The Johnson City Cardinals Report: Week Seven

This week's report on the short-season Appalachian League's Johnson City Cardinals from our on-site beat reporter, Shawn Kerrick. Nick Additon is our tandem starting pitcher of the week.

The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of 3-3 to take their overall record to 16-19.  The team had eight games scheduled this week, including a doubleheader on Friday night against the Bristol White Sox, however, rain suspended Tuesday's game against the Elizabethton Twins and cancelled Saturday's game against Bristol. 


The Cardinals are currently in third place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League – eight and half games behind the Elizabethton Twins and two and half games behind the Kingsport Mets.  As of Sunday morning, the offense had maintained its third place position in the nine-team league in batting average (.270) and had moved into third place in hits.  The offense was in fourth place in on-base percentage and walks.  The Cardinal hitters had the second fewest strikeouts in the league.  The batters were anywhere from third place to seventh place in all other offensive categories. 


The pitching staff continues to perform better than the team's win/loss record would indicate.  As of Sunday morning, the pitching staff's earned run average (3.82) and walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (1.41) were fourth best in the league while their sixteen wins were only seventh best.  The Cardinals are tied for the league lead with five shutouts, after having recorded two this week.  The pitching continues to suffer through the league's most unearned runs (forty-four).  The pitching staff has recorded the second most walks in the league with 142.


I was able to attend three of the six completed games, as well as the suspended game, in person.  I attended both games against Bristol and both games against Elizabethton.  Those observations provide the basis for this report. 


The roster has again undergone some changes and has been reduced from twenty-nine "active" players to twenty-eight.  Listed below is a summary of those transactions.


Roster Addition

#48 – SP Andres Rosales from Columbia via the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.  Rosales takes the place of Brian Broderick as one of the tandem starting pitchers.


RP Ryan Hodinka has switched to uniform # 5. 


Roster Deletions

#10 – SP Brian Broderick promoted to Batavia in the New York-Penn League.  Broderick was the starting pitcher that had clearly demonstrated the best command and control of his pitches, walking just four and striking out twenty-three in thirty-six innings pitched.  Congratulations to Brian for a well deserved promotion!


#18 - RP Chuckie Fick promoted to Quad Cities in the Midwest League.  Former Johnson City Cardinal Marco Gonzalez's misfortune turned into Fick's good fortune.  Gonzalez was placed on the Quad Cities disabled list in the middle of the week and Fick earned the promotion as a groundball specialist.  Congratulations to Chuckie for his promotion!


Disabled/Inactive/Suspended List

RP Steve Hill – undergoing elbow strengthening and stretching exercises

SS Melvin Puello – elbow ligament replacement surgery

C Garrett Bussiere – post-concussion syndrome

OF Wil Pujols

RP Kris Bakey

SP Matt North – in Jupiter, FL rehabbing


All thirty of the "active" players then on the roster saw action this week.  Starting pitcher Mark Diapoules returned to the eight-man tandem starting rotation from a brief absence due to lower back soreness.  As a reminder, here are the current pairings when doubleheaders are not involved:


Tyler Leach and Omar Javier

Nick Additon and Jose Arredondo

Senger Peralta and Jose Mateo

Mark Diapoules and Andres Rosales


The Week in Review

Game Thirty:  Sunday's game against the Princeton Devil Rays extended the Cardinals' winning streak to five games.  Johnson City scored in each of the first three innings and took a 5-0 lead into the top of the ninth.  The Devil Rays plated two in the ninth but reliever LaCurtis Mayes struck out the potential tying run at the plate for the last out as the Cardinals won by a score of 5-2.  It was the tenth game this year where the defense committed three or more errors. 


First tandem starter Nick Additon got his first win of the year and his fourth pitcher-of-the-game award.  Additon retired his first ten batters faced and went five innings; allowing no runs, no walks, and just two hits while recording seven strikeouts.  Second tandem starter Chuckie Fick made what turned out to be his final appearance for Johnson City. Fick allowed just one groundball, infield-single, over two scoreless innings-pitched. 


Three players recorded two or more hits for the Cardinals.  Catcher Casey Mulligan extended his hitting streak to five games by going 2-for-4 with one run-batted-in.  Right fielder Jon Edwards extended his hitting streak to three games by 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored.  Second baseman Mike Folli was the leadoff hitter for the fourth time this year and for the second time in that role, recorded a three hit game.  Folli, the position player of the game for the fifth time this year, was 3-for-5 with a double, a run scored, and a run-batted-in.  Center fielder Adron Chambers extended his hitting streak, with at least one at-bat, to six games. 


