Insight from Cardinals instructs: October 4

News from the St. Louis Cardinals instructional camp in Jupiter, Florida. The Mets ran into a red buzzsaw on Thursday. Robert Stock started and the offense followed.

Just nine days remain in the 2012 instructional camp being run by the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida. (For basic details on camp structure, duration and roster, click here.)

The number of healthy and available pitchers is down to 12. That, coupled with the fact that the Marlins' mini-camp has ended, means the Cardinals are not playing games about every other day. Other times, they have a camp day, with or without a 1 PM game or face the Mets' instructional league club.

I faced one of each in my three days in camp. Tuesday featured an intersquad game, Wednesday was a camp day with no game and Thursday brought the Mets to Jupiter.

Lineup (in-game subs)
McElroy 7 (Tilson)
Ramsey 8
Wisdom 5
Washington 3
Kelly DH (Caldwell)
Wilson 4
Bean 2 (Cruz)
Valera 6
Jeffries 9

Stock 3 innings
Baez 2 IP
Russell 2 IP
Kiekhefer 2 IP

There were between 12 and 15 scouts at this game, a big contrast to the 4-6 at Tuesday's intrasquad contest. Appearing both times was Cardinals area scout Charlie Gonzalez, who I had last crossed paths with at a Batavia game at Hudson Valley in July. Charlie was very visible in a powder blue Swing of the Quad Cities cap that he said had been a gift from Jon Jay. Gonzalez hooked up with one of his recent finds, lefty Max Foody.

Another new arrival in camp is Special Assistant to the GM Gary LaRocque who assists farm director John Vuch with the minor league system.

The results were stellar for the Cardinals, both hitting and pitching. The final score was 9-1 Cards.

The Cardinals got out ahead early as Patrick Wisdom shot a solo home run over the left-field fence in the bottom of the first. The top of the third ended with Steve Bean throwing out a Mets runner trying to steal second. Stock threw three scoreless, with velo in the 91-93 MPH range.

There was big action in the third as Cesar Valera singled and came all the way around when Lance Jeffries tripled into the right field corner. He came home on an infield out by C.J. McElroy.

With all the focus on McElroy and Charlie Tilson in his draft class, I hadn't focused much on Jeffries. One scout believes Jeffries to be the most polished of the three. His build reminds me of Brian Jordan – short and muscular.

After a James Ramsey single and a Wisdom walk, the former scored on a David Washington single. He moved up on the throw. Carson Kelly singled home Wisdom to increase the lead to 5-0.

Continuing to push matters, Valera and McElroy were both cut down trying to steal second base in the home 4th.

Jeffries impressed again in the top of the fifth, making a very difficult diving catch in right-center. He ran a long way and made his dive in a way to protect his hand and wrist as much as possible.

Fernando Baez tossed two scoreless for the Cards, hitting 91-93 before it started to rain. Fortunately, this time, the precip was relatively brief.

The Mets loaded the bases against Zack Russell in the top of the seventh. They scored their only run on a bloop single to right. Russell ended his two innings with a called strikeout on a 97 MPH fastball.

After McElroy left the game, he received some special tutoring on one of the other adjoining fields for the second game in a row. I wandered over, to learn that the right-handed hitter is experimenting with switch-hitting. He apparently isn't yet ready to try out hitting from the left side in game action, but it presents an intriguing possibility.

In the eighth, Ramsey doubled into the right-field corner and scored on an RBI single by Wisdom that shot over third base. After Washington singled and Jacob Wilson was hit by a pitch, catcher Luis Cruz cleared the bases with a blast that was hit directly at and over the head of the left fielder, who did not break back quickly enough. That three-run double concluded the scoring in the 9-1 win.

Dean Kiekhefer finished off the final two innings, allowing no runs while showing a fastball in the upper 80s and a sharp breaking pitch.


A familiar face was hobbling around. Outfielder Virgil Hill has his left leg in a brace that holds his knee rigid. He explained that he required patella tendon reconstruction. Hill, who was with Quad Cities, will be out for three months, but expects to return at full strength in the spring.

Other injured players currently rehabbing in Jupiter include Luis Perdomo, Tyler Mills, Kender Villegas and Alex Mejia. After having been there all summer, Tommy Pham was recently sent home to continue his rehab. Soon to arrive will be Logan Billbrough, expected to be out until June after Tommy John surgery.

Cardinals pitching coach Tim Leveque has been in charge of the Jupiter rehab activities for about the last year.

(Note: While I am taking a goodly supply of photos, the impending site change here at Sports NEXT means we will all be better off if I wait to post them until after the migration.)

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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