Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2015 Week 7

The Double-A Cards had a 3-4 record this week, which improved their overall season mark to 15-31. Alex Mejia remains dependable on offense and defense.

This report covers the period from Thursday, May 21st through Wednesday, May 27th.

With a win in the series-finale, the Springfield Cardinals (STL) settled for a split of four against the Tulsa Drillers (LAD), of which the first three contests were covered in last week’s Notebook. Against the Arkansas Travelers (LAA), the Cards completed an eight-game home-stand, with the visitors taking three-of-four, including the sweep of a double-header. The Cardinals then hit the road for a six-game Texas road-trip, first against the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX). Two are covered in this week’s edition with a split result, meaning it was a 3-4 week for the S-Cards.

Springfield rests deep in last place of the Texas League North Division, where they have remained all season. Their 15-31 mark is worst in the Texas League. “Friendly” rival NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) is the North Division powerhouse, leading Springfield by 15 games.

Thursday, May 21st, Springfield 5 vs. Tulsa 4

Defense proved decisive in the S-Cards’ 5-4 victory over the Drillers on Thursday. Springfield salvaged a split of the four-game set with the win.

The number of errors committed by each squad equaled the number of unearned runs generated by the miscues. That worked in the favor of the home team, which committed one error to the visitors’ two.

Outhit 11 to six, Springfield relied on those scores for the difference in the game. Jeremy Hazelbaker singled and tripled in three at bats with a walk and run scored. Charlie Tilson added two walks to a single in three at bats, scoring twice. Each player swiped a bag.

Thomas Lee rebounded from a sub-par outing in his second time around facing Northwest Arkansas by holding them to two runs, one earned, on eight hits over seven. Lee fanned three and did not issue a free pass.

Chris Thomas allowed that many tallies on three hits in a single frame, striking out one. Kyle Barraclough fanned two of three faced in the ninth for his first Double-A save.

Friday, May 22nd, Springfield 6 vs. Arkansas 1

Springfield took the first of four against the Arkansas Travelers on Friday night by a commanding 6-1 victory. Arturo Reyes kept the Travelers in check through 5 ? scoreless innings for his first Texas League win.

Reyes gave up three hits and walked two, along with four strikeouts to five groundouts and eight flyouts. Iden Nazario stranded two of Reyes’s runners with a strikeout.

Making progress in his recovery, Jordan Swagerty faced the minimum in his inning of work while Ronnie Shaban pitched a scoreless eighth before allowing two hits on an earned in the ninth.

The home-team was fueled by an Alberto Rosario three-run blast. Jeremy Hazelbaker and Aledmys Diaz chipped in three RBI combined.

Saturday, May 23rd, Springfield 2 vs. Arkansas 5

Springfield’s two-game win streak was snapped on Saturday night, as Arkansas evened up the four-game series at one apiece.

Andrew Morales got off to a good start by retiring the side in the first but a stretch of 11 of the next 13 hitters reached base and promptly ended his short-lived night. Morales gave up three earned runs on five hits, as the righty lost his third game of the season against three wins.

Joe Donofrio covered for Morales’s early exit by tossing 3 ? innings of one-run ball in a long relief role. Donofrio yielded an earned run on three hits with four strikeouts. Kyle Barraclough and Heath Wyatt pitched the rest of the way, with Barraclough covering 1 ? scoreless and Wyatt an inning scoreless.

Offensively, Springfield went quietly going just 2-of-13 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners stranded. Alex Mejia and Michael Ohlman contributed the two RBI, Mejia doubling one in and Ohlman singling a runner home.

Monday, May 25th, Springfield 2 vs. Arkansas 4, (game one of the double-header)

Sunday’s game three between Springfield and Arkansas was postponed because of rain and prolonged incoming inclement weather conditions. The game was rescheduled as part of a one-ticket Memorial Day doubleheader on Monday.

Springfield dropped both seven-inning games on Monday by identical scores of 4-2. In game one, Nick Petree got the start and was hit hard in the first inning, allowing all three of his earned runs and three of five hits in that frame.

Petree settled down with 5 ? scoreless following the first inning. Iden Nazario finished the seventh by retiring the final two outs without allowing any further damage.

