The Gulf Coast League Cardinals (23-33) were 2-4 for the week and fell into third place, one game behind the Marlins.
The Cardinals split two games each with the Mets and Marlins. They were sandwiched around two losses to the Nationals that extended their losing streak to the Nationals to 11 straight after winning four of their first seven. The Nationals, meanwhile, went 5-1 to push their record to an incredible 47-9. With four games to play, they have tied the GCL record for wins in a season. Their last two games of the regular season, on Wednesday and Thursday, will be against the Cardinals.
Though the Cardinals lost four of their six games for the second consecutive week, they again outscored their opponents, this time 34-31. They also outhit them 63-55, and made 10 errors to their opponents' 12.
The highlight of the week was Dylan Hawkins' five no-hit innings Friday against the Marlins. Making his first career start after 14 relief outings, the 20-year-old lefty from Melbourne, Fla., walked one batter, hit another and struck out four. Brandishing a fastball that topped out at 86 mph and occasionally mixing in his infamous 60-mph curveball, Hawkins sailed through five innings, his longest outing as a pro, with 63 pitches, 37 (59 percent) of them strikes. Manager Steve Turco shook his head in amazement when discussing Hawkins' performance. "There's a lesson to be learned there somewhere," he said.
Comings and Goings
LHP Stalyn Lopez arrived from Johnson City. 1B Jake Stone was shut down for the last week of the season because of a fractured middle finger of his throwing (right) hand. C Luis Cruz has a concussion and probably will not play for the rest of the season.
A Closer Look At
This week's capsule scouting reports on three position players are based on interviews with GCL Cardinals manager Steve Turco.
Luis Cruz. The 20-year-old catcher from the Dominican Republic was signed two years ago, but this season was his first in the U.S. after two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Cruz's GCL season started late because of a shoulder injury and ended prematurely due to a concussion, but in between he impressed the Cardinals staff with his bat. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-handed hitter "is a big, strong kid and we like his bat potential," Turco said.
Cruz hit three home runs in 57 at-bats. Only two other players in the GCL with fewer than 100 at-bats hit more, leading Turco to suggest that Cruz could have led the league in home runs (league leaders have six) if he had played regularly. Among players with at least two at-bats, Cruz led the Cardinals in batting average (.321), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.536).
"The more at-bats he gets, the more you'll find out about his bat potential," Turco said. Defensively, Cruz has a plus arm but needs more work to hone his backstop skills.
DeAndre Asbury. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound right-handed hitting outfielder was the Cardinals' 15th-round pick in June out of Brookland-Cayce H.S., in Cayce, S.C. Asbury, who didn't turn 18 until Aug. 5, tailed off in August after a promising start, hitting .246 in June and July.
"I think he may have been overachieving early on, but there are some things about his swing that need to be improved, mechanical issues," Turco said. "But he was able to overcome them for a while because of his athleticism, but now it's caught up with him." Normally, the Cardinals do not try to change a player's mechanics in his first season, watching instead to see what adjustments the player might make on his own.
Turco said Asbury's enthusiasm and upbeat attitude make him more coachable, so it is likely he will be able to make the adjustments needed. Asbury also is working hard to improve his outfield play, the manager said.
Ricardo Bautista. The 6-foot, 180-pound outfielder from Puerto Rico won't turn 18 until shortly after Christmas, but he has matured during his first pro season after being the Cardinals' 12th-round selection in June.
"Initially, his timing was a little off, but since he has become acclimated to the league, he has been on fire," Turco said. The lefty-hitting Bautista went 11-for-28 (.393) in his last 10 games after starting the season 11-for-66 (.167). He also cut down his strikeout rate from 20 in those first 66 at-bats, but only five whiffs in his last 28.
"Bautista has a nice, loose, rhythmic swing," Turco said. "Something you saw right away in BP." The manager said Bautista has good arm strength to play right field, but "his bat is clearly his carry tool."
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