The third member of the struggling Triple-A Memphis offense to be demoted to Double-A Springfield this week alone was announced on Tuesday. Catcher Michael Ohlman is returning to the Texas League, following former Memphis teammates, corner infielder Jonathan Rodriguez and outfielder Anthony Garcia.
The Redbirds also welcomed one hitter back from the disabled list, but placed a pitcher on the DL instead, with outfielder Carlos Peguero being activated and starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner going on the shelf.
The move to replace Hefner in Memphis’ rotation is the return of Mike Mayers from Springfield.
St. Louis’ signing of MLB veteran backstop Michael McKenry as a free agent last week temporarily left the Redbirds with three catchers. (Alberto Rosario is the other.) That changed on Tuesday with Ohlman being returned to Double-A for a third season. The 25-year-old was a two-time Texas League All-Star in 2015 and first reached the level while with Baltimore in 2014.
Though Ohlman’s batting line of .259/.340/.388/.728 in his first 30 games at Triple-A is not embarrassing, his ability to make consistent contact is a glaring issue. As a Redbird, the right-handed hitter struck out 38 times in 97 plate appearances, or 39.2 percent of the time. Obviously, more work is required, though it is hard to see where he can play regularly. Springfield's regular catcher is top prospect Carson Kelly and the club already has three first basemen, the other position at which Ohlman has experience.
Peguero Finds New Outfield Crowd
Signed as a minor league free agent during the off-season, Peguero had been doing exactly what was asked of him – to provide a veteran bat in the Memphis lineup. At the time of his May 5 move to the DL, the 29-year-old was leading the Redbirds in home runs (3), slugging (.493) and OPS (.892) was second in hits (20), batting average (.299) and third in on-base percentage (.390).
While Peguero was away, the Memphis outfield has changed dramatically with David Washington, Tommy Pham and another veteran in Jose Martinez joining the club. In addition, Nick Martini and Charlie Tilson remain, creating a potential crunch for playing time in the outfield.
Martinez has received some starts at first, but made two costly fielding errors at the position Monday night. Washington has extensive experience at the position and could be a more likely choice, potentially opening up the corners for Peguero and Martinez.
Hefner Back on DL
Though this is Jeremy Hefner’s first disabled list stint as a Cardinal, the right-hander knows the place well, having spent most of the last two seasons there. The 30-year-old had been recovering from a pair of Tommy John surgeries while employed by the New York Mets.
This season with the Redbirds, Hefner has made 10 starts, logging a 2-4 record with a 5.08 ERA. He struck out 44 and issued 21 walks in 51 1/3 Pacific Coast League innings. Hefner’s most recent start was his shortest of the season, lasting just 1 2/3 innings Sunday in Las Vegas, during which he was roughed up for six earned runs.
Update: Hefner provided details about his injury via social media on Wednesday. An MRI indicates shoulder soreness, with a 6-8 week rehab ahead following a cortisone injection.
Mayers and Memphis - Together Again
Mayers, a top prospect before being slowed by injury in 2015, continues his strong comeback. The 24-year-old is back with the Redbirds after having been called up to make a spot start on May 16 start against Sacramento. In that contest, Mayers fanned four, walked two and allowed one earned run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Over 54 2/3 Texas League innings in 2016, St. Louis’ third-rounder from 2013 has logged a 2.30 ERA. Mayers struck out 43 and walked 17 and held opposing Double-A batters to a .229 collective average.
Mayers is slated to make his return start for the Redbirds on Friday at home against New Orleans. It is not yet clear who will take Mayers’ turn in the Double-A rotation.
© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.