Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2015 Week 12

The Double-A Springfield Cardinals were well-represented in the 2015 Texas League All-Star Game by eight players.

This report covers the period from Thursday, June 25th through Wednesday, July 1st

The Springfield Cardinals only played a four-game series in this week’s action due to the three-day All-Star break Monday through Wednesday. On Thursday, they will resume Texas League play at home against the San Antonio Missions (SD) and Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU).

This week, Springfield took three-of-four at their division rival Arkansas Travelers (LAA). After falling to a shutout in game one to the Travelers, inclement weather gave them an unplanned day-off. Springfield regrouped on Saturday night by sweeping a double-header for the series-advantage, thanks to a pitching staff that held Arkansas to just four runs between two games and an offense cashed in on every opportunity with runners in scoring position. In the series-finale, Springfield pulled away late and held off the home-team to even up their record at 3-3 in the second half.

The current standings for the North Division have the Cardinals tied with Arkansas for second place, while trailing first half third-place finisher the 4-2 Tulsa Drillers (LAD) by one game. First-half winner NW Arkansas looks up from the cellar at 2-4, but are just two games out of a share of first.

Thursday, June 25th, Springfield (STL) 0 at Arkansas (LAA) 6

Spot-starter Corey Baker’s one inning of work on Thursday night led to all the offense Arkansas would need to cash in for a series-opening victory of four games to be played. Baker surrendered a six-spot to the Travelers in the first inning, all of the night’s scoring.

Springfield’s bullpen picked up slack with Baker’s early exit by tossing seven scoreless innings. Kurt Heyer struck out five while throwing four of those innings, while Jordan Swagerty, Kevin Herget and Kyle Barraclough each pitched a single frame.

The offense was held to just four hits by the Travelers pitching staff over the nine-inning shutout, two of those for doubles from Jeremy Hazelbaker and Patrick Wisdom.

Friday, June 26th, Springfield (STL) at Arkansas (LAA) - postponed

Game two of four between Springfield and Arkansas was called off due to inclement weather on Friday night. They resumed series-play on Saturday night with a double-header.

Saturday, June 27th, Springfield (STL) 8 at Arkansas (LAA) 3 – DH game one

Thomas Lee returned from Triple-A Memphis without skipping a beat with his performance in game one. Lee pitched six of the seven innings. The right-hander cruised through the first four frames, before the Travelers got to him for two runs in the fifth, all the runs Lee would allow for his staff-leading sixth win.

After being shut out on Thursday night, the Cardinals excelled with runners in scoring position by cashing in 5-of-the-11 opportunities to outscore the Travelers by five runs. Three-hit games by Charlie Tilson, Anthony Garcia, and Bruce Caldwell made up nine of the collective 13 hits. Tilson led the charge with a solo shot and RBI double, while Garcia tacked on an RBI single, and Caldwell contributed two RBI.

Saturday, June 27th, Springfield (STL) 6 at Arkansas (LAA) 1 – DH game two

Springfield scored efficiently with six of their runs within the first four frames of game two to execute the double-header sweep, and take the series-advantage at 2-1.

Jimmy Reed followed up Lee’s performance with an arguably better outing. Reed gave way to the bullpen after five innings of one-run ball against the scuffling Travelers. The lefty gave up three hits but countered that with no walks and seven strikeouts for his second win at Double-A. Ryan Sherriff and Chris Thomas logged perfect innings each to slam the door on the double-header sweep.

The Cards relied on the long ball with solo shots by Anthony Garcia and Patrick Wisdom. Both have eight on the season. Wisdom’s was measured at 420 feet to straightaway center field at Travelers’ Dickey-Stephens Park, a stadium ranked near the bottom of the pack in home runs per game among eight Texas League stadiums. Nick Martini also drilled a two-run RBI double, to eclipse the 20 RBI mark on the season.

