Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 10

SS/2B Breyvic Valera was 9-for-18 (.500) with five runs and three stolen bases this week to help Johnson City clinch their second consecutive Western Division Appalachian League Championship.

The Johnson City Cardinals were 4-3 this week (42-23 overall).  They clinched their second consecutive Appalachian League Western Division Championship on Thursday night in Danville, VA.  One day before that, they clinched a playoff spot in Burlington, NC.  Johnson City has a three game lead over the Elizabethton Twins with three games to play.  Their final series is at home against the last place Burlington Royals.  The Cardinals hold the tiebreaker over the Twins since the head-to-head record is 5-4 in JC's favor.  The Cardinals currently have the best record in the Appalachian League.  Johnson City is on pace to finish 44-24.  If they did, it would be their best finish since 1986 (44-22).  During last year's Championship Season, Johnson City finished the regular season with a 42-24 record. 


The Elizabethton Twins have clinched second place in the West but the East is a tie with three games left.  The Bluefield Blue Jays have been in first place virtually all year but the Danville Braves caught them Saturday night.  The Blue Jays visit the Braves in the final series of the year between the two clubs with the winner (best 2-out-of-3) taking the East Division Championship.  The Cardinals were 2-4 against Danville and 3-3 against Bluefield this year.  Johnson City will travel to the loser of that series on Wed. July 31 for game one of the first round and then would come home to host that club for games two and three (if necessary) on Thu. and Fri. (Sep 1 and 2). 


Johnson City finished the regular season 15-17 against teams with a winning record (Bluefield, Danville, Kingsport, and Elizabethton).  They are 27-6 against teams with a losing record (Princeton, Pulaski, Greeneville, Burlington, and Bristol).  They have three games left against Burlington (24-41). 


I was able to attend the only home game of the seven games this week.  I listened to all six of the road games on the radio.  The games in Burlington were called by Nick DeSanctis while the games in Danville were called by Nick Pierce.  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 9

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 8

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


Juan Bautista (Johnson City Cardinals in the News) has joined the club from the Dominican Summer League.  Bautista, a right handed pitcher from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, turned 18-years-old just two months ago.  Bautista made his American soil debut on Friday night in Danville against the Braves.  Although it was a little shaky (two hit batters and an infield single), he allowed no runs and recorded a bases-loaded strikeout to end his one inning of work (18 pitches, 10 strikes, 4-for-6 first-pitch strikes). 


Charlie Tilson (Tilson: Moving Ahead) has joined the Cardinals after just four games and 12 at bats in the Gulf Coast League.  Tilson, who is also 18-years-old, was the Cardinals second round pick (79th overall pick) in this year's June draft.  He signed on the August 15 deadline for a reported $1.275 million dollar signing bonus.  Tilson turned down a scholarship from my alma mater, the University of Illinois.  He also made his Johnson City debut on Friday night in Danville.  The left handed swinging outfielder was 1-for-3 with the Cardinals' only RBI of the game. 


On Sunday afternoon, when this article was written, the Cardinals added three more pitchers from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. 


Brandon Creath, the Cardinals' 44th round pick in this year's June draft, is a right handed pitcher from California who went to college at Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach, FL.  Creath pitched 21 games as a reliever in the GCL, striking out 32 and allowing no home runs over 24 and two thirds innings pitched.  Creath recorded one save and three holds.  Creath will make his first professional start on Tuesday night. 


Tyler Melling, the Cardinals' 39th round pick in this year's June draft, is a soon-to-be 23-year-old left handed pitcher from Ohio who attended Ohio University.  Melling also worked out of the GCL bullpen, striking out 28 and walking just seven over 30 and one third innings pitched.  Melling led the GCL Cardinals in holds (7) and wins (5).  He recorded an impressive 0.92 WHIP while allowing three home runs.  Melling will work out of the bullpen on Tuesday night. 


Willy Paulino is a 21-year-old right handed reliever from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.  Paulino was the primary closer out of the GCL bullpen.  He pitched in 23 games, finishing 20 of them and recording 12 saves.  Paulino struck out 35 and walked just nine over 31 and one third innings pitched.  He recorded an impressive 0.99 WHIP and allowed just one home run.  Paulino will also work out of the bullpen on Tuesday night. 


