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2022 Dominican Summer League Cardinals Team Preview

photo: Cardinals Dominican Academy (St. Louis Cardinals)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the 2022 Dominican Summer League Cardinals Notebook, future editions of which will post on Sundays, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.


The League

The 2022 Dominican Summer League (DSL) is comprised of 49 teams representing all 30 major league organizations.  That 49 number is up from 46 in 2021 and 45 squads in 2019.  25 of the 30 organizations fielded the same number of teams in 2022 as in 2021:  nine have one team and 16 had two squads.

Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and Miami all increased their participation, the Braves re-entering the league after a one-year absence and the other three upping from one to two teams.

St Louis is the only organization to contract from 2021 to 2022, reducing their teams from two to one after fielding two teams during the 2018, 2019 and 2021 campaigns.  Compared to their National League Central Division rivals, only Cincinnati has one DSL team.

One-team Organizations
Angels San Diego Washington
Cincinnati Seattle White Sox
Minnesota St. Louis
Oakland Toronto

The 2022 60-game schedule runs from June 6th through August 23rd which is shorter than schedules prior to 2020 that had 72 contests.  Sunday is a league-wide off day with intermittent off days included.

The Division

The league continues to be made up of six divisions with the same names as 2021:  North, South, Northeast, Northwest, Baseball City and San Pedro.  But noticeable change from last season to now is in divisional composition.

In the past, two-team organizations saw each squad competing in separate divisions.  That is not the case this season as every multi-team affiliate has both squads in the same division.

St Louis remains in the South Division which has increased from eight to nine teams.  The Redbirds’ 2022 division rivals are the Angels, Mariners, Nationals and Twins as well both Giants and Rockies squads.

The Team

DSL rosters have a maximum of 35 players and St Louis opens their 2022 campaign with a full slate. The roster is comprised of 18 pitchers, four catchers, seven infielders and six outfielders.  An additional three right-handed hurlers – Antoni Cuello, William Reyes and Jose Suriel – have been placed on the 60-day Injured List (IL), effectively ending their 2022 seasons before they begin.

Suriel is one of 12 players signed on January 15, 2022, the first day of the 2022 international signing period. More information on those signees can be found in Blake Newberry’s excellent article here.  The balance of 11 signees have been assigned to the DSL Cardinals roster.  More on individual players will be included as the season unfolds and information becomes available.

For more

To see all players in the system by level and position plus every transaction all year ‘round, check out the always free Roster Matrix here at The Cardinal Nation, just updated to reflect the new FCL and DSL Cardinals rosters.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2022 Short Season

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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 17, 2021

photo: Jake Walsh (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Though St. Louis’ Jake Walsh tossed a scoreless inning, it wasn’t enough as Glendale was held to four hits and no runs on Tuesday. The Desert Dogs are a game out of first with the season ending Friday.



Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Desert Dogs 0 at Rafters 5

The Glendale Desert Dogs’ (16-12) hopes of playing in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League Championship game dimmed with a 5-0 road loss to the Salt River Rafters (10-17).  Combined with Tuesday’s Saguaros victory, the defeat leaves Glendale a game out of first place with two contests remaining over the final three days.

Dogs’ starter Robinson Pina (L, 2-1) lasted three frames, yielding three runs on four hits and a base-on-balls.  One of the four hits was a solo bomb.

After the Royals’ R.J. Freure and Zach Lingenfelter (LAA) combined for three clean innings, the pairing of southpaw Jeff Belge (LAD) and McKinley Moore (CHW) resulted in two more tallies.  Both scores were charged to Belge and crossed home plate under Moore’s watch.

Jake Walsh

St. Louis’ Jake Walsh had his best outing in a while in the eighth.  The 26-year-old right-hander retired his first batter on a sharp 5-3 ground out then added a fly out to center.  Walsh ended his stint with a swinging K, tossing 7 of his 11 pitches for strikes.

The Dogs’ offense was stifled on just four hits, all singles. White Sox third baseman Yolbert Sanchez garnered two of them, going 2-for-4 from the two hole.  The Cardinals’ sole representative was Juan Yepez who moved up to third in the batting order.  Yepez was hitless in four at bats as Glendale’s designated hitter, striking out once and stranding two.

Wednesday’s game:  at first place (East Division) Solar Sox (13-11), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, TBA


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2021/2022 Cardinal Winter Ball Hitters Report – November 16


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 16, 2021

photo: Andre Pallante (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Monday, November 15, 2021.

Desert Dogs 2 vs. Javelinas 1 (7)

Brendan Donovan’s two-out hit gave the Glendale Desert Dogs (16-11) a 2-1 walk-off victory over Peoria (13-12) in seven innings.

The win, combined with a loss by Surprise, lifts the Desert Dogs back into a first-place tie in the West Division, percentage points behind the Saguaros, who have played two fewer games.  Glendale has three contests remaining, ending its regular season on Friday at Surprise. The Saturday league title game will feature the two division winners.

Donovan’s second hit of Monday’s game came with two Dogs in scoring position.  His up-the-middle safety glanced off the glove of the Javelinas’ second baseman, scoring center fielder Pedro Leon (HOU).

Brendan Donovan

The second baseman and lead-off hitter was one of three St. Louis prospects playing a vital role in the win.  Starter Andre Pallante set the tone, tossing four frames of shutout ball.  The 23-year-old gave up a first-inning single plus one walk in the second and fourth innings, recording seven ground- and five fly- ball outs while lowering his AFL ERA to 1.29.

Andre Pallante

Neither squad was able to break onto the scoreboard until Juan Yepez led off the home half of the fourth with his seventh double.  The right fielder advanced to third via a 6-3 ground out, scoring on a single to right by Leon.

The Desert Dogs’ 1-0 lead held until the sixth when Kyle Hurt (BS, 1) (LAD) gave up the tying run on a base-on-balls, ground-rule double and sac fly.  The Angels’ Nathan Burns picked up his second win against no losses, negotiating around two free passes in the seventh and finished the frame with a called strike three. The four Glendale pitchers combined on a two-hitter but issued five walks.

Glendale managed just six hits with Donovan singling twice in four at bats, driving in one and Leon going 2-for-3 with stolen base, run scored and RBI.  Clean-up hitter Yepez reached base twice, doubling once in two at bats with a run scored and a scary hit-by-pitch in the plate appearance prior to his double.  The final Dogs hit belonged to Jacob Amaya (LAD) whose seventh-inning double advanced Leon to third.

Juan Yepez

Tuesday’s game:  at third-place (East Division) Rafters (9-17), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, TBA


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The Cardinal Nation’s 2021 Rule 5 Protection Picks


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 12, 2021

photo: Brendan Donovan (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Glendale’s bullpen faltered in Thursday’s AFL loss. St. Louis Cardinals prospect Brendan Donovan hit his second home run of the week, walked three times, plated two and scored twice. Teammate Lars Nootbaar singled twice and drew a free pass.



Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Thursday, November 11, 2021.

Desert Dogs 7 vs. Saguaros 11

A seven-run seventh by Surprise transformed a Glendale lead into a loss as the Desert Dogs (15-10) fell to the Saguaros (15-9), 11-7, at home.