Game Thirty-One:  Monday's game was against the first place Elizabethton Twins in Johnson City.  The Cardinals sent their "ace", Brian Broderick, to the mound against a team that was 24-7 through their first thirty-one games.  In attendance was Cardinals' Vice President Jeff Luhnow.  Broderick pitched a shutout against the second best offensive team in the league and must have suitably impressed Luhnow since it turned out to be his last appearance for Johnson City before his promotion to Batavia.  The Cardinals scored one run in the third and two runs in the fourth to win the rain shortened, six-inning game by a score of 3-0.  It was the season-high sixth win in a row for the Cardinals. 


Broderick, pitcher-of-the-game for the sixth time in eight opportunities, allowed no runs and just two hits with his sixty-one pitches and forty-five strikes over five innings pitched.  Broderick allowed just a .125 average to the Twins, who came into the game hitting .295 as a team.  One of the hits was a well-placed push-bunt to the second baseman and the other was a three-hop groundball double directly over the third base bag.  Broderick threw first pitch strikes to eleven of the seventeen batters he faced.  Second tandem starter Tyler Leach threw only ten pitches to retire the side in order in the sixth.  Casey Mulligan was at the plate in the bottom of the sixth with a 3-1 count when a nearby lightning strike halted the game in the middle of the Twins' pitcher's wind-up. 


Center fielder Adron Chambers just missed hitting an opposite-field two-run home run in the third by a couple of inches.  The ball hit the top of the scoreboard in left field and bounced high in the air.  The two-out double scored the Cardinals first run of the game.  Shortstop Domnit Bolivar earned player-of-the-game honors for the second time this year by being the only player to record more than one hit.  The youngest player on the roster was 2-for-2 with a run scored and a two-out run-batted-in.  Bolivar started two double plays and recorded his second stolen base of the year.  After the game, Bolivar was hitting only .242 for the year but he was hitting .333 with runners-in-scoring position. 


Suspended Game:  Tuesday's game in Johnson City was also against the Twins in front of Jeff Luhnow.  A light rain started about the third inning and it progressively got harder until the game had to be suspended when Johnson City was leading by a score of 1-0 in the top of the fifth inning.  Starter Omar Javier was only a double-play ball away from a rain-shortened shutout victory.


Javier allowed four hits and two walks over four and one third innings but had loaded the bases when the game was delayed.  Rain likely contributed to the two walks in the fifth that loaded the bases. 


The Cardinals could only muster three hits against the Twins ace, David Bromberg.   Johnson City scored their one run shortly after the rain began in the bottom of the third.  Travis Mitchell lined an opposite field single just passed the outstretched glove of the Twins first baseman and then advanced to second on his fourth stolen base of the year.  Mike Folli then plated Mitchell on a first pitch two-out single to center field. 


The game will be resumed at 6 PM on August 8 as part of a doubleheader in Johnson City. 


Game Thirty-Two:  Wednesday night's game in Greeneville against the Astros was the longest game of the year in both innings (fourteen) and time (four and half hours plus one hour rain delay before the start).  A beautiful rainbow filled the sky during the early innings.  Unfortunately, the Cardinals lost the game by a score of 6-5 to end their six-game win streak.  The Cardinals would have won the game 4-3 if earned runs were the only ones counted as the Cardinals committed three errors that led to three unearned runs.  Johnson City used twenty players, including eight pitchers, and out-hit the Astros 14-11. 


Reliever Eduardo Sanchez won his third pitcher-of-the-game award in three appearances by being the only pitcher to face five or more batters and allow no hits or walks.  Sanchez struck out four over two and one third innings pitched and has yet to allow a run, hit, or walk in his three games.  It was the eleventh game this year that the defense committed three or more errors. 


Four batters recorded multi-hit games for the Cardinals.  Designated hitter Joey Hage extended his hitting streak to five games by going 2-for-7 with a run-batted-in.  Left fielder Beau Riportella was 2-for-7 with two doubles, a run scored, and one run-batted-in.  Shortstop Domnit Bolivar committed his fifteenth error and was picked-off second base but he finished the game 3-for-6 with a run scored.  Player-of-the-game for a team high sixth game this year was second baseman Mike Folli.  Folli extended his hitting streak to three games by going 3-for-7 with a run scored.  


