As the first half nears its completion, the Palm Beach Cardinals went 3-4 this past week. With an overall 30-34 record, the Cards remain tied for last in the Florida State League South Division cellar, 4 1/2 games out of first place. With their next loss or Bradenton win, Palm Beach will be officially eliminated from the first-half race.
The report covers the period of Wednesday, June 8 through Tuesday, June 14.
Wednesday, June 8: Daytona Tortugas 8, Palm Beach 0
The Cardinals offense was slow to get off the bus in the opener of their eight-game road trip prior to the FSL All-Star Game. Collectively, they managed just five singles, an Orlando Olivera double and two walks in the Tortugas’ shutout. Olivera and Jesse Jenner had two hits each.
Starter Matt Pearce was rocked for six runs on nine hits, including two long balls, over six innings. Michael Heesch allowed two more scores over the final two frames.
Thursday, June 9: Palm Beach 7 at Daytona 4
The Cardinals offense took over early on their way to 12 hits and seven runs. Jesse Jenner launched a three-run bomb in the second, the first of his three hits. Cole Lankford went 3-for-5 as well, including a double, a run scored and one driven in. 1-2 hitters Darren Seferina and Jose Martinez each had two singles. Seferina had an RBI and Martinez scored a run.
Ian McKinney struck out seven through six but allowed two home runs, plating all four Daytona runs. McKinney allowed just five hits and encouragingly, did not walk a batter in his winning outing. Blake McKnight, previously a starter, worked around two hits in two innings and Rowan Wick tossed a clean ninth for his fifth save.
Friday, June 10: Daytona 3, Palm Beach 0
Starter Austin Gomber pitched seven innings, striking out 10, but a two-run home run and no offensive support led to his fifth loss of the season. Reliever Chandler Hawkins surrendered the third Daytona run before Cody Schumacher secured the final out.
The Cardinals offense managed just six hits and was shut out. Dylan Tice and Bladimil Franco were 2-for-4 and Tice stole his first base of the season. Andrew Sohn had the only extra base hit, a double.
Saturday, June 11: Palm Beach 8 at Daytona 2
The Cardinals pounded out 13 hits to score eight runs to earn the road series split at two wins apiece. Shortstop Jose Martinez was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Allen Staton was 2-for-4 with three runs driven in, including a solo home run. Darren Seferina and Casey Grayson were 2-for-3, with Seferina plating two.
Starter Jack Flaherty continued his June rebound and earned his second win of the season. Flaherty pitched seven innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits and striking out 10. Kyle Grana gave up a run in his one inning of relief before Landon Beck pitched a scoreless ninth.
Sunday, June 12: Palm Beach 9 at Brevard County 2
The Cardinals prevailed over the Manatees in the road series opener as all nine Beach Birds starters either had a hit, scored a run or drove one in. Casey Grayson singled twice with two walks, three runs scored and a stolen base. Jose Martinez and Cole Lankford both went 2-for-5 with a run scored. Lankford singled, doubled and plated two.
John Walter was solid in his Cardinals and Palm Beach debut, allowing two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander fanned six with no walks but did hit three batters and picked up the win. Cody Schumacher stranded two inherited runners, yielding two hits in 1 2/3. Blake McKnight struck out the side in the eighth and Rowan Wick faced the minimum in the ninth.
Monday, June 13: Brevard County 8, Palm Beach 3
Starter Jacob Evans struggled, allowing eight runs on 10 hits over four innings. In relief, Michael Heesch added three scoreless innings and Chandler Hawkins finished with a scoreless frame, but it was too late.
One of the returnees from Springfield, Blake Drake, was the offensive standout, going 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. Jesse Jenner doubled and walked. In his Beach Birds finale, Dylan Tice singled, walked, scored and drove in one.
Tuesday, June 14: Brevard County 2, Palm Beach 1
Matt Pearce was charged with his third loss despite holding the Manatees to two runs on six hits over seven innings. One of the six hits was a solo home that provided the winning margin.
The Cards managed just five hits, two by Steve Bean in three at-bats. In his first game back, Mason Katz doubled home Casey Grayson (walk) in the seventh for the lone run.
The FSL South Division’s first-half race is still led by the Bradenton Marauders (PIT), but their lead has been cut in half to two games. The 30-34 Cardinals are tied for last place, 4 1/2 games out of first with an elimination number of one. Seven games remain on the first-half FSL schedule, which continues past the All-Star break.
Though the Cardinals have been very good on the road this season, they went just 3-4 in their seven away games this week. In the second half, Palm Beach will need to improve at Roger Dean Stadium, where they are just 10-19 to date.
Jack Flaherty. TCN’s second-ranked Cardinals prospect has logged three straight outings totaling 20 innings with no earned runs allowed. During that time, Flaherty has yielded just 11 hits, four walks and struck out 26, knocking two full runs off his season ERA, now at 3.86.
Blake McKnight. The right-hander’s shift into the bullpen this past week has been very smooth, with four scoreless innings on four hits, no walks and four strikeouts. In 10 starts, McKnight’s ERA had been 3.57.
Jesse Jenner. The catcher is among the hot for the second week. Taking advantage of Steve Bean’s temporary departure, Jenner went 7-for-16, including a double and a home run plus three RBI. After filling in at both Memphis and Springfield earlier, it looks like St. Louis’ seventh-rounder last June is settling in at Palm Beach.
