2011 Palm Beach Cardinals Team Review

The A-Advanced Cardinals missed the Florida State League post-season but finished strongly.


A quick summary

Palm Beach Cardinals (A-Advanced Florida State League)
Overall Record: 68-70 (.493)
First half record: 29-40 (.420), -8.5 games
Sixth place, South Division
Second half record: 39-30 (.565), -6 games
Second place

In terms of the Palm Beach Cardinals' 2011 won-loss record, it was bad news followed by much better results. Manager Luis Aguayo led his club to an improvement from 11 games under .500 in the first half to nine games over after the break. The standings showed a second place result in the second half after landing in sixth in the first half. Overall, the Cards finished at 68-70 (.493).

The start

The Cardinals began the season with five members of The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect List on the roster, including the top two in pitcher Shelby Miller and third baseman Zack Cox. Others were pitchers Joe Kelly and John Gast (#27 and #28) and outfielder Rainel Rosario (#30).

The initial rotation consisted of Miller, Gast, Maikel Cleto, Kelly and Eric Fornataro. The opening day lineup: D'Marcus Ingram CF, Cox 3B, Rosario RF, Edgar Lara DH, Phil Cerreto 1B, Jarred Bogany LF, Luis Mateo 2B, Audry Perez C, Ronald Ramirez SS.

The regular season

Opening day at St. Lucie might have served as a preview of what was to come. Despite allowing just one run to the Mets, Palm Beach and Miller ended up on the wrong end of a 1-0 score. The Cards logged three three-game losing skids and a four-gamer on the way to an 8-15 April.

May continued much like April, as the Cards began 7-13, but they finished 6-3 over their last nine. At the June 17 FSL All-Star Game, Palm Beach was 29-40 and finished the half in sixth place, 8 ½ games out of first, but they went on to log their first winning month at 13-11.

The Cards continued to play roughly .500 ball during a very busy July, going 15-16. August was Palm Beach's best month as the club won 16 and lost just 11. The Cardinals reeled off their longest winning streak of the year at seven games from August 10-18. In another indication of improving performance, the team had only two losing streaks of four games (or more) with the last one having ended on May 21.

Unfortunately, that was not good enough to avoid elimination in the wild card race. The Cards finished the second half on September 4th at 39-30, in second place, six games out of first.


Roger Dean Stadium
At 1,068 fans per game, Palm Beach ranked 10th in the 12-team FSL. That was 13 percent higher than the 966 per game attendance at Roger Dean Stadium in 2010. In 2011, the FSL as a whole saw a 10 percent increase, so Palm Beach outpaced the pack. Not surprisingly, the largest crowd of the summer attended on July 4, when 5,260 fans were present.

Roster changes

Palm Beach supplied 17 players upward to Springfield during the season, including the top four prospects that began the season on the club, Miller, Cox, Kelly and Gast. They were augmented by Carlos Martinez (#5), Robert Stock (#39) and Niko Vasquez (#40). 24th-ranked Jordan Swagerty came and left.

In other key transactions, Ingram was on the suspended list from April 10 until May 6. During the first month, lefties Nick Greenwood and Samuel Freeman moved up to Springfield. Outfielder Ryde Rodriguez was released on May 6, the same day Kyle Conley arrived from Quad Cities. Opening day starters Ramirez and Bogany were cut loose before May ended.

On May 7, Cleto moved to Double-A, as Swagerty was promoted from the Midwest League. Audry Perez and Cox were also moved up in May and Keith Butler was among the newcomers. Vasquez was returned from Springfield.

Miller officially moved up to Springfield on June 1 and was replaced by Kevin Siegrist, promoted from Quad Cities. Jesse Simpson, Greg Garcia, Justin Wright and Starlin Rodriguez soon followed. The month ended with Gast's promotion to Double-A with Richard Castillo and Domnit Bolivar sent back down. Phenom Martinez arrived from the Bandits and joined the rotation.

Six days into July, Kelly received the call to Springfield. Reliever Aaron Terry, the early season closer, was released. In mid-August, Swagerty and Chase Reid went up to the Texas League. Seth Maness briefly joined the pen, up from Batavia, before being dispatched to Quad Cities.


