Jack Flaherty (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Weekly news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Florida State League affiliate in Jupiter for the period of August 10-16.

Palm Beach went 3-4 on the week, but Jack Flaherty had his best outing in two months and Derian Gonzalez made a strong Florida State League debut.

The Palm Beach Cardinals won three and lost four this past week, while being outscored 17 to 31. As a result, they stayed put in the South Division standings, sitting 10 ½ games out of first and in last place with an 18-33 (.353) second-half record.

Their official magic number for post-season elimination is nine, but in reality, it would take nothing short of a miracle for the Cardinals to get into contention.

This report covers the period of Wednesday, August 10 through Tuesday, August 16.

Wednesday, August 10: Palm Beach at Bradenton (ppd.)

The final of three games at the Pirates was postponed due to rain. The teams split the series 1-1 with both contests decided by one run. Since the two do not have another scheduled meeting in Bradenton, the game was made up as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday, August 16 at Roger Dean Stadium. Given their extreme troubles at home, that might not be all that great for the Beach Birds.

Thursday, August 11: Palm Beach 2, Jupiter 1 (7) – Game 1  

Palm Beach split the Thursday twin bill with the first-place Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) at Roger Dean Stadium.

Matt Davis’ walk opening the seventh proved decisive, as the third baseman advanced on a sac bunt and ground out before a wild pitch allowed him to dash home.  It was the 21-year-old’s Florida State League debut.  Dylan Tice and Orlando Olivera both had two of the squad’s seven hits, including Tice’s first Palm Beach home run in the fourth.

In his own FSL debut, Brennan Leitao shut down Jupiter hitters through five before leaving with two out and two on in the sixth.  Leitao allowed seven hits and two walks, yielding one tally.  That runner scored with Dakota Hudson on the mound, in just his second game with Palm Beach. Hudson, who took a blown save and the vulture win, allowed a hit and a walk over the last 1 1/3 innings.

Thursday, August 11: Jupiter 5 at Palm Beach 3 (7) – Game 2  

Ian McKinney took the loss in Game 2 of the doubleheader after yielding four runs on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.  Landon Beck allowed one of two inherited runners to score plus one of his own on four hits over 1 2/3 frames.

Eight Beach Birds had one hit apiece, including catcher Stephen Zavala, who singled in his Beach Birds debut.  Juan Herrera, Michael Pritchard and Thomas Spitz scored, driven in by Spitz, Tice and Olivera, respectively.

Friday, August 12: Jupiter 9, Palm Beach 0

Derian Gonzalez suffered the hard-luck loss in his Florida State League debut, pitching six strong innings, giving up only one unearned run on four hits.

The relief corps let the game get out of hand. Cody Schumacher surrendered three runs in his lone inning.  In his Cardinals debut, former major leaguer Daniel Bard tossed 2/3 of an inning and gave up two runs before Michael Heesch yielded three more scores over the final 1 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals offense managed only five scattered singles and drew just one free pass.

Saturday, August 13: Jupiter 6, Palm Beach 2

The Cardinals offense continued to struggle against Hammerheads pitching, managing only two runs on eight hits. Casey Grayson’s double in the fifth and a ground out by Andrew Sohn in the eighth brought the two runs home.

Starter Sandy Alcantara suffered his second loss with Palm Beach, but did not pitch poorly. The prospect went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits. Blake McKnight followed with 2/3 innings, surrendering two runs, one earned.  Kyle Grana tossed the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing two additional runs, one earned.

The Cardinals lost the Fins and Feathers series, three games to one, as Jupiter (29-23) remains in first place.

Sunday, August 14: Palm Beach 4, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3 (11)  

Michael Pritchard and Dylan Tice combined for the winning tally, giving Palm Beach a 4-3 walk-off win over Charlotte in the home series opener.

Pritchard doubled to open the 11th and eventually scored on Tice’s one-out single. The two had three hits each, and Thomas Spitz had three hits as well with two runs scored.  The Beach Birds hammered out 16 hits, though Pritchard’s double was the only one to go for extra bases.

The bullpen was shaky after Jack Flaherty tossed seven strong frames. TCN’s fifth-ranked Cardinals prospect allowed no runs on five hits without a walk and struck out four.

Flaherty left with a 2-0 lead, but Landon Beck promptly gave up two runs on three hits, retiring only one batter, with the latter run inherited by Cody Schumacher. Two hits and a walk against Dakota Hudson in the eighth enabled the Stone Crabs to force the game into extra innings. Kyle Grana put up zeroes in the 10th and 11th for the win.

Monday, August 15: Palm Beach 4, Charlotte 2

St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn made his 2016 debut by pitching 1 2/3 innings, giving up one hit and striking out two. Daniel Bard followed in his second appearance as a Cardinal, going 1/3 of an inning and allowing a run on a hit and two walks. Junior Fernandez pitched his best game as a Beach Bird, yielding a lone run and striking out three with no walks in seven innings.

The Cardinals offense scored four runs despite no extra-base hits. Michael Pritchard and Casey Grayson went 1-for-3 with a walk. Dylan Tice was 2-for-4. Thomas Spitz and Andrew Sohn picked up a pair of RBI each.

Tuesday, August 16: Bradenton 5 at Palm Beach 2 - Game 1   

Bradenton at Palm Beach – Game 2 - postponed

Shortstop Juan Herrera’s two-run long ball, his first of 2016, put the Beach Birds up 2-0 after one, but that was the extent of the Cardinals scoring.  The Marauders halved the lead after four before knotting the game up in the sixth and took the lead for good in the seventh.

All five of Bradenton’s runs, four earned, were charged to Brennan Leitao (L, 0-1), who allowed eight hits, no walks and threw two wild pitches in 7 2/3 innings.  Blake McKnight permitted a hit and two walks in 1 1/3 frames, allowing Leitao’s last runner to score.

Cleanup hitter Casey Grayson had three singles, but the three batters ahead of him were a collective 1-for-11, with the one hit Herrera’s home run. The Cards managed just seven hits and one walk in all.

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/179302-jack-flaherty?s=321

Jack Flaherty. The top prospect right-hander had his first scoreless outing in two months, holding Charlotte for seven innings on Sunday. Flaherty brought his season ERA back under 4.00 to 3.83 in his 21st start.

http://www.scout.com/player/179660-derian-gonzalez?s=321

Derian Gonzalez. Just up from Peoria, the 21-year old tossed six innings, yielding just an unearned run on four hits and three walks in his Beach Birds debut on Friday. Gonzalez quickly learned, like so many others before him, that his offense is too feeble to give him the run support to consistently win. Still, it was a fine debut.

http://www.scout.com/player/200717-dylan-tice?s=321

Dylan Tice. The infielder is back for a second consecutive week among the hot hitters. Tice went 13-for-31 (.419) with a double, home run, three walks and four RBI.

http://www.scout.com/player/189552-andrew-sohn?s=321

Andrew Sohn. Cold last week, the infielder heated up this week. All seven of his hits in 20 at-bats were singles (.350), but he also drew four walks for a .462 OBP. Despite that, Sohn scored just one run all week.

Who’s Not

Daniel Bard. Despite having weeks to get ready, the former MLB reliever struggled in both of his outings with Palm Beach. Bard faced nine batters, but secured just three outs on two hits, four walks and three runs scored.

Michael Heesch. The lefty was knocked around for three runs on four hits and two walks in 1 1/3 frames this past week.

Landon Beck. The reliever was bombed for seven hits and three earned runs. On the positive side, four of his six outs secured were via the strikeout.

Oscar Mercado. A week after heading the hot list, the leadoff man and center fielder leads off the cold group. Mercado went 5-for-31 (.162) last week, though three of the hits went for two bases each. He drew three walks, making his OBP .235, and was caught in his only attempt to steal a base.

Juan Herrera. The shortstop, back for a second stint with the Beach Birds, at least made his six hits in 30 at-bats (.200) count, with two doubles, a home run and four RBI. Herrera whiffed 11 times and took just one free pass.

