The Johnson City Cardinals Report: Week Ten

This week's report on the short-season Appalachian League's Johnson City Cardinals from our on-site beat reporter, Shawn Kerrick. Nick Vera is our position player of the week.

The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of 2-6 to take their overall record to 24-34.  Ten games below .500 is the worst record the team has had so far this year.  The team had eight games scheduled this week, including a day/night two-city doubleheader against their Western Division rival Kingsport Mets. 

 

The Cardinals are currently in third place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League – eighteen and a half games behind the Elizabethton Twins and five and a half games behind the Kingsport Mets.  As of Sunday morning, the offense maintained its third place position in the nine-team league in batting average (.260) despite hitting only .239 for the week.  They were below their season average for the third week in a row.  The Cardinal hitters rank between third and sixth in all offensive categories except caught stealing (seventh) and stolen base success rate (seventh). 

 

It was a bad week on the base paths for the Cardinals as well as a tough two-week stretch.  The league average success rate on the base paths, as calculated by stolen bases divided by stolen bases plus caught stealing is about seventy percent.  The Cardinals' rate for the season is sixty-one percent.  This week it was forty-seven percent and the two-week average was forty-four percent.  Add in three pick-offs in Saturday night's game and a total of eleven base runners were thrown out during week ten.

 

The tandem starters made fourteen appearances this week and had a combined record of 0-3 with one hold and one save.  The team earned run average (ERA) for the week was 4.15 and the walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) for the week was 1.25.  As of Sunday morning, the team's season averages of 4.04 ERA and 1.42 WHIP were both fifth best.  The Cardinals are tied for the lead league with seven shutouts.  The pitching continues to suffer through the league's most unearned runs (seventy-one), adding eight more this week on fourteen errors.   The staff is now in last place in the league in walks allowed and is eighth in hit batters. 

 

I was able to attend six of the eight games in person.  I missed Sunday's home game against Bluefield (busy writing last week's report).  I listened to Thursday's game against the Elizabethton Twins on the radio and logged observations and pitch counts made by radio announcer Jay Sandos.  Those observations provide the basis for this report.

 

Note:  Eight of the Cardinals last ten games are on the road and it is unlikely I will be in town to see either of the last two home games during week twelve.  

 

Roster Additions

#41-SP-Reynier Gonzalez promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.  Gonzalez was promoted as an addition to the eight tandem starters due to the doubleheaders on Saturday of this week and Monday of next week. 

 

No other roster changes are expected this year.  When asked about Brett Zawacki, Manager Joe Almaraz mentioned Batavia as a more likely destination for him than Johnson City. 

 

Roster Deletions

None

 

Disabled/Inactive/Suspended List

SS-Melvin Puello – elbow ligament replacement surgery

C-Garrett Bussiere – post-concussion syndrome

RP-Kris Bakey

SP-Matt North – assigned to GCL Cardinals for rehab

Note: C/3B Wilmer Alvarado has been placed on the suspended list, not released as previously reported.

 

Thirty-one of the thirty-two "active" players on the roster saw action this week.  This included the first playing time in several weeks for OF-Beau Riportella, OF-Adron Chambers, and RP-Steve Hill.  I didn't realize that RP-LaCurtis Mayes saw no action this week until I started writing this report on Sunday so I haven't had a chance to ask why he wasn't used.  Mayes' last appearance was August 9. 

 

These were the tandem starter pairings and results (W=win, L=loss, H=hold, S=save) this past week:

 

Sunday:  Omar Javier (L, 0-6) followed by Tyler Leach

Monday:  Senger Peralta (L, 1-5) followed by Jose Mateo

Tuesday:  Jose Arredondo (L, 4-4) followed by Nick Additon

Wednesday:  Andres Rosales followed by Mark Diapoules (H, 1)

Thursday:  Reynier Gonzalez and Omar Javier (S, 1).

Friday:  Senger Peralta followed by Tyler Leach

Saturday Afternoon:  Nick Additon

Saturday Evening:  Jose Mateo

 

The Week in Review

Game 51, Bluefield Orioles 4 @ Johnson City 1:  I didn't get to see or hear Sunday's game, the only one this week, so my summary will rely only on the statistics I have been keeping for the team this year.  The Cardinals fell behind in the fourth and didn't score their run until the eighth inning.  In fact, it was until the bottom of the fifth inning until more than the minimum number of batters batted in an inning for the Cardinals. 

 

The ninth hitter in the Cardinal order, Travis Mitchell, singled with two outs but was caught stealing (his fifth) for the third out of the third inning.  One inning later, the same scenario played out for Nick Vera for his first caught stealing of the year.  Vera went on to win the position player of the game award for the Cardinals by going 3-for-4 and extending his hit streak to ten games.  Vera joined Beau Riportella and Adron Chambers as the only Cardinals with double digit hit streaks this year.  It was Vera's team-leading ninth player-of-the-game award.  Osvaldo Morales hit a solo home run, his second in as many games, to tally the only run.   

 

Second tandem starter Tyler Leach pitched very well and won his second pitcher-of-the-game award, his first since game twenty-six.  Leach threw four innings of shutout ball while allowing only two hits, both in his first inning.  Leach retired the last seven batters he faced.  Former major league umpire Dale Ford was behind the plate for this game. 

 

Game 52, Bluefield Orioles 11 @ Johnson City 7:  Monday's game was much more offensive than Sunday's.  However, the Cardinals never led after first tandem starter Jose Mateo gave up a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth.  Mateo had struggled and built his pitch count to sixty-nine going into the fifth, when he gave up three runs and four hits on sixteen pitches.  Second tandem starter Senger Peralta fared even worse than Mateo.  Peralta allowed four runs and three hits with his thirty-nine pitches over one and one third innings pitched.  Pitcher of the game was reliever Matt Spade.  Spade retired the side in order in the ninth on nine pitches and five strikes. 

 

Despite ten hits from the Cardinals, none of the came from the bat of Nick Vera, who ended his hit streak at ten games by going 0-for-4 with a walk.  It wasn't the way that Vera had hoped to celebrate his twenty-second birthday.  This game marked the return of Beau Riportella and Casey Mulligan.  Riportella had missed two weeks of play and appeared with a heavily taped left wrist.  Mulligan had missed five days with a bruised left wrist. 

 

Three Cardinals had multi-hit games.  Matt Arburr was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.  Position player of the game, his ninth of the year, was second baseman Mike Folli.  Folli was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a triple, one run-batted-in (RBI), and two walks.

 

Pete Kozma was 2-for-4 with a double, a run, an RBI, and a stolen base.  Kozma was also hit by a pitch on his loose-fitting jersey.  Kozma's single in the first was a nicely executed hit-and-run with Mike Folli breaking from first base.  Kozma's two-hop single was directed opposite field to the hole vacated by the Oriole second baseman.  Kozma's first pitch double missed being a home run by about ten feet. 

 

Game 53, Greeneville Astros 6 @ Johnson City 1:  The Cardinals could only muster four hits while committing three errors, two by third baseman Nick Vera.  There was very little I could find positive in this game other than getting a free T-shirt and a Yadier Molina commemorative baseball from BB&T when I walked in the gate. 

 

The Johnson City team appears to mimic the St. Louis Cardinals in their ability to hit lefties.  Only three starters had averages above .200 against lefties going into the game and one of those, Jon Edwards, had the only RBI.  This is somewhat puzzling since the only left-handed batter the Cardinals have is Adron Chambers, who was still out with an injury to his left leg.  Edwards is the only player on the team that has a respectable average of .304 against lefties.  Pete Kozma got my vote for position player-of-the-game by going 1-for-3 with a walk and a solid double to the right field gap. 

 

The two tandem starters threw all the pitches in this game and neither pitched as well as they have at previous times in the year.  First tandem starter Jose Arredondo got my vote for pitcher-of-the-game, his fourth of the year and his first since game twenty-four.  Arredondo had a slightly better WHIP for the game than Nick Additon but other than that, the two performed almost the same during the game, each giving up a double and a home run. 

 

Game 54, Greeneville 3 @ Johnson City 7:  A much better offensive game against a righty.  The team collected twelve hits including three doubles and a home run.  Eight of the nine starters had a hit and Beau Riportella had his first hit since July 31.  Dale Ford umpired his third game in Johnson City this week, this one behind the plate. 

 

The best hitters were the first three in the batting order.  Leadoff hitter Pete Kozma was 2-for-5 with two runs scored.  Mike Folli was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk.  Jon Edwards won his fourth player-of-the-game award this year by going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk, two runs scored, and four RBIs.  It was Edwards' first award since game forty-two.  Edwards' RBI double was over the third base bag on a 2-0 pitch.  Edwards' home run was a 410-foot blast over the left centerfield wall on a first-pitch high fastball.

