Magneuris Sierra (Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation)

News from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria for the period August 9-15

The slate of games for the week was cut short due to rain, but Peoria exited the week with only one loss. While Ryan Helsley came back from an injury, the Chiefs lost Derian Gonzalez to Palm Beach. Magneuris Sierra and Eliezer Alvarez continue to lead the offense.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, August 9: Peoria Chiefs 8 at Cedar Rapids Kernels 6

Peoria was held in check for eight innings in Cedar Rapids, but the Kernels were unable to keep Peoria down in the ninth. The Chiefs exploded for six runs in the final frame on five hits, including a go-ahead double from Craig Aikin.

Aikin finished 1-for-4 and Carlos Torres, who also notched a hit in the ninth, had three knocks in five at-bats. Jose Martinez, Eliezer Alvarez and Leobaldo Pina each had a pair of hits.

Ronnie Williams toed the rubber in his second start in Peoria, and while he was not as sharp as his debut, the righty delivered a quality start. Williams allowed three runs on seven hits, including a home run, with three walks and five strikeouts.

Steven De La Cruz earned the win, pitching the final two innings in relief. De La Cruz yielded a run on a pair of hits and struck out two.

 

Wednesday, August 10: No Game

Thursday, August 11: Peoria Chiefs 7 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 4

Sticking to his script, Dailyn Martinez posted a quality start in his fourth win of the year. Martinez tossed six innings, giving up a pair of runs on five hits and a walk. The righty struck out seven hitters, his fourth start in which he struck out seven or more. Martinez’s slick slider allowed him to work effectively all afternoon en route to the victory.

Peoria only scored in two innings, but the big frames were all they needed. Peoria scored three in the third thanks to a Magneuris Sierra double and singles from Alvarez and Chris Chinea.

The biggest blow was dealt in the fifth when Brian O’Keefe cracked a grand slam to left field. The big fly was O’Keefe’s 10th bomb and 52nd RBI of the year.

The grand slam was O’Keefe’s only hit of the night. Sierra was on base three times thanks to a 3-for-5 effort. Everyone in the Chiefs lineup had a base hit except for Pina.

 

Friday, August 12: Game postponed until Saturday

Saturday, August 13: Peoria Chiefs 4 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 3 – Game 1

Peoria Chiefs 3 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 8 – Game 2

Sierra was perfect in Game 1 of the Saturday double header, reaching base every time. The Dominican walked once, scored twice and had three base hits in as many at-bats. His most important knock came in the bottom of the seventh when he shot a single to left, driving in R.J. Dennard for the winning run.

Peoria scored in the first thanks to some small ball and a wild pitch from Quad Cities. Jose Martinez also knocked his first home run of his Peoria campaign, driving a two-run home run to left field.

The Chiefs received another solid start from Jorge Rodriguez, who tossed five scoreless innings. Rodriguez routinely hit his spots and kept the opposition guessing as he struck out six and only walked one. While not flashy, Rodriguez proved again with his command why he has been so effective.

Game 2 was a much different story for Peoria as John Kilichowski was clobbered early and often. The Vanderbilt grad was kicked around for four innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits with a walk and only four strikeouts. Kilichowski also yielded a pair of rocket home runs.

The lefty’s below-average stuff finally haunted him on this level. He had a difficult time commanding his high-80’s fastball while his changeup was pedestrian at best.

Offensively, the Chiefs had a difficult time stringing hits together. Pina knocked in a pair of runs in the sixth on a single after Chinea drove in a run on a double in the fourth. Outside of that production, Peoria had no luck at the dish.

 

Sunday, August 14: Peoria Chiefs 0 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits 4

Ryan Helsley made his first start since late June and looked fabulous in his short day of work. The Oklahoma native consistently flashed a fastball in the mid-90’s, regularly reaching 95 mph. The fully healthy Helsley twirled a tight curveball as well.

Aside from an extremely short solo home run, the righty looked great. Helsley threw only three innings, allowing a run on two hits with three punch-outs.

Harley Holt was fantastic in relief. The righty worked four innings and yielded only one run on a pair of hits in the sixth. Holt struck out six River Bandits and only walked one as he did his part in keeping Peoria in the game.

However, Holt and Helsley’s efforts were in vain because Peoria could never get anything going with the bats. The Chiefs were held to only five hits through the first seven innings and only had three runners in scoring position. A ninth inning rally put Jose Godoy on second after Godoy and Martinez each doubled earlier.

Godoy finished 2-for-4 while Martinez’s double was his only knock. Peoria struck out 14 times, four by Craig Aikin and three from Dennard.

