Cards Pitching Prospect Mo: Spring Week 1

Which pitching prospects performed in St. Louis Cardinals major league spring training camp last week?

While our popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2015, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I am going to step in with a weekly look at how the members of The Cardinal Nation’s 2015 top 40 prospect list and other minor leaguers are doing in Major League camp.

The good news-bad news story this year is that the Cardinals, continuing with one the more productive farm systems in baseball, have a quantity of prospects close to the majors. While there is not roster space for most of them, making a good impression now can pay off.

Before camp opened, I went on record with my predictions of which players I thought would make the Major League roster out of spring training. I did the same for all four of the full-season minor league clubs. Click here to be taken to the Peoria article, as links to the other four team’s articles are included at the end.

I am using those predictions in the tables below, but we should all understand that the roster targets are constantly moving throughout camp based on injuries and performance as the Cardinals figure out who best fits where.

The start of real games offers a first opportunity to regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-lukewarm-cold look from a seven-day period that could and likely will change substantially from one week to next.

Overall

Despite a 3-3 record, the team appears to be in ok shape, all things considered. At this point, the pitching is ahead of the hitting. St. Louis’ staff has a cumulative ERA of 3.63 while the Cardinals’ opponents are at 3.48. The team batting average is .248, with their opponents at a collective .245.

St. Louis’ run differential advantage is 25 to 21, however, five of the Cardinals’ runs were unearned, hence the ERA swing in the other direction. After two initial wins, the Cards have lost three of their last four. Four of the six games were held at familiar Roger Dean Stadium.

The players

The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 57 players invited, with 39 on the 40-man roster and 18 non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

15 of the 57 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2015 – five pitchers and ten position players. Another 15 minor leaguers in total are in Major League camp, either as members of the 40-man or as non-roster invitees, but did not place among our top 40.

This group of is those about whom I will be reporting. Of course, the list of 30 we are now tracking here – 11 pitchers and 19 position players - will further decline in count each week as camp continues and cuts are made.

I rank each player based on his momentum this past week – high/medium/low. I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call “Prediction” for where I thought as camp opened that the player will start in April. Players will remain “medium” unless I see as a clear reason to shift them.

Innings pitched (IP) and earned run average (ERA) are for first six games of the spring, coming into play on Wednesday, March 11.

The roster

At this point, there have been no cuts from the initial camp invitee list.

The results

Pitchers (11) Top  Ros Prediction IP ERA Mo  
Majors camp 40         Last wk This wk
Gonzales 1 40m Memphis 2.0 0.00   High
Tuivailala 8 40m Memphis 1.0 0.00   High
               
Cooney 7 NRI Memphis 4.0 2.25   High
Mayers 25 NRI Memphis 3.0 3.00   Medium
Petrick 29 NRI Memphis 4.0 0.00   High
               
Greenwood NR 40m Memphis 2.0 13.50   Low
               
Gast NR NRI Memphis 1.2 21.60   Low
Harris NR NRI Memphis 1.0 0.00   High
Hatley NR NRI Memphis 0.2 0.00   Medium
Kiekhefer NR NRI Memphis 1.0 0.00   High
Socolovich NR NRI Memphis 2.0 0.00   High
               
Dropped off T40  Ros Prediction IP ERA Mo  
this week           Last wk This wk
none              

This week, I gave four of the five top 40 prospect pitchers high marks, with one medium score.

Given three are unscored upon – Marco Gonzales, Sam Tuivailala and Zach Petrick – that is understood. Petrick has particularly stood out with just one baserunner against five strikeouts in four innings of work. The fourth “red hot” top 40 prospect, Tim Cooney, allowed just one run on two baserunners in four frames.

Mike Mayers receives a medium score despite yielding just one run in three innings. It could have been a lot worse due to his five hits and two walks allowed.

Speaking of worse, lefty relievers Nick Greenwood and John Gast have a total of five appearances between them and were scored upon each time out. Marcus Hatley receives a medium score due to a wild pitch after inheriting two runners with one out and allowing one to come home.

Game highlights

Thursday, 3/5 at Miami: With many of the Marlins starters still in the game, Cooney tossed clean third and fourth innings, allowing a lone hit and fanning one. Mayers was touched for a walk and two singles in the eighth for a run, but fanned the final two hitters of the inning. Miguel Socolovich whiffed two and walked one in the ninth.

Friday, 3/6 at Miami: Gonzales matched Carlos Martinez’ strong start the day before by allowing no runs on two baserunners in two frames. In a perfect fifth and sixth, Petrick fanned two. Greenwood was roughed up in the seventh, yielding a pair of runs on three hits.

Saturday, 3/7 vs. Houston: In the third, Marcus Hatley inherited two of Jaime Garcia’s runners, on the corners. He wild-pitched the trailer into scoring position but escaped with only a sac fly. Gast secured the third out of the seventh, but served up a ringing RBI triple in the eighth.

Sunday, 3/8 at Washington: Mitch Harris did a good job, getting called upon in the second with the bases loaded and no out after Lance Lynn’s injury. He escaped with just one run in, scoring on a ground out. Cooney’s bid for two perfect innings was spoiled by Michael Morse’s solo home run. Tuivailala, Dean Kiekhefer and Socolovich added a scoreless frame each. Mayers somehow managed two scoreless despite giving up a double, two singles and a walk.

Monday, 3/9 vs. Boston: Petrick pitched the fifth and sixth, fanning three and allowing just one baserunner, via a walk. Greenwood yielded a run on a double and single in the ninth.

Tuesday, 3/10 at Houston: Gast had a bad day at the office. Inheriting a runner in the third, he allowed a stolen base and wild pitch before securing the third out. In the fourth, he departed with no outs after a walk and two doubles brought in a pair. A third run came home later in the inning.

Link to Cardinals full spring training pitching stats

What is next

Look for the companion article to this one, covering the Cardinals prospect hitters during week one of the 2015 Major League spring training camp.



To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, STEP campers and more, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Join the prospect discussion with other Cardinals fans here



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

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