With most of the major leaguers on a bus for their final trip to Viera on Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers prepared to take on the Miami Marlins youngsters on the back fields in Jupiter.
Major leaguers behind
The trip to Viera should be the last because the Washington Nationals are joining the Houston Astros in a new shared complex in Palm Beach that is scheduled to open next spring. The two-hour bus ride north was skipped by the three most-veteran position players – Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday. 10 pitchers also remained behind in Jupiter to work out.
Friday will bring another bus ride, though shorter, to Port St. Lucie. That include Memphis and Springfield, along with St. Louis.
Bullpen session stars
At about 9:30 a.m., Jaime Garcia threw a bullpen session under the watchful eye of minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque. The left-hander did side work in his last turn, with Marco Gonzales taking the Monday start instead. In official game action this spring, Garcia has allowed seven earned runs in 9 2/3 innings.
Prior to the minor league games, Alex Reyes was among those throwing bullpen sessions. The 21-year-old said afterward, “It went great.” Reyes will likely remain in Florida until his suspension is complete in late May.
In the above photo, Reyes is speaking with Springfield pitching coach Jason Simontacchi.
Minor league starting lineups and pitching plans for Thursday
The minor leaguers continued their game action on Thursday with an early 10:00 a.m. start against Miami. My guess is the threat of afternoon rain was the driver for the change. As it turned out, we were still rained upon - twice. The first wave began in the second inning, but neither stopped game action. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was among the observers early in the games.
Five contests were planned, with the lowest level game featuring Peoria 2 (or State College) being held on Miami’s Field 1. The other four were on the Cardinals side, on the George Kissell Quad.
Here are the starting lineups and pitching plans.
|J Rod||DH||Jacobs||DH||De Leon||3|
|Ar Reyes||4/60-65||Flaherty||4/60-65||D Gonzalez||4/60-65|
|Lucas b/u||1/20||S Garcia||1/20||Wick||1/20|
|Peoria 1||Pos||Peoria 2||Pos|
Velocities from some of Thursday’s pitchers follow.
|Jack Flaherty||87-88||cb 72|
|Derian Gonzalez||91-94||cb 77-79|
|Kurt Heyer||91-92||sldr 77||c-up 83|
|Pedro Echemendia||89-91||cb 76|
|Jorge Rodriguez||89-92||sldr 82|
|Steven De La Cruz||94-95|
|Rowan Wick||93-95 T97||75|
My miscellaneous musings
As far as I can tell, the three upper-level clubs absorbed losses while both Peoria clubs took victories. Approximate scores had Memphis down 4-1, Springfield at the wrong end of a 3-1 game, Palm Beach falling 5-2, Peoria 1 taking a 2-0 contest and Peoria 2 winning, 3-2. I did not see any of the latter game, played on the Miami side.
Former Cardinal farmhand Kyle Barraclough mingled among his former teammates watching the action during the games. The reliever moved to the Marlins in trade for Steve Cishek last August and made his MLB debut shortly after.
I did not see Patrick Wisdom get any hits, but I was impressed by his drawing a walk in the middle innings. When things are not going perfectly, it could be easy to get frustrated, but I did not sense that from the third baseman.
Shortstop Alex Mejia, back from the World Baseball Classic qualifier, where he competed for Mexico, made a great diving grab of a liner smoked to his left.
Top prospect Jack Flaherty started for the Double-A club, led by Dann Bilardello. Flaherty seemed a bit off, requiring what seemed to be a lot of pitches. I only saw the right-hander yield one run, on a sacrifice fly, so it wasn’t like he was getting battered around. Perhaps he dialed the velo up later, but what I saw was in the upper 80’s. He showed a nice curve, too.
Shortstop Oscar Mercado, a right-handed hitter, pulled a ball sharply past third base for a double, but was stranded on base.
As the rain fell again late in the game, Silfredo Garcia yielded a run in what seemed to be another long inning. Garcia had been a non-roster invitee to MLB camp, but had some kind of physical concern that sent him to minor league camp instead.
Derian Gonzalez started for skipper Oliver Marmol. By the fourth inning, the right-hander was in trouble, having given up at least one run on a sacrifice fly. Apparently reaching his pitch count, Gonzalez was pulled mid-inning. His replacement, Pedro Echemendia, yielded an RBI double with the run charged to Gonzalez.
Centerfielder Vaughn Bryan made my defensive play of the day with a diving catch to snare a sinking liner in centerfield, or the damage against Echemendia would have been greater.
Soft-tossing sidearm lefty reliever Nick Lomascolo got into deep trouble on a double-single-walk combination, before he started a nifty 1-2-3 double play to get out of his inning.
For the ninth inning, all eyes were on Rowan Wick. The reliever was unable to get all three outs within his allotted 20 pitches. While there were a number of balls fouled into the screen, Wick also yielded an RBI single and the inning was rolled with Miami runners on the corners. Afterward, farm director Gary LaRocque chatted with Wick, who had the highest velo I saw all day, touching 97.
My Play of the Day occurred in the bottom of the ninth. One out after Bryan shot a double off the right field fence, Darren Seferina blasted a long non-wind aided homer that struck the pine trees beyond the right field fence on the fly. His home run swing is the featured photo.
The Cards’ top 2015 pitching draftee Jake Woodford took the ball for manager Joe Kruzel’s club. He was effective without eye-popping velocity.
The Chiefs received the only run they needed early on, when third baseman Ronnierd Garcia launched a solo home run to center field. Later in the game, however, Garcia grounded into an infield double play with the bases loaded to end a major threat.
Jhohan Acevedo doubled toward the left field corner, but was stranded.
Like the major leaguers, the minor leaguers will face the Mets on Friday. Memphis and Springfield will take the bus ride to Port St. Lucie while Palm Beach and Peoria will oppose their New York counterparts in Jupiter.
Much more to come this week.
What is next
Remember to check The Cardinal Nation Blog each evening during spring training for the day's minor league stat highlights and notes and the Roster Matrix. The matrix has every transaction listed along with all players in the system by level and position, including the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, STEP campers and more.
Prior articles in this series
© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.