All posts by Derek Shore

Cover the Springfield Cardinals and Cardinals minor league pipeline for The Cardinal Nation on Scout.com | Freelance sports writer

Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2017 Week 15

Behind a seven-game winning streak, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Texas League affiliate in Springfield has taken over first place. As the starting pitching continues its success, catcher Andrew Knizner continues to be on fire at the plate.

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Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2017 Week 13

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Texas League affiliate in Springfield went a positive 3-3 on a long Texas road trip. According to his manager, lefty Austin Gomber made the necessary adjustments to become the Double-A club’s best pitcher right now.

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Kolten Wong Speaks in Springfield

(photo: Kolten Wong/Steve Mitchell/USA Today)

In Springfield on Wednesday night, St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong began his first of four games making up his rehab assignment at Double-A Springfield.

Wong, 26, has been held out of action since June 14 with a right triceps strain which he initially injured during a rehab appearance on June 8 at Low-A Peoria, attempting to return from a left elbow injury that sidelined him for 13 games. Overall, the right-hander hitter is slashing .301/.393/.444 with one homer and 19 RBI through 153 at-bats (47 games) this season.

Barring injury, Wong is expected to play five innings on Wednesday night, progress to seven innings on Thursday, rest Friday, and finish out his rehab with two full games on Saturday and Sunday. As always, these are tentative plans as his status will be re-assessed daily.

Below is a transcript from Wong’s presser before Wednesday night’s game. In the media session, he discusses the injury and rehab plan along with much more.


Media Member: What kind of pesky injury has this been? How limiting has it been for you?

Kolten Wong: “It has been one of those things where one thing led to another. It has been kind of frustrating knowing I have been working on one thing, and it goes to my forearm first. Then my elbow and now my triceps.

“It was weird how it all strung together, but I am glad it is all done and back to playing baseball now.”

MM: How much have you been able to work in the field, work in the cage before coming here to Springfield?

KW: “Probably this past week and weekend, I have been going with the team, taking groundballs and taking BP (batting practice) and doing things just to kind of get ready.”

MM: What is the plan this week? Do you know exactly how many you are getting into to? The plan trying to get back to the big-leagues?

KW: “Yeah, I will probably be here until Sunday. From there on, they want to give me an All-Star break to give me that chance to give everything to relax before the second half. So, I think here until Sunday, you know, have a good couple of days off and then back to the grind.”

MM: Those two stints on the DL and the team hovering around .500 and trying to catch the Cubs and the Brewers. How do you describe the first half of the season so far?

KW: “It has been a crazy first half. I think the guys in the clubhouse we all know how good we are. We understand that we haven’t been playing our best baseball yet. To be where we are at right now knowing we are way better than what we have been doing.

“It is definitely exciting for all us. We are coming in every day excited knowing we still are not playing really good, but we are still right in the thick of things. So, everyone is excited and ready to go. Just waiting for everybody to start clicking together.”

MM: How anxious have you been to be able to contribute more yourself as kind of getting back into the playoff race?

KW: “Yeah, especially going through this injury right now. You are sitting on the bench and seeing these guys grinding away, winning some tough games. It definitely lights a fire under you to know that, ‘Man, I want to get back there to help these guys.'”

“They have been doing everything they can to get us victories. Keep us close. I want to do what I can to help, too.

MM: You already alluded to the plan but is the plan to play a full game tonight and then how does that progressing in this rehab assignment?

KW: “It is going to be five innings tonight. Probably seven tomorrow. I think they were talking about a day off the next day and then two nines. I am guessing that is what it is going to be. We will see what happens.”

MM: Baseball-wise, what are you hoping to get done in those innings that you play here?

KW: “Just get back into it. It is definitely going to be different not playing for a month and then coming back. It is a pretty lengthy layoff, but baseball is not going to change. Go out there and play the game as hard as I can.

“Try to help this team win down here.”

MM: Outside of baseball, is there anything you want to do while you are back in Springfield?

KW: “I didn’t really know what there was to do here. I was here strictly for baseball when I was here. Just enjoy being back here. I had a great time when I was here. Then see what it is about.

“Like you said, find out some different things and Bass Pro. That is all I have done down here.”

MM: One of your teammates here Carlos Martinez making it to the All-Star along with Yadi. Just talk about those two guys and what they mean to this organization?

KW: “Those two guys are kind of, they are it right now for us. They have been carrying this team, and obviously, we play with other guys, but to see what Yadi has done every single year we all expect him to make the All-Star game. You expect them to be good.

“To see Carlos and the progressions he has made as a pitcher and just growing up, in general. The guy is a stud now. He knows it. He expects it. He carries himself with that chip on his shoulder. When he has that, we understand what he can do for our team.”

MM: A lot of young players have been stepping up while you have been out. What does that to do your compete level and what have you seen from that?