 

First tandem starter Andres Rosales struggled in the second inning after a leadoff walk on a thirteen-pitch at-bat.  Rosales threw thirty-four pitches in the second and finished with sixty-six pitches through four innings.  Second tandem starter Mark Diapoules won the pitcher-of-the-game award, his third and his second in as many appearances.  Diapoules allowed only one groundball hit over three innings pitched while recording five strikeouts with his forty-six pitches.

 

Game 55, Johnson City 9 @ Elizabethton Twins 4:  I didn't attend this game but I did listen to it on the Elizabethton Internet radio feed.  The Cardinal defense was probably the difference in this game as four double plays did a good job of halting any Twin rallies.  Despite all the double plays, it was the Cardinals nineteenth game in a row with at least one error. 

 

The game marked the Johnson City debut for first tandem starter Reynier Gonzalez.  This now gives the team two Gonzalez' pitchers (Dylan is the other).  Gonzalez struggled with his control, firing four wild pitches and allowing three walks in four innings pitched.  I had sixty-nine pitches and forty-one strikes called by radio announcer Jay Sandos.  Reliever Ray Silva, who won both games this week and recorded his second win in as many games, garnered my vote for the pitcher-of-the-game award.  Silva retired the side in order in the fifth on eleven pitches and five strikes, courtesy of one of those double plays.

 

All seven of the nine Cardinals starters that played the entire game had at least one base hit with four having multi-hit games.  Second baseman Mike Folli was 2-for-5 with two runs scored.  Center fielder Travis Mitchell was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a double.  Right fielder Jon Edwards extended his hit streak to five games by going 1-for-3 with his second home run this week.  Shortstop Pete Kozma won his third position player-of-the-game award by going 2-for-5 with a double, his second professional home run, and three RBIs.  Third baseman Nick Vera was 2-for-5 with a RBI.   

 

Game 56, Elizabethton Twins 5 @ Johnson City 4:  The first of three one run losses in a row for the Cardinals.  All of the games could have easily been wins if some better plays had made on the field in some key situations.  This game was one of the worst umpired games I have seen this year in the Appy League.  When both catchers are called out on strikes and both question the calls, there must be something wrong with the strike zone.  I will not often comment on umpiring but this one was worthy of comment. 

 

Johnson City had a 4-2 lead in this game with two outs in the seventh inning when second tandem starter Tyler Leach began to struggle with his control.  With the help of the home plate umpire, Leach walked three batters in a row and followed that with a two-RBI single.  Two pitches later, in a 4-4 game, Leach was removed from the game with some elbow pain.  Reliever Dylan Gonzalez relieved Leach and pitched well enough to get a win.  Even though he got the loss, Gonzalez won my vote for pitcher of the game, his second of the year and his first since game four.  Gonzalez gave up a leadoff first-pitch triple in the eighth that could have easily been caught in right field by Beau Riportella.  Riportella was slow to judge the depth of the fly ball and tripped on the berm.  The triple would have likely been caught by a more experienced right fielder such as Jon Edwards.  

 

Two Cardinals had multi-hit games.  Third baseman Nick Vera was 2-for-3 with a RBI.  Center fielder Travis Mitchell edged out Vera for player-of-the-game award by going 2-for-4 with a run, a double, and a two-out RBI. 

 

Game 57, Kingsport Mets 1 @ Johnson City 0 (11 Innings):  A Saturday afternoon game as part of a two-city day/night doubleheader.  Pitching was obviously the story of this game as the teams combined for only eleven hits. 

 

First tandem starter Nick Additon was the only starter for this nine inning game and won my vote for pitcher of the game, his team leading eighth of the year for the starting pitchers.  Additon threw only sixty-one pitches, thirty-six for strikes, during his five innings pitched.  It seemed possible that he could pitch more than five innings with that pitch count. 

 

Catcher Ivan Castro won my vote for player of the game, his first in eight games, despite losing out on a double in the seventh inning when it was ruled that he didn't step on first base.  Castro was 2-for-5 (should have been 3-for-5) and was the only Cardinal with a multi-hit game.   

 

Game 58, Johnson City 7 @ Kingsport Mets 8:  Saturday night's game ended as a very frustrating walk-off one run loss.  The Cardinals led by a score of 6-1 going into the sixth inning after a dominating start by lone tandem starter Jose Mateo.  Mateo threw only forty-six pitches, thirty-nine for strikes, over his five innings pitched while allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts.  Mateo really wanted to pitch past the fifth but it wasn't allowed!  For the second game in a row, it seemed like pitch count would dictate additional work - possibly as a reward for efficient work on the mound.  Mateo threw first pitch strikes to sixteen of the eighteen batters he faced and recorded ten groundouts to only two fly outs.  Mateo was the obvious recipient of my pitcher-of-the-game award, his seventh of the year but his first since game thirty-seven.   

