Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 3

Speedy CF Steven Ramos leads the Appalachian League in stolen bases (12), runs (23), hits (28), and batting average (.384). Ramos was 16-for-32 (.500) with 11 runs and 11 stolen bases this week.

The Johnson City Cardinals were4-3 this week (14-5 overall).  They remained in first place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League, four games ahead of the Elizabethton Twins.  The Cardinals started their 2010 Championship season with a similar 13-6 record. 


I was able to attend two of the seven games in person this week.  I didn't travel to Bluefield, WV or Pulaski, VA for those series.  Neither team has home internet radio broadcasts this year. 


In case you missed a previous 2011 report, you can review them here: 


Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 2

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 1

Johnson City Cardinals Pre-Season Notebook


Roster Changes


There was one roster addition this week, bringing the active roster from 29 up to 30 (max of 35). 


P Matt Rein has signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals:  Rein: New LHP for Johnson City.  After going undrafted in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft as a senior from Coastal Carolina, Rein signed a July 2011 contract with the Lake Erie Crushers of the independent Frontier League.  However, before he threw a single pitch for the Crushers, Rein had his contract purchased by St. Louis.  Rein made his professional debut in relief Saturday night after Tyrell Jenkins' start. 




2B Trevor Martin (Martin: Bad Break in the Opener) traveled to St. Louis earlier this week for a consultation with the Cardinals' head team physician Dr. George Paletta, Jr.  The team went on a six game road trip after that news so I hope to have another update on Martin next week. 


Team Statistical Review


The offense was almost exactly at their season average this week.  The batters posted a .278/.333/.376 line this week after a .287/.340/.426 line last week.  Their AVG/OBP/SLG line through 19 games this year is .274 (3rd)/.337 (6th)/.391 (7th).  Their best placing in the league is second in both runs (117) and hits (188).  They hit three home runs this week and are tied for last in the league with nine.  They are ninth in the league in drawing walks (51).  After finishing ninth in the league last week in stolen bases (7), they stole 16 this week without being caught to pull into a tie for third with 23.


The defense committed seven errors that contributed to seven unearned runs this week.  Most of the damage was from the team's three worst offenders so far this year.  C Jesus Montero (six errors) and 3B Roberto De La Cruz (eight errors) each had two throwing errors while SS Matt Williams had two fielding errors (seven errors). 


The Cardinals pitching staff now has the best team earned run average (3.48) after posting a 4.26 ERA this week.  However, the hurlers continued serving up home runs at somewhat alarming rate.  They allowed eight more home runs this week to tie for second worst in the league (21).  Through their first 19 games, the pitchers have the best walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the league (1.24), the most wins (14), the fewest losses (five), and the fewest runs allowed (84).  The starters were 4-1 this week while the relievers were 0-2.




Sunday night saw Johnson City take the field against the Kingsport Mets for the fourth time this year.  The Cardinals sent their ace, Tyrell Jenkins (1-0, 3.10 ERA), to the mound at home before they embarked on their longest road trip of the year (seven games).  The road trip included visits to the Kingsport Mets (second place in the West), the Bluefield Blue Jays (second place in the East), and the Pulaski Mariners (first place in the East). 


Jenkins' third start of the year was the first start in which we were able to see his entire three pitch (fastball, curve, changeup) arsenal at work.  Jenkins is very close to putting it together for a great start. 


1st Inning

Jenkins threw 16 pitches (9 strikes); giving up three singles, striking out two, and getting an inning-ending outfield assist at home from RF Gary Apelian.  The first of his two swinging-strikeouts was on a 77 MPH curve (2-2 pitch) while the other was on a 93 MPH fastball (2-2 pitch).  All three of his singles were on 93-94 MPH fastballs; the first was on a 1-0 pitch, the second was on the first pitch, and the third was on a 2-0 pitch.  The first single was one big hop over the pitcher's mound while the other two were opposite field liners through the right side of the infield.  One of his pitches registered 97 MPH on the Kingsport Mets' radar gun but the same pitch registered 94 MPH on a near-antique radar gun (pictured). 


