Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2012 Week 22

The Redbirds finished a disappointing season on a positive note with five straight wins to escape the division cellar.

Overview

Playing their best baseball of the season over the past seven days, the Memphis Redbirds had a much-needed positive finish to the season. Dropping their only game of the week on Wednesday in a loss to the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals), the Redbirds went on to win five straight games, including a sweep of their cross-state rival Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers).

Improving their season-long hitting inefficiencies with runners in the scoring position, the ‘Birds went on to belt out 25 hits in 73 opportunities to the tune of a .342 batting average with 18 extra-base hits over the final stretch. The hot streak wasn't enough for the Redbirds to erase the worst batting average (.257) and OPS (.717) in the Pacific Coast League. Pitching was more of a plus, as the Redbirds' 4.59 earned-run average finished fifth in the league with the second most strikeouts at 1,100.

Memphis' hot streak over the final seven games pushed its overall record to 57-87, two games above the Iowa Cubs to escape the cellar of the American Northern Division. Memphis had 10 fewer wins than second-place Nashville and remained 26 games behind Omaha to end the season.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, August 28th: Memphis 5, Omaha 0
Scott Gorgen carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing a two-out triple to Anthony Seratelli. The right-hander shut down a solid Omaha lineup over seven stellar innings to pick up his first win for the Redbirds, allowing only two hits and two hits, while fanning three batters. Sam Freeman and Barret Browning carried the shutout to the end with an inning apiece.

Memphis inflicted most of the damage in the second inning with four runs, as Pete Kozma drove in two with a single and scored on a double from Vance Albitz. Bryan Anderson scored following a ground out by Adron Chambers in the inning. Kozma tacked on a final run with a single in the third and finished the day 2-for-3 with three runs driven home.

Wednesday, August 29th: Omaha 6, Memphis 2
Shut out through seven innings due in large part to the dominance of Jake Odorizzi, the Redbirds plated their first run in the eighth when Brock Peterson smacked a solo-shot to left field, his third for Memphis. Lance Berkman followed up by driving in Vance Albitz on a two-out double, but it was too little, too late in an offensive effort that produced seven hits. Eugenio Velez and Albitz finished with two singles each.

Though John Gast scratched out a quality start by yielding two runs over six innings, issuing seven hits and no free passes, the southpaw was tabbed with his fifth loss of the season. Jess Todd didn't fare as well as he allowed three runs to cross the plate off five total hits in his inning of work, stretching the deficit to five runs. Eugenio Velez's fielding error in the eighth led to another tally before Victor Marte retired the opposition in the ninth.

Thursday, August 30th: Memphis 12, Omaha 4
Memphis briefly forgot about their offensive troubles over the 2012 season and pounded out 21 total hits, four walks, and five extra-base hits that all led to 12 runs in their final home game of the season. The only blemish came when an employee subbing as a camera man (your very own reporter, Pierce Jefferson) was nailed on a one-hopper line drive to the knee.

Rainy conditions limited Lance Berkman to only one at bat, as he was lifted after collecting a single in his first plate appearance. Berkman's single in the first was one of eight hits that led to seven runs to give the Redbirds a commanding lead in the first inning. Steven Hill belted a three-run homer to the left field grass area, his 17th long ball of the year. Adron Chambers drove in two with a bases-loaded double in the fifth, while Brock Peterson followed with a single to score Lou Montanez and Chambers. Ryan Jackson scored the final run following two wild pitches by Donnie Joseph.

Tyler Lyons nabbed his fourth win by limiting Omaha to three runs over 5.1 innings. The southpaw scattered seven hits, one walk, and fanned one batter. Barret Browning and Jorge Rondon combined to shut out the Storm Chasers through the seventh inning. Though Sam Freeman yielded a solo-home run in the eighth, Eduardo Sanchez closed out the game with a perfect ninth.

Friday, August 31st: Memphis 5 at Nashville 1
Closing out an impressive August, Shelby Miller struck out nine batters over six innings, issuing zero free passes and only one run. The Texas native earned his 11th win to bring his overall record on the year to 11-10 and was not bit by the home run bug on his final Redbirds start of the year. Adam Reifer, John Gaub, and Victor Marte closed out the opposition for three straight innings.