Glendale led 4-2 at the seventh’s onset but Surprise’s big inning flipped the score to 9-4.  The White Sox’ J.B. Olson (L, 2-2) began his third inning of work sandwiching a double between two home runs.

The latter bomb brought Jeff Belge (LAD) into the contest, but the lefty had difficulty finding the strike zone.  Belge issued four free passes along with a lead-off double plus a hit batsman, resulting in four more scores in 2/3 of an inning.

Chad Donato (HOU) tossed the initial four frames, yielding single tallies in his first two innings.  The righty fanned four, giving up four hits and a base-on-balls.

Nathan Burns (LAA) recorded four outs, walking two and stranding Belge’s final two runners.  But St. Louis’ Jake Walsh’s Arizona Fall League struggles continued in the ninth.  The right-hander intermingled two K’s with three singles generating two tallies.

Brendan Donovan

Brendan Donovan led a trio of Cardinals’ prospects at the plate.  The third baseman launched his second AFL rocket in the sixth, a two-run shot with shortstop Grae Kessinger (hit-by-pitch) (HOU) aboard.  Donovan reached base four times, going 1-for-2 with three walks, two runs scored and two driven in out of the six hole.

Lars Nootbaar was at the top of the order as the Dogs’ designated hitter and he did exactly what a lead-off hitter is supposed to do – get on base.  Nootbaar worked a free pass in addition to two singles in four at bats, touching home once.

Juan Yepez was hitless in three at bats but did work two walkss and drive in a run.

Friday’s game:  vs. Scorpions (10-15), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 CT, RHP Johan Dominguez (CWS)


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One New Cardinals Minor Leaguer Added with Three Returning


Now 20% Off – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 10, 2021

photo: Jake Walsh, Andre Pallante, Zack Thompson, Brendan Donovan, Lars Nootbaar (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Starter Andre Pallante spun four shutout innings with six strikeouts and Brendan Donovan swatted his first Arizona Fall League home run in Glendale’s Tuesday win. St. Louis Cardinals prospects Zack Thompson and Jake Walsh also pitched.



Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Tuesday, November 9, 2021.

Desert Dogs 5 vs. Rafters 1

Andre Pallante’s impressive start led the Glendale Desert Dogs (14-9) to a 5-1 home victory over the Salt River Rafters (7-15) at Camelback Ranch.

Pallante (W, 1-1) fanned six over four frames of shutout ball while recording six ground- to zero fly- ball outs.  The Cardinal Nation’s 12th-ranked St. Louis prospect yielded singles in the first and second innings before retiring his final eight batters.  Pallante threw 54 pitches, 37 for strikes.

Andre Pallante

Lefty Zack Thompson followed his Cardinals stable mate to the mound and tossed two clean frames. The 24-year-old used three strikeouts plus a pick off at first to negate two hits and two walks allowed.

Houston’s Joe Record extended Glendale’s shutout bid during his two-inning stint, giving up two hits with four K’s.

But Jake Walsh was unable to bring the shutout to fruition.  The Cardinals reliever was the beneficiary of a 4-3 double play that erased a lead-off single but got into a jam by issuing free passes to his next two batters.  A single to the Dogs’ second baseman, deflected by shortstop Jeremiah Johnson (LAA), brought a run across home plate.  Walsh caught his last batter looking at strike three, ending the threat.

Glendale banged out nine hits, paced by Jacob Amaya (LAD).  The second baseman went 3-for-4 with a double and home run, scored twice and knocked in one.

Brendan Donovan

Brendan Donovan was the only Cardinals prospect to get in the batter’s box.  The lefty batter took Lars Nootbaar’s customary leadoff spot, playing right field.  Donovan went 1-for-3 with a walk and solo shot that made the score 4-1 through five.

Wednesday’s game:  vs. Solar Sox (12-9), 6:35 pm MST/7:35 pm CT, RHP Robinson Pina (LAA) (1-0, 1.59)


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2021/2022 Cardinals Winter Ball Hitters Report – November 9


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 9, 2021

photo: Juan Yepez and Lars Nootbaar (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Though Glendale fell on Monday, DH Juan Yepez plated two of his team’s four runs and is tied for the AFL RBI lead with 21. Lars Nootbaar walked twice, raising his OBP to .429. Andre Pallante will start on the mound Tuesday.



Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Monday, November 8, 2021.

Desert Dogs 4 at Javelinas 7

A shaky effort by Glendale Desert Dogs’ pitchers resulted in a 7-4 road loss to the Peoria Javelinas (11-10).

Starter Bobby Miller (L, 0-1) (LAD) retired seven batters, yielding five runs on five hits and two walks, including two solo shots.  The right-hander’s final tally scored under J.B. Olson’s watch ahead of two more scores, one earned, charged to the White Sox prospect via two hits and a plunked batter in 2/3 of a frame.

The contest’s final five innings were split between Landon Knack (LAD) and R.J. Freure (KC).  Knack permitted two hits and a base-on-balls during his two-inning stint whereas Freure issued three free passes along with a hit allowed in three frames.

Juan Yepez

St. Louis was represented by designated hitter Juan Yepez and right fielder Lars Nootbaar, both of whom aided the Dogs’ cause.  Yepez did the most damage, going 2-for-4 with a walk, one run scored and two RBI as the clean-up hitter.  His 21 runs driven in (over just 17 games) ties him for the AFL lead.

As usual, Nootbaar was at the top of the order, reaching base twice via free passes and touching home plate once despite going hitless in three at bats. Lars has 13 walks in 16 games, contributing to his .429 AFL OBP.

Lars Nootbaar

Glendale had nine hits in all, with eight of those hits generated by their two through five batters.  Center fielder James Outman (LAD) led the offense, going 3-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored.

The visitors got on the scoreboard after Nootbaar led off the game with a base-on-balls.  The 24-year-old advanced to second on a soft 5-3 ground out by Outman, racing home lined a sharp single to left.

Trailing 3-1 heading into the third, the Desert Dogs pushed across two scores, knotting the score at three all.  Outman singled with one gone, advancing to second when Yepez worked a walk.  First baseman Grae Kessinger’s (HOU) single to left drove in Outman before Yepez scored on a ground out.

Glendale’s offense did not reach home plate again until the ninth.  Outman stroked a one-out triple to right, subsequently scoring on an infield single to second by Yepez, as the ball deflected by the Javelinas’ hurler.

Tuesday’s game:  Desert Dogs (13-9) vs Rafters (7-14), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 CT, RHP Andre Pallante (StL) (0-1, 2.08)


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Plummer Leads Cardinals Minor League Free Agents


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 5, 2021

photo: Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Three St. Louis Cardinals prospects helped Glendale to a Thursday home win. Juan Yepez had two hits including his fifth AFL home run, Brendan Donovan scored twice and Lars Nootbaar took two free passes.

Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Thursday, November 4, 2021.

Desert Dogs 5 vs. Saguaros 2

A balanced offense and quality pitching led the Glendale Desert Dogs (11-8) to a 5-2 home victory over the Surprise Saguaros (13-6).

