The St. Louis Cardinals’ Class A-Advanced club, the Palm Beach Cardinals, is in its second year under the leadership of manager Oliver Marmol. Despite being headlined by top pitchers Alex Reyes, Rob Kaminsky and Luke Weaver, the 2015 club finished the first half six games below .500 in a tie for last place before mounting a strong second half of 18 games over .500, which culminated in a trip to the Florida State League playoffs.
So far, the 2016 Beach Birds are following that same blueprint of good pitching, weak hitting and a rough first half. For the first three weeks, all looked favorable, including a six-game winning streak and a 14-9 record that had the Cards in first place. When the calendar turned to May, however, Palm Beach abruptly stopped winning, with a losing skid that is currently at ten games.
The offense is the primary culprit, averaging just under two runs per game over the losing streak. For the season, Palm Beach is 11th of 12 FSL teams in run-scoring, just one away from a share of the cellar. Small-ball has to be the name of the game. As a team, Cardinals hitters have just three home runs through 33 contests, compared to the league leader with 26.
The pitching staff, with an entire rotation new to the level, is in the middle of the pack with a 3.46 ERA, a far cry from the other-worldly 2.65 mark that led the league in 2015. Three starters are performing well with three others below par. The leaders of the bullpen have been strong, with challenges and turnover at the back end.
In the following 11-minute interview, Marmol discusses the season to date and touches on most all of his club’s key hitting and pitching performers.
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