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

St. Louis’ Triple-A ball club is in last place in the Pacific Coast League American Southern Division after going 3-4 in Week 19. Arturo Reyes has been a man on a mission since his return from injury and Dean Kiekhefer is the dean of the bullpen.

The Memphis Redbirds (60-65) grabbed three wins from two of the league’s toughest ball clubs, the Tacoma Rainiers (72-53) and Reno Aces (67-59), but are well out of reach of playoff contention, falling 11.5 games behind the division-leading Nashville Sounds (72-54). Their magic number for elimination is seven.

While the offense sputtered at times during the week, the pitching staff (led by Arturo Reyes and Dean Kiekhefer) put on a solid display on the mound.

Here is how the week unfolded:

Friday, August 12: Tacoma (SEA) 1 at Memphis (STL) 3

The Redbirds opened their eight-game homestand with a 3-1 win over PCL-leaders, the Tacoma Rainiers.

Starter Arturo Reyes gave up one earned (a homer in the seventh) on four hits in 6 1/3 innings, but reliever Dean Kiekhefer (6-1, 1.82) earned the win after working two scoreless innings. Sam Tuivailala retired the final two batters to pick up his 17th save of the season.

Matt Williams (2-for-3) had two doubles and plated a run to lead the Redbirds offense. In his first game back from two months out, Patrick Wisdom (1-for-3) hit a two-RBI double in the seventh. Jose Martinez went 2-for-4.

Saturday, August 13: Tacoma (SEA) 6 at Memphis (STL) 5

After falling behind 6-0 through four innings, the Redbirds rallied within one run but came up short in Game 2, 6-5, against Tacoma.

With his two hits, Martinez (2-for-4) is on a seven-game hit streak, and is .452 (14-31) during the stretch. Harrison Bader (1-for-3) doubled and scored two runners. Breyvic Valera (2-for-4), Carson Kelly (0-for-4) and Wisdom (1-for-4) plated one runner each.

In his first game back from Double-A Springfield, starter Deck McGuire (6-10, 5.86) worked 3 2/3 innings and allowed six earned on five hits. Relievers Pedro Echemendia, Ryan Sherriff and Miguel Socolovich combined for six hits and five strikeouts in 5 1/3 scoreless innings.

Sunday, August 14: Tacoma (SEA) 2 at Memphis (STL) 6

Memphis took a 2-1 series lead over the PCL-leading Tacoma Rainiers with a 6-2 win.

In his fourth start back from the disabled list, starter Jeremy Hefner (3-5, 4.83) gave up two earned on six hits and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings, and picked up his first win since April 20. Relievers Corey Littrell and John Brebbia pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

David Washington (1-for-3) blasted a three-run home run in the fifth to add to his team-leading total of 23. Efren Navarro (3-for-4) plated a runner and scored twice. Michael Ohlman (1-for-4) added an RBI single in the fourth.

Monday, August 15: Tacoma (SEA) 5 at Memphis (STL) 1 (7 innings)

Memphis failed to come back from a 4-0 deficit and dropped the series finale, 5-1, in a rain-shortened game against Tacoma.

Kelly (2-for-2) led the offense. Wisdom (0-for-2) plated the team’s only run. Valera (1-for-4) and Washington (1-for-2) had the other hits.

Starter Mike Mayers (3-6, 3.30) fanned seven but allowed four earned on nine hits in six innings to take the loss. Reliever Thomas Lee worked two innings and gave up one earned on three hits.

Tuesday, August 16: Reno (ARI) at Memphis (STL) postponed due to bad weather

Wednesday, August 17 Game 1: Reno (ARI) 4 at Memphis (STL) 1 (7 innings)

Memphis could not rally from a 4-0 deficit after five innings and dropped Game 1 of the doubleheader to Reno, 4-1.

Starter Kurt Heyer (2-2, 5.68) took his second consecutive loss after allowing four earned on six hits in five innings. Reliever Pedro Echemendia struck out two and issued one free pass in two scoreless innings.

Valera went 2-for-3. Kelly (1-for-3) plated Memphis’ lone run with an RBI single in the sixth.

Wednesday, August 17 Game 2: Reno (ARI) 10 at Memphis (STL) 4 (7 innings)

Memphis was swept in Wednesday’s doubleheader against Reno after allowing 10 runs in the nightcap.

