Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Highlights: 3/18/2018

photo: Austin Gomber (Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome back to our 10th year of providing results and much more from St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games here at The Cardinal Nation. Again this year, I am joined in these recaps by TCN Publisher and editor Brian Walton.

Following are the highlights from the Cardinals fourth minor league spring training games of 2018, but third against external competition – held on Sunday in Jupiter, Florida. All of the Cardinals full-season affiliates were in Jupiter to take on the Miami Marlins affiliates.

So, the Cardinals went 2-1-1 against the Marlins on Sunday. Springfield (versus Jacksonville) and Palm Beach (versus Jupiter) each won their games while Memphis (versus New Orleans) took the only loss of the day and Peoria (versus Greensboro) tied.

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 mine. 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, the Cardinals made six cuts today, trimming their roster down to 15 players, who have yet to be cut from Major League camp (including roster players and non-roster invitees).

Pitchers Jack Flaherty, John Gant, and Ryan Sherriff as well as position players Carson Kelly, Breyvic Valera, and Oscar Mercado were optioned to Triple-A Memphis following Sunday’s game.

When players are members of The Cardinal Nation Top 50 Prospect List for 2018, their rankings are noted.

Sunday’s Pitcher of the Day – Austin Gomber, Springfield

Austin Gomber (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Among the roster cuts on March 12 from big-league camp, TCN’s No. 10 prospect Gomber had perhaps his best showing in his third go-around with St. Louis this spring. The 24-year old lefty, whose best pitch is a big curveball coming from a steep downhill angle, had a tale of two halves in his third full professional season at Double-A Springfield. That was enough, however, to convince the Cardinals brass to protect him from the Rule 5 draft last December, adding him to the 40-man roster.

Honorable mentions include pitchers Hector Mendoza and Brett Seeburger.

Sunday’s Hitter of the Day – Yariel Gonzalez, Peoria

Yariel Gonzalez (State College Spikes)

A non-drafted free agent signed two years ago out of University of Science and Arts, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) institution located in Chickasha, Oklahoma, Gonzalez is not considered a prospect because of his age (23). It is not as if the switch-hitter is talent-free, however, as he had batted over .400 in each of four collegiate seasons with three different institutions.

The corner infielder opened his professional career with Johnson City and State College in 2016, with a combined slash line of .284/.345/.387/.732 in 155 at-bats over 41 games. Gonzalez returned to State College this past summer, slashing .305/.357/.390/.747. Along with his age, his lack of power as a corner player is a concern.

On Sunday, however, Gonzalez had a key two-run home run which helped lift him over honorable mentions Shane Billings, Kramer Robertson, and Zach Kirtley for Hitter of the Day.

For more, The Cardinal Nation members can check out the full list of minor league spring training attendees and minor league spring training game schedules.

Ahead – exclusively for TCN members – is Brian Walton’s annual pre-Opening Day series in which he predicts the opening rosters for all four full-season minor league affiliates and explains why. St. Louis was posted previously, 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, join now and order our first-ever Prospect Guide at less than half price.

The entire system view by level and position as last season ended with every transaction all year long is available via the Roster Matrix, always free, right here at The Cardinal Nation.

Memphis (1-2-1) vs. New Orleans, 4-9

Memphis pitching: 

  • Hector Mendoza – 1 2/3 IP, 2 H 3 K – Signed last spring out of Cuba; struggled in limited pro action for the Cardinals. Future back-end reliever if all goes well.

Memphis hitting:

  • Shane Billings (DH) – 1-for-1, 3B, BB, 2 RBI – Made a diving catch yesterday and followed that up with a terrific performance with the bat today. Outfield glut likely pushes him back to high-A Palm Beach to start 2018.

Springfield (2-1-1) vs. Jacksonville, 3-0

Springfield pitching:

  • Austin Gomber – 3 IP, 8 K – See above for more, but note the strikeouts.

Springfield hitting:

Kramer Robertson (SS) – 1-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI – Advanced prospect with intriguing bloodlines. Could he sneak his way onto Springfield’s Opening Day roster?

Palm Beach (1-2-1) vs. Jupiter, 8-3

Palm Beach pitching: 

  • Brett Seeburger – 1 IP, 1 K – Older former college lefty, who dominated much younger competition in the Appy League last summer in his draft year. Looks to make the jump up to low-A Peoria this spring.

Palm Beach hitting: 

  • Zach Kirtley (2B) – 1-for-2, R, 2B, K, 2 RBI – Cardinals fifth round draft pick last year out of Patrick Wisdom’s alma mater (Saint Mary’s). Cardinals like his potential with the bat.

Peoria (2-1-1) vs. Greensboro, 6-6 (tie)

Peoria pitching:

  • N/A

Peoria hitting:

  • Yariel Gonzalez (3B) – 1-for-2, R, HR, 2 RBI – See above for more.

Editor’s notes: Rather than make his start in the big-league game, Carlos Martinez pitched six innings against Marlins’ Triple-A players on the back fields. According to the Post-Dispatch, the right-hander allowed a three-run homer and five runs total over his 99 pitches, watched by pitching coach Mike Maddux.

Prior to the game in the main stadium, all of those who contributed to the Memphis Redbirds’ 2017 Pacific Coast League title received their rings in an on-field ceremony. Palm Beach is next up, on Tuesday.

Monday’s games: The Cardinals are off Monday organization-wide. They resume play on Tuesday with the Triple-A and Double-A clubs hosting the Mets at the Jupiter complex while the Class-A teams travel to Port St. Lucie. First pitches are at 1 p.m. ET.

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