Six Dogs took part in the scoring, generating eight hits in all. St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Juan Yepez and catcher Anthony Mulrine (LAA) each had two hits. Yepez went 2-for-4 with a third-inning solo shot as the clean-up hitter and Mulrine singled twice in three at bats with an RBI in the nine hole.

Juan Yepez

Yepez’ fifth bomb ties him with teammate Lars Nootbaar and others for third-most in the AFL. The long ball put his squad up 2-1, with that score holding until each team traded single tallies in the fifth. With Glendale clinging to a slim 3-2 advantage through five frames, center fielder Pedro Leon led off the sixth with his first AFL long ball.  Mulrine’s RBI single occurred later that inning when he drove in third baseman Kody Hoese (LAD), who had doubled.

Cardinals prospect Brendan Donovan got in on the scoring, going 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.  The second baseman drew a free pass with two away in the first, eventually crossing home plate after Leon was walked with the bases loaded.

Brendan Donovan

Donovan was right back at it in the fifth, beating out a grounder to the right side on a ball deflected by the Saguaros’ first baseman with one out.  James Outman’s (LAD) double to right drove in Glendale’s number three hitter although Outman was nailed trying to stretch his hit into a three-bagger.

The third and final St. Louis prospect to see action on Thursday was Nootbaar.  Although the right fielder and leadoff batter was 0-for-3, hitless for a second straight contest, he did work two free passes, raising his AFL on-base percentage to .426.

The pitching was handled by three hurlers:  starter Coleman Crow (LAA), Robinson Pina (LAA) and Joe Record (HOU).  Crow and Pina each held their opponents to a run on four hits in four and 3 1/3 innings respectively.  Pina (W, 1-0) (BS,1) also issued a free pass while Record picked up his first save after retiring all five batters faced.

Friday’s game:  vs. Saguaros, 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, RHP Johan Dominguez (1-1, 11.81) (CHW)


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TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Minors Comeback Player of the Year


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Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 3, 2021

photo: Juan Yepez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

In Tuesday AFL action, St. Louis Cardinals prospect Juan Yepez singled but was erased on the basepaths in Glendale’s loss. Andre Pallante is scheduled to take the ball for the Desert Dogs on Wednesday afternoon.



Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

Desert Dogs 4 at Solar Sox 7

On Tuesday, the Glendale Desert Dogs (9-8) fell to the Mesa Solar Sox (8-8) at Sloan Park, 7-4.

Glendale never led as Mesa scored two fourth-inning tallies before the Dogs answered with two scores the next frame.  It was all Solar Sox in the sixth and seventh with the home team pushing across five unanswered runs.  Single tallies by the visitors in the eighth and ninth were not enough to close the gap.

Southpaw Jeff Belge (L, 0-1) (LAD) retired just two sixth-inning batters, yielding three runs on a hit and two walks.  Belge was the third of six Glendale hurlers taking the mound, none of whom are St Louis prospects.

Glendale mustered 10 hits, all singles, which proved to be a significant factor in their loss.  Five of Mesa’s nine hits went for extra bases, accounting for four tallies.

Juan Yepez

First baseman Juan Yepez was the sole Cardinals representative.  The clean-up hitter singled once in four at bats with a strikeout.  Yepez was subsequently erased from the base paths when the Desert Dogs’ number five hitter flied out into a 9-6 double play.

Wednesday’s game: vs. Javelinas (8-8), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, Andre Pallante (0-1, 2.70)


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TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Minors Emerging Pitcher of the Year


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – November 2, 2021

photo: Jake Walsh, Andre Pallante, Zack Thompson, Brendan Donovan, Lars Nootbaar (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

In Monday AFL action, St. Louis Cardinals prospects Lars Nootbaar (2 RBI), Zack Thompson (3 SO IP) and Jake Walsh (save) led Glendale to a come-from-behind road win.

Results from the game played Monday, November 1, 2021.

Desert Dogs 8 at Rafters 5

The Glendale Desert Dogs (9-7) mounted an 8-5 come-from-behind road victory over the Rafters (6-9) at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Thursday afternoon.

St. Louis Cardinals prospects contributed both at the plate and on the mound.  Lead-off batter Lars Nootbaar did the most damage of any Desert Dog, singling and doubling in four at bats with a sac fly, two runs scored and two driven in.

Lars Nootbaar

The right fielder came to the plate in the third with the sacks jammed and his team trailing 5-0.  A balk brought the first of five Glendale scores across home before a sac fly drove in tally number two.  A fielding error by the Rafters’ left fielder allowed Nootbaar to reach second on the play, after which he raced home on second baseman Jose Rodriguez’ (CHW) single to center.  Rodriguez eventually scored via a wild pitch, knotting the game at 5-5.

The tie remained until the fifth when Nootbaar lined a double to right with one away, his fifth two-base hit of the AFL season.  Designated hitter James Outman’s (LAD) two-out double drove in the right fielder for a 6-5 advantage.

Glendale’s final two tallies were generated in the sixth.  A sac fly by Angels’ catcher Anthony Mulrine brought left fielder Yoelqui Cespedes (CHW) who reached on a double.  Nootbaar followed Mulrine’s action with his own RBI when he singled to short, bringing centerfielder Pedro Leon (walk) across home.

The only other Cardinals position player to see action was Juan Yepez, who manned first base.  Glendale’s clean-up hitter was hitless in four at bats but did work a free pass.

The Desert Dogs used six hurlers to navigate nine frames, including two Cardinals.  Zack Thompson was credited with his second victory against no losses, holding his opponents to a hit and base-on-balls over three innings, covering the fourth through sixth.

Zack Thompson

One of his two base runners was caught stealing while he picked his other runner off first, leaving the lefty facing the minimum during his stint.  Thompson threw 33 pitches, 17 for strikes.

Jake Walsh

Tasked with protecting the one-run lead, Jake Walsh tossed the ninth, retiring Salt River’s eighth and ninth hitters on a fly out and 6-3 ground out.  The 26-year-old gave up a hard single to right but regrouped to record a 4-3 ground out for his third AFL save.

Tuesday’s game:  at Solar Sox (7-8), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, RHP Landon Knack (1-0, 5.59) (LAD)


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Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – October 29, 2021

photo: Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

On Thursday, Cardinals prospects Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez plated two each and Lars Nootbaar scored twice, but Glendale fell in the ninth as Jake Walsh took the blown save and loss.

Results from the Arizona Fall League game played Thursday, October 28, 2021.

Desert Dogs 6 at Javelinas 7

St. Louis’ Jake Walsh could not hold a ninth-inning lead as the Glendale Desert Dogs (7-6) suffered a 7-6 walk-off road loss to the Peoria Javelinas.

Walsh (L, 0-1) began the ninth with his team up 6-4 but was ineffective, yielding three runs against two outs.  The righty walked the Javelinas’ number eight hitter before catching his next batter looking at strike three.

But a wild pitch by Walsh put the base runner in position to score on a single to center fielder Lars Nootbaar.  The new base runner swiped second and scored on another single up the middle, tying the game at six all.

A line drive single to right put runners at the corners.  The inning’s fourth single, and third to center, drove in yet another runner to end the game in the home team’s favor.

