Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook: Week 6

The Cardinals are on pace for their first winning season in five years in the GCL. Ildemaro Vargas is in the top six in the GCL in BA, OBP and OPS.

The big picture

This report covers the week from Sunday, July 24 through Saturday, July 30.

Manager Steve Turco's Gulf Coast League Cardinals played only five games during the short week, with two scheduled days off. Four of the five contests were on the road, though one was just on the Marlins side of the Jupiter complex.

The Cardinals went 3-2 this week as their season record sits at 20-13. The Cards are in second place in the five-team East Division, four games behind the first-place Marlins.

With 23 games remaining, the Cardinals are on pace for their best record since their return to the League in 2007. In fact, this would be the Cards' first winning season in the five tries. If achieved, would be a testament to the improvement in team competitiveness through the combination of drafted players and especially, promotions from the overseas academies.

Game summaries

Sunday, July 24: Cardinals 3 at Mets 2
The Cards came back with three in the eighth for the road win. Rehabbing Phil Cerreto doubled twice and plated two and Michael Knox added an RBI two-base hit of his own. Cesar Aguliar picked up the win after fanning six of his seven batters faced. Cole Brand earned his first professional save with two hitless, shutout innings.

Monday, July 25: Off
The Cardinals enjoyed a scheduled day off.

Tuesday, July 26: Astros 8 at Cardinals 6
The Cards could not hold a two-run lead as Fermin Montanez yielded four runs in the fourth and fifth for the loss. Jem Argenal had two home runs and three RBI and leadoff man Breyvic Valera added a single, double, stolen base and an RBI.

Wednesday, July 27: Marlins 3, Cardinals 2
Cesar Aguilar took the loss as the Marlins walked off with a win. Starter Brad Watson pitched well, allowing just one run over six innings while striking out six. C.J. McElroy and Ildemaro Vargas had two hits.

Thursday, July 28: Cardinals 6 at Nationals 4
Ildemaro Vargas led the way at the plate with four hits and C.J. McElroy was 2-for-5 with a double. Ramon Ulacio started and allowed three unearned runs in five innings. Brandon Creath picked up the win as he threw two scoreless.

Friday, July 29: Cardinals 2, Mets 1
Ildemaro Vargas scored the go-ahead run in the eighth as Adam Ehrlich doubled. Victor De Leon started and threw five shutout innings, striking out five. Tyler Melling earned the win as he allowed just one run in four innings.

Saturday, July 30: Off
As usual, the GCL schedule gives the Cards every fifth day off.

On the Move

In a bit of an oddity, the club had no reported roster moves this past week.

Who's Hot

Ildemaro Vargas is on fire, having batted .424 in July. In his last ten games, his average is .454 and he has four doubles, a home run and eight RBI. His .354 batting average leads the team.

In his first six professional games, C.J. McElroy is 6-for-18 (.333) and is 3-for-3 in stolen bases.

Outfielder Jem Argenal is batting .333 over his last ten games and .319 for the season.

In four starts and three relief appearances, Brad Watson has fanned 21 and walked just one in his first 25 innings of work.

Who's Not

Outfielder Dutch Deol is having a rough start to his professional career. The 17th round draft pick is just 3-for-38 (.079) with 15 strikeouts.

Outfielder Anthony Bryant is two for his last 24 (.083) and is down to .135 on the season. He has fanned frequently - 29 times in 52 at-bats.

Leandro Mateo is just 6-for-32 (.188) but the infielder is making contact as he has only fanned twice.

Shortstop Kenny Peoples-Walls is also having a slow pro introduction, batting .206 (7-for-34).

Victor DeLeon is winless with a 5.40 ERA in five July starts. The right-hander has issued 15 walks in 23 1/3 innings this month.

Gulf Coast League individual leaders

Among the hitters, Jem Argenal and Ildemaro Vargas are the primary Cardinals on the GCL leaderboards. Ramon Ulacio is hot and cold as he is both among the league leaders in ERA and in issuing free passes.

Offense GCL rank
BA Ildemaro Vargas 0.354 2nd
Jem Argenal 0.319 10th
OBP Ildemaro Vargas 0.439 4th
SLG Ildemaro Vargas 0.500 11th
Jem Argenal 0.473 18th
OPS Ildemaro Vargas 0.939 6th
SB Anthony Bryant 8 T15th
Lance Jeffries 8 T15th
Pitching GCL rank
ERA Ramon Ulacio 2.41 6th
Wins Tyler Melling 4 T1st
Saves Willy Paulino 7 2nd
Walks Ramon Ulacio 15 T8th most
Victor DeLeon 16 T6th most

Team stats and rankings – season to date – last month compared to current

Since the end of June, the offense improved in batting average and slugging, but declined in on-base and OPS. Despite some erosion compared to their peers, the Cards remain on the edge of the top third of the league.

The pitching staff impressively shaved a quarter of a run off their season ERA during the last month and vaulted into the top third of the GCL. This occurred despite them not standing out in either strikeouts or stinginess in issuing walks.

One  month ago Current stats
Offense Season GCL rank Offense Season GCL rank
YTD # of 15 YTD # of 15
BA 0.249 5th BA 0.251 6th
OBP 0.349 2nd OBP 0.338 5th
SLG 0.360 6th SLG 0.364 6th
OPS 0.709 3rd OPS 0.701 5th
Pitching Season GCL rank Pitching Season GCL rank
YTD # of 15 YTD # of 15
ERA 3.69 9th ERA 3.44 5th
Ks 235 11th
Walks 116 7th fewest

Up Next

The Cardinals will visit the Astros on Sunday before returning home for two against the Marlins and Nationals. Wednesday marks a trip to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets, followed by a day off Thursday. Next will be a home game against the Astros on Friday with the upcoming week concluding with a walk to the Marlins side of the complex next Saturday.

Note: Regular GCL Cardinals reporter Paul Ivice's notebook will return one week from today.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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