Dean Anna (© Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports Images)

This week’s news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis and a look ahead to next

St. Louis’ Triple-A ball club allowed less than seven runs only once during Week 15 of the Pacific Coast League. While the pitching staff was ice cold, Dean Anna and the offense was red hot.

How things change in just seven days. The Memphis Redbirds had gone 20-11 between June 10 and the end of Week 14 and were within four games of the division lead.

However, when the club needed another great week, they dropped an egg, going 1-6 in Week 15 of the 2016 Pacific Coast League schedule. The pitching staff, which had usually been the strongest part of Memphis’ teams in years past, allowed 46 runs and 70 hits during the week while the offense kept plugging along, scattering 58 hits and plating 38 runs. The Redbirds slid back into last place, seven games off the pace.

 

Here is how the week unfolded:

Friday, July 15: Memphis (STL) 5 at Albuquerque (COL) 10

The Redbirds lost their first back-to-back contests since resuming play after the All-Star break, 10-5, at Albuquerque.

Jeremy Hazelbaker (1-for-5), Dean Anna (1-for-2) and David Washington (1-for-3) each homered, with Washington adding to his team high total (15). The club received doubles from Jacob Wilson (1-for-2) and Matt Williams (1-for-4) and a triple from Harrison Bader (1-for-3).

Starter Jerome Williams (4-3, 5.04) picked up the loss after giving up seven earned, including two home runs, on 10 hits in five innings. Reliever Miguel Socolovich struck out one in one inning, but Juan Gonzalez and Dean Kiekhefer combined for three earned on three hits and three free passes.

 

Saturday, July 16: Memphis (STL) 8 at Albuquerque (COL) 9

In an offensive shootout, Memphis blinked last, yielding two runs in the bottom of the ninth to drop their third-straight game, 9-8, at the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Bader (3-for-4) scored three times and picked up an RBI, and is hitting .462 so far in the Isotopes series. Hazelbaker (2-for-3), Breyvic Valera (3-for-4) and Efren Navarro (2-for-4) combined for four RBI, and Carson Kelly (1-for-3) scored twice.

Starter Alex Reyes gave up seven hits and five earned in five innings while fanning six walking two in a no decision, his seventh of the season. Relievers Ryan Sherriff and Sam Tuivailala (2-2, 5.40) allowed four earned on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

 

Sunday, July 17: Memphis (STL) 6 at Albuquerque (COL) 7

The Redbirds pulled within a run after facing a three-plus deficit twice but were swept out of town by the Albuquerque Isotopes, 7-6.

Wilson (3-for-5), Washington (2-for-4) and Michael Ohlman (1-for-4) homered and combined for all of Memphis’ runs. Washington’s blast was the second in his last three games and extended his team-lead to 16.

Starter Deck McGuire’s (6-8, 5.26) struggles continue as the pitcher scattered seven hits, gave up seven earned runs and walked three in four innings. Over his last five starts, the right-hander has allowed 25 earned on 35 hits and issued 11 free passes in 17 2/3 innings.

 

Monday, July 18: Memphis (STL) 5 at El Paso (SD) 11

The Redbirds dropped their fifth-straight in a 11-5 defeat at El Paso.

Wilson (3-for-4) and Jose Martinez (2-for-4) both hit long balls, and Wilson added two doubles and two RBI. Kelly (1-for-3), Williams (1-for-4) and Bader (1-for-4) doubled as well.

Starter Mike Mayers (3-3, 2.94) dropped his third game after giving up four earned on six hits, but struck out seven. Relievers Thomas Lee, Gonzalez and Littrell combined for seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings.

 

Tuesday, July 19: Memphis (STL) 2 at El Paso (SD) 9

El Paso scored eight unanswered runs through six innings and never looked back as Memphis dropped its season-worst sixth-straight game, 9-2.

Navarro (2-for-4), Williams (2-for-4) and Charlie Tilson (2-for-3) had multiple hits, with Williams and Tilson plating Memphis’ lone runs. Wilson (0-for-5), after going 10-for-20 in his last five games, was hitless Tuesday.

Starter Corey Baker (1-2, 9.00) picked up his second consecutive loss after allowing eight earned on 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Heyer fanned three in 1 2/3 innings of relief duty.

 

Wednesday, July 20: Memphis (STL) 10 at El Paso (SD) 3

Memphis snapped its six-game losing streak, taking a 10-3 win over league-leader El Paso.

Tilson (1-for-3) made history, as his eighth triple of the season ties Stubby Clapp (2000) and Kolten Wong (2013) for the most in a single season in Redbirds history. Bader (2-for-5) and Anna (2-for-3) had multi-hit games and combined for six RBI, and Washington (1-for-1) hit his team-leading 17th home run and system-leading 22nd.

