Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 5

Xavier Scruggs is the second consecutive Springfield Cardinals player to take home Texas League Player of the Week honors after a 7-for-13 week with four home runs and 10 RBI.

This was a very eventful and exciting week for the Springfield Cardinals.

First, the news came that top pitching prospect Carlos Martinez would get the call to join the St. Louis Cardinals directly from Springfield. Martinez became the 50th Springfield Cardinal to become a St. Louis Cardinal. Later in the week, much to the appreciation of fans at Hammons Field, big-league slugger Matt Adams rejoined his old stomping grounds on a rehab assignment over the weekend. By the end of the weekend, the Double-A Birds would have another recent first-round pick joining their roster in outfielder James Ramsey.

In the middle of it all, the Cards had to contend with weather as they have all season so far but this time it was in the form of a freak May snow storm. Through all the events, Springfield posted a 2-3 record on the week.

Tuesday, April 30th, Springfield 0 at NW Arkansas 4

On Tuesday, the Cardinals made the short trip to Northwest Arkansas to open what was supposed to be a four-game series with the Naturals at Arvest Ballpark. With a starting temperature at a warm 81 degrees when the game began, this would be the warmest weather the club would experience all week.

Boone Whiting took the mound for the Cardinals hoping to rebound from an uncharacteristically inefficient outing in his last start. Unfortunately, Whiting produced similar results as he was charged with four runs on six hits and two batters walked in 4 2/3 innings. One of the runs was unearned though, on Jake Lemmerman's eighth error of the season. After Whiting, Ramon Delgado took over in the fifth inning and threw 3 1/3 hitless innings striking out five batters, but it wasn't enough to keep Whiting from suffering his second loss of the season.

Although the club matched the Naturals with six hits, they were only 1-for-12 as a team with runners in scoring position and therefore unable to push a run across. Out of the team's six hits, Adam Melker grabbed two from the leadoff spot. Newcomer, catcher Juan Castillo, also had two hits including his first double. Xavier Scruggs added his third double of the season while Tommy Pham had the team's only other hit. Pham also stole two bases on the evening.

Wednesday, May 1st, Springfield 9 at NW Arkansas 3

Hoping to get back on track in Springdale, Arkansas, the Cardinals looked to Arizona State product and former 1st round pick Seth Blair on the hill. Blair has struggled so far in 2013 but delivered his most solid start of the season so far on Wednesday evening. Although it was still not quite what the Cardinals are hoping to see from Blair, the righty seemed to have more control by not allowing a walk in his five innings while striking out six. In those five innings, Blair surrendered three runs on seven hits, lowering his ERA to 8.10. The bullpen was strong to preserve Blair's first win of the season with four strong innings from Justin Wright, Deryk Hooker and Michael Blazek. Hooker threw the seventh and eighth innings with Blazek closing out the ninth.

Unlike the night before, the Cardinals had little trouble plating runs on Wednesday evening. Although the team was just a combined 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position, they still put nine across out of 18 baserunners. Pham got things started for the Cardinals in the fourth inning with a bases-clearing, three-run triple, his sixth of the season. Leadoff man Mike O'Neill served as a catalyst for the offense, reaching base four times including three by walks. Melker added two extra base hits with a double and a triple while Scruggs and Chris Swauger, each with two hits, touched all four with solo home runs late in the game. Starlin Rodriguez drove in the team's other run with a RBI double in the Cardinals 9-3 win.

Thursday, May 2nd, Springfield at NW Arkansas (postponed because of rain)

Friday, May 3rd, Springfield at NW Arkansas (postponed because of snow)

Saturday, May 4th, Tulsa 3 at Springfield 5

After waiting out an ill-timed and rare May snowstorm, the Cardinals returned home on Saturday. The club was primed to finally get rehabbing big-leaguer and 2011 Texas League Player of the Year Matt Adams some action to get him ready for return with the big club. The Hammons Field grounds crew, led by Brock Phipps, worked hard to rid the field of snow in time, the Cards and Drillers took the field on a cold Saturday night.

Richard Castillo got the start and the game got off to a cold start. After allowing one run to plate in the first, Castillo was charged with another, this one unearned, after an errant throw from Ruben Gotay pulled Adams off the bag at first. Castillo might have been charged with more runs had Rodriguez not come up with an outstanding leaping grab at second in the third. Castillo finished after six innings allowing three runs, two earned on seven hits and two walks. Following Castillo, Kevin Thomas, Kevin Siegrist, and Blazek each threw a perfect inning and each striking out one batter. Blazek closed the win with his fifth save of the season.

Although it took awhile for the offense to get started, the Cardinals were able to come from behind to earn the win. Pham was 2-for-4 with an RBI at the plate and might have been 4-for-4 had he not hit into some tough luck early in the game. Adams missed a home run to right field by mere feet in his second at-bat. Scruggs, however, did connect for a long-ball, his ninth of the season, a pinch-hit two-run shot in the seventh inning well over the Drillers' bullpen in left field. Gotay contributed with a RBI double and Lemmerman added a run- scoring single.

Sunday, April 5th, Tulsa 1 at Springfield 12

Quietly turning in a strong season, Scott McGregor gave the Cardinals the strongest start they have seen so far this season with six no-hit innings. McGregor looked sharp in his no-hit bid, mixing pitches to strike out six Drillers. Manager Mike Shildt might have been tempted to send him out for more, but instead McGregor left after 86 pitches.

