Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 7

The Double-A Springfield Cardinals are three games under .500 but also only three out of first place.

This week's report covers games through May 14th through May 21st.

The Springfield Cardinals finished up their eight-game road trip with a 2-6 record against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Tulsa Drillers dating back to May 8th. The Cards returned home hoping to be revitalized but could only split the four games with the Arkansas Travelers.

The team has experienced a streaky month of May by playing really well one game but then getting blown away the next few games and it seems like they cannot put a stop to this. But with the win over the Midland Rockhounds to kick off the Texas road trip, maybe that will give them an edge they need to start playing more consistent baseball against teams they haven't faced several times already.

Springfield has won two straight games and are just three games under .500 at 21-24, 3.0 games back of the first place Tulsa Drillers.

Wednesday, May 14th, Springfield 1 at Tulsa 9

To start out this week's game capsules, the Springfield Cardinals had already lost games one and two in a double-header on Tuesday against the Tulsa Drillers. With two games remaining in this divisional match-up, Sam Gaviglio looked to be the stopper.

Gaviglio's excited after 5 1/3 innings, allowing six earned on seven hits, walked two and struck out three. Three of those earned runs were from a two-run homer and solo homer. His transition to Double-A has not looked good if you compare his walk totals from last year to this (4.6 vs. 2.5 per nine innings).

Logan Billbrough recorded two outs while yielding two hits, one of the hits being an inside-the-park home run that plated another runner. Anthony Ferrara struck out two in two scoreless.

Springfield matched the opposition in hits but couldn't score in seven innings against Colorado Rockies top pitching prospect Eddie Butler. The only run of the night came off a Matt Williams RBI double which scored Rafael Ortega, who reached base twice with two walks. Jacob Wilson, the torrid hitting Cody Stanley, and David Popkins each had two hits, with Popkins having the only extra base hit of the trio.

Thursday, May 15th, Springfield 4 at Tulsa 0

Jonathan Cornelius uplifted the team with a 6 1/3 inning shutout holding the Driller offense to two hits and two walks. Joe Donofrio and Lee Stoppelman also followed with clean outings. Donofrio walked two but fanned two in 1 2/3 scoreless. Stoppelman faced the minimum, striking out one. They combined for a two-hit shutout to salvage the last game of four against the Drillers.

James Ramsey got the offense going early with his league-leading 10th solo blast of the season. The center-fielder went 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and RBI. Two more runs were scored off solo shots from Rafael Ortega, his third, and Jonathan Rodriguez's fifth long ball on the season. The fourth run came in the eighth with David Popkins reaching on a fielding error that scored Jacob Wilson.

Friday, May 16th, Arkansas 11 at Springfield 9

On a cool Friday night with the rain picking up and easing off pretty much all evening, it had those in attendance, including me, wondering if the game would be delayed. But fortunately it wasn't and the rain really had no effect.

Starter Kurt Heyer allowed seven runs (six of them earned) on seven hits with two free passes in only 3 2/3 innings pitched. I didn't get to see much in Heyer other than a lot of the balls that were put in play were sharply hit and he left with only 75 pitches.

New arrival Corey Baker picked up where Heyer left off and was ineffective, giving up two earned on three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Ryan Sheriff had the team's most effective outing of the night as he tossed two scoreless frames of no hit-ball while walking one and striking out two. Lee Stoppelman had one of those outings to forget, hitting two batters while yielding a hit and two walks, resulting in two runs in just 2/3 of an inning. Logan Billbrough retired the final batter of the top of the ninth, holding the Drillers to a two-run lead.

Jacob Wilson got the scoring going early a solo blast measured at 360 feet, the 2012 draftee's first round tripper at the Double-A level and on the season. Mike O'Neill then came around the bases on a Little League inside-the-park home run which was scored as a double that plated two runs and O'Neill himself. Travis Tartamella produced the team's next RBI with a single to left that scored Rafael Ortega who singled, walked, and scored on the evening.

James Ramsey added on three with a three-run bomb that was his only hit of the night and 11th home run of the season. Cody Stanley singled twice in five at bats continuing his tear at the plate. Matt Williams also banged two hits in five at bats, coming home twice.

