Estarlin Arias (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Exclusive, in-depth weekly news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ rookie-level affiliate in the Appalachian League

Johnson City went 3-2 last week to remain in first place in the Appalachian League Western Division. Standouts include Estarlin Arias, Ian Oxnevad and Yariel Gonzalez.

Game Summaries

Sunday July 10, 2016: Bluefield Blue Jays 4 at Johnson City Cardinals 6

The Cardinals got their offense back on track Sunday after scoring just one run combined in the previous two games. Johnson City pounced on the Blue Jays early and often, scoring in four of the game’s first five innings to open up a 6-0 lead.

Bluefield did not go away quietly, however, as it posted a pair of two-run frames in the sixth and eighth to shrink the deficit to 6-4. Additionally, the Blue Jays nearly tied the game in the ninth, with the tying run at the plate with one out. Fortunately for Johnson City, Estarlin Arias bared down to retire the final two hitters and pick up his second save of the season.

Ian Oxnevad put together his third consecutive quality start, allowing just one run in seven innings to earn his second win of the season. Luis Bandes put together a season-best 2-for-4 night with a pair of doubles and two RBI.

Monday July 11, 2016: Bluefield Blue Jays 9 at Johnson City Cardinals 14

David Oca cruised through the first four innings Monday evening, holding the Blue Jays to no hits. However, the wheels fell off in the fifth as the lefty did not finish the inning, allowing four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Despite the short start by Oca, the Cardinals’ offense broke out in a big way, scoring 14 runs against four different Blue Jays pitchers en route to a 14-9 victory. Four Cardinals had three hits and only one player in the starting lineup did not have a hit. Collectively, the Cardinals also came through when it mattered most as they hit 8-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Two of three Cardinals relievers allowed runs, with Yeison Medina and Anthony Shew combining for five runs charged over two innings. The only run-free Johnson City hurler was Keaton Siomkin, who threw 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts. Siomkin was awarded his first professional win, evening his record at 1-1.

Wednesday July 13, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 5 at Burlington Royals 2

In a matchup between the teams with the best records in the Appalachian League, pitching ruled. The Cardinals held a slim 3-1 advantage after six innings. Burlington got within one of the Cardinals with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, but Joshua Lopez came through in the following half inning with a two-run blast to seal the win.

Frederis Parra worked a season-high six innings with just one run allowed on four hits and picked up the win. Ramon Santos continued to be one of the most dependable members of the Cardinals’ bullpen, picking up a rare three-inning save. Santos allowed one run and struck out six.

Thursday July 14, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 4 at Burlington Royals 5

2015 draftee Jordan Hicks continued his stellar delayed start of his professional career. On Thursday, the right-hander tossed his third consecutive quality start throwing six innings and allowing three runs in his fourth start. Despite Hicks’ pitching, the Cardinals needed a three-run rally in the top of the seventh to tie the game and ensure that Hicks did not get tagged with the loss. Following the rally, the Royals promptly answered with a solo home run in the bottom half of the seventh off Julio Mateo to clinch a 5-4 win and even the series at a game apiece.

Johnson City got its offense started with a solo home run by Joshua Lopez in the fifth, his second in as many games. It marked the first time that a Cardinals player has accomplished that feat so far in 2016. A major contributor in the three-run seventh inning was J.R. Davis, who continued his hot hitting with a two-run triple to get Johnson City within two. Allen Cordoba drove in the Cardinals’ final run with a RBI single.

Friday July 15, 2016: Johnson City at Burlington (postponed)

This game was postponed due to rain. The two clubs will make up the contest in Johnson City during the Royals' August 7-9 visit.

Saturday July 16, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 5 at Pulaski Yankees 6 (12 innings)

The stormy weather followed the Cardinals to Pulaski on Saturday. The two teams played the first inning but then had to endure a rain delay for over two hours. Because of the lengthy rain delay, both teams were forced to use their bullpens the remainder of the game.