KW: “That is what it is about. This game is all about competition, and the guys have been coming in and definitely stepping up and doing what they can do, but everybody knows what I can do as well. It is kind of hard to match.

“I am confident in what I can bring to the table. I am just happy those guys came in and did what they could do to help the team win.”

MM: Does seeing Carp playing second base have any impact on you or change your approach anything like that?

KW: “Absolutely not, no. It is at a point where if that is the route they go, then that is the route to go. I will be ready to come back and do whatever they need me to do. It is time to win. We are this close to being a playoff team.

“If that is the route that we are going to go, let’s do it. I will be ready to go to be the guy I need to be to help the team get some victories.”

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Dunedin Coach on New Cardinal Lane Thomas

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Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2017 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Arozarena Named TCN’s June Player of the Month

(photo: Randy Arozarena/Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

This is the second of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series in which we name our Players and Pitchers of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals themselves recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.

Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of June system-wide hitting leaders, starting with our honoree.

Randy Arozarena (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Arozarena stands out

While a number of position players in the Cardinals system had strong Junes, one offensive player rose above the rest, while utilizing a tremendous stretch to earn a promotion to Double-A.

Our June Player of the Month is then Palm Beach outfielder and now Springfield corner outfielder Randy Arozarena. The 22-year old should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization and the Florida State League Player of the Month honors.

Among position players with at least 75 at-bats, Arozarena led the Cardinals system with a .590 slugging percentage and .964 OPS in the month of June. He finished the month with .295 batting average and .306 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) which made for an obvious choice given the success of offensive players in the pitcher-friendly FSL (average slash line for league players this year: .250/.321/.361/.682)

The Cuban native was making up for lost time in Palm Beach after a slow start to his first season with the organization. After leaving his homeland following the 2014 season, Arozarena sat out all of 2015, played in Mexico and signed with St. Louis last August before an aggressive assignment in his official Cardinals debut.

“It is harder,” Palm Beach manager Dann Bilardello told The Cardinal Nation. “For one, it is the language, and two, you are thrown into an atmosphere different from what you are accustomed to. There was an adjustment period off the field for him. That is tough for anybody, and he handled it pretty well.”

There were many on-field challenges as well. He came in with a reputation for consistent contact with line drive power, but failed to show either to start the season. Arozarena batted just .105 with 11 strikeouts and one extra-base hit in his first 11 games (38 at-bats).

In 21 games for the Beach Birds in June, Arozarena hit safely in 16 while being named FSL Player of the Week for the period of June 5-11, including a power surge with four homers over the course of five games.

With that, the right-handed slugger was selected to the midseason FSL All-Star Game, where he also took part and won the pre-game Home Run Derby.

“The improvements still need to come in all aspects of his game, offensively and defensively, the mental approach, the baserunning – all of it,” Bilardello added. “There is still a ways to go, but we are pleased with the progress so far.”

Arozarena played in just one game following the All-Star break at Palm Beach before receiving a promotion to Springfield on June 30. While the opening was at the expense of Oscar Mercado’s injury, Arozarena earned his shot at Double-A.

“I really like the adjustments he’s made on a daily basis,” Palm Beach hitting coach Erick Almonte told MiLB.com recently. “We’ve been facing a lot of good pitchers who throw hard, and his bat speed is incredible. He’s been much better at shortening his swing and going gap to gap. And the results are showing every day.

“The month of April was his first time playing [in the United States]. This is a hard league to hit in, and he was trying to do too much at the beginning. We made some adjustments, and he’s been swinging at strikes, which is key.”

One area of his game Almonte noted needs improvement is to show more patience in an attempt to increase walks. In the month of June, Arozarena controlled the strike zone well with a 14-to-6 strikeout to walk count (compared to 19-to-3 K/BB in April and 20-to-4 in May).

“When the second half begins, pitchers will pitch differently against him,” Almonte told MiLB.com. “But I think he will be up to the test and show everybody that he can put up good numbers for a whole season.”

Harrison Bader (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Honorable Mentions

Had it not been for his strikeout to walk ratio (28-to-3 K/BB) and an unsustainable .397 BABIP, Harrison Bader could taken home the Player of the Month honor for June. That said, Bader did perhaps the most damage this past month with 14 extra-base hits (but in 23 more at-bats) and 19 RBI.

Overall, the outfielder slashed .317/.355/.564 with a .919 OPS, and one pro scout said he was most impressed with his skill-set on that Memphis roster.

“Definite everyday player with All-star upside,” the scout said.

Cutting down the strikeouts is one key stepping stone to the big leagues for Bader going forward.

Another player who received consideration is Springfield lead-off man Oscar Mercado, who recently went down with a shoulder injury. Prior to his move to the disabled list, Mercado paced the system with a June-best .339 batting clip that included nine extra-base hits (five doubles, one triple, and three homers) and six RBI, finishing with .865 OPS.

