The Palm Beach Cardinals got off to a strong start this week behind a superb performance by Audry Perez at the plate. The catcher hit two home runs, his second and third of the season. Edgar Lara and Domnit Bolivar each added a pair of hits.
On the mound, Eric Fornataro allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings. The right-hander logged seven strikeouts and walked two in the team's 7-2 victory on Friday.
The team could not keep the momentum and dropped the next two games to St. Lucie as their bats were silenced. In Saturday's action, the Cardinals were blanked 3-0 in spite of four hits from D'Marcus Ingram, who was in the leadoff spot. The speedy centerfielder also stole a base. It has been a rough season so far for starter Justin Smith but the pitcher turned in a solid start against the Mets on Sunday. In seven innings, he allowed only one run on two hits to go with six strikeouts.
It was much of the same on Monday as the Mets topped the Cards, 3-2 in 10 innings. Starter Shelby Miller struck out seven in seven innings of work but did not factor in the decision. Reliever Jorge Rondon was charged with the loss after giving up the winning run in the bottom of the tenth.
Palm Beach traveled to Clearwater on Tuesday and took the victory 5-1. John Gast picked up his first victory with seven strong innings. Chase Reid picked up his second save with 1.1 shutout innings. Adam Melker and Zack Cox each had a pair of hits. Kyle Conley hit a two-run bomb in his only at bat.
The Cardinals could not keep the momentum and fell to the Threshers 5-2 on Wednesday. Cox had another pair of hits including a double to lead the offense. In his Florida State League debut, Jordan Swagerty allowed two runs in five innings of work with six strikeouts.
On Thursday night, Joe Kelly and the Cards faced some familiar major league faces. In the lineup for the Threshers was all-star second baseman Chase Utley and Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz. On the mound for Clearwater was all-star pitcher Roy Oswalt. All three are on rehab assignments and all three made the Threshers too much to handle.
Kelly did not respond well to the Threshers' stars and allowed three runs on five hits and four walks. The offense was led by Zack Cox' three hits including his first professional home run. Edgar Lara and Kyle Conley both chipped in a pair of hits.
After a roller coaster start, Eric Fornataro has settled in with back-to-back impressive wins. In his last 15 innings covering two starts, the right-hander has allowed only three earned runs while striking out 13 and walking only two.
Over his last 10 games, outfielder Rainel Rosario is hitting only .182 and slugging only .212. One bright spot is that he has drawn more walks, eight, than strikeouts, seven.
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#30 Rainel Rosario. The outfielder has been slumping of late and is now hitting .246/.341/.381 with three home runs and 11 RBIs.
#28 John Gast. The former Florida State Seminole is now 1-2 with a 3.47 ERA. He is leading the team in innings while holding left-handed hitters to a .216 average.
#27 Joe Kelly. After a strong start to the 2011 season, Kelly has been shaky in his last three outings. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 32 innings.
#2 Zack Cox. The organization's top position player prospect appears to be locked in. He now has a slash line of .312/.333/.368. The extra base hits are still rare but maybe his first professional home run is a sign that more power is on the way.
#1 Shelby Miller. The Texan is posting ridiculous strikeout figures. Miller has 49 in 35 innings while issuing only 14 walks. The opposition is batting only .211 against him.
Around the League
Palm Beach is now 12-22 which is tied with the Tampa Yankees for the worst record in the Florida State League.
Alan Ahmady had the top on base percentage and the sixth-best betting average in the league before being promoted. Cox' 39 hits are tied for the eighth highest total on the circuit. Shelby Miller leads the league with 49 strikeouts.
The Cardinals finish up their series at Clearwater on Friday the 13th. The team then returns to Roger Dean Stadium to host the Tampa Yankees followed by the Daytona Cubs.
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