The Palm Beach Cardinals Report – May 2

Our exclusive weekly report on the 2007 edition of the Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals from our on-site beat reporter in Jupiter, Jim Rutledge. This week's focus is on standout first month performances.

The Palm Beach Cardinals have finished their first month of the 2007 season and it has been interesting. They've had snakes in the outfield and dogs in the bleachers, dominating pitching performances from Tyler Norrick and timely hitting from Allen Craig. All the excitement has put the Cards in second place in the Florida State League's Eastern Division, only a game back of the first place Brevard County Manatees.

With a month in the books, I thought this would be a good time to hand out awards for the first month of the season.

This is a no-brainer. Craig has been having an outstanding season, hitting .365 with five home runs and 19 runs batted in. His presence in the lineup allows the hitters around him to see good pitches and he brings excitement every time he steps up to the plate.

Starting pitcher of the month
Again, another no-brainer. Norrick has been dominating all month. His three wins and 1.63 earned run average lead the team, and Norrick has proven he can be an anchor at the top of this young rotation.

Reliever of the month
This was tougher to give out, as there are multiple candidates, ranging from Michael Cooper's amazing 1.64 earned run average to Jon Mikrut's 12 strong innings out of the pen. Considering all that, Jason Motte has been the ace among aces, winning one game, saving three and allowing only one run in over ten innings pitched. Cooper and Motte earned promotions to Springfield (Double-A) last week.

Tough-luck pitcher of the month
Adam Ottavino has pitched good enough to win in all five of his outings this season, but has only earned only one victory. Ottavino has a solid earned run average of 3.00, and is averaging over a strikeout per inning so far this season. His 28 strikeouts lead the team. The only thing he needs to improve is average of allowing one hit per inning this year.

Starting catcher Brandon Yarbrough and backup Danilo Sanchez have both been on a tear this week. Yarbrough raised his average to an impressive .298 and Sanchez average rose to a solid .280. It seems that a little rest for Yarbrough and more playing time for Sanchez has helped out both players.

I don't even know if third baseman Allen Craig should be on this list. By saying he's "hot" implies that this maybe an abnormality. Craig has shown that his ability matches his numbers and he should be good player for years to come. Craig leads the team in batting average, runs, hits, home runs, total bases, and runs batted in, with the only flaw in his game his team-leading six errors.

Shortstop Dan Nelson has had an interesting season. He is struggling at the plate, batting only .221. That's a deceiving number because his on base percentage is second on the team at a solid .404, largely because of his whopping 21 walks this season. If he can raise his batting average to a more respectable level, than he can be a star on this team.

News and notes
Pitcher Zack Zuercher has been added to the active roster and pitched in one game, going two innings and giving up two runs.

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