Mercado was simply outperformed in terms of doing damage with the bat.

Magneuris Sierra (USA TODAY Sport Images)

Speedster Magneuris Sierra also had a robust June, posting a system-high .344 average along with .876 OPS to boot. The lefty Sierra even flashed some sock with his bat, producing 12 extra-base hits (10 doubles, one triple, and one inside-the-park home run).

Memphis Mafia basher Luke Voit was on pace to have the strongest month among Cardinals prospects, but for a good reason, he didn’t. In his 20 games before his first call-up to St. Louis on June 25, Voit had a .957 OPS with four homers and 19 RBI.

We should also not overlook the .338 batting average from Peoria outfielder Shane Billings, but it was mostly of the singles variety, with 21 of his 26 June hits one-baggers. Billings earned his promotion to Palm Beach to replace Arozarena.

Two other players definitely also deserving of mention are Memphis’ Nick Martini and Peoria’s Ryan McCarvel, who batted .313 and .299, respectively. Martini had 15 RBI while McCarvel had a system-best 15 extra-base hits last month.

What’s Next

Look the Cardinals organization’s announcement of their choices as the top performers from the third month of the 2017 season.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Cardinals Florida State All-Star News is Good and Bad

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2017 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mayers Claims TCN’s June Pitcher of the Month Honors

(photo: Mike Mayers/USA TODAY Sports Images)

This is the first of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series as we name our Players and Pitchers of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals themselves recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.

Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of June system-wide pitching leaders.

Mayers claims TCN’s top pitching honor

While a number of starters in the Cardinals system had strong Junes, one hurler distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch of pitching to land a big-league call-up before the end of the month.

Mike Mayers/USA TODAY Sports Images

Our June Pitcher of the Month is Memphis starter Mike Mayers, who should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization and the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Month honors.

Among starters, Mayers led the Cardinals system with a minuscule 0.72 ERA, finishing second with a 0.88 WHIP and 29 strikeouts through 25 innings pitched in June.

The Cardinals 2013 third round selection allowed a combined two earned runs over his four starts before receiving a call-up to St. Louis on June 25.

The past two months have represented an impressive turnaround for the righty (3.67 May ERA and sub-1.00 June ERA) after posting a horrendous 8.15 ERA in four starts (17 2/3 innings) start off the season in April.

Moreover, the adjustments were simple for Mayers, who was stinger with baserunners, driving down his opponents’ batting average (.395 April, .259 May, and .194 June) drastically in addition to his WHIP (2.15 April and 1.51 May).

Honorable Mentions

Mike O’Reilly (The Cardinal Nation)

Had it not been for one abbreviated outing that skewed his monthly results, Mike O’Reilly might have been on the winning side of the spectrum. Regardless, the control artist continues to open eyes following being a virtually unknown product in the organization entering the 2017 season.

“O’Reilly has been really good since he got here,” Low-A Peoria manager Chris Swauger told the Peoria Journal Star. “Once he moved from the bullpen into the rotation, he was comfortable — he was a starter in college. He’s a guy who needs to establish his fastball and mix in his slider and changeup, and when it goes well, he can turn over a lineup three times.”

O’Reilly followed up a terrific May (1.83 ERA) with a tremendous June, posting the system’s second lowest ERA (1.75) among starters. The righty had a remarkable 0.62 WHIP and held opponents to a .115 average through 25 2/3 innings.

Springfield’s Dakota Hudson did not feature the same swing and miss results as the others above. The sinkerballer did boast the third-lowest ERA with a 1.93 mark, and his 1.13 WHIP is nothing to sneeze at either. His average of 12.9 pitches per inning was also one of the lowest among starters, so he was extremely economical this past month.

Hudson’s June 22 start marked the longest outing of his career, as he navigated through eight shutout frames to extend his quality start streak to eight games. He should be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Memphis sooner rather than later.

Luke Weaver/USA TODAY Sports Images

While he dealt with another back injury for part of the month, Luke Weaver was effective when on the mound with a 1.59 ERA through four starts. The slender-built righty had a 22-to-7 strikeout to walk over 17 innings hurled.

Next up among our honorable mentions is another sinkerball in Jake Woodford, who had a 2.10 ERA in 25 2/3 innings at High-A Palm Beach. Woodford worked into the sixth inning in each of his four starts, including three into the seventh while showing promise with a 1.01 WHIP.

Also with the Beach Birds, the often overlooked Ryan Helsley went a perfect 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA (five starts, 28 innings pitched), including a 23-to-7 strikeout to walk count.

Starting pitching prospects Sandy Alcantara (Springfield), Marco Gonzales (Memphis), and Diego Cordero (DSL Cardinals) delivered 2.35, 2.55, and 2.63 ERAs, respectively.

