The Memphis Redbirds Report – Week Eight

This week's Memphis Redbirds report from our on-site beat reporter, Brent Diederich. Nick Stavinoha is among the recent standouts as the Cards' Triple-A club slid into fourth place.

Recap

 

Another long road trip marked another week under .500 for the Redbirds as they managed to go 3-4 against Nashville and Round Rock.  The Redbirds' star players have begun to step up lately as Rick Ankiel hit two home runs Monday and Blake Hawksworth threw another couple quality starts.  With now over 50 games into the season, some prospects' stars are beginning to shine while others are dimming rapidly. 

 

The Redbirds also graduated another player to the parent club this week.  In return they get struggling SP Anthony Reyes, who holds a lot of Cardinal fans' hopes and dreams on his ability to get back to they player he was here in Memphis last year.

 

Where They Stand

 

Memphis is now the cellar dweller of the PCL North, sitting on a record of 25-27.  They are not far off the pace though, as PCL North leader Iowa is 29-21, leaving the Redbirds five games back of first.  Sandwiched between those two is Nashville (27-24) and Omaha (26-25).

 

Injury Update

 

RP Mike Sillman can't seem to stay healthy and he will return to the disabled list but the Redbirds have back star 1B Tagg Bozied,  Bozied returns from a strained hamstring while Sillman is experiencing pain in his shoulder once again. 

 

Player Movement

 

LHP Troy Cate has been promoted to St. Louis after filling a variety of roles for Memphis this year.  Cate had a 4.54 ERA in 41.2 Innings, striking out 28, while walking only 14.  Cate started the season as a reliever and entered the rotation on the request of Cardinal management after the Randy Keisler experiment failed.  SP Anthony Reyes has been a much chronicled player at The Birdhouse and the hope is for him to regain his confidence and return to the big league club polished and ready to stay.

 

Who's Hot

 

OF Nick Stavinoha has put some extra weight on his shoulders and he's helping to carry the Memphis offense.  Stavinoha hit his seventh home run Monday and it was a big one, a grand slam, giving him 27 RBI for the season and putting his average at .285.  Stavinoha has responded well to hitting higher in the lineup in run-producing spots such as the three and four holes.  He said he prefers hitting in those spots and thinks of himself as run-producer.  As one of the younger players on the team, Stavinoha is making himself a player to remember in future discussions about the Cardinals outfield.

 

Another player to remember and a guy most St.Louis fans can't forget is OF Rick Ankiel.  Ankiel returned from the disabled list this week and did so triumphantly, hitting two home runs Monday and collecting five RBI in the process.  Ankiel joins a star-studded minor league outfield with Skip Schumaker and Stavinoha.  Ankiel is batting .275 and is in the top five in the PCL in both home runs (11) and RBI (39).

 

2B Edgar Gonzalez has continued to rake this year for the Redbirds.  With his average at .300 or higher for much of the season, Gonzalez has been moved around in the lineup and responded when needed.  Gonzo was the primary number two guy in the lineup until Tagg Bozied and Ankiel went down, then he moved into the five spot and started showing more power to the gaps and even hit a couple out.  Gonzalez has not been a weekly Who's Hot guy only because of his consistency.

 

SP Blake Hawksworth has continued his string of great performances this week.  Against Nashville last Tuesday, he went six strong innings giving up four hits and two runs while striking out five and then on Sunday, he pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up five hits and not striking out or walking anybody.  Blake has been the recipient of poor run support and bad luck though, so his record sits at only 3-6, although his ERA has dipped to 2.98.

 

RP Andy Cavazos has appeared in more games than any other Redbird pitcher this season with 20.  In his last ten, he has not yielded an earned run, spanning 12.1 innings.  In that time, he has allowed 12 hits while walking three but he has also struck out 11 batters.  After giving up three home runs early in the season, Cavazos has worked out the kinks and has gone after batters and it has yielded success.  He has also stayed healthy which has been key for a hurting bullpen.

 

Who's Not

 

UT Rico Washington has been praised here before for his ability to play multiple positions and surprising power but it's safe to say he is struggling badly as of late.  Washington has only six hits in his last 40 at bats with no RBI or extra base hits.  He has walked six times while striking out six as well, but Rico has cooled since the hot streak he got on once he was called up.

 

Another guy who got off to a quick start in a Redbird uniform was OF Skip Schumaker but he has also cooled as of late, batting only .183 in his last 10 games.  Schumaker does have a pair of homers and six runs scored, but he's done a poor job making contact with 11 strikeouts. 

 

3B Travis Hanson hasn't walked in his last ten games and he went a span of 15 at bats without getting a hit, including a game in which he struck out in all four plate appearances.  Hanson's average is stuck below .200 and there is not much relief in sight as Hanson hasn't flashed too much potential this year.

 

What We Know

 

The recent re-additions of RP Brian Falkenborg, Rick Ankiel and Tagg Bozied do wonders for this team.  Falkenborg has been an absolute stopper at the end of the pen while Ankiel and Bozied are two of the better hitters in the league.  Ankiel and Bozied have teamed with a surging Nick Stavinoha to provide a dangerous middle of the order.  This team can get back into contention if they can manage to stay relatively healthy.

 

Ankiel and Hawksworth are beginning to separate themselves as the stars of the team.  Both players have difference-making ability and it's starting to show with their recent performances.  Cardinals fans should be excited at the future of both players but also realize that neither has an immediate future in the bigs; they still need time.

 

Anthony Reyes should be a great addition to the team but more importantly, he needs to get his confidence back and win games.  With an offense led by Bozied and Ankiel behind him, he should do just that if he can pitch his game.  It will be exciting to watch Anthony and I will certainly be evaluating each and every start to see what he's working on and how he's adjusting. 

 

 

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