With the five additions, the roster has increased from 31 to 36 active players (max of 35).  Although this appears to be a problem, David Bergin, Trevor Martin, and Josh Lucas have all left the team due to season ending injuries and could be placed on the disabled list to bring the active roster down to 33.


Matt Williams

Injuries and Playing Time


Overall, the Cardinals seem to be pretty healthy heading into the playoffs.  Several regulars may see extra rest this week to heal nagging injuries. 


SS Matt Williams missed three games this week (Tuesday through Thursday) with a sore elbow.  Williams didn't miss a beat with the extended rest though as he extended his hitting streak to nine games on Friday night and ten games on Saturday night.  That streak is the longest active hit streak on the team right now.


2010 Appalachian League All-Star Team


The Johnson City Cardinals received two All-Star selections this year (Johnson City Cardinals in the News).The list of winners for each position is shown below.  Tyler Rahmatulla won for second baseman and Kyle Hald won for left-handed pitcher.


Kyle Hald


C:       Cam Maron - Kingsport

1B:     Chase Davidson - Greeneville

2B:     Tyler Rahmatulla – Johnson City

3B:     Brandon Drury - Danville

SS:     Taylor Motter - Princeton

U-INF: Miguel Sano - Elizabethton

OF:     Eddie Rosario - Elizabethton

OF:     Jamal Austin - Pulaski

OF:     Kevin Pillar - Bluefield

U-OF:  Chris Hawkins - Bluefield

DH:     Art Charles - Bluefield

RHP:   Tim Shibuya - Elizabethton

LHP:    Kyle Hald - Johnson City

RELIEF P:       Madison Boer - Elizabethton

CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:  Eddie Rosario - Elizabethton

                                      Brandon Drury - Danville

PITCHER OF THE YEAR:       Tim Shibuya – Elizabethton

MANAGER OF THE YEAR:      Dennis Holmberg - Bluefield


Of the twelve non-Cardinals selected, I voted for eight.  The major problems I had with the selections were DH and SS.  Art Charles played 52 of his first 55 games as a first baseman (not a DH) and had the worst batting average (.236) of all twelve first baseman I considered for the award.  I certainly hope that Charles didn't get voted in just because of his RBI total.  Apparently he was a "DH" because he was listed as a DH by position.  Taylor Motter got my vote as a utility infielder and was worthy of an All-Star selection.  It just shouldn't have been as a SS.  Motter played just 18 of his 33 games at the premium position.   Matt Williams deserved the selection at SS. 


Anthony Garcia

Anthony Garcia had a better year offensively than Kevin Pillar and is three years younger.  He would have received my vote if I could have voted for Cardinals.  Right handed pitcher Tim Shibuya probably won due to his league leading eight wins but Burlington Royal Matt Murray was better.  Murray had better WHIP, ERA, HR/9, K/9, and BAA and did it while facing better hitters on average.  Shibuya had an excellent year but Murray was better.  Cam Maron was my second choice at catcher (behind Bristol White Sox backstop Kevan Smith) while the winner for 1B (Chase Davidson) was my choice for DH.  Davidson played 31 G as a DH and just 12 at 1B. 


Sano was my choice for Player of the Year and Randy Ingle (Danville Braves) was my choice for Manager of the Year.  Everyone else won at the position I voted for them.  Logan Billbrough (relief pitcher) and Roberto De La Cruz (DH) were close to making the All-Star team by my statistical analysis but just missed the cut. 


Team Statistical Review


The offense improved this week to a .303/.353/.434 line after an extremely meager .220/.275/.369 line last week.  They hit 13 doubles, one triple, and five home runs in seven games.  Their AVG/OBP/SLG line through 65 games this year is .278 (1st)/.339 (3rd)/.450 (1st).  The Cardinals lead the league in runs (398), hits (642), doubles (158), home runs (66), total bases (1038), average (.278), slugging (.450), and on-base plus slugging or OPS (.788).  They are fifth in the league in triples (20), third in on-base percentage or OBP (.339), second in at bats (2309), and second in RBIs (339).  They fell one spot to tenth (last) in the league in drawing walks (178).  Johnson City remained the most efficient stolen base team in the league (79%) after being caught three times this week in eight attempts (63%). 


