This Week in the Minors –Part I -Free Preview

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This Week in the Minors – Part I

April 12, 2006

Well, it's that time of year again...'the game is afoot', as Sherlock Holmes would say. In a never-ending attempt to improve the report, this season stats like ISO, % LOB and Inherited Runners versus Inherited Runners Scored will be tracked. Other new additions include a separate tracking for those players currently on the disabled list and a "Prospect Watch" – how key Cardinals' prospects are doing at various levels, regardless of whether they qualify for the "Hot" or "Not" categories for the week. Part I looks at the Memphis and Springfield teams. Part II will look at the Palm Beach and Quad Cities teams plus a glimpse of the main prospects still in Extended Spring Training.

Worth mentioning for new readers, and a reminder for old ones, is that this report draws very heavily from stats. Stats only comprise a small portion the overall baseball picture and should be taken as such. Another point that is important to remember is that a minor league team's main focus is player development. Ideally, development can go hand-in-hand with winning but that is not always the case.

With those caveats in mind, enjoy!!


AAA – Memphis Redbirds
League Affiliation - sixteen-team Pacific Coast League, four-team America North division
Overall Record – 0 - 4
Weekly Record – 0 - 4
Current Standing – Last, three games behind the Omaha Royals

Current Week Team Batting - .285/.355/.371
Current Week Pitching Stats – Rotation - 6.55 ERA and 1.59 WHIP: sixteen earned runs, thirty-two hits and three walks in twenty-two innings pitched
Current Week Pitching Stats – Bullpen - 5.65 ERA and 1.61 WHIP: nine earned runs, fourteen hits and nine walks in fourteen and one-third innings pitched

Who's Pitchin' Hot – RHR Josh Kinney has allowed neither a run, a hit nor a walk in two appearances this week over two and one-third innings while striking out two
Who's Pitchin' Not – The Memphis rotation. It is hard to win when you put up numbers like they did this week.

Who's Hittin' Hot – OF John Gall went .556/.550/.833/1.383, 10-for-18 in four games, with three doubles and one triple. He even tried to steal a base. Tried.
Who's Hittin' Not – 3B Travis Hanson's Triple-A debut was a shaky one. Hanson went .118/.167/.118/.284, 2-for-17 in four games. He struck out only three times so he is putting the ball in play.

Transactions – None

The Roster
Let's take a look at the Memphis roster. Their average age, as of Opening Day, was twenty-seven years, five months. Twelve of the twenty-four (Alan Benes, Shaun Boyd, Carmen Cali, Chris Duncan, Kevin Estrada, John Gall, Travis Hanson, Gabe Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Josh Kinney, John Nelson and Anthony Reyes) are home grown. Six of the starting nine players that took the field that day are Cardinals' products: Boyd, Duncan, Gall, Hanson, Nelson and Reyes with four of them (Boyd, Estrada, Hanson and Kinney) experiencing their first Triple-A Opening Day.

The seven youngest players came up through the Cardinals' system. The five youngest are born within nine months of each other and all have either just turned or will turn 25 this year: Hanson, Duncan, Tyler Johnson, Boyd and Reyes. Only Chris Narveson, currently on the Memphis disabled list, is younger. He turns 25 in December. On the other end of the spectrum, Alan Benes, Juan Diaz and Junior Spivey comprise the thirty-and-above set along with currently disabled roster listees Brian Daubach and John Riedling.

Of Note –Overall -
Memphis is off to a poor start as they dropped all four games played this week. Memphis had a lead in three of the four games but could not hold it. In the very early going Memphis' problems are reversed from what they were last season. The offense is producing but the pitching is not.

On the injury front, centerfielder Shaun Boyd suffered a high ankle sprain on Opening Day but he was not placed on the disabled list and is expected to only miss a few days.

Of Note – Offense/Defense -
Offensively, players that were expected to make the Memphis roster, after spending 2005 in Double-A, did. Shaun Boyd, Kevin Estrada, Travis Hanson and Gabe Johnson all made the move from Springfield to Memphis. So far Johnson has played exclusively at first base. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals' efforts to transition Johnson to catcher continue. With Brian Daubach currently on the Memphis DL, Juan Diaz was called up from Double-A to cover first base and DH a bit. Chris Duncan has been moved from first base to left field as he tries to turn himself into an outfielder. Here's hoping his outfield defense is better than it was at first base.

Of Note – Pitching -
There were no major surprises on the roster's pitching composition. I expected Reyes to make the St. Louis Cardinals' roster with Wainwright starting in Memphis but the players ended up reversed. Voyles made the Memphis rotation with Jordan Pals being sent back to Springfield for another year. Kinney made it but Doyne did not.

A downside to the current roster is the scarcity of home grown talent in the Memphis rotation. Only Anthony Reyes came up through the system. Three of the remaining four (Dennis Tankersley, Brad Voyles and John Webb) did not even pitch in the Cardinals' system last year. The fifth is Randy Leek who started for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals last season. Leek is a bit of a dark horse as he basically lost two year due to injuries. Therefore, his experience does not match his age (he turns 29 on April 18th).

On the DL front – 1b Brian Daubach (knee), LHS Chris Narveson (shoulder), RHS Rhett Parrott (shoulder), RHR John Riedling (upper back)
Lefty starter Chris Narveson is rehabbing from off-season labrum surgery and is projected to be ready sometime in May. John Riedling is currently recovering from a muscle strain in his upper back and will be a candidate for the bullpen on his return. Rhett Parrott missed most of 2004 and all of 2005 with issues involving his right shoulder, the latest of which is a torn labrum. He underwent surgery in July 2005. Given his injury history he cannot be considered a factor in the 2006 Redbirds season, at this point. John Riedling is the pitcher closest to coming off the disabled list as he is not expected to be out long. It is not as clear whether a pitcher will be optioned to Springfield or released when that happens.

