Four days after the A-Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals received a boost to their staff with the arrival of first-rounder Luke Weaver from the disabled list, the parent St. Louis Cardinals beefed up the club’s pitching again on Monday. Left-hander Ian McKinney, The Cardinal Nation’s 18th-ranked prospect coming into the season, has been promoted from extended spring training camp.
In addition to McKinney, the Cardinals also bumped up right-hander Kender Villegas from EST to the Florida State League club. Two pitchers returned to EST are both relievers, lefty Steve Sabatino and righty Cody Schumacher.
As explained in further detail here, McKinney, the organization’s fifth-rounder in 2013, had a truncated 2014 due to injury. The aftermath likely contributed to the organization’s decision to keep the 20-year-old in Florida longer this spring, rather than breaking camp with a full-season club.
With top prospect Jack Flaherty apparently getting closer to his return from Peoria’s disabled list, the Cardinals moved McKinney to Palm Beach for his first full-season action, instead. It remains to be seen if these moves are temporary, to replenish Palm Beach’s staff coming off a road trip.
Villegas Steps Up
Villegas, 21, was a workhorse out of the bullpen for the 2014 Appalachian League champion Johnson City Cardinals with a league-leading 23 appearances (tied). The Venezuelan fanned 42 and walked 11 in 39 innings to go with a 3.00 ERA. Villegas was originally signed in 2010.
Sabatino, 25, has a 2.45 ERA in 14 2/3 innings over 13 appearances this season. The lefty has 10 strikeouts against seven walks as FSL batters are hitting a collective .317 against him.
Sabatino was the Cardinals’ 26th round selection in the 2012 Draft from Notre Dame. The Chicago native spent most of last season with Class-A Peoria.
Schumacher, 24, is a right-hander from Missouri State. He began the season in EST, then joined Palm Beach on April 13 when Ronnie Shaban was injured. The Cardinals’ 36th-round draft pick last June appeared in 10 games out of Palm Beach’s bullpen, logging a 4.67 ERA to go with nine strikeouts and three walks in 17 1/3 innings.
Schumacher made six starts for the State College Spikes last summer, logging a 3.58 ERA, but did not pitch after July 23rd due to injury.
Update: Wilson Comes Home
Infielder Jacob Wilson has been promoted from Double-A Springfield to Memphis. The Bartlett, Tennessee native and former Memphis Tiger star was hitting .225 with seven home runs and 21 RBI for Springfield. Wilson, 24, is making his Triple-A debut Monday for the Redbirds, playing third base and batting seventh.
Heading into the 2015 season, Wilson was The Cardinal Nation’s xxth-ranked prospect. Springfield has not yet announced his roster replacement.
Update: Much Less Moore
To make room for Wilson on the Triple-A roster, the Cardinals have unconditionally released veteran infielder Scott Moore. The 31-year-old was hitting .175 (20-for-114) for Memphis this season. During 2014-15 with the Redbirds, Moore compiled a .223 batting average, with 17 home runs, and 70 RBI in 155 games.
Update: Cooney Recognized
His MLB debut may not have been exciting, nor was his initial return to Triple-A Memphis, but this past week, left-hander Tim Cooney was spectacular, leading to his selection as the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for the period May 11-17.
In his two starts during the period, the 24-year-old allowed just one earned run in 14 2/3 innings on seven hits and three walks. Cooney fanned nine. In his six starts on the season for Memphis, Cooney has lowered his ERA to 3.00.
It is a déjà vu award for Cooney as he was also the PCL Pitcher of the Week during the final period of May one year ago. Coming into the season, the former Wake Forest star was The Cardinal Nation’s seventh-ranked prospect.
Update: Wisdom for wisdom and for Wilson
The replacement for Wilson on Springfield’s roster is a familiar face. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom is back after a 10-day tutoring session with hitting coach George Greer in Jupiter, Florida.
The right-handed hitter was batting .236 this season in the Texas League on the heels of his .215 mark for the 2014 Springfield club.
Update: Shaban Activated
Springfield also altered its roster balance in favor of an additional pitcher in reliever Ronnie Shaban, activated on Monday. The left-hander went on the Double-A disabled list on April 24th.
The 25-year-old has had a tough start to 2015 with five runs, four earned, in 3 2/3 innings over four appearances with Palm Beach (one) and Springfield (three). The right-hander allowed seven hits and three walks against just one strikeout.
Update: End of the Line for Starlin
As Shaban was activated, outfielder Starlin Rodriguez was released by the Cardinals organization. Once a fast-climbing second base prospect, the career of the 25-year-old stalled at the A-Advanced level, where the Dominican native played in each of the last four seasons.
His standout tool was his hit tool, but that stopped being a differentiator as he went from being an All-Star to a Double-A liability. Rodriguez’ career line at Palm Beach was a solid .296/.362/.435 compared to a sub-par .241/.300/.368 in parts of three seasons at Springfield.
Wednesday Update: Role Reversal
The four moves noted above between extended spring training and Palm Beach – McKinney and Villegas up with Schumacher and Sabatino down – were reversed on Wednesday.
Apparently, the A-Advanced pen needed some temporary reinforcements. The deal worked out well for manager Oliver Marmol’s club as McKinney threw three shutout innings on one hit Tuesday night, striking out five and walking none. The 20-year-old picked up his first win of 2015.
Villegas also appeared once during his brief time with Palm Beach. On Monday, the 21-year-old allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings of relief on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
As more news across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system is made available on Monday, May 18, it will be added here, so please remember to check back.
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