Marco Gonzales (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Insider news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Florida State League affiliate in Palm Beach for the period of May 3-9.

The Palm Beach Cardinals went just 2-6 last week to fall back to .500 on the season. Big league news abounded with Jhonny Peralta and Marco Gonzales appearing and “the call” received by Magneuris Sierra.

Game Summaries

May 3rd Game 1: Florida Fire Frogs 8 at Palm Beach Cardinals 1 (7 innings)

Making up the previous day’s rainout, the Cardinals dropped a doubleheader to the Fire Frogs at Roger Dean Stadium. In the opener, after holding Florida to two hits through five innings, things fell apart for Junior Fernandez. In the sixth, the 11th ranked TCN prospect allowed five runs on two walks and three hits, including a grand slam, before getting yanked. Danny Diekroeger was 2-for-3, knocking in the Cardinals only run with a RBI single in the sixth inning.

https://twitter.com/B_Walton/status/859899408061804544

Brian Walton’s notes:

Fernandez was throwing 92-95 and topping at 97 with a slider at 85-86 and an 86 mph changeup. (These are actual gun readings, not stadium ones.)

Jeremy Martinez is one tough dude. Chasing a popup, the catcher ran full speed right down the dugout steps. He held onto the ball for the out despite a nasty fall, yet he remained in the game.

The two-man umpiring crew reversed a call. Blake Drake was picked off first, but slid into second just behind the throw. However, the ball rolled away from the second baseman. The field ump originally called an out, but after manager Dann Bilardello protested, the home plate umpire got involved and the call was reversed. Drake ended up being caught in a double play off third as Edmundo Sosa’s liner was snared by the Florida third baseman on a good reaction play.

Game 2: Florida Fire Frogs 5 at Palm Beach Cardinals 0 (7 innings)

The Cardinals’ offense went cold during the second half of the doubleheader, as singles from Thomas Spitz and Randy Arozarena were the only hits the lineup could muster. Zac Gallen took the loss after pitching six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and collecting seven strikeouts. The 16th ranked TCN prospect threw 83 pitches, 62 for strikes.  

Brian Walton’s note

Gallen was throwing his fastball in the 92-95 range, consistently at the high end and flashed a 79 mph curve. Look for my interviews with him and Connor Jones to be posted soon for TCN members.

May 4th Florida Fire Frogs 3 at Palm Beach Cardinals 0

The bats again struggled to get off the mat, shut out in consecutive games after scraping together only three hits. Blake Drake notched a pair of singles. Meanwhile, while remaining winless, starter Derian Gonzalez put together his start of the season, pitching seven strong innings of four-hit baseball.

May 5th Palm Beach Cardinals 4, Lakeland Flying Tigers 2

Batting third in the lineup and playing third base, St. Louis Cardinals infielder Jhonny Peralta made his first start in is rehab assignment with Palm Beach. Peralta, who was placed on the MLB club’s disabled list due to medication reaction following an illness, grounded out to first and struck out swinging in his two bats. Drake went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI doubles. Darren Seferina also went 2-for-3, with a double and RBI single. Ryan Helsley picked up his second win of the season, allowing a run on six hits through 5 2/3 innings of work.

Brian Walton's notes:

Helsley was pretty good but not great. Seemed to rely heavily on fastball which was 88-92, topping at 94. He also threw a low 80's offspeed pitch (slider?) on occasion.

There was some hard contact, with a great play by Sierra in center.

https://twitter.com/B_Walton/status/860633288154730496

I really liked the energy Blake Drake brought. On his first of two doubles, the RF tried to stretch to a triple, but the low throw looked to beat him. In an acrobatic move like we saw in the Toronto series, Drake leapt over the third baseman and landed in foul territory just beyond the bag. He was tagged out on the hand when trying to reach back. Drake also threw out a runner at second. His big limitation is not hitting consistently. Otherwise, he is a pretty good player.

