Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 10

The Double-A Cardinals have run out of time in the first half, but right-hander Sam Gaviglio may be turning the corner.

This week's report cover the period from June 5th through June 11th.

The Week in Review

Officially ten weeks into the Springfield Cardinals season, we have seen a team that can win and pile on those wins in bunches but when they haven't played together, there have been long streaks of inconsistency in all aspects of the game.

Springfield came home following a split in their four-game road trip against the Arkansas Travelers. In the following home series, they split with the Texas League North Division first-half winner Tulsa Drillers and took the first of four games against the NW Arkansas Naturals on Wednesday night.

The Springbirds are currently in a neck-in-neck tie for second place with the Arkansas Travelers with a record of 31-34 and have one meeting left with the Travs before the first half of the season comes to a close.

Thursday, June 5th, Springfield 5 at Arkansas 1

After the previous two games were split between the clubs, Springfield fell behind in the second inning, but responded back with a four-run third and one more run in the fifth that was all they needed to be victorious.

Sam Gaviglio struggled out of the gates, allowing an earned run in his first two innings, but settled down very nicely with six innings of solid work. He gave up six hits total but kept the ball in the yard which is a big key for him and cut down on his walks with zero and struck out five in a 94-pitch effort. The Springfield bullpen relieved Gaviglio with three scoreless innings combined from Logan Billbrough, Mitch Harris, and Ryan Sherriff.

Springfield punched out nine hits and they were very well timed with runners in scoring position as they went four-for-seven in that situation. Chris Swauger had two hits with two RBI that plated the one-two punch of Matt Williams and Jacob Wilson. Jonathan Rodriguez, who is now heating up after a rough past mont,h had three RBI along with two hits.

Friday, June 6th, Springfield 1 at Arkansas 3

Springfield fell to the Arkansas Travelers (LAA) for another series split. At 28-32, Springfield remains 5 ½ back behind Tulsa (COL). Starter Jonathan Cornelius did all he could for his club but came up just short, tossing six innings of one-run baseball on seven hits. The lefty walked two and struck out five but had a no-decision in the end.

Seth Blair yielded an earned run on a hit, two walks and strikeout in his first appearance out of the bullpen. Ronnie Shaban returned from the 7-day DL by allowing an earned run on three hits in one-third of an inning, while Lee Stoppelman continued his dominance, retiring his two batters, striking out one.

The offense mustered just five hits, with David Popkins having a pair out of the eighth hole. Curt Smith smashed a ground-rule double in the fourth, and later came around to score on a Jonathan Rodriguez RBI single - the only run surrendered by the Travs pitching staff.

Saturday, June 7th, Tulsa 11 at Springfield 0

The opening game of the home-series against the division leading Tulsa Drillers was scoreless until the sixth. Then the clobbering commenced as Tulsa put it to the Cardinals with 11 runs in the next three frames.

Kurt Heyer, back down from Memphis, was solid before running out of gas in the sixth. In the sixth, he ran into trouble, allowing all three of his earned runs. But he did punch out six and only needed 84 pitches. Logan Billbrough and Mitch Harris followed by imploding for eight earned runs on nine hits in only three innings.

There was not much to speak of for the Springfield offense as they only recorded two hits. Jacob Wilson and Jonathan Rodriguez both singled.

Sunday, June 8th, Tulsa 3 at Springfield 1

Springfield jumped on top early with the first run but the Drillers pitching staff held the Cardinals offense at rest for the remainder of the game. Tulsa scored the eventual winning run in the sixth and an insurance run in the ninth to take the first two games of the series.

Officially a member of the Cardinals organization for a year, first-round draft selection Marco Gonzales started on Sunday night by throwing 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits, three walks and six strikeouts.

Manager Mike Shildt went to four relievers to get through the rest of the way. Ryan Sherriff escaped a sixth inning jam with an out recorded, but proceeded to give up three straight singles to load the bases at the start of the seventh. Justin Wright escaped the jam with a strikeout and groundout induced by the left-hander. Joe Donofrio permitted two walks and an earned run in 1 1/3 innings. Donofrio was lifted after being nailed in what looked like the hamstring area by a comebacker with one out in the ninth. Ronnie Shaban gave up a single but got the next two batters out.

Springfield was held to only two hits after the Drillers starter exited in the fourth. Chris Swauger produced the team's lone run by shooting an RBI single up the middle, scoring Jacob Wilson.

Monday, June 9th, Tulsa 3 at Springfield 5

Springfield played spoiler to the Tulsa Drillers in clinching the Texas League North Division for a night by triumphing over the Drillers in game three of four which was completed two outs early because of rainy weather.

The Cardinals sent out Tyler Lyons to the mound who was making his first of several rehab starts after injuring his shoulder last month. The big-leaguer got through two innings of work allowing an earned run on three hits with three strikeouts, needing only 24 pitches for those innings. Piggybacking Lyons was fellow southpaw Kyle Hald, who threw the next five innings, giving up two earned on seven hits. Lee Stoppelman pitched the final 1/3 scoreless until the game was delayed and eventually called.

Jacob Wilson got Springfield on the board in the first with a two-run blast, his fourth long ball of 2014, flipping a 1-0 disadvantage to 2-1 advantage. Trailing 3-2 in the home half of the sixth, Springfield pushed across three runs in the next three frames for the late lead and the victory. The runs came via a Jonathan Rodriguez RBI groundout, Curt Smith sac fly, and a wild pitch that scored Cody Stanley with Chris Swauger batting.

Tuesday, June 10th, Tulsa 1 at Springfield 2

Trying to split the first of two home series at Hammons Field. Springfield was certainly not shown any kindness having to face the Colorado Rockies fireballing top prospect Jon Gray.

