Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 8

1B David Washington hit four home runs and added 11 RBI to help lead the first-place Johnson City Cardinals (35-17) to another 5-2 weekly record.

The Johnson City Cardinals were 5-2 this week (35-17 overall).  They maintained their first-place, six-game lead over the Elizabethton Twins in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League.  They are seven games ahead of the Kingsport Mets for a playoff spot.  The Cardinals have the best record in the league by five games and are two games ahead of the pace set by the 2010 Championship team. 


Johnson City is on pace to finish 46-22 (.676).  If they did, it would be their best finish since 1976 (.714).  The Cardinals ended the week (Sunday morning) with a magic number of ten and an outside chance to clinch a playoff spot before the end of the coming week.  If the playoffs started today (Sunday morning), Johnson City would travel to Danville, VA to play the Danville Braves on Wed. July 31 for game one of the first round and then would come home  to host the Braves for games two and three (if necessary) on Thu. and Fri. (Sep 1 and 2).  The Cardinals have not yet played Danville this year. 


Johnson City is 11-11 so far this year against teams with a winning record (Bluefield, Kingsport, and Elizabethton) and 24-6 against teams with a losing record (Princeton, Pulaski, Greeneville, and Bristol).  They have sixteen games remaining in the regular season.  They have ten games left against teams with winning records (Elizabethton-1, Kingsport-3, and Danville-6) and six games left against Burlington (19-33). 


I was able to attend all five home games and one of the two road games in person this week. I missed Saturday night's game in Elizabethton.  Those observations provide the basis for this report.


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


Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 7

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 6

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 5

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 4

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 3

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 2

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 1

Johnson City Cardinals Pre-Season Notebook



Roster Changes


P Chris Costantino, the Cardinals' 43rd round pick in this year's draft, signed earlier this week and has joined the team.  He will wear jersey number #46 and should see his first action out of the Johnson City bullpen.


The roster increased from 31 to 32 active players (max of 35). 


Note:  The Cardinals released P Eric Binder from the roster of the Batavia Muckdogs this week (Binder: The Book Closes).  Binder made three relief appearances for Johnson City earlier this year after signing as an undrafted free agent. 


Josh Lucas

Injuries and Playing Time


SP Josh Lucas (4-1, 3.97 ERA) felt some pain in his pitching elbow prior to his scheduled start on Thursday of this week.  The coaches and staff decided to skip his start to give him a little more recovery time.  Lucas was scheduled to throw a side session on Saturday, during which a decision would be made about his start scheduled for Thursday at home against Kingsport.  I was unable to reach anyone on Sunday morning to find out how the side session went.  For the purposes of this article and my deadline, I will assume Lucas will make his start this week. 


1B/DH David Bergin (.284) injured his shoulder on July 29 when he slid head-first into second base on a successful pickoff by the Bristol catcher in the second inning.  Bergin was categorized as out "indefinitely" about ten days ago by Manager Mike Shildt due towhat appeared to be a rotator cuff injury.  Bergin has missed 15 consecutive games so far with the injury.  Unfortunately, I have no updates in the last week on his injury or playing status. 


3B/2B Neal Pritchard (.271) suffered back spasms on Tuesday Aug 2 after pulling a single down the left field line in the first inning in Elizabethton (Pritchard: Back Off).   After missing seven games in a row, Pritchard returned to action with a pinch at-bat on Tuesday Aug 9.


Garcia dodges a pitch

Although it hasn't impacted any playing time to my knowledge, five different Cardinals were hit with 10 different pitches this week.  Anthony Garcia (4 HBP) took the brunt of the damage with Matt Williams (2 HBP), Gary Apelian (2 HBP), Roberto De La Cruz (1 HBP), and Neal Pritchard (1 HBP) also getting bruised up.  Williams' HBP on Monday night was very scary as he took a pitch solidly off his helmet that bounced all the way to the third baseman after contact.  Fortunately, Williams continued in the game and played the next night. 


Garcia took exception to his HBP on Friday night against the Twins and exchanged a few words with the pitcher before being calmed down by Manager Mike Shildt.  The team total over 52 games is now 41 HBP.  Kolby Byrd is the only original roster member to avoid a "leather tattoo" so far. 