Antique Jugs Gun


2nd Inning

Jenkins topped out at 95 MPH and hit that twice in the second inning (pitches 18 and 29).  He threw 17 pitches (12 strikes) in the second.  After throwing two changeups (80-81 MPH) in the first inning, he threw only one (81 MPH) in the second.  After throwing three curves (75-77 MPH) in the first, he threw four more (76-78 MPH) in the second inning.  His curve looks very good.  It breaks hard, down and away from right handers.  A 94 MPH first pitch in the inning resulted in an easy 6-3.  That was followed by a two-hopper, infield single (94 MPH on a 2-1 pitch) and an RBI double (94 MPH on the first pitch) to the left centerfield wall.  After three batters, Jenkins had thrown nothing but fastballs but with a runner on second and one out in a 1-0 game, he went to work.  He caught the fourth batter looking at a beautiful 77 MPH curve ball (1-2 pitch) and then struck out the fifth batter swinging at a 78 MPH curve ball. 


Jenkins' last pitch of the first inning


3rd Inning

Trailing 1-0, Jenkins faced just three batters and mixed his 14 pitches (11 strikes) well.  He threw three changeups (82-83 MPH); all for strikes and all meekly fouled off.   Two of his four curves (77-79 MPH) were balls, one curve was a hanger that was lined weakly into left field for a single by the second batter, and the third was a called first-pitch strike to the third batter.  Jenkins again topped out at 95 MPH (pitches 43 and 47); the second of which resulted in a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.  His fastball sat 93-94 MPH in the third. 


4th Inning

Jenkins entered the inning with a 4-1 lead after six Cardinals hitters received a mix of walks, stolen bases, wild pitches, hit batters, a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly.  Jenkins allowed two singles to start the fourth.  The first was a hard one-hopper over Jenkins' head on a 94 MPH (1-1 pitch) fastball.  The second was a weak bloop just missed by RF Gary Apelian on an 82 MPH changeup (1-1 pitch).  Once again, Jenkins pitched well in a jam.  He ran the count on the third batter to 2-2 while allowing a passed ball, a wild pitch (should have been blocked by C Jesus Montero), and an unearned run.  With a runner on third and nobody out, Jenkins induced a one hopper back to the mound on an 82 MPH changeup, froze the runner at third, and threw out the batter at first.  He then struck out the next two batters on 77 and 79 MPH swinging-and-miss, 2-2 count, sharp-breaking curve balls.  He threw 21 pitches in the fourth (13 strikes) with his fastball sitting 91-94 MPH.   


5th Inning

Jenkins entered the fifth with a 4-2 lead and 68 of his 85 pitches already thrown so he would have to avoid trouble to get a chance for his first pro win.  Two fastballs (93 and 94 MPH) took care of the first batter; a weak three-hopper to the shortstop.  Two fastballs (92 and 93 MPH) to the second batter resulted in a hit batter; barely brushing the loosely-tucked jersey.   Jenkins ran the count on the third batter to 3-1 on a mix of changeups (82-83 MPH) and fastballs (93-94 MPH) before allowing a solid opposite field liner through the right side on a 94 MPH fastball.  After a quick visit from pitching coach Doug White, Jenkins made White look brilliant by throwing a first-pitch curve ball (77 MPH) for an easy 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. 


Keener catching (not pitching) in the bullpen


Rest of the Game

Unfortunately, the 4-2 lead would not hold up and Jenkins was denied his first win.  However, the rest of the game, despite a 7-6 loss in 13 innings, was exciting.  CF Steven Ramos (.384) showed off his incredible speed in the sixth inning by scoring from second base on a Tyler Rahmatulla (.309) sacrifice fly to deep centerfield.  I clocked Ramos at 4.11 seconds to first base later in the week from the crack of the bat, out of the right-handed hitter batter's box, to first base on an infield single. 


Johnson City relievers Tyler Mills (0-0, 9.39 ERA) and Dyllon Nuernberg (2-1, 2.00 ERA) combined to blow the 5-2 lead in the ninth and the Cardinals emptied their bullpen over the next three innings before having to bring C Jonathan Keener (.053, pictured catching) in to pitch the 13th inning.  Keener retired the first two batters before allowing a first-pitch single, first-pitch triple, and first-pitch single to the next three batters.  Johnson City tried to rally from down 7-5 in the bottom of the 13th but came up one run short in a 7-6 loss, their first of the year to the Mets.