 

Monday, August 15: Cedar Rapids Kernels at Peoria postponed

The two teams will play a double header consisting of seven inning contests starting at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.                                                      

 

Sierra and Alvarez Continue to Impress

http://www.scout.com/player/158983-eliezer-alvarez?s=321

The Dominican duo has been terrorizing opponents all season and their success is a big reason why Peoria continues to win. Alvarez is definitely the more advanced hitter with a .402 OBP and .464 slugging percentage, and is arguably the best hitter in all of the Midwest League. The second baseman has a very quick, smooth swing from the left side and packs some power into his 5’11” frame. Alvarez can also run like a deer and uses his speed on the base paths with 26 stolen bags this year.

http://www.scout.com/player/171618-magneuris-sierra?s=321

Sierra has even more breathtaking speed. With 29 steals, he is a nightmare on the bases and is a phenomenal defender. The center fielder is a more advanced defender than Alvarez, who has committed 25 errors this season. Sierra matches great defense with a solid bat, as he is hitting .304 this year with a .338 OBP. Sierra lacks power, but that is not his game and he does not need it to succeed as a professional hitter. As long as the speedy Sierra puts the ball in play, he has a great chance to get on base.

The duo offer a bright future for the Cardinals and are a key part of the Chiefs’ hope for success in September.

 

Who’s Hot

Magneuris Sierra. He is one of the best players on the team, putting the Chiefs on his back lately. Sierra played in four of the team’s five games over the last week and had a hit in three of them. The centerfielder put together a pair of the three-hit performances on Thursday and Saturday and had a crucial walk-off hit on Saturday. Sierra is hitting .436 over his last 10 games, going 17-for-39 with 11 runs scored and five RBI. The top of the order with Sierra, Jose Martinez and Eliezer Alvarez is extremely potent at the moment, and it all starts with Sierra.

http://www.scout.com/player/169587-jorge-rodriguez?s=321

Jorge Rodriguez. The righty reliever typically only gets spot starts or mop-up duty, but Rodriguez does his non-glamorous job fantastically. Rodriguez has only allowed three earned runs over his last 10 appearances, giving him a 0.91 ERA over his last 29 2/3 innings. Rodriguez can routinely work anywhere between two and five innings with a solid fastball and a quality curveball. The Dominican’s stuff is not great and he is not flashy, but he gets the job done. His performances lately have been crucial to Peoria’s success considering their lack of pitching depth.

 

Who’s Not

John Kilichowski. The lefty had a dismal outing on Saturday. Kilichowski allowed a pair of huge home runs and gave up a total of seven runs in only four innings. Kilichowski’s pitching ceiling is questionable. He only throws in the mid- to high-80’s with a changeup that seems to float and only deviates from his fastball by a few miles per hour. He has not shown any other off-speed pitch. Kilichowski has a lot of work to do if he wants to pitch consistently at this level.

Josh Swirchak. Swirchak is a player who would probably not be in Peoria except for the promotions of Edmundo Sosa and Dillon Tice to Palm Beach. The second baseman is struggling mightily at the plate, hitting only .111 in 11 games in Peoria and has struck out 12 times in 27 at-bats. The 23-year-old has not shown anything that would imply that he is ready to perform at this level.

 

Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players

Derian Gonzalez (hot). Gonzalez is fully healthy and after his last great start, the Cardinals promoted him to Palm Beach earlier last week.

Steven De La Cruz (cold). The New York native appeared in two games this past week. De La Cruz allowed one run in a two-inning appearance against Cedar Rapids and then held Quad Cities scoreless for an inning on Saturday.

Matt Davis (cold). Davis, like Gonzalez, was also promoted to Palm Beach, but in his case it appears to be to fill a roster need, rather than merit. Davis batted .115 as a Chief.

 

Transactions

RHP Derian Gonzalez was assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria on Thursday.

RHP Harley Holt was assigned to Peoria from State College on Thursday.

SS Matt Davis was assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria on Tuesday.

 

Injuries

RHP Ryan Helsley was activated from the DL on Sunday.

RHP Steven Gallardo was placed on the 7-day DL on Tuesday.

Jery Then, Luke Harrison and Juan Perez remain on the 7-day DL.

 

Team Stats – Season to Date

The Chiefs hit reasonably well, with little power, while the pitching had a rough week.

Offense Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
BA .264 3 (T-3)
Runs 513 4 (4)
HR 39 15 (T-14)
Stolen Bases 89 9 (9)
OBP .330 5 (5)
OPS .683 6 (6)
     
Pitching Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
ERA 3.60 11 (9)
Strikeouts 983 4 (4)
Walks 370 8 (7)
HR Allowed 65 3 (4)
Saves 30 9 (T-8)

Midwest League Western Division Second Half Standings

Club (Previous rank) W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
*Clinton (1) 35 15 .700 - 9-1 W2
Cedar Rapids (2) 28 21 .571 6.5 4-6 L1
Burlington (3) 26 24 .520 9.0 5-5 W1
Quad Cities (4) 26 24 .520 9.0 5-5 L1
*Peoria (5) 24 24 .500 10.0 5-5 L2
Wisconsin (6) 24 26 .480 11.0 3-7 W1
Kane County (7) 21 29 .420 14.0 5-5 L1
Beloit (8) 19 31 .380 16.0 3-7 L1
             
* Clinched playoffs            

What’s Next

Peoria starts a series with Cedar Rapids (MIN, 28-21) with a double header on Tuesday. The Chiefs will host Cedar Rapids through Thursday before traveling to Clinton (SEA, 35-15) for a three game weekend series. Peoria will then travel to Wisconsin (MIL, 24-26) on Monday to open a four-game set.

 

Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.

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