Michael Pritchard (Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation)

Weekly news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Florida State League affiliate in Jupiter for the period of July 20-26.

Palm Beach won just two of seven in week 16. Michael Pritchard continues to get on base at a .400 clip, but overall, the offense is ice cold, scoring well over half of their runs for the week in one game.

It was another losing week for the Palm Beach Cardinals. That is hardly news. Palm Beach’s last winning seven-day period was Week 8, which occurred two months ago, at the end of May. Their last series win was exactly one month ago.

After dropping the final game and third of four at home vs. Brevard County, the Cards won the first two of the four-game series at Tampa, but dropped the final two of that set. Palm Beach then lost the first two of three at Fort Myers. The current four-game losing skid made for a 2-5 week overall.

The Cardinals scored 10 runs in one game, but only eight runs in the other six contests combined, including being shut out twice. In total, Palm Beach was outscored 27 to 18 over the week and do not have an RBI in their current four-game losing streak.

Given the offensive futility, it should not be surprising that the Cards are currently the worst team in the 12-team Florida State League. Palm Beach is off to a dismal 10-23 (.303) start in the second half of the 140-game schedule and are mired in last (sixth) place in the South Division, 10 1/2 games behind Jupiter (MIA) and five games out of a share of fifth place.

This report covers the period of Wednesday, July 20 through Tuesday, July 26.

Wednesday, July 20: Brevard County Manatees 1 at Palm Beach 0

Palm Beach took a shutout loss on Wednesday to close their 1-7 homestand.

An excellent outing from Austin Gomber was wasted. The left-hander went nine innings, striking out eight and allowing one run on 93 pitches.

The offense managed 11 baserunners through six hits and five walks, but brought none of them home. Vaughn Bryan singled, drew two walks and stole a base. Michael Pritchard had two walks and Oscar Mercado had a pair of singles.

Thursday, July 21: Palm Beach 4 at Tampa Yankees 2  

Back-to-back doubles by Oscar Mercado and Casey Turgeon lifted Palm Beach over Tampa, 4-2, in the first of their four-game set. The Cards broke their three-game losing skid with their second win in the last 11 games.

The key hits came with the score knotted at two all in the ninth. Mercado’s two-base hit placed two in scoring position for Turgeon, who brought both across. Earlier, Turgeon smashed his second home run to tie the game at 1-1 through five. In just his fourth game off the disabled list after missing almost two months, the second baseman went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, one run scored and three knocked in.

Jack Flaherty held the Yankees to a run on five hits and two walks through five before walking the bases full without recording an out in the sixth.  Davis Ward limited the damage, allowing only one of those three runners to score. Kyle Grana picked up his third save.

Saturday, July 23: Palm Beach 10 at Tampa 7 (suspended game from 7/22)

A two-run home run by Casey Turgeon highlighted a Cardinals offense that scored 10 runs on 11 hits. Turgeon plated three runs, two on the home run and one on a sac fly.  Thomas Spitz was a perfect 3-for-4 with two RBI.  New arrival Edmundo Sosa was 2 for-5 with one run driven in.  Orlando Olivera plated two on a fifth inning single; Vaughn Bryan did the same on a fifth inning double.

Starter Jacob Evans pitched just 1 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Michael Heesch replaced Evans and got the last two outs in the inning.  When the suspended game was resumed on Saturday, Junior Fernandez tossed three innings, surrendering four runs on six hits, but earned the win.  Blake McKnight pitched three scoreless frames and Robby Rowland followed with a scoreless ninth for the save.

Saturday, July 23: Tampa 2, Palm Beach 0 (seven innings)

In the regularly-scheduled game, the Cardinals could get nothing going offensively as they managed only one hit, a single by Sosa.

Starter Matt Pearce pitched the complete game, six innings, giving up two runs on five hits, fanning five and walking none and suffering his seventh loss of the season.

 

Sunday, July 24: Tampa 5, Palm Beach 1

Palm Beach dropped the series finale and had to settle for a split of the four-game road set after winning the first two.

Ian McKinney was charged with his seventh loss against six wins, allowing four runs on nine hits in five-plus innings. McKinney exited with his team down 2-1, but with two on and none out, Cody Schumacher allowed both to score and yielded a run of his own as well. 

Michael Pritchard was the only Beach Bird with more than one hit, singling twice, and Vaughn Bryan was the only Cardinal to score. Bryan singled to open the third and eventually came home on a balk.

