Darren Seferina (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Weekly news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Florida State League affiliate in Jupiter

The A-Advanced Cardinals lost five of seven games at Roger Dean Stadium last week. Leadoff man Darren Seferina needs help from his offensive teammates.

The Palm Beach Cardinals continue to struggle at Roger Dean Stadium, scoring just 18 runs while giving up 27 in seven Jupiter games last week and winning just twice. The Beach Birds are off to a 5-8 start in the second half of the 140-game Florida State League season and are in fifth place in the South Division, 4 1/2 games behind Fort Myers (MIN).

The report covers the period of Wednesday, June 29 through Tuesday, July 5.

Wednesday, June 29: Fort Myers Miracle 5 at Palm Beach 3

Starter Austin Gomber went five innings, allowing three runs while striking out five as the lefty took the loss. Davis Ward yielded two runs in two innings and Michael Heesch finished with two scoreless frames. 

Shortstop Andrew Sohn led the attack with two RBI while batting 2-for-3 with a walk. Steve Bean doubled and scored a run. Leadoff batter Darren Seferina had two hits in five at-bats, but was caught stealing once and picked off the other time.

Thursday, June 30: Fort Myers 2 at Palm Beach 0

Palm Beach dropped its fourth straight, including a three-game road sweep by the Miracle, during which the Beach Birds scored just five runs in total.

Jack Flaherty took the loss after allowing both scores, one earned, on four hits and two free passes. It took the 20-year-old a 100 pitches (64 strikes) to make it through just 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander fanned four.

Chandler Hawkins let one of two inherited runners to score before adding two scoreless innings.  Kyle Grana struck out four over the final 2 1/3, but the offense, held to just five hits, could not come back.

Friday, July 1: St. Lucie Mets 6 at Palm Beach 3

Starter John Walter was tagged with his first loss since joining the organization last month.  Walker pitched six innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. Cody Schumacher allowed three more Mets’ scores in the seventh. Michael Heesch and Landon Beck combined for the remaining two scoreless innings of relief.

The Cardinals offense scored three runs on just five hits.  Catcher Steve Bean was 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI. Orlando Olivera also doubled. Cole Lankford was hitless but drove in two runs on a ground out and a sac fly and Andrew Sohn scored twice.

Saturday, July 2: Palm Beach 4, St. Lucie 2

The Cards ended their five-game losing skid thanks to a four-run offensive burst in the fifth inning. Starter Matt Pearce pitched seven strong innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on six hits.  Chandler Hawkins retired two batters in the eighth before Blake McKnight secured the final four outs for his first career save.

Palm Beach had only eight hits, but bunched them together efficiently. The fifth began with back to back singles by Orlando Olivera and Oscar Mercado and a double by Spitz that scored them both.  A ground rule double by Darren Seferina plated Spitz.  A stolen base, two walks and single by Jesse Jenner then brought Seferina home.

Sunday, July 3: St. Lucie 4 at Palm Beach 2 (10)   

Palm Beach dropped the series and reliever Landon Beck took the loss after allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.  Starter Ian McKinney had scattered seven hits and two walks over the first 6 2/3, yielding two first-inning tallies. 

The Beach Birds mustered just seven hits, led by right fielder Thomas Spitz, who singled twice in three at bats with a walk. Darren Seferina and Andrew Brodbeck both walked and scored.

Monday, July 4: Palm Beach 5 at Jupiter Hammerheads 4

Austin Gomber had a big night, striking out nine to two walks, and allowing two runs over 7 2/3 innings. Reliever Blake McKnight allowed the final two Jupiter scores, but picked up his second save.

Leadoff hitter Darren Seferina went 2-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases, giving him 28 on the year. Oscar Mercado went 3-for-4 including a pair of doubles, and Thomas Spitz singled, doubled, walked and plated two. Cole Lankford had three hits, an RBI and a stolen base.

Tuesday, July 5: Jupiter 4, Palm Beach 1

Jack Flaherty (L, 2-6) was again not at his best, allowing all four Hammerheads runs over three of his five innings on nine hits and a walk. The top prospect right-hander fanned seven. Kyle Grana and Michael Heesch held the Fish off the board the rest of the way.

The Beach Birds managed just six hits with Cole Lankford collecting three, including a double. Vaughn Bryan singled and scored on Casey Grayson’s two-base hit in the eighth.

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/191523-darren-seferina?s=321

Darren Seferina. The leadoff man continues to do his job well, with five singles and three doubles in 23 at-bats (.348). Seferina drew three walks for a .464 OBP, scored one-third of his team’s runs for the week (six) and was 6-for-7 in stolen base attempts.

http://www.scout.com/player/190017-cole-lankford?s=321

Cole Lankford. The utilityman and fifth-place hitter was hitting consistently all week with 11 hits in 28 at-bats (.393) including two doubles. Lankford plated four.

http://www.scout.com/player/177876-oscar-mercado?s=321

Oscar Mercado. The shortstop has not been seen in these parts for a long time, but last week, Mercado had four singles and three doubles in 21 at-bats for a sharp .333 mark. That took his season batting average over the Mendoza Line at .202. Mercado also drew three free passes and swiped all three bags he attempted.

http://www.scout.com/player/180422-kyle-grana?s=321

Kyle Grana. The right-hander continues to pitch very well, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief last week while allowing just two hits, one walk and striking out seven.

http://www.scout.com/player/170028-michael-heesch?s=321

Michael Heesch. The left-handed reliever got off to a terrible start to the season, but makes his first appearance here. The former Cubs farmhand threw four shutout frames last week on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.

http://www.scout.com/player/191574-matt-pearce?s=321

Matt Pearce. As noted above, on Saturday, Pearce allowed just two runs, one earned in a seven-inning gem that stopped the team’s five-game losing streak.