May 6th Lakeland Flying Tigers 7 at Palm Beach Cardinals 2

Peralta went 2-for-3 in the second game of his rehab stint with Palm Beach. The St. Louis third baseman dumped a soft line drive into centerfield for a single in the first inning. After striking out in the fourth inning, Peralta singled to left in the sixth. Entering his start sporting one of the best ERAs in the league, Connor Jones stumbled in the fourth. After getting the first two outs to start the inning, Jones relinquished six straight hits, with the final blow being a two-run home run from J.D. Martinez, the Detroit Tigers right-fielder making a rehab assignment.  Giving up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, the 22-year-old right-hander’s ERA ballooned from 1.13 to 3.66 with his first loss of the season. In his last game before being called up to St. Louis, Magneuris Sierra went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

May 7th Lakeland Flying Tigers 2 at Palm Beach Cardinals 1 (F/14)

In a long, low-scoring affair, the Cardinals dropped the last game of a ten-game stand at Roger Dean Stadium. Reliever Ian McKinney was charged with the loss after pitching in and out of trouble through 3 1/3 innings of extra inning work. In the 14th, McKinney allowed a walk and was replaced by Landon Beck. Beck allowed a single to his first batter as Lakeland later took the lead on a sacrifice fly. In his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, Marco Gonzales was excellent. The 27th ranked TCN prospect allowed one run on two hits and no walks through six innings of work. Peralta went 0-for-3 in his third rehab appearance.

https://twitter.com/B_Walton/status/861253403778969600

May 8th Fort Myers Miracle 5, Palm Beach Cardinals 2

Following a stretch in which the Cardinals won five out of six games, an opening series loss at Fort Myers was their sixth loss in seven games. The Miracle scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth against Jake Woodford. Woodford was strong early, at one point retiring 12 straight batters, before his struggles later. The 20-year-old from Tampa allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits through six innings. Edmundo Sosa went 2-for-4 while Arozarena hit his second home run of the season.

May 9th Palm Beach Cardinals 7 at Fort Myers Miracle 1

Casey Turgeon’s third home run of the season helped cap off a four-run third inning as Cardinals returned to the win column. Turgeon was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Sosa and Shane Billings each added two hits to give more than enough support to starter Fernandez. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic pitched a five-hit complete game, allowing just one run and a walk while striking out six.

 

Three up

http://www.scout.com/player/190213-blake-drake?s=321

Blake Drake: After struggling through 12 games in Springfield (.220/.304/.390), Drake is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak, collecting multiple hits in four of those games. The 23-year-old from Ramona, CA is hitting .435 during the hitting streak with five RBI.
http://www.scout.com/player/192408-junior-fernandez?s=321
Junior Fernandez: Putting a halt to a three-game losing streak, what is arguably 20-year-old’s best performance of the season on Tuesday came at the right time. Fernandez’ complete game five-hitter came after 97 pitches, 65 for strikes, for his second win of the season, lowering his ERA to 3.46. Fernandez is ranked fourth in the FSL in innings pitched (39.0) and is 12th in WHIP (1.08).
http://www.scout.com/player/179660-derian-gonzalez?s=321
Derian Gonzalez: Gonzalez is still winless after five starts this season. He is 0-4 with an ERA that is still over six, but Gonzalez gave fans reason to be hopeful that he will be able to break out of slow start. In his May 4th start against Florida, the 39th ranked TCN prospect got through seven solid innings, picking up seven strikeouts while allowing two runs on four hits and two walks. His ERA stands at 6.33, but that number is down more than a full run.

 

Three down

Edmundo Sosa: While Sosa has been a solid presence with his bat, hitting safely in nine of last 11 games, his glove and fielding has been shaky. In 94 games last season between his time with Palm Beach and Peoria, the shortstop committed 15 errors in 390 chances. This year, the 10th ranked TCN prospect has already committed 10 errors in only 120 chances.

Landon Beck: Tied atop the league with seven saves, Beck has not allowed an earned run in his last five appearances. That is not to say Beck has been lights out. Spanning his last six innings of work, the Cardinals’ closer has allowed five hits and three walks. While his ERA has been cut in half over that span from 9.00 to 4.50, opponents are still hitting .302 against the right-hander from Hartwell, GA, whose WHIP is a too-high 1.42.

