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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Ross Vance – 3 IP, 2 H, 5 K
Note: see above
- 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
- Juan Perez – 3 IP, 3 H, 2 K
Note: split time between relief and starting for Peoria last year.
- 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.