This Week in the Minors - April 20, 2006

One of our most popular features with Cardinals minor leaguers' stats and news from the week past.

Well, the first full week of minor league baseball has concluded with varying results for the Cardinals' teams. Memphis, who are simply not as bad as their record indicates, remains firmly in last place and dropped another three games behind the first-place Omaha Royals. Springfield moved from a tie for second to a three-way tie with the Arkansas Travelers and Tulsa Drillers for first place. Palm Beach dropped out of a second place tie to sole possession of third place and are now three games behind Brevard County with three-game series against them this week. Finally, Quad Cities went from a six-way tie to a three-way tie for first as the teams in their division begin to sort themselves out.

A clarification on the ‘Prospect Watch" section of each report is needed. Just because a particular player is not mentioned in this section should not be taken as an indication that he is not considered a prospect. They may have either already been mentioned elsewhere in the report or space constraints in the report get them by-passed this week.

Finally, a couple of corrections to last week's report. First, Anthony Rawson signed with an Independent League team this week so is clearly not at the Cardinals' Extended Spring Training camp as indicated previously. Also, a reader contacted me to let me know that Ty Parker is not a converted catcher but a converted infielder. Thanks for helping make this report as accurate as possible.

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AAA – Memphis Redbirds
League Affiliation - sixteen-team Pacific Coast League, four-team America North division
Overall Record – 1 - 10
Weekly Record – 1 - 6
Current Standing – Last, six games behind the Omaha Royals

The Roster
Transactions – 4/14/06-1B Brian Daubach activated from the disabled list, LHR Tyler Johnson placed on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to 4/12/06; 04/16/06 – OF Larry Bigbie sent to Memphis on a rehabilitation assignment
On the DL front – LHR Tyler Johnson (arm), LHS Chris Narveson (shoulder), RHS Rhett Parrott (shoulder), RHR John Riedling (upper back)
The Redbirds placed Tyler Johnson on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, April 12th, with soreness in the throwing arm, per The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Current Week Team Batting – .249/.318/.377/.695
Cumulative Team Batting – .258/.326/.370/.696, tenth in the league

Current RotationRandy Leek, Anthony Reyes, Dennis Tankersley, Brad Voyles, John Webb
Current Week Pitching Stats – Rotation - 2.79 ERA and 1.31 WHIP: 13 earned runs, 44 hits and 11 walks in 42 innings pitched

Current BullpenAlan Benes, Carmen Cali, Brian Falkenborg, Tyler Johnson, Josh Kinney, Frank Perez, Matt Smith
Current Week Pitching Stats – Bullpen - 6.29 ERA and 1.56 WHIP: 17 earned runs, 30 hits and 8 walks in 24 1/3 innings pitched
Cumulative Pitching – 4.82 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, eleventh in the league (by ERA)

Who's Pitchin' Hot – RHP Anthony Reyes, whose peripherals do not match his 3.44 ERA through three games. In 18.1 innings, he has struck out seventeen and walked only one with only a 1.04 WHIP. Opponents are hitting only .243 against him. Three of the eighteen hits allowed so far, however, has been home runs.
Who's Pitchin' Not – RHP Dennis Tankersley whose 8.10 ERA accurately reflects how he has been doing. His 2.10 WHIP is comprised of eighteen hits and three walks in ten innings over two games. That translated to nine earned runs and only four strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting a whopping .429 to date.

Who's Hittin' Hot – OF John Gall's cumulative numbers are .367/.407/.490/.897, 18-for-49 with four doubles, one triple and nine rbi's in eleven games
Who's Hittin' Not – 3B Travis Hanson's Triple-A debut is off to a slow start - .189/.268/.216/.485, 7-for-37 with seven strikeouts in eleven games

Of Note – Overall -
The Memphis Redbirds are off to a 1-10 start. In five of the ten losses, the offense has scored four or more runs with another loss coming when they scored three runs. While the rotation has not been stellar, in general, eight of the ten losing Redbirds pitchers were relievers. Five of the ten losses were by one run. So, it appears that the Redbirds are suffering from a lack of timely hitting and pitching. Nothing much new there. One positive thought is that they have nowhere to go but up.

The above ‘Hot' and ‘Not' notices are year-to-date. They will be based on the most recent week from this point on, unless otherwise noted.