With Memphis trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning, Brock Peterson struck with a run-scoring double that plated Adron Chambers and Steven Hill, who both reached on singles. Though the two runs ended up being enough for the win, the Redbirds didn't stop there. In the next inning as Matt Young, Adron Chambers, and Ryan Jackson scraped out three straight singles, the latter driving in both runners. Hill delivered the final run in the ninth on a single to bring home Chambers. Chambers, Jackson, and Hill collected three hits each to amass nine total hits hitting in the one through three spots in the order. The front half of the lineup did all the work, as Cedric Hunter, Lou Montanez, Vance Albitz, and Nick Derba went a combined 0-for-14 in the bottom half of the order.

Saturday, September 1st: Memphis 5 at Nashville 4 (10 innings)
Falling behind 3-0 in the first, Memphis used the next two innings to take a 4-3 lead, the only runs they would create until extra innings. Eugenio Velez singled and was later driven in by a double by Jose Garcia to score in the second. Cedric Hunter and Matt Young singled in the third, and Brock Peterson drove them both in with a triple down the right field line. Peterson scored via a single from Lou Montanez to finish out the scoring in regulation. Memphis used two walks, a throwing error, and a sacrifice fly from Montanez to plate what would turn out to be the winning run in the 10th.

Brandon Dickson returned from St. Louis to fan eight batters and not allow a walk, though three of the four runs he allowed came in the first inning. The 27-year-old's final earned run came via a solo-shot in the seventh, which erased his chance at a victory. Barret Browning tossed a scoreless eighth inning, as Maikel Cleto followed up with a scoreless frame of his own to earn his third victory. Victor Marte nabbed his third save.

Sunday, September 2nd: Memphis 10 at Nashville 1
After taking the first two games of the series, Memphis moved one win closer to a sweep to end the season in dominating fashion Sunday. Though they struck out six times in the first two innings, the ‘Birds used three straight singles from Lou Montanez, Matt Young, and Brock Peterson to score their first run in the third.

A six-run fourth inning followed, as starter Nick Greenwood doubled to drive in Nick Derba. Greenwoold scored on a Montanez double, who was brought across once Young singled. Peterson belted his fourth long ball with Memphis, a two-run shot to center field to bring the tally to six runs in the fourth. Peterson drilled his second home run of the night in the seventh, another two-run shot. Peterson and Young each ended the day with three hits.

Late-season rotation addition Greenwood lasted five innings this time and limited the Sounds to one run off three hits and two walks. Though John Gaub yielded three hits, he escaped the eighth unscathed before Jess Todd tossed three perfect innings, earning his second save.

Monday, September 3rd: Memphis 2 at Nashville 1
Trailing 1-0 through six innings, the Redbirds didn't score until John Gast helped his cause by working a single with one out in the seventh. Adron Chambers doubled to bring Gast to third, who scored following a ground out by Ryan Jackson. Steven Hill came up next and drove Jackson in as the winning run with a single to round out the scoring in the game. Cedrid Hunter and Eugenio Velez each collected two hits, and Velez stole his 36th and 37th bases of the year.

John Gast earned his ninth win for Memphis to bring his overall record to 9-5, with his .643 winning percentage on the year best among Redbirds starters. The southpaw worked seven exceptional innings, allowing one run via the long ball, striking out four batters compared to zero walks and two total hits. Jorge Rondon fanned three batters over the four he faced, and Barret Browning closed out the final game of the season with a strikeout to pick up his first save and complete the sweep of the Sounds in Nashville.

Who's Hot

Matt Young: The outfielder posted a batting line of .442/.478/.488 over 13 games and 43 at bats for the ‘Birds. Young finished 10-for-20 in his final five games for Memphis and scored five times.

Brock Peterson: The first baseman's strength has always been power, and he certainly displayed that over the past week. Including a two-homer performance on Sunday, Peterson also belted another on Wednesday of the past week to finish with five long balls in 72 at bats for the Redbirds.

Shelby Miller: Before winning Organizational Pitcher of the Month awards and similar recognition by The Cardinal Nation for the second consecutive month, Miller proved deadly in his final outing of the season. He finished with a staggering 53 strikeouts compared to four walks over six starts in August spanning 37.1 innings. The Texas native earned a promotion to St. Louis for his first MLB exposure in the month of September.

Tyler Lyons: The southpaw had a solid August by posting a 3.12 earned-run average with 32 strikeouts and five walks in 34.2 innings. Lyons has impressed lately with the ‘Birds and should have a spot in the Memphis rotation again next season.

Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)

Tuesday, August 28th: Kansas City Royals
none

Wednesday, August 29th: Kansas City Royals
1) Wil Myers (outfield, one of the best hitting prospects in baseball, above-average power, solid patience, high average hitter, average speed, plus arm): 1-for-5, two strikeouts

3) Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 91-93 mph fastball with good movement, curve has above-average potential, slider and changeup have average potential): five innings, one hit, zero runs, five walks, six strikeouts

Thursday, August 30th: Kansas City Royals
1) Myers: 1-for-4, home run, RBI

Friday, August 31st: Milwaukee Brewers
1) Wily Peralta (RHP, 91-95 mph fastball, throws both four-seam and two-seam, good slider, inconsistent changeup, improve his control but still consistent): six innings, five hits, two runs, three walks, two strikeouts

5) Logan Schafer (center field, line-drive contact, not much power, above-average speed, good range, average arm): 2-for-4, strikeout

7) Taylor Green (infielder, plays multiple positions, solid power, good patience, below-average runner, mediocre fielder): 1-for-4, double, RBI, two strikeouts

Saturday, September 1st: Milwaukee Brewers
5) Schafer: 2-for-5

7) Green: 1-for-4

Sunday, September 2nd: Milwaukee Brewers
5) Schafer: 2-for-3, double, RBI, walk

6) Thornburg (RHP, 89-92 mph fastball, plus changeup, inconsistent curve, funky demand leads to inconsistent command): 3.2 innings, six hits, five runs, two walks, seven strikeouts

7) Green: 0-for-3, walk, two strikeouts

Monday, September 3rd: Milwaukee Brewers
5) Schafer: 1-for-4

7) Green: 0-for-3

The Cardinal Nation Top 40

1) Shelby Miller: 11 wins, 10 losses; 4.74 earned-run average; 136.2 innings pitched; 24 home runs; 50 walks; 160 strikeouts. The top pitching prospect's status dropped after he displayed lackluster numbers and decreased velocity over the first half of the season. Miller came back to gain weight and welcomed back increased velocity that led to dominant strikeout numbers, finishing second in the Pacific Coast League with five behind John Ely, who tallied over 30 more innings than Miller. He was also issued a "no-shake off" rule in mid-June that eventually led to much improved results. Miller was recently promoted to St. Louis to gain valuable experience and will join the Cardinals in Spring Training in 2013 with a chance at winning a spot in the rotation.

7) Eduardo Sanchez: 5.86 earned-run average; 27.2 innings pitched; 21 walks, 26 strikeouts. Sanchez was given the opportunity to stick with the big club this season, but major control issues confounded the young hurler that led to his demotion to Memphis. Sanchez has yet to hear word of a September promotion and there's a decent chance it won't come, as the right-hander never fully regained control of his stuff. The velocity and movement is still there, so Sanchez still has a chance to be an effective reliever on the major league level in the future.

9) Matt Adams: .329/.362/.624, 22 doubles, 18 home runs, 50 RBI. The first baseman was one of, if not the most productive hitter in the Pacific Coast League this year when healthy. His .986 OPS would have finished third overall in the league had he the at bats to qualify, instead losing time to an elbow injury that cut his season short to remove bone spurs. Adams proved that his power and offense translates to higher levels, though he somewhat struggled with a brief promotion to St. Louis to the tune of a .244 batting average with eight extra-base hits in 86 at bats. The first baseman will likely return to Memphis next season with a chance to make a significant contribution in St. Louis in 2014 or earlier if an injury creates an opportunity for him in the lineup.

13) Ryan Jackson: .272/.334/.396, 23 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 47 RBI. The shortstop maintained the offensive output he posted over the past two seasons in Quad Cities, Palm Beach, and Springfield, though it is unclear whether he has the ability to stick full-time in the majors. Jackson will likely get a shot to impress the Cardinals front office with an increased role upon the injury to Rafael Furcal for the rest of the season. He could also win a back-up role with the Cardinals in 2013, though the team might instead opt for a more experienced presence.

14) Maikel Cleto: 5.37 earned-run average; 53.2 innings pitched; four home runs; 22 walks; 66 strikeouts. It's been mentioned numerous times over these reports that Cleto has improved his control immensely over the past season, though his overall earned-run average leaves much to be desired. Cleto's control did start to falter in August, as he issued nine free passes over 13.2 innings. The right-hander could win a role out of Spring Training with the Cardinals, though it's likely he'll return to Memphis.