Monday, July 25: Fort Myers Miracle 3, Palm Beach 2

Palm Beach scored two runs on an error in the top half of the eighth inning to take the lead, only to surrender a pair to the Miracle in the bottom half and lose the game.

Starter Austin Gomber carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The lefty had a final line of 7 1/3 innings, yielding three runs and striking out nine. Gomber threw 100 pitches before being lifted in the top of the eighth. Kyle Grana allowed an inherited runner from Gomber to score in his 2/3 of an inning. It was the decisive run.

Vaughn Bryan went 2-for-5. Cole Lankford was 2-for-4 with a run scored and Casey Grayson doubled and walked twice. The Cards were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, however.

Tuesday, July 26: Fort Myers 7, Palm Beach 1

Without the benefit of a hit, the Cardinals scratched out a run to pull to within 2-1 in the top of the fifth before Jack Flaherty hit the wall. In the bottom of the frame, the prospect right-hander served up a solo home run, a double, a walk and two singles as the Miracle plated three. Flaherty exited with one out in the sixth after two more singles, a hit by pitch and a bases-loaded walk.

Earlier, Flaherty had allowed a solo homer on his first pitch of the game and wild-pitched a runner home in the fourth. The ugly loss dropped his record to 2-8 and the six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings raised his ERA to 4.23.

In a familiar refrain, the Palm Beach offense managed just six hits. They included a pair of doubles by Vaughn Bryan and two singles, a walk and a stolen base by Michael Pritchard. Yet neither crossed home plate as the Cards were a perfectly imperfect 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and have gone four straight games without an RBI.

Oscar Mercado, playing center field, threw out a runner at third base, swiped his 24th bag of the year and scored the lone run on a ground out.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/191957-michael-pritchard?s=321

Michael Pritchard. The outfielder continues to play well, batting .400 for the week (10-for-25) and drawing three walks for a .464 OBP. Still, he had zero RBI and just three runs scored. Having missed time due to injury, the former Nebraska star does not have enough at-bats to appear among the league leaders. Otherwise, Pritchard’s .401 OBP would be third in the FSL.

http://www.scout.com/player/179979-vaughn-bryan?s=321

Vaughn Bryan. Cold the prior week and for much of the season, the new leadoff man was sparked, with seven hits in 21 at-bats (.333), including three doubles. Bryan also drew three walks, went 3-for-3 on the basepaths, but scored just three times. A challenge is with only two hot hitters, one leading off and the other batting sixth (Pritchard), rallies are few and far between.

http://www.scout.com/player/191640-davis-ward?s=321

Davis Ward. In four innings, the reliever allowed just three hits, no walks and an unearned run. In his first 18 1/3 innings with Palm Beach, Ward has a 1.96 ERA.

http://www.scout.com/player/179985-blake-mcknight?s=321

Blake McKnight. The swingman allowed two hits and no walks over three scoreless frames last week.

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

Kyle Grana. The right-handed reliever tossed 2 1/3 run-free innings on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts. Grana converted his only save opportunity, however, he allowed a decisive inherited run to score in Monday’s loss.

http://www.scout.com/player/185111-austin-gomber?s=321

Austin Gomber. The lefty allowed just four runs over 16 1/3 innings (2.20 ERA) on nine hits and no walks, fanning 17.

 

Who’s Not

Chris Rivera. Last week, the catcher went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts, though he did draw three free passes to raise his OBP to .250. In July, Rivera is batting .063.

Steve Bean. The other half of the catching tandem struck out seven times in 16 at-bats, but managed two singles (.125) and a walk (.167 OBP). Bean has a .170 July batting mark.

Andrew Brodbeck. Before hitting the DL, the infielder scratched out one single in 13 at-bats (.077) and fanned six times. For the month, Brodbeck has a .164 average.

Oscar Mercado. The new center fielder (or utility man?) had three singles and a double in 27 at-bats for a .148 average for the week. With four free passes, Mercado’s OBP was .258.

Cole Lankford. Previously hot, Lankford cooled off considerably, with six singles, five strikeouts and no walks in 34 at-bats, making his batting average and OBP for the week .176.

Junior Fernandez. The prospect continues to struggle in the FSL, yielding four earned runs in three innings last week. Through his first four appearances at the level, the 19-year old’s ERA is 9.72.

Jack Flaherty. Another Cardinals prospect is in choppy waters, having allowed eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings last week (6.97 ERA). The right-hander yielded 14 hits and seven walks for a WHIP of 2.079.