 

Nick Vera was one of only two hitters to record multi-hit games and he won my vote for position player of the game despite recording four outs on the base paths (two caught stealing and two pick-offs).  Vera was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.  Beau Riportella had his first caught stealing of the year after recording ten stolen bases (ninety-one percent success rate).  Reliever Steve Hill returned for his first action since July 12 and Matt Arburr extended his hit streak to a current team high of four games with a solo home run.   

 

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:  Omar Javier (two games), Tyler Leach (two games), Senger Peralta (two games), Jose Mateo (two games), Nick Additon (two games), Jose Arredondo, Andres Rosales, Mark Diapoules, and Reynier Gonzalez. 

 

The tandem starters threw seventy percent of the seventy-three and two thirds innings pitched this week and produced a collective 1.28 walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the process.  Diapoules (0.33) and Rosales (0.75) each recorded WHIPs of less than one in one appearance each while Additon (1.11) and Arredondo (1.2) each recorded WHIPs below the team average in two appearances each.  On the strength of his team leading eight strikeouts this week and the lowest WHIP in two appearances, Nick Additon wins his third starting tandem pitcher of the week award this year and his third in four weeks. 

 

Relief pitchers eligible for selection:  Ray Silva (five games), Matt Spade (three games), Dylan Gonzalez (three games), Ryan Hodinka (two games), Eduardo Sanchez (two games), Joel Pichardo (two games), and Steve Hill. 

 

As a group, the pen threw twenty-two innings while allowing ten earned runs this week.  Four of the seven relievers had a very good week and recorded WHIPs of less than the reliever's weekly average of 1.18:  Spade (0.90), Silva (0.83), Gonzalez (0.82), and Sanchez (0.33).  On the strength of the lowest WHIP allowed, Eduardo Sanchez wins his third reliever of the week award in the last five weeks since being promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. 

 

Starting position players eligible for selection:  1B-Osvaldo Morales, 2B-Mike Folli, SS-Pete Kozma, 3B-Nick Vera, LF-Joey Hage, CF-Travis Mitchell, RF-Jon Edwards, C-Ivan Castro, and DH-Matt Arburr.

 

Only three of the nine starters posted averages above the team's season average of .260.  Edwards was 7-for-26 (.269) with the most doubles (three), home runs (two), and RBIs (eight).  Kozma was 9-for-31 (.290) with a stolen base and the most hits and doubles (three).  This week's position player of the week, for the first time this year, was Nick Vera.  Vera was 9-for-28 (.321).  Vera started several 5-4-3 double plays this week and ended his ten game hitting streak early in the week. 

 

Reserve players eligible for selection:  SS/2B-Hector Alvarez (0-for-3), DH-Rob Sanzillo (2-for-7), C/3B-Casey Mulligan (4-for-17), C-Roberto Espinoza (1-for-5), LF-Adron Chambers (1-for-4), and RF/LF/CF-Beau Riportella (4-for-20).  Only one of the six reserves this week posted a batting average above the team's season average of .260.  After struggling for most of the year, the biology major from Johns Hopkins finally put together a respectable week of hitting.  Designated hitter Rob Sanzillo was 2-for-7 (.286) with two runs scored, a double, three runs batted in (third on the team for the week), and a walk.  Rob Sanzillo is the reserve player-of-the-week for week ten.  Congratulations Rob!   

 

League Leaders in Hitting

Vera – seventh in average (.307).

Riportella – eighth in average (.306).

Edwards – tied for ninth in home runs (six). 

 

League Leaders in Pitching

Additon – tied for seventh in strikeouts (51).

Mateo – tied for eighth in innings pitched (51.1). 

Sanchez – tied for eighth in saves (4).

D. Gonzalez – first in games (19).

Mayes – tied for fifth in games (18).

Silva – tied for eighth in games (17).

 

Notes

Area Scout Jeff Ishii served as the first base coach a few weeks ago.

College Specialist Mike Elias served as first base coach this week.

Minor League Field Coordinator Jim Riggleman was in Johnson City earlier this week.

Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins was in town this week.

Minor League Catching Coordinator Dann Bilardello was in town to watch Casey Mulligan catch.

 

 

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