Cards pitching prospect mo: Spring week 2

Which pitching prospects performed well in St. Louis Cardinals major league spring training camp last week?

While our popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2014, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I will provide a weekly look at how the members of The Cardinal Nation's 2014 top 40 prospect list are doing in major league camp.

As camp opened, I went on record with my predictions of which players I thought would make the major league roster out of spring training. I did the same for all four of the full-season minor league clubs. Click here to be taken to the Peoria article, as links to the other four articles are included at the end.

I am using those predictions in the tables below despite the reality that since then, on-going injuries to Jaime Garcia and Oscar Taveras may have changed the picture. That is expected, as the roster targets are constantly moving throughout camp. That is why they have it – figure out who best fits where.

The start of real games offers a great opportunity to regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-warm-cold look from a seven-day period that could change entirely from one week to next.

This week, I am splitting the pitchers and position players into separate reports.

Overall

The Cardinals had a 1-3-2 record plus a rainout this past week to go on top of a 1-2 first week record for an overall mark of 2-5-2. After a decent first week, the pitching had a dreadful stretch this period, with a 6.62 ERA. Opposing hitters managed just a .257 average against Cardinals pitching, but 29 free passes and seven home runs allowed in 53 innings indicate two areas of concern. The defensive play behind the pitchers was clearly below par as well.

Injured Gonzales reassigned
The players

The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 60 players invited. Of the 58 currently in camp, 40 are on the 40-man roster and 18 are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

The major changes began with the reassignment of Marco Gonzales to minor league camp, slowed by forearm tightness. The addition is infielder Aledmys Diaz, the Cuban signee who received a major league contract.

19 of the 58 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2014 – nine pitchers and 10 position players. Another 11 prospects in total are in camp, either as members of the 40-man or as NRIs, but did not place among our top 40.

This group of is those about whom I will be reporting. Of course, the list of 30 will decline each week as camp continues and cuts are made.

I rank each player based on his momentum this past week – high/medium/low. I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call "Prediction" for where I thought the player will start in April as camp opened.

Players will remain "medium" unless I see as a clear reason to shift them.

The pitchers

Pitchers Top 40  Roster Camp Prediction Mo  
          Last wk This wk
Tyler Lyons ineligible 40-man Majors Memphis High High
Keith Butler #35 40-man Majors Memphis High High
Carlos Martinez #2 40-man Majors St. Louis   High
Jorge Rondon NR 40-man Majors Memphis    
Sam Freeman #17 40-man Majors Memphis    
Eric Fornataro #39 40-man Majors Memphis Low Low
             
Kurt Heyer NR NRI Majors Palm Beach   High
Lee Stoppelman  #18 NRI Majors Memphis   High
Tim Cooney #12 NRI Majors Memphis High  
Zach Petrick #16 NRI Majors Springfield High  
Sam Gaviglio #26 NRI Majors Springfield    
Boone Whiting #30 NRI Majors Memphis   Low
             
Dropped off Top 40  Roster Camp Prediction Mo  
this week         Last wk This wk
Marco Gonzales #6 NRI Majors Palm Beach Low Low

Whiting
Monday, 3/3: Last Monday in Lakeland vs. Detroit, Boone Whiting relieved starter Joe Kelly with two out in the second and got his man. Things got out of hand in the following frame, however. A bloop single, ground rule double that Jon Jay seemed to lose, double off Daniel Descalso's glove and an RBI single misplayed into a triple by Randal Grichuk in right added to the misery. Whiting departed with five runs charged, four earned. He hasn't pitched since.

Kurt Heyer inherited a runner at third from Whiting and secured the third out as well as another scoreless frame on a hit and a walk.

Tyler Lyons pitched two innings against Detroit, fanning three. The only blemish was a solo home run to top Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos. Jorge Rondon worked around a hit and a walk in the seventh against the Tigers.

Wednesday, 3/5: After an open date on Tuesday, the Cards took on the Red Sox. Free agent signee Angel Castro pitched the sixth and was smacked around again. He walked a batter then yielded a long home run to Boston's top prospect Xander Bogaerts. A triple and an infield out gave the Sox their third run of the frame. Castro's spring ERA is 23.63.

Sam Gaviglio pitched the seventh and eighth. Despite allowing three hits, he secured his third strikeout to escape a first-and-third jam to end his stint.

The ninth belonged to Sam Freeman. The lefty issued a walk then a single and a two-run double. It could have been worse, but a great relay from James Ramsey in right to cutoff man Kolten Wong nailed the Sox runner trying to stretch the double into three bases.

Friday, 3/7, game one: Following the Thursday cancellation versus the Twins, the Cards played a pair on Friday. One part of the split-squad roster stayed home against Miami.

Keith Butler got the call to relieve a struggling Lance Lynn. Butler secured the final two outs of the fourth and allowed just one baserunner in the fifth. In an odd decision, Butler, normally a short reliever, was kept in to pitch the sixth as well. He got two more outs before yielding a run.

Lefty Lee Stoppelman came on with a runner in scoring position and secured the final out of the sixth, then tossed a perfect seventh, fanning two. In two spring outings, Stoppelman has yet to allow a baserunner.

Eric Fornataro yielded a leadoff double and a single in the eighth. The first runner came around to score, but the right-hander ended his frame with a strikeout.

Martinez
Friday, 3/7, game two: In the other Friday split-squad contest, Carlos Martinez started against the Mets and was masterful. The right-hander allowed just one hit and one walk in three scoreless frames. He did not strike out anyone, but secured six of his nine outs via the ground ball.

Tim Cooney, coming off an impressive first outing, had trouble finding the strike zone in Port St. Lucie. The lefty threw 17 strikes and 16 balls in a two-inning stint that included three walks and a hit. Saved by a timely double play, Cooney escaped with just one tally on the board.

Rondon served up a double to the deepest part of right field and also issued a walk, but kept the Mets off the board in his frame.

Because of the split game, two minor league prospects were allowed to pitch an inning each, Alex Reyes and Sam Tuivailala. Both showed promise, with a pair of strikeouts for each, but also some rough edges.

Reyes' first pitch was blasted for a home run and he yielded another wind-blown shot as well. His fastball was in the 92-94 mph range and his curve was great at times, but uneven. It took Tui 18 pitches to get his three outs and he hit one batter, but ended his day on a called strike three.

Saturday, 3/8: The Nationals arrived in Jupiter on Saturday. Freeman pitched the fifth and escaped with two baserunners aboard via a hit and a walk. Lyons followed with a 1-2-3 sixth that included a strikeout, continuing a quiet, but solid spring.

Zach Petrick pitched two innings and though his defense was not stellar, the right-hander served up a two-run homer which helped the visitors tie the score. One of the three runs against him was unearned.

Sunday, 3/9: Sunday at Viera was a dreadful day for Cardinals pitching as a whole as the Nationals tallied 11 runs.

Initially, Gaviglio's sinker was cooperating better this time out as he got a 1-2-3 fifth, but he ran into trouble in the sixth. A double off the wall and a walk were followed by a two-run single.

Rondon threw the seventh, again living dangerously. The righty allowed a leadoff single and hitting a batter, but neither scored.

Sidearmer Dixon Llorens was given a cameo from minor league camp. He managed to secure just one out. After a hit and his third walk forced in a run, Llorens was pulled for Heyer, who did a nice job keeping further damage from occurring. Heyer fanned one of his two batters faced and was quietly one of the better performers this past week.



To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Prior articles in this series
Cards prospect momentum: 2014 spring week 1



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

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