This Week in the Minors -July 2 - SS-A/Rookie

One of our most popular features with the St. Louis Cardinals organization's minor leaguers' stats and news from the week past. This report focuses on the Cardinals Short-Season A ball affiliate at State College, PA and the Rookie level team at Johnson City, TN.

This Week in the Minors - Short-Season A and Rookie

July 2, 2006

The format for the report on the first two levels of St. Louis' minor league system differs a bit this season. The main change comes in the area of pitching. Pitching roles at these levels are extremely fluid. Today's starter becomes a reliever next week and subsequently returns to the rotation. Therefore, stats will not be broken out between the rotation and the bullpen. Instead, the week's starters and relievers will be listed.

Another change has evolved due to the difficulty in obtaining accurate health information at these levels. Since neither State College nor Johnson City appear to separate active from disabled players, injury information will be included as it can be gathered. That does not mean the injured player is officially on the disabled list, unless indicated as such.

On to the standings – State College got off to a bit of a sluggish start and find themselves in a tie with Williamsport for fifth place through June 25th. Johnson City is only one game off the lead behind Kingsport but that equates to a tie for fourth place with Elizabethton.


Short-A – State College Spikes
League Affiliation - fourteen-team New York-Penn League, six-team McNamara division Overall Record – 2 - 3
Weekly Record – 2 – 3
Current Standing – tied with Williamsport (PIT) for fifth, one and one-half games behind the Batavia Muckdogs (PHI)

The Roster
Let us take a look at the State College roster through the opening week of their season. But first here are the roster rules and player eligibility: Rules - 30 active, but only 25 may be in uniform and eligible to play in any given game. Eligibility - No more than four players who are 23 or older, as of July 1st. No more than three players on active list may have four or more years of prior service.

The composition of this year's initial roster includes two rehabbing pitchers and a pitcher currently trying to convert from a catcher. Rhett Parrott (9th round-2001 draft) and Donnie Smith (4th round-2004 draft) are rehabbing from major surgery while Jason Motte (19th round-2003 draft) is trying to convert from catching to pitching. The average age of twenty-seven roster listees (excluding the two rehabbing pitchers and lefty pitcher Matt Sauceda whose listed age on the Spikes' roster actually belongs to righty pitcher Matt Saucedo) is twenty-one years, seven months. The youngest is infielder Donovan Solano (FA-2005) who will not turn 19 until mid-December. Just behind him is catcher Steve Gonzalez (11th round-2005) who turned 19 on May 31st. The oldest is outfielder Charles Carter (27th round-2005 draft) who turns 24 in late September.

Four of St. Louis' top six picks in the 2006 draft are on the State College roster: RHP Adam Ottavino (1st round), LHP Brad Furnish (2nd round), 1B Mark Hamilton (2nd round-supplemental) and RHP Gary Daley (3rd round). LHP Tyler Norrick (6th round) was around long enough to make one game appearance before his promotion to Quad Cities on June 24th. Other high level 2006 picks include shortstop Allen Craig (8th round), RHP P.J. Walters (11th round) and catcher David Carpenter (12th round). Eleven of the thirty were drafted/signed prior to June 2006 and there are four 2006 free agent signees: LHP Ryan Hodinka, RHP Lance Marcum, middle infielder Jose Salazar and LHP Matt Sauceda.

Transactions – 06/20/06 - OF Yonathan Sivira activated from the suspended list at Quad Cities and re-assigned to State College; 06/21/06 - CF James Rapoport (35th Rd) appears in a State College game so must have signed, exact date unknown, RHS Rhett Parrott activated from the disabled list at Memphis and assigned to short-season A State College for rehabilitation; 06/23/06 - INF Donovan Solano out for 'at least a week' due to an ankle injury suffered during the 6/21/06 game, OF Nathan Southard out until next week with a hamstring injury, INF Willian Sandoval called up from Johnson City; 06/24/06 - LHS Tyler Norrick called up to Quad Cities, C Christian Reyes re-assigned to Rookie League Johnson City

On the Injury Front – INF Donovan Solano out ‘up to two weeks' with an ankle injury sustained during a game on 6/21/06 (updated as of 6/28/06); RHP Michael Repole listed as day-to-day with an unspecified arm injury (as of 6/28/06)

Cumulative Team Batting – .227/.300/.378/.678, fifth in the league, by OPS

This Week's Rotation – Brad Furnish (twice), Kenny Maiques, Adam Ottavino, Rhett Parrott
This Week's Bullpen – Gary Daley, Ryan Hodinka, Lance Marcum, Jason Motte, Kyle Mura, Tyler Norrick, Matt Sauceda, Brian Schroeder, P.J. Walters
Cumulative Pitching – 2.80 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, fourth in the league, by WHIP

The ‘Hot' and ‘Not' will begin next time.

Of Note – Overall
The start of the Spikes' June 23rd game was delayed for almost two hours due to rain. The front office slashed the prices of hot dogs and sodas to $1 and gave each ticket holder a $3 coupon towards a future game, subject to availability. Smart move for a team trying to build a fan base for a brand new club.