Game Thirty-Three:  The Cardinals exacted revenge in a big way for Wednesday night's loss to Greeneville.  Johnson City recorded their league leading fifth shutout of the year and scored their most runs this year in an 18-0 shellacking of the last place Astros.  The Cardinals recorded thirteen hits while allowing only three.  So how do you score eighteen runs on just thirteen hits?  It is easier to understand when you know that Greeneville walked eleven and committed seven errors. 


First tandem starter Jose Arredondo may have had the best performance this year that didn't garner a pitcher-of-the-game award by going five innings and allowing no runs, on three hits while recording one walk and six strikeouts.  Second tandem starter Nick Additon won the pitcher-of-the-game award for his fifth time this year in eight games by pitching a perfect (no runs, no hits, and no walks) four innings while recording six strikeouts.


Only three batters had multi-hit games for the Cardinals, but catcher Casey Mulligan had three walks and shortstop Domnit Bolivar had four runs-batted-in.  Second baseman Mike Folli raised his batting average above .300 for the first time this year by going 2-for-6 with a double and three runs-batted-in.  Right fielder Jon Edwards, who actually was responsible for two of the three outs in the ten-batter sixth inning, was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, and a walk.  Player-of-the-game Nick Vera must really like hitting in the newest Appy League ballpark in Greeneville.  Vera won the honor for the second time this year, after doing so in the first game of the year in Greeneville, by going 3-for-4 with four runs scored, a run-batted-in, and a walk. 


Games Thirty-Four and Thirty-Five:  A Friday night scheduled doubleheader against the Bristol White Sox in Johnson City.  The team looked tired as they lost both games.  They could only muster eleven hits in fourteen innings against the second worst team in the league.  The Cardinals came into the game as the hottest team in the league, having won eight of their last ten games. 


Game 1:  Johnson City never led during the game and lost by a score of 4-2.  Newly acquired GCL starter Andres Rosales made his Johnson City debut and won pitcher-of-the-game honors by allowing two runs and four hits over five innings pitched.  Perhaps most impressive was that he walked none and recorded four strikeouts.  Rosales, the only pitcher wearing glasses on the staff, threw sixty-two pitches, forty-five for strikes, but may have been getting a little too much of the plate as he allowed two doubles and a triple.  Relievers Ryan Hodinka and Joel Pichardo each allowed solo home runs in their one inning pitched. 


Five Cardinals went 1-for-3 to account for all the hits so picking a player-of-the-game was a bit of a challenge but on the strength of a seven game hitting streak and the only two runs-batted-in for the game, designated hitter Joey Hage won the hitting award.


Game 2:  Bristol jumped on starter Mark Diapoules for four runs in the first inning and never looked back as they shutout the Cardinals by a score of 7-0.  It was the second time this year that Bristol shut out the Cardinals in Johnson City.  Diapoules threw thirty-two pitches in the first inning while allowing four singles and a triple. 


Right fielder Joey Hage extended his hitting streak to eight games (twelve singles) and is hitting .343 over his last ten games.  Hage is looking to improve his performance with runners-in-scoring-position (.154) and against lefties (.190).  Left fielder Adron Chambers extended his hitting streak to nine games (with at least one at-bat) and is hitting .318 in Johnson City and .333 with runners-in-scoring-position.  Second baseman Mike Folli extended his hit streak to six games by going 1-for-3.  Folli has turned into the team's best clutch hitter by posting a .342 average when batting with runners-in-scoring-position.  The switch hitter is looking to improve his hitting against lefties (as a right handed batter) since that average is only .174 as compared to a .306 average overall. 


Rained Out Game:  We really needed the rain and I think the team really needed some rest so it may have been good to see Saturday night's game against the Bristol White Sox rained out.  The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in Bristol on Monday August 20 since the Cardinals will not be playing Bristol at home again the year.   


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, Chuckie Fick, Nick Additon, and Jose Arredondo.  Note:  I know there are ten listed but Chuckie Fick and Brian Broderick were promoted and Andres Rosales and Mark Diapoules took their places. 


The tandem starters threw sixty-nine percent of the fifty two and one third innings pitched this week and produced a collective 0.86 walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the process.  Omar Javier pitched this week but it was part of the suspended game so he really wasn't in the running since his stats will not be recorded until the game is completed during week nine.