Starter Williams (5-3, 4.89) rebounded from his loss earlier in the week, striking out three and scattering five hits on three earned in seven innings. Relievers Sherriff and Tuivailala combined for three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

 

Thursday, July 21: Memphis (STL) 2 at El Paso (SD) 7

The Redbirds dropped the finale against league-leaders El Paso Chihuahuas, 7-2, and ended their eight-game road trip with a 1-7 record.

Anna (4-for-4) was perfect for the night, with a single, two doubles, a triple and an RBI. Williams went 2-for-4, and Valera (0-for-2) plated the other runner via a sac fly in the top of the fourth.

Starter Reyes (2-2, 5.02) pitched 5 2/3 innings, fanned five, walked four and allowed four earned on six hits, but picked up his second loss of the season. Reliever Littrell followed and struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, but Gonzalez was bombed for five hits and three earned runs in 1/3 inning, putting the game out of reach.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/117651-dean-anna?s=321

Dean Anna was on fire all week, going 8-for-15 with one HR, four doubles, one triple and six RBI, including a perfect 4-for-4, single, two doubles, one triple and one RBI performance July 21 at El Paso.

Matt Williams performed well at the plate, going 7-for-23 with three doubles and one RBI in all seven games this week.

http://www.scout.com/player/169887-jacob-wilson?s=321

Jacob Wilson went on a tear in Week 15, going 9-for-22 with two HR, four doubles and four RBI.

Harrison Bader was excellent during the week, going 8-for-26 with two doubles, one triple and one RBI.

http://www.scout.com/player/157108-charlie-tilson?s=321

Charlie Tilson has been one of Memphis’ best offensive weapons in 2016, going 8-for-24 with one triple and four RBI in Week 15.

David Washington was 5-for-20 but homered three times to extend his team-lead to 17 and his system lead to 22.

http://www.scout.com/player/169868-kurt-heyer?s=321

Kurt Heyer is the lone pitcher to get on the Who’s Hot list, fanning four and giving up one earned on three hits in three innings this week.

 

Who’s Not

Deck McGuire continued to struggle in Week 15, giving up seven earned on seven hits and three walks in four innings July 17 at Albuquerque.

Although Jerome Williams picked up a win July 20 at El Paso, the starter combined for 10 earned on 15 hits and five walks in 12 innings over two games.

Alex Reyes had trouble on the mound in both of his starts this week, combining for nine earned on 13 hits and six walks in 10 2/3 innings, and took his second loss of the season July 21 at El Paso. Reyes last won a game on June 13, seven starts ago.

Corey Baker, whose ERA sits at 9.00 in five starts for Memphis, picked up his second loss of the season after allowing eight earned on 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings at El Paso.

Juan Gonzalez pitched in four games this week, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

 

Sherriff to participate in WBC Qualifier

http://www.scout.com/player/158032-ryan-sherriff?s=321

According to TCN’s Derek Shore, Redbirds’ reliever Ryan Sherriff will suit up for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier following the end of the Minor League season. Sherriff, who is of Jewish heritage, will participate in the qualifiers in Brooklyn, New York, September 22 through 25.

 

Transactions

RHP Sam Tuivailala was sent back down to Memphis after Cardinals’ reliever Kevin Siegrist was activated from the disabled list. In three games for St. Louis, Tuivailala fanned two and allowed three earned on three hits in two innings.

After missing two months of Triple-A action with an undisclosed injury, RHP Thomas Lee (1-3, 6.83) was activated from the seven-day disabled list. Prior to his activation, Lee had appeared in three games on his rehab assignment with GCL Cardinals, tossing a combined six shutout innings.

Three players – OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, RHP Miguel Socolovich and LHP Dean Kiekhefer – received promotion to the big leagues during the week as well. Hazelbaker and Socolovich were called in to replace Jhonny Peralta and Michael McKenry, while Kiekhefer was recalled for one day only as St. Louis 26th man for the day-night doubleheader at Busch Stadium on Wednesday.

Here’s a list of all of the transactions that occurred:

07/15/2016: St. Louis Cardinals option RHP Sam Tuivailala to Memphis Redbirds.

07/16/2016: RHP Pedro Echemendia assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds.

07/17/2016: RHP John Brebbia assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds.

07/17/2016: Memphis Redbirds activate RHP Thomas Lee from the 7-day disabled list.

07/19/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall OF Jeremy Hazelbaker from Memphis Redbirds.

07/19/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall RHP Miguel Socolovich from Memphis Redbirds.

07/19/2016: OF Anthony Garcia assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

07/20/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall LHP Dean Kiekhefer from Memphis Redbirds.

07/20/2016: RHP Chris Perry assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

07/20/2016: RHP Josh Lucas assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

07/21/2016: St. Louis Cardinals option LHP Dean Kiekhefer to Memphis Redbirds.