Sunday, June 28th, Springfield (STL) 6 at Arkansas (LAA) 4

In the series finale that was nationally televised, the S-Cards put away Arkansas and took the series three games to one Sunday night. Kyle Hald got the starte and tossed six quality innings. The lefty allowed three earned runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Hald pitched well but wasn’t in line for the win at the time of his exit.

Iden Nazario and Chris Thomas worked scoreless seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Kyle Barraclough finished, but it didn't come easy, as the right-hander walked the leadoff man then hit the next batter, and allowed an earned run.

Springfield struggled with runners in scoring position but compensated with home runs by Charlie Tilson, Michael Ohlman, and Breyvic Valera. Tilson and Ohlman hit solo shots, while Valera’s two-run shot was his first home run since July 2012.

Tuesday, June 30th, Texas League North Division 9 vs. Texas League South Division 4

Eight Springbirds represented the Cardinals in the 79th annual Texas League All-Star Game hosted by the Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field. Among the eight were a trio of OF’s, with Charlie Tilson, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Nick Martini, the Cardinals regular catcher Michael Ohlman, and pitchers Kyle Barraclough, Joey Donofrio (who couldn’t play because he was called up to Memphis but was allowed to dress out since he was already with the team), Arturo Reyes, and Chris Thomas.

The mid-summer classic was tightly contested early on with four lead changes after the first five innings. Finally the North side broke out for a combined five runs between the eighth and ninth innings to extend their winning streak over the South to two games.

On the Springfield pitching side, Arturo Reyes got his shot at the Southsiders in the third inning, as the right-hander dealt a quick scoreless inning with the use of just eight pitches. Chris Thomas got eighth inning duties and kept the North’s two-run lead intact, with an easy scoreless inning. Kyle Barraclough was the last Springfield pitcher to appear. The big burly right-hander retired two of the South’s more powerful bats in order before he was given the hook with two outs in the 9th.

Offensively, the Cardinals offensive representation absolutely shined with Tilson worthy of Most Valuable Player consideration with a three-hit game, all singles. He also knocked in three, scored once, and stole a bag. Tilson was beaten out of the MVP by Royals highly-touted prospect Jorge Bonifacio who smacked the game-winning home run that scored Tilson. Hazelbaker contributed an RBI forceout, and also scored once after Martini doubled. Ohlman was the only Cardinal to go hitless, but the catcher did put on a show in the home run derby which will be covered below.

Texas League Home Run Derby

The Home Run Derby took place prior to the start of the North vs. South All-Star Game. OF Jeremy Hazelbaker and C Michael Ohlman, two of the three Springfield Cardinals All-Star starters, participated in the Derby. Hazelbaker finished with three home runs and 40 points, while Ohlman belted seven homers and recorded 66 points - good enough to advance to the final round against Corpus Christi’s Tyler White.

In the final round, White beat Ohlman to claim the Home Run Derby Championship. Suffice it to say, the Springbirds represented themselves well in Corpus Christi.

Who’s Hot

Patrick Wisdom - Awarded the Texas League Player of the Week honors for his recent torrid pace at the plate. Wisdom continued his assault of Texas League by batting .416 (5-for-12) over a weekend series against Arkansas. The third baseman homered once, doubled twice, scored three times, and drove in two.

Anthony Garcia - Garcia was given the “Who’s Hot” nod over Charlie Tilson, who arguably performed better but has also been often mentioned in this feature. I will give some spotlight to the Dominican outfielder who has good raw power but doesn’t always translate into playable game power, batted .454 (5-for-11) in three games against the Travelers last weekend with a home run, double, nine total bases, and two RBI. Over the last ten games, Garcia is hitting .348, boasting his seasonal average over .250 for the first time.

Jimmy Reed - Reed followed one of his best outings at Springfield with yet another successful start against the Little Rock Travelers. The lefty covered five innings of a seven inning game, holding the Travs to just one earned run on five hits, walked none, and fanning seven for his second Double-A win. Reed gets by with less than average stuff because of his strike-throwing ability and efficiency if his command is there.

