The Johnson City Cardinals Report: Week Five

This week's report on the short-season Appalachian League's Johnson City Cardinals from our on-site beat reporter, Shawn Kerrick. Prior to his promotion to Batavia, Paul Vasquez earned our starting position player of the week nod for the second consecutive time.

The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of 3-2 to take their overall record to 8-13.  The team was scheduled to be off on Friday and Saturday.  The Cardinals are currently in third place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League – ten games behind the Elizabethton Twins and three and half games behind the Kingsport Mets.  As of Friday morning, the offense had moved up to fifth place in the nine-team league in batting average (.269), hits, singles, and doubles.  The team was in sixth or seventh in all the other offensive categories except runs and runs-batted-in, where they were in eighth place.  This is the second consecutive week that their offense has improved. 


The pitching staff continues to perform better than the team win/loss record would indicate.  As of Friday morning, the pitching staff's earned run average (4.29) and walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (1.53) were both fourth best in the league.  The Cardinals allowed six home runs this week and moved from first in the league to third (eleven).  The Cardinals gave up only one unearned run on six errors this week and dropped their errors per game average from 2.4 to 2.1.


I was able to attend the first three of the five games in person and those observations provide the basis for this report.  The roster has again gone through several transactions over the last week and now stands at twenty-nine "active" players.  It is becoming difficult to keep track of all the movement.  My head is spinning.  This is a very new situation for Johnson City - no longer at the bottom rung of the Cardinal's minor leagues - to see so many transactions so early in the season.  Listed below is a summary of those transactions.


Roster Additions

#9-C-Roberto Espinoza, promoted to Johnson City from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.  Espinoza was really struggling with the bat in Jupiter, hitting only .053 in nineteen at-bats.


3B-Wilmer Alvarado, reassigned from Quad Cities of the Midwest League.  Alvarado was struggling lately with the Swing, hitting 4-for-36 (.111) in his last ten games. 


I should be able to confirm the jersey numbers on Tuesday night. 


Roster Deletions

#38-3B-Tony Cruz.  Cruz was promoted to Batavia of the New York-Penn League and then to Quad Cities of the Midwest League all in the same week!  Cruz only spent six games with Johnson City and four games with Batavia.  Manager Joe Almaraz and I talked briefly about Cruz a day after his promotion to Batavia.  Joe was "beaming" like a proud father when we talked about Cruz. 


Cruz has, by far, the most advanced bat we have seen in Johnson City this year.  Cruz's stance at the plate (I only got to see him for two games) reminded of Albert Pujols' stance.  Wide, weight on the right leg, hands high and up by his right ear. 


Charlie Pelt was stinging the ball, but Cruz was impressive even when he was hitting into outs.  Joe said you could just tell from the sound of Cruz's bat hitting the ball that he was ready for the next level.  Cruz's defense at third base was equally impressive, starting several tough double plays.  Cruz appears to be a real gem of a find in the twenty-sixth round. 


#9-2B/SS/3B-Jose Garcia.  Garcia was promoted to Batavia of the New York-Penn League.  Garcia was a solid and steady performer.  Garcia played mostly second base with a few games at shortstop.  Garcia committed only three errors and turned numerous double plays.  Garcia ended his career at Johnson City with a nine-game hitting streak and hit .333 his last week with four runs, four walks, and just two strikeouts. 


#11-C/DH-Paul Vasquez.  Vasquez was promoted to Batavia of the New York-Penn League.  His last game, as a seventh inning substitute, ended his five-game two-hits per game hitting streak.  Vasquez threw out seven of thirteen would-be base stealers (fifty-four percent).


Disabled/Inactive List

SS-Melvin Puello

OF-Wil Pujols


Twenty-nine of the thirty active players on the roster last week saw action.  Relief pitcher Steve Hill returned to action after missing seventeen games due to "soreness" and a "tender" right arm.  Starting pitcher Matt North continues to rehab his right arm in Florida and was the only player on the roster to see no action.  Outfielder Adron Chambers returned to action after missing fourteen of the last fifteen games due to a sore hamstring. 


The Week in Review

Game Seventeen:  Sunday's game against the Bristol White Sox was the first of three road games scheduled this week.  Johnson City jumped ahead 1-0 in the fourth.  Adron Chambers was hit in the right shoulder with a 1-0 pitch in his first game after missing eight straight games.  Two wild pitches and a Mike Folli two-out single plated Chambers. 


