The Palm Beach Cardinals ended the first half of the season in a tie for last place with the Bradenton Marauders (PIT). The Cardinals have made the most of their new life though, beginning the second half with a 4-2 record, good enough to put them in a three way tie them for first place in the division. The offense came around some, while the pitching remained stellar, and the team outscored their opponents 28-16 in the past week.
June 24: Fort Myers Miracle 4, Palm Beach Cardinals 3
In the last game of the first half of the Florida State League season, the Palm Beach Cardinals lost in the 11th inning for their 38th loss of the first half. Luke Weaver pitched admirably, giving up two earned runs in 5 ? innings, but the Cardinals weren’t able to come away with the victory in the end.
Catcher Jose Gonzalez and left fielder Jimmy Bosco both recorded two hits. Chris Perry was charged with the loss, although he managed to make it 2 ? scoreless innings before giving up a double and then allowing the winning run to score on a wild pitch.
June 25: Palm Beach Cardinals 7 at Jupiter Hammerheads 2
With the second half of the season bringing new hope to Palm Beach, the Cardinals trounced the Hammerheads by erupting for seven runs. Rob Kaminsky turned in his normal brilliant performance, striking out eight and giving up one earned run in six innings for the win.
Offensively, the Cardinals only recorded one extra base hit (a double off the bat of first baseman Luke Voit to start the ninth), but reached base 21 times, including 11 walks, eight hits, and two HBP. Voit led the charge by going 1-for-2 with two walks, a HBP, and two runs scored.
June 26: Palm Beach Cardinals 3 at Jupiter Hammerheads 1
Trey Nielsen remained hot, giving up just one run over seven innings and leading Palm Beach to their second victory in a row. The offense only managed three runs, even while recording 11 hits, including multi-hit games from third baseman Casey Turgeon, first baseman Luke Voit, catcher Carson Kelly, and left fielder Derek Gibson.
Nonetheless, the scoring was more than enough behind Palm Beach’s stellar pitching. Silfredo Garcia earned his first save of the season by pitching two scoreless innings in relief of Nielsen.
June 27: Palm Beach Cardinals 8, Daytona Tortugas 3
Palm Beach’s offense exploded for the second time in three days as the Cardinals brought their winning streak to three. Second baseman Brett Wiley sparked the offense by going 1-for-2 with a triple, a walk, a stolen base, two runs scored, and 3 RBI. Left fielder Derek Gibson also contributed two hits and a walk while driving in a run. On the mound, Corey Littrell settled down nicely after giving up two runs on two hits in the first inning, going 5 ? innings while striking out eight on the night to earn the win.
June 28: Daytona Tortugas 2 at Palm Beach Cardinals 0
After winning their first three games to start the have and scoring 18 runs in the process, the Cardinals were shut out by the Tortugas. Nick Petree had a solid start, giving up only two runs over 5 ? innings while striking out five, but unfortunately his offense couldn’t pick him up and those two runs cost him the win. Although Palm Beach only managed four hits, they did draw six walks, but scattered them across the game and failed to get a runner to third base.
June 29: Daytona Tortugas 3 at Palm Beach Cardinals 2
The Cardinals lost a tough game in spite of a late push to win in the bottom of the ninth. Luke Weaver looked to be cruising after throwing six scoreless innings with five strikeouts, but in the top of the seventh he allowed a walk, a double, and a home run to give the Tortugas all the runs they would need.
The offense managed to gain two runs back, including one with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t quite push the game into extra innings. Left fielder Derek Gibson was the driving force, as he went 3-for-4 with a run scored.
June 30: Palm Beach Cardinals 5, Daytona Tortugas 1
After losing two in a row, the Cardinals returned to their winning ways behind an outstanding start from Rob Kaminsky. Allowing only four baserunners on the night, Kaminsky won his sixth game with seven shutout innings and four strikeouts.
Every player reached base except for C.J. McElroy who replaced Collin Radack in the seventh inning as Palm Beach scored five runs. No one player carried the team, although center fielder Blake Drake hit his first home run of the season in the third inning.
Alex Reyes and Rob Kaminsky are living up to their reputations as top prospects, but Trey Nielsen is absolutely on fire. On May 19th, Nielsen gave up four earned runs in 4 ? innings. In seven games since then, he’s given up four earned runs in 47 innings (that’s an ERA of 0.77). He’s getting deep into games, too, average 6 ? innings per start over that stretch, going seven or more innings five times. His strikeout numbers aren’t great, as he’s struck out only 36 over that same stretch, but his 0.89 WHIP shows just how dominant he’s been, even without the strike out. If he keeps this up, it’ll be hard for the Cardinals to keep him in Palm Beach much longer.
