Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 12

The Double-A Cards are just 3-4 in the early going of the second half. Curt Smith is having a strong June as is reliever Lee Stoppelman.

This report covers the period from Thursday, June 19th through Wednesday, June 25th.

The Springfield Cardinals were defeated by the Arkansas Travelers (LAA) three games to one in the final series before the All-Star break. They resumed play with a second-half record of 3-4 following a rough bullpen loss in the first game of three at home against the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU).

Thursday, June 19th, Springfield 1 at Arkansas 9

At 2-0 through their first two games of the new half, the Cardinals were defeated on Thursday night as they kicked off the final series of three against the Arkansas Travelers (LAA) on the road before the Texas League All-Star break.

Springfield's quality start streak of 14 consecutive games was snapped as the Travelers offense just ran through Cardinals pitching. Lefty Kyle Hald departed before the fifth inning, allowing six earned runs, all coming off three home runs. Appearing much earlier than anticipated, Logan Billbrough yielded two earned runs on two hits in the next 1 ? innings. Chris Thomas, in his Springfield debut, and Mitch Harris covered the next 2 ? innings, allowing a combined one earned run on four hits.

Springfield's only run came in the fifth off a Matt Williams force out that plated Curt Smith. That inning was the best chance for a big inning but the offense spoiled it by a Matt Williams pick off and Mike O'Neill strikeout to end the threat.

Friday, June 20th, Springfield 2 at Arkansas 3

Fresh up from Palm Beach, Mike Mayers made his Double-A debut on Friday night. The former University of Mississippi hurler yielded three earned runs on eight hits, with one walk while fanning five in six innings.

Seth Blair followed Mayers with the final two innings of the night scoreless. The enigmatic Blair also struck out two in his first really good outing out of the bullpen since being moved there a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the Springfield offense was quiet in the late innings so Mayers took a loss in his first start at Double-A.

The offense failed to execute with runners in scoring position as they went 1-for-12. They had the same woes the night before. The two runs came off a James Ramsey sacrifice fly and Mike O'Neill RBI groundout.

Saturday, June 21st, Springfield 5 at Arkansas 4

Having lost the first two games of the four-game set, Springfield asked Jonathan Cornelius to be the stopper. The lefty was tagged for four earned runs in six innings and did not factor into the final decision.

Ryan Sherriff was credited with his second win of the season in a scoreless seventh, yielding a hit and striking out one. Joe Donofrio secured the next five outs, but Lee Stoppelman retired the last batter of the game, recording his third save of the season.

Mike O'Neill got the game started off right with a solo home run, his first blast of the season in 252 plate appearances. Curt Smith finished with three hits, one for a double, and an RBI. Cody Stanley also had a multi-hit game, including his seventh home run in his strong comeback offensive season.

Sunday, June 22nd, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 4

Down four runs going into the top of the eighth, Springfield battled back with three runs and four hits of their six hits on the night. But they came up a little bit too short, dropping the final first-half series one game to three.

The outcome could have been different for starter Kurt Heyer had he not allowed a three-run bomb. Heyer fanned six through his five-inning outing. Ronnie Shaban gave up a costly earned run in his two innings of work. Chris Thomas faced the minimum in the eighth for his second scoreless outing since being promoted from Palm Beach.

Luis Mateo singled and doubled in his four at bats, scoring once. Travis Tartamella hit an RBI single and later scored on an Aledmys Diaz RBI double. That was Diaz's first RBI since being activated off the DL.

Monday, June 23rd, Springfield - off for All-Star Break

On Monday, the Springfield roster lost a number of key contributors and Texas League All-Stars including Seth Blair, Luis Mateo, Marco Gonzales, Joe Donofrio, and James Ramsey. The latter was placed back on the disabled list with an oblique injury. Blair, Mateo, and Donofrio were all promoted to Memphis while Gonzales is making the enormous jump from Double-A to St. Louis.

Springfield's Texas League North All-Star representation was cut in half, from six to three with these transactions. Cardinals participants in Tuesday night's contest were pitcher Kyle Hald, catcher Cody Stanley and first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez.

Tuesday, June 24th, Texas League South All-Stars 1 at Texas League North All-Stars 3

In the Texas League All-Star Game, the North side came away with the win 3-1 due largely to a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning by the game's Most Valuable Player, Cody Stanley. Stanley was Springfield's lone starter in the contest, and embraced the opportunity by going a perfect 2-for-2.

The winning pitcher was Stanley's batterymate Kyle Hald. The lefty pitched two innings, yielding an earned run on two hits and no walks. Hald fanned one.

Jonathan Rodriguez was a late-game insertion at first base and flied out in his lone at-bat. Other Cardinals invited to the mid-summer classic but unable to participate were Marco Gonzales, Joe Donofrio and injured outfielder James Ramsey.

However the two pitchers will probably take the promotion to the next level over playing in the All-Star Game, especially Gonzales who toed the rubber against his childhood team the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 25th, Corpus Christi 7 at Springfield 4

Despite the All-Star break this week, the second half of the season actually began a week ago and continued following a three-day break for the entire Texas League.

On Wednesday, Springfield relied on sinker-specialist Sam Gaviglio to get them started off the right way. He pitched nicely through 5 ? innings, yielding two earned runs on three hits, but the movement from an arsenal built off the sinker was mightily difficult to keep in the zone, as he issued five walks along with five strikeouts.

