Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 7

The Double-A Cardinals' offense is picking up as Texas League Player of the Week Alex Castellanos leads the league in slugging.

The Springfield Cardinals headed out on the road after a very disappointing homestand in which they lost six of eight, including a four game sweep by Northwest Arkansas.

The Cardinals took both of the first two games of the NWA series before dropping game three on Wednesday, getting shut out 3-0. Mikhail Cleto made the start and went six innings, giving up three earned runs on three hits, while striking out six.

The Cardinals were denied a series victory on Thursday, losing 4-2, despite the 11th home run of the season from Matt Adams. David Kopp took the loss, his second, despite the fact that he earned a quality start, going six innings and giving up three earned runs, striking out four.

Springfield headed to Tulsa next, to start what would prove to be a very fruitful weekend. In game one of the four-game series on Friday night, Springfield won 7-2, behind a strong starting effort from Kevin Thomas. Thomas earned his first win of the season after going six innings and only allowing one unearned run, while striking out seven. It was by far the best outing of the season for the right-hander, who just recently had been sent to the bullpen. Alex Castellanos and the Cardinals offense provided Thomas with plenty of run support. Castellanos was 4-for-4 with an RBI.

The Cardinals dropped game two of the series, getting shelled 11-2. Mike Blazek made the start, but only lasted four innings, giving up six earned runs on 10 hits. There is a positive for Blazek, despite giving up 10 hits, as none of them were home runs. Blazek yielded nine homers in his first four starts, but since April 29, he has pitched 21.2 innings and has only given up one home run in four starts.

On Sunday, they had to hang around a little while longer than originally scheduled, but Springfield took game three 8-6, in 12 innings. Matt Adams hit two home runs in the ball game, bringing his season total up to 13. But the big blast in the ball game came from Alex Castellanos. Castellanos hit a two-run go-ahead home run to give the Cardinals the 8-6 lead and Samuel Freeman came in to nail down his first save of the season, pitching a scoreless 12th inning.

Springfield had to come from behind again on Monday, but they did just that, winning the game 8-7, after a three-run ninth inning by the Cardinals. With the win, the Cardinals took the series against Tulsa three games to one. Alex Castellanos struck with another clutch home run. This homer was of the three-run variety and gave the Cardinals the lead in the ninth. Manager Pop Warner turned to Nick Greenwood for the bottom of the ninth, one day after Greenwood blew the save against Tulsa. This time, Greenwood pitched a scoreless frame to secure his second save of the year.

Who's Hot

Alex Castellanos – Castellanos was named the Texas League Player of the Week for the second time this season after another stellar week from the 24-year-old outfielder. Castellanos is hitting .385 with four home runs and 10 RBI over his last ten games. Not to mention the fact that Castellanos has been providing clutch hitting, with two go-ahead home runs on the road trip.

Jose Garcia – Garcia has been a big part of the Cardinals offense coming alive. He is hitting .433 with six runs scored over his last ten games.

Jermaine Curtis – Another player not named Adams or Castellanos that has been producing, is Curtis. He is hitting .370 with five RBI over his last ten games and he is hitting .417 over his last five games.

Maikel Cleto – Cleto made two starts on the road, totaling 12 innings. He only allowed three earned runs on 11 hits while striking out 10. Despite that, he was 0-1 on the road trip.

Kevin Thomas – Thomas appeared in this spot last week and he has done nothing to remove himself from this list. After being bounced from the rotation, Thomas has started to post some very impressive numbers. He has now pitched 12 scoreless innings in a row, but two of those outings came during the previous homestand. Making only one start on the road trip, he was solid, pitching six innings and giving up only one unearned run, while striking out seven.

Who's Not

Alan Ahmady – Ahmady too, appeared in this same spot last week and did little to move from this list. He is hitting just .120 over his last nine games and is just 1-for-11 over his last five. He has three RBI and no home runs over his last ten games.

Around the Texas League – Cardinals in Texas League Leaderboards

Alex Castellanos – Castellanos is tied for fourth in the Texas League with a .333 batting average and is leading the league with a .652 slugging percentage.

Matt Adams – Adams owns the 10th highest batting average in the league, hitting .316 and he is currently leading the league with his 13 home runs and his 41 RBI is tops in the league as well. Adams owns 26 extra-base hits, which is tied for the highest total in the league, but his 108 total bases is the highest. He is also averaging a home run every 13.15 at bats, the third best ratio in the league.

Kevin Thomas – Thomas has fifth best ERA in the Texas League, posting a 3.38 mark.

Nick Greenwood – Greenwood is fourth in the league with five holds.

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#40 Niko Vasquez –Vasquez is hitting .231 over his last 10 games, with just one home run and four driven in. Vasquez is still trying to overcome a slow start, as his average sits at .225 with six homers and 20 RBI.

#34 Ryan Jackson – Jackson was named the organization's Player of the Month in April. He has slowed considerably in the month of May. He is hitting just .173 with two homers and seven RBI this month and is hitting just .118 over his last five games.

#33 Matt Adams – Adams had another solid road trip, as he hit three more home runs and collected nine more RBI on the trip. Adams is hitting .341 over his last ten games, to bring his season line to .316 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI.

#31 Steven Hill – On the club's 7-day disabled list.

#23 David Kopp – Kopp made his second start of the season and had much better results than his first time around, earning a quality start after going six innings and surrendering three earned runs. Despite that, he took the loss and fell to 0-2 on the season with a 5.59 ERA.

#19 Tommy Pham – Activated off the club's disabled list on Monday.

#18 Deryk Hooker – On the club's disabled list.

#2 Zack Cox – Was promoted to Double-A on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to make his Texas League Debut Wednesday night.

Up Next

The Springfield Cardinals start a six-game homestand Wednesday night. They will be welcoming 2010 first-round pick Zack Cox to Hammons Field as he makes his Double-A debut. The Cardinals will have a three-game series with the Corpus Christi Hooks and another three game set with San Antonio.

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