The Memphis Redbirds Report – Week 16

This week's Triple-A Memphis Redbirds report from our on-site beat reporter, Brent Diederich. First baseman Mike Ferris is the newest Redbird.



The Memphis Redbirds stride home Tuesday after ending a six-game losing streak on Monday.  It was starter Randy Keisler that got the team off the hook with a terrific performance Monday.  Tagg Bozied helped Keisler's effort with a home run as the Redbirds, desperate for a win, can now return home looking to start a winning streak.  It's obvious the Redbirds have been struggling but manager Chris Maloney now has some new pieces and old faces to help improve. 


Where Do They Stand?


Memphis now sits at 42-61, 20.5 games behind division leading Nashville at 62-40.  The Iowa Cubs are 57-46 and the Omaha Royals are 49-54.


Injury Update


RHP Mike Sillman has begun a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League, seeing his first action since being placed on the Disabled List on May 27th.


Player Movement


RHP Kelvin Jimenez has been recalled to St. Louis while LHP Troy Cate has been sent down to Memphis.  Also, 1B Mike Ferris has been promoted from Springfield to Memphis.


Who's Hot


OF Joe Mather had a big game on Sunday, leading off and going 4-for-5.  Although all Mather's hits were singles, it was a big step for him as his average climbed over .200.  Mather has struggled after showing big potential in Springfield and his ability is such that he can lead off with his above-average speed or bat lower in the lineup to take advantage of his power. 


LHP Randy Keisler had a terrific start on Monday, pitching seven innings while allowing only one run for the victory.  Keisler's start was a shot in the arm for a struggling squad that needs veteran leadership.  Keisler struck out four while walking three and allowing seven hits over his seven innings.


Who's Not


RHP Mike Smith, who was pitcher of the week in the PCL earlier this month, has had back-to-back rough starts.  After giving up seven hits and five runs on July 14th, he served up six runs on nine hits in five and two thirds on Thursday.  Smith has allowed six walks while striking out eight over those last two starts.


UT Mike McCoy, who has been a terrific leadoff hitter and shortstop for much of the season, is in a funk.  McCoy has only two hits in his last 32 at bats while scoring only one run.  That is exactly what you don't want from a top of the order hitter and it has not helped the Redbirds' struggles.


OF Rick Ankiel has been a part of the Who's Hot list for much of the season but now finds himself, like much of the team, trying to find his stroke.  Ankiel is batting .211 over his last ten games with only one home run.  He also has only three RBI and three walks while striking out 10 times.  With most of the lineup struggling, it doesn't help to have your star in a funk as well, and Memphis has found that out the hard way.


What We Know


The team is not playing very well, that's a fact, but it's also a fact that minor league baseball is not about wins and losses, but player development.  Player's such as Mike Parisi, Blake Hawksworth, Ankiel and others have shown strides from opening day.  Parisi has refined his mechanics and his strikeouts have increased dramatically.  Blake Hawksworth has begun to show mental toughness as well as physical stamina.  Ankiel has worked on plate discipline and it has shown in key situations, although it is something he continues to develop. 


Players like Troy Cate and Kelvin Jimenez have seen their seasons rotate through St. Louis and Memphis as both have been called up and sent down multiple times.  The major league experience for both is excellent for their development and it helps for players on the team to know that there is always something to work on as well as new things to learn.  It's also important for the players to respond positively to being demoted, as the mental aspect of the game is just as important, if not more so, than the physical.



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