2007 Cards Players of the Year: JC

First of a ten-part series where our local correspondents identify the top starting pitchers, relievers and position players by level from the St. Louis Cardinals system during the 2007 season. We start with the Johnson City Cardinals of the short-season rookie level Appalachian League.

Editor's note: Check back here through November 25 as our local writers call out the top players – starter, reliever and position player - at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. We'll conclude the series with the top three players across the entire organization – our 2007 Cardinals Players of the Year.




When Brian Walton asked me to pull together a "Cardinals Players of the Year" article for Johnson City, my first thought was that it would be difficult to figure out who should be considered "in the running", given all the movement of players into and out of the roster this year. 


The 2007 Johnson City Cardinals roster saw forty-three different players receive playing time during the season.  Twenty-one of those were pitchers and twenty-two were position players.  Of the twenty-one pitchers, ten were part of the tandem starting pitcher rotation system and eleven were relievers.  Of the forty-three who saw playing time for Johnson City, twenty-five players (fifty-eight percent of the roster) were on another Cardinal minor league team at some point during the season.  In fact, only seven position players played their entire season at Johnson City.    


Position Player of the Year


The list below shows the names, primary position, number of games played, and number of times that player was awarded the "position player of the game" for Johnson City.  The list is ordered from top to bottom by the number of games played. 


Those players who played fewer than thirty-four games (half) of the sixty-eight-game schedule were not considered to be "in the running" for position player of the year.  The twelve players (Charlie Pelt, Paul Vasquez, Jose Garcia, Tony Cruz, Pete Kozma, Ivan Castro, Osvaldo Morales, Brian Buck, Wilmer Alvarado, Roberto Espinoza, Rob Sanzillo, and Hector Alvarez) that were excluded contributed seventeen "position player of the game" awards. 


Position Player of 
Player Position Games the Game Awards
Mike Folli 2B 61 9
Nick Vera 3B/1B 58 11
Jon Edwards RF 55 5
Travis Mitchell CF/LF 54 5
Casey Mulligan C 52 4
Joey Hage LF 49 3
Beau Riportella OF 48 5
Matt Arburr 1B/DH 44 2
Domnit Bolivar SS 39 2
Adron Chambers CF 36 5


I will discuss each of the ten players above in reverse order of how I ranked them for the award.


Matt Arburr, 10th – Arburr was second on the team in both triples and home runs however, Arburr had the greatest strikeout rate (41 percent of his at-bats) and the lowest batting average (.207).  An on base plus slugging average (OPS) of .687 for an older first baseman/designated hitter sealed his position toward the bottom of the rankings.


Joey Hage, 9th – Hage was promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals to start Week Four, got his average up to .277 at the end of Week Seven, and then ended the season at .208.  Hage is a pretty good contact hitter with very little power.  His outfield defense is above average and he demonstrates good range.  Hage was the third youngest of the forty-three who played so he has time to improve.  Hage seemed to be a little bit overmatched by some of the better pitching he faced. 


Casey Mulligan, 8th – Mulligan was with Johnson City for the second year in a row after hitting only .201 in sixty games last year.  He improved in all aspects of his game this year but not as much as I had expected.  Hampered by injuries and lack of a steady fielding position, Mulligan showed great flexibility in being able to catch, play third base, play first base, and be the designated hitter.  He started slowly, had a great Week Four to raise his average to .345, and then slowly dropped his average to .256 by the end of the year.


Mike Folli, 7th – Folli earned the workhorse of the team award by playing the most games but he was also the oldest of the ten finalists and was thirty-sixth oldest of the forty-three.  He got his average up to .306 after hitting .407 during Week Seven but his average steadily dropped over the last five weeks, ending at .269 for the year.  The switch-hitting Folli hit much better against right-handed pitchers. 


Domnit Bolivar, 6th – Bolivar struggled with his fielding at shortstop, averaging one error every two games, however he has very good range and made some spectacular, highlight-reel plays.  He was the youngest player on the team and will not be nineteen years old until next May.  Bolivar only hit .240 with Johnson City before being promoted to Batavia during Week Nine but his best impression at the plate was his ability to hit with runners in scoring position.  Bolivar was one of the better hitters on the team when the pressure to perform was greatest.  He will need to be a little more selective at the plate as he matures.  Bolivar averaged a team low of one walk every thirty-two at bats. 


Nick Vera, 5th – Vera was 4-for-4 with two doubles in Game One of the year but then went on a 4-for-31 streak over the next three weeks.  He was relegated to a back-up role and his average dropped to .196 at the end of Week Five.  Vera then averaged over .400 for three consecutive weeks and raised his season average to .314.  He finished with a .286 average but struggled defensively at third base.  Vera committed six errors in eight games at third base during Week Nine and finished the year playing some first base and right field.  He was the ninth oldest of the ten finalists.


Adron Chambers, 4th – Chambers was injured during a large part of the season but he played very well when he was able to play.  He was the only left-handed hitter of the ten finalists and his good speed allows him to get some unexpected infield base hits and outfield line drive outs. Chambers was little bit older than average (seventh of the ten finalists) but looks to have a lot of upside potential with both hitting and fielding.  He got his average up to .306 after Week Eight but like many others, it tailed off toward the end of the season and ended at .279. 


