The Memphis Redbirds Report – Week Seven

This week's Triple-A Memphis Redbirds report from our on-site beat reporter, Brent Diederich. Mike Smith is among the recent standouts as the club is holding its own in second place.



Memphis returned home from a long road stretch for a four-game series with the Round Rock Express only to once again head out for an eight-game road series against the Nashville Sounds and the Express in Round Rock.  It was a 3-3 week for the Redbirds who continue to hold their ground in the Pacific Coast League while dealing with mass amounts of injuries.  Blake Hawksworth had another good performance this week as did Mike Smith as the Redbirds look to get back on track with some recent additions.


Where They Stand


Memphis has a 22-23 record, two-and-a-half games back from Iowa, who stand at 24-20.  Nashville is 23-21, while Omaha is 20-24.


Injury Update


OF Rick Ankiel has rejoined the club, but taking his place on the disabled list is OF John Rodriguez.  C Ryan Christianson was also placed on the DL this week and his backup Matt Pagnozzi was hit by a pitch Monday night on the helmet, but looks to be okay.  RP Dennis Dove was placed on the DL while fellow reliever Mike Sillman was activated to take his place.


Player Movement


Closer Brian Falkenborg has cleared waivers from the Cardinals and will rejoin the team.  Leaving the team is Eli Marrero, who was released Monday after being activated from the DL this week and playing in only one game.


Who's Hot


Top prospect Blake Hawksworth had another solid performance on Thursday going six innings, giving up only three hits, two runs, walking four while striking out six.  Hawksworth's only mistake of the game was a breaking pitch that hung for 2B Brooks Conrad and Conrad deposited that pitch over the right field wall.  Blake had not walked anyone is his previous three starts but had also not struck out more than three.  Blake really had his stuff Thursday; unfortunately the offense did not have their hitting shoes on.


Starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter Mike Smith came out on fire on Saturday.  Smith allowed only one base runner in the first four innings and had all his pitches working, getting weak ground balls and getting hitters to flail at pitches.  Smith ended up going seven innings, getting seven strikeouts, allowing two runs on six hits, while walking two.  After the game, his teammates raved about his tenacity on the mound and the pick-me-up he brought to the team.


Nick Stavinoha, an afterthought early in the season when fellow outfielders Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel were on fire, is now the center of attention.  Stavinoha has routinely filled in at the numbers three and four spots in the lineup.  Stavinoha has come through with a four single, three RBI game on Saturday while hitting his fifth and sixth home runs Sunday and Monday.  Stavinoha is now the power hitter of the lineup and has really responded lately as the Redbirds have needed it.


Since joining the Redbirds this year, Skip Schumaker has been tremendous.  Not only has Skip played excellent centerfield, he's also hit quite well.  He's batting .286 with a home run and two RBIs but he's also scored six runs in his first 28 at bats.  Skip has shown discipline and the ability to get around the basepaths for Memphis and has really helped the team.


Mike Parisi was struggling to the point where he had given up 24 hits and 17 earned runs in his last 8 2/3 innings.  That was before his start on Monday though when he went seven innings, allowing only three hits, and two earned runs while striking out four.  It was a big comeback start for Parisi and has the team on a three-game win streak.


Who's Not


Since joining the team, UT Mike McCoy is hitting only .222, though to his credit it has all been in limited time and starts have been far and few between for Mike.  McCoy has taken some good at-bats in crucial situations and has shown a good eye.


John Nelson's average has dipped to .156 after a hot start coming off the DL.  John has yet to find a home and continues to fill in around the diamond.  Nelson is one of the few power threats on the team at the moment and they need to him to hit.


Chris Lambert had a tough third of an inning on Monday, allowing two hits and earned run before being pulled.  Lambert has just a 7.00 ERA at the moment and is still trying to convert to the reliever's mindset after being a starter in Springfield.


What We Know


Memphis has really held its own late and now the team is on a three-game win streak.  Even with all the injuries to the offense, the main reason the team was losing and now they are winning is simple; the starting pitching.  The starters have been excellent of late, with Smith, Keisler and Parisi all putting in quality starts during the win streak.  Blake Hawksworth has been excellent over his last four starts and the rest of the rotation is falling in behind him. 


Brendan Ryan could really benefit from watching Schumaker and how he handles the leadoff spot.  Schumaker has great discipline and also runs the bases well, things that they younger Ryan looks to pick up on.  Brendan is a definite hustler and he's got a good bat, but sometimes struggles to get on base.  When Ryan is hitting, the offense begins to click and can really do some damage, so the demotion of Schumaker could really benefit Ryan.



© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories