Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 1

Palm Beach is off to a slow start but a trio of starting pitchers has excelled including Shelby Miller. Our free trial week concludes.

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Surely Palm Beach manager Luis Aguayo can't be happy with his team's slow start. At the same time, he has to be impressed with some of his players' individual performances - especially top prospect Shelby Miller. The Cardinals will also be the team to help develop the skills of 2010 first round pick Zack Cox and another pair of interesting pitchers, Joe Kelly and John Gast.

The season has gotten off to a slow start for the occupants of Roger Dean Stadium. In its first eight games, Palm Beach has managed only two victories.

In the season opener on Thursday, Miller was the tough luck loser in a duel between two first-round pitchers. The Texan finished with nine strikeouts in five innings but a lone unearned run shouldered him with the loss. His teammates could not decipher the stuff of St. Lucie's Matt Harvey who finished with an almost exactly the same line on the night. The only difference was the Harvey did not allow a run, unearned, or otherwise.

The Cardinals were able to exact some revenge Friday night with a 4-1 victory over the Mets. The offense waited for the dramatic, plating three runs in the top of the ninth. Jose Rada picked up the win with two shutout innings.

In their home opener on Saturday, the Cardinals faced the same St. Lucie team. Once again it was a tough luck loss for the Redbirds. Arquimedes Nieto took the loss after allowing a run in an inning of relief. Makiel Cleto, the pitcher acquired for Brendan Ryan, went six innings while striking out six. Leadoff man D'Marcus Ingram reached base twice and stole two bases.

Audry Perez
During its fourth game of the season, Palm Beach had to start recognizing the trend. Once again it was on the wrong end of a one-run game with St. Lucie. Starter Joe Kelly spun five shutout innings but reliever Aaron Terry was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs in the eighth. Audry Perez led the offense with two hits including a double.

Monday started a new week and the Cardinals were able to face a new opponent. They had to be hoping for a more positive result against the Charlotte Stone Crabs but the ending was familiar, a 7-5 defeat. Perez led the offense with two hits including a grand slam. Adam Melker and Ronald Ramirez each chipped in multi-hit games. Eric Fornataro was charged with the loss after allowing two runs on five hits and four walks in five innings of work.

On Tuesday night, Palm Beach came out strong with eight runs in the bottom of the first and held on for a 10-8 victory. Starter Justin Smith gave up six runs and lasted only four innigs. Rada picked up his second victory with 3 2/3 innings of relief. Aaron Terry picked up his first save with 1 1/3 innings of shutout baseball.

At the plate, leadoff man Raniel Rosario had four hits, including two home runs, and four RBIs. Lara added a three-run blast. Cox had three hits and drove in a run.

In Wednesday's rubber match, the Cardinals fell 5-4 in 10 innings. Shelby Miller was lights out with 11 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Jorge Rondon was tagged with the loss. Cox and Perez each contributed a pair of hits. Lara hit his third home run of the young season.

Palm Beach hosted stadium mates Jupiter on Thursday evening. In the first of many match ups between the two squads, the Hammerheads scored two in the ninth for the 3-1 victory. Starter John Gast was solid in 6 2/3 innings of work. The southpaw surrendered only an unearned run while striking out seven. The Cards managed only three hits on the night with Rosario having the only extra base hit, a double.

Who's Hot

Catcher Audry Perez has gotten off to a scorching hot starrt during his first taste of full season baseball. The 22-year-old is hitting .409.

Edgar Lara already has three home runs and nine RBIs in 27 at bats.

Who's Not

Aaron Terry has blown two saves in the first week of the season. The 24-year-old's ERA is now over five.

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#30 Rainel Rosario. The outfielder is struggling to make contact but is hitting the ball with authority when he does. Rosario is slugging .483.

#28 John Gast. After two outings, the former Florida State Seminole has an anemic ERA of 0.75. In 12 innings, he has racked up 10 strikeouts and only two walks. Opponents have managed only a .186 average against him.

#27 Joe Kelly. The former reliever was outstanding in his first start. The UC-Riverside product spun five shutout innings in his Florida State League debut.

#2 Zack Cox. The former Arkansas Razorback has struggled to find consistency during the first week of the season. Cox is hitting only .258/.343/.290 but already has three multi-hit games.

#1 Shelby Miller. The top prospect in the system has done nothing to disparage that ranking. The right-hander has racked up 20 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings while posting an ERA of 1.69. Even more impressive is the control he has shown, with only two walks in his first two starts.

Around the League

Palm Beach is 2-6 and sits tied for last place in the Florida State League South division. Perez is tenth in hitting while Lara is tied for third in home runs and second in RBIs.

Miller's 20 strikeouts are the most in the FSL while Gast is sixth in ERA.

Up Next

The Cardinals finish up with two more games with Jupiter. Palm Beach then hits the road for a three-game series at Charlotte. The team then returns home to Roger Dean Stadium but will be the visitors in another series against the Hammerheads.

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