The Hooks baserunners took notice of Gaviglio's wildness and got into his head even more with seven successful stolen bases. However, Gaviglio did a tremendous job of limiting damage by stranding those runners on base with ground-ball outs and walked off the mound fortunate to have only two earned runs to his credit.

Replacing Gaviglio in the bottom of the sixth was Mitch Harris, who got the final out of the innining, but ran into trouble in the seventh. Harris allowed a ground-rule double and was pulled in favor of Ryan Sherriff, who went on to give up the game-tying run that was charged to Harris.

After that, things unraveled for the home-team's bullpen as Sherriff gave up two more earned runs on three hits in just ? inning. The Hooks patiently waited out Logan Billbrough for three walks, three hits, and an additional two runs in his two innings of work.

This was a quiet offensive game until Springfield sparked with three runs in the fifth. The offense managed ten hits, including three singles each off the bats of Aledmys Diaz and Cody Stanley. Stanley added a sacrifice fly that plated Diaz. Other run producers were Mike O'Neill, who knocked in two with a single and Curt Smith who produced a sacrifice fly.

Who is Hot

Curt Smith - The stocky first baseman/DH is batting a solid .306 in the month of June (21 game span) with one home run and seven RBI. Smith has posted a team-high OPS of .858 for the month.

Lee Stoppelman - The long lanky southpaw appeared one time this week, retiring one batter. Stoppelman has yet to be scored upon dating all the way back to May 24th. In that period, he has an amazing 19-to-0 strikeout to walk ratio.

Who is Not

Travis Tartamella - Tartamella is struggling greatly on both sides of the ball, batting .097 in his last ten games and let seven runners steal successfully on Wednesday. It was a franchise record for stolen bases in a game by Corpus Christi and a franchise record for most allowed stolen bases in a game for Springfield.

Logan Billbrough - In middle relief, Billbrough allowed four earned runs with four walks in three innings pitched this week.

Team Transactions

6/19 RHP Chris Thomas transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
6/20 RHP Mitch Harris placed on the Temporarily Inactive List
6/20 RHP Mike Mayers transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
6/21 OF James Ramsey placed on the DL
6/23 RHP Mitch Harris activated from Temporarily Inactive List
6/23 RHP Joe Donofrio assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
6/23 RHP Seth Blair assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
6/23 INF Luis Mateo assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
6/25 INF Breyvic Valera assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Palm Beach Cardinals
6/25 LHP Marco Gonzales contract was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals from Springfield Cardinals

Note on active roster: Down four players, the Cardinals surprisingly didn't make a rash of moves on Wednesday. They did make one move, but still remain three players short of 25. Maybe before Thursday's game the organization will finish refilling the roster.

Texas League North Division Standings (Second half)

Club W L GB PCT Home Away L10 Streak
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 3 4 - .429 3-1 0-3 3-4 L1
NW Arkansas  Naturals (KC) 3 4 - .429 3-3 0-1 3-4 L4
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 3 4 - .429 0-1 3-3 3-4 L2
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 3 4 - .429 0-3 3-1 3-4 L1

Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#6 Marco Gonzales - Made his major-league debut on Wednesday afternoon. The highly-prized left-hander yielded five earned runs on seven hits in five innings. Although he didn't earn the win, Gonzales kept his team in the game and eventually the team scored a gutsy win. This will probably be Gonzales' last time on this Top Prospect Watch.

#8 James Ramsey - Ramsey is once again sidelined with another injury, a strained oblique. No word or timetable has been set for the former Florida State University phenom.

#9 Patrick Wisdom - Wisdom had a silent week of baseball primarily due to the Texas League All-Star Game. In four games played, he only had two hits.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - Didn't work much this week but still has been the most effective reliever out of the Springbirds' bullpen the last month. Perhaps they will give him some high-leverage situations now that he has renowned confidence and the command is back.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Pitched a decent outing on Wednesday night. It was not good enough for the win, though, as he allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings of work.

#29 Jacob Wilson - Days after Ramsey went on the DL. Springfield loses another big bat in Wilson, who is to have surgery on his knee, as reported by the News-Leader's Kary Booher. The Cardinals expect Wilson to make a late-season return.

#31 Breyvic Valera - The middle infielder who has been groomed as a super-utility player through his time in the lower levels has finally reached the upper echelon of the minor leagues with a promotion on Wednesday. Valera has just hit wherever he's played and now will be tested against pitchers who have ability to throw more than one plus pitch, command it, and have a plan of the potential attack. In his 2014 Double-A debut, Valera singled, walked, and showed some good soft hands on a tough hops at second base.

#39 Seth Blair - This will be his last time on the Prospect Watch if he is not back down with Springfield by next week. I am not sure how he will fare at Triple-A. I think it was a move to prepare for a future decision. Only time will tell.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz - Hopefully he can stay healthy the rest of the way so we can see how he produces with the stick. Will have to step up with Ramsey and Wilson out of the lineup. Banged out three hits on Wednesday night.

What's Next

Springfield finished off the 12th week of the minor league season with a dismal 1-4 record. They have five remaining games on the homestand with Corpus Christi and the San Antonio Missions (SD). The Cards then head out on a Texas road trip against the same teams for six games. With the addition of Valera and hopefully three more exciting prospects, perhaps they can get on a roll.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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