What’s Next

Next up will be The Cardinal Nation’s June Player of the Month announcement as well as the Cardinals organization’s choices of their top performers in the third month of the 2017 season.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2017 Week 12

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2017 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2017 Week 12

The Springfield Cardinals prepare for a second-half run with an evolving core, but Magneuris Sierra is a constant force atop the lineup. Manager Johnny Rodriguez likes what he sees in his Double-A club, even after several key promotions this past week.

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Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 3/26/2017

By Derek Shore

Welcome back to our ninth year of providing results and much more from St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games here at The Cardinal Nation Blog. This year, I am joined in these recaps by TCN writer Derek Shore.

Following are the highlights from the Cardinals minor league games held on Sunday against the Marlins, with all five games scheduled on the St. Louis side of the Jupiter complex.

On Sunday, the Cardinals had a camp day with Double-A Springfield besting Triple-A Memphis while Peoria and Palm Beach finished with a draw. Overall, the system is 14-21-4 in 2016, including 10-17-2 versus outside competition.

Once again this spring, Cardinals Baseball Operations Coordinator for Player Development Tony Ferreira shares highlights from minor league spring training contests.

The raw data is his, but the comments and awards are ours. However, be aware that only minimal pitching and hitting results are being shared – what you see here. So to find those struggling, you will have to look for names missing or make some guesses.

Remember these working team assignments are fluid by the day. In addition, another 16 players have yet to be cut from Major League camp.

 

Dobz-p-200_5622Sunday’s Pitcher of the Day: Bryan Dobzanski, Peoria

The former amateur wrestler turned pitching project, who is coming off a decent year with the Low-A (short-season) State College Spikes last summer, should be advanced enough to move on to a full-season assignment in 2017. Don’t forget that this guy, who is nicknamed ‘Dobz’, is only 21-years old with big, athletic frame and he is not even three full years into giving baseball a complete focus as a profession.

 

Sunday’s Hitter of the Day: Nick Plummer, Peoria

After going under the knife twice and missing all of 2016 due to a broken hamate bone and wrist injury, Plummer by all reports is fully healthy and just needs to continue to get at-bats. The Cardinals former first round draft pick rehabbed all offseason at the Jupiter facility and it will be very interesting to see if he can recover enough lost time to make Peoria out of camp.

 

Springfield defeats Memphis, 3-1

Memphis pitching:

  • Mitch Harris – 1.o IP

Note: looking to become first to reach the big leagues after undergoing “primary” repair elbow surgery.

Memphis hitting:

  • Jacob Wilson (SS) – 1-for-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K

Note: drew consideration for Player of the Day, if not for the loss. Good to see he is playing some more shortstop to increase versatility.
Springfield pitching:

  • Sam Tuivailala – 1.2 IP, 2 BB, 3 K’

Note: had an impressive big-league showing in ST camp; seems to have ditched the cutter and gone back to fastball/curveball combo.

Springfield hitting:

  • Danny Diekroeger – 1-for-1, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB

Note: broken wrist costs him several months in 2016; could see Double-A time this year.

 

Peoria tied Palm Beach, 0-0

Peoria pitching:

  • Bryan Dobzanski – 4.0 IP, 1 H, 2 K

Note: see above.

Peoria hitting:

  • Nick Plummer (OF) – 2-for-3, 2 H

Note: see above

 

Palm Beach pitching:

  • Yeison Medina – 1.0 IP, 1 K

Note: effective lower-level reliever, looking to crack full-season club.

Palm Beach hitting:

  • Mick Fennell (RF) – 1-for-2, 1 H

Note: 2016 draftee who is known for his ability to back-flip.

 

Monday’s games: The games Monday will be against the Nationals. The Triple-A and Double-A clubs will travel to West Palm Beach and A clubs will host Washington’s lower level affiliates at Jupiter. Games are set for a 1:00 p.m. EST.

Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 3/22/17

By Derek Shore

We are now into day six of our ninth year of providing results and much more from St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games here at The Cardinal Nation Blog. This year, I will contribute from time to time in these recaps alongside TCN publisher and editor Brian Walton.

Following are Wednesday highlights of Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, and Peoria against the Washington affiliates with the two upper-level clubs playing at the Jupiter complex at Roger Dean and the lower A clubs in action at the Nationals facility in West Palm Beach.

Collectively, the farm went 2-2 versus the Nationals with Springfield (2-3-1) and Peoria (1-4) coming away victorious against Harrisburg and Hagerstown, respectively. Memphis (4-2) snapped its three-game winning streak with a loss to Syracuse while Palm Beach (3-3) was bombed by Potomac.

Once again this spring, Cardinals Baseball Operations Coordinator for Player Development Tony Ferreira is sharing highlights from minor league spring training contests.