The Desert Dogs banged out 13 hits with Nootbaar and first baseman Brendan Donovan among four Glendale players with two hits apiece.  Nootbaar singled and doubled in five at bats at the top of the order, touching home twice.  Donovan went 2-for-4 with a sac fly and two RBI from the three spot.

Brendan Donovan

Clean-up hitter Juan Yepez’ only hit in in four at bats was his fourth home run of the AFL season, tying Nootbaar for second in the league.  It came against San Diego top prospect lefty MacKenzie Gore as part of the Desert Dogs’ three-run third inning and flipped a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead the team would not relinquish until the ninth.  The right fielder went yard with second baseman Jose Rodriguez (CHW) aboard after the latter reached on a fielding error.

Juan Yepez

Friday’s game: at Scorpions (4-10), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, RHP Robinson Pina (0-0, 0.00) (LAA)


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Interview – Zack Thompson


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – October 26, 2021

photo: Juan Yepez and Lars Nootbaar (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Glendale eked out a one-run win in Monday AFL action. From among the four St. Louis Cardinals participating, Juan Yepez went deep for the winning run, and Zack Thompson continued his shutout fall on the mound.

Results from the game played Monday, October 25, 2021.

Desert Dogs 7 at Scorpions 6

Juan Yepez’ ninth-inning bomb provided the winning margin as the Glendale Desert Dogs held off the Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium, 7-6.

The contest was tied at one all until the visitors put up a four spot in the fifth.  After adding another eighth-inning tally, the Desert Dogs held what appeared to be a comfortable 6-1 lead.

But any comfort Glendale might have felt at that point evaporated when Scottsdale pushed across four scores in the home half of the frame.  The score narrowed to 6-5 through eight.

That’s when Yepez led off the ninth with his third hit of the day and third home run of the Fall campaign.  The first baseman ended with a line of 3-for-5 including a double and solo shot comprising one of two runs scored and one of three RBI. Yepez leads the AFL with 14 RBI in just nine games played.

Juan Yepez

The other Cardinals position player to see action was Lars Nootbaar, who hit two spots ahead of Yepez in the lead off slot.  The right fielder singled and doubled in four at bats with a walk, touching home twice and knocking in one.  On the downside, Nootbaar was picked off first once.

The Desert Dogs accumulated 15 hits in all with the top four spots in the batting order doing most of the damage.  Those four combined to go 10-for-19 with six runs scored and five driven in.

Cardinals Zack Thompson and Jake Walsh took the mound, each contributing to the win.  Thompson tossed a clean fourth and fifth, issuing two free passes, and was awarded his first Arizona Fall League victory against no losses.

Zack Thompson

Walsh pitched the ninth and things got interesting before the righty recorded his second save.  Walsh yielded a triple and RBI single to his first two batters, tightening the score to 7-6.  But the 26-year-old then retired his next three batters on two fly outs and a come backer to the mound.

Tuesday’s game:  off


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – October 22, 2021

photo: Jake Walsh (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Glendale won its fifth game in eight AFL tries as five St. Louis Cardinals prospects contributed. Among the many highlights were doubles by Brendan Donovan, Juan Yepez and Nolan Gorman and a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts thrown by Jake Walsh.

Results from the game played Thursday, October 21, 2021.

Desert Dogs 10 at Rafters 5

Two four-run innings propelled the Glendale Desert Dogs (5-3) past the Salt River Rafters (4-4) at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 10-5.

The visitors translated 13 hits and four walks into 10 tallies, including four runs in both the first and seventh frames.  All nine starters contributed at least one hit, with five of them garnering two hits apiece.

St. Louis prospects were again in the thick of the scoring, beginning with top of the order batter Brendan Donovan.  Shortstop Donovan and number three hitter Juan Yepez both singled and doubled in five at bats with two runs scored.  Donovan swiped a base and Yepez drove in two while manning both corner outfield positions at different points of the game.

Clean-up hitter Nolan Gorman reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with two walks, a double, a run scored and an RBI. The second baseman exited in favor of a pinch runner in the seventh.

Jake Walsh

Andre Pallante and Jake Walsh were the other two of five Cardinals Desert Dogs to see Thursday action.  Pallante tossed a clean seventh and eighth, working around four baserunners, via a hit and three free passes issued.  Walsh faced the minimum in the ninth, striking out two.

Friday’s game:  vs Saguaros (5-2), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, RHP Coleman Crow (0-0, 4.50) (LAA)


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – October 20, 2021

photo: Brendan Donovan (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Glendale pitching was leaky on Tuesday, yielding 12 runs in a home loss. Cardinals prospect Brendan Donovan doubled and scored a run in two plate appearances. Nolan Gorman walked and crossed the plate in his two times up.

Results from the game played Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

Desert Dogs 4 vs. Scorpions 12

A parade of Glendale Desert Dogs pitchers fell prey to the long ball, resulting in a 12-4 home loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions (3-3).

Glendale starter Johan Dominguez (L, 1-1) (CHW) lasted just a third of an inning, permitting five tallies on five hits and a walk.  Four of the five scores off the righty were generated by two home runs.

The Scorpions kept up the scoring against the next four Desert Dogs hurlers.  JB Olson (CHW) recorded seven outs, giving up a solo shot that was one of two hits and a base-on-balls permitted while allowing one of two inherited runners to score.

The Dodgers’ Jeff Belge, the only lefty among seven Glendale hurlers on Tuesday, was also touched for a solo bomb during his 1 1/3-inning stint.  Three of the four runs given up by RJ Freure (HOU) during his two innings of work also came off one long ball, one of four hits and two free passes issued.

The home run parade finally finished after Nathan Burns’ (LAA) one inning on the bump.  It was the only hit he yielded.  McKinley Moore (CHW) went 1 1/3 frames, allowing a hit and two walks before giving way to Joe Record (HOU), who retired both batters faced, stranding two inherited runners.

St. Louis’ contribution to the contest came in the forms of Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan, the former starting at second and the latter a mid-game replacement in right field.

Brendan Donovan

Gorman, who started at second, scored his team’s first run when he opened the second with a walk.  The Desert Dogs’ clean-up hitter advanced to second via a 4-3 ground out then on to third on a wild pitch.

A two-run double by left fielder James Outman (LAD) brought Gorman across home plate ahead of third baseman Kody Hoese (LAD).  Gorman grounded out, 4-3, in his next at bat before being pinch hit for in the home half of the sixth with his team down 11-3.

Donovan entered the game in the top of sixth when the Desert Dogs manager re-organized his outfield.  The St. Louis prospect replaced centerfielder Yoelqui Cespedes (CHW) in the five spot in the batting order with the right fielder moving to left and the left fielder sliding over to center.

Donovan’s entry in the contest produced immediate results.  The right fielder lined a double to left with one away in the bottom of the sixth, eventually scoring on designated hitter Carson Taylor’s (LAD) single.  Overall, Donovan went 1-for-2 with a run scored, his double comprising one of eight Desert Dogs hits.

