Following a stretch of 11 wins in 15 games, the Springfield Cardinals slowed from a gallop to a walk in Week 19's action, dropping four of six contests in this week's report. The S-Cards managed to take the series finale against Frisco (TEX) before Midland (OAK) claimed two of three games at Hammons Field to finish off the Cardinals’ 3-3 homestand.
So far on the six-game Texas road-trip in progress, Springfield has been ousted by the Roughriders in the first two games. The first half North Division Champions (24-27) have fallen to the cellar in the second half, but are within striking distance of first-place NW Arkansas (KC, 27-15), only 2.5 games back.
This report covers the period from Thursday, August 11th through Wednesday, August 17th.
Thursday, August 11th, Springfield 5 vs. Frisco 1
The hitting of Paul DeJong and Luis Cruz led the S-Cards to a 5-1 triumph over Frisco in the rubber game of the three-game series.
DeJong and Cruz produced nearly all of Springfield’s seven hits, each going 3-for-4 with a run scored. DeJong, the two hitter, doubled once while six-hole batter Cruz knocked in one. DeJong also reached base via a hit-by-pitch.
J.C. Sulbaran was outstanding over eight innings, facing just three over the minimum. One of the two hits yielded by Sulbaran (W, 3-2) was a long ball. Ronnie Shaban hurled a one-two-three ninth.
Friday, August 12th, Springfield 1 vs. Midland 3
In a tight pitching duel between the Cardinals and the Midland Rockhounds, the game remained scoreless until the ninth inning. Starter Johnny Walter pitched eight no-hit innings, finally surrendering two runs in the ninth to suffer his fourth loss.
Walter fanned eight and walked three. Kevin Herget replaced Walter with no outs in the ninth, allowed the inherited runners to score and was responsible for an additional run before getting the three outs to end the inning.
The Cardinals offense managed one run, a Luke Voit solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. Voit was 2-for-4. Paul DeJong, Blake Drake, and Vaughn Bryan each singled.
Saturday, August 13th, Springfield 2 vs. Midland 8
The Cardinals couldn’t get any traction against the RockHounds, as they went down in defeat on Saturday. The Cardinals got on the board in the first on a Luke Voit RBI double, part of his 2-for-4 night. Allen Staton’s single plated a second run in the bottom of the ninth, but in between Springfield was kept scoreless. The only other Cardinal with multiple hits was Jhohan Acevedo, 2-for-2.
Starting pitcher Corey Baker suffered his sixth Double-A loss of the season after giving up four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Justin Wright followed with 2 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits. Rowan Wick yielded two more scores in the ninth.
Sunday, August 14th, Springfield 6 vs. Midland 3
The S-Cards avoided the three-game sweep thanks to a five-run onslaught in the seventh as they salvaged the finale against Midland in front of a sellout crowd at Hammons Field on Sunday.
Luke Voit paced the offense with a perfect 3-for-3 day, including a solo homer. Paul DeJong chipped in a solo shot in a 1-for-4 performance at the plate while Allen Staton added a two RBI single.
Despite a no-decision, Daniel Poncedeleon turned in his 10th quality start of the season, navigating through six innings of three-run ball against the Rockhounds. Relievers Ronnie Shaban and Josh Lucas slammed the door, covering the final three innings.
Monday, August 15th, league-wide off-day
Tuesday, August 16th, Springfield 3 at Frisco 4
Springfield began a six-game road trip with a 4-3 loss at Frisco.
J.C. Sulbaran (L, 3-3) held the RoughRiders to two runs through six but allowed two more without retiring any further batters. Sulbaran gave up five hits, a walk and a key hit batsman over six-plus, striking out six.
Chris Perry issued more walks (two) than he recorded outs (one), permitting his only inherited runner to score. Justin Wright finished the seventh, leaving Perry’s two runners aboard. Rowan Wick issued two free passes in the eighth.
The visiting team had plenty of scoring opportunities, with seven hits and nine walks, but squandered them by fanning 11 times and going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Luis Cruz and Jonathan Rodriguez launched a solo shot and two-run bomb, respectively. Cruz was joined by Luke Voit with two hits. Thomas Spitz went 1-for-4 with a walk and stolen base in his Double-A debut.
Wednesday, August 17th, Springfield 6 at Frisco 9
The Roughriders knocked out Matt Pearce before he completed four innings, posting a fourth inning six-spot en route to a 9-6 victory on Wednesday night. With the loss, the Cardinals have dropped first two games on the road trip with series finale to be covered in next week's edition.
