By losing three straight to close the week, including two at first-place Batavia, State College has fallen into fourth place, four games off the division lead with 10 games remaining. Enmanuel Solano and Scott Politz both made strong seven-inning starts while Stanley Espinal batted .712 during the 3-3 week.
The State College Spikes continue to struggle on offense and in the field as the late surge of good pitching has gone mostly unused. Despite the struggles as a team, Dariel Gomez and All-Star David Vinsky are among Spikes playing at a high level. A 3-4 week kept the team at .500 on the season and 3 ½ games from a playoff spot.
With a 4-2 week, the State College Spikes are one game over .500 and 3 ½ games out of a playoff spot. Infielder Martin Figueroa batted .368 with two home runs and seven RBI in his five games and leads the team in a number of offensive categories.
State College is suffering an offensive shortfall now in its third week. The Spikes plated just 16 runs in six games, less than three per game, and won just twice, falling below .500 for the season. Second baseman Martin Figueroa is doing his best, driving in six of the 16 runs.
State College moved to 21-20 for the season on a 4-3 week as the team’s dynamic shifted from offense-heavy and mediocre pitching to the opposite. If anything, this shows how good they could be when playing at their best. Still, outfielder Terry Fuller has been hot since joining the Spikes, batting .343 in 12 games.
After a fast start, the short-season Class-A Spikes had their second sub-.500 week, dropping their season mark to 17-17. Big innings allowed led to a 2-4 record, but outfielder David Vinsky has been red-hot, batting .400 in the six games.
State College had a rough week, dropping five of seven games. The team is 15-13 and third in their division. Shortstop Moises Castillo and outfielder Jonatan Machado are leading the offense. 2019 draftees Jack Ralston and Logan Gragg have been sharp out of the pen.
The State College Spikes were challenged with a long road trip after two home games to start the week. They split the latter two thirds of their home series before dropping the first two games of the road trip. State College rebounded well, taking the next three games and ending the week on a high note. The Spikes broke program records and tied New York-Penn League season highs in what was an eventful week.
The New York-Penn League Spikes followed a 6-2 start with a 3-3 Week 2 to put them just a half-game out of the division lead. Though offense has been leading the way, right-hander Michael Baird has logged 10 1/3 scoreless innings over three appearances.
The State College Spikes began their 2019 season with a franchise-best record of 6-2 through eight games in the New York-Penn League. The team has been thriving through offense as they lead the league in slugging, hits and runs. They also rank second in batting average and home runs. Outfielder Andrew Warner has been leading the charge.
photo: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park (Cooper Deck/The Cardinal Nation)
The State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League are preparing to start their season this Friday, June 14 when visiting the Williamsport Crosscutters. As always, there are significant changes to the team from previous years.
First and foremost, the Spikes will be managed by Jose Leon, who is stepping into his first assignment as a manager. Leon was previously drafted by the Cardinals in the 1994 MLB draft, reached MLB as a player and has been the hitting coach for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals, who under his coaching, led the league in batting average.
When asked about his expectations for the season, Leon was optimistic.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “We’ve been working for two and a half months down in Florida and I think we have a really good team.”
However, Leon acknowledged the struggles that come with the territory as manager.
“I’m going to make a lot of mistakes, guys,” he said with a smile. “You know when you’re a first-year manager, you make a lot of mistakes, but my real challenge is having kids that have never played under the lights, and get them used to the system and used to bus rides.”
Since Leon has gone through the journey of a minor league player who climbed through the ranks to the top, he is stressing the importance of trying to help the players grow as much as they can.
“I’m trying to help the most I can and [share] the mistakes that I made when I was a player,” he said. “I’m going to help the kids the most I can and try to make them better every day. I’m trying to help with the language and help with everything I can.”
The Cardinals ninth round draft pick in 2018, Matt Duce, says the effect of Leon as manager is already prevalent.
“It’s big because [the season] is a grind. The minor leagues, it’s a hard round and it’s a fun road at times,” he said. “But at the same time having a manager like Leon to give you his experience and stuff like that is key.”
As a returning Spike, Duce is trying to help the new players as much as he can as well.
“You always try to share what you’ve been through with the guys that need it,” he said. “You just try to stay positive each day, you try to be there for the guys, but you also play your own game and try to lead by example.”
“It’s always nice to come out and play in front of some fans and under the lights and stuff like that.” He said. “We’re all looking forward to it and really excited to play. State College is a great place to play.”
The Spikes will travel to Williamsport for the season opener on Friday before their home opener on Saturday, June 15.
The team will be honoring Josiah Viera, the honorary bench coach since 2013 who was born with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria and died on Christmas Eve. Saturday is Josiah Viera night, but the team will be wearing a ‘JV’ patch on their jerseys all season in his memory.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Duce is among seven 2018 Spikes back with the club. Others are pitchers Michael Baird and Hector Villalobos, catcher Cameron Knight, infielder Imeldo Diaz and outfielders Stanley Espinal and Kevin Woodall.
Five players are moving up from Johnson City and two are making the move from the Gulf Coast League. Five pitchers are making the big jump from the 2018 Dominican Summer League. Seven Spikes have full season experience, including pitchers Fabian Blanco, Eli Kraus and Enmanuel Solano, both catchers, infielder Moises Castillo and outfielder Andres Luna.
Rounding out the roster will be a contingent of college players drafted by St. Louis earlier this month. This group is expected to include RHP Tony Locey (third round), LHP Connor Thomas (fifth), catcher Pedro Pages (sixth), RHP Adrian Mardueno (20th), RHP Scott Politz (29th) and third baseman Brylie Ware (23rd).
The Cardinal Nation will have the full Opening Day roster later in the day on Friday.
The team released its Opening Night roster on Friday morning.
Each Saturday starting on June 22, the State College Spikes Notebook, will be available for members of The Cardinal Nation. Get your Spikes news direct from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, from local reporter Nick Mazone.
Also, all Spikes game recaps will be included in TCN’s daily Minor League Notebooks, posted every morning.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!
© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.