While the Peoria Chiefs feature a very talented, albeit young rotation, their relief corps has been uneven at times. The evidence includes seven losses in their last eight Midwest League games, including being swept on the road at Lake County over the weekend.
Against that backdrop, the parent Cardinals moved two bullpenners out and brought in two other pitchers from extended spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida on Monday.
They have been replaced on the Chiefs active roster by a pair of right-handers with starting pedigrees in Juan Perez and Jorge Rodriguez. The two should be able to give manager Joe Kruzel innings in whatever roles they are assigned to play.
Kuebel, 23, is a St. Louis native drafted by the Cardinals in the 38th round in 2014. The former University of Iowa pitcher spent most of his first two professional seasons at Johnson City. Last season, Kuebel led the Appalachian League in appearances and finished with Peoria. The lefty was among the top 10 in the entire Cardinals system in strikeouts per nine innings, strikeout to walk ratio and toughest to hit a home run against.
In 2016, Kuebel had appeared in seven Midwest League games, throwing 11 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs, including two home runs for a 3.97 ERA. Kuebel struck out six and walked just one.
Harrison returns to Florida
Harrison, 23, was The Cardinal Nation’s system-wide Reliever of the Year for 2015 based on his strong introduction at State College. St. Louis’ 35th round selection last June from the University of Indiana had the best strikeout to walk ratio of all pitchers in the Cardinals system in 2015 at 9.33.
With Peoria this season, Harrison had allowed just one (unearned) run in 7 1/3 innings over six games. The right-hander yielded three hits, walked two and struck out six, while holding Midwest League hitters to a collective .120 batting average.
Perez to make full-season debut
A starter over his first four seasons as a Cardinal, 20-year-old Juan Perez is joining Peoria from EST. Last season with State College, the Venezuelan native went 4-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 13 starts and was named a New York-Penn League all-star. Perez ranked fourth in the short-season Class-A circuit with 8.13 strikeouts per nine innings, but also walked 36 in 65 1/3 innings.
Perez was originally signed by St. Louis in August 2011, less than a month after his 16th birthday and steadily moved up one level per year – DSL to GCL to Johnson City to State College – and now to Peoria.
Rodriguez shadowing Perez
Like Perez, Rodriguez, 22, spent all of 2015 in the State College rotation, where the Dominican Republic native went 5-4 with a 3.11 ERA over 15 starts. He fanned 47 and walked 28 in 75 1/3 NY-Penn League frames last season and was named TCN’s State College Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2015.
Rodriguez was originally signed by St. Louis in February 2012 and spent his first two seasons in the DSL before moving to the GCL in 2014 and to the Spikes last summer.
Update: Other Cardinals moves
Elsewhere in the St. Louis system on Monday, shortstop Alex Mejia was activated off the disabled list at Double-A Springfield. That bumped infielder Mikey Reynoldsds back down to high-A Palm Beach. To make room for Reynolds, outfielder Michael Pritchard becomes the eighth player on the Florida State League club’s DL.
Out for the minimum seven days, Mejia has been reactivated at Double-A Springfield. The shortstop had played in just three Texas League games after being sent down from Memphis before being placed on the Double-A club’s disabled list last Monday.
In his three Springfield contests this season, the right-handed hitter collected three singles in 10 at-bats, scored a run, was caught stealing, drove in a run and struck out twice. Mejia also drew three walks over the trio of Texas League contests.
It’s a wrap for Reynolds
With the activation of Mejia at Springfield, Reynolds was returned to Palm Beach, reversing the move that was made a week earlier. In three games for the Double-A Cards, the 25-year-old had one single in eight at-bats, no walks and struck out once.
To date for Palm Beach in 2016, Reynolds’ line is .182/.270/.218/.488 in 55 at-bats. The right-handed hitter drew three walks, scored four runs, plated seven and was 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts in the Florida State League.
The top on-base percentage player in the entire Cardinals system during April will spent at least the next week watching games instead of playing after suffering an ankle sprain. Outfielder Michael Pritchard was placed on Palm Beach’s DL on Monday after reaching base last month at an amazing .456 rate, 45 points better than anyone else in the organization.
Overall, the 24-year-old Nebraskan has a line of .290/.450/.371/.821 over his 62 at-bats in 20 games in his high-A debut season to date.
For roster and player information
The team rosters here at The Cardinal Nation are as up-to-date for St. Louis and all four full-season clubs. All EST players remain on one of the short-season clubs based on where they ended 2015. To access these team rosters, click on the words “PROSPECTS” > “MiLB Rosters/Player Pages” underneath The Cardinal Nation site logo.
To see the Cardinals’ entire system by level and position on one page along with every player transaction for every club all year long, check out the newly-refreshed Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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