While many of the rest of us are enjoying family and friends over this long Fourth of July weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals player development staff has been busy shifting players across the system to fill in for injures from St. Louis to Peoria.
Memphis still down one
On Friday, Memphis closer Sam Tuivailala was called upon to join St. Louis to cover for Kevin Siegrist, who had been placed on the 15-day disabled list. Details here.
As of Sunday morning, even with a double-header scheduled, the Redbirds are running with 24 players on their roster.
Katz can’t stay healthy
Springfield second baseman Mason Katz cannot seem to avoid the disabled list. The 25-year-old was placed there on Friday after playing just 18 games this season – five at Palm Beach and 13 with the Double-A Cardinals.
With Springfield, the right-handed hitter has swung a hot bat, with a line of .368/.455/.658/1.112 in his first 38 Texas League at-bats. Katz’ results include three home runs and seven RBI.
Staton to state case at Double-A
To replace Katz, the Cardinals promoted third baseman Allen Staton from A-Advanced Palm Beach on Saturday. The 23-year-old has endured a famine-feast-famine 2016, with batting averages of .186, .364 and .169, in April, May and June, respectively.
With the Beach Birds, the right-handed batter hit three home runs and drove in 26 in 49 games. Staton struck out 41 times against 11 walks.
Brodbeck back to the beach
Whenever Palm Beach has a need on the infield, it seems that Andrew Brodbeck receives the call. So it was on Saturday, as the 23-year-old was returned to the Florida State League from Johnson City of the Appalachian League to take Staton’s roster spot.
In six games with JC, the left-handed batter slashed .273/.407/.455/.862. In two earlier stints with Palm Beach totaling 12 games played, Brodbeck’s line was .237/.279/.237/.516.
Upon Oklahoma State's elimination from the College World Series, second baseman J.R. Davis signed his contract to become a Cardinal. The senior second baseman was selected in the 15th round of this June's First-Year Player Draft and has been assigned to short-season Johnson City, where he essentially takes Brodbeck's place.
Davis is the 33rd member of St. Louis' 42-man 2016 draft class to come to terms with the organization. Less than two weeks remain before the signing period ends on July 15.
In more moves affecting Palm Beach, the A-Advanced Cards lost outfielder Collin Radack to the disabled list on Friday. The 25-year-old struggled in his nine games with the Beach Birds following his demotion from Springfield, with six hits against nine strikeouts in 34 at-bats and a slash line of .176/.263/.235/.498.
The right-handed hitter had rejoined Palm Beach, the club where he spent most of 2015, on June 16.
To fill Radack’s spot at Palm Beach, the Cardinals promoted outfielder Thomas Spitz from Class-A Peoria on Saturday.
The right-handed batter had been a quiet producer for the Midwest League Chiefs this season, with 23 RBI and 33 runs scored in 67 games. Spitz’ Peoria slash line was .261/.340/.317/.657. Though primarily a right-fielder, the 24-year-old has played some left and center since joining the Cardinals as their 32nd round selection in June 2015 from Wingate University.
Franco moves the line
With an outfield opening at Peoria, the Cardinals promoted Bladimil Franco from State College.
After filling in briefly at Palm Beach earlier, the 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic appeared in eight New York-Penn League games with the Spikes, collecting eight hits in 31 at-bats (.258), including three doubles, two walks, four runs and five RBI.
Dailyn to the rescue
With three members of the Peoria starting six on the disabled list, all Midwest League All-Stars (details here), the Chiefs had both a roster opening and a rotation opening. That was filled on Saturday with the promotion of right-hander Dailyn Martinez from State College.
The 23-year-old, who posted a 3.30 ERA in 14 starts for the Spikes last summer, was initially returned to the NYPL this season. In three 2016 starts for State College, Martinez did not allow a run in two of them, for an ERA of 0.96 in 18 2/3 innings. He fanned 17 and walked just three.
Martinez is scheduled to make his MWL debut with the Chiefs on Sunday.
As expected, Eric Fryer is not remaining with the Cardinals after the organization designated him for assignment this past Tuesday, June 28 to make room for veteran Brayan Pena's return from the disabled list. On Sunday, it was disclosed that the 30-year-old catcher was claimed off waivers by his original MLB team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Fryer's new and old teams begin a four-game series at Busch Stadium starting on Monday afternoon. With Fryer's departure, another MLB veteran formerly with Pittsburgh, Michael McKenry, likely becomes the next catcher up in case of injury to Pena or starter Yadier Molina.
