The Gulf Coast League Cardinals (16-15) were 3-3 this week. They took two games, including a 14-inning fiasco on Monday that lasted four hours and 40 minutes. They lost a doubleheader on Wednesday to the first-place Nationals before another rainout on Thursday, then split a pair with the Marlins.
The Cardinals were outscored 27-24, though they outhit their opponents 51-49. They committed 13 errors to 12 by their opponents.
Near the midpoint of the GCL season, the Nationals (25-6) have emerged as the class of the East Division. They hold a nine-game lead over the second-place Cardinals. The Nationals' big lead is due to their dominance over the Mets and Marlins, who have only one win each against the Nats. Before losing their last two against the Nationals, the Cardinals had won four of their first seven meetings.
The Nationals are near the bottom of the league in home runs and Isolated Power, but are winning with a combination of pitching, speed and defense. With a WHIP of 1.14 to the Cardinals' 1.31, the Nationals' staff is allowing almost about one fewer walk per game and almost one fewer hit per game. And the Nationals' have allowed a league-low 13 unearned runs, while the Cardinals have 33. The Nationals also lead the GCL in on-base percentage (.365 to the Cardinals' .311, with the latter below the league average) and stolen bases (64 to the Cardinals' 28). Cardinals hitters as a team rank fourth in the GCL in hits, but are last in walks drawn and third highest in strikeouts.
The highlight (and some of the lowlights) of the week occurred Monday in the Cardinals' 14-inning win over the struggling Mets. The Cardinals trailed 6-3 heading into the top of the seventh in Port St. Lucie when they exploded for five runs. Leobaldo Pina started the rally with a single to center, followed by a line single by Rafael Medina and a bunt single by Jose Godoy to load the bases. Carlos Torres fanned for the first out.
Pinch-hitting in the GCL is not as common as at higher levels, but manager Steve Turco then made three moves that worked. Chris Rivera, pinch-hitting for Jacoby Almaraz, waked to force in a run. Elier Rodriguez, pinch-hitting for Ricardo Batista, singled in two more runs. DeAndre Asbury ran for Rodriguez and beat the force attempt at second base on a grounder by Eliezer Alvarez, allowing Rivera to score the fifth run of the inning.
Kyle Grana blew the save in the ninth when he was scored upon for the first time as a pro, but the Cardinals won in the 14th when Asbury walked with one out, advanced to second on a balk and scored on Jhohan Acevedo's two-out single.
Comings and Goings
Other than the temporary assignments of a few rehabbers here and there, the GCL transaction wire has been uncommonly bereft of Cardinals names so far this season.
RHP Eric Fornataro, on rehab from Triple-A Memphis, made two appearances this week after going more than a week without pitching in a game.
RHP Chris Corrigan and LHP Jay Voss, both on rehab from A-Advanced Palm Beach, threw in games Wednesday and Saturday. On Saturday against the Marlins, Voss gave up two runs, both unearned because of his own fielding error, and was charged with the loss. Corrigan pitched one perfect inning, but in his second inning of work was hit hard before being removed with one out.
Hot and Not
With a 4-for-4 performance Saturday before leaving the game with a hand injury, 1B Jake Stone was 9-for-21 (.429) to raise his average for the season to .349. … 3B Rafael Medina got hot again, going 7-for-16 (.438) to get his average back up to .322. …
First-round pick Rob Kaminsky tossed two scoreless innings against the Mets on Tuesday, his third appearance without allowing a run. In four innings so far in his pro career, Kaminsky has fanned nine. …
Though still hitting .314 for the season, Elier Rodriguez was 1-for-12 for the week. … DeAndre Asbury was 1-for-11. … Jacoby Almaraz was 0-for-6 to drop his average to .064.
A Closer Look At
These capsule scouting reports are based on interviews with Cardinals minor league hitting coordinator Derrick May:
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound right-handed hitter has tools but is still a little raw, May said. He said the Cardinals typically don't change a hitter's swing in his first season. The coaches like to see first what adjustments the player will make on his own. Though drafted as a shortstop, Collymore has played second base because the GCL Cards are deep at short. "He needs to work on his hands, his range and his footwork around the bag," May said.
Elier Rodriguez: The 6-foot-2, 210-pound switch-hitting catcher was drafted in the 14th round out of Immaculata-LaSalle High School in Miami. May said Rodriguez didn't begin catching until his senior year so he is still new to the position.
At the plate, Rodriguez has more power from the left side, but makes more consistent contact from the right side, May said. While he is a good fastball hitter, Rodriguez needs to see more offspeed pitches and breaking balls to learn better how to react to them. "Experience is the best teacher, but preparation is also important," May noted. Still, May said, "For me, he has more of an advanced approach for his age."
Behind the plate, Rodriguez is a "work in progress," May said, though he has the ability. "He throws a true ball, no tail," but needs to get better at blocking balls, being flexible and shifting his feet, May said.
The lefty hitter has made strides since first signing with the Cardinals. "He's starting to get a little more feel at the plate," May said. Adding that the area where Ray has the most room for improvement is strike zone management. Ray is working to shorten his swing, but mostly the progress will come with the experience of seeing more pitches, May said.
In the outfield, the 6-foot-1, 165-pounder has good speed and good range, with an above-average and accurate arm "when he keeps the ball down," May noted.
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