17) Adron Chambers: .319/.405/.403, 17 doubles, two triples, three homers, 13 stolen bases. Providing an excellent presence as a leadoff hitter with his .405 on-base percentage, Chambers has received the call to St. Louis for September to provide speed off the bench and a role as another backup center fielder. Chambers has the potential to have a fourth/fifth outfielder role in the majors, but he bats from the wrong side of the plate to spell Jon Jay.

19) Adam Reifer: 4.90 earned-run average; 64.1 innings pitched; 11 home runs; 20 walks; 44 strikeouts. Reifer led the team in appearances out of the pen with 58, though he posted lackluster numbers. The California was bitten by the home run bug this season, and his 44 strikeouts over 64.1 innings pitched represented a mediocre line for a set-up reliever. Reifer likely has a spot back in the Memphis bullpen next season.

21) John Gast: 5.10 earned-run average; 109.1 innings pitched; 10 homers; 42 walks; 86 strikeouts. July was the best month for Gast, as he won the organizational Pitcher of the Month award after fanning 30 batters over 30 innings and posting a 2.70 earned-run average over five starts. Gast's command faltered in August with 17 walks in 20.2 innings, though he represented a steady presence in the Memphis rotation. The southpaw should head back to Memphis to start for the Redbirds in 2013.

25) Bryan Anderson: .225/.302/.317, 12 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 35 RBI. The 2012 season has proved a struggle for the 25-year old, though he was recently promoted to be the third catcher in the month of September for the Cardinals. Anderson lost the backup catching job to Tony Cruz and returned to Memphis to begin his fifth season with the team. The backstop struggled out of the gate and wasn't able to pull it together all year, but he hit better in July and August to the tune of a .262 and .261 batting average in subsequent months.

32) Brandon Dickson: 3.63 earned-run average; 141.1 innings pitched; 17 home runs; 27 walks; 104 strikeouts. The Alabama native proved to be the most consistent starter in the Memphis rotation, though his 5-11 win-loss record didn't prove it. Dickson made a couple appearances in St. Louis to provide a middle relief role, but he struggled by yielding seven runs (five earned) over four outings. His future is unclear for next season.

34) Sam Freeman: 2.08 earned-run average; 30.1 innings pitched; three home runs; 12 walks; 27 strikeouts. The southpaw earned a promotion to St. Louis in May, though he struggled with command with seven walks and nine surrendered runs in 13 innings. Freeman returned to post stellar numbers in July and August and earned another promotion to help the team out in September. He has a chance to earn a pen spot out of Spring Training for the Cardinals in 2013.

35) Pete Kozma: .232/.292/.355, 16 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 63 RBI, seven steals. The middle infielder has posted less than stellar numbers for the second straight year in Memphis. Kozma was recently promoted following a season-ending injury to Rafael Furcal and will see some playing time in the middle infield in September. Kozma's role in the future remains uncertain for the Cardinals and could be an outright candidate in the off season.

Transactions

8/29: Bryan Anderson promoted to St. Louis. The catcher was needed just before the rosters expanded after Yadier Molina was injured in a collision at the plate and remains for the final month.

8/29: Trevor Rosenthal promoted to St. Louis. The right-hander will be there to stay through the rest of the season.

8/29: Brandon Dickson optioned to Memphis. The starter was a candidate to be promoted when rosters expanded, but was passed over.

8/29: Ryan Jackson optioned to Memphis. The shortstop headed right back to St. Louis and may have a bigger role upon the injury to Rafael Furcal to end his season.

8/30: Scott Gorgen promoted from Springfield.

8/31: Pete Kozma promoted to St. Louis. Furcal's injury led to this promotion, as Kozma will most likely finish the season with St. Louis as one of the limited options to play shortstop.

8/31: Jose Garcia activated from 7-day disabled list.

9/1: Sam Freeman promoted to St. Louis. The southpaw proved his value over the past month and a half and could be a viable part of the bullpen down the stretch.

9/3: Victor Marte promoted to St. Louis. The set-up man will finish where he started the season, though it's unclear what his role will be with the team.

9/4: Ryan Jackson promoted to St. Louis. Jackson will most likely fill in some at short with Furcal apparently out for the season.

9/4: Adron Chambers promoted to St. Louis. The speedy outfielder will provide a spark off the bench with a solid on-base percentage.

9/4: Shelby Miller promoted to St. Louis. The Texas native should see a little time in a relief role and could make a start down the stretch for the Cardinals.



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