Brian Daubach's activation, whenever that might be, is likely to send Juan Diaz back to Springfield. Diaz was slated to begin the season in Springfield until Daubach unexpectedly went on the DL.

Upcoming Week – at New Orleans Zephyrs (Washington) 10th through 13th, vs. Omaha Royals 14th through 16th


AA – Springfield Cardinals
League Affiliation - eight-team Texas League, four-team East division
Overall Record 2 - 2
Weekly Record – 2 - 2
Current Standing – Tied for second with the Arkansas Travelers (Angels), two games behind the Tulsa Drillers (Colorado)

Current Week Team Batting - .281/.361/.461/.821
Current Week Pitching Stats – Rotation - 4.35 ERA and 1.55 WHIP: ten earned runs, twenty-five hits and seven walks in twenty and two-thirds innings pitched
Current Week Pitching Stats – Bullpen - 2.35 ERA and 1.17 WHIP: four earned runs, twelve hits and six walks in fifteen and one-third innings pitched

Who's Pitchin' Hot – RHS Stuart Pomeranz' 2006 debut was a beauty: 1G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 1-0, 6 IP, 5H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1,50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Who's Pitchin' Not – RHS Mike Parisi's Double-A debut was fairly short: 1G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0-0, 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 8 SO, 9.81 ERA, 2.18 WHIP. The 8 K's were a bright spot.

Who's Hittin' Hot – 3B Rico Washington, an off-season pick-up, went .438/.471/.813/1.283, 7-for-16 in four games, with three doubles and a homerun.
Who's Hittin' Not – 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir is having the "Double-A Debut Blues". He went .071/.125/.143/.268, 1-for-14 in four games. However, he continued his history of walking more than he struck out by walking once and not striking out.

Transactions - none

The Roster
The Springfield Cardinals' average age on Opening Day was twenty-four years, eleven months. Twelve of the twenty-four (Reid Gorecki, Cody Haerther, Jarrett Hoffpauir, Chris Lambert, Mike McCoy, Dan Moylan, Jordan Pals, Mike Parisi, Stuart Pomeranz, Rich Scalamandre, Nick Stavinoha, Mark Worrell ) are home grown with another two on the disabled list in Brendan Ryan and Ty Parker. Like their Triple-A counterparts, six of the starting nine players that took the field that day are Cardinals' products: Gorecki, Haerther, Hoffpauir, McCoy, Pals and Stavinoha. Fourteen of the twenty-four experienced their first Double-A Opening Day. Hoffpauir, Parisi, Stavinoha and Worrell are making their Double-A debut this season.

The seven youngest players came up through the Cardinals' system, once again like Memphis. The youngest player on the roster, by almost one and one-half years, is Stuart Pomeranz who turned 21 in December 2005. Haerther, Hoffpauir Lambert, Parisi and Worrell are born with four months of each other and turn 23 during the season. Nick Stavinoha is next in the "age" line and he turns 24 in May. Rico Washington is the oldest member of the Cardinals and he turns 28 at the end of May.

Of Note - Overall -
Springfield dropped the first two games of the 2006 season before rebounding to take the final two games of a four-game series against the Arkansas Travelers. Stuart Pomeranz was the stopper on Saturday as he pitched a gem to help the Cardinals win their first game of the season. Mark Worrell got his first Double-A save but did it in "Izzy" fashion as he gave up three singles and a run before striking out the last batter with the tying run in scoring position.

Of Note – Offense/Defense -
Of a mild surprise, at least to some, is the presence of Jarrett Hoffpauir and Nick Stavinoha on the Springfield roster. Hoffpauir finished his 2005 season at class A-Advanced Palm Beach where he went .257/.346/.310/.656, 58-for-226 in sixty-three games. I projected him to begin the season back in Palm Beach but he made the Springfield squad. On the other hand, I accurately predicted that Stavinoha would make the jump from class A Quad Cities to Double-A Springfield. Stavinoha is batting .286/.375/.286/.661, 4-for-14 in four games, with a walk and two K's. Reid Gorecki gets another crack at the Double-A level after failing here last Spring. He is off to a good start, .333/.333/.611/.944, 6-for-18 in four games with three doubles and a triple.

Of Note – Pitching -
On the pitching side of the roster, the very slight upset is Mike Parisi making the squad over lefty Eric Haberer. His Palm Beach Cardinals' teammate, Mark Worrell made the squad, as expected. Both will take on the challenge of making the substantial leap from class A-Advanced to the Double-A level. Another pitcher on whom one should keep an eye is Andy Cavazos. The Cardinals sent him to the 2005 Arizona Fall League and gave him a coveted invitation to Spring Training 2006. They like his arm.

On the DL front – Ty Parker (left thumb), SS Brendan Ryan (left wrist)
As mentioned above, Juan Diaz is likely to return to the Cardinals when Brian Daubach comes off the DL in Memphis. This is most likely bumps Matt Dryer back to Palm Beach as Dryer was called up from Palm Beach on April 5th to replace Diaz on the Springfield roster. Rayner Laya is likely expendable when Brendan Ryan is activated as Mike McCoy, his chief competition for the Springfield utility role, will then move into the utility role. McCoy appears to have the edge over Laya since the former has been getting Ryan's starts during his absence. Ty Parker's activation will probably send Brian Martin to Palm Beach as Martin was the last outfielder to make the squad. There is no known time frame for either Ryan's or Parker's activation. Parker, however, was not expected to miss a great deal of time.

Upcoming Week – at Tulsa Drillers (Colorado) 11th through 15th, vs. Wichita Wranglers (Royals) 16th

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You may contact Leonda at with any questions or suggestions on how to improve the report.

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