The Memphis Redbirds Report – Week Ten

This week's Triple-A Memphis Redbirds report from our on-site beat reporter, Brent Diederich. In his return to the minors, Anthony Reyes has performed well and has another important game on Tuesday.



It's the dog days of summer in Memphis as the Redbirds have continued to slip in the standings but also continue to get exceptional individual performances.  It's a daily good news, bad news roller coaster for the team as they are only 2-8 in their last ten games, but they also own the leading all-star vote getter in the Pacific Coast League in Rick Ankiel. 


The pitching has struggled recently, leading to a 1-3 trip to Albuquerque, but the team also scored 15 runs on Sunday, there most in one game this season in the lone victory.  The big news of the week, other than the ending of "The Sopranos", is that the organization has added Troy Percival to help out the Memphis bullpen and eventually St. Louis'. 


Where Do They Stand?


The Redbirds are now 28-37, nine games behind PCL leading Iowa, who is 37-26.  Nashville is 36-28 while Omaha is 32-32. 


Injury Update


There are no new injuries although 3B Travis Hanson and RHP Matt Ginter are still on the DL after being placed there last week.


Player Movement


C Brian Esposito was optioned back to Memphis when Kelly Stinnett was activated.  LHP Ryan Meaux was released to make room for Esposito. RHP Andy Cavazos was called up while SS Brendan Ryan was also sent back down to Memphis.  Cavazos is the sixth player to get their first Major League call up this year for St. Louis.  And of course, record-breaking closer Troy Percival has been signed to a minor league deal by St. Louis and is expected to be in Memphis during or before Tuesday's game.


Who's Hot


It's true; OF Rick Ankiel is the leading vote getter in the PCL right now and he's on a tear.  Ankiel has homered once each in his last three games and he's batting .333 over his last 10 games with four home runs total with nine RBI and seven runs.  He now has 15 home runs and 48 RBI on the season.  Ankiel's 48 RBI match the total that last year's RBI leader John Nelson had for the entire season.  Fellow OF's John Rodriguez and Skip Schumaker also have nice stat lines over their last 10 games.  Schumaker has 12 hits in his last 37 at bats while Rodriguez is 10 for his last 29 with 10 hits and 10 runs scored as well as four home runs and nine RBI.


RHP Anthony Reyes has now made two starts for Memphis and he has given up only three earned runs in 14 innings.  He also has 10 strikeouts in that period with only two walks.  Reyes will face off against the PCL's strikeout king and soon-to-be big leaguer Yovani Gallardo of Nashville Tuesday in a marquee minor league match up. 


SS Mike McCoy has moved back into a utility role with the return of Brendan Ryan but over his last eight starts, McCoy was 16-for-34 with nine runs scored.


Who's Not


This week's list is a little different since the entire Redbird pitching staff has been struggling as of late.  Over the last 82 innings that the staff has pitched, they have allowed 131 hits, 74 runs, and 30 walks to only 59 strikeouts.  Lefties Randy Keisler and Troy Cate in particular have struggled as Cate has give up nine earned runs in six and 2/3 innings while Keisler has given up 11 runs in exactly 10 innings. 


RHP Hugo Castellanos has fallen in to a funk, giving up six walks and six earned runs over his last six and 2/3 innings and Dennis Dove has given up four earned runs in his last two and 1/3 innings.


As for the hitters, INF/OF John Nelson has only three hits in his last 21 at bats, although one was a big three-run homer.  Tagg Bozied is hitting only .212 in his last ten games. While he has scored 10 runs over that span, he has only three RBI.


What We Know


For the season, the starters are 19-29 with a 5.45 ERA while the relievers own a 4.26 ERA.  These numbers are hurting the Redbirds as the offense has again picked up.  With Anthony Reyes back in the rotation, Memphis has a good mix of youth (Blake Hawksworth and Mike Parisi) as well as veterans (Mike Smith, Randy Keisler) that need to step up.  Reyes has been terrific in two starts while Hawksworth has been up and down.  These two have the best chance to be quality big leaguers and could provide crucial innings down the stretch for St. Louis if they get a roll and show they are worthy. 


It's also no wonder the team has decided to roll the dice on Percival as the relievers here in Memphis have all hit bumps in the road while no one has quite dominated sans Kelvin Jimenez early in the season.  The experiments with Dove, Cate and now Cavazos with the big league ball club will be telling for the future of the Cardinal bullpen and their progress down here will be followed closely. 


If you live in Memphis or are within driving distance and want to see a good game, Tuesday's match up is as good as it gets in the minors.  Anthony Reyes will face off against Yovani Gallardo, who had an eight game winning streak snapped in his last start.  Gallardo is for the Brewers what Reyes was for the Cards last year; in that he is the team's best pitching prospect and one of the five best in baseball.  Both starters can heave in the mid 90s and own breaking pitches that buckle hitters knees.  Milwaukee's farm system is very strong but Gallardo is the best of their bunch.



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