The offense was held to just five hits and two runs. Alex Mejia and Patrick Wisdom produced the two runs, with Mejia’s coming off an RBI double and Wisdom’s via an RBI single.

Monday, May 25th, Springfield 2 vs. Arkansas 4, (game two of the double-header)

In the series-finale, Arkansas was out-hit by Springfield, eight-to-three. The Travelers capitalized on eight walks by the Cardinals pitching staff to scratch across four runs. The Arkansas pitching staff stopped a late-rallying Springfield offense to take three-of-four at Hammons Field.

Making the spot-start, Chris Thomas was excellent through his first three innings, all scoreless. But, the Travelers proceeded to tag Thomas for two runs in the fourth. Corey Baker relieved Thomas, and walked two before yielding an RBI single.

Jordan Swagerty opened the fifth, but left after three straight walks, including 12 straight balls, and two wild pitches. Swagerty was experiencing troubles with overthrowing and then came frustration which led to the inning snowballing on him.

Ronnie Shaban gave up a sac fly that was charged to Swagerty, but worked around those walks and went on to pitched two scoreless innings before handing the ball to Lee Stoppelman, who debuted with a scoreless seventh.

The Springfield offense rallied-late but came up two runs short. Patrick Wisdom hit an opposite-field RBI double and Charlie Tilson drove in Wisdom on a triple to account for Springfield’s scoring.

Tuesday, May 26th, Springfield 1 at Frisco 10

On Tuesday night, the Frisco Roughriders put up a crooked number in the first inning of the first matchup between these two teams. The strange game ended with an infield fly turned into a double-play after Charlie Tilson was thrown out trying to advance on a dropped pop-out.

The Riders poured on runs in four consecutive innings to chase Kyle Hald, who lasted only 3 ? innings, allowing nine earned runs. The lefty walked three, and struck out four while losing his third decision of the season.

Corey Baker covered the next 2 ? innings and only gave up an earned run, helping a tired bullpen. Iden Nazario and Kyle Barraclough combined to pitch the final two innings, both scoreless.

Springfield banged out ten hits but only scratched a single run across, which came via a solo home run from Mike Ohlman in the ninth inning. Struggling Charlie Tilson recorded four of the offense’s ten hits, all singles.

Wednesday, May 27th, Springfield 4 at Frisco 3

Springfield scratched and clawed for a three runs over the seventh and eighth innings, then held off Frisco in the ninth to draw the series even at one. The rubber-game matchup will be played on Thursday, May 28th and will be written up in Week 8’s Notebook.

Thomas Lee threw six strong innings but couldn’t get enough run support to garner a win, a common theme for the Springfield starting staff. The only blemish to this outing was a two-run fifth inning when the Riders pulled ahead. Lee gave up six hits, walked none, and struck out four while not showing any hesitancy in attacking the zone against a Rider's’ lineup that included four of baseball’s nationally-recognized prospects at the top of the order.

Winning pitcher Joe Donofrio recorded the next six outs over two innings without any harm done. Lee Stoppelman issued two walks but finished strongly by retiring the next two. Kyle Barraclough gave up a hit that pulled the Riders within one but struck out Joey Gallo to give the pitcher his second save at the Double-A level.

An offense that had five runs combined over the last three games did better with four runs - an RBI single from Aledmys Diaz, a solo shot by Alex Mejia and two-run single by Mike Ohlman to top the power-studded Rider lineup.

Who is Hot

Alex Mejia - Mejia isn’t exactly tearing things up with his bat, hitting .294 in his last ten games. But, the middle infielder is on a current five-game hitting streak, including an RBI in three of those five games. In addition to his production at the plate, Mejia has a reputation as a solid, gritty defender. He has been plugged in both positions up-the-middle and been very dependable player for a Springfield squad with limited bright spots.

Thomas Lee - Lee won’t wow anyone with his stuff, but has been a workhorse in his past two starts by logging 13 innings and only allowing three earned runs. However, the right-hander is getting little run support and has only one win as a result.

Kyle Barraclough - Conversely, Barraclough has the ability to reach into the upper 90s with his fastball, great stuff late in games. He has picked up right where he left off after being promoted from High-A Palm Beach, with seven scoreless appearances in 5 ? innings so far with Springfield.

