Fresh off a disappointing 2-6 record with poor hitting last week, the Memphis Redbirds continued that trend in what has turned out to be a down year for the club. The week began with the departure of starting third baseman Zack Cox to the Miami Marlins in exchange for a new seventh-inning reliever for St. Louis, Edward Mujica. However, the Redbirds welcomed one of the system's top pitching prospects into the rotation as Trevor Rosenthal was sent down to make room for Mujica.
After dropping their final game in Round Rock (Texas Rangers), the Redbirds made their way to Sacramento to try to turn their fortune around. The Redbirds were only able to muster nine total runs in the four-game series, as they were swept to run their losing streak to five games. Though the ‘Birds plated nine runs in a winning effort against Fresno (San Francisco Giants) on Sunday, they dropped the second game of the series in extra-innings. Memphis' lousy offense this week consisted of a total .156 average with runners in scoring position.
Finishing July with a 12-16 record, the Redbirds began August with one win and five losses. Maintaining their third-place position in the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League, the Redbirds now only lead the Iowa Cubs by one game and are 24 games behind the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals).
Tuesday, July 31st: Round Rock 10 at Memphis 4
Michael Blazek was met with resistance in his first appearance and start against Triple-A competition this season. The 23-year old put the Redbirds in a 4-1 hole after exiting in the third inning. Maikel Cleto followed up by yielding four runs through the next two innings, putting the Redbirds in a deficit they couldn't close. Sam Freeman was the only Redbirds pitcher to post a scoreless outing.
Though the Redbirds weren't able to match the competition, they collected 10 hits, including a double each from Ryan Jackson, Steven Hill, and Eugenio Velez. The ‘Birds clutch hitting deficiencies continued, as they recorded just one hit in 14 opportunities with runners in scoring position. Steven Hill's three hits were tops for the team, while Matt Adams wore the golden sombrero with four strikeouts.
Wednesday, August 1st: Sacramento 5, Memphis 2
Sitting pretty with a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, Brandon Dickson had his eyes set on a complete-game win after fanning eight batters with zero free passes. The right-hander immediately coughed up a home run to former Cardinals' prospect Daric Barton to tie the game before setting down the next two batters. Dickson was replaced after allowing two straight singles, both of which Jess Todd allowed to score before striking out Kila Ka'aihue, and he was tabbed with the loss.
Matt Adams belted a go-ahead home run in the seventh (his 17th) and finished a triple short of the cycle while collecting half of the Redbirds hits. Memphis batters reached base just seven times and gave themselves only three opportunities in scoring position.
Thursday, August 2nd: Sacramento 4, Memphis 3
A four-run inning was the undoing for the Redbirds for the second night in a row. Heading into the bottom of the seventh with a 3-0 lead, John Gast gave up a single and walk before being replaced by Nick Greenwood. Gast's quality start completed with two earned runs, three walks, and five strikeouts over six innings after Greenwood allowed both runs to score and two more of his own.
Hitting just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, the Redbirds once again failed to take advantage of their opportunities. Eugenio Velez collected three of the 'Birds 10 total hits, drove in two of their three runs, and stole three bases to bring his season total to 27. Matt Adams, Bryan Anderson, and Shane Robinson each added a double.
Friday, August 3rd: Sacramento 10, Memphis 2
Following up a brief period in the major league bullpen, Trevor Rosenthal dominated through five innings in his Redbirds debut. The Missouri native struck out eight batters, issued one walk, and allowed two doubles in the third that led to his only surrendered run. The bullpen collapsed miserably, as Jorge Rondon, John Gaub, and Maikel Cleto combined to surrender nine total runs in the sixth and seventh inning.
Matt Adams lined a double for the third straight game, being the only Redbird to earn an extra-base hit on the night. The first baseman also walked twice. Mark Hamilton wore the crown for the most hits on the night at two and drove in one of the two Redbirds runs.
Saturday, August 4th: Sacramento 3, Memphis 2 (10 innings)
Down 2-1 in the eighth, Ryan Jackson grounded a single up the middle to score Jose Garcia and tie the game, which was the only hit with runners in scoring position the Redbirds were able to amass in nine opportunities. Faced with another one-run deficit in the ninth, Steven Hill erased it with a solo-bomb to left center, his 10th on the year, though the team fell in extra-innings. The Redbirds struck out an alarming total of 15 times, nine of which were the result of facing the rehabbing major leaguer Brandon McCarthy.