Ronald Castillo

The defense committed 12 errors that contributed to eight unearned runs and two losses this week.  LF/CF Ronald Castillo (7 errors) made three more errors this week.  Castillo had two more easy fly balls go in and out of his glove.  SS Matt Williams had two throwing errors including one that allowed the eventual winning run to score in a one-run game.  P Jose Pasen got an error for a missed catch of a pop-up that should have probably been caught by 1B David Washington or C Kolby Byrd.  That error also allowed the eventual winning run to score in a close game on Saturday night. 


The Cardinals pitching staff had a pretty good week (3.39 ERA) but remained second in team earned run average (3.54) for the season.  Through 65 games, the pitchers now have the best walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the league (1.27), the most wins (42), the fewest losses (23), the most holds (31), the most saves (20), the fewest walks allowed (177), and the second fewest earned runs allowed (231).  The starters were 2-3 this week while the relievers were 2-0 with two saves.  The relievers inherited 9 runners this week and allowed just 2 runners to score (18% scored).  On the season, the pitchers have allowed 35% of inherited runners to score.   


Weekly Summary


Johnson City was 4-3 this week as they continued their trend of pounding on the bad teams and playing about the same as the good ones.  Johnson City swept the Burlington Royals in North Carolina but went just 1-3 against the Danville Braves.  Sunday night was a humiliating 16-7 loss at home but the other two losses in Danville on Friday and Saturday were close ones that could have gone either way.  Johnson City scored eight runs in the third inning on Wednesday night on their way to an 8-1 win over the Braves. 


Danville 16 @ Johnson City 7, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/22/11

Johnson City 5 @ Burlington 3, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/23/11

Johnson City 6 @ Burlington 4, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/24/11

Johnson City 13 @ Burlington 0, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/25/11

Johnson City 8 @ Danville 1, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/26/11

Johnson City 1 @ Danville 2, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/27/11

Johnson City 2 @ Danville 5, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/28/11


Starting Pitchers and Pitch Counts


Starting Pitchers (6): 

RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)

LHP Kyle Hald (2)

LHP Nick Gillung (3)

RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (4)

RHP Jose Pasen (5)

LHP Ben Freeman (6)


8/21:  Jose Pasen:  87 pitches, 47 strikes, 11-for-26 first-pitch strikes.

8/22:  Ben Freeman:  81 pitches, 51 strikes, 8-for-21 first-pitch strikes.

8/23:  Tyrell Jenkins:  80 pitches, 51 strikes, 11-for-20 first-pitch strikes.

8/24:  Kyle Hald:  80 pitches, 54 strikes, 14-for-22 first-pitch strikes.

8/25:  Nick Gillung:  72 pitches, 46 strikes, 13-for-19 first-pitch strikes.

8/25:  Chris Costantino:  28 pitches, 19 strikes, 5-for-8 first-pitch strikes.

8/26:  Eduardo Hiraldo:  80 pitches, 51 strikes, 9-for-24 first-pitch strikes.

8/27:  Jose Pasen:  91 pitches, 55 strikes, 19-for-25 first-pitch strikes.


Breyvic Valera

Who's Hot (Hitters)


Eight different batters hit .300 or better this week.  That list, in decreasing order of weekly batting average, included:  Breyvic Valera (.500), Matt Williams (.438), Jonathan Keener (.385), Steven Ramos (.333), Ronald Castillo (.333), Charlie Tilson (.333), Gary Apelian (.320), and David Washington (.313). 


2B/SS Breyvic Valera (.390) was 9-for-18 (.500) with one double, three RBIs, two walks, and three stolen bases over five games this week. 


Matt Williams

SS Matt Williams (.292) was 7-for-16 (.438) with two doubles over five games this week.  Williams is tied for fifth in the league in runs (45), tied for sixth in doubles (18), and tied for seventh in stolen bases (18).