Chris Chinea: Batting in the middle of the lineup, Chinea has been silent to start the month of May. He is just 4-for-26 this month, as his average has dipped to .231. The cleanup spot in the lineup hasn’t been the first baseman’s strong suit so far this season, with his .215 average and 24 strikeouts over 97 plate appearances.

 

Injuries

May 8th - Palm Beach Cardinals placed RHP Brennan Leitao on the 7-day disabled list

 

Transactions


May 3rd: RHP Austin Sexton assigned to State College Spikes from Palm Beach Cardinals

 

May 5th

-OF Thomas Spitz assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Palm Beach Cardinals

-St. Louis Cardinals sent SS Jhonny Peralta on a rehab assignment to Palm Beach Cardinals

http://www.scout.com/player/36533-jhonny-peralta?s=321

Peralta played in three games for the Beach Birds, going 2-for-8 with four strikeouts. The infielder did not accompany the team on the road, instead moving his work to the back fields in extended spring training.

May 7th

-Palm Beach Cardinals activated 2B Luke Dykstra from the 7-day disabled list

-LHP Marco Gonzales assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds

-St. Louis Cardinals recalled CF Magneuris Sierra from Palm Beach Cardinals

As noted by Brian Walton, Sierra appears to the first Cardinal non-rehabber to be promoted from Class-A directly to St. Louis based on merit. Likely to not return to Palm Beach, Sierra ended his FSL stint with a slash line of .272/.337/.407/.744 in 81 at-bats over 20 games. The leadoff man was just 3-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

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

As was the case when Sierra sat out with a concussion last month, Darren Seferina has assumed the first-batter duties in manager Dann Bilardello’s lineup.

May 8th

-LHP Marco Gonzales assigned to State College Spikes from Palm Beach Cardinals

-CF Shane Billings assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Peoria Chiefs

-LHP Anthony Ciavarella assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from GCL Cardinals

Update May 10

Prior to the Wednesday morning game, Palm Beach placed OF Blake Drake on the seven-day disabled list.
http://www.scout.com/player/190213-blake-drake?s=321
As noted above in the Three Up section above, the 23-year old has been solid offensively since his return from Springfield just 10 days ago, with an overall slash line of .367/.375/.533/.908.

To replace Drake on the active roster, the organization assigned shortstop Juan Herrera to Palm Beach from extended spring training.
http://www.scout.com/player/181847-juan-herrera?s=321
The 23-year old was Palm Beach’s regular shortstop during the first half of 2015 before being promoted to Springfield, where he struggled. Two wrist surgeries wrecked his 2016, when he appeared in just 25 games, all back in the Florida State League.

Herrera is in Wednesday’s Palm Beach lineup, batting eighth and playing shortstop. However, with Edmundo Sosa also on the roster, it would not be surprising to see Herrera play other infield positions.

Team Stats

Through the first month of the season, the Cardinals offense ranks toward the bottom in several key categories. Among the 12 FSL teams, Palm Beach ranks last in home runs (8) and total bases (340). The Cardinals are 10th in runs scored (112) and batting average (.240). The pitching has fared better to start the season, ranking third in hits allowed with 250 and the team ERA of 3.51 ranks toward the middle of the pack at seventh.

 

Standings

Florida State League South W-L PCT GB
       
Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 20-13 0.606 -
Palm Beach Cardinals (STL) 16-16 0.500 3.5
Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 16-17 0.485 4
Charlotte Stone Crabs (TB) 15-17 0.469 4.5
St. Lucie Mets (NYM) 14-19 0.424 6
Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 13-20 0.394 7

 

Week Ahead

After their Wednesday morning rubber match against Fort Myers, Palm Beach will travel to Bradenton to take on the division-leading Marauders for a three-game set. Following a day off on Sunday, the Cardinals will return to Roger Dean Stadium and take on the Jupiter Hammerheads for a four-game series beginning on May 15th.

 

Follow Patrick Bernadeau on Twitter @PatBernadeau.

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