Wednesday’s game:  vs Javelinas (1-5), 6:35 pm MST/7:35 pm CT, RHP Jordan Hicks (0-0, 9.00)

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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – October 19, 2021

photo: Nolan Gorman (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Six St. Louis Cardinals prospects appeared in Glendale’s Monday 7-1 win, led by Nolan Gorman’s two hits, two walks and two runs scored. Juan Yepez plated two and Andre Pallante and Zack Thompson combined to throw four scoreless innings.

Results from the game played Tuesday, October 18, 2021.

Desert Dogs 7 at Solar Sox 1

The Glendale Desert Dogs (4-1) led wire-to-wire in their dominant 7-1 road victory over the Mesa Solar Sox (2-3)

Lars Nootbaar got the scoring started with a lead-off home run off right-hander Conner Loeprich (L, 0-1) (BAL).  The right fielder went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch.

The hits kept on coming that inning.  Number two hitter Pedro Leon (HOU) followed Nootbaar’s third Arizona Falll League long ball by beating out a hit to short, followed by second baseman Nolan Gorman’s single to right.  With runners at the corners, first baseman Juan Yepez doubled to left, driving in both Leon and Gorman, for a 3-0 lead.

The score remained a competitive 3-0 until the visitors half of the eighth when Glendale poured on four more tallies.  As in the first frame, the scoring was ignited by Cardinals prospects, this time Nolan Gorman and Juan Yepez.  Gorman and Yepez worked consecutive walks, putting two on with none out.  A double steal left first base open, which was quickly filled by yet another free pass issued to catcher Korey Lee (HOU).  Designated hitter Jose Rodriguez (CHW) cleared the bases via his first home run of the Fall campaign.

Nolan Gorman

The Desert Dogs garnered seven hits in all, led by Gorman who singled twice in three at bats with two walks and two runs scored.  Yepez reached base three times, going 1-for-3 with the aforementioned double, two walks, touching home once and knocking in two.

St. Louis prospects were represented on the pitching side as well.  Andre Pallante followed starter Angel Macuare (W, 1-0) (HOU) to the mound after the Astros’ righty tossed two clean frames.  Pallante pitched a scoreless third and fourth, using three strikeouts to work around two hits and a walk.

After Angels’ righty Zach Linginfelter tossed a clean fifth, Zack Thompson was handed the ball at the sixth’s onset.  Five of the six outs recorded by Thompson were strikeouts, with the southpaw giving up a hit and three free passes.

The final Cardinals hurler to see action was Jake Walsh, who pitched the ninth.  Walsh issued a free pass to his first batter, the runner advancing to second on defensive indifference.  That proved costly after a one-out single to left by catcher Will Banfield (MIA) scored the base runner and ended the shutout bid.  Further damage was prevented when Lee caught Banfield stealing prior to a game-ending swinging K.

Tuesday’s game:  vs Scorpions (2-3), 12:35 pm MST/1:35 pm CT, RHP Johan Dominguez (Jordan Hicks is scheduled to start Wednesday).


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Cardinals Arizona Fall League Notebook – October 15, 2021

photo: Lars Nootbaar (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar drove in four on two home runs as Glendale took its second consecutive road game to start the Arizona Fall League campaign.

Results from the game played Thursday, October 14, 2021.

Desert Dogs 11 at Javelinas 9

The Desert Dogs (2-0) scored in six of their first seven frames on their way to an 11-9 victory over the Javelinas (0-2) at Peoria Thursday afternoon.

Glendale’s batting order was jammed with St. Louis prospects in the one through four slots with Jordan Hicks starting on the mound. Jake Walsh was later called upon to close.

Lead-off batter Lars Nootbaar had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a walk and two home runs accounting for both of his runs scored and all four of his RBI.  The right fielder opened the game with a first-pitch solo shot off Atlanta right-hander William Woods then closed his team’s scoring with a three-run rocket off another Braves righty, Indigo Diaz in the seventh.

Lars Nootbaar

First baseman Juan Yepez and designated hitter Nolan Gorman had two hits apiece. Yepez doubled and homered in four at bats with a base-on-balls, run scored and RBI from the three hole.  Gorman went 2-for-5, touching base once batting clean up.

The fourth position player to start was Brendan Donovan who was hitless in five at bats while batting second but he did reach base on a hit by pitch.  Defensively, the taxi squad member manned second base.

Hicks did not shine in his start, yielding two tallies in the first of his two innings on the bump.  The righty issued a one-out free pass before balking the runner to second.  But a swinging K for what might have been the third out instead resulted in a run scoring plus a baserunner on first when Hicks was charged with a wild pitch.

A stolen base put the runner in position to score when the 25-year-old gave up a line drive single to center, generating another run when no one covered home plate.  Hicks, who settled down to retire his last four batters faced, threw 40 pitches, 25 for strikes.

In the bottom of the ninth, Walsh took the mound tasked with closing out the Desert Dogs’ 11-8 advantage.  The righty retired his first two batters on one pitch each but ran into difficulty after permitting a walk and two singles, with the latter hit narrowing the gap to 11-9.  With the potential winning run at the plate, Walsh notched a swinging strikeout for the save.

Los Angeles Angels right-hander Nathan Burns was credited with the win after tossing a clean fourth.  He was the only one of six Glendale hurlers not to be scored upon.  Yet another Braves righty, Victor Vodnik took the loss.

Friday’s game:   vs. Scorpions (0-1), 12:35 pm MST/2:35 pm CT, RHP Bobby Miller (0-0, —) (LAD) vs. LHP Tanner Tully (0-0, —) (CLE)

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2021 Dominican Summer League Cardinals Blue Season Review

photo: Cardinals Dominican Academy (St. Louis Cardinals)

Overall

The Dominican Summer League (DSL) is at the rookie level within baseball’s minor league system.  The league is a gateway into affiliated professional baseball for players who are not eligible for Major League Baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft.  The lack of eligibility is mainly due to not meeting the residency requirement.

The DSL is comprised of 46 teams representing 29 organizations with Atlanta not participating.  Those 46 squads are split between six divisions, the Cardinals Blue assigned to the eight-team South Division.  The South Division is one of five containing eight teams with the final division having six squads.  All teams play exclusively within their own division (other than the Cardinals Red and Blue facing each other every Saturday).

After 13 seasons with one team in the league, St. Louis expanded to two squads for the 2018 season, becoming one of 17 organizations fielding two teams.  The original team became the Cardinals Blue and a second team was created, the Cardinals Red.   Both teams share the Baseball Oasis facility with one team always home while the other is on the road.

Subsequent to losing the entire 2020 season due to a worldwide pandemic, DSL baseball resumed on July 12th, nearly six weeks later than prior years, with a restructured baseball calendar running through October 2nd.  The modified schedule contained a maximum of 60 games, 12 games fewer than 2019.  No team played the full 60 games with the completed games totals ranging from 52 to 59.  The Cardinals Blue played 59 contests so comparisons of the team’s raw numbers versus the league will not be addressed in this article.

Although the schedule still included Sundays off as in prior seasons, Wednesdays were added as an additional off day.  Each week all teams played one home-and-away series versus two other affiliates and the same squad every Saturday.  St. Louis’ two teams faced each other on Saturdays.

