Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 22

The Double-A Cardinals fell short of the playoffs, but closer Joe Donofrio was lights out since July.

This report covers the period from Thursday, August 28th through the close of the regular season.

The Springfield Cardinals’ tenth year of existence may be remembered by streaky play that resulted in an extremely inconsistent team which played well in stretches and struggled at other points. Had they not lost core players due to injury and trade, it could have been a much different ending. Nonetheless, the Cards played around .500 all year and still came back to within five games of the first place team before tailing off in the final week.

Springfield finished 68-72 on the season, placing third behind the Tulsa Drillers (COL) and Arkansas Travelers (LAA) in the North Division standings of the Texas League.

Thursday, August 28th, Springfield 5 vs. Arkansas 4

Springfield beat the second half division winner Arkansas Travelers for the second straight night with a one-run victory with some catcher named Yadier Molina collecting three hits and catching five innings.

Called up from Palm Beach and filling in a spot-start role, Corey Baker went as far as he could with four innings. The right-hander allowed three earned runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Sam Tuivailala followed with one scoreless inning while Seth Blair covered the next 1 2/3 innings, allowing an earned run.

Jeremy Berg got out of a jam caused by Blair in the bottom of the seventh, and retired the first two batters in the eighth before being replaced. Lee Stoppelman closed it out for his fourth save of the season.

Molina was the story of the night and helped draw Springfield’s largest crowd of the season. He collected three hits, two of them doubles, with an RBI in his second rehab game. Alex Mejia knocked in two more with one single while Jonathan Rodriguez singled in one and Cody Stanley produced the final run with a sac fly.

Friday, August 29th, Springfield 6 vs. Arkansas 3

It was too little, too late for Springfield’s playoff hopes, but they defeated second-half division winner Arkansas for the third straight night in their 2014 finale at Hammons Field.

The Travelers pulled ahead with three runs in the first two innings against starter Kurt Heyer. The score held until the sixth when Curt Smith went deep, a solo shot. After a four-run seventh against the Arkansas pen that included two errors, the Cards scored their final two in the eight on back-to-back jacks from Alex Mejia and Patrick Wisdom.

After the early trouble, Heyer settled down to go seven innings, on six hits and two walks. He fanned six on the way to his fifth win of the year. Mitch Harris tossed the final two innings for his first save.

Breyvic Valera went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot but did not score. Wisdom and Travis Tartamella had two hits each, with the third baseman coming home twice and the catcher once.

Saturday, August 30th, Springfield 5 at Tulsa 2, game one

The Cardinals scored four in the top of the seventh, then Joe Donofrio slammed the door in the bottom of the inning for his 15th save of the season.

Starter Kyle Hald picked up the win after going six innings, scattering 10 hits, but allowing only two runs. Breyvic Valera singled and drove in two. Greg Garcia singled and stole a base.

Saturday, August 30th, Springfield 0 at Tulsa 1, game two

The Cardinals managed only three hits in the nightcap. Breyvic Valera and Alex Mejia both singled. Mejia added a walk and a stolen base.

Ryan Sherriff took the loss after allowing a run in 4 2/3 innings of work. Also, he contributed his team’s third hit of the night. Reliever Jeremy Berg finished the final 1 1/3 innings.

Sunday, August 31st, Springfield 4 at Tulsa 3

In his first rehab start, Michael Wacha faced the minimum over two after a hitter that singled was erased in a double play. He departed after an error, stolen base and walk to open the third. Wacha threw 34 pitches.

After Sam Gaviglio yielded three runs over the next five, the other St. Louis rehabber, Jason Motte, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. With the S-Cards down 3-2 in the ninth, Travis Tartamella’s RBI single scored Illdemaro Vargas (reached via error) to push the game into extras.

Lee Stoppelman took the loss in the 10th after allowing a double and a sacrifice bunt, with the run scoring on a throwing error by third baseman Patrick Wisdom.

The Cardinals offense managed just five hits in 10 innings. Jonathan Rodriguez singled twice and scored. The other two RBI were credited to Gaviglio and Matt Williams.

Monday, September 1st, Springfield 9 at Tulsa 8

Springfield rallied late to secure a late one-run victory over the Drillers on Monday afternoon, salvaging a split of the final series of 2014. Springfield finished with an overall mark of 68-72 for the season, posting identical marks of 34-36 each half.

Nick Petree, who received a long-awaited promotion on the last day of the regular season, was knocked around in his Double-A debut, permitting seven runs, five earned, on ten hits a walk in 4 2/3 innings. Petree left with his team down by five runs, but the bats woke up and scored seven in the next two frames.

Nick Martini led the offensive charge with four of Springfield’s 12 hits, one for a double, scored twice, and knocked in one. Patrick Wisdom added two hits in four at bats, one them a three-run bomb. Jonathan Rodriguez and Breyvic Valera also combined for two hits, Rodriguez scored one and Valera drove in one.