Who’s Not

Jhohan Acevedo. The outfielder returns to the cold after one week among the hot. Last week, Acevedo had three singles in 29 at-bats (.103) drew no walks and fanned 12 times (41.4% K rate). He did steal one base and was not caught.

Casey Grayson. The first baseman was slightly better than Acevedo, with one more hit, a double, in one more at-bat for a .133 week. The clean-up man had two RBI.

Blake McKnight. It was a mixed bag this past week for the right-hander. On one hand, he picked up his first two saves of the season. On the other hand, McKnight allowed four runs in four innings and had a WHIP of 1.750.

Jack Flaherty. The top prospect had looked to have turned his season around before stumbling this past week. In two starts, Flaherty was charged with six runs, five earned, in 9 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out 11, but surrendered 13 hits and three walks for a 1.739 WHIP.

FSL Season Leaders

Matt Pearce is eighth in the league in ERA (2.58) and is tied for fifth with three other pitchers with seven wins.

Jack Flaherty and Austin Gomber are up to a tie for third in the league (with two others) with 76 strikeouts.

Jacob Evans’ 12 home runs allowed is the most in the circuit, tied with two others.

With his on-base mark down 10 points last week to .380 on the season, Casey Grayson is now seventh in the league.

Darren Seferina’s five triples put him in a tie with four others for sixth-most in the FSL.

With 29 steals, Seferina has taken over the league lead and has a stellar success rate of 82.9 percent. Oscar Mercado is tied for sixth in the FSL with 20 steals but has been caught 13 times for a 60.6 percent success rate.

Team Stats

The offensive downturn (from a very low peak) continues while the pitching held its ground last week. The offense is best at drawing walks and is aggressive on the bases, while the pitchers are stingy with the free passes. Scoring runs remains the major problem.

Offense Season/rank of 12 Last week/rank 
BA .231 / last .231 / tied for last
OBP .313 / 8th .312 / 8th
SLG .301 / last .301 / 11th
OPS .614 / 11th .613 / 11th
Runs/game 3.4 / 11th 3.5 / 9th
Walks 302 / 1st 272 / 1st
Steals 91 of 128 / 2nd 74 of 107 / 4th
     
Pitching Season/rank of 12 Last week/rank 
ERA 3.33 / 5th 3.32 / T6th
Strikeouts 576 / 10th 524 / 10th
Walks 216 / fewest 200 / 11th (2nd fewest)

Transactions

Two disabled list moves and injuries above led to big roster changes this past week.

6/28: RHR Josh Wirsu began a rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League

The Cardinals use extended spring training, then the GCL club nearby to help injured players to get up to game speed. Wirsu, who first joined Palm Beach on April 17, moved to the DL just 12 days later. It remains to be seen which level of play the 22-year-old is assigned when his rehab is over.

6/30: LHS Jacob Evans to Palm Beach DL

The Cardinals lost a key rotation member in Evans, and did not receive a roster replacement.

7/1: OF Collin Radack to Palm Beach DL

7/1 OF Thomas Spitz from Peoria to Palm Beach

Radack had not been with the Beach Birds long – just nine games, batting .176 – before being injured. Spitz did not have eye-popping numbers at Peoria, but seems to be one of those players always in the middle of rallies.

7/2: 3B Allen Staton from Palm Beach to Springfield

7/2: 2B Andrew Brodbeck from Johnson City to Palm Beach

Though he was hardly tearing the cover off the ball - .219 in 49 games with Palm Beach – Springfield needed a replacement for injured Mason Katz and Staton received the call. Brodbeck has filled in twice already this season at Palm Beach. I wonder if they just keep his uniform ready.

7/4: OF Blake Drake from Palm Beach to Springfield

7/4: OF Vaughn Bryan from Peoria to Palm Beach

Another injury above, to Jeremy Hazelbaker at Memphis, led to these moves. Drake is back for a second shot at Double-A, while Bryan gets another chance to impress at Palm Beach.

7/5: RHS John Walter from Palm Beach to Springfield

7/5: RHS Junior Fernandez from Peoria to Palm Beach

Andrew Morales’ injury at Springfield opened the door for this pair of transactions. For the first time this week, the Beach Birds seem to have traded up. Walter has pitched credibly in his four starts since joining the Cards from independent ball, but Fernandez is a legitimate top-20 prospect in the system. The 20-year-old makes his FSL debut Wednesday night.

More detail on these moves here.

Home doldrums worsen

In the first half, the Cardinals lost two of every three at home, finishing a whopping 10 games under .500 at Roger Dean Stadium at 11-21. Post-break, they are playing even worse - 1-5 for an overall home mark of 12-26 (.316) this season.

Maybe they should try wearing the road grays at home. In six games this season as the “away” club at RDS, the Beach Birds are 3-3 (all against Jupiter, of course).  

Injuries

With the additions of Evans and Radack, the Beach Birds’ DL list is back up to eight. Three other pitchers are on shelf: Silfredo Garcia, Will Anderson (60-day DL) and Josh Wirsu. The additional injured position players are infielder Danny Diekroeger (60-day), utilityman Casey Turgeon and outfielder Michael Pritchard.

Up Next

Following the final game of the “road” series at Jupiter on Wednesday night, the Beach Birds really hit the road, with a single contest at Charlotte on Thursday, followed by a long weekend four-game set at Lakeland (DET).

Palm Beach will then be off next Tuesday, July 12, starting up an eight-game homestand against Clearwater (PHI) and Brevard County (MIL) next Wednesday evening.

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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