Team Statistical Review


With a 20-run, 22-hit effort on Wednesday, the first-place offense improved even further this week.  The batters posted a very impressive .310/.368/.549 line this week after a .276/.353/.412 line last week.  They hit 20 doubles, one triple, and 13 home runs in seven games.  Their AVG/OBP/SLG line through 52 games this year is .281 (1st)/.344 (2nd)/.461 (1st).  The Cardinals lead the league in at bats (1844), runs (335), hits (519), doubles (128), home runs (55), RBIs (285), total bases (850), average (.281), slugging (.461), and on-base plus slugging or OPS (.805).  They are third in the league in triples (19) and second in on-base percentage or OBP (.344).  They moved out of the cellar and are now ninth in the league in drawing walks (145).  Johnson City remained the most efficient stolen base team in the league (80%) despite being caught five times this week in ten attempts (50%). 


Steven Ramos

The defense committed seven errors that contributed to three unearned runs this week.  LF/CF Ronald Castillo made a couple of odd fielding errors, 2B/SS Breyvic Valera had two throwing errors, and C Jesus Montero (9 errors, 4 PB) added two passed balls, a catcher's interference, and a throwing error.  The best defensive play of the year (that I have witnessed) was made this week by CF Steven Ramos on Monday night in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game.  Ramos was completely horizontal as he caught a line drive just before it hit the grass in right centerfield.  The outstanding play saved a run.  Ramos has shown excellent range, superior speed, quick jumps, and accurate routes in centerfield this year.  I am sure his fielding is probably not an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale but it has to be as close to an 80 that I have seen in CF in Johnson City in the last 16 years. 


The Cardinals pitching staff had a good week but remained second in team earned run average (3.61) after posting a 3.30 ERA this week.  Through 52 games, the pitchers have the second best walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the league (1.29), the most wins (35), the fewest losses (17), the most holds (26), the most saves (16), the fewest walks allowed (142), and the second fewest earned runs allowed (187).  The starters were 4-1 this week while the relievers were 1-1 with three holds, and two saves this week.  The relievers inherited 5 runners this week and allowed just 2 runners to score (28% scored).  On the season, the pitchers have allowed 37% of inherited runners to score.   


Jose Pasen

Weekly Summary


The Cardinals were 5-2 this week with both of their losses being by scores of 7-6.  Johnson City began the week by taking one of two against first-place Bluefield.  Johnson City ended up splitting the season series against the Blue Jays 3-3 with each team winning two of three at home.  Johnson City's three left-handed starters each have one win against Bluefield.  Two of the three losses were in extra innings.  Jose Pasen (3-2, 3.86 ERA) had a perfect game through five innings on Monday night before losing the no hitter and the shutout on his first two pitches of the sixth. 


The Cardinals then swept Bristol at home to finish the season series with the White Sox at 8-1.  Starters Ben Freeman (4-2, 4.42 ERA), Tyrell Jenkins (4-1, 3.52 ERA), and Kyle Hald (5-0, 2.38 ERA) all collected wins during the series.  Jenkins was the beneficiary of a huge 20-run outburst in his start.  Jenkins pitched poorly on Wednesday and trailed 3-0 after five innings.  Jenkins' velocity was down due mostly to inconsistent mechanics.  He touched 94 MPH and sat 92 MPH in the first but touched just 91 MPH in the fifth and sat 88-89 MPH.  His delivery became much more over the top and inconsistent as his pitch count increased.  Brent Strom took videos of his delivery from several angles and he and Dyar Miller showed Jenkins his inconsistencies on video. 


David Washington

David Washington's two-run home run on Tuesday night was captured in picture by me in a rare double.  A home run swing with the bat on the ball.  That picture is shown here.  Washington (.259) has a currently active seven-game hit streak while Tyler Rahmatulla (.335) saw his season-high streak extend to eight games.  Roberto De La Cruz saw his season-high hit streak end at 8 games on Thursday.  Johnson City pitching held Bristol to 1-for-22 hitting with runners in scoring position during the three-game-sweep. 