Starting pitcher Jose Arredondo had an interesting outing.  The good news was that he had a pick-off at first base, a caught-stealing with Paul Vasquez, and a no-hitter through four and one third innings. The bad news was that he also had three walks and two hit batters.   Arredondo threw 81 pitches and 45 strikes before giving up back-to-back one-out singles in the fifth inning and giving way to relief pitcher Ryan Hodinka.  Hodinka promptly gave up a one-out RBI double that Travis Mitchell allowed to get past him to the wall.  Mitchell recovered quickly and got his first outfield assist at home, with help from shortstop Domnit Bolivar, on what would have been the go ahead run in a 1-1 game. 


The Cardinals broke the game open in the sixth inning for Hodinka – sending ten hitters to the plate and scoring four runs on five hits and two walks.  Johnson City went on to win the game by a score of 5 to 1. 


Pinch hitter and eventual player-of-the-game Matt Arburr had one of his two doubles on the night – both into the right centerfield gap – in the sixth.  Arburr seemed to respond well to me listing him in the "not hot" category last week.  Arburr's double in the seventh went about 370-feet off the right centerfield wall. 


Second tandem starter, and newly named Appalachian League Pitcher-of-the-Week, Nick Additon received pitcher-of-the-game honors by scattering a double and three singles with his fifty-eight pitches and thirty-four strikes over three innings pitched.  Despite averaging almost twenty pitches per inning, Additon threw first-pitch strikes to ten of the fourteen batters he faced.  Bolivar got his first walk of the year in his fourteenth game played.


Game Eighteen:  Monday's game against the Bluefield Orioles was the first of only two home games this week.  Unfortunately, it was also the first of both losses this week that were essentially lost before the Cardinals could record a single out.  Starter Tyler Leach didn't appear ready to pitch as he allowed three walks and four hits before being pulled in the top of the first inning with no one out.  Reliever Wladimir Mendoza didn't fare much better in the first inning as he allowed Leach's inherited runner to score, along with two of his own, on one hit-batter and three walks. 


Bluefield led 9-0 going to the bottom of the first inning.  The Cardinals didn't give up and outscored Bluefield by a score of 9-2 from that point on, but still lost by a score of 11-9.  Leach threw thirty-six pitches without recording an out but was probably close to his reduced pitch count anyway.  Mendoza and Dylan Gonzalez took the total Cardinals pitch count to 128 pitches and sixty-six strikes after just four innings pitched. 


Then pitcher-of-the-game and second tandem starter Brian Broderick entered and allowed only two singles over his five innings pitched to allow the Cardinals to get back into the game.  Broderick threw only fifty-six pitches, forty-one for strikes.  Broderick also threw first-pitch strikes to fourteen of the nineteen batters he faced.  Broderick has now established himself as the starting tandem pitcher with the best command and control and has received my vote for pitcher-of-the-game in four of his five appearances. 


Three Cardinals had multi-hit games.  Beau Riportella was 2-for-5 with a run scored and Paul Vasquez was 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored, and a run-batted-in and for the third time, just missed out on a player of the game vote.  Joey Hage received his second player-of-the-game award by going 3-for-5 with two first-pitch doubles, a walk, and three runs scored.


Game Nineteen:  Tuesday's game against Bluefield got off to a much better start.  Starter Jose Mateo sat down the first three hitters in order on thirteen pitches and Johnson City went on to score runs in six of the eight innings they batted to post a 10-4 victory. 


Mateo went on to win my vote for pitcher-of-the-game by throwing five innings while allowing no runs on three groundball singles, one walk, and three swinging-strikeouts.  Mateo averaged fifteen pitches per inning while getting his second win of the year.  Mateo also received his fourth pitcher-of-the-game award in five opportunities.  Mateo joins Broderick as the two pitchers with the most quality appearances in the tandem starter rotation. 


Four different players had two-hit games but only one of those three had three runs-batted-in - two of those were of the much-needed two-out variety.  Mike Folli, Jose Garcia, and Paul Vasquez just missed out on player-of-the-game honors to right fielder Adron Chambers.  Vasquez got his first walk of the season in his thirteenth game played.  Chambers had a clutch two-out single up the middle with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.  Chambers jumped on the first pitch immediately after an interesting series of events:  two consecutive walks, a pitching coach visit, and a brief chat with third base coach and Manager Joe Almaraz.  The single gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead that they would never relinquish.   