Corey Baker got the win even though he gave up a solo home run through his inning and a third. Jeremy Berg struck out all batters faced while Jonathan Cornelius had to be bailed out by closer Joe Donofrio after he gave up a hit and walk while recording an out. Donofrio was able to strand both runners for his 16th save of the season.

Who’s Hot

Yadier Molina - Molina only played in two rehab games with Springfield but just having his presence around this young learning Springfield club would be a moment to never forget. The Gold Glove catcher went 5-for-6 in his two games, an .833 batting average, with two RBI and eight total bases.

Joe Donofrio - The last time Donofrio gave up an earned run was way back on July 21st when he allowed two with Memphis against the Omaha Stormchasers. He obviously figured out what to work on and stuck with the approach, not allowing earned run in over 16 scoreless innings pitched dating back to July 25th with Springfield.

Who’s Not

Cody Stanley - Stanley struggled mightily the final ten games of the regular season batting .069 (2-for-29) but overall his season was bright in what may have been his make or break year as a member of the Cardinals organization.

Nick Petree - Was promoted from Palm Beach to make the final game of the season start. His Double-A debut did not work out as he had hoped as he yielded seven runs (five earned) on ten hits in 4 2/3 innings on Monday afternoon. This did give Petree a taste of what Texas League baseball is all about and manager Mike Shildt commented by saying “he battled his tail off in this start,” a positive.

Team Transactions

8/30 C Tony Cruz optioned to Springfield from St. Louis
8/31 RHP Michael Wacha transferred to Springfield on a Major League Rehab Assignment
8/31 RHP Jason Motte transferred to Springfield on a Major League Rehab Assignment
8/31 IF Greg Garcia transferred to Memphis
9/1 OF Nick Martini promoted from Palm Beach to Springfield
9/1 RHP Nick Petree promoted from Palm Beach to Springfield
9/1 RHP Mike Mayers promoted to Memphis
9/1 RHP Mitch Harris promoted to Memphis
9/1 RHP Sam Tuivailala promoted to Memphis

Final Division Standings (Overall)

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Stk
# Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 75 65 .536 - 35-35 40-30 6-4 W3
* Tulsa Drillers (COL) 71 68 .511 3.5 32-37 39-31 7-3 L1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 68 72 .486 7.0 32-38 36-34 5-5 W1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 53 87 .379 22.0 24-46 29-41 2-8 L4
# 2H winner                
* 1H winner                

Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#9 Patrick Wisdom - The thought was Wisdom would improve as the season went on, but his numbers from the first half to the second were much worse, especially in the average department, where Wisdom may continue to have the most troubles in his future. He did flash some occasional pop. This big brawny third baseman has a ton of raw juice but it is the matter of making it work consistently that holds him back. Could very well see Wisdom back as a Springbird next year if he fails to make much of an impression next spring.

#13 Charlie Tilson - Tilson was probably the Beach Birds’ best hitter until his promotion in late July to Springfield. The center fielder got 31 Texas League games in before the season ended, batting .237/.269/.324 with two homers and 17 RBI. Tilson will be heading out to the Arizona Fall League in a couple weeks.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - Stoppelman faced a lot of adversity this season with up and down outings. If he can get his control down and have enough command, this lanky lefty could be weapon out of the bullpen sometime soon. There are just a few flaws that need to be addressed first.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Gaviglio struggled some throughout the first half with acclimating to the league, but came back strong, carrying a sub 2.00 ERA for the second half of the season. His fringy stuff may not play at the higher levels but he can certainly eat innings in a long-man role.

#29 Jacob Wilson - Will be off to the Arizona Fall League in a few weeks to prove his health.

#31 Breyvic Valera - Valera too got a taste of Double-A, playing in 59 games following his promotion from High-A Palm Beach. The scrawny switch-hitter hit .286/.329/.339 in those games with Springfield with no home runs and 20 RBI. Expect him to be the top-of-the-order catalyst for this team most of next season. The multi-positional player was also added to the Arizona Fall League roster representing the Cardinals on Wednesday.

#36 Sam Tuivailala - A lot of positives can be said about this young bullet thrower, who touched as high as 102 mph on the Hammons Field gun numerous times while spinning off a breaking ball and flashing feel for a change-up that will be worked on during the Fall League and next spring. Tuivailala posted the best strikeout numbers of any reliever in the Cardinals system and has a promising future ahead, if progress continues and his arm remains healthy.

What’s Next

2014 has ended for Springfield but look for the season recap and the Players of the Year reports to come in the next few weeks. Check back often at TheCardinalNation.com. Also keep eye open for our reports from the Arizona Fall League to keep track of the six Springfield Cardinals participating this season.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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