Who’s Not

Aledmys Diaz - Diaz last appearance was on Friday night in a shutout loss against Arkansas, a game in which he was able to scratch out a hit but also struck out twice in four at-bats. His stat line continues to be mediocre with a .156 average over his last ten games.

Joey Donofrio - Donofrio came into June 19th action sporting an ERA below 2.00, but since has been scored upon in all three outings having allowed four earned runs in 5 ? innings. His ERA has jumped nearly a full point above 2.00, but his earlier work earned him a promotion to Memphis.

Kyle Barraclough - Barraclough’s dominance has tailed off as he allowed five earned runs in his past three outings, 2 2/3 innings pitched. His ERA is above 3.00 for the first time this season. The power arm represented Springfield’s relief corps in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night.

Springbirds batting order

Manager Dann Bilardello stuck to same regular lineup for three of the four games during the Arkansas series. Charlie Tilson was in his typical spot led-off while playing CF, Jeremy Hazelbaker never moved out of the two-hole while playing RF, but did DH once. Anthony Garcia’s peak-and-valley performance of late earned him the third-spot for three of the four games with Michael Ohlman slotted there on Garcia’s day-off.

Jonathan Rodriguez was silent out of the cleanup spot, while Nick Martini received two of the four starts at five-spot when Ohlman didn’t catch. Patrick Wisdom, one of the hottest hitters in minor league baseball, has forced his way up to the sixth spot, and rounding out the order was Bruce Caldwell, Aledmys Diaz or Breyvic Valera at the eighth spot. Strong catch-and-throw guy Alberto Rosario was the ninth hitter when Ohlman was in need of a day-off.

Team Transactions

6/25 RHP Thomas Lee transferred to Springfield from AAA-Memphis
6/26 RHP Kevin Herget transferred to High-A Palm Beach from Springfield
6/31 RHP Joey Donofrio transferred to Triple-A Memphis from Springfield

Texas League North Division Standings (Second Half)

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (LAD) 4 2 .667 - 0-0 4-2 4-2 L2
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 3 3 .500 1.0 3-3 0-0 3-3 L3
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 3 3 .500 1.0 0-2 3-1 3-3 W3
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 2 4 .333 2.0 2-2 0-2 2-4 W2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#10 Charlie Tilson - Power has never been an aspect of Tilson’s skill-set, with a career .389 slugging percentage. He has found some sudden pop over his last ten games, though, running into his first three roundtrippers this season. During that time, the outfielder has also seen his average spike from .279 to .292 in part because of four multi-hit games in a ten-game span.

#12 Aledmys Diaz - Nothing changed from last week to this. The only positive from Diaz is one game in which he notched a one-bagger but also struck out twice. I’m surprised the Cardinals did not act proactively in jump-starting his bat with re-assignment down to extended spring training for individualized work - but that’s out of question with short-season leagues starting weeks ago. That approach seemed to pay big dividends with Wisdom’s resurgence at the plate. The Cuban is hitting .230 for the month of June, in line of where’s he’s performed since April.

#25 Mike Mayers - Reiterating from last week, Mayers continues to rehab at the complex in Florida. Probably will see him pitch at Palm Beach to see where he’s at health-wise once his DL stint ends.

#27 Patrick Wisdom - June was probably one of the strongest months Wisdom has had as a professional. His slash in June: .307/.371/.580 with seven of his eight home runs and 23 of his 37 RBI on the season. This is what was expected from a first round draft pick who received seven-figures. If the third baseman can carry that production over for two more full months, he could earn himself a promotion to Triple-A Memphis before season's end.

#35 Andrew Morales - A double-header put Morales’ Sunday start on hold. Instead, the UC Irvine product should start the opening-game against the San Antonio Missions on Thursday with eight days rest, including the three-days of the All-Star break.

What’s Next

With the All-Star break’s conclusion, the Cardinals return to Hammons Field for three games each against the San Antonio Missions (SD) and Corpus Chrisiti Hooks (HOU), starting on Thursday night. They will then head back out on the road for six games against the same opponents next week.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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