Game Twenty:  Wednesday night's game on the road against the Danville Braves was the second loss that occurred essentially before any outs were recorded as starter Senger Peralta didn't appear to be ready to pitch in the first inning.  Peralta allowed two doubles, two two-run home runs, a hit batter, and four runs in the first inning. 


Johnson City outscored Danville the rest of the way by a score of 5 to 3 but went on to lose the game by a score of 7 to 5.  Peralta settled down after the first five batters and scattered only three singles and two walks of a scoreless four innings pitched.  However, the bad start gave Peralta his third loss of the year.  Steve Hill, in his first appearance in three weeks, received my vote for pitcher-of-the-game by throwing one inning of scoreless and hitless relief.  Hill retired Danville's best hitter on the night with a strikeout. 


This game set several milestones for the Cardinal hitters.  It was the last game for both catcher Paul Vasquez and third baseman Jose Garcia.  Second baseman Mike Folli extended his hitting streak to seven games.  Although a switch hitter and a right-handed thrower, Folli has been a much better left-handed batter through the first twenty games – batting .071 as a righty and .333 as a lefty.  Garcia extended his hitting streak to nine games.  Catcher Casey Mulligan extended his games-with-a-walk streak to six.  Centerfielder Beau Riportella extended his hitting streak to nine games and his two-hits per game streak to four.  Player of the game Jon Edwards ended his five-game strikeout streak by going 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two runs-batted-in.  Edwards is hitting .314 on the road and .148 at home. 


Second tandem starter Mark Diapoules added two more hit batters to bring his league leading total to seven.  Diapoules was pulled immediately after his second hit-batter and just one inning pitched.  Reliever Ray Silva allowed his first hit and run as a Cardinal and reliever Chuckie Fick threw two more wild pitches to bring his season total to four in fewer than eight innings pitched.


Game Twenty-one:  Johnson City fell behind 3-0 with starter Nick Additon on the mound but then rallied with four runs, one in the top of the ninth, to win by a score of 4-3.  Additon gave up two home runs to designated hitter Travis Jones of the Braves.  Jones was celebrating his announced promotion to the Rome Braves. 


Johnson City got on the board in the fifth inning on back-to-back doubles by center fielder Travis Mitchell and first baseman Matt Arburr and then tied the game in the sixth with a one out single from left fielder Beau Riportella, a walk from catcher Casey Mulligan, a double steal, a throwing error by the catcher, and sacrifice fly by shortstop Domnit Bolivar. 


Player-of the-game and first-time leadoff hitter Mike Folli plated the winning run.   Folli lined a two-out ninth inning single to right field to score Bolivar, who led-off the inning with an infield single to third.  Folli extended his hitting streak to eight games.  In those eight games, Folli is 13-for-37 (.351) with ten runs-batted-in, two walks, and just one strikeout.  Mitchell extended his hitting streak to four games and is hitting .324 in his last ten games.  Left fielder Beau Riportella extended his hitting streak to a team-high ten games.  Riportella is 16-for-42 (.381) with fifteen singles during the streak. 


Second tandem starter Jose Arredondo received his second pitcher-of-the-game award this year by throwing three innings of scoreless and hitless relief and getting his second win of the year.  Steve Hill got his first save of the year by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth. 


Players of the Week

Each week, the roster is categorized into four categories:  Starting pitchers, relievers, starting position players, and reserves.  I then select one player from each category that warrants special notice as the Johnson City player of the week.


Starting pitchers eligible for selection:  Tyler Leach, Brian Broderick, Jose Mateo, Omar Javier, Senger Peralta, Mark Diapoules, Nick Additon, and Jose Arredondo. 


The tandem starters did not pitch nearly as well this week, as a group, as they pitched last week.  However, there were three that pitched well enough to be noted here.  In third place this week was Jose Arredondo.  Arredondo only allowed one run in seven and one third innings pitched and posted a 1.09 WHIP but he also hit two batters and allowed four walks.  In second place this week was one of just two "Jose's" we have left on the team, Jose Mateo.  Mateo had an excellent game in game nineteen, getting a win and posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.  In first place for the second week in a row, is Brian Broderick.  Broderick had his excellent game in game eighteen, posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.40 WHIP. 