Who is Not

Jonathan Rodriguez - Rodriguez had one of the strongest months of his career with a .338 April batting average, but since has hit .208 in the month of May. Pitchers are adjusting to him and finding weaknesses as his number of at-bats increases.

Kyle Hald - Hald is coming off two of his worst starts of the season, both ending in losses. The lefty yielded 13 earned runs on 19 hits in only 9 ? innings against the Drillers and Roughriders.

Chris Thomas - Thomas has been scored upon in his past two outings, against the Drillers and Travelers. The righty has given up four earned runs in his last 4 ? innings, which has jumped his ERA almost a full point.

Springbirds batting order

Charlie Tilson keeps receiving regular time at lead-off with manager Dann Bilardello showing 100% faith in the young outfielder even with his struggles of late. Alex Mejia batted in the two-hole while playing shortstop or second base, six of the seven games this week, with Aledmys Diaz slotting there once. Nick Martini has been the three-hole hitter for the most part, sharing time with Aledmys Diaz and Jeremy Hazelbaker. The third spot was left vacant by Jacob Wilson, who was promoted to Memphis last week. 1B Jonathan Rodriguez continues ats clean-up, his spot since day one. Anthony Garcia hitting mostly fifth but hasn’t played in the last two games after crashing into the left field wall on Sunday and coming up with a twisted ankle.

The bottom third of the order includes either Mike Ohlman, the everyday catcher or Jeremy Hazelbaker who has been playing the corners, at sixth or seventh. That leaves the eighth and ninth spots for Patrick Wisdom and Breyvic Valera. Bilardello is trying to take pressure of these two prospects to not press at the plate and try not to do too much, which is often the case.

Team Transactions

5/24 LHP Lee Stoppelman activated from the 7-Day DL
5/24 RHP Heath Wyatt assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals

Texas League North Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 29 15 .659 - 19-6 10-9 7-3 L3
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 26 19 .578 3.5 12-12 14-7 5-5 W5
Tulsa Drillers (LAD) 19 24 .442 9.5 9-9 10-15 4-6 L2
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 15 31 .326 15.0 7-15 8-16 4-6 W1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#10 Charlie Tilson - Tilson isn’t hitting up to his capabilities over his last ten games. Though most recently, the outfielder is on a three-game hitting streak, going 7-for-14 (.500), so his performance is trending upward.

#12 Aledmys Diaz - According to some, Diaz projects to have an above-average bat at the major-league level. So far this season, however, the former Cuban standout is hitting like a middling player in the Texas League. A 2-for-4 Wednesday with an RBI single is in encouraging sign but there needs to be a lot more of that.

#15 Brevyic Valera - Valera is another hitting prospect at Springfield who has greatly underachieved, but yet the coaches remain optimistic that the career .300 minor league hitter can make adjustments and improve his average. Valera is 5-for-8 on the road-trip and he is hitting the ball sharper and finding more holes, so a little more luck has been on his side.

#20 Nick Petree - Petree was once again solid in his most recent start, pitching well enough to earn a quality start but not well enough for his second win of the season. The Missouri State standout lost his fourth game and continues to get little run support.

#25 Mike Mayers - Mayers remains on the 7-Day DL with a right arm strain, retroactive to May 12th. He continues to rehab in Florida.

#27 Patrick Wisdom - Wisdom returned from extended spring training last Monday night and extended a hitting streak that dated back to April 30th to 11 games. The streak was snapped on Tuesday night and he has since gone hitless in the two games since. The Cardinals have reportedly minimized the “lift” in Wisdom’s swing, thus incorporating more of his body that will help in laying off or making contact with softer stuff that he’s already committed his lower half into.

#35 Andrew Morales - Morales made one start this week and was a rather short one of only three innings duration. The right-hander will look to redeem himself on Thursday night in the series rubber-game matchup.

What is Next

With 24 games left in the season’s first half, Springfield begins Week 8 still deep in the North Division cellar, even though they’ve made strides in the recent weeks. The Cardinals will conclude a three-game series against Frisco on Thursday, a rubber-game matchup, then play three more on the road against the Midland Rockhounds (OAK) this weekend. Those same two teams will then meet three more times at Hammons Field next week.

Join the minor league discussion with other Cardinals fans here

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