DeAndre Asbury-Heath (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Exclusive, in-depth weekly news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ rookie-level affiliate in the Appalachian League for the period of August 7-13

Johnson City rattled off five straight wins to regain first place in the Appalachian League West. Top performers include DeAndre Asbury-Heath, Matt Fiedler and Frederis Parra.

After going 1-2 in the first three games of the week, the Johnson City Cardinals won five straight games to regain first place in the Appalachian League West Division. The Cardinals own a record of 29-21, which puts them 2 1/2 games ahead of Elizabethton. The only team with more wins is Burlington at 31.

Game Summaries

Monday August 8, 2016: Burlington Royals 4 at Johnson City Cardinals 3 (Game 1)

Burlington and Johnson City were originally supposed to play a doubleheader on Sunday but those games were moved to Monday due to rain. The Royals, which currently own the Appalachian League’s best record, won Game 1 by a score of 4-3.

Johnson City’s offense was paced by DeAndre Asbury-Heath, who not only launched his first professional home run, but also went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBI. Allen Cordoba and Matt Fiedler also posted two hits.

Frederis Parra was the tough luck loser in Game 1, as he tossed all seven innings, allowing just three earned runs. It marks the third consecutive start that the 21 year old right-hander threw at least seven innings. Despite his ability to pitch deep into games, Parra’s record sits at 1-4 on the season.

Monday August 8, 2016: Burlington Royals 2 at Johnson City Cardinals 6 (Game 2)

After falling behind early 2-1, the Cardinals rallied behind the bat of the Matt Fiedler to win game two, 6-2. Fiedler tallied a career-high four RBI and went 3-for-4 overall with a home run. In total, Fiedler was 5-for-8 against the Royals in the twinbill.

Ramon Santos pitched well in his fourth consecutive start, allowing two runs in four innings of work. Levi MaVorhis ended up with the win out of the bullpen, improving his record to 2-0, before Leland Tilley tossed the final two innings to pick up his third save.

Tuesday August 9, 2016: Burlington Royals 6 at Johnson City Cardinals 2 (Game 1)

Johnson City and Burlington arrived early at the ballpark with an 11:30 a.m. first pitch to play their second doubleheader in as many days. In the opener, the Royals flexed their muscles, pounding out 12 hits (five for extra-bases) on their way to a 6-2 win.

Daniel Castano was tagged with the loss after allowing all six Burlington runs (three earned), dipping his record to 0-4. Castano, the 19th round selection by the Cardinals this June, has struggled recently. His ERA has grown from 0.00 over his first three starts to 5.91 after his next five starting assignments.

Tuesday August 9, 2016: Burlington Royals 1 at Johnson City Cardinals 3 (Game 2)

In Game 2, the Cardinals turned to Ross Vance to not only make his first professional start but also help the squad earn a split in the four-game set. Vance responded to the opportunity well as the former West Virginia Mountaineer tossed five innings, allowing just one run on four hits and struck out eight hitters. Following Vance’s departure, Estarlin Arias pitched two scoreless innings to close out the 3-1 win. The save was Arias’ third of the season.

Johnson City’s first run came from a RBI single from Erik Garcia in the fourth inning. However, the winning hit came off the bat of Bryce Denton, as the Brentwood, Tennessee native lined a two-run single to centerfield in the bottom of the fifth.

Wednesday August 10, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 7 at Greeneville Astros 3

On Wednesday, the Cardinals headed to Greeneville to take on the team chasing them in the Appalachian League’s Western Division. Johnson City played a shaky defensive game, committing four errors, but used its bats to counter its defense as it pounded out seven runs on 10 hits en route to a 7-3 win in Game 1 of the series.

The Cardinals scored two runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. Those rallies had multiple contributors as eight of the nine members of the starting lineup had at least one hit. Joshua Lopez led the way, going 3-for-4 with a RBI, while Andrew Knizner launched a two-run home run in the seventh, his third of the season.

Starter David Oca gave the Cardinals a solid outing pitching 5 2/3 innings, while allowing just one earned run. Oca also struck out a season-high seven hitters and improved his record to 2-2.

Thursday August 11, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 14 at Greeneville Astros 3

Johnson City pounced on the Astros in Game 2, getting out to a 10-1 lead after two innings. In total, the Cardinals posted 14 runs on 16 hits to clinch the road series win over Greeneville. As one can imagine, several Johnson City players stood out. Four different players had 3-for-5 games, including Erik Garcia and DeAndre Asbury-Heath with season-highs.

Levi MaVorhis made his first start of the season and pitched well, putting together a four-inning outing while allowing just two hits and one run. Julio Mateo picked up his first win of the season and Yeison Medina pitched the final three innings to notch his third save.

Friday August 12, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 7 at Greeneville Astros 6

After winning the first two games of the series fairly easily, the Cardinals were thrust into a tightly contested game in the series finale. The Astros scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth against the Johnson City bullpen, but a four-run outburst by the Cardinals in the top of the fifth still proved to be the difference as they ended up sweeping Greeneville, 7-6.

Caleb Lopes and Allen Cordoba were Johnson City’s top run-producers in the victory as they both knocked in a pair of runs. Lopes also went 3-for-4 with a double, while Jonathan Rivera continued his hot-hitting as of late, going 3-for-5.