Pearce, suffering his second loss in as many Double-A starts, lasted 3 2/3 innings. The righty was smacked around for eight earned runs on nine hits and four free passes. Following Pearce, Kevin Herget, Chandler Hawkins, and Robby Rowland combined to hurl the final 4 1/3 innings.
Thomas Spitz (sac fly), Allen Staton (triple), and Joey Hawkins (single) combined for three RBI in the early going before Blake Drake lifted the S-Cards to within three in the eighth with a 3-run blast, but that wasn't enough offense to overcome Frisco's nine-run output.
Luke Voit - Voit ended his four-game multi-hit streak on Wednesday night, but extended a five-game hitting streak with a single in five at-bats against Frisco. The first baseman has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games and continues a torrid month of August, slashing .426/.526/.766 with three homers and 11 RBI through 13 games (47 at-bats).
Paul DeJong - DeJong is on an eight-game hitting streak after singling in five at-bats on Wednesday night against Frisco. He's batting .314 (11-for-35) over his past ten games.
Jesse Jenner - Jenner has played sparingly as the back-up to regular backstop Luis Cruz, but the Cardinals 2015 7th rounder has been effective when employed. The 23-year old has a current four-game hitting streak and also collected his first career four-hit game back on July 31st.
Johnny Walter - Walter added a two-seamer to his arsenal and utilized it to perfection with his cutter in his first Double-A start since being recently promoted last Thursday. The righty took a no-hitter into the ninth inning on Friday before giving up two runs.
Josh Lucas - Despite appearing in one outing over the week, Lucas continues to be Mr. Dependable in the late-innings for the S-Cards this season. The tall, slender righty has not allowed an earned run since his return from Triple-A Memphis on July 27th (5 2/3 scoreless inning streak).
Joey Hawkins – On the positive side, Hawkins returns to the town where he was a four-year standout as a collegiate player for Missouri State University. On the downside, the shortstop is a temporary fill-in and is 1-for-16 after making the jump from Rookie-Ball.
Matt Pearce - Two starts into his Double-A career, Pearce has allowed a combined 12 earned runs on 17 hits through just seven innings of work against Frisco twice. He has also walked an uncharacteristic seven batters over that span.
Springbirds batting order
Early on in the week, Nick Martini was the lead-off hitter before being promoted to Triple-A Memphis. His replacement was Thomas Spitz from High-A Palm Beach. Dann Bilardello moved Paul DeJong up to the two-spot last week and continued through this past week. Jonathan Rodriguez batted third in all but one game with Luke Voit at the three-spot to finish this week.
Otherwise, Voit continued as the primary clean-up hitter. Rodriguez backfilled to clean-up once for Voit. Blake Drake and Luis Cruz shared time in the five hole with Cruz, Jenner, or Drake to follow at six, interchangeably.
To round out the order, Allen Staton batted seventh for five of the six games with Jenner having one game of at-bats there. Staton, Vaughn Bryan, Jhohan Acevedo, and Joey Hawkins had time at eight with Acevedo and Hawkins to conclude this week's batting order at nine.
8/11: RHP Deck McGuire to Memphis from Springfield
8/11: RHP Johnny Walter to Springfield from Palm Beach
Deck McGuire was returned to Triple-A Memphis to take the roster spot of Randal Grichuk. McGuire made his season Double-A debut against Arkansas last Thursday night, tossing seven two-hit innings and punching out eight batters in a no-decision.
Johnny Walter was returned to Springfield's rotation to replace McGuire.
8/11: RHP Robby Rowland to Springfield from 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.
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.
8/12: INF Bruce Caldwell placed on 7-day DL
8/12: INF Joey Hawkins to Springfield from Johnson City
On August 5th, Springfield gained Bruce Caldwell back after a ten-day DL stint. A week later, Caldwell returned to the disabled list. Read below for further details on his injury.
In what will be a temporary stint, former Missouri State Bear Joey Hawkins returns to Springfield and will fill in for Caldwell in his absence.
8/12: RHP Andrew Morales sent on rehab to GCL Cardinals
As expected, Springfield starting pitcher Andrew Morales was sent on a rehab assignment and made his debut for the GCL Cardinals on Friday. The right-hander has missed parts of the last two months with shoulder issues.