Travis Mitchell, 3rd – Mitchell showed the most improvement of the finalists repeating a year with Johnson City.  He hit only .207 last year in fifty-eight games but improved that to .293 this year in fifty-three games.  Mitchell will need to be a little more selective at the plate since he averaged only one walk every twenty-four at bats.  He tied for the team lead in stolen bases for the second straight year and added the ability to bunt for base hits this year.  Mitchell also dramatically improved his power by going from a slugging average of .235 last year to .382 this year.  If he continues to listen to coaches, work hard, and play defense with outstanding range in centerfield, he will get even more attention as a top prospect in the future.


Jon Edwards, 2nd – Edwards had a great start last year at Johnson City but tailed off toward the end of the year and finished the year hitting .266 in forty-eight games.  Following that up with a year of .245 in fifty-five games might seem to be discouraging however, he led the finalists in doubles, home runs, total bases, runs-batted-in, walks, slugging, and OPS.  Edwards's downside was his strikeout rate of more than one in every three at bats.  He has a great arm in right field and still looks to be a great prospect for the future, especially if he can shorten his swing and continue to improve his pitch recognition.


Beau Riportella, 1st – Riportella is not flashy and needs to improve his power and his off-speed pitch hitting but he is young and fast and has a lot of upside potential.  He hit .315 as the sixth youngest player of the forty-three and the third youngest of the ten finalists.  Riportella tied Mitchell for the team lead in stolen bases and had the best success rate of the eight players with five or more attempts.  He had the longest hitting steak of the year at fifteen games.  Riportella had his average as high as .368 after Week Six but saw his average decline after a wrist injury caused him to miss almost two weeks of playing time.  He had the fewest errors of all the outfielders and would have likely had even fewer than the two he had if he had been able to settle into one outfield position like most of the other outfielders were able to do. 



Relief Pitcher of the Year


The list below shows the names, number of games pitched, number of saves, innings pitched, and number of times that pitcher was awarded the "pitcher of the game" for Johnson City.  The list is ordered from top to bottom by the number of games pitched.  Those pitchers who threw fewer than fifteen innings were not considered to be "in the running" for relief pitcher of the year.  The six relievers (Chuck Fick, Wladimir Mendoza, Ryan Hodinka, Steven Hill, Matt Spade, and Pete Parise) that were excluded contributed seven "pitcher of the game" awards. 

Pitcher of





the Game

Ray Silva 21 1 22 5
Dylan Gonzalez 20 0 20.1 2
LaCurtis Mayes 18 1 23.2 2
Joel Pichardo 15 0 23 3
Eduardo Sanchez 12 5 15.1 5

I will discuss each of the five relief pitchers above in reverse order of how I ranked them for the award.


LaCurtis Mayes, 5th – Mayes had the most walks, the highest walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP), and the second highest earned run average (ERA) of the finalists.  He allowed seven of twelve inherited runners to score but he was the seventh youngest of the forty-three who played so he has time to improve.  Mayes is quick to home from the stretch and performed the best of the relievers against stolen bases, allowing four while nabbing three.  He injured his pitching elbow during Week Nine. 


Ray Silva, 4th – Silva joined the team late as a free agent signing but saw a lot of action in middle relief.  Silva was the second oldest player of the forty-three who played but he performed well with inherited runners, allowing just two of ten to score. 


Dylan Gonzalez, 3rd – Gonzalez has some entertaining habits between pitches on the mound but he struggled with his pitch counts against many hitters.  He would often seem to struggle more with self-induced jams than he did with inherited runners, only allowing five of fourteen in the later category to score.  Gonzalez was one of the older players on the team and was a steady performer. 


Joel Pichardo, 2nd – Pichardo was a mid-season call-up from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals who immediately performed well in middle relief when starting his own inning.  He allowed six of eight runners to score when he didn't start his own inning.  The nineteen year-old Pichardo demonstrated excellent control, walking only five, but was not much of a strikeout pitcher. 


Eduardo Sanchez, 1st – This was much easier than the position players and the tandem starters.  Sanchez, like Pichardo, joined the team mid-season after a promotion from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.  He led the relievers in virtually all of the important statistical categories:  ERA, WHIP, wins, saves, strikeouts, walks, strikeouts per inning.  Sanchez performed very well in a closer role against the best teams in the Appalachian League.  He is still just eighteen years old and was the fourth youngest player on the team.  Sanchez looks to have a perfect attitude for a closer and should follow in the footsteps of former Johnson City closers such as Luke Gregerson and Mark Worrell. 



Tandem Starting Pitcher of the Year


The list below shows the names, number of games pitched, innings pitched, number of saves/blown saves, and number of times that pitcher was awarded the "pitcher of the game" for Johnson City.  The list is ordered from top to bottom by the number of games pitched.  Those pitchers who threw fewer than twenty-five innings were not considered to be "in the running" for tandem starting pitcher of the year.  Only one of the ten starters (Reynier Gonzalez) was excluded using this criterion. 