Five starters recorded WHIPs of less than one but only one of those starters was able to do that in two appearances while pitching the maximum number of innings.  Not only did he do that, but he also ended up with the best WHIP of all the starters pitching more than one inning so it really was an easy decision this week.  With a 0.22 WHIP over nine innings pitched while allowing no runs, only two hits, and no walks while recording thirteen strikeouts, the starting tandem pitcher-of-the-week was Nick Additon.  Congratulations Nick! 


Relief pitchers eligible for selection:  Eduardo Sanchez, Joel Pichardo, LaCurtis Mayes, Ray Silva, Ryan Hodinka, Wladimir Mendoza and Dylan Gonzalez. 


Last week, as a group, the pen threw sixteen and one third innings pitched in fourteen appearances.  Three of the seven relievers posted a WHIP of less than two but only one did it with no runs allowed.  For the second week in a row, reliever Eduardo Sanchez is the relief pitcher of the week.  Sanchez allowed no runs, no hits, and no walks while recording four strikeouts in two and one third innings pitched.


Starting position players eligible for selection:  DH-Joey Hage, 2B-Mike Folli, 3B-Wilmer Alvarado, 1B-Matt Arburr, RF-Jon Edwards, LF-Beau Riportella, SS-Domnit Bolivar, C-Casey Mulligan, and CF-Adron Chambers.  Four of the nine starters posted batting averages above the team's week-seven average of .269. 


Hage was 6-for-21 (.286) with the second most runs-batted-in (five).  Bolivar was 7-for-22 (.318) with the most runs-batted-in (six).  Edwards was 5-for-14 (.357) with one double and one triple.  This week's position player of the week was Mike Folli.  Folli was 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles and a stolen base.  Folli raised his batting average above the .300 mark for the first time this year.   


Reserve players eligible for selection:  RF/CF/LF-Travis Mitchell, DH-Rob Sanzillo, C-Roberto Espinoza, and 1B/LF-Nick Vera.  Only one of the reserves this week posted a batting average above .200 and it was way above that.  In fact it was the highest batting average for the team this week.  Reserve player of the week, for the second week in a row, Nick Vera was 6-for-11 (.545) with two doubles, four runs and one run-batted-in.  Vera is making a strong pitch for returning to the land of the starters.



Manager Joe Almaraz confirmed that Pete Kozma will be assigned to Johnson City after about "seven to ten days" of getting in playing shape.  Kozma is playing with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals and could be on his way to Tennessee late next week or early in week nine.


I talked very briefly with Jeff Luhnow during his short stay here in Johnson City.  He acknowledged that the short season squads are struggling a bit to keep full rosters with the addition of the Gulf Coast League Cardinals this year but he also added that he thought that the Johnson City team could be competing with the Danville Braves and the Elizabethton Twins at the top of the Appy League in a few years once the flow of Latin American players becomes a bit more organized over the next few years and once the organization gets used to the recent changes made to the lower minor leagues.  Luhnow was obviously excited about the future.   


Beau Riportella's mother Bethany sang the national anthem before Monday night's game against the Elizabethton Twins. 


League Leaders in Hitting

Riportella –fourth in batting average (.339), eighth in stolen bases (8), and ninth in hits (39).

Mulligan – tied for fourth in walks (21) and tenth in on-base percentage (.407).

Folli – tied for tenth in hits (37). 


League Leaders in Pitching

Arredondo – tied for first in wins (4), fourth in WHIP (0.87), and eighth in earned run average (2.10).

Broderick – tied for third in innings pitched (36), fourth in earned run average (1.75), and fifth in WHIP (0.97).

Mateo – fifth in earned run average (1.97).

Peralta – tied for tenth in strikeouts (31).

Additon – tied for ninth in strikeouts (32).

Mayes – tied for first in games (13).

Gonzalez – tied for sixth in games (11).


Who is hot

Brian Broderick – starter with great control gets promoted.

Chuckie Fick – groundball reliever gets promoted.

Nick Additon – strikeouts are coming in bunches with no walks.

Mike Folli – .350 last ten games.

Eduardo Sanchez – no hits, runs, or walks in three games since promotion from GCL.

Jose Arredondo – 0.80 WHIP this week.

Ray Silva – seven inherited runners this year and only one scored.


Who is not

Jose Mateo – 2.57 WHIP, three walks, and only one strikeout this week.

Wilmer Alvarado – .125 average and two errors this week.

Matt Arburr - .154 batting average and two errors this week.

Travis Mitchell - .133 batting average this week.

Beau Riportella - .200 batting average this week.



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