Team

36 players were part of the Cardinals Blue team in 2021 with five – three position and two pitching – also seeing action on the Cardinals Red.   Four of the five spent more time with the C-Blue than C-Red.  For the purposes of this article, the stats of those five remain in the cumulative team totals in which they were generated.

Juan Peralta

Another player, pitcher Juan Peralta, was returned to the DSL from the Florida Complex League on August 6th, after which he generated the majority of his 2021 work.  However, each of the six players’ stats and prior experience was counted against the team for which they played the most, both when analyzing individual ages and experience (see below) and consideration for year-end

Overall, the Cardinals Blue represented seven countries.  57% hailed from the Dominican Republic, seven came from Venezuela, four from Mexico and one each from Cuba, Panama, Aruba and the Bahamas.

In terms of experience, the squad had 27 rookies versus eight players with one year of experience.  Marking each player’s age as of midnight of June 30th of the current season, per Baseball Reference, the 27 rookies consisted of one 16-year-old, nine 17-year-olds, 14 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and one who was 20.  Of the eight players for whom the 2019 campaign was their rookie season, one was 18 and the rest were 19.

The Season

The Cardinals Blue went 21-38 which landed them in a tie with the Twins for the bottom slot in the South Division, 16 games behind the Rockies.  That .356 winning percentage was better than just one DSL squad, the Orioles1, who went 13-39, although the Athletics joined the Twins and C-Blue with a .356 winning percentage.  The Cardinals Blue’s Home-Road splits were 9-20 at home and 12-18 away.

Note on month-by-month records:  Two games were suspended in one month and completed in another.  This report uses actual real time results and not retroactive adjusted records.

The team got off to a solid if unremarkable start, going 7-7 in July, but that was the team’s high-water mark record wise.  The C-Blue unraveled in August, winning just five of 21 contests but were minimally impacted by the weather with one postponement and one cancellation.  The Cardinals Blue fared a tad better over the season’s final four plus weeks, posting a 9-15 mark.

Breaking down their record by run differential, the C-Blue’s defeats fell into two categories:  squeakers or blow outs.  Their 6-12 mark in one-run decisions represented 30.5% of their decisions whereas nearly 46% were determined by four or more tallies.  The team went 6-21 in the latter category.

Head-to-head versus the Cardinals Red, the C-Blue won four and lost eight, with two of their victories coming in the last three contests.

Pitching

The staff had 18 hurlers take the mound with rookie reliever Alexandre Beltre the sole lefty.  The average age of the staff was 18.5 years old, placing them a bit under the league average age of 18.7 years and .6 of a year younger than the C-Red staff.  That 18.5 average age placed them in a five-way tie for 15th in the league.

Ronny Oliver

The youngest was Ronny Oliver, who just turned 17 in January and was one of 13 rookies.  The remaining 12 rookies included nine 18-year-olds, two who were 19 and one 20-year-old.  Five hurlers had one year of pro experience, one of them 18 and the balance were 19.

Reviewing signing dates, seven were signed to 2020 contracts in July 2019 but did not take the mound until July 2021, a span of just over two years.  One pitcher, Victor Herrera, was signed in September 2018 but is among the 13 rookies.  Just three of the 13 were signed after the 2020 season would have finished.

Victor Herrera

The rotation was comprised of four right-handers getting regular work with the fifth slot rotating among four others.  Two of the rotating four swing men made five starts apiece.  It was a more stable situation than on the C-Red staff.

Overall, the pitching staff was below league average in most categories, placing at or near the bottom in several.  They compiled a 5.33 Earned Run Average (ERA) and 1.625 Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) which put them 44th in ERA and 41st in WHIP as compared to their counterparts on other squads.  No squad allowed more hits per nine Innings (H9) than did the Cardinals Blue’s 9.3, tied with Oakland for last place.  They gave up 0.5 home runs every nine frames, which put them in a 10-way tie for 30th.  The category in which they had their highest ranking was strikeouts per nine innings (9.1), for which they were in a four-way tie for 20th.  The C-Blue averaged 5.3 walks every nine innings which was another four-way tie, this time for 31st.   The Cardinals Blue’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.79:1, tied for 29th in the league.

Offense

18 players took the field for the 2021 offense.  One, catcher Alejandro Loaiza, played more for the Cardinals Red and is not part of this age and experience breakdown.

The average age of Cardinals Blue hitters was 17.6, a bit below the 17.9 league average, placing them in a nine-way tie for sixth place, along with the Cardinals Red.  Despite the long wait for some debuts, the 2021 average is a tad younger than the 2019 average of 17.7.

The Cardinals Blue’s offense was a bit more experienced than the C-Red with three Blue players having one year of pro knowledge to the Cardinals Red’s one.  The three C-Blue veterans were all 19 years old.  In comparison, the 2019 team had seven veterans among 14 position players.

Hence, 14 of the Cardinals Blue’s 17 position players were rookies.  Eight of the 14 or nearly 62% were signed after the 2020 season would have concluded.  The youngest was corner outfielder Jose Suarez, who did not turn 17 until early August.  The remaining 13 rookies included eight 17-year-olds and five 18-year-olds.

Jose Suarez

The offense was in the league’s bottom third in all but one category, compiling a line of .223/.327/.323/.651 in 1,775 at bats.  Compared to the league, the C-Blue tied for 33rd in batting average and 38th in on-base percentage.  The sole area in which the team was near average was slugging percentage at 26th.  The Cardinals Blue’s .651 OPS was 33rd best as was their runs per games average of 4.31.

Defense

Collectively, the Cardinals Blue were 29th in the league with a .951 fielding percentage, just behind the Cardinals Red’s .952.  In comparison, the league’s top defensive team was the Red Sox Blue with a .970 fielding percentage and the worst was the Pirates Gold’s .927.

The individual with the highest fielding percentage was 18-year-old outfielder Jose Cordoba who compiled a .989 fielding percentage in 40 games.  He was the second choice for playing time in center and left field behind Luis Pino and Robelyn Lopez, respectively.

Jose Cordoba

Cordoba’s combined outfield stats, however, placed him at the top of outfield chart in games, putouts and assists.  The Venezuelan was flawless in 24 games in center with 49 putouts and one assist with a Range Factor of 2.08.  Cordoba’s final fielding percentage was pulled down by his 16 left field games in which he committed one miscue with 32 putouts and four assists for a .973 mark.  He had a 2.25 Range Factor and took part in two double plays.

The primary recipient of pitches behind the dish was 17-year-old Leonardo Bernal, one of five catchers over the season’s course – along with Justin Guerrero (nine games), Loaiza (seven games), Diego Velasquez (six games) and veteran Juan Sanchez (four games).  Sanchez did not finish the season, given his unconditional release on August 26th.

Leonardo Bernal

Bernal, who was signed out of Panama on January 15, 2021, caught in 33 games with 279 putouts and 32 assists versus six errors and five passed balls.  That works out to a .981 fielding percentage.  The opposition ran pretty freely on the rookie and he caught only 18 of 62 or 29%.  Bernal had a 9.42 Range Factor.  Offensively, Bernal generated a line of .209/.298/.373/.671, 33-for-158.