With the tandem starting pitcher system, the starters were sometimes entering the game in a save situation when it wasn't their turn to start.  The starters were able to garner only four saves in those situations.  The team had thirteen blown saves for the year with the starters contributing seven. 

Saves/ Pitcher of
Starting Pitcher Games Innings Blown the Game
Jose Mateo 15 60.2 0/0 9
Jose Arredondo 15 56.1 1/3 6
Senger Peralta 15 51.2 0/1 2
Nick Additon 14 52.2 1/0 8
Omar Javier 14 51.1 1/1 2
Tyler Leach 13 35.2 1/1 2
Mark Diapoules 12 35 0/1 3
Brian Broderick 8 36 0/0 6
Andres Rosales 7 29 0/0 3

I will discuss each of the nine starting pitchers above in reverse order of how I ranked them for the award.


Omar Javier, 9th – Javier pitched quite well in spurts but when he had to pitch well in close games or tight situations, he simply didn't make good pitches.  His record finished at 0-8 and he was last amongst the nine starters in ERA, WHIP, hits, runs, home runs, walks, and errors.  The fourth youngest of the starters, Javier just turned twenty years old last month. 


Senger Peralta, 8th – Peralta averaged more than a strikeout per inning but he also allowed more than a hit per inning.  He had several innings with more than one strikeout and no hits allowed so he tended give up hits and runs in bunches.  Peralta's performance in tight situations and with runners in scoring position was simply not good enough to rank any higher on this list.  Peralta had labrum surgery last year after just three games and two starts at Johnson City.  The lefty from Venezuela was able to garner only two wins over two years. 


Tyler Leach, 7th – Another pitcher returning to Johnson City after missing significant time due to injury, Leach showed signs of great pitching but suffered some of the biggest ups and downs of any starter this year.  He pitched his best against the Astros in Game Twenty-Six, allowing only one hit over five innings while facing the minimum number of fifteen batters.  Leach pitched his worst in Game Eighteen when he allowed seven earned runs on three walks and four hits without retiring a single batter.  Hopes were high for Leach when he was announced as the opening day starter. 


Mark Diapoules, 6th – Leading the team in hit batters and wild pitches, Diapoules struggled with his control and with lower back pain throughout the year.  He was the second youngest of the starters and will look to turn things around next year. 


Jose Arredondo, 5th – Equipped with the team's best curve ball, Arredondo was a little too inconsistent throughout the year to rank any higher.  He ranked third in the league with a microscopic 1.03 WHIP but he didn't make smart pitches in many tight situations while losing five games and blowing three saves.  Arredondo just turned twenty years old two months ago and will look to gain more experience next year.


Jose Mateo, 4th – Mateo is the best on the team at pitching to contact with a good sinker/slider.  Unfortunately, he tested an infield that didn't perform well behind him and over one third of his runs allowed ended up being unearned.  Mateo deserved a better fate this year and with slightly better control, should battle for a starting position with a long season A-level team next year.  He was the oldest of the nine starters although he just turned twenty-one three months ago and there were fifteen players older than him this year on the team.


Nick Additon, 3rd – The best strikeout pitcher on the team finished ninth in the league with sixty-one.  Additon gave up a few more hits and extra-base hits than I would like to see but when he is keeping his pitches down in the zone and getting his breaking ball across for strikes, he is almost unhittable.  Additon allowed the most home runs of all the starters but he will not turn twenty until next month so the future is bright for the lefty from Florida. 


Andres Rosales, 2nd – Rosales made a big impression after he was called up from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in Week Seven.  The somewhat undersized (six foot tall and 140 pounds might be generous) pitcher wearing glasses looks out of place on the mound until you see him pitch with pinpoint control and with the aggressiveness of a closer.  Rosales was the youngest of the starters and will not turn twenty until next June.  He is not afraid to pitch inside to make a point.  He had four wild pitches and five hit batters while only walking five.  If you like strikeouts, Rosales probably deserves to be first.  He had the second best ratio of strikeouts to innings pitched on the team and the best for the starters.  Rosales struggled in his last appearance against the Eastern Division Champion Danville Braves.



Brian Broderick, 1st – Broderick pitched with pinpoint control throughout the year, walking just four batters in thirty-six innings. His ability to work all the edges of the strike zone while staying out of the middle of the plate was a joy for this fan to watch. He has a very deliberate windup, taking a reproducible four to four and half seconds from first motion to the pitch crossing the plate. Broderick is a tall thin pitcher who could probably add some weight and some velocity. His size easily projects to a major league level pitcher. Broderick's success is dependent on his location and control. He shined in his last appearance against the Appalachian League and Western Division Champion Elizabethton Twins. Position Player Starting Pitcher Relief Pitcher
Cards Players
of the Year
Palm Beach
Quad Cities
Johnson City  Beau Riportella Brian Broderick Eduardo Sanchez
Gulf Coast 

Next up: Gulf Coast League / Dominican Summer League / Venezuelan Summer League

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