C Kolby Byrd in the bullpen


Johnson City traveled to Kingsport on the fourth of July to face the second place Mets.  Going into the game, the Mets were 7-6 with three of their losses being to the 10-3 Cardinals.  I sat with a large contingency of the family and friends of C Kolby Byrd (.259, pictured) as we watched the Cardinals jump out to a 9-1 fourth inning lead.  Josh Lucas (2-0, 6.60 ERA), who started his year with a win against the Mets, continued his good work in Kingsport.  The two-seam fastball/sinker specialist, who induced 12 groundball outs in his first game against the Mets, induced 10 more groundouts in his second start against them.  The Mets battled back with six late-inning runs before submariner Heath Wyatt (2-0, 0.96 ERA) put out the fire with his first professional save.  RF Gary Apelian (.323) finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk, triple, home run, and three RBIs.  LF Anthony Garcia (.314) was 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.  Johnson City won 9-7. 


Michael Santana


Tuesday sent Johnson City on their first overnight road trip of the year with the first stop being the Blue Jays in Bluefield, WV.  Kyle Hald (1-0, 2.13 ERA) collected his first professional win after striking out 11, including seven in-a-row, through six innings.  His only hiccup was allowing a two-run home run to the reigning Appalachian League Player of the Week Art Charles, who already has eight home runs in19 games.  The bullpen was shaky for the third game in-a-row this week, allowing four ninth inning runs.  Michael Santana (0-0, 0.00 ERA) put out the fire this time by recording his first save and leading the Cardinals to a 7-6 win, their fourth one-run victory this year. 


Anthony Garcia doubles to RF

Wednesday saw the Cardinals play their fourth extra-inning game in 16 games.  Reliever Dyllon Nuernberg (2-1, 2.00 ERA) gave up a walk-off two-run home run for his first loss.  After the 6-4 loss in 11 innings, their record went to 2-2 in those games and 12-4 overall.  Manager Mike Shildt chalked up his first ejection of the year, this one in the tenth inning after Nuernberg collected a walk.  2B Tyler Rahmatulla (.309) and CF Steven Ramos (.384) were each 3-for-5 with an RBI.  Anthony Garcia (.314) was 2-for-5 with a walk and run as he extended his hitting streak to a team high six games.  Johnson City had their opportunities to win this one as they collectively were just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base. 



The rubber game of the series was Thursday night as Johnson City had yet to lose a series all year.  Unfortunately, they collected their first loss of more than three runs as the Blue Jays (second place in the East) took the game 9-3 and the series 2-1.  Bluefield jumped on starter and eventual loser Jose Pasen (1-1, 3.94 ERA) in the first for a run and never trailed after that.  Anthony Garcia (.314) saw his six-game hit-streak come to an end but CF Steven Ramos (.384) and 1B David Washington (.209) each extended their hit streaks to five games.  2B Tyler Rahmatulla (.309) and RF Gary Apelian (.323) were each 2-for-4 with two doubles. 


The Cardinals continued their road trip to Pulaski, VA on Friday.  They faced off in a three-game series against the Mariners for the last time this year and for the second time in less than a week.  The Mariners jumped out to a 5-0 record this year and have led the East from the start of the season.  The Cardinals jumped out to an 8-0 record and have led the West from the start of the season. This could be an early preview of an Appalachian League playoff series. 


Tyler Rahmatulla


In his start last week against the Mariners, lefty Ben Freeman (1-1, 3.95 ERA) got beat up a bit.  Freeman took the loss and allowed five earned runs and seven hits, including a double and a home run, over five and one third innings.  It was sweet revenge for the southpaw in Pulaski though as Freeman collected a complete-game, rain-shortened shutout to lead the Cardinals to an 8-0 win in the opener.  Freeman scattered five singles, allowed two walks, and struck out six over five innings.  CF Steven Ramos (.384) and 1B David Washington (.209) saw their hit streaks extend to team highs of six games each while 2B Tyler Rahmatulla (.309) and 3B Neal Pritchard (.291) extended their hit streaks to five games each.  Pritchard collected four RBIs and the six-foot-five, two hundred + pound Washington collected both a triple and a steal of home.   