Of Note – Offense/Defense -
Shaun Boyd returned to the line-up Tuesday after missing four games with a high ankle sprain. While not chiseled in stone, Boyd mainly is batting lead-off with Junior Spivey moving from lead-off to the 2 hole.
Brian Daubach is hitting .364/.500/.364/.864 in three games since coming off the disabled list.
On April 16th The Memphis Commercial Appeal published an article in which Redbirds' manager Danny Sheaffer's comment on Junior Spivey (‘Junior's been outstanding') was juxtaposed in such a way as to suggest Sheaffer was referring to both Spivey's attitude and performance. That contrasts with more than one eye-witness account saying Spivey's on-field performance is sub-par in that he is slow to hit balls and the accuracy of his throws are off. He is hitting .262/.436/.333/.770, 11-for-42 with three doubles and two stolen bases in two attempts. This is not a comment on Spivey's attitude because we do not have any clubhouse moles, unfortunately.
Catcher Michel Hernandez' year-to-date performance was a close second to John Gall's in the Hittin' Hot category. He is hitting .400/.438/.422/.860, 18-for-45 with one double and one rbu. Gall got the nod due to his superior OPS and rbi production.

Of Note – Pitching -
Starters Randy Leek and Brad Voyles have a similar WHIP (1.23/1.33), BAA (.280/.273) and K/9 IP (6.23/6.00) so far but their two starts were very different. Leek contrasted a very poor first start in which he allowed five earned runs on seven hits, including two home runs, and two walks and two strikeouts with a stellar second start when he gave up only one run, earned, on seven hits and no walks in seven innings while striking out seven. Both of Voyles' six-inning starts qualify as quality starts. He allowed neither a run nor a walk on three hits his first start but did give up two runs, both earned, on nine hits and four walks his second start. He struck out four both times. Both pitchers allowed more runs in those starts when they allowed home runs. Go figure.

The main bright spot in an otherwise uneven bullpen has been Brian Falkenborg. Opponents are batting only .133 against him with two hits in four and one-third innings over four games. He has struck out six during that period while walking none. Falkenborg will most likely be the Redbirds' closer, if they ever get to a save situation.

Prospect Watch
Anthony Reyes' season-to-date performance is noted in the ‘Pitchin' Hot' section above. Another very interesting point to note is that Reyes' groundout-to-flyout ratio is completely reversed from last season. Reyes was the most extreme flyout pitcher in the Cardinals' system last year with over 62% of his contact outs coming via a flyball. That trend has completely reversed this year with over 62% of his contact outs coming via a groundball. It is the very early going and the 2006 stats only cover three starts but it will be interesting to track his progress, particularly since he was sent to Memphis to work on recording groundouts instead of flyouts.

Chris Duncan, whose hot Spring Training caught the attention of many fans, has cooled off considerably since returning to Memphis. Duncan is currently batting .224/.283/.429/.712, 11-for-49 with twenty strikeouts and four walks. Duncan remains very raw defensively as he learns to play left field. His failure to catch a fairly routine fly ball led to the winning run crossing the plate in the Redbirds' extra-innings loss last Monday.

Upcoming Week – vs. Omaha Royals 17th, vs. Oklahoma RedHawks (Texas) 18th through 21st, at Omaha Royals 22nd and 23rd

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AA – Springfield Cardinals
League Affiliation - eight-team Texas League, four-team East division
Overall Record – 6 - 4
Weekly Record – 4 - 2
Current Standing – Three-way tie for first with the Arkansas Travellers (Angels) and Tulsa Drillers (Rockies)

The Roster
Transactions – 04/15/06 – INF Juan Richardson placed on the 7-day disabled list, OF Ty Parker activated from the disabled list;
On the DL front – INF Juan Richardson (right triceps), SS Brendan Ryan (left wrist)
Infielder Juan Richardson was placed on the disabled list with right triceps tendonitis.

Current Week Team Batting – .326/.372/.583/.954
Cumulative Team Batting – .302/.362/.522/.884, first in the league

Current RotationChris Lambert, Jordan Pals, Mike Parisi, Stuart Pomeranz, Rich Rundles
Current Week Pitching Stats – Rotation - 5.29 ERA and 1.42 WHIP: 19 earned runs, 31 hits and 15 walks in 32.1 innings pitched

Current BullpenAndy Cavazos, Cory Doyne, Kevin Ool, Chris Russ, Rich Scalamandre, Samuel Walton, Mark Worrell
Current Week Pitching Stats – Bullpen - 2.35 ERA and 1.17 WHIP: 6 earned runs, 18 hits and 9 walks in 23 innings pitched
Cumulative Pitching – 3.74 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, second in the league (by ERA)

Who's Pitchin' Hot – Right-handed relievers Andy Cavazos and Rich Scalamandre's early peripherals are top-notch. Cavazos has not given up an earned run, allowing only one hit and three walks with eight strikeouts in five and one-third innings for an 0.75 WHIP and .056 BAA. Opponents are batting just .130 against Scalamandre with three hits in six and two-thirds innings for an 0.60 WHIP. He has walked only one while striking out seven and given up one earned run during that span.
Who's Pitchin' Not – RHS Chris Lambert has struggled in the early going with 11 hits and 8 walks in ten innings for a 1.90 WHIP. Opponents are teeing off to the tune of a .314 batting average. He has allowed six earned runs during that span for a 5.40 ERA while striking out only six. His K/BB ratio is currently 0.75.

