Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2015 Week 5

The Cardinals had a 2-5 week that slid them into last place, but just 2 1/2 games out of first. Second baseman Eliezer Alvarez has been a top contributor.

After a Sunday rainout, the Johnson City Cardinals spent the week at home, but struggled to a 2-5 mark. It began by being swept in a Monday double-header at Bluefield (TOR) before going 2-3 against Danville (ATL) and Princeton (TB).

Here’s how the week from Sunday, July 19 through Saturday, July 25 unfolded:

Sunday, July 19: Johnson City at Bluefield

Sunday’s game was postponed due to rain and was rescheduled as part of a Monday twin-bill. With Monday’s game at Johnson City, the Cardinals pick up an extra home game in the process.

Monday, July 20: Johnson City 3 at Bluefield 11 - Game 1 DH (seven innings)

It was not a good night for Cardinals pitching as Johnson City dropped two. Starter Josh Wirsu was rocked in the opener, giving up seven runs on nine hits in four innings. Ben Yokley pitched the final three innings, and was touched for four more runs on seven hits. Wirsu was tagged with the loss.

The Cardinals scored only three runs on 11 hits. Eliezer Alvarez had an RBI double. DeAndre Asbury-Heath was 2-for-2, driving in one run. Magneuris Sierra and Chris Chinea were 2-for-4, Ryan McCarvel was 2-for-3. Allen Staton drove in a run on a ground out, but was hitless.

Asbury-Heath stole his fourth base in five attempts. Anthony Ray stole his third base in as many tries.

Monday, July 20: Johnson City 2 at Bluefield 5 - Game 2 DH (seven innings)

Starter Jonathan Escudero was the losing pitcher in the nightcap after tossing five innings, surrendering five runs, three earned, on seven hits, including a two-run home run. Chandler Hawkins pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

The Cardinals’ offense scored two runs on seven hits. Ricardo Bautista was 2-for-3, driving in a run on a sixth-inning single. Malik Collymore plated the other run on a second-inning single. There were no extra base hits. The offense was 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

Tuesday, July 21: Johnson City 9, Danville 1

Starter Ronnie Williams pitched five innings, giving up one run on one hit, striking out five and walking two. Juan Caballero and Steven De La Cruz pitched in relief. Williams picked up the win.

Third baseman Luke Doyle drove in five runs, three on a bases-clearing double in the fourth inning, and two more on a single in the fifth. Eliezer Alvarez was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Anthony Ray was 2-for-3 with one driven in. Chris Rivera added a sac fly. Chris Chinea plated a run on a fourth-inning single. McCarvel and Ray each scored twice.

Wednesday, July 22: Danville 2 at Johnson City 0

The Cardinals could get nothing going offensively against the Braves. Five hits was the total of the offense, with Magnueris Sierra having the only multi-hit night with two singles in four at-bats. The only extra base hit was a double by Ryan McCarvel in the seventh inning.

The Cardinals were no better on the basepaths, with Edmundo Sosa caught stealing for the first time in five attempts, and picked off first base.

Ryan Helsley started and tossed four scoreless innings. Pitching the next four frames, Anderson Gerdel gave up the two runs in the seventh to take the loss. Sasha Kuebel added a scoreless ninth.

Thursday, July 23: Danville 7 at Johnson City 3

The pitching staff had a bad night and the offense was unable to make up for it. Starter Ramon Santos, who took the loss, pitched 4 1/3 innings, yielding five runs on eight hits, including a three-run home run. Chandler Hawkins gave up an additional two runs in his 2 2/3 innings. Ben Yokley finished with two scoreless frames.

The Cardinals scored three runs on nine hits, including a solo home run by Ryan McCarvel. McCarvel was 2-for-3 and scored two runs. Allen Staton drove in a run on a third inning single. A Ricardo Bautista ground out in the fourth provided the final score. Joey Hawkins went 2-for-5 and Hunter Newman was 2-for-4. A double from Luke Doyle was the only other extra base hit in addition to the home run.

Bautista had an outfield assist, throwing a runner out at home.

Friday, July 24: Johnson City 4, Princeton 6

The Cardinals had the lead twice but couldn’t hold it. Starter Juan Bautista went five innings, allowing four hits, two of them solo home runs, for two earned runs. Jonathan Escudero pitched one inning in relief and gave up two additional runs to be tagged with the blown save. Sasha Kuebel pitched the remaining two innings, surrendering two more runs and taking the loss.

Eliezer Alvarez was 3-for-4, with two RBI. Magneuris Sierra and Chris Chinea were 2-for-4 with no RBI. Sierra also scored two runs. Malik Collymore was 2-for-3. Allen Staton drove in a run on a ground out and the fourth run scored on a throwing error.

Sierra stole his third base in four attempts.