The raw data is his, but the comments and awards are ours. However, be aware that only minimal pitching and hitting results are being shared – what you see here. So to find those struggling, you will have to look for names missing or make some guesses.

Remember these working team assignments are fluid by the day. In addition, another 17 players have yet to be cut from Major League camp.

Alcantara-P-200_1508Wednesday’s Pitcher of the Day: Sandy Alcantara, Springfield

For the second time in the first week of doing these reports, Sandy Alcantara came out on top as a Pitcher of the Way. This time the Dominican ousted recently-optioned Luke Weaver (Memphis), who had been in the running for the fifth starter spot entering big-league camp.

While he proved to be raw and scuffled to put big-league hitters away, Alcantara has handled more seasoned minor league hitters smoothly, logging three strikeouts and allowing no baserunners in two perfect innings in Springfield’s win over Harrisburg on Wednesday. He seems primed to make the jump to the Texas League to start 2017.

(Brian Walton’s note: I was at the Memphis and Springfield games and took the above photo when Sandy was pitching. My observations about him, Tyler Lyons, Sam Tuivailala, Tommy Pham and many more are posted at the main site, The Cardinal Nation, for members. I also report on a Red-White scrimmage in which Johan Oviedo pitched. Join TCN today!)

Wednesday’s Hitter of the Day: Matt Davis, Peoria

Despite it being an exhibition contest where statistics aren’t official, Matt Davis had perhaps the most productive game of his pro career on Wednesday. The middle infielder, who has apparently added left field to his versatility, drove in nearly as many runs (three) as he had over 32 games (five) through stints with State College, Peoria, and Palm Beach last summer.

Davis, 22, was signed as a non-drafted free agent in July and transitioned to the New York-Penn League following a three-year career at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a collegian, the right-hander slashed .300/.383/.423 with 14 homers and 104 RBI before struggling in his intro to pro ball to the tune of a .190 batting clip.

 

For more, The Cardinal Nation members can check out the complete list of minor league spring training attendees (updated on Tuesday) and full minor league spring training game schedules.

Also exclusively for TCN members is Walton’s annual series in which he predicts the opening rosters for all four full-season minor league affiliates and explain why. St. Louis was posted Wednesday, with the others to follow. The St. Louis roster prediction article is free for all readers.

If you are not yet a member of The Cardinal Nation, seven-day free trials are always available.

The entire system view by level and position as last season ended is available via the Roster Matrix, always free, right here at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

 

Memphis 5, Syracuse 8

Pitching:

  • Luke Weaver – 2 2/3 IP, H, ER, 4 K

Note: Was tentative in his St. Louis cameo last year; looking to get back to his strength of filling up the strike zone.

  • Zach Phillips – 1 IP, 2 K

Note: minor league depth signing from the left-side; could see the majors at some point in 2017 if the need arises.

Hitting:

  • Blake Drake (CF) – 2-for-4, R, 3B, K

Note: glove ahead of the bat, but he has sneaky power and the wheels to take extra-bases.

  • Anthony Garcia (LF) – 1-for-3, R, 2B, BB, K

Note: make or break year for the polarizing hitting prospect.

 

Springfield 3, Harrisburg 2

Pitching:

  • Sandy Alcantara – 2 IP, 3 K

Note: see above

Hitting:

  • Danny Diekroeger (3B) – 1-for-2, R, 2B

Note: broken wrist sidelined him for three months last year in Palm Beach; battling for a spot at Double-A this spring.

 

Palm Beach 3, Potomac 12

Pitching:

  • N/A

Hitting:

  • Luke Dykstra – 2-for-4

Note: lone position prospect from Jaime Garcia trade; solid all-around skill-set with no power and looks to be the successor for Darren Seferina at second base for the Beach Birds.

 

Peoria 6, Hagerstown 2

Pitching: 

  • Estarlin Arias – 2 IP, 2 K

Note: TCN’s 2016 Johnson City Reliever of the Year; closer for the Appy League champions last summer.

  • Yeison Medina – 1 IP, 2 K

Note: effective lower-level reliever, competing for a bullpen spot at Peoria.

 

Hitting:

  • Matt Davis (LF) – 2-for-3, 2B, K, 3 RBI

Note: see above

  • Shane Billings (CF) – 3-for-4, R

Note: 2016 13th rounder out of Wingate University.

 

Thursday’s games: The Astros are the Thursday opponent with four games slated to be played. Memphis and Springfield will host Houston’s Triple-A and Double-A clubs while Palm Beach and Peoria will travel to West Palm Beach to face off against the Astros respective A clubs as well.

 

Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 3/20/2017

By Derek Shore

We are now into day five of our ninth year of providing results and much more from St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games here at The Cardinal Nation Blog. This year, I will contribute from time to time in these recaps alongside TCN publisher and editor Brian Walton.