Who's Hittin' Hot – Centerfielder Reid Gorecki is off to a blistering start: .386/.413/.841/1.254, 17-for-44 with six doubles, one triple and four home runs in ten games. He has struck out three times and walked twice and has one stolen base in two attempts.
Who's Hittin' Not – Second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir's Double-A debut is .220/.250/.244/.494, 9-for-41 with one double. Hoffpauir, however, continues his trend of walking more than he strikes out with two walks to zero strikeouts.

Of Note – Overall -
Springfield is off to a successful start with a 6-4 start and a three-way tie for first. Most of their success is due to their offensive prowess as they are batting over .300 as a team. Two of their four losses have been by one run with another loss by two runs and the final loss by three runs. Therefore, although the starting rotation has not been particularly noteworthy, overall, the offense is keeping them in the game and the team has not yet suffered a blow-out loss.

Of Note – Offense/Defense -
Catcher Dan Moylan left Sunday's game with an injury and was subsequently placed on the disabled list. (That transaction will show up in next week's report. Although Moylan has been backing up Iker (pronounced Eee-ker) Franco, he has been unusually effective offensively, .571/.625/.571/1.196, 4-for-7 in four games.
Utility infielder Rayner Laya has appeared in six games so far but received only one at bat through Sunday. Usual utility guy Mike McCoy, who is currently at short while Brendan Ryan is on the DL, is hitting .308/.386/.385/.771, 12-for-39.
Off-season pick-up third baseman Rico Washington has been an offensive powerhouse for the Cardinals. He is hitting .375/.432/.875/1.307, 15-for-40 with five doubles and five home runs in ten games. Washington, who turns 28 in May, first saw Double-A in 2000.

Of Note – Pitching -
After allowing three runs in the first inning, Mike Parisi retired the next eighteen batters he faced en route to his first Double-A victory on Saturday. His nine strikeouts ties a franchise record set by Chris Lambert last July. The Cardinals' offense tagged Ubaldo Jimenez for 10 hits and 6 runs, all earned, in 4 2/3 innings. Jimenez is rated the Rockies' fifth-best prospect.
The Swing bullpen has been very good, so far. In addition to the relievers noted in the above ‘Pitchin' Hot', lefty Kevin Ool and righty Cory Doyne have done well. Ool sports a 1.08 ERA with one earned run given up in eight and one-third innings on eight hits and one walk. He has a 1.08 WHIP but has struck out only three. Doyne is unscored upon in six innings over five games as he has allowed only four hits during that time. Opponents are batting just .211 against him but his big issue remains his control. Doyne has walked four which is the same number that he has struck out.

Prospect Watch
Closer Mark Worrell's 2.25 ERA is belied by his 1.75 WHIP and .353 batting average against. He has allowed six hits in four innings to go with two walks and five strikeouts. However, it is well within the ‘adjusting to Double-A' time span so it is way too early to draw any conclusions about his future.
Right fielder Nick Stavinoha appears to be making a successful jump from Quad Cities, at least in the early going. He is batting .366/.409/.488/.897, 15-for-41 with two doubles and a home run in ten games. Stavinoha has struck out ten times.
Left field Cody Haerther is off to a slow start, .243/.243/.459/.703, 9-for-37 with three doubles, one triple and a home run in ten games. However, he has struck out only three times but has not walked.

Upcoming Week – vs. Wichita Wranglers (Royals) 17th through 20th, vs. Tulsa Drillers (Rockies) 21st through 23rd

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High-A – Palm Beach Cardinals
League Affiliation - twelve-team Florida State League, six-team East division
Overall Record 6 – 4
Weekly Record – 3 – 3
Current Standing – Third, three games behind the Brevard County Manatees (Milwaukee)

The Roster
Transactions
On the DL front – OF Matt Lemanczyk (swelling in arm)

Current Week Team Batting – .297/.370/.443/.813
Cumulative Team Batting – .267/.347/.420/.766, second in the league

Current RotationMitch Boggs, Eric Haberer, Blake Hawksworth, Mark Michael, Nick Webber
Current Week Pitching Stats – Rotation - 8.51 ERA and 1.89 WHIP: 23 earned runs, 34 hits and 12 walks in 24.1 innings pitched

