It has been a difficult season so far for the Palm Beach Cardinals with the team posting a record of 7-14 coming into the week. Though the pitching has seen some bright spots, the team has struggled to put together any offensive consistency. But things appear to be looking up as the Cards went 3-4 during the week including a season high three-game winning streak.
The week started on a sour note with a loss to the Fort Myers Miracle. Joe Kelly was on the mound and allowed three earned runs on eight hits in four innings of work. He forced six groundball outs compared to only one out in the air. Alan Ahmady led the offense with a pair of hits and RBIs.
The next night was the beginning of a highlight for the early season. Behind a masterful performance from pitcher Eric Fornataro, the team topped Bradenton, 2-1. The right-hander allowed only one run in eight innings of work. Tyler Lyons logged his first pro save by getting the final out in the ninth. Ahmady continued to carry the offense with three more hits.
On Sunday, pitcher Justin Smith turned in his best performance of the season though he did not factor in the 3-2 victory. Smith threw seven shutout innings while striking out six. Reliever Aaron Terry was charged with his second blown save of the season but was credited with the win. Jorge Rondon notched his third save. Once again, Ahmady led the troops at the plate while Rainel Rosario reached base three times.
After his worst outing of the season during his last start, Shelby Miller was out to prove it was just a hiccup as he makes his way toward Springfield. The organization's number one prospect struck out 10 in his six innings of work. Samuel Freeman continues his journey back from Tommy John surgery with two strikeouts in a shutout inning.
Leading the offense in the club's 5-1 victory was once again Alan Ahmady. The 23-year-old belted three hits including two doubles and drove in three runs. Zack Cox and Xavier Scruggs each added a pair of hits.
The team continued its road trip but could not continue the winning streak, falling to Fort Myers, 9-6. That man, Ahmady, had two more hits to raise his average to .365. Every starter had at least one hit except for the leadoff man, Rosario. John Gast turned in his poorest outing of the year, being roughed up for seven runs and lasting only 3.1 innings.
The Miracle continued pounding Cardinals pitching with starter Maikel Cleto being the latest victim. The right-hander was charged with three runs on three hits and six walks in six innings pitched. On the bright side, he did strike out six and was consistently throwing in the upper 90s according to the stadium gun. Audry Perez and Edgar Lara both had a couple of hits and Ahmady added another single.
On the power of three home runs, the Cardinals jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Fort Myers but the Miracle scored six unanswered runs to pull out the victory. Xavier Scruggs, Travis Tartamella, and Luis Mateo slugged the long balls. Joe Kelly allowed four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. Jorge Rondon was charged with a blown save and he picked up the loss.
Over his last 10 games, Ahmady is hitting .432/.488/.514 and has 16 hits during that stretch. He now leads the team in average, OBP, and OPS.
Rainel Rosario has slowed down after getting off to a solid start. The outfielder is hitting .118 in his last five games.
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#30 Rainel Rosario. After slumping of late, the 22-year-old is hitting .243/.339/.398 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. He is four-for-four in stolen base attempts.
#28 John Gast. The southpaw is now 0-2 with a 3.99 ERA after being roughed up in his last outing.
#27 Joe Kelly. The sinkerballer is 1-1 with an ERA of 3.62. Kelly has 26 strikeouts in 27.1 innings and is getting twice as many groundballs than fly balls.
#2 Zack Cox. The top position prospect in the system has on OPS of only .629 though he is hitting a respectable .288. Cox has drawn only four walks in 111 at bats while only three of his 32 hits have been for extra bases.
#1 Shelby Miller. The top prospect is making a case for promotion. He is now 1-2 with an ERA of 3.21 with 42 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Around the League
The Cardinals are 10-18 which puts them in fifth place in the Florida State League South Division. The team is nine games behind first place St. Lucie.
Palm Beach ranks last in the 12-team league in abtting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. In pitching, they rank sixth and ERA and second in strikeouts. Ahmady ranks second in on base percentage and seventh in walks. Miller leads the league in strikeouts while Maikel Cleto is fourth.
On Friday, the team will start a three-game set with St. Lucie (two home, a day off and one game away) before heading to Clearwater for a four-game series with the Threshers (Phillies).
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