The Gulf Coast League Cardinals lost two of three to the Nationals, then took two of three from the Mets to go 3-3 for the week. Nearing the halfway mark in the GCL season, the first-place Cardinals (17-8) now hold a four-game lead over the Mets and Nationals, with the Marlins bringing up the rear 10 games back.
As a team, the Cardinals’ .366 on-base percentage ranks second in the 16-team league, far ahead of the next best in their division, the Mets’ .324. The Cardinals are also third in slugging percentage (.390), so they rank second in OPS. Ranking third in walks and 15th in strikeouts, the Cardinals’ offense has the league’s best walk-to-strikeout ratio. Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ pitching staff has handed out only 54 free passes (walks and hit batters), by far the fewest in the league.
Right-handed reliever Silas Bohannan, a non-drafted free agent out of the College of the Ozarks, was added to the roster. Bohannan, from Neosho, Missouri, near Joplin, replaces another Missouri native on the roster. Lefty reliever Sasha Kuebel, a native of St. Louis, was moved up to Johnson City. Kuebel, the Cardinals’ 38th-round pick last month out of the University of Iowa, had a win and two saves in seven solid appearances. He allowed two runs on 12 hits and one walk in 11 innings, while fanning six. … Catcher Joshua Lopez was promoted to Class-A Advanced Palm Beach, but is actually on loan while the Florida State League team tries to fill in for injured starting catcher Jesus Montero, who has been on the disabled list since mid-June.
Highlights of the Week
Through rain forced the game to be stopped with two outs in the sixth inning, Jorge Rodriguez tossed a complete-game shutout Wednesday, a rarity in the Rookie-level GCL and the first since 2012. The win also made Rodriguez the first GCL starting pitcher to reach four wins this season. His 0.98 ERA ranks third in the league among pitchers with at least 20 innings. His WHIP of 0.72 is second in the GCL.
Long before the Cardinals rallied for two runs with two outs in the top of the 11th inning Saturday to beat the Mets 5-3, Luke Weaver tossed two impressive hitless innings at the start. Weaver hit the first batter he faced, then mowed down the next six, including three called third strikes. It was Waver’s third appearance, all scoreless, but only two are in the record books because his one-inning start on July 12 was suspended, with the game scheduled to be completed Monday, July 21.
Andrew Morales and Bryan Dobzanski, both making their second pro appearances, followed Weaver with two-inning stints of their own. Morales allowed one hit and an unearned run. Dobzanski hurled two perfect innings, striking out four.
Silas Bohannan, probably battling some nerves while making his professional debut, was not as effective, allowing two runs on three hits in his one inning, for which he earned a blown save. Steven De La Cruz also had his best outing so far, going two innings for the first time and allowing one hit and no runs.
The Cardinals finally broke the 3-all tie in the top of the 11th when DeAndre Asbury-Heath, the No. 9 hitter, singled with two outs to start the rally. Asbury-Heath moved to second on Edmundo Sosa’s single before Magneuris Sierra stroked a line single to load the bases. Michael Pritchard then beat out a ground ball to short for a hit that drove in the go-ahead run. Malik Collymore took one for the team, getting hit by a pitch to bring home an insurance run.
Who’s Hot & Not
With the promotion of GCL Braves shortstop Ozhaino Albies to the Appalachian League on Friday, Cardinals center fielder Magneuris Sierra became the GCL leader in batting average at .378. Sierra was 9-for-25 (.360) for the week. ... Edmundo Sosa was 9-for-24 (.375). … Michael Pritchard was only 7-for-25 (.280), but had at least one hit in all six games this week. … Catching all three games against the Mets, the most aggressive running team in the division, Frankie Rodriguez threw out eight of 10 runners trying to steal second base. That lowered the Mets’ success rate for stealing from 72 percent to 63 percent.
A Closer Look At
These capsules based on interviews with Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque. Al three pitchers are right-handed natives of the Dominican Republic who came out of the Cardinals’ baseball academy there.
At 20 years old, Jorge Rodriguez is the oldest of the three; Frederis Parra is 19 and Julio Mateo is 18. Rodriguez is 6-foot-2, while the other two stand 6-foot-3. Parra is a little more slender than the other two, but all three have good pitchers’ bodies, Leveque said.
Jorge Rodriguez: Occasionally touching 96 “on a good downward angle” with his fastball, Rodriguez throws the hardest of the three. Rodriguez has been the most effective so far, allowing only three earned runs on 21 hits and seven walks in 27 2/3 innings for a 0.98 ERA. J-Rod also throws a curve and a changeup.
Julio Mateo: Though the youngest, Mateo is the most polished, Leveque said. “He has a feel for his craft and is highly competitive.” Leveque said Mateo has “the tools, delivery, pitches and a very good mound presence for his age.” Mateo’s fastball sits around 90 and touches 92, and he also throws a curve and changeup.
Frederis Parra: His fastball ranges from 90 to 93, but he has a better feel for his curve and changeup, Leveque said. Parra is “still trying to find out what kind of pitcher he is,” Leveque said. “He’s still learning to command his fastball and gaining confidence in his secondary stuff.” Parra was an all-star in the 2013 Dominican Summer League.
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