Johnson City began a big series in Elizabethton on Friday night in front of an extremely boisterous and passionate crowd.  Six home runs were hit in game one that saw the Twins hold on for a 7-6 win.  Miguel Sano hit two home runs for Elizabethton while Ryan Sherriff (2-2, 4.54 ERA) and Kolby Byrd combined for three wild pitches.  Eduardo Hiraldo (2-2, 3.80 ERA) struck out 11 over six innings in his best start of the year Saturday night while 2B Tyler Rahmatulla (6 HR), SS Matt Williams (6 HR), and 1B Hector Garcia (1 HR) all went deep in a 6-2 win.  The ninth and final regular season game between the Twins and Cardinals is Sunday night.  The game will be the decider in the season-series that stands at 4-4. 


Bluefield 7 @ Johnson City 6, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/08/11

Bluefield 5 @ Johnson City 8, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/09/11

Bristol 1 @ Johnson City 9, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/10/11

Bristol 3 @ Johnson City 20, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/11/11

Bristol 1 @ Johnson City 4, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/12/11

Johnson City 6 @ Elizabethton 7, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/13/11

Johnson City 6 @ Elizabethton 2, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/14/11


Eduardo Hiraldo

Starting Pitchers and Pitch Counts


With Josh Lucas' tender pitching elbow, changes were made to the rotation that essentially split up the Hald/Sherriff tandem.  As of now, Johnson City has a 7-man rotation with an 85-pitch limit.  There could be more changes; especially if there are promotions from the GCL after their season is complete or if there are more injuries to the current starters. 


Starting Pitchers (7): 

RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)

RHP Josh Lucas (2)

LHP Kyle Hald (3)

LHP Ryan Sherriff(4)

RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (5)

RHP Jose Pasen (6)

LHP Ben Freeman (7)


8/7:  Eduardo Hiraldo:  82 pitches, 58 strikes, 13-for-24 first-pitch strikes.

8/8:  Jose Pasen:  71 pitches, 46 strikes, 13-for-21 first-pitch strikes.

8/9:  Ben Freeman:  84 pitches, 54 strikes, 14-for-21 first-pitch strikes.

8/10:  Tyrell Jenkins:  81 pitches, 50 strikes, 12-for-22 first-pitch strikes.

8/11:  Kyle Hald:  83 pitches, 56 strikes, 12-for-21 first-pitch strikes.

8/12:  Ryan Sherriff:  75 pitches, 46 strikes, 8-for-17 first-pitch strikes.


Mike Shildt congratulates David Washington

Who's Hot (Hitters)


Nine different batters hit .308 or better this week.  That list, in decreasing order of weekly batting average, included:  Jesus Montero (.545), David Washington (.409), Kolby Byrd (.400), Breyvic Valera (.389), Tyler Rahmatulla (.385), Anthony Garcia (.375), Jonathan Keener (.375), Neal Pritchard (.308), and Matt Williams (.308).


1B/DH David Washington was the only player to hit .400 or better this week over 20 or more at bats.  He led the team this week with four home runs, 11 RBIs, and 22 total bases.  Washington (.259) was 9-for-22 (.409) with five runs, one double, four home runs, eleven RBIs, two walks, and one stolen base in six games this week.  Washington is eighth in the league in home runs (9).


Tyler Rahmatulla

2B/3B Tyler Rahmatulla leads the team in batting average (.335), OBP (.423), slugging (.599), and OPS (1.022).  Rahmatulla (.335) was 10-for-26 (.385) with eight runs, five doubles, two home runs, four RBIs, and three walks over six games this week.  Rahmatulla is first in the league in doubles (20), second in slugging (.599), second in OPS (1.022), fourth in OBP (.423), fifth in runs (38), fifth in total bases (100), sixth in batting average (.336), tied for seventh in walks (24), and tied for ninth in hits (56).


DH Roberto De La Cruz (.290) is tied for second in the league in home runs (12), fourth in slugging (.580), sixth in total bases (98), tied for sixth in RBIs (37), eighth in OPS (.911), and tied for tenth in doubles (13). 