Casey Grayson. The steady first baseman had seven singles in 20 at-bats last week (.350), but did not collect an RBI. Grayson has 46 walks and 47 singles but just eight extra-base hits for the season, leading to an unusual slash line for a player at a traditional power position of .274/.405/.333/.739.
Andrew Sohn. The infielder had a 1-for-10 week with no walks, though his hit was a double and he drove in one. On the season, Sohn is batting just .160 over his 81 Palm Beach at-bats.
Orlando Olivera. Unfortunately, the outfielder is a regular here among the cold. Last week, Olivera went 2-for-19 (.105), though he also doubled and plated two. In his first year a Beach Bird, Olivera is batting .213 in 174 at-bats.
Jhohan Acevedo. The fill-in outfielder matched Olivera’s 2-for-19 week with a double, but had just one RBI. On the positive side, Acevedo also drew four walks to Olivera’s one, but fanned seven times.
Jacob Evans. The left-hander, St. Louis’ sixth-rounder from last June, has suffered through two eight-run outings in his last four, pushing his season ERA up to 4.15.
FSL Season Leaders
Matt Pearce has fallen to 10th in the league in ERA (2.55) but is tied for fourth with six wins.
Rowan Wick is tied for 10th in the FSL with five saves.
Jacob Evans’ 11 home runs allowed is the most in the circuit.
With his .405 on-base mark, Casey Grayson is up to second in the league.
Blake Drake’s 14 doubles tie him for fifth in the circuit.
Darren Seferina’s four triples put him in a tie a number of others for fifth-most in the FSL.
Seferina has moved up to a tie for second in the league with 18 steals and has a nice success rate of 78 percent. Teammate Oscar Mercado is tied for sixth in the league with 16 steals but has been caught 13 times for just a 55 percent success rate.
On the offensive side, Palm Beach is continuing to show small improvement, but continue to be better at walking than hitting. Despite Flaherty’s success, the overall pitching is in a decline, though the Cards staff has moved to best in the league in avoiding walks.
|Offense||Season/rank of 12||Last week/rank|
|BA||.236 / 9th||.234 / 10th|
|OBP||.319 / 6th||.320 / 5th|
|SLG||.310 / 11th||.308 / 11th|
|OPS||.629 / 9th||.628 / 10th|
|Runs/game||3.7 / 8th||3.6 / 8th|
|Walks||245 / 1st||222 / 1st|
|Steals||58 (of 86) / 4th||54 (of 81) / 4th|
|Pitching||Season/rank of 12||Last week/rank|
|ERA||3.47 / 8th||3.38 / 6th|
|Strikeouts||467 / 9th||9th|
|Walks||166 / 12th (fewest)||11th (2nd fewest)|
After a quiet start to the week, there were a flurry of moves on Monday and Tuesday, as four Beach Birds returned to the active roster.
6/9: RHS John Walter acquired from New Jersey of the Can-Am League
6/9: RHR Nick Frey from Palm Beach to Peoria
Walter, a 2012 Kansas City draft pick, was plucked from independent ball and dropped into the Palm Beach rotation, bumping Blake McKnight into the bullpen. Frey, 24, has excelled in the Midwest League, but struggled in the FSL.
6/13: OF Blake Drake from Springfield to Palm Beach
6/13: OF Bladimil Franco from Palm Beach to State College
Drake was sent back to the Beach Birds when Breyvic Valera was bumped back down to Double-A from Memphis. Franco was given a quick initial taste of FSL action before making what looks to be a jump from the GCL in 2015 to the New York-Penn League.
6/14: 2B Mason Katz from Springfield to Palm Beach
6/14: IF Dylan Tice from Palm Beach to State College
Katz made his brief Texas League debut but was returned to Palm Beach when Anthony Garcia returned to Springfield’s active roster. Tice, who has been a regular fill-in for the Beach Birds this season, appears to be making the same season-to-season move as Franco.
6/14: SS Oscar Mercado off Palm Beach seven-day DL
6/14: SS Jose Martinez from Palm Beach to State College
After a week off with an unspecified injury, the Beach Birds’ regular shortstop returned to action Tuesday. Martinez, who played in the Appalachian League for the Royals in 2015, performed well as a temporary replacement.
6/14: C Steve Bean from Johnson City roster to Palm Beach
6/14: C Chris Rivera from Palm Beach to State College
The unusual moves from the week before were reversed on Tuesday, with Bean returning in time to participate in the FSL All-Star Game. Jesse Jenner has been the semi-regular catcher in the interim.
With Mercado coming off, the Beach Birds’ DL list is down to seven. Three pitchers are on shelf: Silfredo Garcia, Will Anderson and Josh Wirsu. Injured position players are infielders Andrew Brodbeck and Danny Diekroeger plus utilityman Casey Turgeon and outfielder Michael Pritchard.
The Cardinals will complete the Brevard County (WAS) four-game series on Wednesday morning, June 15. That will also conclude pre-break action. League play resumes on Monday, June 20 as Palm Beach plays six straight against St. Lucie Mets, three home and three away. That will finish the first half of the FSL season.
The FSL All-Star Game will be held at Ft. Myers on Saturday, June 18, with Cardinals pitchers Austin Gomber and Rowan Wick plus catcher Steve Bean selected to participate.
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