kurashev, forward

— What you need to know: Kurashev, 18, recorded 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 59 games for the Québec Remparts of the QMJHL, and added one goal and four assists in six postseason contests. He also scored a goal and added two assists in five games with Switzerland during the Under-20 World Junior Championship.

— Scouting report: Kurashev is 6-foot-0, 190 pounds and is known to be a smooth skater who can blow past defenders during odd-man rushes. There are concerns about his effort level, but the package is there and that's what attracted the Blackhawks.

— Analysis from Kelley: "Really smart, skilled centerman but he's also really strong on his skates. We thought he had a really good year this year. We think he's better acclimated, we expect him to have a real good year this year coming back."

Round 5, pick 139: Mikael Hakkarainen, forward

— What you need to know: Hakkarainen, 20, accumulated 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 36 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL last season, and added an assist in three playoff games. He was a member of the Chicago Steel for 16 games in 2016-17, where he recorded four assists. Hakkarainen will play at Providence College for the 2018-19 season.

— Scouting report: Hakkarainen is 6-foot-1, 194 pounds and can be an impact-type player and contribute on special teams.

— Analysis from Kelley: "I think what attracted us to him was, when you went and saw him play, he got on the scoresheet but even if he wasn't on the scoresheet you noticed him play. He played hard. 200-foot."

Round 6, pick 162: Alexis Gravel, goaltender

— What you need to know: Gravel, 18, had a 3.38 goals against average and .890 save percentage in 39 games with Halifax Mooseheads last season, and a 2.70 GAA and .917 save percentage in eight playoff games. 

— Scouting report: Gravel is 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, which immediately stand out because it's the kind of size and big frame the Blackhawks like in their goaltenders. His strengths include his quick glove hand and rebound control.

— Player reaction: "It's amazing. It's probably the best day of my life. I just look down and there's a Chicago Blackhawks logo on the jersey. It feels amazing. It's unreal."

— Analysis from Bowman: "Alexis is a guy we think has a lot of potential. And with goalies you have to be patient with them, they take a little bit longer [to develop]. But he’s got a lot of ability, he’s got the size to be an NHL goalie, and I think that’s part of it. We’re happy that he was there and we were able to get him."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's going to have a great situation. They're going to host the Memorial Cup next year. We're expecting a peak year out of him. He's been a good goaltender. This year we saw him play some really good games. He's in a good spot. We like the opportunity for him."

Round 7, pick 193: Josiah Slavin, forward

— What you need to know: Slavin, 19, had 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games last season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, and two goals and one assist in seven playoff games. He is expected to return to the USHL before going to Colorado College in 2019-20. He is the younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We like the project there. We think where he is on the curve, he's gonna play another year and then go to Colorado College. We just like the whole project."