C/DH Jonathan Keener (.241) was 5-for-13 (.385) over three games this week.


CF Steven Ramos (.276) put together an improved week.  Over seven games, Ramos was 9-for-27 (.333) with three runs, one double, one triple, and one stolen base.  Ramos is fourth in the league in at bats (246), tied for fifth in runs (45), and sixth in stolen bases (19). 


Gary Apelian

RF Gary Apelian (.300) was 8-for-25 (.320) with a double, two home runs, six runs, seven RBIs, and 15 total bases over six games this week.  Apelian is tied for sixth in the league in doubles (18).


LF/CF Ronald Castillo (.245) was 4-for-12 (.333) with three runs over five games this week.  Castillo is tied for ninth in the league in triples (4).  Castillo struggled catching routine fly balls for the second week in a row. 


LF/CF Charlie Tilson (.333) was 2-for-6 in his first two games in the Appalachian League. 


David Washington

1B/DH David Washington (.245) was 5-for-16 (.313) with two doubles and three runs over five games this week.


Despite slow but not cold weeks, Tyler Rahmatulla (.280 this week), Roberto De La Cruz (.276 this week), and Anthony Garcia (.250 this week) continue to lead the league in several categories. 


2B/3B Tyler Rahmatulla (.322) is first in the league in doubles (27), tied for third in runs (47), fourth in OPS (0.964), fourth in slugging (.564), sixth in total bases (119), and tenth in OBP (.400).


Roberto De La Cruz

DH/3B Roberto De La Cruz (.274) hit three more home runs this week and is third in the league in home runs (16), fourth in total bases (123), fifth in slugging (.562), and sixth in RBIs (47).


LF Anthony Garcia (.309) is sixth in the league in OPS (.937), sixth in OBP (.407), ninth in slugging (.530), and tied for ninth in triples (4).


Who's Not Hot (Hitters)


3B/2B Neal Pritchard (.256) was 3-for-24 (.125) with three runs and five RBIs over six games this week.


3B/1B/DH Hector Garcia (.241) was 2-for-12 (.167) with three runs and two RBIs over three games this week. 


Ben Freeman

Who's Hot (Pitchers)


Five pitchers either allowed no earned runs this week or had a WHIP of 1 or less over at least three innings pitched.  In order of decreasing innings pitched, those pitchers were:  Eduardo Hiraldo (0.83 WHIP), Kyle Hald (0.00 ERA and 0.50 WHIP), Ben Freeman (0.94 WHIP), Nick Gillung (0.80 WHIP), and Michael Santana (0.00 ERA and 0.82 WHIP). 


Kyle Hald (7-0, 1 SV, 1.84 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 2.01 BB/9, 10.6 K/9) is first in the league in WHIP (0.86), tied for second in wins (7), second in ERA (1.84), and third in strikeouts (63).


Jose Pasen

Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)


Three pitchers posted ERAs of 5.4 or greater and/or WHIPs of 2 or greater this week:  Jose Pasen (two losses and 6.96 ERA), Tyler Mills (8.11 ERA and 2.1 WHIP) and Tyrell Jenkins (5.40 ERA). 


Week Eleven Schedule


The starters are my educated guesses.  The team has not and will not announce the playoff starters.  If both first round series end after two games, then the Championship series will start Friday night. 


Game 66 (Sun):     Freeman vs. Burlington Royals

Game 67 (Mon):     TBD/Bullpen vs. Burlington Royals

Game 68 (Tue):     Creath/Melling/Paulino vs. Burlington Royals

1st Round (Wed):    Jenkins @ Bluefield/Danville

1st Round (Thu):     Hald vs. Bluefield/Danville

1st Round (Fri):       Gillung vs. Bluefield/Danville (if necessary)

Champ. (Sat):       Hiraldo vs. Elizabethton/Bluefield/Danville

Champ. (Sun):       Pasen @ Elizabethton/Bluefield/Danville


NOTE:  Bluefield and Danville both have internet radio for their home games so join me in listening to those games this week as the Cardinals hit the road and try to win a second consecutive Appalachian League Championship!  They may travel to Johnson City for a playoff broadcast.  Check the website of the opposing team. 



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