FSL Season Leaders

Jack Flaherty is fifth in the league in Ks with 104.

Jacob Evans’ total of 12 home runs allowed is tied with two others for fifth-most in the circuit.

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

With his on-base mark at .384 on the season, Casey Grayson remains sixth in the league. (At .255, Grayson’s batting average remains the highest among qualifying Cardinals at 33rd among the leaders in the FSL.)

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

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

Oscar Mercado is third in the FSL with 29 steals but has been caught 19 times for a 60.4 percent success rate. Mercado went 0-for-1 this past week.

Team Stats

There were only very minor changes in the yearly stats based on this past week. The club was just one of four in stolen base attempts, one of the usual strengths.

Offense Season/rank of 12 Last week/rank 
BA .231 / 11th .230 / 11th
OBP .315 / 8th .314 / 8th
SLG .305 / 11th .305 / 11th
OPS .620 / 11th .619 / 11th
Runs/game 3.4 / 11th 3.4 / 11th
Walks 455 / 1st 432 / 1st
Steals 125 of 182 / 2nd 124 of 178 / 2nd
     
Pitching Season/rank of 12 Last week/rank 
ERA 3.59 / 7th 3.57 / 7th
Strikeouts 815 / 11th 781 / 11th
Walks 341 / 3rd fewest 314 / 3rd fewest

Transactions

The week’s moves were a bit unusual in that two new players to the organization played their first games as Cardinals with Palm Beach, Jose Fernandez and Daniel Bard. The club also added a starting pitching prospect, Derian Gonzalez, ranked 38th in The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 list.

8/10 UT Cole Lankford to seven-day disabled list

8/12 IF Jose Fernandez signed to a free agent contract, assigned to Palm Beach

The Cards lost a valuable player to the DL on Wednesday in utilityman Cole Lankford. The transaction was retroactive to August 8.

http://www.scout.com/player/190017-cole-lankford?s=321

Lankford has spent all of 2016 since his activation in mid-May with the Beach Birds, batting .289 with a home run and 24 RBI through 66 games played (256 at-bats).

The Cardinals signed infielder Jose Fernandez and assigned him to Palm Beach. http://www.scout.com/player/211120-jose-fernandez?s=321

The 23-year old came in with a .176/.337/.265 slash line with no home runs and four RBI in 23 games between the Braves and Astros High-A affiliates in 2016 before being released by both organizations. The Dominican, originally signed by the Astros prior to the 2010 season, had a .229/.315/.334 slash line in 295-lifetime games (1019 career at-bats) through six seasons as a professional.

In early action with Palm Beach, Fernandez, primarily a middle infielder, has played at third base and in the outfield.

8/11 RHS Johnny Walter from Palm Beach to Springfield

8/11 RHS Derian Gonzalez from Peoria to Palm Beach

Johnny Walter was returned to Springfield's rotation to replace Deck McGuire, who was returned to Memphis.

http://www.scout.com/player/209563-johnny-walter?s=321

The right-hander, who was sent back down to High-A Palm Beach on July 25, made two starts in his latest stint with the Beach Birds, surrendering five earned runs over a combined 12 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out eight and issued three walks. On the season, the 25-year-old has made 10 starts since signing out of independent ball, logging a 5.26 ERA in 53 IP innings between Palm Beach and Springfield.

Gonzalez, a 21-year old Venezuelan, owned perfect 5-0 record with 2.39 ERA through 15 starts in the Midwest League.

http://www.scout.com/player/179660-derian-gonzalez?s=321

The 6-foot-3 right-hander punched out 70 batters against 33 walks in 75 1/3 innings. He had been especially hot prior to his promotion, with a 0.49 ERA in 18 1/3 innings since June 15th.