Conclusion

The DSL Cardinals Blue were in the bottom third of the league in statistical performances in 2021 with a record that barely kept them from the cellar.  Like the Cardinals Red, however, individual bright spots existed which will be discussed in future articles.

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2021 Dominican Summer League Cardinals Red Season Review

photo: Cardinals Dominican Academy (St. Louis Cardinals)

The newest of the St. Louis Cardinals’ two Dominican Summer League teams was young in experience but the 2021 Cardinals Red finished just three games under .500.

Overall

The Dominican Summer League (DSL) is at the rookie level within baseball’s minor league system.  The league is a gateway into affiliated professional baseball for players who are not eligible for Major League Baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft.  The lack of eligibility is mainly due to not meeting the residency requirement.

The DSL is comprised of 46 teams representing 29 organizations with Atlanta not participating.  Those 46 squads are split among six divisions, with the Cardinals Red assigned to the eight-team San Pedro Division.  The San Pedro Division is one of five containing eight teams with the final division having six squads.  All teams play exclusively within their own division (other than the Cardinals Red and Blue facing each other every Saturday).

After 13 seasons with one team in the league, St Louis expanded to two squads for the 2018 season, becoming one of 17 organizations fielding two teams.  The original team became Cardinals Blue and the second team Cardinals Red. They share the Baseball Oasis facility with one team home while the other is on the road.

Subsequent to losing the entire 2020 season due to the worldwide pandemic, DSL baseball resumed on July 12th, nearly six weeks later than prior years, with a restructured baseball calendar running through October 2nd.  The modified schedule contained a maximum of 60 games, 12 games fewer than 2019.  No team played the full 60 games with the completed games totals ranging from 52 to 59.  The Cardinals Red played 57 contests so comparisons of the team’s raw numbers versus the league will not be addressed in this article.

Although the schedule included Sundays off as in prior seasons, Wednesdays were added as an additional off day in 2021.  Each week all teams played one home-and-away series versus two other affiliates and the same squad every Saturday.  All 17 organizations fielding two squads played each other on Saturdays.

Team

38 players were part of the Cardinals Red team in 2021 with five of them, three position and two pitching, also seeing action with the Cardinals Blue.   For the purposes of this article, the stats of those five remain in the cumulative team totals in which they were generated.  Another player, pitcher William Miranda, was reassigned to the DSL from the Florida Complex League in August where the majority of his 2021 work was done. However, each of the six player’s stats and prior experience was counted against the team for which they played the most, both when analyzing individual ages and experience (see below) and consideration for year-end awards.

The cancelled 2020 season impacted the team’s composition, age and experience, particularly the age and experience components.  The ‘Age versus Playing Level’ rule of thumb lost much of its relevance since players stagnated for an entire season.  But a deeper dive into the numbers revealed interesting differences between the Pitching and Offense make ups which will be enumerated in their sections below.  Overall, only three countries were represented in 2021 versus five in 2019.  71% hailed from the Dominican Republic, one came from Columbia and the balance from Venezuela.

When it comes to experience, the squad had 23 rookies versus eight players with one year of experience and only one with two prior professional seasons.  Marking each player’s age as of midnight of June 30th of the current season, per Baseball Reference, the 23 rookies consisted of one 16-year-old, seven 17-year-olds, 11 18-year-olds, three 19-year-olds and one who was 20.  Of the eight players for whom the 2019 campaign was their rookie season, one was 18, three were 19 and four were 20.  The sole player with two years of pro ball experience was 20.

The Season

The Cardinals Red went 27-30 (.474) for a sixth-place finish in the San Pedro Division, 9 ½ games behind the Phillies White.  Their Home-Road splits were 17-12 at home and 10-18 away.

While the 2019 C-Red (.451) also finished in sixth place, the 2021 team posted a better record. In fact, their .474 winning percentage was just .001 behind Triple-A Memphis for the best mark in the system this season, albeit a down year.

A note on month-by-month records:  The C-Red had a game suspended in one month and completed in a later month.  This report uses actual real time results and not retroactive adjusted records.

The team generated steady results on a month-by-month basis, remaining at or near the .500 mark each month of the season.  The C-Red generated a 7-7 mark in July before encountering a challenging August schedule in which they went 8-10.  The first three weeks of August included four postponements plus three cancellations due to weather-related issues, resulting in 44% of their contests being played in the last four plus weeks of the season.  The team compiled a 12-13 mark over that span.

Breaking down their record by run differential, the Cardinals Red went 9-4 in games decided by one run, 4-9 in two-run contests, 3-5 for games decided by three runs and 11-12 in contests determined by four or more tallies.  That 11-12 mark comprises over 40% of the season’s games and the C-Red showed different results as the season wore on.  After going 5-9 in July and August, the team went 5-4 in September and early October.

The Cardinals Red dominated their contests with the Cardinals Blue.  The organization’s ‘junior’ squad won eight and lost four. (It should be noted that in terms of roster composition, the organization balanced the two teams, rather than create “A” and “B” squads.)

Pitching

19 hurlers took the mound with starter and one-year veteran Diorys Guerrero the sole lefty.  Two of the 19, Marlyn Almonte and Victor Herrera, pitched more for the Cardinals Blue while the vast bulk of William Miranda’s 2021 work was in the Florida Complex League, so their age and experience levels are not included here.

Diorys Guerrero

The average age of the remaining 16 staff was 19.1 years old, placing them over the league average age of 18.7 years.  Two other DSL teams had an identical average and only seven staffs were older.  The youngest C-Red hurler was Juan Severino who just turned 17 in June and was one of eight rookies.  The remaining seven rookies included four 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and a 20-year-old.

Americo Lugo

Another seven had one year of pro experience, three of them 19 and four were 20, including Americo Lugo who turned 21 in August.  Lugo’s August birthday made him about 5 ½ weeks older than Augusto Calderon who was the only member of the C-Red with two years of pro experience.

A big factor in the staff’s average age was the signing dates of the rookies.  Only two of the eight were signed after the cancelled 2020 season would have finished, with 18-year-old Samuel Fabian joining Severino in that category.  Five were signed in 2019 with the final rookie signed in January 2020.  For example, now 18-year-old Darlin Saladin had to wait nearly two years before taking the mound.  Although their ages elevated the staff’s average, none had the mound experience they would have gained in normal times.

Darlin Saladin

Nine pitchers started at least one game, necessitated in part by multiple September twin bills but also reflecting changing priorities as the season progressed.  The same starting five handled the season’s initial three weeks with all five getting regular work.  That changed in August when available starts were at a premium and only nine games were completed over the first 20 days.

Still, the same rotation started the initial 22 contests, but an additional four hurlers were added into the mix over the season’s balance of 35 games.  Those additions were not limited to double-header starts.  Some starters moved to the bullpen and others were given a starting opportunity.

Overall, the pitching staff compiled a 4.52 Earned Run Average (ERA) and 1.503 Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) which put them 28th in ERA and 35th in WHIP as compared to their counterparts across the league.  Only two squads allowed more Hits Per 9 Innings (H9) than did the Cardinals Red, who averaged 9.0.  They gave up just 0.3 home runs every nine frames which tied them for ninth place.  Their Strikeouts Per Nine innings (8.1/41st(tie)) and Walks Per 9 Innings (4.5/11th (tie)) rates are likely a factor of the high H9 rate.  You do not either walk or strike out many batters when they are teeing off on you.  The Cardinals Red had a Strikeout-to-Walk ratio of 1.79:1, tied for 21st in the league.