Of Note – Offense/Defense
No Spike was in the Top 10 by batting average, through June 25th. The highest was first baseman Mark Hamilton whose .333 average is eighteenth. Matt Wilkerson is sixth in the league by OPS (1.089) which is to be expected as he is repeating at this level. Hamilton is twelfth by OPS (.984) and eleventh by OBP (.429).
Outfielder Nathan Southard's professional debut finally came on June 26th against Mahoning Valley. Southard missed the first six games of the season with a hamstring injury.

Of Note – Pitching
Kenny Maiques' long-anticipated professional debut on June 23rd was a bit of a mixed bag. After two scoreless innings he allowed two runs in the third on back-to-back singles, forwards K, steal, ground out and a wild pitch. Two two-out walks in the fourth inning resulted in one being plated on a double. It is a start.
No Spike pitcher was in the Top 10 by WHIP. Brad Furnish came in at twentieth with a 1.00 WHIP.
Tyler Norrick piggy-backed onto Rhett Parrott's start on June 21st and struck out nine in four innings. He did not walk a batter while giving up one run, earned, on four his. That performance got him promoted to Quad Cities.

The Prospect Watch will start next week.


Short-A – Johnson City Cardinals
League Affiliation - ten-team Appalachian League, five-team West division Overall Record – 1 - 2
Weekly Record – 1 – 2
Current Standing – tied with Elizabethton (MIN) for fourth, one game behind the Kingsport Mets

The Roster
The Appalachian League roster rules allow for a thirty-five player roster with no age minimum. However, all players must have no more than two years prior minor league experience.

The initial Johnson City squad split between nineteen position players and sixteen pitchers. The average age was twenty years, four months. The youngest player is right-handed pitcher Matt North (9th round-2006 draft) who turned 18 on May 23rd. (Nine of the thirty-five are 18 years old.) The oldest is outfielder Keith Naylor, a 2006 free agent signee, who turned 23 in January.

Of real note on the squad is the influx from St. Louis' Latin American program. Six of the nineteen position players previously played in the Dominican Summer League: Wilmer Alvarado, Ciro Caldera, Nelson Lugo, Melvin Puello, Jose Ramirez and Willian Sandoval. Five of the sixteen pitchers played there as well: RHP Elvis Hernandez, RHP Oscar Lara, RHP Henderson Lugo, LHP Frank Oliveros and LHP Senger Peralta. RHP Fabian Marquez was signed out of Venezuela.

The highest overall draft pick is nineteen-year-old RHP Tyler Herron (1st supplemental-2005 draft) and the highest 2006 draftee is the previously mentioned Matt North. The roster also includes two draft-and-follows from the 2005 draft that were signed this Spring: Armando Carrasco and Blake King. Both are pitchers. However, the big attention-getters from the 2006 draft are shortstop Thomas Pham (16th round) and outfielder Jon Edwards (14th round). Pham is considered a top three-to-four round talent that dropped in the draft due to a perceived strong commitment to college. Edwards was rated last fall as one of the top 100 recruits in the country for the 2006-2007 college season.

Transactions – 06/20/06 - OF Keith Naylor signed as an undrafted free agent and assigned to rookie level Johnson City, SS Thomas Pham (16th Rd) appears in a Johnson City Cardinals' game so must have signed, exact date unknown; 06/21/06 - 2B Jesse Schoendienst signed as an undrafted free agent, exact signing date unknown, and assigned to rookie level Johnson City; 06/23/06 - INF Willian Sandoval called up to State College; 06/24/06 – C Christian Reyes re-assigned from State College

On the Injury Front – RHP Shaun Garceau (60-day disabled list), RHP Tyler Leach (60-day disabled list), Thomas Pham (see ‘Of Note – Offense/Defense' below), RHP David Phillips (60-day disabled list)

Cumulative Team Batting – .255/.325/.391/.716, fifth in the league, by OPS

This Week's Rotation – Elvis Hernandez, Tyler Herron, Blake King
This Week's BullpenKris Bakey, Armando Carrasco, Brandon Garner, Luke Gregerson, Oscar Lara, Henderson Lugo, Fabian Marquez, Matt Michael, Frank Oliveros
Cumulative Pitching – 6.84 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, eighth in the league, by WHIP

Everyone gets a pass on the ‘Hot' and ‘Not' until next week's report

Of Note – Offense/Defense
Thomas Pham was hit by a pitch in the second inning of the June 28th game and subsequently left the game. He played the June 29th game but was pulled from the game on June 30th after running the bases. He scored on a wild pitch but left the game with a slight limp, per an eye-witness account.

In the very early stages of the 2006 season, Johnson City has two players in the top ten league batting average, Thomas Pham (.462/.500/.692/1.192, 6-for-13) is in second and Jonathan Edwards (.444/.400/.667/.1.067, 4-for-9) is in fifth. Nelson Lugo is sixteenth (.364/.462/.636/1.098, 4-for-11). Both Pham and Edwards are 18 while Lugo is 21.

Of Note – Pitching
The Johnson City Cardinals had three of the Top Ten by WHIP in RHS Blake King (fourth place) with a 0.40 WHIP in five innings pitched, RHS Elvis Hernandez (tied for fifth) with a 0.60 WHIP in five innings pitched and RHR Henderson Lugo (tenth) with a 0.69 ERA in four and one-third innings pitched.

The Prospect Watch will start next week.

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