Johnson City’s bullpen came up strong, tossing a combined 10 1/3 innings with 16 strikeouts allowing just three earned runs. Six relievers covered those 10 1/3 innings, but they were derailed by shaky defense. The Cardinals committed four errors that led to three unearned runs, and those runs bit Johnson City in the end as it fell 6-5 in 11 innings.

Keaton Siomkin took the blown save, yielding three runs, two earned, in two innings. Yeison Medina yielded the decisive run after striking out the leadoff batter, only to have him reach second on a throwing error by catcher Stephen Zavala. The unearned walkoff tally scored on a ground ball.

Estarlin Arias allowed just one baserunner in 2 2/3 innings of solid relief that included five strikeouts.

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/210027-yariel-gonzalez?s=321

Yariel Gonzalez. Gonzalez has forced manager Chris Swauger to keep him in the lineup due to his work at the plate as of late. The infielder, who was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in mid-June, hit .400 in 20 at-bats and drove in a team-high six runs in four games last week. Gonzalez has seen playing time all over the diamond for Johnson City this season with starts at third base, second base and first base. However, his value for the Cardinals does not stop there as he is currently the only position player on the roster that can hit left-handed as he is a switch hitter.

http://www.scout.com/player/200635-ian-oxnevad?s=321

Ian Oxnevad. Oxnevad has been Johnson City’s top starter all season long for several reasons, including his ability to log innings. Oxnevad ranks second in the Appalachian League with 24 2/3 innings pitched. The Shoreline, Washington native is 2-1 in his last three starts and holds a 1.42 ERA in those outings.   

http://www.scout.com/player/171616-estarlin-arias?s=321

Estarlin Arias. After compiling an ERA over five on the Cardinals’ GCL team last season, Arias has found his niche in Johnson City’s bullpen. Arias appeared in two games last week and threw 3 2/3 hitless innings and picked up his second save of the season. In total, Arias is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in seven innings pitched with a pair of saves so far in 2016.   

Who’s Not

Bryce Denton. One of the team’s most promising prospects and the youngest player on the roster has had a rough go of it as of late. Denton went 1-for-10 at the plate in three games last week. The 18 year old third baseman has had problems adjusting his approach with two strikes as he struck out five times in those 10 at-bats and is hitting just .174 over the team’s last 10 games.    

Julio Mateo. Mateo has thrown just 8 1/3 innings over the team’s first 21 games this season, but it has not gone well for the 20 year old right-hander. Mateo has an ERA of 8.42 and opponents are hitting .313 against him.   

DeAndre Asbury-Heath.  Asbury-Heath, who was the 2013 15th round draft pick by St. Louis, has struggled offensively in his second season in the Appalachian League, hitting just .125 during his last five games and .194 overall.  

By The Numbers

20 – The Cardinals have outscored their opponents by 20 runs (65-45) through the first five innings of games this season. Furthermore when Johnson City scores the game’s first run, it is 8-3 in 2016.

7 – Johnson City has hit just seven home runs in 21 games this season, which is the second fewest in the Appalachian League. The only Cardinals’ player that has multiple home runs this season is catcher Joshua Lopez with three.    

http://www.scout.com/player/171156-joshua-lopez?s=321

3.26 – Six different pitchers have started a game for the Cardinals this season and they have a collective ERA of 3.26. In comparison, the opponent’s starting pitchers have a 4.55 ERA against the Cardinals.

Transactions

There were no transactions last week.

Injuries

There were no injuries last week.

Appalachian League Western Division Standings

Team W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
Johnson City 12 9 .571 - 5-5 L2
Greeneville 12 11 .522 2.0 7-3 W6
Bristol 10 12 .455 3.0 4-6 W1
Kingsport 10 12 .455 3.0 6-4 W2
Elizabethton 8 14 .364 5.0 3-7 L3

What’s Next

Johnson City will take on Pulaski Sunday and Monday before returning home for a three-game set against Greeneville beginning Tuesday. After the brief home stand, the Cardinals will head back out on the road Thursday for three games at Elizabethton.  

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