Current BullpenTyler Adamczyk, Dennis Dove, Jose Garcia, Justin Garza, Matt Scherer, Mike Sillman, Zack Zuercher
Current Week Pitching Stats – Bullpen - 6.20 ERA and 1.46 WHIP: 17 earned runs, 29 hits and 7 walks in 24.2 innings pitched
Cumulative Pitching – 6.50 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, last in the league

Who's Pitchin' Hot – RHS Nick Webber's introduction to class A-Advanced is encouraging: 2G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 10 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 6 BB, 7 SO, 1.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .152 BAA. The control needs to improve, however.
Who's Pitchin' Not – LHS Eric Haberer's season-to-date line: 3 G, 3 GS, 0 CG, 10.1 IP, 15 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 6 SO, 7.84 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, .326 BAA

Who's Hittin' Hot – I hesitate to even type this because the minute I do he will go into a slump but first baseman Mike Ferris is tearing up the Florida State League so far: .342/.422/.684/1.106, 13-for-38 with four doubles and three home runs in ten games. He has struck out ten times and walked five.
Who's Hittin' Not – Shortstop Tyler Greene's line: .200/.286/.200/.486, 6-for-30 with sixteen strikeouts and two errors in eight games.

Of Note – Overall -
In a three-game series against Brevard County this week, Palm Beach scored seventeen runs and allowed twenty-three. They won two of the three games. The second game of the series, on Tuesday, wasted an outing by Eric Haberer when it was suspended after an inning due to rain. However, the way Eric has been pitching so far maybe is was not a waste. Mark Michael finished the start the next day, allowing seven earned runs in two innings. Mike Sillman picked up his first A-Advanced save with a 1-2-3 ninth as Palm Beach won 11-9.
Overall, the pitching has been shaky but the offense has been strong which is a complete reversal from last season.

Of Note – Offense/Defense -
While the main defensive combo up the middle has been Tyler Greene at short with Juan Lucena at second, an alternate combination of Lucena at short and Matt Shepherd at second has also been used. Greene's sub-par start is noted in the ‘Hittin' Not' above and he has been dropped from the lead-off slot to the six or seven hole in the batting order.
Ryan Barthelemy was signed just as the season began to replace third baseman Matt Dryer when the latter was called up to Springfield. It looks like a good signing, in the early going, as Barthelemy is hitting .317/.391/.488/.879, 13-for-41 in ten games. He turns 26 in May and has little pressure from Quad Cities as their 2005 third baseman, 2004 draftee Jake Mullinax, retired during the off-season and current third baseman, Randy Roth, is new to full-season ball.

Of Note – Pitching -
Mitch Boggs' 2006 season debut lasted one and one-third innings on Monday: 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO, 5.26 WHIP and a whopping .600 BAA.
Zack Zuercher and Mike Sillman have been the mainstays of the Cardinals' bullpen. Zuercher has appeared in three games and has allowed two hits and one walk in three and two-thirds innings for an 0.82 WHIP. The sole blemish against him is a solo home run as opponents are batting .154 against him. Closer Sillman has notched two saves in four game appearances. He has allowed three hits while striking out five and walking none in four innings for an 0.75 WHIP and .200 BAA. Sillman is unscored upon.

Prospect Watch
Blake Hawksworth scattered four hits and two walks while tossing five shut-out innings on Thursday. He struck out five on the way to picking up his first win of the season.
Second baseman/shortstop Juan Lucena is hitting .250/.286/.325/.611, 10-for-40 with one double and one triple in nine games. He has committed two errors and his walks equal his strikeouts at two each.

Upcoming Week – vs. Brevard County Manatees (Milwaukee) 17th through 19th, at St. Lucie Mets 20th through 22nd, vs. Vero Beach Dodgers 23rd

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Low-A – Swing of the Quad Cities
League Affiliation - fourteen-team Midwest League, eight-team West division
Overall Record 6 – 4
Weekly Record – 4 – 2
Current Standing – Three-way tie for first with the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Angels) and Kane County Cougars (Athletics) The Roster
Transactions
On the DL frontKyle McClellan (July 2005 Tommy John surgery), Donnie Smith (August 2005 shoulder capsule surgery)

Current Week Team Batting – .264/.326/.389/.716
Cumulative Team Batting – .251/.326/.367/.693, fifth in the league

Current RotationPhillip Andersen, Adam Daniels, Jaime Garcia, Mark McCormick, Cory Meacham
Current Week Pitching Stats – Rotation - 4.67 ERA and 1.21 WHIP: 18 earned runs, 28 hits and 14 walks in 34.2 innings pitched

