Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 3/16/2018

photo: Ivan Herrera (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

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 second minor league action of 2018, but the first external competition of the spring held on Friday in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals Triple-A and Double-A clubs were in West Palm Beach to take on the Houston Astros upper-level affiliates while St. Louis’ Class-A games were in Jupiter at the George Kissell Quad.

In a day when pitching once again took the forefront, the Cardinals’ full-season clubs split the four games against the Astros with Memphis and Peoria taking 7-2 (versus Fresno) and 6-3 (versus Quad Cities) victories, respectively. Meanwhile, Springfield dropped their game against Corpus Christi by a final of 4-3 and Palm Beach tied 3-3 with Buies Creek.

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 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, another 21 players have yet to be cut from Major League camp.

Also, worth noting, were the 21 players who were put on the Cardinals split-squad MLB teams, including position players Dylan Carlson, Bryce Denton, Brian O’Keefe, Thomas Spitz, Ramon Urias, and Andy Young. Pitchers include Estarlin Arias, Joe Colon, Jesus Cruz, and Kevin Herget – for the game at the Nationals.

Among those that stayed in Jupiter to play against the Marlins includes position players Terry Fuller, J.B. Woodman, Granden Goetzman, John Nogowski, Kramer Robertson, Carlos Rodriguez, and Lane Thomas. Pitchers include Fabian Blanco, Nestor Molina, Edward Mujica, and Jake Walsh.

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

Friday’s Pitcher of the Day – Ryan Helsley, Springfield

Ryan Helsley (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

One of the names mentioned by President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak as being a late-inning bullpen option for the Cardinals at some point in 2018, Helsley followed up a shaky spring in big-league camp (7.71 ERA in 4 2/3 innings; all relief) with a stellar debut in minor league camp on Friday. The power-armed Oklahoma righty got a brief cameo at both Springfield (six starts) and Memphis (one start) in 2017. It is unclear whether he opens at Double-A or Triple-A for 2018.

Honorable mentions go to pitchers Daniel Poncedeleon and Ramon Santos at Memphis, Anthony Shew at Palm Beach, and Winston Nicacio at Peoria.

Friday’s Hitter of the Day: Ivan Herrera, Palm Beach

An international signee out of Panama City, Panama from the Cardinals historic 2016 July 2nd signing class, Herrera piqued the interest of scouts thanks to his performance on the international tournament as a teenager. That prompted St. Louis to sign him for $200,000 in the first week of the 2016 signing period.

Herrera, who was one of few Cardinals prospects brought over from the Academy in the Dominican for spring training, didn’t turn 17 until two days before the Dominican Summer League but ended up being one of the better performers in the rookie level circuit of three dozen teams. Herrera finished in the top 10 in both batting average (.335) and on-base percentage (.425) and has intriguing tools to boot.

The catching prospect continued his offensive momentum with a two-hit day on Friday, including an RBI. He should start 2018 in the Gulf Coast League.

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 (1-0-1) at Fresno, 7-2

Memphis pitching:

  • Daniel Poncedeleon – 3 2/3 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 4 K – TCN’s No. 31 prospect, who had a rough go in big-league camp, continues his tune-ups to get back on track following his horrific accident last May. He should open this year at Memphis.
  • Ramon Santos – 2 IP, BB, 3 K – comes off a career-year as a full-time reliever between low-A Peoria and high-A Palm Beach; sinker-curveball specialist who will likely open the year back at high-A.

Memphis hitting:

  • Darren Seferina (2B) – 1-for-3, R, 2 RBI – TCN’s No. 28 prospect will need to stay healthy and prove his rebound 2017 season wasn’t a fluke. Seferina should start at either Springfield or Memphis.
  • Jose Godoy (C) – 1-for-1, R, HR, 2 RBI – The offensive-first catcher had a sneaky good season with the bat in a league that swallows hitters offensive prowess, the Florida State League. Likely will open 2018 at Springfield.

Springfield (0-1-1) at Corpus Christi, 3-4

Springfield pitching:

  • Ryan Helsley – 3 IP, 2 BB, 4 K – See above for more.

Springfield hitting: 

  • Chris Chinea (1B) – 1-for-3, R, HR, RBI – 23-year old posted .260/.315/.350 in 123 games at Palm Beach last year. Will need to add over-the-fence power to his game to climb up prospect rankings. The catcher-first baseman should start this season at Springfield.

Palm Beach (0-1-1) vs. Buies Creek, 3-3

Palm Beach pitching:

  • Anthony Shew – 2 IP, H, R, 4 K – The strike-throwing righty will have to prove he can perform against more advanced competition to defy his older age as a prospect. Shew dominated between State College and Peoria last year.

Palm Beach hitting:

  • Ivan Herrera (DH) – 2-for-3, RBI – See above for more.

Peoria (2-0) vs. Quad Cities, 6-3

Peoria pitching:

  • Winston Nicacio – 2 IP, 2 K – The 20-year old received a six-inning cup of coffee out of the High-A bullpen at the end of 2017, but spent most of his first season stateside in the GCL. He is said have the ingredients to start every fifth day at the ML level and will definitely be one to watch going forward.

Peoria hitting:

  • Caleb Lopes (DH) – 1-for-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI – The 22-year old infielder had 14 more walks than strikeouts (48-to-34) through 74 games in two seasons of short-season ball between Johnson City and State College.

Saturday’s games: The Nationals are the Saturday opponent and second external competitors of the spring. Memphis and Springfield games will be held at the Jupiter complex while Palm Beach and Peoria travel to West Palm Beach this time. First pitches are set at 1 p.m. ET.

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