Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook: Week 8

St. Louis' entry-level US club is fighting for a wild card berth. Our on-site Jupiter reporter recaps last week's play as well as provides four more in-depth scouting reports.


GCL East  W L Pct. GB Home Away
GCL Marlins 32 11 .744 - 16-6 16-5
GCL Cardinals 26 19 .578 7.0 13-10 13-9
GCL Mets 22 22 .500 10.5 13-9 9-13
GCL Nationals 15 28 .349 17.0 7-15 8-13
GCL Astros 15 30 .333 18.0 6-15 9-15

With 11 games remaining in the GCL Cardinals' season, they hold a ½-game edge over the GCL Pirates for the wild card spot. The Cardinals went 4-2 for the week.


Comings and goings

Other than LHP Chase Reid returning to the Palm Beach team after three rehab appearances in the GCL, the GCL Cardinals had no transactions this week.


Weekly Recap


Sunday, August 7: defeated Nationals 4-2 at Viera: C Luis Perez went 3-for-4, including a pair of doubles. Anthony Bryant singled, tripled and drove in one.

Cardinals highlight: Tyler Melling picked up his fifth win against no losses with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He gave up three hits, fanned three and walked no one.


Monday, August 8: defeated Mets 6-1 in Jupiter: Luis Perez hit a three-run home run and an RBI triple to spoil the professional debut of Mets first-round sandwich pick Michael Fulmer, who walked three, threw a wild pitch and a made a throwing error before a rain delay in the bottom of the first ended his day. After the delay, Perez connected for his three-run blast to left off John Gant, a 21st-rounder who also was making his pro debut for the Mets.

Cardinals highlight: Brad Watson (3-1) was sharp for six innings, allowing one run on six hits, all singles, with no walks and four strikeouts.


Tuesday, August 9: No game


Wednesday, August 10: defeated Astros 5-0 at Kissimmee: Ramon Ulacio (2-2) and three relievers combined to shut out the Astros on five hits and no walks. The Cardinals took advantage of two Astros errors to score three unearned runs among their five tallies. The Cardinals led by only 2-0 going to the eighth inning when CF C.J. McElroy's leadoff double ignited a three-run rally.

Cardinals highlight: Ulacio's fourth start against the Astros, out of nine starts overall, was his best yet. He allowed four hits and no walks while fanning four.


Thursday, August 11: lost to Marlins, 2-1 in Jupiter: LHP Chase Reid gave up two runs in a two-inning rehab stint, but the three Cardinals pitchers who followed allowed no more runs over seven innings. The Cardinals offense managed only five hits, two by Anthony Bryant, who scored the only run off three Marlins hurlers.

Cardinals highlight: RHP Victor De Leon, still looking for his first win, was outstanding for five shutout innings in relief.


Friday, August 12: defeated Nationals 8-5 in Jupiter:  OF Lance Jeffries had a two-run single and an RBI triple to lead the Cardinals, who couldn't touch rehabbing major-leaguer Doug Slaten for two innings but jumped all over Adalberto Mieses after Slaten departed. LHP Dail Villanueva allowed two runs while striking out seven in 5-1/3 innings to earn his first professional win.

Cardinals highlight: OF-DH Corderious Dodd had his home run as a pro, and his first three-hit game.


Saturday, August 13: lost to Mets 4-2 at Port St. Lucie: After the Mets scored twice in the bottom of the first, the Cardinals came right back to tie the game in the top of the second off Mets right-hander Zach Dotson, who was making his first appearance after serving a 50-game suspension. But the Mets scored again in the fourth off LHP Stalyn Lopez (1-2) and added an unearned run off RHP Richard Mendoza, who did not issue a walk for the first time in his last eight appearances.

Cardinals highlight: SS Kenny Peoples-Walls, the No. 9 hitter, drove in two runs for the second consecutive game.

Who's Hot/Not

OF-DH Corderious Dodd broke a 1-for-18 skid with a three-hit game Friday against the Nationals, including his first home run as a pro, after which his teammates greeted him briefly in the dugout with the silent treatment. … OF Anthony Bryant's eye exercises on a computer to improve his depth perception, which his prescription contact lenses could not correct, seem to be working. Bryant has hit in five consecutive games and seven of eight, the last two with his mother and two other relatives watching from the small bleachers on the back field of the Roger Dean Complex. Through his season average stands at only .193, Bryant is hitting .294 (10-for-34) in his last 10 games. … OF Lance Jeffries also has heated up, going 11-for-29 in his last eight games, with four multi-hit games in that run. … RHP Angel Tapia has not allowed an earned run in his last five outings and has walked only one batter in his last 10 innings.

A Closer Look at …

By the end of the GCL season, we will have at least one report on every player who appears in a GCL Cardinals game. This week, we look at two position players and two pitchers. These analyses are based on interviews with GCL Cardinals manager Steve Turco and pitching coach Dernier Orozco, though Turco cautioned that these players are more recent arrivals and have had limited game experience.


C.J. McElroy: The Cardinals' third-round pick and 18-year-old son of former major-league relief pitcher Chuck McElroy, the right-handed outfielder has excellent speed and has shown an ability to make contact at the plate, though Turco would like to see him hit fewer fly balls and more grounders and line drives. "He stays inside the ball and uses the middle of the field to hit through," Turco said. "He has the tools and he'll be fine." On defense, "he doesn't take the cleanest, most direct routes" to balls, Turco said, but that will come with more experience. In the meantime, McElroy has the speed to "outrun his mistakes," Turco said.


Kenny Peoples-Walls: The Cardinals' fourth-round pick this year out of Westchester High School in Los Angeles, Peoples-Walls doesn't turn 18 until this Tuesday. "I think he's going to show more of what he's capable of next year," Turco said. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound shortstop has 14 singles and 20 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. Peoples-Walls has average speed on the bases and an average arm on defense. "Kenny has been a big surprise for us defensively," Turco said. "He's done a decent job, though when he got here I wasn't sure he was going to make the routine plays consistently." Peoples-Walls is working with hitting coach Oliver Marmol to get a better foundation at the plate and use more of the field, especially hitting to right field, Turco said.


Bryan Martinez: Signed as a free agent in 2009, the 20-year-old Dominican native has pitched only three innings so far because he has been slowed by weakness in his pitching shoulder. Martinez's fastball runs 91-93 mph, but the right-hander lacks command that should come with more innings. Martinez has more command of his slider, "which is often a sharp breaker," Turco said. At 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, Martinez needs to strengthen his frail frame and also develop more mound presence. Martinez is easily frustrated when he doesn't perform up to his own expectations, Turco said.


Fermin Montanez: Also signed as a free agent in 2009, the 20-year-old Venezuelan pitched in the Venezuelan Summer League the past two seasons, then missed eight months recuperating from an elbow injury. In the GCL, Montanez has given up 19 hits in 14 innings, but no home runs. His sinking fastball sits at 88, "but it gets him out of trouble, though he hasn't been as effective as I thought he would be," Turco said. "I thought he'd be more of a strike-thrower." Montanez needs to improve his overall command, especially of his secondary, off-speed pitches, which are average at best. His stats would look much better if not for one bad outing July 26 when the Astros, helped by three walks along with five hits, scored four runs in two innings.


On deck

Sunday, no game; Monday, vs. Astros; Tuesday, at Marlins; Wednesday, at Nationals; Thursday, vs. Mets; Friday, no game; Saturday, at Astros; Sunday, vs. Marlins.



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