8/11 RHR Robby Rowland from Palm Beach to Springfield

8/11 RHR Daniel Bard from Johnson City to Palm Beach

Robby Rowland, who has spent the majority of his 2016 season rehabbing a surgically repaired elbow, is back with Springfield for the time since September 2015.

http://www.scout.com/player/144531-robby-rowland?s=321

Rowland started the rehab process with Low-A (short-season) State College, appearing in three games, giving up two earned runs on three hits in four innings for the Spikes. Most recently, the righty was with Palm Beach, where in seven appearances, he posted a 2.47 ERA over 7 1/3 innings pitched.

While Daniel Bard was originally listed on Johnson City's roster since the start of short-season ball in June, in reality the former Red Sox reliever was rehabbing at the Cardinals complex in Jupiter, preparing for an assignment with Palm Beach that began last Thursday.

http://www.scout.com/player/102514-daniel-bard?s=321

Bard is making his first appearances in affiliated baseball since 2014, when he last pitched for the Texas Rangers at High-A. The Cardinals signed Bard to a minor league deal in June after the Pittsburgh Pirates released the 31-year-old this spring.

8/15 C Chris Rivera off Palm Beach seven-day disabled list

8/15 C Stephen Zavala from Palm Beach to Johnson City

On Monday, the Cardinals activated catcher Chris Rivera from the seven-day disabled list. The right-handed hitter was out the minimum seven days only.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/cardinals/player/178965-chris-rivera?s=321

In multiple stints with Palm Beach this season totaling 94 at-bats over 28 games, the 21-year-old Rivera’s slash line is a modest .170/.269/.213/.481. He also appeared in 13 games at State College, batting .147.

With the activation of Rivera, Stephen Zavala was returned to the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League. He made the reverse move exactly one week ago. With Palm Beach, the right-handed hitter had two singles, a walk and two strikeouts in seven plate appearances over three games for a slash line of .333/.429/.333/.762.

8/15 RHS Lance Lynn to Palm Beach for rehab

On Monday, St. Louis sent right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn on a rehab assignment to Palm Beach. The 29-year-old got right into game action, tossing 19 strikes in 27 pitches over 1 2/3 innings Monday night. Lynn allowed one hit and struck out two in his scoreless stint.

http://www.scout.com/player/63554-lance-lynn?s=321

Lynn, who had Tommy John surgery in November 2015, could put himself in position to help St. Louis’ bullpen in September and October with continued progress.

8/16 OF Thomas Spitz from Palm Beach to Springfield

Outfielder Thomas Spitz has been assigned to Springfield from Palm Beach in a series of moves driving by Anthony Garcia’s injury at Memphis. He has not yet been replaced on Palm Beach's roster.

http://www.scout.com/player/200706-thomas-spitz?s=321

The 24-year old, St. Louis’ 32nd round pick in the 2015 Draft, opened the season with Peoria and moved up to Palm Beach on July 1. Since joining the Florida State League, the right-handed hitter registered a line of .241/.347/.362/.709 in 141 at-bats over 39 games.

8/16 LHS Jacob Evans to Gulf Coast League for rehab

Left-handed pitcher Jacob Evans began a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals on Tuesday.

http://www.scout.com/player/175632-jacob-evans?s=321

The 22-year old most recently went on the Palm Beach DL on July 23, but had only been active for six days since coming off the DL the first time. Overall, Evans has a 3.98 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 15 walks in 81 1/3 innings.

Injuries

The Beach Birds’ infirmary list remains at eight with the addition of Lankford and the removal of Rivera this past week. Three pitchers are on shelf: Jacob Evans, Silfredo Garcia and Will Anderson (60-day DL) with the other injured position players all infielders - Danny Diekroeger (60-day), Darren Seferina, Andrew Brodbeck, Edmundo Sosa and Lankford.

Up Next

Palm Beach remains at Roger Dean through the 21st with the final three games of the Bradenton series (PIT) Wednesday and Thursday before St. Lucie (NYM) comes in for the weekend three-game set. The next scheduled day off is Monday, August 22 before the Cardinals hit the road for three each at Fort Myers (MIN) and St. Lucie. Only seven games will remain after that.  

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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