 

FSL Season Leaders

Matt Pearce slipped a tad to fifth in the league in ERA (2.43) and is tied for eighth with five other pitchers with eight wins. His 122 1/3 innings pitched leads both the FSL and the entire Cardinals minor league system.

Austin Gomber is 10th in the league in ERA at 2.93 and is tied for first with 101 strikeouts.

Jack Flaherty is tied for fourth in Ks with 90.

Jacob Evans’ total of 12 home runs allowed is tied for fourth-most in the circuit.

Ian McKinney has served up 10 bombs, tied with three others for the sixth-highest total.

With his on-base mark at .387 on the season, Casey Grayson is fourth in the league. (Amazingly at .255, Grayson’s batting average is the highest among qualifying Cardinals, but of course is nowhere among the leaders in the FSL.

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

Despite not playing for almost two weeks, Seferina still leads the league with 32 steals and has a stellar success rate of 84.2 percent.

Oscar Mercado is tied for sixth in the FSL with 24 steals but has been caught 17 times for a 58.5 percent success rate. Mercado went just 1-for-3 this past week.

 

Team Stats

What more can be said? The combination of a rising team ERA and declining run scoring from the offense is a losing hand.

Offense Season/rank of 12 Last week/rank 
BA .229 / last .229 / last
OBP .313 / 8th .313 / 8th
SLG .302 / last .303 / last
OPS .614 / 11th .615 / 11th
Runs/game 3.4 / 11th 3.5 / 11th
Walks 387 / 1st 358 / 1st
Steals 112 of 162 / 2nd 105 of 149 / 2nd
     
Pitching Season/rank of 12 Last week/rank 
ERA 3.62 / 9th 3.59 / 8th
Strikeouts 706 / 10th 662 / 11th
Walks 273 / 3rd fewest 258 / 3rd fewest

Transactions

The roster changes just keep on coming, driven by injuries, including two important players who did not stay off the disabled list very long.

7/20: LHR Chandler Hawkins to Springfield

7/20: RHR Robby Rowland from Springfield DL to Palm Beach

The Beach Birds sent an effective lefty in Hawkins up to Double-A, but received a very competent replacement in Rowland, who was last at State College on his way back from spring surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow.

7/20: IF Andrew Sohn to Springfield

7/22: SS Edmundo Sosa from Peoria to Palm Beach

Sohn was needed to fill in at Double-A, and in this rare case, the Beach Birds traded up big time by getting the Midwest League All-Star shortstop in Sosa. Sosa is batting fifth behind cleanup man Casey Grayson. His arrival has pushed former shortstop Oscar Mercado to center field and third base.

7/23: 2B Darren Seferina off seven-day disabled list

7/23: 2B Andrew Brodbeck onto seven-day disabled list

Again, a trade up for the Beach Birds, or so it appeared. However, as you will see below, Seferina was back on the DL before he could see any game action. He last played on July 15.

7/23: LHS Jacob Evans onto seven-day disabled list

7/26: RHS John Walter from Springfield

Like Seferina, Evans is a quick returnee to the DL. The lefty lasted just 1 1/3 innings in his second start since being reactivated. Three days later, the Beach Birds received former independent league pitcher Walter back from Springfield, where he was battered in four starts to the tune of a 7.97 ERA.

7/26: 2B Darren Seferina onto seven-day disabled list

7/26: IF Andrew Sohn from Springfield

Sohn returns from a successful stint at Double-A, but hasn’t hit well at Palm Beach and surely is not going to replace Seferina’s production.

7/26: IF Casey Turgeon to Springfield

Turgeon had been red-hot since coming off the DL 10 days ago. In 27 plate appearances, his slash line was .364/.464/.864/1.328. As of yet, he has not been replaced, with Palm Beach down one player.

 

Injuries

With the return of Evans to the DL, joined by Brodbeck, the Beach Birds’ infirmary list is back up to six. Two pitchers are on shelf: Silfredo Garcia and Will Anderson (60-day DL) with the other injured position players infielder Danny Diekroeger (60-day) and Seferina.

 

Up Next

After completing the final game of three at Fort Myers (MIN) on Wednesday, Palm Beach has Thursday, July 28 off before Tampa (NYY) arrives at The Dean for four games Friday through Monday. The Cardinals have another scheduled day off next Tuesday before playing a pair at Charlotte (TB) on Wednesday and Thursday, August 3 and 4.

 

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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