Insight from Cardinals instructs: 10/01/13

Tuesday news from the St. Louis Cardinals instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida. Updated with game news from Port St. Lucie.

It is another beautiful, sunny day in Florida as the St. Louis Cardinals instructional league team prepared to hop on an 11 a.m. bus to take them to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets' instructional squad at 1 p.m. The contest was originally scheduled for Jupiter, but the Mets requested swapping a pair of home dates with the Cardinals, with the Mets coming in on Friday, instead.

Speaking of Jupiter, when you arrive next spring, you may be surprised. What was a flat open area between the parking garage and Roger Dean Stadium has been transformed into a four-story office building. The development of the entire Abacoa area continues long after the Cardinals arrived in the late 90's.

As noted in the photo above, Cardinals players and coaches are wearing gray Nike instructional league t-shirts. Fortunately, the players numbers are on back in blue.

Tuesday lineups and pitching plan

Following is manager Oliver Marmol's batting lineup to face the Mets, along with the pitchers scheduled by minor league pitching coordinator Brent Strom and his coaches.

With the Arizona Fall League contingent planning to leave Florida on Wednesday, all four of the AFL hurlers are scheduled to pitch. Those scheduled to throw side sessions are also listed along with the five position player reserves making the trip.

10/1 at Mets Pos'n   LH
McElroy 8   Tilson
Mercado 6   Bean
Katz 3    
Wick  9   RH
Sosa DH   Franco
E Rodriguez 2   Pena
Peoples-Walls 7   Kelly
Collymore 4    
R Reyes 5    
Pitcher Innings   Side
Gaviglio 3   Kaminsky
Ferrara 2   J Rodriguez
Kiekhefer 1-2   Bautista
Stoppelman 1-2   Baez
Tuivailala 1   Adamek
Parra B/up    
Santos B/up    

Pitching plan going forward

Here are the players scheduled to pitch from Wednesday through Friday.

10/2 at Mia Innings   Side  
McKinney 3   J Perez  
Farinaro 3      
Parra 2      
Santos 2      
10/3 Camp Day        
Kaminsky 3   J Rodriguez 3
10/4 vs. Mets     Side  
Bautista     Farinaro  
Baez     McKinney  

Tuesday game recap

I understand why the game was moved to the Mets complex. They are having organizational meetings but apparently adjourned to take in the instructional league game. Owner Fred Wilpon was up in the tower and MLB manager Terry Collins was mingling among the assembled coaches and scouts. Even former Mets and Padres GM Joe McIlvaine was present in his current special assistant role with Seattle.

The lineup changed, as the Mets wanted to go with 10 hitters on the day. As a result, Rowan Wick was moved from right field to the second DH. Bladimil Franco was inserted as the right fielder and batted between Wick and Edmundo Sosa, the other DH.

There was a decent wind blowing out to right-center, but no balls left the field of play. The temperature was in the low 90s and it was sunny.

While technically, the Cardinals scored three runs and the Mets just two, the realities of instructs meant the result was meaningless. As will become clear later, the Mets did not complete their at-bats in the eighth despite one run already in and runners on base and did not get to hit in the ninth at all.

The Cards got out in front with two runs in the first. Leadoff man C.J. McElroy legged out an infield single and moved to third on a wild pickoff attempt. He scored on a triple by Mason Katz to the left-center gap. Katz then came home on a first-pitch single up the middle by Bladimil Franco. Cards 2-0.

Cards starter Sam Gaviglio walked a batter in the home first, who was eventually stranded at third. He was throwing 87-88 with a curve in the 81-83 range.

Malik Collymore singled up the middle in the Cards' second, but was picked off first base.

In the Mets second, the first hitter doubled over second base. A hard-hit ground ball off Robelys Reyes' glove at third put runners at the corners. Next, Reyes started a 5-4-3 double play as the runner from third came home to give the Mets their initial run. Cards 2-1.

Katz collected his second hit in the top of the fourth when he shot a one-hopper off the right-field fence. He was stranded at third.

Anthony Ferrara took over for Gaviglio in the bottom of the fourth. The lefty walked the first batter and promptly picked him off. His fastball was in the 86-88 range, with his off-speed at 74-75.

The Cards added their third run as Kenny Peoples-Walls singled to left with one out in the top of the fifth. Collymore collected his second hit, this one past the third baseman. Robelys Reyes singled to the third baseman to load the sacks. Peoples-Walls scored on a wild pitch. Cards 3-1.

The Mets threatened in the bottom of the fifth, but did not score. A passed ball on strike three led to a throw to the infield side of the first base bag by catcher Elier Rodriguez. A single to right put two on, but Ferrara escaped the jam.

I am including the following photo as it epitomizes instructional league better than anything I can say. After the Ferrara-Rodriguez battery left the game, the following scene occurred. At the left, catching coordinator Dann Bilardello is discussing the situation with Rodriguez. On the right Strom, along with pitching coach Paul Davis, is tutoring Ferrara. This kind of immediate feedback is important.

Katz reached for a third time, as he singled and took second on a wild pitch in the sixth. After Rowan Wick and Franco fanned, the Cards loaded the bases on a walk to Sosa and a Rodriguez hit-by-pitch. Peoples-Walls popped up to third for the third out, however.

In the bottom of the sixth, the third AFL hurler, Dean Kiekhefer, came in. So did catcher Steve Bean and centerfielder Charlie Tilson. Kiekhefer escaped a bases-loaded jam after an infield single, a double to right-center and a walk. He threw 86-88 with what I think was a slider at 72-74.

Collymore reached base for a third time on a walk in the seventh, but was stranded.

Lee Stoppelman pitched the seventh for the Cards. He allowed one hit, a single to center, but the runner was stranded. Watching him pitch, his breaking ball at around 81 mph was indiscernible from his 89-91 mph fastball, leading to a number of swings and misses. However, his ¾ delivery made me wonder if he could not achieve greater velocity by pitching more downhill, using his height. Yet, would that diminish the effectiveness of his secondary offerings? The Cardinals coaches are certainly a lot smarter than me, so I will stop here.

In the top of the eighth, Franco tripled on a two-hopper off the right-center wall, but was stranded.

The final Cards pitcher of the day, Sam Tuivailala, pitched the home eighth. He was on a 15-pitch limit. In addition, Cards minor league pitching coordinator Brent Strom asked the Mets if they could skip the home ninth to conserve his pitching. It was agreed.

With Tuivailala, the converted infielder, the coaches were looking for a loose delivery, specifically how his arm looked after release. We saw the fastball at 94-95 and sliders (I think) at 80-81.

However, his control was off, as he walked the first batter. After a wild pitch, a double in the left-field corner brought the runner in. After another hitter reached, the Cards called the end of the inning with runners on the corners. Tui had reached his pitch limit and was their final hurler.

The Mets went ahead and pitched the top of the ninth. Bean walked, but was stranded as the game ended Cards 3-2, with a big asterisk.

Katz was one of the hitting stars with a triple, double and single, an RBI and a run scored in four at-bats. Franco also had three hard-hit balls in four tries, with a pair of singles and a triple plus a run batted in. Collymore reached three times on two singles and a walk.

Link to earlier related article:

Insight from Cardinals instructs: 09/30/13

Look for future articles and a series of interviews coming to you from Cardinals instructional league camp in Jupiter in the upcoming days.

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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