Arturo Reyes (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

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

With four weeks left in the 2016 Pacific Coast League season, St. Louis’ Triple-A ball club is in a tight race for second in their division. Arturo Reyes pitched this third consecutive quality start, and top prospect Luke Weaver debuted.

The Memphis Redbirds (57-61) jumped into second place after going 4-3 during Week 17 (1.5 game difference between Memphis and fourth place New Orleans), but are 10.5 games behind first place Nashville Sounds (68-51). With no wild cards in the Pacific Coast League, the Redbirds have a lot of ground to cover to have any shot at making the playoffs.

Here is how the week unfolded:

Friday, August 5: Omaha (KC) 5 at Memphis (STL) 11

The Redbirds scored seven total in the sixth and eighth innings to extend their lead and grab the win, 11-5, against the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Jose Martinez (3-for-5) hit a three-run homer in the eighth and plated five runners, and Breyvic Valera (3-for-5) added a double and three RBI. Carson Kelly (2-for-3) had a multi-hit game. Efren Navarro (1-for-3) brought home two runners.

Starter Arturo Reyes (8-4, 4.75) picked up his third-straight win after allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and striking out six in six innings. Reliever Ryan Sherriff retired all six batters he faced in two innings and earned his second save of the season.

 

Saturday, August 6: Omaha (KC) 5 at Memphis (STL) 6

Memphis trailed 4-2 in the eighth and 5-4 in the ninth, but two runs in the home half of each inning gave the Redbirds a 6-5 win over Omaha.

Valera (3-for-3) scattered three hits in his second consecutive game and plated two runners. Martinez (2-for-4) and Kelly (2-for-5) had multi-hit games, with Kelly adding an RBI in the ninth. Dean Anna (0-for-0) walked home a runner as a pinch-hitter, and Anthony Garcia’s (1-for-4) sac fly scored the winning-run.

Starter Alex Reyes struck out eight, walked two, scattered six and allowed one earned in six innings. Relievers Miguel Socolovich and Sam Tuivailala combined for four earned on five hits as Tuivailala blew the save. Dean Kiekhefer (5-1, 1.95) picked up his fifth win after retiring the final two batters.

 

Sunday, August 7: Memphis (STL) 5 at New Orleans (MIA) 2 (10 innings)

Memphis needed 10 innings to grab the first game of a six-game, four-day series, 5-2, at New Orleans.

Navarro (2-for-5), Martinez (2-for-4) and Anna (2-for-4) had two hits apiece, with Navarro adding an RBI. Harrison Bader (1-for-1) pinch-hit a two-run homer in the 10th for the difference-maker. Valera (1-for-4) and Randal Grichuk (0-for-5) plated Memphis’ other two runners.

Starter Jeremy Hefner worked eight innings, a season high, and allowed just one run on seven hits while striking out six and walking one. Reliever Sherriff (6-0, 2.51) gave up one earned in the bottom of the 10th but still picked up his sixth win.

 

Monday, August 8 Game 1: Memphis (STL) 0 at New Orleans (MIA) 1

Memphis dropped game one of Monday’s doubleheader, 1-0, after giving up the game’s lone run in the fourth.

New Orleans’ pitching staff stifled the Redbirds offense, allowing just three hits, all singles – by Valera (1-for-2), Martinez (1-for-3) and Kelly (1-for-2).

Starter Mike Mayers (3-5, 3.06) fanned six in his six inning complete game and gave up just one run (unearned) on three hits. The starter retired the first 11 batters he faced, before the run scored on an Anna throwing error in the fourth.

 

Monday, August 8: Game 2: Memphis (STL) 2 at New Orleans (MIA) 0

Memphis allowed four hits and shut out New Orleans, 2-0, in Game 2 of the doubleheader.

Starter Luke Weaver (1-0, 0.00) fanned four, issued two walks and scattered two in six scoreless innings and picked up the win in his Triple-A debut. Reliever Socolovich followed and earned his fourth save of the season in the seventh inning.

Michael Ohlman (2-for-3) led Memphis with two singles. Valera (1-for-3) extended his hit streak to nine games and hit a sac fly in the seventh to score Ohlman. Anna (1-for-2) hit a two-out RBI single in the third to give Memphis its first lead.

 

Tuesday, August 9 Game 1: Memphis (STL) 4 at New Orleans (MIA) 6

Memphis allowed six runs on ten hits and lost Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, 6-4, to New Orleans.

Martinez (1-for-4) was the man-of-the-match for Memphis by plating three of Memphis’ four runners. Grichuk (0-for-4) scored the other. Valera (1-for-1) singled in the seventh to extend his hit streak to 10 games.

After several quality starts, Kurt Heyer (2-1, 5.54) allowed six runs (five earned) on 10 hits in five inning to pick up his first loss of the season. Reliever Corey Littrell retired the side in the sixth.