Delgado followed McGregor in the seventh but the no-hit bid was immediately spoiled. Delgado stranded the runner though with a scoreless seventh, followed by Wright who threw a scoreless eighth. The shutout was broken up on a RBI double by Kent Matthes against Hooker in the ninth.

The bats were alive behind McGregor's brilliant start. The action started in the third inning where the Cardinals plated four. Pham drove in O'Neill on a single followed by a Matt Adams two-run double off the top of the centerfield wall, which missed a home run by about a foot on the first pitch of his second at-bat. Pham, Adams and Gotay each had two hits. Catcher Audry Perez drove in two runs on his two hits and Rodriguez plated two on three hits including two doubles. Lemmerman added two hits of his own while scoring three runs. 2012 first-round pick James Ramsey was 0-for-4 with a walk in his Double-A debut.

Monday, April 6th, Tulsa 15 at Springfield 4

Capping a strange week for the Cardinals, Anthony Ferrara took the mound with an opportunity to secure a series win. Unfortunately, the left-hander was not a strong as his predecessor for Sunday. Ferrara was taken deep three times, all solo shots, in his 4 1/3 innings. He had allowed just two-runs before the fifth inning when the Drillers erupted for eight runs. Ferrara was responsible for seven total runs, five of them in the fifth, on a total of five hits and four walks.

Thomas entered next but recorded just one out and was on the hook for three more runs on four hits. Recently rejoining Springfield from Memphis, Nick Greenwood entered in the fifth to get the final out but was also tagged the next inning for five runs on four hits, although only one of those runs was earned. Delgado finally put out the fire with scoreless seventh and eighth innings before Keith Butler, also recently back from Memphis, returned to his familiar role in the ninth with a scoreless inning.

It took awhile for the Cardinals to get on the board and when they did, it was not enough to combat the Drillers' offensive outburst. In all, Springfield recorded eight hits with Ramsey recording his first Double-A hit. Ramsey was 2-for-3 for the Cardinals' only multi-hit game. Of the Cardinals' four runs, two came off the bat of Luis Mateo, who recorded a pinch-hit two-run double in the eighth inning. The other two RBI came from Chris Swauger, who has a team-leading 23 RBI in 2013. Pham also recorded his fifth double of the season in the loss.

Who's Hot

Xavier Scruggs - Scruggs earned the Springfield Cardinals' second consecutive Texas League Player of the Week honor. Scruggs is second in the Texas League with nine home runs and third with 22 RBI. The power-hitting first baseman was 7-for-13 with four home runs and 10 RBI in his last six games.

Tommy Pham - Pham is hitting a team-leading and third in the Texas League .340 through 100 at-bats so far this season. Pham has 16 extra base hits including five doubles, six triples, and five home runs to go with 21 RBI.

Scott McGregor - McGregor threw a six-inning no hit bid while striking out six in his only start of the week, improving his record to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.36.

Who's Not

Anthony Ferrara - Roughed up in his most recent start, the lefty allowed seven earned runs and walked four batters this week.

Team Transactions

May 5th - OF Adam Melker placed on seven-day DL (shin splits)
May 5th - OF James Ramsey received from High-A Palm Beach to fill Melker's spot
May 5th - RHP Keith Butler received from Triple-A Memphis to fill Martinez's roster spot
May 5th - LHP Nick Greenwood received from Triple-A Memphis
May 5th - LHP Dean Kiekhefer sent to High-A Palm Beach to make room for Greenwood
May 5th - INF Luis Mateo activated from seven-day DL
May 5th - INF Neal Pritchard released from organization in a corresponding move to Mateo
May 3rd - RHP Carlos Martinez's contract purchased by MLB St. Louis Cardinals

North Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Springfield 15 14 .517 -- 9-8 6-6 5-5 L2
Tulsa 15 15 .500 0.5 10-4 5-11 5-5 W1
Arkansas 14 16 .467 1.5 6-7 8-9 5-5 L2
NW Arkansas 11 18 .379 540 6-9 5-9 5-5 W2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#5 Carlos Martinez - Got the call to join the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen and has made two impressive appearances with the big-league club this week.

#11 Jordan Swagerty - Rehab is progressing slower than expected and no timetable has yet been released on when Swagerty will join a club.

#17 Starlin Rodriguez - Rodriguez is progressing at the plate getting some extra base hits lately but on Saturday, Rodriguez made the most impressive play I have ever seen at Hammons Field on a hard hit line drive that required the second baseman's full vertical extension for him to snag and bring down.

#22 Kevin Siegrist - The lefty had just one appearance this week holding the Drillers hitless in his one inning of work and striking out one. His stuff is beginning to look very sharp out of the pen.

#25 Boone Whiting - Whiting's last two starts have not been as strong as his first three. His walks have been up, but if he can find his control, he can regain momentum with his ERA still at a solid 3.80.

#30 Seth Blair - Blair is looking a little better every start and is starting to get hit a little less hard. In a sign he is gaining his control, he had no walks in his most recent start.

#32 Mike O'Neill - The USC product is an on-base machine, posting a .466 OBP through 91 at-bats this season.

#38 Audry Perez - Perez is slowly showing signs of life. His batting average has risen to a more respectable .176 from the sub-.100 level it was a short time ago.

What's Next

The Cardinals finish their four-game series with Tulsa on Tuesday morning with Boone Whiting on the mound against the Drillers. Springfield will have the day off on Wednesday before hosting the Naturals at home over the weekend and then heading to Tulsa for a four-game series to open next week.

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