Saturday, May 17th, Arkansas 4 at Springfield 7

The Double-A debut of Marco Gonzales was the outing to follow in the system on Saturday. Gonzales struggled to find the strike zone throwing 56 of his 90 pitches for strikes. Even with his normally precise control, the lefty still was able to get through five innings while allowing just three runs (one earned) on six hits, two walks with five strikeouts.

Mitch Harris also made his Double-A debut following Gonzales. He took a blown save for his run given up in the sixth, but the former Naval officer did pitch into the eighth. Anthony Ferrara earned the win by collecting two of the final outs in the eighth. Joe Donofrio (0.92 ERA) pitched a clean ninth to pick up his second save of the season.

Springfield's three-run burst in the eighth gave them a sizable lead over the Arkansas Travelers to pull them into a series tie after just two games. All three-run scoring hits went for extra bases from Greg Miclat, Mike O'Neill, and Jacob Wilson. Of these three, Miclat was the only with two hits and two driven in, as the other RBI came from a single in the fourth. The other production came from a Cody Stanley sac fly, Curt Smith RBI double, and Patrick Wisdom fielder's choice which scored Jonathan Rodriguez. Speedster Rafael Ortega was the catalyst in the middle of all this with three hits and two runs scored. It was Ortega's first multi-hit game since April as he also stole his seventh and eighth bags of the season.

Sunday, May 18th, Arkansas 9 at Springfield 3

In game three of four, the Cardinals were looking to take the series lead to avoid having to attempt at a series split on Monday. The Springbirds relied on Seth Blair but he promptly coughed up six earned runs (two of the earned runs were solo shots) on seven hits, with three walks and two strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. It was not the start Blair or the Cardinals were hoping for, but this was his sixth out of his nine outings in which he was able to get through six innings or more.

Anthony Ferrara didn't aid into keeping the score down by allowing three home runs, one a two-run shot, and two solos. The runner on base for the two-home run homer was charged to Blair. Ferrara pitched 1 2/3 innings. Logan Billbrough tossed the only scoreless outing of the game.

It was a Ramsey-less lineup as the outfielder remained sore from a crash into the wall in Friday night's game. The only runs came from Matt Williams via a sacrifice fly scoring Rafael Ortega and from a two-run Patrick Wisdom double that plated Curt Smith and David Popkins.

Monday, May 19th, Arkansas 2 at Springfield 6

Arkansas jumped on Springfield for two early runs but Monday night starter Kyle Hald made that stand as he settled in. For the next six innings, Hald shut them out to salvage a split of the four-game series. Hald scattered two earned runs on eight hits while not walking a batter, and struck out eight in seven innings.

Lee Stoppelman bounced back from his rough Friday night outing to throw a scoreless inning but he did issue a base on balls. That set the stage for Joe Donofrio who retired batters in order one-two-three for the victory and lowering his ERA to 0.87.

Springfield pushed across five runs in the third and fourth innings to help them get a comfortable lead. Among the noticeable performances in this game was hot-hitting Cody Stanley collecting two hits a double, RBI single, and walk pushing his average up to .333. Five others had RBI - Mike O'Neill doubled, scoring Greg Miclat, David Popkins hit an RBI double that plated Stanley, and Patrick Wisdom and Jacob Wilson had RBI singles that were their only hits in four plate appearances.

Wednesday, May 21st, Springfield 5 at Midland 2

During the off-day on Tuesday. Springfield traveled down to West Texas for the first time this season to take on the Midland Rockhounds (OAK) for a three-game set. To set the tone in this series, the Cardinals sent Sam Gaviglio out to the mound. Gaviglio had a rough go around to the start of the 2014 season but on Wednesday was outstanding in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. The sinkerballer gave up four hits, walked one and struck seven in 98 total pitches and lowered his ERA to 5.76.