Tyler Lyons gave the Redbirds a very solid six innings, as the southpaw fanned eight batters, walked one, and surrendered two runs off eight hits (seven singles). Jess Todd and Sam Freeman kept the game in check with three scoreless innings before Adam Reifer yielded three straight singles and the losing run without recording an out in the eighth.
Sunday, August 5th: Memphis 9 at Fresno 2
The Redbirds snapped a five-game skid by belting out four long balls, which combined, scored seven of their nine total runs. Ryan Jackson led the charge with his 10th in the first inning to help give the Redbirds a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Steven Hill added his 11th, while Bryan Anderson came out of nowhere to drill two of his own.
Memphis' 17 total hits were a much needed offensive charge from a road trip that hadn't seen many. Cedric Hunter and Ryan Jackson set the pace with three hits each in the one and two spots of the order, while Steven Hill, Mark Hamilton, Eugenio Velez, and Anderson each collected two of their own.
Shelby Miller continued his recent resurgence by picking up his seventh win and striking out eight batters over seven innings of two-run ball. The Texas native issued no free passes and threw 68 of his 98 pitches for strikes. Nick Greenwood and Jorge Rondon finished out the win by tossing a scoreless inning each.
Monday, August 6th: Fresno 2, Memphis 1 (10 innings)
The Redbirds took their second extra-inning loss this week, though it was no fault of Brandon Dickson. The right-hander's sole surrendered run come off a solo-home run in the fourth to give Fresno a one-run lead. Dickson left the game after seven innings, striking out six batters, walking two, and giving up five hits. Maikel Cleto followed Dickson to post his first scoreless outing in his last four appearances. Though Victor Marte escaped the ninth unscathed, he took a loss in the 10th on a one-out, run scoring single.
Memphis' offensive struggles the past two weeks continued as they were only able to plate one run off six total hits. Eugenio Velez drove in the only run with one of his two singles in the seventh, which was unearned due to a fielding error by Conor Gillaspie. Cedric Hunter also had two singles, while Steven Hill's double was the only extra-base hit for the away team.
Shelby Miller: Earning Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honors, Miller struck out 16 batters compared to zero walks over his last two starts and allowed four runs. The 21-year old threw back-to-back seven inning games for the first time this season and has posted four solid starts over his last five outings. He has dropped his overall earned-run average to 5.25 with 115 strikeouts over 106.1 innings in 2012.
John Gast: The southpaw earned the Cardinals organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Month award for July after posting a 2.70 earned-run average over five starts, striking out 30 batters compared to five walks in 30 innings. In his first August outing on Thursday, Gast continued his success with a quality start.
Sam Freeman: The Texas native ran his scoreless outing streak to 11 on Saturday. The lefty has dropped his earned-run average to 1.90 with Memphis.
Nick Greenwood: Though the left-hander tossed a scoreless inning on Sunday, he had surrendered at least one run in his past six outings (the one on July 19th being unearned). That stretch included 10 innings, 11 surrendered runs, four walks, and seven strikeouts.
Adam Reifer: The California native continued his woes this week by taking the loss on Thursday without recording an out after having served up a home run in his July 31st outing. Reifer pitched a scoreless 2/3rds of an inning on Friday, but he has been scored upon in six of his last seven appearances.
Maikel Cleto: Continuing the trend of the Redbirds' bullpen issues, Cleto stopped a four-game streak in which he had been scored upon (12 earned runs) by tossing a perfect inning on Monday and striking out two.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
July 31st: Texas Rangers
August 1st: Oakland Athletics
5) Grant Green (utility, solid range in outfield, average arm, ability to hit close to .300, average power, too many strikeouts may hurt batting average in majors): 1-for-3, home run, stolen base
8) Derek Norris (catcher, won't hit for high batting average, high strikeout totals, solid power for catcher, improved defense): 0-for-3, one strikeout
August 2nd: Oakland Athletics
5) Green: 1-for-4, strikeout
8) Norris: 0-for-2, strikeout
9) Michael Taylor (outfield, underperforming prospect, hits to both fields, above average arm, potential to hit for good average, decent speed, power has dropped past three seasons): 1-for-4, stolen base
August 3rd, Oakland Athletics
August 4th: Oakland Athletics
5) Green: 1-for-4, strikeout, caught stealing
August 5th: San Francisco Giants
7) Francisco Peguero (outfield, very aggressive hitter, potential for average power that hasn't emerged, rarely walks, plus defender with above average arm): 2-for-4, double, RBI, strikeout
August 6th: San Francisco Giants
7) Peguero: 1-for-5, RBI, three strikeouts
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
1) Shelby Miller: Stock: slightly DOWN. Though Miller won PCL Pitcher of the Week, it's hard to ignore Miller's struggles this season and inconsistencies with his secondary pitches. Miller's 115 strikeouts in 106.1 innings prove that his fastball is still there, but he has to cut down on the long balls and be more consistent with his curveball to hope to make an impact in the majors soon.
