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
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 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
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|
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.
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.
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.
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|
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.
|Runs||No one||in||top 30|
|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 email@example.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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