Ryan Sherriff replaced Gaviglio with an inning and one/third scoreless. In the eighth inning, Lee Stoppelman took over and made it interesting, giving up a two-run blast recording only one out. Joe Donofrio picked up Stoppelman by retiring the next two batters to pitch out of the jam. Donofrio then set down the final three batters in the ninth to earn his third save of the year.

Springfield depended on the long ball to get them the series-opening victory. David Popkins who hit a two-run shot, his third, and Patrick Wisdom went back-to-back with Popkins with solo shots. In the ninth, Cody Stanley gave the Springbirds some insurance with another solo blast, his fourth of the season. The only run that didn't come from the long ball was an RBI double driven in by Jacob Wilson, who is now hitting .316 since his promotion to the Double-A level.

Who Is Hot

Cody Stanley – Over the last ten games, Stanley has hit safely in nine of them with five multi-hit games. Stanley is now the regular catcher and has hit above .400 in the month while cranking four home runs and driving in eight. The left-handed catcher is a May Player of the Month candidate.

Joe Donofrio – The 6' 3" righty hasn't been scored upon in the month of May. He has been a staple when there are jams to be pitched out of. Donofrio owns a team best 0.81 ERA.

Who Is Not

Travis Tartamella – Now that Stanley is playing pretty much every day, playing time for Tartamella has been hard to come by. His offense is taking a beating as the catcher is batting .114 in the past ten games.

Anthony Ferrara – The lefty got off to a decent start to the season following his move to the bullpen. But so far in May everything has gone south as Ferrara has allowed six earned runs on ten hits in only eight innings.

Team Transactions

5/21 – RHP Kurt Heyer assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
5/18 – C Jonathan Keener released from the Springfield Cardinals
5/17 – RHP Mitch Harris assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Palm Beach Cardinals
5/16 – LHP Justin Wright assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
5/16 – LHP Marco Gonzales assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Palm Beach Cardinals
5/15 – 1B Jonathan Rodriguez activated from 7-Day DL
5/15 - RHP Corey Baker assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Palm Beach Cardinals
5/15 – LHP Dean Kiekhefer assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals

Texas League North Division

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 24 21 .533 - 10-12 14-9 7-3 L1
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 21 23 .477 2.5 7-15 14-8 4-6 L2
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 21 24 .467 3.0 9-13 12-11 4-6 W2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 16 28 .364 7.5 6-17 10-11 4-6 L3

The Cardinals Prospect Watch

#6 Marco Gonzales - Promoted last week to the club. Debuted on Saturday, going five innings allowing three runs (only one earned) while walking two and striking out five. It was good to see him have a start where he found a way to get through five innings without his best stuff or command.

#8 James Ramsey – Still hitting home runs and striking out. But last Friday he hit a wall hard. Ramsey stayed in the game and later crushed a three-run home run but hasn't played since and is listed day-to-day with a sore shoulder.

#9 Patrick Wisdom – Jacked his fourth home run on Wednesday night. So far in May has four home runs and 17 RBI. He was homer-less and only had three RBI in April. Made some progress but is not hitting as well as you would hope a high-draft pick would (.247 BA, .701 OPS).

#18 Lee Stoppelman – Has four solid outings since being demoted but two more to forget.

#24 Mike O'Neill – On a current six-game hitting streak, but now that teams have a book on his strength slapping the ball, he may have some troubles.

#26 Sam Gaviglio – Pitched outstanding on Wednesday but he needs more of those type of outings to be given more love as a prospect.

#28 Jacob Wilson - Hit a no-doubter out of the Hammons Field that I witnessed on Friday night which was his first Double-A home run. Needs to show more of that power as he only has one long ball in 155 at-bats this season.

#37 Seth Blair – Has an even 30-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48 2/3 innings pitched over his nine starts this season. Just waiting for them to move him to the bullpen.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz – Brian Walton reported last week that Diaz had reported to Jupiter to begin his rehab back to Springfield. Manager Mike Shildt says Diaz is very close to returning though did not say a specific date. I would guess sometime next week at the latest.

What's Next

Following the two remaining games with Midland, the Cards then head to Frisco to take on the Roughriders for three before returning back home to face these two teams on their own turf for six next week.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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