The trio of Broderick, Mateo, and Arredondo are the only pitchers in the top ten of the league statistics (as of Friday and the last game for Johnson City).  Broderick leads the league in ERA (1.29) and is fourth in WHIP (1.05).  Mateo is sixth in WHIP (1.09) and eighth in ERA (2.05).  Arredondo is eighth in WHIP (1.12).


Relief pitchers eligible for selection:  Steve Hill, Chuckie Fick, LaCurtis Mayes, Ray Silva, Ryan Hodinka, Wladimir Mendoza and Dylan Gonzalez. 


Last week, as a group, the pen only threw eight innings in seven games.  However, this week they threw twelve innings in five games.  Four of the seven made two appearances each but only three of those pitched more than one inning.  Of those three, only one allowed no hits while recording one walk, four strikeouts, and one save in two innings pitched.  Who was that pitcher?  A well-rested Steve Hill is the reliever of the week. 


Starting position players eligible for selection:  CF-Beau Riportella, 3B-Mike Folli, 2B/3B-Jose Garcia, DH-Matt Arburr, RF-Jon Edwards, LF-Joey Hage, SS-Domnit Bolivar, 1B-Casey Mulligan, and C-Paul Vasquez. 


Several starters had good weeks.  Beau Riportella finished the week going 7-for-16 (.438), all singles, with four runs scored and two stolen bases.  Jose Garcia finished the week going 5-for-15 (.333), all singles, with four runs and four walks.  Mike Folli was 8-for-25 (.320) with two doubles and seven runs-batted-in.  Jon Edwards was 4-for-13 (.308) with two doubles, four walks, and only four strikeouts.  However, this week's starting position player of the week for the second week in a row was catcher Paul Vasquez.  Vasquez finished the week 7-for-14 (.500) with two doubles and a stolen base.  Vasquez threw out four base runners this week and recorded a pick-off at first base in four games while allowing only two stolen bases. 


Reserve players eligible for selection:  RF/DH-Adron Chambers, DH-Rob Sanzillo, CF-Travis Mitchell, and 1B/3B-Nick Vera.  Adron Chambers is the reserve player of the week.  Chambers was 3-for-12 (.250), with one double, two runs, three runs-batted-in, one walk, and one stolen base in four games.  Chambers was player-of-the-game for game nineteen.  Travis Mitchell was a close second to Chambers.  Travis Mitchell was 2-for-7 (.286) with one double and two runs scored in two games.



Director of College Scouting, Dan Kantrovitz, was coaching first base for several games last week until he was replaced by "four corners scout" (AZ, UT, CO, NM) Aaron Krawiec.  Krawiec was ejected from Sunday's game, game seventeen, in Bristol shortly after a near bench-clearing get together in the eighth inning.  The ruckus started when Jose Garcia had a 2-0 pitch thrown behind him and then a 3-0 pitch thrown in the dirt near his feet.  Garcia took a few steps toward the mound and several players from both benches started toward the mound.  It appeared that calm was restored and Garcia was standing on first base with his walk when the ejection took place. 


Who is hot

Some of these are in the "duh" category since players have already been promoted.

Tony Cruz

Paul Vasquez

Brian Broderick

Jose Mateo

Jose Garcia

Beau Riportella


League Leaders in Hitting

Riportella – eighth in batting average (.358) and fourth in stolen bases (seven).

Mulligan – fifth in walks (thirteen) and sixth in on base percentage (.448).


Who is not

Wladimir Mendoza – control issues.

Mark Diapoules – control issues.

Tyler Leach – infinite ERA this week and 11.88 ERA for the year.

Rob Sanzillo - .045 batting average.

Nick Vera - .196 batting average.


Although the team is getting better, they are still only 20-for-107 (.187) in getting a run-batted-in with two outs and runners in scoring position.  Folli (4-for-9), Bolivar (3-for-8), Chambers (2-for-5), and Garcia (2-for-5) are the best while Edwards (1-for-14), Riportella (1-for-11), Mitchell (1-for-9), and Mulligan (1-for-8) are each looking to improve. 



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