Offense

18 position players took the field in 2021.  Two of them, Bryan Encarnacion and Justin Guerrero, played more for the Cardinals Blue, thus they are not part of this age and experience breakdown.

The average age of Cardinals Red hitters was 17.6, below the 17.9 league average, placing them in a nine-way tie for sixth place.  They were a tad younger than the 2019 average of 17.7.

Reviewing the age and experience of the group, one aspect sticks out in almost glaring fashion:  the lack of experience.  The C-Red had one just player, 18-year-old outfielder Jose Rodriguez, who played in 2019.  Contrast that with the six veterans among 15 position players on the 2019 squad.

Jose Rodriguez

15 of the Cardinals Red’s 16 position players were rookies.  Eight of the 15 or 53% were signed after the 2020 season would have concluded.  The youngest was center fielder Carlos Carmona, who turned 17 on July 1st, the day after the age cutoff.  The remaining 14 rookies included six 17-year-olds, seven 18-year-olds and one 19-year-old.

Carlos Carmona

The offense compiled a line of .233/.347/.351/.697 in 1,644 at bats.  Compared to others in the league, the C-Red tied for 26th in batting average and 22nd in on-base percentage.  When they did make contact, however, the ranking went up as their slugging percentage was good for 14th place as was their OPS.    They generated an average of 4.86 runs per games, good for 19th.

Defense

The Cardinals Red were 28th in the league with a .952 fielding percentage.  In comparison, the league’s top defensive team was the Red Sox Blue with a .970 fielding percentage and the worst was the Pirates Gold’s .927.

The individual with the highest fielding percentage was first baseman Francis Reynoso at .996.  The 18-year-old committed just one error in 35 games with 233 putouts and 15 assists.  Reynoso took part in 19 double plays and had a Range Factor of 7.09.

Francis Reynoso

Catching duties were shared by four players:  Maikel Hernandez (22 games), Carlos Linarez (17 games), Alejandro Loaiza (12 games) and Justin Guerrero (10 games).  Guerrero was moved to the Cardinals Blue on August 21st.

Hernandez and Linarez, the primary backstops, came to Opening Day 2021 via very different routes.  Hernandez, an 18-year-old out of Venezuela, was one of six prospects signed on July 2, 2019 to 2020 contracts.  He debuted over two years after signing.

Contrast his journey with that of fellow countryman Linarez.  The 19-year-old was signed in mid-June 2021, just one month before the 2021 season got underway.

Carlos Linarez

Linarez not only had a far shorter wait time to begin his pro career, but he also put up better numbers both behind the dish and at the plate than did Hernandez.  The former had a .993 fielding percentage with one error and four passed balls versus 120 putouts and 18 assists.  Linarez caught 18 of 33 who tried to steal or 55% and had a Range Factor of 8.12.

On the other hand, Hernandez compiled a .982 fielding percentage with three errors and six passed balls versus 134 putouts and 28 assists.  His caught stealing rate was 46%, 23 of 50, with a Range Factor of 7.36.

Where Linarez really separated himself from his backstop competition was at the plate.  The righty batter generated a sterling .305/.397/.407/.804 mark, 18-for-59 in 22 contests including five as the designated hitter.  Switch-hitter Hernandez struggled offensively, going 14-for-63 or .222/.315/.333/.648.

Conclusion

The DSL Cardinals Red were an average team which lacked the results required for an upper level finish in the standings.  There were, however, individual bright spots which will be outlined in future reports.

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Cardinals Minor League Notebook – October 4, 2021

photo: Matthew Liberatore (Memphis Redbirds)

The St. Louis Cardinals system closed its 2021 slate with a comeback win by Memphis in the Triple-A Final Stretch. Working in relief of Jordan Hicks and Johan Oviedo, Matthew Liberatore faced 10 batters, and with the help of his defense, collected 10 outs. Alec Burleson was among offensive leaders.

Results from the game played Sunday, October 3, 2021.

Note: This is the final regular season Notebook for 2021, however, we will be back starting Thursday morning, October 14 with the first daily game recaps of St. Louis Cardinals players competing in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Memphis 4 vs. Charlotte 3

A sixth-inning error proved decisive as Memphis (61-67) rallied for a 4-3 victory over Charlotte (47-81) (CHW) in the 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch finale. The 4-4 Redbirds tied for 14th in the 30-team post-season tourney.

The Redbirds trailed 3-0 midway through six but ended the frame with the contest tied at three all.  Shortstop Rayder Ascanio led off with a single to left before second baseman Kramer Robertson drew a one-out walk.  A free pass issued to designated hitter Juan Yepez with two away loaded the bases for first baseman Luken Baker.

Baker was hit by a pitch, driving in Ascanio and bringing Evan Mendoza into the game to pinch run for Baker after an injury delay.  Left fielder Alec Burleson’s smash could not be fielded cleanly by the Knights’ shortstop, allowing both Burleson to reach and Robertson and Yepez to score two unearned runs.

The score remained unaltered until Yepez worked his second walk, this time with one gone in the bottom of the eighth.  Mendoza doubled to left (after having taken over for the injured Baker at first), advancing Yepez to third.  Burleson lined a single to left, bringing Yepez across home plate for the final score.

Alec Burleson

Burleson’s hit was the last of five Redbirds’ hits overall to go with four free passes issued.  Ascanio garnered two of those hits, singling twice in three at bats with a run scored and stolen base.  Top prospect Nolan Gorman, heading to the Arizona Fall League next, did not play.

Making his third rehab start, Jordan Hicks surrendered home runs to his first two batters.  The 25-year-old went on to retire six batters, yielding three hits and a walk while striking out two.  Hicks threw 31 pitches, 20 for strikes, and will next join Gorman and others in the AFL.

Factoring in the circumstances of Memphis’ prior two contests having been cancelled due to wet grounds combined with this being the season finale, the next two pitching moves were to be expected.  Two regular members of Memphis’ rotation followed Hicks to the mound:  Johan Oviedo and Matthew Liberatore.

Oviedo retired his initial six batters before running into trouble in the fifth.  The righty jammed the sacks full via a lead-off double, base-on-balls and one-out single before a sac fly brought a runner across home.  Oviedo’s day was finished when he issued his second free pass, bringing Liberatore into the game.

Matthew Liberatore

Liberatore (W, 9-9) ended the threat with a 4-3 ground out, minimizing the damage to Oviedo’s stat line.  That out was the first of ten recorded by the 21-year-old who struck out four – two called and two swinging.  Liberatore permitted a single but a 6-4-3 double play erased the base runner to end the eighth, giving the right-hander a 10-up and 10-down final line.

Another AFL-bound Redbird, Jake Walsh, tossed a one-two-three ninth, sandwiching a 6-3 ground out between two swinging K’s for his first professional save.

Defensively, the Redbirds turned three double plays while a fielding bobble by Ascanio was the sole error.

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