2012 Palm Beach Cardinals team review

From pennant races to perfect games, top prospects to breakout stars, the 2012 season had it all for the Palm Beach Cardinals.

The Palm Beach Cardinals, the A-Advanced affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, went into the season with less promise than the year before. After all, the Cardinals did not bolster a roster full of prospects like it did in 2011.

Pitcher Carlos Martinez, rated as the team's top pitcher and the second best prospect in the Cardinals organization, was very limited in his few starts with Palm Beach. He appeared in seven games, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.00 ERA. His numbers were solid, but it was pitcher Seth Maness that stole the show. He would make seven appearances, recording three wins with a 2.15 ERA.

The combination of Maness and Martinez led the Cardinals to a solid 19-17 record before they were promoted to Double-A Springfield. Despite a decent start, the Cardinals did not have a chance in the first half of the season as the St. Lucie Mets ran away with the South Division. The Mets finished the first half with an eye-opening 49-19 record, while the Cardinals finished 31-36, 17.5 games back.

The second half of the season offered hope for the Cardinals, as they were strengthen by a 1-2 combo of Mike O'Neill and Starlin Rodriguez at the plate. The two hitters not only led the Cardinals, but were in the top ten in the Florida State League in many statistical categories.

However, it did not result in victories as the Cardinals sputtered out of the gate, starting the second half 1-5. After winning a few games on the road, returning to respectability, the Cardinals received great news in the arrival of two players.

The Cardinals added 2012 First-Year Player Draft first-rounders James Ramsey and Michael Wacha for a late season playoff push. The winning mentality and overall talent of both players helped the Cardinals to a 22-21 record on July 3rd, which put them in first place for the first time all season.

Their place atop the division did not last very long, as they dropped 11 of their next 13 games, falling to fifth in the division. After a 6-1 beating by the Fort Myers Miracle on July 18, the Cardinals did not lose their spirit in the clubhouse.

The Beach Birds found their stride, winning eight of their next nine games, to climb to within four games of the Jupiter Hammerheads in the South Division.

On August 29th, in the final game of their road trip, Chris Corrigan made Palm Beach history. The right-hander tossed the Cardinals' first perfect game, going a full nine innings, striking out nine Charlotte Stone Crabs hitters on 84 pitches.

Despite the momentous moment the night before, the Cardinals were officially eliminated from playoff contention the next day, as the Jupiter Hammerheads' Jose Fernandez shut out the Cardinals, 4-0.

Palm Beach ended the season 64-70 and third in the South Division. Various injuries to their middle of the order hitters and promotions of their top arms plagued the Cardinals all season.

The Cardinals were also hurt by poor production at the plate, finishing eighth in batting average (.253), 11th in runs (528) and last in home runs (50). The pitching staff held its own, posting a 3.71 ERA, fourth in the league. Ryan Sheriff led the team in victories (10) despite starting the season in Extended Spring Training.

Overall, the Cardinals played above their talent level for most of the season. The lack of a consistent middle of the lineup hitter and first baseman hurt the Cardinals through the dog days of summer.

Four Palm Beach Cardinals will head to instructional ball, as they try to refine their talent. Outfielder James Ramsey and pitchers Iden Nazario, Dean Kiekhefer and Zack Russell will all be in Jupiter, FL during September. Catcher Cody Stanley and pitcher Seth Blair received higher honors as they will represent the Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League.

Link to master article with all 2012 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.

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