Ian Oxnevad gave the Cardinals a quality start. The 19-year old lefthander allowed three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of work and improved his record to 5-2. Leland Tilley took over the team-lead in saves as he tallied his fourth after pitching the final 1 1/3 innings.

Saturday August 14, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 7 at Princeton Rays 3

Johnson City’s offense continued to click Saturday as it made its only trip to Princeton. The Cardinals scored seven runs on 13 hits and staked starter Frederis Parra to an early 6-1 lead. The five-run advantage was more than enough for Parra as the Cardinals won their fifth straight.

Parra pitched seven innings in the fourth straight start in which he has lasted at least seven innings. Additionally, Parra picked up his second win of the season.

Offensively, the Cardinals were once again powered by a four-run fifth inning. What was even more impressive about the outburst was that all of the damage Johnson City did was with two outs. J.R. Davis and Allen Cordoba got things started stealing third and second base, respectively. The first run came in to score on a throwing error by the catcher trying to get Cordoba. Matt Fiedler launced an opposite-field home run to tally the next two runs. Josh Lopez tripled and Bryce Denton drove him in with a single to put an exclamation point on the two-out rally.

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/179958-deandre-asbury?s=321

DeAndre Asbury-Heath. Asbury-Heath has been one of the Cardinals’ hottest hitters as of late as he has hit .382 in his past 10 games. Among his highlights was his first home run in over 450 career at-bats in four seasons, launched against Burlington on Monday. The Columbia, South Carolina native has also been a stellar run producer for the team during that stretch as he has knocked in eight runs. During this time, the 2013 15th round selection by the Cardinals raised his batting average from .222 to .272.

http://www.scout.com/player/209608-matt-fiedler?s=321

Matt Fiedler. Fiedler has 15 hits in his last 35 at-bats for a .429 batting average. The former standout at the University of Minnesota has launched two home runs in his last six games after hitting just one long ball in his first 33 contests. Through his hot hitting, Fiedler currently ranks sixth in the Appalachian League with a .317 batting average. He also paces the league with 18 doubles.

http://www.scout.com/player/169593-frederis-parra?s=321

Frederis Parra.  Parra continues to be one of Johnson City’s top starting pitchers through his latest run of starts. In Parra’s last four outings, during which he pitched at least seven innings in each, he boasts a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings. Parra ranks second in the Appalachian League with his 2.87 ERA.       

Who’s Not

Andrew Knizner. Knizner is hitting just .219 in his last 10 games. Despite the low batting average, Knizner has still found a way to produce runs in the middle of the order as he has driven in nine and hit two home runs. Knizner currently leads the team with 26 RBI.        

J.R. Davis. Davis began the month of August hitting .380. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has cooled off considerably, as his batting average has dipped down to .344 based on his 11-for-41 month to date. Even though his average has dipped by nearly 40 points, Davis is still second in the league batting race.  

Daniel Castano.  Castano began his professional career about as well as a newcomer could, as he tossed 9 2/3 innings of shuout baseball. Unfortunately, Castano has been unable to regain that form, with an ERA of 8.46 in his last five starts, covering 29 1/3 innings.  

By The Numbers

8.75 – The Cardinals offense has been firing on all cylinders in the last four games, as they are averaging 8.75 runs.      

2 of 3 – Johnson City currently has a pair of players in the top three in the batting title race in the Appalachian League. J.R. Davis is second with a .343 average, while Allen Cordoba is third, at .333. If either player is able to surpass Elizabethton’s Alex Kirloff (.351), they would be the first Johnson City player to win an Appalachian League batting title since 2008, when Curt Smith hit .378.     

29 – The Cardinals currently boast a record of 29-21 this season. The 29 victories already surpassed the team’s win total from last season (27) with 18 games still remaining on the regular season slate.     

Transactions

·         On Monday, Stephen Zavala became the first Johnson City catcher to receive a promotion in 2016 as he was assigned to High-A Palm Beach. Zavala, the 37th round selection in the 2015 by the Cardinals, hit .184 with a home run and three RBI in 17 games for Johnson City.

·         There were two changes to the roster prior to Friday’s contest in Greeneville as infielder Joey Hawkins was called up to Double-A Springfield, while first baseman Hunter Newman joined the team from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Hawkins played in 16 games for Johnson City and hit .102 with a home run. Newman, meanwhile, hit .297 in 21 contests in the GCL after playing in 47 games with Johnson City last season.

Injuries

There were no injuries last week.

Appalachian League Western Division Standings

Team W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
Johnson City 29 21 .580 - 7-3 W5
Elizabethton 26 23 .531 2.5 7-3 L1
Greeneville 25 25 .500 4.0 3-7 L5
Bristol 19 29 .396 9.0 3-7 L2
Kingsport 18 32 .360 11.0 3-7 W1

What’s Next

Johnson City will be on the road for all of this week as it will wrap up its series at Princeton on Monday before closing out the season series with Elizabethton with a single game Tuesday. Following their matchup with the Twins, the Cardinals will make their second trip to Bristol for a three-game set with the Pirates beginning on Thursday.

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