Tyrell Jenkins (93 MPH) vs. Miguel Sano last week

The second game of the Mariners' series on Saturday night was also Tyrell Jenkins' (1-0, 3.10 ERA) fourth start of the season.  Probably because they worked together in extended spring training, it was also the fourth time that Jesus Montero caught Jenkins.  Although I didn't get to see it, it looks like Jenkins finally started putting everything together in what statistically was his best start of the season.  Jenkins got his first professional win by going six innings and allowing no earned runs on just two hits, both singles.  He walked two and struck out eight.  Six of his eight strikeouts were swinging, including four in-a-row and three in the fourth inning.  Perhaps even better than that was that he was apparently consistently locating the ball down in the strike zone.  He recorded eight groundouts and no fly outs.



Most of the offensive punch was provided by the early contender for Appalachian League Player of the Week Steven Ramos (.384).  Ramos was 4-for-5 with two runs, one RBI, and one stolen base.  All nine starters contributed at least one hit or one run for a well balanced team effort. 


P Matt Rein (0-0, 4.50 ERA), who was given a 9-1 lead to work with, made his professional debut in the seventh after Jenkins. He got off to a shaky start by giving up a leadoff double but he settled down after that, allowing one run and two hits over two innings while striking out two, walking none, and grounding out three.  Johnson City won 9-2, their fourth win against the 11-8 first place Pulaski Mariners. 


Kingsport 7 @ Johnson City 6 (13 inn.), Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/04/11

Johnson City 9 @ Kingsport 7, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/05/11

Johnson City 7 @ Bluefield 6, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/06/11

Johnson City 4 @ Bluefield 6, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/07/11

Johnson City 3 @ Bluefield 9, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/08/11

Johnson City 8 @ Pulaski 0 (5 inn.), Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/09/11

Johnson City 9 @ Pulaski2, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 07/10/11


Tandem Starting Pitchers


As a reminder, listed below are the starting pitcher rotations for Johnson City.  As published previously (Cardinals Short-Season Minor League Rotations), Johnson City utilizes a six-man starting rotation that includes seven different pitchers.  This is a change from the last four years, which saw Johnson City use a "piggyback" system:  Cardinals Move to Six-Man Minors Rotation.  The third position in the six-man rotation includes a "piggyback" or "tandem" of two pitchers.  The six lone starters currently have 85-pitch limits while the two tandem starters have 60-pitch limits.


Starting Pitchers (7): 

RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)

RHP Josh Lucas (2)

LHP Kyle Hald (3A) and LHP Ryan Sherriff (3B)

RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (4)

RHP Jose Pasen (5)

LHP Ben Freeman (6)


Starter Pitch Counts


7/3:  Tyrell Jenkins:  78 pitches, 49 strikes, 10-for-22 first-pitch strikes.

7/4:  Josh Lucas:  84 pitches, 54 strikes, 14-for-26 first-pitch strikes.


Steven Ramos

Who's Hot (Hitters)


CF Steven Ramos (.384, pictured at Kingsport earlier this year) was 16-for-32 (.500) with 11 runs, one double, three RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in seven games this week.  Ramos leads the league in batting average (.384), runs (23), hits (28), and stolen bases (12).  He is a leading candidate for the Appalachian League Player of the Week (announced Monday – this article was written Sunday morning).  Ramos has a season and team high seven game hit streak.  He also leads all outfielders with four outfield assists from CF (one at second base, two at third base, and one at home). 


RF Gary Apelian (.323) was 8-for-23 (.348) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, and seven RBIs in five games this week.  He was a double short of hitting for the cycle on July 4th (Monday). 


Kolby Byrd

C/DH Kolby Byrd (.259) was 6-for-18 (.333) with a double and two RBIs in four games this week. 


Tyler Rahmatulla (.309) was 8-for-25 (.320) with five walks, three doubles, a home run, and seven RBIs in six games this week.  Rahmatulla is tied for fourth in the league in triples (2), seventh in on-base plus slugging percentage (1.000), eighth in slugging (.582), and eighth in on-base percentage (.418). 


C/DH Jesus Montero (.250) was 4-for-13 (.308) with two walks and two RBIs in three games this week.


