But there were a couple of bright spots in an otherwise dreary bullpen picture. The brightest was Sam Freeman, The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com 2011 Springfield Cardinals Reliever of the Year.
A 24-year-old lefty, Freeman was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2008 draft from the University of Kansas. Since that time, his stock has soared. Freeman has compiled a 8-5 record with a 2.93 ERA over three professional seasons. He missed all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery.
Freeman began 2011 in Palm Beach, appearing in seven games in the Florida State League. In that time, Freeman was 0-0, with a 4.00 ERA, working in nine innings. On May 7, he was promoted to Springfield.
Freeman got off to a very hot start in Springfield. After 19 1/3 innings, he owned a 0.47 ERA and had recorded 16 strikeouts, while opponents were batting just .188 against him. After that stellar first half, Freeman earned an invitation to the Texas League All-Star Game.
At the beginning of July, Freeman had back-to-back rough outings. He gave up nine earned runs in just three innings of work as his ERA rose from 1.75 to 4.40. The high-water mark for his ERA came a few days later on July 19. He yielded three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, as he was tagged with his second loss, bringing his ERA to 4.73. From there, Freeman really settled in.
From July 20 on, Freeman allowed just three earned runs in 23 innings of work, a 1.17 ERA in a span of 22 games.
Freeman finished with a bullpen-best 3.03 ERA, while appearing in 52 games, second most on the team. He finished 2-2 on the year, and was 3-for-3 in save opportunities, which means that he finished with the third-highest save total on the team. Freeman recorded 52 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings of work, sixth-highest strikeout total on the team.
Freeman - 2011 Season Stats
Month by Month
|Inherited Runners||Runs Allowed||Percentage|
Another lefty, Nick Greenwood, deserves a lot of credit. He led the team in appearances with 59 and logged 77 1/3 innings, compiling a 4.31 ERA. Greenwood struck out 52, but 40 of them came at home.
Greenwood was much better at Hammons Field, going 1-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 21 games there. In fact, he was much better against any team but Northwest Arkansas.
Greenwood was 1-3, with a 15.70 ERA against the Naturals. In 14 1/3 innings, he gave up 25 earned runs. That means that he allowed just 12 earned runs in 59 innings against the rest of the league, a 1.83 ERA.
The Cardinals acquired him from the San Diego Padres in the three-team Jake Westbrook-Ryan Ludwick trade in the summer of 2010. Greenwood turned 24 at the end of September. He was originally selected in the 14th round of the 2008 draft by San Diego.
Greenwood - 2011 Season Stats
It is worth noting that the Cardinals bullpen was hit hard by injuries. The team's initial closer, Casey Mulligan, only appeared in six games before suffering a season-ending injury. Chase Reid was effective for the Cardinals, recording a 3.91 ERA in 18 games, before also being knocked out for the year.
That's why the contributions of Sam Freeman and Nick Greenwood were so important and easy to spot. It was a tough season for the Springfield Cardinals' bullpen overall, but Freeman and Greenwood turned in solid seasons, and as lefties, will both probably see their stock continue to rise within the organization.
Link to master article with all 2011 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.
Questions for Josh Thompson about this Springfield report or any other Cardinals minor league topic? Check out our premium, subscriber-only message board today!
© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.