This week saw the beginning of the Cardinals' AAA, AA, High-A and Low-A teams' seasons with mixed results.
AAA – Memphis Redbirds
Overall Record – 3-1
Weekly Record – 3-1
Current Standing – tied for first in the eight-team American Division with Nashville (Brewers) and Omaha (Royals)
Who's Hot – The Memphis rotation compiled a cumulative 2.35 ERA and 0.957 WHIP, led by off-season pick-up Chris Gissell who was unscored upon in his first outing with batters averaging .091 against him. In the bullpen, both Carmen Cali and Jimmy Journell haven't allowed either a hit or a walk this week although Cali did hit one batter. Journell has K'd five of the six batters he's faced to date.
Who's Not – John Gall is off to a dreadful 1-for-11 start with two walks and three K's. Scott Seabol is right behind him, going 1-for-10 with three walks and four K's. As a microcosm of how baseball works, Brad Thompson went from being the winning pitcher on Saturday when he didn't allow a run, to being the losing pitcher in Sunday's game as he coughed up five runs, all earned, in the 12th.
Transactions – Released infielder Wilton Guerrero, placed OF's Raul Gonzalez and Dee Haynes on DL
Summary - The Redbirds compete in the 16-team Pacific Coast League (PCL) and initiated their season by playing a four-game series against the Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers). They won the series by taking three out of four games. The winning scores were 1-0, 8-4 and 3-0 while they lost 9-4 yesterday in 12 innings. Redbirds' manager Danny Sheaffer had catcher Cody McKay warming up in the bullpen in the 12th because righthander Bob File was unavailable due to back spasms.
Upcoming Week – The Redbirds kick off a four-game home series with the New Orleans Zephyrs (Astros) then go on the road, visiting Oklahoma for four games.
AA – Springfield Cardinals
Overall Record – 0-4
Weekly Record – 0-4
Current Standing – dead last in the four-team East division, needless to say
Who's Hot – The Cardinals rotation outdid their AAA brethren by compiling a 2.15 ERA but their WHIP was slightly worse at 1.24. Lefty Oscar Alvarez gave up only one unearned run in his first start. Jordan Pals also did well by allowing only one earned run in six innings pitched. Catcher Gabe Johnson is off to a hot start by going .400/.500/.500
Who's Not – The Cardinals' offense. Lead-off hitter Shaun Boyd is failing to set the table as he went 1-for-17 with no walks, batting .059. He had good company as Travis Hanson, Andy Schutzenhofer and Reid Gorecki went a combined 7 for 39 with four walks.
Transactions - None
Summary – The Springfield Cardinals contend in the eight-team Texas League and started on the road at the Arkansas Travelers (Angels). In the four games, the Cardinals lost 6-5, 4-1, 2-0 and 2-1. The Cardinals defense gave up four unearned runs out of a total 14 runs allowed.
Upcoming Week – Mercifully, the Cardinals come home for their official home opener at Hammonds Field tomorrow as a five-game series with the Tulsa Drillers (Rockies) starts. They will then go back on the road for a five-game series against the Wichita Wranglers (Royals).
High-A – Palm Beach Cardinals
Overall Record – 2-2
Weekly Record – 2-2
Current Standing – tied for third place in the six-team East division with the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins)
Who's Hot – First-round 2004 draft pick Chris Lambert had an excellent High-A debut by pitching six innings with no hits, walks or runs with six K's. As a sign of how early it is in the season, defensive-specialist catcher Matt Pagnozzi leads the club in hitting by going 6-for-9 in two games. LF Brian Martin went .471/.526/.706 in 17 at-bats.
Who's Not – Tyler Adamczyk's first start of the season was a rough one. His line was 6 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB and 4 SO. Young Cal Hayes, he turned 21 last month - third round 2002 draft, is hitless in 12 at bats.
Transactions - None
Summary – The PB Cardinals play in the 12-team Florida State League (FSL). They began their 2005 season by taking on the Jupiter Hammerheads in a two-game home series and then "traveling" to the Hammerheads' home for another two games. Since the Hammerheads and the PB Cardinals share a facility, neither team had to travel very far. The PB Cardinals split the four games by losing the first two games 4-3 and 7-6 but taking the final two games 5-0 and 6-5.
Upcoming Week – Monday night, the Cardinals start a six-game home stand as they host the Vero Beach Dodgers. On Thursday, the second place St. Lucie Mets come to Jupiter.
Low-A – Quad Cities Swing
Overall Record – 1-3
Weekly Record – 1-3
Current Standing – tied for dead last in the eight-team Western division but at least the other team in last place is the Cubs' farm team in Peoria.
Who's Hot – First baseman Mike Ferris, second round 2004 draft, is off to a great start, going .357/.471/.857 in four games. Matt Shepherd, eighth round – 2004 draft, went .333/.636/.833 in two games. Former Saluki Eric Haberer, LHP - third round 2004 draft, got off to an excellent start with 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's and a 0.71 WHIP.
Who's Not – Besides Ferris and Shepherd, the Swing's offense was pathetic with only two players above the Mendoza line.
Transactions – Placed C Brandon Marcelli on DL, called up C Brady Toops from extended spring training to replace him.
Summary – During the off-season the Cardinals' Low-A team moved from Peoria to the Quad Cities when Peoria's management decided to re-align themselves with the Chicago Cubs. The Swing of the Quad Cities, their official name, compete in the 14-team Midwest League. They began the season on the road against the Beloit Snappers (Twins). The Swing's losses were 2-1, 6-2 and 7-5 while they won 9-0.
Upcoming Week – Tomorrow the Swing visit the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Mariners) for three games, then come home for the home season opening series against the Clinton LumberKings (Rangers).
Personal note: I am indebted to several of the posters at the Cardinal board on Scout.com for their extensive and knowledgeable posts on the minor system. Their passion and diligence has given me the confidence to even attempt this feature. They are the experts and I am but the pupil. Many thanks.