Luis Bandes (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 Aug. 14-20

Johnson City closes out the week with four straight wins to keep first place in the Appalachian League West. Standouts include Luis Bandes, Andrew Knizner and Ross Vance.

Following a pair of losses at Princeton, the Johnson City Cardinals got back on track, ratting off four straight wins to wrap up the week. With the 4-2 mark, Johnson City now holds the best record in the Appalachian League at 33-23.

Game Summaries

Sunday August 14, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 8 at Princeton Rays 10

A day after dropping the series opener to the Cardinals, Princeton responded in a big way Sunday as it racked up 10 runs on 14 hits to upend Johnson City, 10-8. The Cardinals also aided the Rays’ efforts with three errors.

In what should have been enough offense, the Cardinals totaled eight runs and 16 hits of their own. Four Cards had three hits each. Leading this group was Bryce Denton who went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI. The home run was Denton’s second of the season and the four runs driven in were a career-high.

Starter Ramon Santos took the loss after pitching just 2/3 of an inning. Santos allowed four runs (all earned) on two hits. Ross Vance (four runs), Anthony Shew (two unearned runs) and Julio Mateo finished the pitching duties

Monday August 15, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 4 at Princeton Rays 11

Princeton scored at least one run in seven of its eight at-bats in the series finale en route to a 11-4 victory over Johnson City. This marked the first time since Aug. 4-5 that the Cardinals lost back-to-back games.

Bryce Denton continued his hot hitting as he went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Luis Bandes launched his second home run of the season.

Cardinals pitching had a rough go of it again, allowing 11 runs on 17 hits. The loss went to Daniel Castano, moving his record to 0-5 on the season. Castano allowed six earned runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. Levi MaVorhis and Yeison Medina yielded a pair of runs each.

Tuesday August 16, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 17 at Elizabethton Twins 7

In their final meeting of the regular season, the Cardinals and Elizabethton Twins combined to score 24 runs on 31 hits on Tuesday. Fortunately for Johnson City, it came out on the winning end of this slugfest, 17-7.

Every player in the Cardinals’ starting lineup had at least one hit. Allen Cordoba had the most hits of any player going 4-for-6 with a triple and three runs scored. Andrew Knizner and Jonathan Rivera also had productive days at the plate as they drove in five and four runs respectively.

After starter David Oca allowed seven runs (six earned) in four innings of work, the Cardinals’ bullpen stepped up in a big way as it held the Twins to no runs over the final five innings. Leland Tilley was credited with the win, the first of his career.  

Thursday August 18, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 7 at Bristol Pirates 3

A four-run ninth inning proved to be the difference in the series opener in Bristol on Thursday as the Cardinals won, 7-3. The clutch four-run inning was powered by home runs from Jonathan Rivera and DeAndre Asbury-Heath.

Ian Oxnevad turned in another stellar outing with seven innings pitched while allowing just three runs. However, reliever Estarlin Arias picked up the win. Arias’ record is now 4-0 and his ERA is down to 2.63 after tossing two shutout innings.

Friday August 19, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 15 at Bristol Pirates 6

Despite committing four fielding errors, the Cardinals used 15 runs and 20 hits to power their way past the Pirates on Friday, 15-6. Johnson City scored multiple runs in four different innings in the contest.

Asbury-Heath was the Cardinals’ top offensive weapon as he went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored. The five hits were the most by any Johnson City player this season. Shane Billings also had a good ningh at the plate driving in a season-high four runs.

Saturday August 20, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 4 at Bristol Pirates 2

After scoring 31 runs over the first two games of the series, Saturday’s series finale was much more of a pitchers’ duel. Ross Vance, who made his second start of the season, got the better of Bristol’s starter Matt Eckelman as Vance threw seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits to propel Johnson City to a 4-2 win.

The duo of J.R. Davis and Luis Bandes definetly made the Cardinals’ offense go. Davis scored a pair of runs and went 4-for-4, while Bandes went 3-for-4 with a home run. The home run was Bandes’ second in the last four games.

Who’s Hot

Luis Bandes. Bandes put together his best week of his professional career this past week as he collected eight hits in 16 at-bats with two home runs and five RBI. With the outstanding production from last week, Bandes raised his batting average 35 points from .212 all the way up to .246.

Andrew Knizner. Much like Bandes, Knizner provided plenty of punch in the Cardinals’ order this past week. Knizner hit .375 (9-for-24) on the week with a home run and eight RBI. This continues a trend for Knizner as he has scored or driven in a total of 23 runs over his past 10 games.

Ross Vance.  Vance turned in the best start of any Johnson City starting pitcher on the week, tossing seven scoreless innings Saturday at Bristol. The former West Virginia Mountaineer has been one of the team’s top pitchers all season long as he has held opponents to a .227 batting average and has struck out 47 batters in 34 innings.

Who’s Not

Shane Billings. Billings had a rough go of it this week other than his four-RBI game on Friday. If you take away that game, the outfielder went 1-for-13 at the plate.

David Oca. Oca’s ERA nearly jumped one full run after his outing Tuesday at Elizabethton. The lefty allowed six earned runs (seven overall) in four innings. Oca’s ERA has hovered around 5.00 all season long and it currently stands at 5.72. Hopefully Oca can get adjusted to pitching in the Appalachian League as he did last season as he totaled a 10-2 record with a 1.45 ERA on three different levels in 2015.

Ramon Santos.  Despite picking up a win this week, Santos had trouble containing opposing offenses. The right-hander had an ERA of 10.00 in nine innings last week. Santos did pick up his strikeout rate a bit last week striking out 10 batters in the nine innings.   

By The Numbers

8-2 – Johnson City has been playing better than any other team in the Appalachian League as it holds a record over the past 10 games. The Cardinals have taken over the league’s top record at 33-23.       

12 – The Cardinals only have 12 games remaining on the regular season. Additionally the Cardinals have a good opportunity to keep playing well as only three of the final 12 games are against teams with a winning record (three at Bluefield).

27 – One interesting stat is that the Cardinals have outscored opponents by 27 runs in the fifth inning (50-23). The 27-run differential is the largest of any inning this season.


·         In the lone set of transactions on the week, Stephen Zavala was moved back to Johnson City, while Erik Garcia was called up to Palm Beach, both as injury fill-ins. Garcia has been swinging a hot bat as of late, hitting .273 with six RBI over his past 10 games.


There were no injuries last week.

Appalachian League Western Division Standings

Team W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
Johnson City 33 23 .589 - 8-2 W4
Elizabethton 30 25 .545 2.5 7-3 L1
Greeneville 28 28 .500 5.0 3-7 L1
Bristol 22 33 .400 10.5 4-6 L3
Kingsport 19 37 .339 14.0 2-8 L4

What’s Next

Johnson City will host a six-game homestand this week as it welcomes Kingsport for a three-game set Sunday before the Pirates make their lone trip to Johnson City beginning Wednesday. Rounding out the week for the Cardinals is a series at Bluefield on Saturday.

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