Starter Thomas Lee (1-5, 5.96) worked two innings and gave up three earned on four hits, including a two-run homer in the first. Prior to the game, Memphis’ bullpen had allowed one run in 14 1/3 innings, but relievers Brebbia and Littrell combined for seven earned on eight hits in three innings. Infielder Matt Williams took to the mound in the seventh and struck out one.

Memphis’ offense scattered 12 hits but finished 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Navarro (3-for-3) scored two runs and added an RBI. Alex Mejia went 3-for-4. Ohlman (2-for-3) hit a solo homer in the fifth and an RBI single in the third.

Thursday, August 18: Reno (ARI) 4 at Memphis (STL) 6

Mejia’s (1-for-3) three-run triple in the eighth inning gave Memphis a 5-2 lead and the eventual 6-4 win over Reno.

Martinez (3-for-4) had his third multi-hit game of the week and plated a runner. Wisdom (0-for-2) and Valera (1-for-1) scored a runner apiece.

Starter Reyes (9-4, 4.24) picked up his fourth win in five starts after striking out eight and allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits in eight innings. Reliever Socolovich came on in the ninth and preserved the win, fanning two and giving up two earned on two hits.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/169837-alex-mejia?s=321

Alex Mejia was phenomenal during Week 19, going 5-for-10 with four RBI including a 1-for-3 and three RBI performance August 18 vs. Reno.

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

Although he only played two games this week, Michael Ohlman was 3-for-7 with one HR and three RBI and is currently on an eight-game hitting streak.

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

Jose Martinez was 8-for-21 with one RBI and was a key cog in the win August 18 vs. Reno.

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

Arturo Reyes picked up one win during the week, combining for 10 strikeouts and three runs (two earned) on 12 hits in 14 1/3 innings, and is 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA since returning from injury.

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

Jeremy Hefner worked 6 2/3 innings, fanned five, allowed two earned on six hits and picked up his first win since April 20.

http://www.scout.com/player/92131-dean-kiekhefer?s=321

Dean Kiekhefer fanned two, walked one and scattered two hits in three scoreless innings over a span of two games.

 

Who’s Not

Matt Williams struggled during the week, going 3-for-18 with one double and one RBI in six games, though the infielder did toss a scoreless inning of relief.

In his first week back from Double-A Springfield, Nick Martini went 2-for-16 with one RBI.

Jacob Wilson was hitless (0-for-6) with four strikeouts in four games for Memphis.

In his first game back from Double-A Springfield, Deck McGuire allowed six earned on five hits in 3 2/3 innings in a loss August 13 vs. Tacoma.

John Brebbia worked 3 2/3 innings in two games during the week, giving up five earned on five hits and walking two more in the process.

 

Transactions

St. Louis selected the contract of RHP Luke Weaver after placing veteran OF Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list. Weaver made one start for Memphis, fanning four and walking two in six scoreless innings at New Orleans.

RHP Sam Tuivailala received a call up from St. Louis for the second time this season to replace RHP Seth Maness, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to August 14. Tuivailala is 3-2 with a 5.44 ERA in 43 innings for Memphis, and ranked T3rd in the PCL with 17 saves prior to his promotion.

LF Anthony Garcia was placed on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to August 15. The outfielder was hitting .236/.311/.414 with eight HR and 25 RBI in Triple-A Memphis.

Here is a list of all of the transactions that occurred:

08/12/2016: Memphis Redbirds activate 3B Patrick Wisdom from the 7-day disabled list.

08/13/2016: St. Louis Cardinals select the contract of RHP Luke Weaver.

08/16/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall RHP Sam Tuivailala from Memphis Redbirds.

08/16/2016: RF Nick Martini assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.

08/16/2016: Memphis Redbirds place LF Anthony Garcia on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to August 15, 2016.

 

TCN Top 50 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 is a list of the top prospects playing in Triple-A Memphis:

4. Harrison Bader: Bader started Week 19 strong, with a hit in three consecutive games (3-for-13) and plating two runners. However, the outfielder finished 5-for-21 with two doubles and two RBI while still struggling to find the same form he had in Double-A. At  Springfield, he went .286/.350/491, 13 HR and 33 RBI in 73 games, but just .232/.304/.352, two HR and 13 RBI in 41 games in Triple-A. Bader still moved up two spots in the August rankings.

