Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 8

The Double-A Cardinals' offense is picking up as newly-activated Steven Hill is hot at the plate. Springfield completed a 4-2 homestand.

The Springfield Cardinals returned home to start a six-game homestand last Wednesday and would certainly enjoy their time at Hammons Field.

Springfield opened up the series against Corpus Christi with a 12-6 victory powered by an offensive outbreak and a solid start from David Kopp as he earned his first victory of the season. Matt Adams went 5-for-6 with two RBI, including his 14th home run of the year. Unfortunately, that would be the last game that Adams would start on the homestand.

The next night, Thursday, the Cardinals offense was held in check, almost wasting a brilliant start from Kevin Thomas, in which he went 6 2/3 innings without surrendering a run on three hits while striking out seven. Springfield trailed 1-0 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning, but rallied for the 2-1 win, thanks to a game-winning single off of the bat of Audry Perez. That came after the Hooks intentionally walked the slumping Alan Ahmady to get to the catcher.

The Cards finished off the sweep of the Hooks with another 12-run performance, blowing out Corpus Christi, 12-4. Mike Blazek earned his fifth win of the year, running his record to 5-2 with a 5.12 ERA.

After completing the sweep of the last-place Hooks, Springfield welcomed the first-place San Antonio Missions to Hammons Field. The Missions are first in almost every major offensive and pitching category, and it didn't take them long to show off their bats. The Missions knocked Cardinals starter Scott Schneider out of the game after he was only able to record one out in the first inning. San Antonio rode the five-run first inning to an 8-2 victory in game one of the series.

On Sunday, Springfield starter Maikel Cleto silenced the San Antonio bats as he made his best start at the Double-A level. Cleto earned his first Texas League win, going six innings, giving up one run on six hits while striking out nine, to tie his season high with Palm Beach. Alex Castellanos hit his 12th home run of the season and had two RBI in the game as the Cardinals won, 5-1.

With the wind blowing out to left field on a warm Memorial Day afternoon in Springfield, the Cardinals were denied the series win as they were out-gunned 9-8. San Antonio hit six home runs, as all nine of their runs came via the long ball. The Cardinals hit three of their own, with homers from Jermaine Curtis and Audry Perez, as well the first Double-A home run from 2010 first-round draft pick, Zack Cox.

The Cardinals did not have a game scheduled on Tuesday.

Who's Hot

Steven Hill – Is hitting .409 with two home runs and four RBI in five games since coming back from the disabled list. Finally healthy, Hill was swinging the bat like the hitter that dominated the Texas League the past two seasons.

Maikel Cleto – Cleto has been one of the hottest starters in the Cardinals rotation. He notched another quality start, going six innings, giving up one run on six hits, while notching a season high nine strikeouts, to earn his first win of the season. Cleto has allowed four earned runs in his last 18 innings on the hill and has struck out 19 over that span.

Kevin Thomas – Once bumped from the rotation, Thomas has regained a spot due to the injury to Deryk Hooker. Thomas has been very impressive and has appeared to earn the right to remain in the rotation, even with top prospect Shelby Miller joining the team. Thomas went 6 2/3 innings in his start this week, without giving up a run, while tying a season high with seven strikeouts. He has given up just one earned run in his last 24 2/3 innings and hasn't allowed single run in his last 18 2/3. Thomas' ERA was 6.48 on May 1, but 24 and 2/3 innings later, he has lowered his ERA to 2.83, third best in the Texas League.

Who's Not

Alan Ahmady – Ahmady did little to earn his way out of this spot, as he is 1-for-18 in his last seven games and is 0-for- his last 10.

Around the Texas League – Cardinals in Texas League leaderboards

Alex Castellanos – Castellanos is sixth in the Texas League with a .327 batting average, third in the league in home runs and fifth in slugging percentage and total bases.

Matt Adams – Adams owns the fifth best batting average in the league and is tied for the lead in home runs, despite the fact that he missed four games due to injury. He is also second in the league with 43 RBI and is leading the league with a .652 slugging percentage.

Kevin Thomas – Thomas has third best ERA in the Texas League, posting a 2.83 mark.

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

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#34 Ryan Jackson – Jackson has tried numerous things to try and break out of his current slump, including torching his batting gloves…literally. This past week, with new batting gloves, Jackson was 4-for-20. He will certainly be glad to see the month of May go, as he hit just .170 in the month, after hitting .337 in April.

#33 Matt Adams – Adams was 5-for-6 on the opening day of the homestand, including a home run. He missed the next four games and only pinch hit in the final game of the series. Despite the missed time, Adams continues to be the near top of all three of the Triple Crown categories in the Texas League.

#31 Steven Hill – Came off of the disabled list and swung the bat like the Steven Hill of old. Hill hit two home runs during the homestand and had two doubles that nearly left the ballpark. Hill is finally making solid contact again and is looking much like the same player that dominated Texas League pitching in recent seasons.

#23 David Kopp – Kopp made two starts and was 1-0, although he gave up eight earned runs in 12 innings.

#19 Tommy Pham – Came off of the disabled list and was 6-for-15 (.400) on the homestand with three RBI. He has apparently been moved out of the leadoff spot, due to the fact that Jose Garcia has been doing such a good job of getting on base in that spot.

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

#2 Zack Cox – Made his Double-A debut and lived up to expectations. He was 6-for-20 (.300) with four RBI and a home run in his first homestand in the Texas League. He did a tremendous job getting on base, as he earned five free passes and owns a .462 on base percentage.

#1 Shelby Miller – Shelby Miller arrived in Springfield over the weekend and is scheduled to make his Double-A debut on Friday. With Miller joining the rotation, it would appear that Scott Schneider has been bumped to the bullpen.

Up Next

The Cardinals start a six-game road trip with three games at Corpus Christi and three at San Antonio. With Shelby Miller promoted to Springfield joining Zack Cox, the Cardinals have the top two prospects in the organization. The Springfield roster has taken on quite the reformation with promotions and the dangerous bat of Steven Hill back from the disabled list. It will be interesting to see if the offense can keep up the pace they have set of late.

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