 

TCN Top 40 Prospects

The Redbirds have 12 of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 40 Prospects on the active roster but two starters and a position player remain on the disabled list. Here is how the prospects have performed recently:

1. Alex Reyes: Reyes pitched two games during Week 15, combining for 11 strikeouts and nine earned on 13 hits in 10 2/3 innings and earning his second loss of the season July 21 at El Paso. In 2016, TCN’s top prospect is 2-2 with a 5.02 ERA and is second on the team in strikeouts (72).

3. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season.

5. Tim Cooney: Cooney is out indefinitely and remains on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.

6. Harrison Bader: Bader was excellent during the week, going 8-for-26 with two doubles, one triple and one RBI. The outfielder is hitting .283/.345/.453 with one HR and eight RBI in 13 games for Memphis.

7. Charlie Tilson: Tilson has been one of Memphis’ best offensive weapons in 2016, going 8-for-24 with one triple and four RBI in Week 15. The outfielder is slashing .282/.351/.405 in 92 games in Memphis this year, and is tied for second in the league in triples (8).

11. Sam Tuivailala: Tuivailala was optioned back down to Memphis July 15 after fanning two and allowing three earned on three hits in two innings in St. Louis. The reliever pitched in two games for Memphis in Week 15, combining for two strikeouts and two earned on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.

12. Carson Kelly: Kelly, who splits time at catcher with fellow prospect Ohlman, went 4-for-18 with two doubles in five games in his first week in Memphis. Prior to his Memphis call up, Kelly slashed .287/.338/.403 with six HR and 18 RBI in 64 games at Springfield.

21. Jacob Wilson: Wilson went on a tear in Week 15, going 9-for-22 with two HR, four doubles and four RBI. The infielder, whose average was at .167 June 18, has boosted that total up to .240 and is tied for second on the team in HR (8).

25. Mike Mayers: Mayers pitched in one game this week, fanning seven and allowing four earned on six hits in five innings in July 18’s loss at El Paso. The starter is 3-3 with a 2.94 ERA in Triplle-A, and boasts an 8-5 record with a 2.62 ERA in the minors in 2016.

26. Corey Littrell: Littrell pitched in three games during Week 15, combining for four strikeouts and three earned on five hits in three innings. The reliever has been good on the mound in relief duty for Memphis this season, posting a 1-3 record with a 4.11 ERA and 1.29 WHIP

31. Patrick Wisdom: Wisdom was placed on the disabled list on June 17. The infielder is hitting .234/.317/.359 with three HR and 21 RBI in 2016.

32. Anthony Garcia: Garcia was called up from Double-A Springfield July 19 and appeared in three games this week, going 1-for-4 at the plate. The outfielder slashed .254/.331/.377 with three HR and 16 RBI in 37 games for Springfield.

33. Michael Ohlman: Ohlman, who splits time with St. Louis’ other catching prospect Kelly, was 2-for-9 with one HR and three RBI in two games. The catcher is hitting .252/.328/.427 in with four HR and 17 RBI for Memphis this season.

38. David Washington: Washington rebounded after struggling the past six weeks, going 5-for-20 with three homers, three RBI and one double. While the outfielder was inconsistent during the week, he extended his HR team lead to 17 and system lead to 22.

Memphis Stats      
       
Offense Season Stat PCL Rank  
BA .264 8th   
Runs 464 8th   
HR 78 9th   
Stolen Bases 68 7th   
RBI 437 8th   
Strikeouts/Walks 760/363 11th/2nd   
       
Pitching Season Stat PCL Rank  
W-L 46-51 11th   
ERA 4.90 11th   
Strikeouts/Walks 718/337  11th/10th   
Saves 23 9th   
WHIP 1.47 9th   
Hits Allowed 890 9th   
       
Standings      
       
Team W-L PCT GB
Nashville Sounds 54-42 .563 -
Round Rock Express 49-50 .468 5.0
New Orleans Zephyrs 46-50 .479 6.5
Memphis Redbirds 46-51 .474 7.0

What’s Next

After going 1-6 during Week 15 of the 2016 PCL season, the Redbirds (46-51) come home for an eight game homestand, beginning with the Iowa Cubs (43-56) and ending with the Oklahoma City Dodgers (54-42).

While Iowa has one of the best offenses in the league (.281 AVG), the club’s pitching staff is far less troubling (5.03 ERA). Oklahoma City, on the other hand, is the opposite (.263 AVG and a 3.88 ERA). Iowa has three batters who hit plus-.325, while OKC starter Jharel Cotton is second in the league in strikeouts (106) and posts a 4.85 ERA. Memphis’ offense was in control during Week 15, but the pitching staff needs to get back on track if they want a chance to rebound.

After Alex Reyes’ start Thursday, Deck McGuire comes to the mound Friday night vs. Iowa, followed by Mike Mayers, Corey Baker and Jerome Williams.

 

Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.

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