 

Tuesday, August 9 Game 2: Memphis (STL) 0 at New Orleans (MIA) 1

Memphis’ offensive struggles continued as they failed to score a run for the second time in two days (four games) in a 1-0 loss to New Orleans.

David Washington (1-for-2) doubled to give Memphis its only extra-base hit. Martinez (1-for-3), Ohlman (1-for-3), Alex Mejia (1-for-3) and Garcia (1-for-1) all singled for the Redbirds. Valera’s (0-for-3) 10-game hit streak ended.

Starter Thomas Lee (1-4, 5.68) worked four innings and struck out three, walked one and allowed one earned on six hits. Reliever John Brebbia issued two walks, fanned one and scattered another in two scoreless innings.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/143613-breyvic-valera?s=321

Although his 10-game hit streak was snapped August 9 at New Orleans, Breyvic Valera was phenomenal in the leadoff role for the Redbirds, going 10-for-21 (.476) with two doubles, one stolen base and seven RBI.

http://www.scout.com/player/118230-jose-martinez?s=321

Jose Martinez had a terrific Week 18, going 10-for-23 (.435) with one HR and eight RBI, including a 3-for-5, one HR and five RBI performance August 5 vs. Omaha.

http://www.scout.com/player/161612-carson-kelly?s=321

Carson Kelly went 3-for-10 during the week and is currently slashing .324/.365/.412 in 19 Triple-A games.

http://www.scout.com/player/142180-michael-ohlman?s=321

Michael Ohlman was 4-for-11 in three games this week and is currently on a six-game hitting streak.

http://www.scout.com/player/103650-jeremy-hefner?s=321

Jeremy Hefner worked eight innings, a season high, and allowed just one run on seven hits while striking out six and walking one, and pitched his first quality start since coming off the disabled list July 27.

http://www.scout.com/player/179990-arturo-reyes?s=321

Arturo Reyes picked up his third consecutive win August 5 vs. Omaha, fanning six and allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings. Since returning from injury, the starter is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA and is holding opponents to .175 batting average.

http://www.scout.com/player/135121-mike-mayers?s=321

Mike Mayers pitched a six-inning complete game August 8 at New Orleans, striking out six and allowing three hits, but was awarded the loss after the game’s lone run came home via a throwing error.

 

Who’s Not

Harrison Bader struggled in seven games this week, going 1-for-15 (.067), but his hit was a big one - a game-winning two-run homer as a pinch-hitter August 7 at New Orleans.

Randal Grichuk was disappointing in six games this week, going 2-for-20 (.100) with one triple and two RBI, but was still promoted to St. Louis on Thursday when Matt Adams was injured.

Alex Mejia went 2-for-14 (.143) and continues to struggle since coming off the disabled list July 27.

After pitching well in recent weeks, Kurt Heyer allowed six runs (five earned) on 10 hits in five innings August 9 at New Orleans.

 

Transactions

LHP Dean Kiekhefer returned to Memphis August 5 after spending his fourth MLB stint of the season last week. The reliever is 5-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 27 2/3 innings for Memphis.

RHP Luke Weaver was promoted to Memphis August 5 and made his debut August 8 at New Orleans. The starter worked six scoreless innings, fanning four, issuing two walks and scattering two hits.

The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Alex Reyes, TCN’s top prospect, on August 9 after starting in 14 games for Memphis. The starter posted a 2-3 mark with a 4.96 ERA and led the Redbirds in strikeouts (93).

Here is a list of all of the transactions:

08/05/2016: St. Louis Cardinals option LHP Dean Kiekhefer to Memphis Redbirds.

08/05/2016: RHP Luke Weaver assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

08/06/2016: Memphis Redbirds release RHP Juan Gonzalez.

08/06/2016: Memphis Redbirds send 3B Patrick Wisdom on a rehab assignment to GCL Cardinals.

08/09/2016: St. Louis Cardinals select the contract of RHP Alex Reyes from Memphis Redbirds.

08/09/2016: 3B Jacob Wilson assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

08/09/2016: Memphis Redbirds place SS Dean Anna on the 7-day disabled list.

08/10/2016: RHP Pedro Echemendia assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

08/11/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall OF Randal Grichuk from Memphis Redbirds.

08/11/2016: RHP Deck McGuire assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

 

TCN Top 40 Prospects

The Memphis Redbirds have 12 of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 40 Prospects on their active roster, and have gained the fourth-ranked prospect after losing top prospect Alex Reyes to the majors. Here’s a list of the top prospects playing in Triple-A Memphis:

3. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the start of 2016, effectively ending his season.

4. Luke Weaver: Weaver was excellent in his Triple-A debut, fanning four, walking two and scattering two hits in six innings August 8 at New Orleans. The starter was promoted from Double-A Springfield on August 5 after going 6-3 and posting a 1.40 ERA with 88 SO and only 10 BB.

5. Tim Cooney: Cooney underwent season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a Bennett lesion (calcium build-up in the shoulder). The lefty has been sidelined since Spring Training with discomfort in his shoulder prior to the diagnosis.