Who's Not Hot (Hitters)


C Jonathan Keener (.053) was 0-for-7 (.000) in two games this week.  Keener even took the mound as a pitcher Sunday night when the bullpen ran out of available relief pitchers. 


LF/CF Ronald Castillo (.188) was 1-for-13 (.077) in three games this week.  His two triples are still tied for fourth best in the league. 


3B/DH Roberto De La Cruz (.233) was 3-for-20 (.150) with two errors in six games this week.  Although De La Cruz leads the team with three groundouts into double plays, he also has five two-out RBIs while leaving just four runners in scoring position with two outs. 


LF/DH David Bergin (.270) was 2-for-13 (.154) with six strikeouts in four games this week. 


Matt Williams takes one off his left wrist

SS Matt Williams (.288) was 4-for-25 (.160) with six strikeouts in six games this week. Although he hasn't missed any action, Williams went on a 0-for-15 streak over the four games after the hit-by-pitch shown. 


Who's Hot (Pitchers)


Pitchers with walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIPs) of 1 or less with at least three innings pitched this week included Heath Wyatt (0.27), Kyle Hald (0.50), and Nick Gillung (0.60).


Kyle Hald, pictured below (1-0, 2.13 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 12.8 K/9), has the highest strikeout rate among the seven starters (38% of batters faced). 



Pitchers with strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9) of 9 or more with at least three innings pitched this week included Kyle Hald (16.5), Nick Gillung (13.5), (10.8), Tyrell Jenkins (11.5), Dyllon Nuernberg (10.8), Ben Freeman (10.8), Jose Pasen (10.1), and Heath Wyatt (9.8).


Michael Santana (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 0.00 BB/9, 8.1 K/9) is tied for third in the league in holds (2) and is tenth in games (6).  Santana hasn't allowed a walk and has allowed just five hits over ten innings pitched.  Santana leads the team in BB/9 and he has the best groundout rate of all eighteen pitchers (44% of batters faced). 


Submariner Heath Wyatt

Heath Wyatt (2-0, 0.96 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 0.96 BB/9, 13.5 K/9) is tied for first in the league in games (7), tied for sixth in wins (2), and tied for tenth in holds (1).  Wyatt leads the team in K/9 and he has the highest strikeout rate (40% of batters faced) of all eighteen pitchers. 



Manuel De La Cruz (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 0.00 BB/9, 12.6 K/9) is second in the league lead in holds (3).The lefty De La Cruz has inherited eight runners and allowed just two to score.  De La Cruz has the best strikeout plus groundout rate (75% of batters faced) of all eighteen pitchers. 


Tyrell Jenkins (1-0, 3.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.62 K/9) is tied for first in the league in games started (4), tied for second in strikeouts (24), eighth in innings pitched (20.1), and ninth in ERA.  Among the seven starters, Jenkins has the lowest walk rate (5% of batters faced) and the best strikeout plus groundout rate (57% of batters faced). 


Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)


Josh Lucas (2-0, 6.60 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) and Eduardo Hiraldo (0-0, 4.70 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) were the pitchers this week with at least three innings pitched that also had a walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) of 2 or greater and an earned run averages (ERA) of 5 or greater for the week.


Dyllon Nuernberg (2-1, 2.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) had a 8.11 BB/9 rate over 3.1 innings pitched in two games this week.  Nuernberg leads the team in games (7), games finished (5), hit batters (3), and BB/9 (8.0). 


Tyler Mills (0-0, 9.39 ERA, 1.96 WHIP) had a 30.77 ERA, 3.42 WHIP and 7.7 BB/9 rate over 2.1 innings pitched in three games this week.  Mills has walked 18% of the batters he has faced this year while striking out just 21%. 


Ryan Sherriff (1-1, 4.09 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) had a 13.50 ERA and 2.00 WHIP over 2.1 innings pitched in one game this week. 


Week Four Schedule


Game 20 (Sun):  Lucas @ Pulaski Mariners

Off-Day (Mon)

Game 21 (Tue):  Sherriff/Hald vs. Greeneville Astros

Game 22 (Wed):  Hiraldo vs. Greeneville Astros

Game 23 (Thu):  Pasen vs. Greeneville Astros

Game 24 (Fri):  Freeman vs. Princeton Rays

Game 25 (Sat):  Jenkins vs. Princeton Rays


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