Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 2

19-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras' average rose from .229 to .306 during Springfield's 3-3 Texas League week 2 road trip.

The Springfield Cardinals hit the road for the first time in 2012 by taking a swing through Texas for a pair of three-game sets with the already-familiar Frisco RoughRiders and Midland Rockhounds. During the 3-3 road trip, the Cardinals had inconsistent pitching from both the starting rotation and the bullpen. The bright spots came from two brilliant performances by Florida State product John Gast, who is showing he can handle the "hitter friendly" Texas League so far in 2012.

The organization's top position prospect Oscar Taveras also broke out as his batting average rose nearly 80 points over the six games. The outfielder drove in seven runs on the road trip and added a home run and several extra base hits. Second base prospect Kolten Wong continued his offensive surge throughout the trip as he is demonstating his comfort level with Texas League pitching.

Thursday, April 12th, Springfield 5 at Frisco 1
Opening the road trip against the RoughRiders, Springfield sent hurler John Gast (1-0, 1.29 ERA) to the mound. Gast was brilliant in his second start of the season, nearly mirroring his first outing with seven innings pitched, seven strikeouts, and allowing only four hits and two walks.

Raniel Rosario led the offensive surge, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Tommy Pham attempted to put an end to his slump by hitting his first home run of 2012. Kolten Wong added a single and a RBI double while Jose Garcia, Jake Shaffer, and Audry Perez each tacked on extra base hits. Even with the offensive surge, Springfield hitters were only 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Friday, April 13th, Frisco 8, Springfield 6
On Friday, Trevor Rosenthal (0-1, 2.25 ERA) took the mound for his second performance in Double-A against Frisco's Barret Loux. Unfortunately for Rosenthal, his first road outing was not kind to him as he was roughed up for six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Reliever Scott Schneider was also touched for two additional earned runs in one inning of relief.

In the loss, Greg Garcia broke out offensively with a 4-for-4 evening including two doubles and two runs scored. Taveras was 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBI and Jose Garcia was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Wong added two more hits in the Cardinals loss.

Saturday, April 14th, Frisco 6, Springfield 2
Springfield sent Michael Blazek (0-0, 11.25 ERA) against Frisco's Jake Brigham in Saturday's series finale. Blazek was again less than solid in his outing, allowing six runs on five hits and three batters walked, pitching only 4 1/3 innings in the loss. Relievers Justin Wright and Jesse Simpson had solid outings allowing only two hits and no runs the rest of the game.

The Cardinals bats were relatively quiet as Taveras and Adam Melker each hit solo homers driving in the only runs for the Cards. Pham and Greg Garcia added extra base hits with a double and a triple respectively.

Sunday, April 15th, Midland 18, Springfield 4
The Cardinals traveled to Midland on Sunday and Tyler Lyons (0-1, 1.93 ERA) took the hill against former Cardinal Gary Daley for their second match up this season. Unfortunately, Springfield pitching was pounded in the loss. Adding salt to the wound, Springfield pitchers tied two franchise records by giving up 18 runs and 22 hits. Lyons didn't last long as he was pulled after 1 2/3 innings after allowing three runs on three hits. Next was an equally ugly outing from Scott Schneider, who gave up seven runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings pitched. Eric Fornataro, who pitched one inning in relief, was the only Springfield pitcher who did not give up a run in the loss.

Jose Garcia led the offensive charge for Springfield, going 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI, but the Cardinals were just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position while stranding 11 on base. Wong, who returned to the lineup after a day off on Saturday, added a double and 19-year old Taveras added his tenth RBI of the young season.

Monday, April 16th, Springfield 5 at Midland 3
On Monday, Scott Gorgen (0-1, 2.08 ERA) began the third time through the rotation. Gorgen was again solid, giving up only two runs on four hits in five innings pitched. Fornataro took the win, pitching two scoreless innings in relief. Sam Freeman and Keith Butler also added scoreless frames out of the Cardinals pen.

Taveras and Nick Derba led the offensive charge for the Cards with three hits each. Derba was 3-for-3 with an RBI and Taveras went 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. Pham added a double and Adam Melker contributed two more RBI. Wong, who was held to a rare 0-for-5 night, collected his eighth RBI of the season.

Tuesday, April 17th, Springfield 2 at Midland 1
On Tuesday, the Cardinals ended their road trip strong by sending their early ace, John Gast (2-0, 1.29 ERA), to the mound again. The lefty was again strong, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing only one run on six hits and striking out six batters. Gast's only hiccup came in the second inning when he gave up a solo home run to Midland's Shane Peterson, an ex-Cardinal. Kevin Thomas and Sam Freeman, who has been very dependable so far this season, each added scoreless frames.

Taveras had the only RBI on his fifth double for the Cardinals in 2012. Wong added his third triple of the season and his former and current double play partner out of Hawaii, Greg Garcia, combined with catcher Audry Perez for the Cardinals' only other hits.

Who's Hot

John Gast – Easily the ace of the Springfield rotation so far, Gast did not slow a bit from his strong week 1 start. Gast struck out 13 batters in 13 innings pitched and allowed only two runs in his two outings in week 2.

Oscar Taveras - The teenager is showing his true athleticism as he was continued to leg out extra base hits and drive the ball to all fields. Taveras raised his average from .229 to .306 on the six-game road trip.

Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 9 3 .750 - 5-1 4-2 8-2 W5
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 6 6 .500 3.0 3-3 3-3 5-5 W2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 5 7 .417 4.0 3-3 2-4 4-6 W1
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 4 8 .333 5.0 2-4 2-4 3-7 W1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#3 Oscar Taveras - The teenager has a flair for extra bases whether it's legging out doubles and triples with his outstanding speed or driving the ball over the right field fence. Through week 2, Taveras is now hitting .306 with 12 RBI and seven extra base hits including two home runs.

#4 Kolten Wong – The second baseman cooled off a little in week 2 but only a little. Wong is still hitting .366 with eight RBI and five extra base hits.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Unfortunately, rain cannot be blamed for Rosenthal's performance this time around. The hurler is not off to a great start at 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in just 8 2/3 innings pitched.

#21 John Gast – The lefty is now 3-0 with 20 strikeouts and a 1.33 ERA. In one word, brilliant!

#23 Tommy Pham – The outfielder is still struggling, hitting only .135 with 18 strikeouts in 37 at-bats.

#30 Raniel Rosario – The slugger has been solid in his limited opportunities. In just 24 at-bats, Rosario is hitting .375 with six RBI and three extra base hits.

#38 Keith Butler – In five solid relief appearances, Butler owns a 1.59 ERA with nine batters fanned.

Up Next

The Cardinals return home for a brief four-game homestand against Tulsa starting Thursday. This weekend should be bustling in Springfield. On Thursday, the Cardinals will be giving out 2,000 replica St. Louis Cardinals World Championship rings and the World Championship trophy will be on display at Hammons Field from Friday through Sunday. The Cardinals then hit the road again for four contests each at Northwest Arkansas and Midland before heading back home on May 1.

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