Following are Monday highlights of Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, and Peoria against the Houston affiliates with the two upper-level clubs playing in West Palm Beach and the lower A-clubs in action at the Cardinals complex in Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium.

Collectively, the farm went 2-2 versus the Astros with Memphis (4-1) winning its third consecutive game while Palm Beach improved to 3-2 with a win over Buies Creek. Springfield (1-3-1) suffered another loss, and Peoria (0-4) remains without a win in the early part of the spring.

Once again this spring, Cardinals Baseball Operations Coordinator for Player Development Tony Ferreira is sharing highlights from minor league spring training contests.

The raw data is his, but the comments and awards are ours. However, be aware that only minimal pitching and hitting results are being shared – what you see here. So to find those struggling, you will have to look for names missing or make some guesses.

Remember these working team assignments are fluid by the day. In addition, another 19 players have yet to be cut from Major League camp.

 

Katz-ab-200_4765Monday’s Hitter of the Day: Mason Katz, Memphis

Another round-tripper from the hot-hitting Stefan Trosclair was not enough to beat out Mason Katz’ complete day at the plate for a Memphis offense which plated 10 runs against Fresno. Katz knocked in three runs via a home run and double while coming around to score twice. He drew a walk as well.

Katz, 26, is yet another prospect on the elder side after being limited to only 19 games last year between Springfield and Palm Beach due to a hamstring injury. That said, this is the kind of day that is a general reminder of why he was drafted in 2013 – his bat.

 

Monday’s Pitcher of the Day: Ross Vance, Palm Beach

Ross Vance easily had the most impressive outing on Monday, yielding two hits in Palm Beach’s 5-3 win over Buies Creek. The lefty logged a system-high five strikeouts over three scoreless innings pitched for the Beach Birds, topping fellow farmhands Matt Pearce, Ryan Helsley, and Juan Perez, who did not miss nearly as many bats as Vance.

After signing as a non-drafted free agent last summer, the former University of West Virginia product dominated much younger competition in the Appy League as a then 24-year old. Vance fanned 54 batters against eight walks, posting a 2.48 ERA over 14 games (three starts for 40 innings) for Johnson City. He netted a championship ring in the process, but he will need to prove he is able to pitch in higher levels quickly given his older age.

Coming from a sweeping side-arm motion, Vance has an unorthodox delivery with a high leg kick which gives him deception as he finishes his pitches. His slider is his best pitch, but his overall stuff is underwhelming.

 

For more, The Cardinal Nation members can check out the complete list of minor league spring training attendees (updated on Tuesday) and full minor league spring training game schedules.

Also exclusively for TCN members is Walton’s annual series in which he predicts the opening rosters for all four full-season minor league affiliates and explain why. St. Louis was posted Wednesday, with the others to follow. The St. Louis roster prediction article is free for all readers.

If you are not yet a member of The Cardinal Nation, seven-day free trials are always available.

The entire system view by level and position as last season ended is available via the Roster Matrix, always free, right here at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

 

Memphis 10, Fresno 3

Pitching: 

  • Matt Pearce – 3 IP, BB, K

Note: Florida State League All-Star in 2016 with another consistent year, looking to find his place in the higher minor leagues.

Hitting:

  • Mason Katz (2B) – 2-for-3, 2 R, BB, 2B, HR, 3 RBI

Note: likely will return to Springfield as a utility guy.

 

Springfield 2, Corpus Christi 6

Pitching: 

  • Ryan Helsley – 3 IP, BB, 2 K

Note: underrated right-hander with high-90s velocity, who could have won the Midwest League ERA title had he stayed healthy.

Hitting:

  • Craig Aikin (CF) – 2-for-2, R, HR, RBI

Note: left-left outfielder, who spent last year with Peoria.

 

Palm Beach 5, Buies Creek 3

Pitching:

  • Ross Vance – 3 IP, 2 H, 5 K

Note: see above

Hitting:

  • Stefan Trosclair (1B) – 2-for-4, R, HR, RBI

Note: made a solid bid for Hitter of the Day. Has three homers already this spring.

 

Peoria 1, Quad Cities 5

Pitching: 

  • Juan Perez – 3 IP, 3 H, 2 K

Note: split time between relief and starting for Peoria last year.

Hitting:

  • Yariel Gonzalez (3B) – 2-for-3

Note: 22-year old non-drafted free agent signee is fighting for a full-season spot.

 

Tuesday’s games: Like the parent-club, the Cardinals minor league affiliates will have a day off.

Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 3/19/17

By Derek Shore

We are now into day four of our ninth year of providing results and much more from St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games here at The Cardinal Nation Blog. This year, I will contribute from time to time in these recaps alongside TCN publisher and editor Brian Walton.