Normally a pitch to contact pitcher, Sam Gaviglio got outs a different way by missing Driller barrels with 11 strikeouts in seven well-pitched innings to out-duel 2013 third overall draft pick Gray. The right-hander did scatter six hits and one run but didn't walk a single batter and induced eight groundouts. It looks like Gaviglio has turned the corner as evident by his last two starts. Justin Wright and his 1.08 ERA relieved Gaviglio with two shutout innings of his own, earning his second win of the season.

The Springfield offense came from a pair of solo shots by Jonathan Rodriguez and a walk-off home run by Jacob Wilson. James Ramsey was back in the three-hole for the first time since the middle of May, just in time for the Texas League All Star Game.

Wednesday, June 11th, NW Arkansas 0 at Springfield 1

Hoping to start the second home series in a much different way from the first series, Springfield was carried by quality-start man Jonathan Cornelius who tossed seven shutout frames against the last place divisional foe NW Arkansas Naturals (KC). The lefty got ahead of the Naturals hitters and did what he does best by pitching backwards all night keeping the Naturals hitters in check to only five hits along with four strikeouts.

Lee Stoppelman took over the reins in the eighth aiming to set-up the game for closer Joe Donofrio. Stoppelman yielded a hit, a strikeout, lineout, and a pop out in his zero put on the board. Donofrio retired the first two hitters of the ninth with a minimal effort, but the last out was hard to record as he allowed a double then finally picked up the save with a three pitch strikeout.

The offense left 12 aboard and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Thanks in part to Cornelius' gem and stellar bullpen work, it was not the focal point of the game. Curt Smith RBI single was the lone score, as he had four of Springfield's eleven hits.

Who Is Hot

Sam Gaviglio - Allowed 11 earned runs in nearly 12 innings in his two prior starts before yielding only two earned runs in 13 innings. Not only has he gotten hitters to put the ball on the ground, he also is missing more barrels than ever in his last two starts, including an 11 strikeout performance on Tuesday.

Justin Wright - He continued his excellence in stranding inherited base runners on Sunday, leaving all three that he inherited in the seventh inning on the bases. The Chesterfield, Virginia native has been perfect in those scenarios this season, stranding all 17 inherited. Wright is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA and four saves in 18 outings.

Who is Cold

Logan Billbrough - Billbrough appeared twice this week. The first outing was a perfect inning. The next outing was two days later against the first place division rival Tulsa Drillers when he yielded four earned runs on four hits in a blowout loss that rose his ERA close to eight.

Starlin Rodriguez - Promoted back up to Springfield on June 4th, the Dominican has adapted to the pitching slowly going 1-for-15 in the five games played with Springfield so far.

Team Transactions

6/05 LHP Anthony Ferrara released by the Cardinals
6/05 RHP Ronnie Shaban activated from the DL
6/07 RHP Kurt Heyer transferred to Springfield from AAA-Memphis
6/07 RHP Corey Baker transferred to High-A Palm Beach
6/09 LHP Tyler Lyons transferred to Springfield on MLB Rehab
6/10 OF James Ramsey activated from the DL
6/10 OF Nick Martini transferred to High-A Palm Beach

Texas League North Division Standings

First half standings W L PCT GB Home Road L10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 36 28 .563 - 14-14 22-14 7-3 W1
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 31 34 .477 5.5 14-22 17-12 4-6 L1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 31 34 .477 5.5 15-18 16-16 6-4 W3
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 23 42 .354 13.5 9-23 14-19 4-6 L2

The Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#6 Marco Gonzales - Now a year removed from Gonzaga, he is already at the Double-A level. He has certainly moved as fast as the organization expected as he was labeled as one of the more advanced polished left-handed college prospects available. Gonzales squared off against the division leading Tulsa Drillers and didn't make his usual performance but still had a pretty good outing. He exited with one out in the sixth inning, yielding an earned on seven hits, with three walks and six strikeouts.

#8 James Ramsey - After missing almost an entire month, Ramsey returned to the field on Tuesday, June 10th with 0-fer but it's good to finally have his name penciled back into the everyday lineup.

#9 Patrick Wisdom - Had two multi-hit games this week but is also averaging a strikeout a game.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - Hasn't surrendered an earned run since May 21st. The lanky southpaw has made the adjustment and is pitching with a lot more poise than when he was with the Triple-A Memphis club.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Can Gaviglio keep up his current streak of promising outings? Has given up two earned runs in his last 13 innings of a two-start sample. In his previous two starts of 10 1/3 innings, he gave up a whopping 11 earned runs. Consistency will have to be shown in his upcoming outings.

#29 Jacob Wilson - Wilson's average has dropped down to .298 but he slugged two home runs in his last three games bringing his total to five on the season.

#39 Seth Blair - I wrote a week ago that I had ran out of faith in him as a starter and he had the ability to be a potential bullpen asset. The organization moved him to the bullpen this week and he debuted as a reliever with an earned run given up in an inning.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz - The Cuban defector could play by Thursday, June 12th if he passes a series of physical tests. May DH for the time being until he's ready to get back onto the field.

Texas League All Stars

The Texas League announced on Monday the roster for the 78th annual Double-A Texas League All-Star Game. Springfield will be represented by OF James Ramsey, 1B Jonathan Rodriguez, C Cody Stanley, RHP Joe Donofrio, LHP Kyle Hald, and late-addition LHP Marco Gonzales. The 2014 All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, June 24th at Dickey-Stephens Park, home of the Arkansas Travelers (LAA).

What is Next

Springfield took game one against the Naturals. They have three remaining with Northwest Arkansas then head back on the road to face off against the Tulsa Drillers and a battle for second place against the Arkansas Travelers for four road-games each to end the first half of the Texas League season.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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