Current BullpenDanny Borne, Jason Cairns, Trey Hearne, Jon Mikrut, Kyle Sadlowski, Matt Trent, Scott Vander Weg, Jeremy Zick
Current Week Pitching Stats – Bullpen - 1.47 ERA and 1.20 WHIP: 3 earned runs, 18 hits and 4 walks in 18.1 innings pitched
Cumulative Pitching – 3.62 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, sixth in the league

Who's Pitchin' Hot – LHS Jaime Garcia's line so far: 2 G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 13 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 13 SO, 2.77 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .170 BAA
Who's Pitchin' Not – RHS Phillip Anderson's line: 2 G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 10.2 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 6 SO, 7.59 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .304 BAA

Who's Hittin' Hot – Third baseman Randy Roth is hitting .317/.333/.659/.992, 13-for-41 with three doubles, one triple, three home runs and a team-leading ten rbi's
Who's Hittin' Not – Shortstop Dan Nelson is hitting .158/.273/.263/.536, 6-for-38 with eight strikeouts in nine games

Of Note – Overall -
The biggest news here is the 50-game suspension on April 18th of outfielder Yonathan Sivira for violating Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment program. While specifics are not known, the word around the ballpark, per one local fan, is that Sivira was taking a prescription medication for tooth pain which contained a banned substance. Since Sivira is from Venezuela it brings to mind what former Cardinals' minor league pitcher Jeremy Cummings said after returning from a like suspension last season. Cummings spent the 2004-2005 off-season playing winter ball where he received treatment for an injury. He insisted that his suspension was due to a substance he received as a result of that treatment. It is possible that Sivira's suspension derives from a similar situation. The transaction will appear in next week's report.

Of Note – Offense/Defense -
While certainly in the running, centerfielder Colby Rasmus escaped the dubious distinction of appearing in the ‘Hittin' Not' section. Rasmus is hitting .167/.255/.238/.493, 7-for-42 with twelve strikeouts in ten games. Nelson got the nod since he is putting up similar numbers at both an older age, by two and one-half years, and with more experience. Nelson is a 2004 draftee while Rasmus, as is well known, was drafted last June. Although outfielder Charles Carter is currently batting .118/.273/.176/.449, he did not get mentioned there because of his limited at bats, only seventeen. Also worth noting is shortstop Cal Hayes' slow start. Hayes is batting .182/.289/.182/.471, 6-for-33 in ten games. As previously noted, Hayes was drafted back in 2002 and needs to make his move before he is supplanted by another player.

Of Note – Pitching -
Jaime Garcia pitched well enough to have won his professional debut on Monday but was saddled with a 4-2 loss instead. Garcia allowed three runs, all earned, on five hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out seven. He followed that up by allowing only one run, earned, on three hits and three walks in six innings on Saturday for his first professional win. Garcia struck out six.
Six of the Swing's eight relievers are unscored upon through Sunday with Jon Mikrut's peripherals leading the pack. Mikrut has allowed just one hit and one walk in five innings over five games for a team-leading 0.40 WHIP and .063 BAA. He struck out three in that span. Only Matt Trent and Jeremy Zick have been scored upon.
Speaking of Trent, he and reliever Trey Hearne need to work on not allowing inherited runners to score. The Swing bullpen has allowed six of their nine inherited runners to score and Trent and Hearne have allowed all six. Trent is 2-for-2 and Hearne is 4-for-4 which at least partially explains why the rotation and bullpen have such differing ERAs with very similar WHIPs.

Prospect Watch
Both of the catching tandem of Bryan Anderson and Brandon Yarbrough are doing well offensively, to date. Andersen is off to a torrid start, .455/.520/.545/1.065, 10-for-22 and Yarbrough is doing quite well himself: .350/.381/.500/.881, 7-for-20. Each has DH'd a game in addition to their catching duties.
Control continues to be an issue for Mark McCormick. He has allowed only four hits in ten and one-third innings but has walked nine. Opposing batters are hitting just .121 against him.
A.J. Van Slyke is off to a good start: .333/.382/.433/.816, 10-got-30 with three doubles and seven rbi's in nine games. Defensively, he has appeared in left (3 games) and first (2 games) while acting as the designated hitter in three games. He also pinch hit once.

Upcoming Week – vs. Dayton Dragons (Reds) 17th through 20th, at Fort Wayne Wizards (Padres) 21st through 23rd

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You may contact Leonda Markee at uconncard@yahoo.com with any questions or suggestions on how to improve the report.


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