Updates: Fourth of July News from TCN’s Derek Shore
Hazelbaker out for another reason
Following a suspension for his involvement in a brawl against the New Orleans Zephyrs, Memphis outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker landed on the 7-day disabled list on Monday with back injury. As of now, there is no word on any timetable for return.
Hazelbaker, who has not played since the fight on June 27th, is batting a robust .360 with six RBI in eight games with Memphis. For St. Louis, the outfielder hit .250 and slugged seven home runs while driving in 19 RBI over 61 games before being optioned out on June 17th.
Martini steps back up
In the wake of Hazelbaker's absence, outfielder Nick Martini was promoted after 11 games in Double-A. The outfielder was demoted to Springfield on June 16th and went a sluggish 6-for-35 (.171) there.
In his initial stop of 59 games with Memphis to open the season, Martini accomplished a .274 average with two homers and 19 RBI.
Echemendia to make AAA debut
In addition to Martini, the Redbirds are also receiving Cuban reliever Pedro Echemendia from Double-A Springfield. Echemendia is a versatile weapon that can be used for multiple innings or pitch late in games.
In his 2016 campaign, the righty has compiled a 3.61 ERA over 27 games (42 1/3 innings pitched) with one save in three opportunities between High-A Palm Beach and Springfield. He has struck out 32 against 11 walks. In an indication how fast he has risen in the organization, last season, Echemendia was TCN’s State College Reliever of the Year.
The Redbirds had an open bullpen spot since Sam Tuivailala had been promoted to St. Louis last Friday.
Morales shelved again
Andrew Morales suffered a setback following two abbreviated outings with Springfield after being activated on June 24th. On Monday, the right-hander was put back on the seven-day disabled list. Morales, who was previously held out of action with shoulder tightness, lasted just three innings in his most recent start on Friday night against Corpus Christi.
Overall for 2016, Morales has a 3.35 ERA over 14 starts (78 innings) with a 66 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio in his second go-around in the Texas League.
Drake back for second AA stint
In the corresponding move to Martini’s promotion, Blake Drake received the call from High-A Palm Beach for his second shot at Springfield. Drake went 1-for-7 through three games with the Double-A Cardinals in his previous stint with the club.
Known more for his defensive prowess than his bat, the outfielder is hitting just .231 with a homer and 26 RBI between Palm Beach and Springfield this year. Drake has swiped 11 bags out of 14 chances.
With three subtractions and one addition on Monday, the S-Cards currently have just 23 active players.
Bryan fills in again at PB
Replacing Drake, the Beach Birds received Vaughn Bryan from Low-A Peoria. Bryan had a .259 batting clip with a solo home run in his first 16-game shot in Florida State League at the tail end of May.
On the season, the outfielder, who had spent most of the last three years with the Chiefs, is slashing .219/.287/.295 with one dinger and 14 RBI. Bryan has had trouble making consistent contact, as the 23-year old has more strikeouts (75) than games played (68) this year.
Peoria was not immediately assigned a replacement, so its roster is currently at 24 active players.
Final Monday night update from Brian Walton
Only two of the four Peoria Chiefs starting pitchers who had finished the 2015 season in the Gulf Coast League had still been active. Ryan Helsley and Derian Gonzalez are injured and only Sandy Alcantara remains now that Junior Fernandez has become the first to be promoted during the 2016 season. Fernandez is joining A-Advanced Palm Beach, which had been down a player since losing starter Jacob Evans to the disabled list last Thursday.
In 14 starts for Peoria, the 19-year-old right-hander logged a 3.33 ERA and 63 strikeouts to 34 walks in 78 1/3 innings. Fernandez, TCN’s 17th-ranked Cardinals prospect, held Midwest League hitters to a collective .244 average.
The Chiefs are temporarily down to 23 active players. Fernandez was scheduled to start on Wednesday for Peoria with Thursday’s starter also TBA, so help is likely on the way.
Note: Even though it is Tuesday and the long weekend is over, there is one more move to report.
Walter moves fast
With starting pitcher Andrew Morales shelved again at Springfield and Junior Fernandez coming up to Palm Beach from Peoria, the Cardinals promoted recent independent ball addition John Walter from Palm Beach to Springfield on Monday.
Walter, 25, made four starts for the Beach Birds since joining the organization four weeks ago. The right-hander allowed seven earned runs in 20 1/3 innings for a 3.10 ERA and a FIP of 3.22. Walter fanned 13 and walked six, and Florida State League hitters batted .316 against him. He will be making his Double-A debut.
Check back right here on Sunday and Monday for more St. Louis Cardinals minor league transactions to be added to this article as the news becomes available.
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