Catcher Luis De La Cruz was first activated from the DL on May 21. Cerreto made the first of two DL stops late in April and ended the season in Batavia. Francisco Samuel was activated off Memphis' DL on June 20, only to be placed on Palm Beach's DL four days later. He ended up the season in Springfield, being taken off the 40-man roster.

Conley's offensive contributions were missed when he was out a significant period - from June 10 until July 28. Siegrist spent most of the month of July on the shelf before sitting out ten more days in August.

Individual recognition

Ironically, the Cardinals had three first-half all-stars but no Palm Beach players were on the post-season squad despite the club's improved play. Kelly, Lara and Miller were named to the first-half team, but Miller had already been promoted to Springfield.

In terms of monthly awards from The Cardinal Nation, Miller was our Pitcher of the Month in May and Xavier Scruggs followed as our June Player of the Month.

Miller, then with Springfield, and Martinez both pitched in the MLB Futures Game held during All-Star weekend in Phoenix. Arquimedes Nieto logged an FSL Pitcher of the Week award in early August.

Scruggs' 21 home runs tied the Palm Beach team record. The first baseman matched the mark on the final day of the season.

Top performances

The Cardinals hit two grand slams this season. The first was struck by Rosario on July 26 at Lakeland. Exactly one month later, on August 26, Vasquez repeated the feat at home versus Jupiter. Rosario also led Palm Beach with 32 multi-hit games, including a team-best two four-hit contests. Scruggs followed with 28.

In terms of multi-RBI games, despite his time missed, Conley paced the club with 18. Rosario and Scruggs were next with 16 each. Rosario was the only player with multiple four-RBI games. He logged three of them, but Vasquez had a club-best five RBI game at Bradenton on June 30.

The team's longest hitting streak was 15 games, achieved twice. Cox did it from May 2 through 20 and part of the time, he was shadowed by Rosario, who hit in 15 straight from May 9 through 26. Scruggs compiled a most-impressive 30-game on base streak that began on May 26 and ran until the first of July.

Gast tossed the only nine-inning complete game, which he did on May 22 at Bradenton. Five days later, Miller fanned a team-high 12 Lakeland Tigers for the most by a Palm Beach hurler in 2011. Jesse Simpson logged an impressive string of 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings from August 4 through September 2. Tyler Lyons reeled off a team-best six straight wins from July 10 until August 21.

Team hitting and pitching

In a situation fairly typical for the Cardinals system, hitting coach Jeff Albert's offense resided in the bottom half of the league in every major stat. With the exception of a high walk count and a low saves total, the pitching, led by coach Dennis Martinez, ranked among the league's best.

Offense Season FSL rank Pitching Season FSL rank
# of 12 # of 12
BA 0.255 10th ERA 3.65 3rd
Runs 568 9th Ks 1064 2nd
OPS 0.701 9th Walks 490 2nd most
Doubles 221 8th HR allow 64 Fewest
HR 88 8th Saves 34 T4th fewest
Steals 93 8th

Individual hitting and pitching leaders

Rosario, Scruggs and Alan Ahmady were around long enough to dominate full-season individual offensive stats. It is interesting that no Cardinal finished in the top 30 in the league in runs scored.

Fornataro ranked in the top ten in ERA and strikeouts. Butler and Lyons were first on the team in saves and wins, respectively, and placed in the top dozen in the circuit.

Offense # FSL rank
BA Rosario 0.270 30th
OBP Ahmady 0.388 11th
SLG Scruggs 0.494 5th
OPS Scruggs 0.834 10th
Steals Rosario 15 T25th
Doubles Scruggs 27 T15th
HR Scruggs 21 4th
RBI Rosario 70 T11th
Scruggs 63 T19th
Walks Ahmady 62 T8th
Runs No one in top 30
Pitching # FSL rank
ERA Fornataro 3.67 10th
Strikeouts Fornataro 116 8th
Saves Butler 12 T9th
Wins Lyons 9 T12th
Walks Fornataro 50 14th
HR allow No one in top 30

Link to master article with all 2011 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.

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

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