Cards Winter League Notebook 1: AFL and DR

Welcome back to this season’s edition of the Cardinals Fall/Winter Notebook, Part 1. The Arizona Fall League (AFL) has been added to Cards farmhand results from the Dominican Republic.

Arizona Fall League

The eight St Louis prospects named to the Arizona Fall League play on the Surprise Saguaros this season. They are joined by players from the National League Central’s Milwaukee Brewers as well as American League counterparts Tampa, Kansas City and New York. Due to stadium renovations, the Saguaros’ home games are played at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, home of the Salt River Rafters.

Surprise compiled a 3-2 record in their first week of action, good for second place in the three-team West Division. The Saguaros trail Glendale by a half game and lead Peoria by two.

The Cardinals’ contingent is comprised of four pitchers – Dean Kiekhefer, Alex Reyes, Robby Rowland and Luke Weaver – plus four position players – catcher Michael Ohlman, shortstop Aledmys Diaz, corner infielder Patrick Wisdom and centerfielder Charlie Tilson. Reyes is the Cards’ designated starting pitcher and Tilson is eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays only as a taxi squad player.

Brian Walton’s excellent preseason preview can be found here.

The Pitchers

Dean Kiekhefer: The lefty picked up his team’s first win in his only appearance this week as Surprise edged Peoria 5-4 in 10 on Wednesday. Kiekhefer tossed a clean ninth, inducing two 5-3 groundball outs plus a lineout to left. After retiring the first two the next frame on a line out to centerfielder Charlie Tilson and a fly out to right, he negated a single to right with a fly out to Tilson. Kiekhefer notched the walk-off victory when his team pushed a run across in the bottom of the frame. Overall, he threw 17 pitches, 13 for strikes.

Alex Reyes: Reyes may well be generating the most buzz in the league in the early going, with Baseball America calling his starts ‘a must-see outing’. The first of his ‘must-see’ events came on Thursday where Surprise blanked Mesa 3-0. The 21-year-old fanned five of the 14 batters faced, recording four outs on the ground and none in the air. Reyes retired his first two batters on K’s – foul tip and caught looking – before he yielded his only hit of the day, a single up the middle. A foul pop error charged to third baseman Wisdom and the first of two free passes issued by the New Jersey native loaded the bases but Reyes whiffed Tampa’s Casey Gillaspie – the 20th selection in the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft – to end the threat. He retired six straight before walking the lead-off batter in the fourth. Reyes recorded a line out to right and ended his stint by fanning Gillaspie again. 37 of his 61 pitches went for strikes.

Robby Rowland: Rowland finished Reyes’ start, earning his first AFL save. The big right-hander, the sixth Saguaros’ pitcher of the day, retired his first batter, 6-3, before permitting a line-drive double to left-center on a ball that was deflected by Surprise’s centerfielder. Pop outs to second and Diaz at short stranded the runner. All eight of Rowland’s pitches went for strikes.

Luke Weaver: Weaver was the long man in Surprise’s 6-5 loss to Peoria on Opening Day. The righty replaced Brewers’ righty Adrian Houser in the top of the fourth with his squad up 3-0 and began his three innings on the bump by plunking his initial batter. A pop out to first and swinging K were sandwiched around a wild pitch advancing the runner to second putting him in position to score when Weaver gave up a single up the middle. A hard hit 4-3 ground out ended the threat. The 22-year-old retired six of his next seven batters, four on strikeouts and walked one.

The Hitters

Aledmys Diaz: Diaz started three of the Saguaros’ five games, all at short. He batted second on Opening Day when he went hitless in four at bats, working a free pass and striking out twice – once looking and once swinging. Two days later Diaz duplicated that performance, going 0-for-4 out of the eight hole. His best day came on Monday when he garnered a third of his team’s hits and scored the only run, going 2-for-3 while batting ninth. He committed his only miscue in that game, a throwing error. In the very early going Diaz has a line of .182/.250/.182/.432.

Michael Ohlman: Ohlman made two starts, catching on the 14th and acting as the designated hitter on the 16th. The Florida native was hitless in three at bats in his first start with a walk and strikeout. Ohlman was right in the thick of Surprise’s extravaganza on Friday, accounting for four of the team’s 20 runs, going 2-for-4 with a two-run bomb that was part of the two runs and three RBI he compiled. He drew also drew a free pass. Ohlman’s line: .286/.400/.716/1.114.

Charlie Tilson: Tilson’s only start came on the 14th when he led off and played center. The 22-year-old was hitless in five at bats with two swinging K’s.

Patrick Wisdom: Wisdom appeared in all five games, starting four of them – three times at third and once at first. His best game was Friday’s 20-run blowout where he went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and a walk. Wisdom touched home four times and drove in four more, batting clean-up and playing first. Overall, he has a line of 4-for-18 with three doubles, a triple, a free pass, five runs scored, four RBI and three strikeouts. He committed a fielding error while playing third.

Note - Stats are through October 19th.

Dominican (Winter) League

The rights of 12 players affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals to play in the Dominican League are held by clubs, among them Carlos Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, Tony Cruz and Alex Reyes. However, that does not mean they will suit up.

In fact, only four Cardinals’ farmhands are currently active: shortstop Robelys Reyes (Aguilas Cibaenas), catcher Alberto Rosario (Estrellas de Oriente), first baseman/outfielder Xavier Scruggs (Gigantes de Cibao) and righty reliever Heath Wyatt (Leones de Escogido).

The season began on October 15th and the regular portion of it concludes on December 21st.

Currently, the MiLB site does not include either the game results or boxscores, making data collection a tad difficult. A full report will appear in next week’s notebook.



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