8/16: OF Nick Martini to Memphis from Springfield
8/16: OF Thomas Spitz to Springfield from Palm Beach
Outfielder Nick Martini was reassigned to Memphis from Springfield, taking injured Anthony Garcia’s spot on the Triple-A squad. The left-handed hitting outfielder hopes to stick in his third stint in the Pacific Coast League.
Outfielder Thomas Spitz was assigned to Springfield from Palm Beach to replace Martini on the roster. The outfielder made his Double-A debut, leading off on Tuesday night against Frisco.
Bruce Caldwell - Caldwell landed on the shelf after his activation a week ago. I was told it was not the oblique which kept him out previously, but reportedly an inflammation type injury on his face. No word on his return date.
Casey Turgeon - Turgeon is out with a pulled muscle in his side. No timetable set for his return.
Trey Nielsen - Nielsen was DL'd due to fatigue. Anticipate a brief stint on the shelf.
Austin Gomber - Gomber suffered a finger issue last week. According to a source, the big lefty will likely miss 3-4 weeks from the date of his injury (DL'd August 3rd).
Mason Katz - Katz remains out with a hamstring injury. A timetable for return has not been set.
Andrew Morales - Morales began a rehab assignment with the GCL Cardinals this past week. The righty made two starts, hurling 4 2/3 innings while striking out ten and allowing three earned runs. The 23-year old will likely rejoin Springfield for his activation shortly.
Chris Thomas - Underwent elbow cleanup surgery in late June.
Jimmy Reed - Reed is four months removed from Tommy John surgery. The lefty told The Cardinal Nation's Paul Ivice he expects to start playing catch next month and is on schedule to be ready for spring training in 2017.
C.J. McElroy - McElroy suffered a torn ACL in June. There have been no updates on his rehab. If healthy, the outfielder is an ideal candidate for the Arizona Fall League or Winter Leagues to make up lost time in 2016.
The Cardinal Nation Top Prospect Watch (updated rankings released Monday)
#12 Austin Gomber - As mentioned above, Gomber remains out due to injury. He has been nursing a finger issue since being placed on the DL August 3rd.
#15 Paul DeJong - DeJong continues to face a tumultuous season with standout run production numbers but remains suspect to the strikeout, which hinders his ability to make consistent contact and thus hitting for average. The slugger hit his 20th home run this past week, good for third-best in the Lone Star League.
On an extremely intriguing note, DeJong has not fallen into a pull-happy approach this season. Of his 20 big flies, the third baseman has 11 homers to his pull-side out left-field/left-center, five to center/right center, and four the other way in right field.
#27 Daniel Poncedeleon - In his only start this past week, Poncedeleon turned in his 10th quality start of the season by tossing six solid innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits. The deceptive right-hander struck out seven against two walks in a no-decision effort.
#28 Trey Nielsen - As mentioned above, Nielsen remains out of action due to fatigue. There is no specific timetable for his return, but it may be that he is being conserved for deep playoff run in September.
#34 Matt Pearce - Pearce was nothing short of phenomenal in his tenure with High-A Palm Beach. With the promotion to the Texas League, the righty has quickly learned the competition is more disciplined in the upper levels, and hitters can eliminate his lack of overwhelming stuff. Pierce has two abbreviated starts and an uncommon seven walks to start his Double-A career.
That said, here is a pitcher facing failure essentially for the first time in his professional career and the level will be a huge step to determine where he stands in his development.
#37 Rowan Wick - As they say, Wick is feeling his way through the Texas League. The Cardinals do not intend to use the corner outfielder-turned power arm reliever in high-stress situations down the stretch. Instead they will allow him to gain experience on the mound and refine his command of the strike zone.
Since coming off on the DL on August 5th, the righty has issued five walks over 3 2/3 innings of two-run ball.
#41 Luke Voit - Voit placed within TCN's top 50 monthly prospect update released Monday. The barreled-chested first baseman, who is an obvious Texas League MVP candidate, paces the circuit in average (.298) and OPS (.871) while ranking second in total hits (123, only one behind Arkansas's Eric Aguilera) and on-base percentage (.380).
Pro scouts suggest Voit will hit his way into a big-league opportunity, but ultimately view his future as an organization power bat.
Following their 2-4 week, the Cardinals will finish off the remainder of a six-game road trip with the series finale to be played against Frisco on Thursday night. Springfield concludes the trip around Texas with a three-game set against Midland starting Friday night.
After an off-day Monday, the fourth-place S-Cards return to Hammons Field on Tuesday, August 23rd against NW Arkansas and Tulsa (LAD) for the final homestand of the 2016 campaign.
Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.
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