Saturday, July 25: Johnson City 10 at Princeton 6

The Cardinals fell behind early, but came back in the fourth and took a one run lead. The Rays took the lead back in the bottom half of the fourth. The Cardinals went ahead again in the fifth and stayed ahead, adding runs in the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth innings.

Starter Josh Wirsu went four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits. Juan Caballero was the winning pitcher and Steven De La Cruz got the save in relief.

Edmundo Sosa was 3-for-6 and drove in two. Allen Staton doubled twice in five at-bats, plating two. Joey Hawkins was 2-for-5, driving in two, one on a fifth inning triple. Eliezer Alvarez was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Luke Doyle had an RBI double, Chris Chinea had an RBI single.

Who’s Hot

Eliezer Alvarez: The second baseman is batting .303 and is tied for sixth in the league with nine doubles. Often batting fifth, Alvarez is still tied for fifth in the circuit with six stolen bases (in seven attempts), tops on the Cardinals.

Chris Chinea: The catcher is fourth in the Appy League batting race at .342. Chinea, batting cleanup, has contributed 13 RBI in just 21 games played.

Luke Doyle: The second baseman and leadoff man has a good eye at the plate with his 15 walks ranking in a tie for fifth in the league and his .423 on-base percentage fourth. Doyle’s batting line is .274/.423/.452/.875 in his first 62 career at-bats.

Ryan Helsley: The first-year right-hander has the lowest ERA on the staff at 0.89 (one run in 12 1/3 innings). Helsley has struck out nine, walked five and allowed 10 hits in his four appearances, including two starts.

Who’s Not

Josh Wirsu: After a great four outings to begin the season, including an Appy League Pitcher of the Year award, the 24-year-old has been hit hard in his last two starts, having yielded 13 runs in just eight innings. For the year, Wirsu’s ERA is up to 5.47 and he has 13 strikeouts vs. 11 walks in 26 1/3 innings.

Hunter Newman: The first baseman is not yet contributing expected power, with no home runs and four RBI in his first 20 games. Newman’s line is .237/.272/.316/.587 over his first 76 professional at-bats.

The outfielders: Other than Magneuris Sierra, who is highlighted below, the Cardinals outfielders are not hitting. Three of the four others are under the Mendoza Line, including Anthony Ray and Ricardo Bautista both at .185 and DeAndre Asbury-Heath at .196 with Malik Collymore at .231.

Ramon Santos: After a good start on July 17th, Santos was bombed again by Danville on Thursday. In five starts, his ERA is at 9.78 and the right-hander has just seven strikeouts against nine walks in 19 1/3 innings.


Right-handed pitcher Anderson Gerdel was re-assigned to the Cardinals from Peoria last Sunday, July 19th. He threw four innings of one-run ball in his 2015 JC debut on Wednesday, but took the loss.

Top prospects

In The Cardinal Nation’s monthly top 40 prospect list for June, five current Cardinals were listed. Here is how they have performed recently.

15. Magneuris Sierra. The system’s Player of the Year in 2014 is rebounding from his rough time in the Midwest League. Sierra is sixth in the Appy League with his .337 batting average. On the downside, he has just four walks and only five of his 33 hits in 98 at-bats have gone for extra bases.

22. Edmundo Sosa. The shortstop has a solid line of .296/.349/.439/.788 in 98 at-bats over 24 games. Sosa has four errors to date this season.

26. Bryan Dobzanski. The big right-hander has decent peripherals with 11 strikeouts against two walks in 15 innings, but his ERA is 4.20 on nine runs allowed, seven earned. However, Dobzanski has not pitched since July 7th, suggesting an injury.

32. Malik Collymore. As noted above, the second baseman-turned outfielder is batting just .231 for the season. In the first two games of the Princeton series, Collymore has been on base six times, with three hits and three walks, so perhaps a hot streak is coming.

33. Ronnie Williams. The right-hander has been uneven in his five starts with a 4.18 ERA and 22 strikeouts. 13 walks and 22 hits makes for a high WHIP of 1.48. However, Williams has shown improvement. After allowing seven runs in his first two starts, he has given up just four runs in his next three, including his five-inning one-hitter on Tuesday.

Johnson City Stats

In the 10-team Appalachian League, Johnson City is first in batting average at .272 but is only seventh in runs scored. Seven is the operative ranking on the pitching side, too, with a 4.65 ERA. Despite being eighth in strikeouts, the Cards also have issued the fewest walks.


The bad news is the Cardinals have fallen into a share of last place in the five-team West Division. The good news is that Johnson City is just 2 1/2 games behind first-place Greeneville (HOU).

What’s Next

The Cardinals finish their set at Princeton on Sunday, then continue with four at Elizabethton (MIN) starting on Monday. On Friday, Johnson City begins a six-game homestand with three against Bluefield (TOR) and Elizabethton.

Princeton leads the East Division with the best record in the league at 18-12.

TCN staffer Marilyn Green contributed to this report.

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