9. Carson Kelly: Kelly appeared in five games behind the plate, going 4-for-15 with two RBI. Although the catcher is splitting time with Michael Ohlman, the prospect has been a consistent presence at the plate for the Redbirds (.313/.376/.386 in 24 games). Kelly moved up three spots in the August rankings.

13. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the start of 2016, ending his season. The starter dropped 10 spots in the August rankings.

17. Tim Cooney: Cooney underwent season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a Bennett lesion (calcium build-up in the shoulder). The lefty had been sidelined since Spring Training with discomfort in his shoulder prior to the diagnosis. Cooney dropped 12 spots in the August rankings.

26. Mike Mayers: Mayers started in one game during Week 19, striking out seven but giving up four earned on nine hits in six innings, and was awarded the loss August 15 vs. Tacoma. While it is the starter’s second consecutive loss, the right-hander is Memphis’ strongest weapon in the rotation, leading all Redbird starters in ERA (3.30) and WHIP (1.28). Mayers fell one spot in the August rankings.

39. Corey Littrell: Littrell worked 1 2/3 innings in two games this week, fanning two, issuing three walks and allowing two earned on five hits in the process. The reliever has flashed potential in spurts, but this week’s performances have boosted his ERA to 4.11 while his walk rate is rather high (reliever-leading 20 walks in 46 innings). Littrell dropped 13 spots in the August rankings.

40. David Washington: Washington was a steady presence at the plate in Week 19, scattering one hit in six out of the seven games including a 1-for-3, one HR and three RBI performance August 14 vs. Tacoma. With the homer, the outfielder/infielder brought his team-lead to 23 and system-lead to 28, but the prospect’s strikeout rate is still very high (42.3 percent). Washington fell two spots in the August rankings.

46. Dean Kiekhefer: Kiekhefer tossed three scoreless innings in two games this week, striking out two and scattering two hits in the contests. The reliever, who has received several call ups to the majors this season, has been one of Memphis’ strongest weapons out of the bullpen (6-1, team-leading 1.76 ERA) and leads all pitchers in WHIP (1.17) in 30 2/3 innings. This is Kiekhefer’s first appearance on TCN’s top prospects list.

 

Memphis Stats

Offense Season Stat PCL Rank
BA .265 Tied for 10th 
Runs 578 12th 
HR 97 11th
Stolen Bases 77 9th 
RBI 545 Tied for 11th 
Strikeouts/Walks 921/446 8th/4th 
     
Pitching Season Stat PCL Rank
W-L 60-65 10th 
ERA 4.79 11th 
Strikeouts/Walks 926/421 9th/9th 
Saves 31 9th 
WHIP 1.45 Tied for 8th 
Hits Allowed 1125 9th 

Memphis Standings

Team W-L PCT GB
Nashville Sounds 72-54 .571 -
New Orleans Zephyrs 61-63 .492 10
Round Rock Express 62-64 .492 10
Memphis Redbirds 60-65 .480 11.5

What’s Next

After going 3-4 during Week 19 of the 2016 PCL season, the Redbirds (60-65) finish their home series against the Reno Aces (67-59) on Friday, followed by a four-game road trip to the Iowa Cubs (57-69) and a four-game home series against division-leaders Nashville Sounds (72-54). Memphis would need a miracle to reach the PCL playoffs with three weeks left in the season, but the club has an opportunity to grab a few games in Week 20.

Iowa sits third in the American Northern Division, 15 games behind Oklahoma City. The club is strong offensively (.279/.349/.421) and second in the league in stolen bases (153). However, their pitching staff has struggled this season, posting a 4.89 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.

PCL-leading Nashville is one of the toughest ball clubs in the league, but Memphis has played well against its cross state rival (7-4 this season). The Sounds are the opposite of the Cubs, fielding one of the best pitching staffs in the PCL (league-leading 3.39 ERA and 1.24 WHIP) but a sub-par offense (.259/.327/.419).

After Arturo Reyes’ start Thursday night, Deck McGuire returns to the mound Friday night vs. Reno, followed by Jeremy Hefner, Mike Mayers and Kurt Heyer.

 

Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.

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