Insight from Cardinals Instructs: 09/25/14

Thursday news from the St. Louis Cardinals instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida.

To ensure they avoided the rain, which was set at 50 percent for the day, the St. Louis Cardinals adjusted their instructional league schedule to play their seven-inning game at 10 a.m., rather than the usual 1 p.m.

As the precipitation stayed away, the players came out after lunch. Coaches hoped to see better execution on fundamentals in what had become the first game of instructs. As a result, the entire team worked on cutoffs and relays under Mike Shildt and Mark DeJohn.

The offensive players were scheduled to hit next, with the White and Red squads taking different fields. As the players were re-forming in their groups, the skies opened up, shifting the hitting to the cages. As soon as everyone moved inside, the light rain stopped.

That allowed the four pitchers scheduled to throw side sessions to get their work in. They are Derian Gonzalez, Junior Fernandez, Sandy Alcantara and Bryan Dobzanski. Catchers were Brian O’Keefe, Juan Cruz, Steve Bean and Mason Katz, with Carson Kelly and catching coordinator Dann Bilardello looking on.

Though the rain stayed away for several more hours, another brief rain shower hit just after 3:15 p.m. Such is training in Florida.

During the game, which is described following, three infielders worked on a separate field in drills in both fielding and hitting. They are Breyvic Valera, Leobaldo Pina and Aledmys Diaz.

The game

I think the White defeated the Red, by something like 6-4, but the score was really meaningless. As I mentioned in Wednesday’s report, the Cardinals are working on situational drills during games this year. As a result, runners were placed on base and moved up at will.

Sometimes they were allowed to steal and other times, they had to go back. Willie McGee placed himself as the first base coach and focused on helping the baserunners get better reads and jumps.

Still, the pitchers had to pitch and the hitters had to hit. Here are the lineups, followed by the hurlers, their target innings and rough pitch count plus what they threw and their velocities.

White Pos   Red Pos
Seferina 4   Sierra 8
Sosa DH   Mercado 6
Kelly/Cruz 2   Katz 3
Wick 9   Wilson DH
DeLeon 3   Drake 9
Herrera 6   Collymore 4
Rivera 5   Diekroeger 5
R Reyes 7   Bean/O'Keefe 2
Bryan 8   McElroy 7


White Inn/NP Velos   Red Inn/NP Velos
Baez 3/45 Fb 91-93   J Perez 3/45 Fb 92-94
    Cb 76-77       Cb 77-78
    Sldr 76-77       C/up 80-84
    C/up 82-85   Mateo 3/45 Fb 90-92
Farinaro 3/45 Fb 91-93       Cb 77-78
    C/up 80-82       C/up 83
    Cb 68        
Parra 2/40 Fb 91-92        
    Cb 77-79        
J Fernandez            
D Gonzalez            

As noted, Mason Katz was stationed at first base for the Red. He said he isn’t quite ready for game action behind the plate and Alex Deleon is the only true first baseman in camp. As such, it seemed only fitting that one glove remained on the field between innings as DeLeon shared his mitt with Katz.

Both starting pitchers, Fernando Baez and Juan Perez, sailed through the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the third.

Against Baez, I watched GCL batting champion Magneuris Sierra get fooled on an off-speed offering before lashing an RBI single to centerfield. Oscar Mercado followed with a double into the left-field corner.

Coincidentally, McGee mentioned those two players when I asked him about young standouts. He feels that Mercado is the most gifted and aggressive basestealer in camp. McGee noted that Sierra can both hit and run and as long as he can make adjustments, should continue to do well.

McGee is in camp only this week, but said he hopes that in future years, he can increase his level of participation.

A couple of batters later, outfielder Blake Drake dropped a single into short center that plated two. McGee worked a lot with Drake and C.J. McElroy, among others.

In the bottom of the inning against Perez, the Red offense scored when Vaughn Bryan doubled over the first base bag into the right field corner. Then, Darren Seferina was hit by a pitch that was initially a bit scary, like broken hand scary, but the second baseman shook it off and remained in the game.

Edmundo Sosa lashed a double into deep centerfield before Carson Kelly’s own two-base blast hit the bottom on the fence on the fly. The next batter up, Rowan Wick, shot a long, no doubt-about-it home run over the right-field wall, good for two more runs.

Julio Mateo took over for Perez in the fourth and gave up an RBI single to Juan Herrera.

The same thing happened in the top of the fifth with Steven Farinaro on the mound and McElroy at the plate. The left-fielder hit a run-scoring single to center and alertly took second when the throw went to the wrong base (hence a reinforcement in the drills after lunch noted above).

Seferina singled and stole a base vs. Mateo in the fifth, though I believe the scoring for the day was over.

The last pitcher may have been the most impressive of the five who worked this day. 19-year-old Frederis Parra threw strikes and drew a number of swings and misses. The right-hander, who pitched in the Gulf Coast League this summer, backed up a low-90’s fastball with an effective curve.

What is Next

Look for future daily articles and an extensive series of player and coach interviews coming to you from Cardinals instructional league camp in Jupiter in the upcoming days.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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