6. Harrison Bader: The outfielder struggled in seven games this week, going 1-for-15, with a two-run homer coming in a pinch-hit situation August 7 at New Orleans. Bader’s recent performances have dropped his line to .231/.304/.356, and he has had trouble hitting homers (15 in 73 games for Double-A Springfield, but two in 34 games for Triple-A Memphis).

11. Sam Tuivailala: Tuivailala pitched in one game this week, blowing a save opportunity August 6 vs. Omaha. The reliever leads the team and is fourth in the league in saves (16), but has struggled to consistently perform in save situations (six blown saves out of 22 opportunities).

12. Carson Kelly: Kelly appeared in three games behind the plate in Week 18, going 3-for-10 with one RBI. The catcher has been a consistent threat at the plate for the Redbirds, slashing .324/.365/.412 with seven RBI in 19 Triple-A games.

21. Jacob Wilson: Wilson played in both games of August 9’s doubleheader at New Orleans after returning from Springfield that same day. The infielder went 1-for-6 with one double during the doubleheader. In 10 games for Double-A Springfield, Wilson hit .200/.310/.543 with four HR and 10 RBI.

25. Mike Mayers: Mayers pitched a six-inning complete game August 8 at New Orleans, but was awarded the loss after allowing the lone run (unearned) of the game in the fourth inning. The starter fanned six and allowed three hits on the mound. While Mayers hasn’t won a game since June 30 at Omaha, the right-hander has been one of Memphis’ best weapons in the rotation, posting a 3.06 ERA in 12 games.

26. Corey Littrell: Littrell pitched two innings in two games in relief duty, combining for two earned on two hits and one strikeout. The reliever has been dependable out of the bullpen in 32 games for Memphis, sporting a 3.86 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

31. Patrick Wisdom: Wisdom was placed on the disabled list on June 17 and began his rehab in the Gulf Coast League this past week. The infielder is hitting .234/.317/.359 with three HR and 21 RBI with the Redbirds in 2016.

32. Anthony Garcia: While Garcia isn’t hitting at nearly the same rate as last week, the outfielder still scattered a hit in four of his five games in this week. The prospect went 4-for-12 with one RBI, and is hitting .246/.320/.436, his highest mark since April 18 at Colorado Springs.

33. Michael Ohlman: Ohlman, who splits time at catcher with fellow Top-40 prospect Kelly, was 4-for-11 in three games this week and is currently on a six-game hit streak. Since his promotion from Springfield in July, the prospect has seen his performances at Triple-A accelerate and has brought his line to .286/.342/.444 with four HR and 21 RBI in 44 games.

38. David Washington: While Washington didn’t homer for Memphis during Week 18, the outfielder/infielder had a decent week at the plate, recording a hit in four of his seven games. The prospect went 4-for-21 with one double, and is now hitting .243/.340/.540 and leads the team in HR (22).

 

Memphis Stats

Offense Season Stat PCL Rank
BA .265 10th 
Runs 552 11th 
HR 95 10th 
Stolen Bases 77 8th 
RBI 519 10th 
Strikeouts/Walks 882/420 Tied for 8th/4th   
     
Pitching Season Stat PCL Rank
W-L 57-61 8th 
ERA 4.79 Tied for 10th  
Strikeouts/Walks 872/403 9th/10th 
Saves 30 Tied for 5th  
WHIP 1.45 9th 
Hits Allowed 1059 8th 

Memphis Standings

Team W-L PCT GB
Nashville Sounds 68-51 .563 -
Memphis Redbirds 57-61 .478 10.5
Round Rock Express 57-62 .477 11
New Orleans Zephyrs 55-62 .464 12

What’s Next

After going 4-3 during Week 18 of the 2016 PCL season, the Redbirds (57-61) come home for an eight-game homestand, beginning with a four-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers (69-49) Friday night, and followed by four more with the Reno Aces (63-56).

With the season coming to a close in four weeks, Week 19 will offer one of the toughest obstacles the Redbirds will face. The Rainiers are the best team in the PCL and the Aces would be one of the top two teams in any other division in the league (third in the Pacific Northern Division and 6.5 GB Tacoma). Both opponents are in the top five of nearly every hitting category, and Tacoma fields one of the best pitching staffs in the league.

The Tacoma lineup features two players (Stefen Romero and Mike Zunino) who have blasted 18 HR and one of the best bullpens in the league. Reno is led by RF Kyle Jensen (.289/.346/.557), who is second in the league in HR (26) and first in RBI (103), and LF Peter O’Brien (.280/.307/.559 with 21 HR and 66 RBI). Memphis’ pitching staff was more efficient in Week 17, and will have to continue that form in order to grab a couple of wins.

After Thomas Lee’s start Thursday night, Arturo Reyes returns to the mound Friday night vs. Tacoma, followed by Jeremy Hefner, Mike Mayers and Luke Weaver.

 

Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.

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