SS Matt Williams (.278) is tied for second in the league in runs (42), tied for sixth in stolen bases (14), and tied for tenth in walks (22). 


Anthony Garcia

RF Anthony Garcia (.327) was 9-for-24 (.375) with nine runs, two doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs, and three walks over seven games this week.  Garcia is third in the league in OPS (.995), fifth in slugging (.573), tied for fifth in doubles (14), sixth in OBP (.421), tied for sixth in triples (4), and seventh in batting average (.327). 


C/DH Jesus Montero (.263) was 6-for-11 (.545) with three runs, one double, and two walks over three games this week.


Breyvic Valera

SS/2B Breyvic Valera (.414) was 7-for-18 (.389) with five runs and two doubles over four games this week. 


C/DH Kolby Byrd (.236) was 4-for-10 (.400) with two runs, a double, and three RBIs over three games this week. 


C/DH Jonathan Keener (.222) was 3-for-8 (.375) with two runs, a double, and a home run over three games this week. 


3B Neal Pritchard (.271) was 4-for-13 (.308) with three runs this week over four games this week. 


Gary Apelian

Who's Not Hot (Hitters)


LF/RF Gary Apelian (.289) was 2-for-24 (.083) with nine strikeouts over six games this week.  Despite the cold spell, Apelian is still tied for second in the league in doubles (16). 


LF/CF Ronald Castillo (.227) was 1-for-11 (.091) with seven strikeouts over five games this week.  Castillo is tied for sixth in the league in triples (4). 


CF Steven Ramos (.286) was 5-for-24 (.208) with seven strikeouts over five games this week.  Ramos is tied for third in the league in stolen bases (18), fourth in runs (41), fourth in at bats (199), and tied for seventh in hits (57). 


Kyle Hald

Who's Hot (Pitchers)


Six pitchers either allowed no earned runs this week or had a WHIP of 1 or less over at least three innings pitched.  Jose Pasen (0.33 WHIP), Kyle Hald (0.50 WHIP), Eduardo Hiraldo (0.83 WHIP), Ben Freeman (0.00 ERA), Dyllon Nuernberg (0.00 ERA), and Nick Gillung (0.00 ERA) all pitched well his week. 


Kyle Hald (5-0, 1 SV, 2.38 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 1.94 BB/9, 11.0 K/9) is first in the league in WHIP (0.84), tied for third in wins (5), fourth in ERA (2.38), and fourth in strikeouts (51). 


Logan Billbrough (3-0, 5 SV, 1.48 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 1.48 BB/9, 11.1 K/9) recorded two saves over two and two thirds innings pitched and two games this week.  Billbrough has allowed no home runs over 24 and one third innings pitched this year.


Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)


Three pitchers posted ERAs of 5.79 or greater over three or more innings pitched this week.   


Roberto Canache (1-1, 2.96 ERA, 5 HLD, 1.22 WHIP, 1.48 BB/9, 9.99 K/9) was 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA over three games and four and two thirds innings pitched this week. 


Tyler Mills (1-1, 6.86 ERA, 2 SV, 1 HLD, 1.83 WHIP, 6.86 BB/9, 7.78 K/9) was 1-0 with a 8.08 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, and 5.39 BB/9 over two games and three and one third innings pitched this week.  Mills allowed two home runs this week. 


Ryan Sherriff (2-2, 4.54 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.16 BB/9, 6.48 K/9) was 0-1 with a 9.84 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, and 4.92 BB/9 over three and two thirds innings pitched this week.  Sherriff allowed two home runs this week. 


Week Nine Schedule


Game 53 (Sun):     Pasen @ Elizabethton Twins

Mon – Off Day

Game 54 (Tue):     Freeman @ Kingsport Mets

Game 55 (Wed):     Jenkins vs. Kingsport Mets

Game 56 (Thu):     Lucas vs. Kingsport Mets

Game 57 (Fri):       Hald vs. Danville Braves

Game 58 (Sat):      Sherriff vs. Danville Braves



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