Since being called up from extended spring training on June 2nd, Derek Gibson has been nothing short of phenomenal. In 22 games, the left-handed hitter has a slash line of .397/.447/.462 with five doubles and only nine strikeouts. His only fault is a lack of power, but if the outfielder can keep getting on base that well, he will continue to be a welcome addition for Palm Beach.
Rob Kaminsky had another stellar week, as he gave up one run over 13 innings while striking out 12. He’s been sensational all season, pitching to a 2.14 ERA with a WHIP of 1.20. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since May 12, and has just dominated the Florida State League. As much fun as he’s been to watch, it’s hard to imagine that he has much more to learn at Palm Beach.
Although he’s had some good moments too, Jake Gronsky had a pretty rough week. He hit .118/.167/.176 with seven strikeouts across 17 at-bats. The infielder has had a rough time overall at Palm Beach, hitting only .188/.300/.217 in 69 at-bats, and looked entirely lost at the plate over the past seven games. The 23-year-old was doing pretty well last week, so hopefully he’ll be able to turn it around and have a better second half overall.
Carson Kelly is constantly featured in the “Who’s Not” section. Even with a multi-hit game this week, Kelly has been as bad at the plate as a player can be. This season, the catcher is hitting a paltry .180/.230/.256 with three home runs and eight doubles. For a player whose calling card is his bat, this isn’t good.
It’s fair to say that Kelly hadn’t lived up to his hype earlier in his career, but his 2015 performance has been disastrous so far and may threaten his status as a top prospect. He was ranked as the Cardinals eighth best prospect by MLB.com and 11th by The Cardinal Nation to begin the season, falling to 14th on TCN’s June ranking update.
Much like Kelly, Will Anderson has become a regular in this section, and for good reason. Since being called up on May 1, Anderson has won one game while posting a 5.71 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. The right-hander has only struck out 28 in 46 2/3 innings and just hasn’t been able to get anything started. In short, Anderson has looked overwhelmed. The only positive is that the 22-year-old has only walked five batters so far. After his last start, Anderson landed on the disabled list, so perhaps there was an injury behind his poor performance, but we’ll have to see.
Alex Reyes was selected as the St. Louis Cardinals’ lone representative at the All-Star Futures Game this year, scheduled for Sunday, July 12. Although there have been numerous good performances throughout the Cardinals farm system this year, Reyes stands out among the rest, having pitched to a 2.08 ERA with 90 strikeouts in just 60 ? innings. His injury status has his participation in the Cincinnati event in doubt, however.
June 26: RHP Kevin Herget from Springfield
June 29: OF Jimmy Bosco to Retirement
June 30: OF C.J. McElroy Jr. from 7-day DL
June 30: OF Collin Radack from 7-day DL
Opening Day: RHP Cory Jones to 7-day DL
June 2: IF Mason Katz to 7-day DL
June 14: RHR Steve Sabatino to 7-day DL
June 23: IF Juan Herrera to 7-day DL
June 25: RHP Will Anderson to 7-day DL
June 25: RHP Alex Reyes to 7-day DL with shoulder soreness
Palm Beach remains an atrocious offensive team, even with a solid week. They rank last in the league in runs, hits, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage, and batting average. The only thing that the team is reasonably good at is walking, as they rank third in the league in walks and seventh in OBP. Nonetheless, the team hit reasonably well this past week, so perhaps there is some hope after all.
The Cardinals are as good at pitching as they are bad at hitting, as the team is third in ERA, second in runs, second in earned runs, fewest home runs allowed, third fewest walks, and second in strikeouts in the league. They give up a few more hits, as the team’s collective WHIP is 1.22 and tied for fourth in the league. The strength of the Palm Beach’s pitching has helped them remain a competitive team so far in spite of their feeble offense.
Palm Beach finished the first half of the season with a record of 32-38, which put them in last place. The Charlotte Stone Crabs (TB) ran away with the division, posting a record of 45-25 on the way to earning a spot in the Florida State League Playoffs. Palm Beach has started the second half much better than they finished the first, going 4-2 to put them in a tie for first place. The Stone Crabs, on the other hand, have started very slowly, winning only one of their first six games and sitting in last place.
As we head into July, the Palm Beach Cardinals will take on the Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) for a three game set before heading on the road to face the Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Bradenton Marauders (PIT). This could be a good opportunity for the Cardinals to break the tie and gain sole possession of first place.
Follow Chris Greene on Twitter @PBCBeat.
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