Our notebook on the main site will feature eyewitness commentary from Walton. These more specific spring training reports will be available Sunday evening to members of The Cardinal Nation.

Following are Sunday highlights with Memphis, Springfield, and Palm Beach all hosting the Marlins affiliates on the Cardinals side of the Jupiter complex at Roger Dean. In the meantime, Peoria played Peoria, but results from that contest will be posted in the more in-depth subscriber article on TheCardinalNation.com.

Collectively, the farm went 1-2 versus the Marlins’ top three affiliates with Memphis (3-1) claiming the only win for the second consecutive day. Palm Beach (2-2) and Springfield (1-2-1) suffered losses.

Once again this spring, Cardinals Baseball Operations Coordinator for Player Development Tony Ferreira is sharing highlights from minor league spring training contests.

The raw data is his, but the comments and awards are ours. However, be aware that only minimal pitching and hitting results are being shared – what you see here. So to find those struggling, you will have to look for names missing or make some guesses.

Remember these working team assignments are fluid by the day. In addition, another 22 players have yet to be cut from Major League camp.


Baker-200_1792Sunday’s Pitcher of the Day: 
Corey Baker, Memphis

While Jordan Hicks might have garnered more interest among backfield spectators for his triple-digit velocity on Sunday, Corey Baker had the most effective outing for the system’s only winning team in Memphis and did not allow a runner to cross home plate. Baker tossed 2 2/3 one-hit innings, punching out three hitters in his first outing back from the World Baseball Classic for Team Israel.

After gaining plenty of advocates from his strong WBC performance for Israel, Baker returned to baseball reality on Sunday and will look to secure a bullpen spot with the Redbirds – likely in a long man or middle relief capacity. With his versatility, the sinkerballer could also join the arms on the I-55 shuttle this summer as well.

(Brian Walton’s note: What the line does not show is that Baker inherited a bases-loaded situation and drew an inning-ending ground ball on his first pitch. Impressive, but Hicks would have been my Player of the Day. More on that on the main TCN site.)

 

Sunday’s Hitter of the Day: Hunter Newman, Palm Beach

Despite dropping a one-run game, the Beach Birds received a solid performance at the dish from first baseman Hunter Newman. Newman collected two hits, including a two-bagger, RBI, and scored a run for the most balanced offensive day among Cardinals minor league hitters.

Newman, 23, was drafted by St. Louis in 2015 via the 22nd round out of Trevecca Nazarene University. He split time between the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (21 games) and Johnson City (15 games) last summer, posting a .289/.359/.430 batting line with three homers and 22 RBI. Given his age, it appears the Cardinals will push him to a full-season club in 2017 to have him face age-appropriate competition for the first time in his pro career.

 

For more, The Cardinal Nation members can check out the complete list of minor league spring training attendees (to be updated on Monday) and full minor league spring training game schedules.

Also exclusively for TCN members is Walton’s annual series in which he predicts the opening rosters for all four full-season minor league affiliates and explain why. St. Louis was posted Wednesday, with the others to follow. The St. Louis roster prediction article is free for all readers.

If you are not yet a member of The Cardinal Nation, seven-day free trials are always available.

The entire system view by level and position as last season ended is available via the Roster Matrix, always free, right here at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

 

Memphis 3, New Orleans 1

Pitching:

  • Corey Baker – 2 2/3 IP, H, BB, 3 K

Note: ground-ball machine hoping to stick at Memphis

Hitting:

  • Blake Drake (LF) – 2-for-2, R, 2B

Note: possible sleeper if he can hit; defense rivals Magneuris Sierra as being the best in the system

 

Springfield 2, Jacksonville 8

Pitching:

  • Cody Schumacher – 1 IP, H, K

Note: multi-purpose reliever, who should open at Springfield

Hitting: 

  • Eliezer Alvarez (2B) – 2-for-3

Note: One of the more consistent Midwest League bats last year. Might jump over Palm Beach to start 2017.

 

Palm Beach 5, Jupiter 6

Pitching: 

  • Jordan Hicks – 2 2/3 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 K

Note: According to TCN’s Brian Walton, Hicks had multiple triple-digit readings on Sunday while touching as high as 101. With him pitching at Palm Beach in camp, it seems he could be earmarked for Peoria in 2017.

Hitting:

  • Hunter Newman (1B) – 2-for-4, R, 2B, K, RBI

Note: scored championship rings with GCL Cardinals and Johnson City Cardinals thanks to his dependable bat between the two clubs.

 

Monday’s games: The Astros are the Monday opponent with Triple-A and Double-A clubs traveling to the new West Palm Beach complex. The Cardinals’ A-clubs host the Astros’ lower full-season affiliates in Jupiter. First pitches are set for 1 p.m. EST.

Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 3/18/17

By Derek Shore

We are now into day three of our ninth year of providing results and much more from St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games here at The Cardinal Nation Blog. This year, I will contribute from time to time in these recaps alongside TCN publisher and editor Brian Walton.

Our notebook will also include eyewitness commentary following Walton’s arrival in camp on Friday. Even more specific spring training reports will be available Saturday evening to members of The Cardinal Nation.

Following are highlights from the second day of Cardinals games against external competition on Saturday with the top two full-season clubs (Memphis and Springfield) hosting the Mets upper-level affiliates in Jupiter, where Walton was today. In the meantime, the Class-A teams (Palm Beach and Peoria) hopped the bus and commuted to Port St. Lucie.

Collectively, the farm went 1-2-1 versus the Mets affiliates with Memphis (2-1) claiming the only win on the day. Palm Beach (2-1) and Peoria (0-3) suffered the system’s losses with Springfield (1-1-1) having the tie.

Once again this spring, Cardinals Baseball Operations Coordinator for Player Development Tony Ferreira will be sharing highlights from minor league spring training contests.

The raw data is his, but the comments and awards are ours. However, be aware that only minimal pitching and hitting results are being shared – what you see here. So to find those struggling, you will have to look for names missing or make some guesses.

Remember these working team assignments are fluid by the day. In addition, another 30 players have yet to be cut from Major League camp.

 

Alcantara-P-200_1508Saturday’s Pitcher of the Day: Sandy Alcantara, Memphis

It can be argued that Blake McKnight’s scoreless effort for Springfield should have warranted the pitcher of the day, but the standout pitching prospect in big-league camp, Sandy Alcantara, was on the winning team at Memphis and went further than McKnight while also facing more advanced competition. Alcantara went three shutout frames, striking out three batters in his outing.

Coming off making a terrific first impression in big-league camp with his electric stuff, the tall, formerly string-bean right-hander has apparently added 20 pounds of muscle since 2016, is currently vying for a rotation spot at Double-A Springfield. With more outings like this one, he should have no problem solidifying a spot.

 

Saturday’s Hitter of the Day: Casey Grayson, Memphis

As the Memphis offense put up a seven-spot, Casey Grayson was a big factor, driving in two runs with a 2-for-3 day at the dish, edging out a home run from his teammate Thomas Spitz and two hits by Chris Chinea.

A first baseman with little versatility, Grayson has a limited overall profile coupled with below-average power. That said, he was voted by his peers as the Florida State League best defensive first baseman last year and has excellent plate discipline which has been his carry tool up the Cardinals ranks.

 

For more, The Cardinal Nation members can check out the complete list of minor league spring training attendees (to be updated this weekend) and full minor league spring training game schedules.

Also exclusively for TCN members is Walton’s annual pre-camp series in which he predicts the opening rosters for all four full-season minor league affiliates and explain why. St. Louis was posted Wednesday, with the others to follow. The St. Louis roster prediction article is free for all readers.

If you are not yet a member of The Cardinal Nation, seven-day free trials are always available.

The entire system view by level and position as last season ended is available via the Roster Matrix, always free, right here at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

 

Memphis 7 , Las Vegas 2

Pitching:

  • Sandy Alcantara – 3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K

Note: high-octane thrower’s first minors spring start; is he AA bound?

Hitting:

  • Thomas Spitz (RF) – 2-for-3, HR, RBI

Note: versatile outfielder, who reached Double-A last year.

  • Chris Chinea (1B) – 2-for-2, 2B

Note: TCN’s #50 prospect has live bat and continues to play first to expand versatility.

  • Casey Grayson (1B) – 2-for-3, 2 RBI

Note: TCN’s Palm Beach Cardinals 2016 Player of the Year has disciplined bat which is Double-A ready.

 

Springfield 2, Binghamton 2 – tie

Pitching: 

  • Blake McKnight – 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K

Note: sinkerballer, who should shift to bullpen this year.

Hitting: 

  • Joey Hawkins (SS) – 2-for-2

Note: only farmhand to have at-bats at four different levels last season.

 

Palm Beach 2 at St. Lucie 3

Pitching:

  • Colton Thomson – 1 IP, 2 K

Note: valuable GCL reliever last year;  nicknamed ‘Stones’.

Hitting:

Anthony Ray (CF) – 2-for-3, 2 R, 3B

Note: toolsy outfielder, who should open with full-season club.

 

Peoria 5 at Columbia 8

Pitching: 

N/A

Hitting:

  • Delvin Perez (SS) – 2B, 2 RBI

Note: top draft pick last year showing good extra-base pop in the early going.

 

Sunday’s games: The Marlins are the Sunday opponent for the first time this spring with three games (Memphis, Springfield, and Palm Beach) set to be played plus a Peoria on Peoria scrimmage on the Cardinals side of the Jupiter complex at Roger Dean Stadium.