7) Eduardo Sanchez: Stock: DOWN. With 18 walks in 22.2 innings in Memphis and 13 over 15 innings in his time with St. Louis, Sanchez has struggled mightily to find the control that led to his success last season. His stuff is still there, but he won't have a prominent role in the majors unless he harnesses his command.
9) Matt Adams: Stock: UP. The first baseman has done everything to prove that his power and hitting potential translates to upper levels. Though Adams hit only .244 in 86 at bats with St. Louis, he remains a striking force in the Redbirds' lineup.
12) Trevor Rosenthal: Stock: UP. Receiving a brief promotion to pitch out of the Cardinals bullpen, Rosenthal dominated in his first start with Memphis. Rosenthal brings mid-to-high 90's gas with his fastball and is known to have a plus slider.
13) Ryan Jackson: Stock: SAME. The shortstop's offense has remained consistent in each level to which he has been promoted over the past few years, which is a positive sign. However, questions still remain about his offense translating to a starting job in the major leagues.
14) Maikel Cleto: Stock: slightly UP. You might call me crazy for making this statement, as Cleto's earned-run average rose to 6.64 over 40.2 innings pitched in Memphis in 2012. However, Cleto has shown much better control this year with superb strikeout numbers. His 14 walks in 40.2 innings with 53 strikeouts are positive signs, despite the high ERA.
17) Adron Chambers: Stock: SAME. The speedy leadoff hitter is posting career highs in both batting average (.314) and on-base percentage (.390), though his eight steals have been somewhat disappointing. There's likely a role for Chambers in the major leagues, but it may be in a backup role.
19) Adam Reifer: Stock: DOWN. See "Who's Not".
20) Mark Hamilton: Stock: SAME. Hamilton has bumped up his home run total (15 this year compared to two last year) from 2011, but his offensive potential remains below the expected threshold of an impact first baseman/corner outfielder.
21) John Gast: Stock: UP. See "Who's Hot".
25) Bryan Anderson: Stock: DOWN. Not much has gone right for the catcher this season. His .608 OPS is by far a career low, and he hasn't been able to put the bad start to the season behind him.
32) Brandon Dickson: Stock: SAME. The Alabama native has had a solid season, even appearing briefly in the major league bullpen. Dickson has done nothing to hurt his case for a role in the majors, but that role remains unclear, as he continues exhibit plus control with subpar strikeout numbers.
34) Sam Freeman: Stock: UP. See "Who's Hot".
35) Pete Kozma: Stock: SAME. Kozma hasn't done anything offensively this season to improve upon his outlook.
7/31: Placed Eduardo Sanchez on 7-day disabled list. The right-hander was placed on the DL with soreness in his elbow. Sanchez has battled control problems with 18 walks in 22.1 innings this season.
8/1: Trevor Rosenthal optioned to Memphis. The 22-year old got a taste of major league action with four appearances out of the pen for the Cardinals before joining the Redbirds rotation. Rosenthal posted a 2.78 earned-run average with 83 strikeouts over 94 innings in Springfield and has risen up prospect charts with his plus velocity.
8/3: Shane Robinson promoted to St. Louis. The outfielder replaced the injured Lance Berkman on the MLB roster, as Robinson has been shuffled back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis this season.
8/3: Jorge Rondon promoted from Springfield to Memphis. The Venezuelan surrendered just one home run over 34 innings in Springfield with a 3.44 earned-run average and made his first appearance for the Redbirds by surrendering two runs in an inning on August 3rd.
8/4: Jose Garcia promoted from Springfield to Memphis. The second baseman has made his third trip to Memphis and takes the place of Robinson on the roster.
8/4: Michael Blazek sent down to Springfield. In one start and one relief appearance, Blazek surrendered four runs and two walks over 3.1 innings.
On Wednesday, Memphis will complete a four-game set with the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants) before receiving their last off-day of the season on Thursday. The Redbirds will then take on the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners) to embark on a home stretch that will feature 17 home games in 21 days.
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