The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of no wins and six losses. They have lost seven consecutive games and are currently 8-10 and in fourth place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League, six and half games behind the Elizabethton Twins.
In the ten-team Appy League, the offense currently ranks third in home runs, fourth in doubles, hits, runs batted in (RBI), and total bases, and fifth in walks. They are eighth in batting average and last in triples and strikeouts. The pitching ranks first in strikeouts while ranking ninth in both earned runs and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).
I was only able to attend two of the seven games (July 4 vacation) in person and those observations provide the basis for this report. I attended the Sunday and Monday home losses against the Danville Braves.
Thirty-one of the thirty-two active players on the roster played this week. OF Brian Buck continues to rehab with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. I have no updates on his status other than he has just one plate appearance since June 30 and have deleted him from our JC roster for now.
RP LaCurtis Mayes – Promoted to
2B Brett Lilley: Game 13 (Sunday) return – Missed three games after fouling a ball off his right foot. Perhaps he thought uniform #11 was unlucky since he changed to uniform #9 upon his return to the lineup.
OF Edgar Lara: Game 14 (Monday) – Left (non-throwing) hand/finger injury. I wasn't able to ask about the details. Lara dove into first base in the eighth inning after grounding into a potential double play. It appeared Lara might have lost his balance while leaning forward just before he reached first base. The head first dive was too late and led to heavy contact between Lara's left arm and the bag.
SP Kevin Thomas: Game 19 (Sunday) return was expected – Missed two starts with right shoulder soreness and then had his Saturday expected start postponed by rain. Thomas may have an extra five days to recover now.
The Week in Review
It was a rough week highlighted by poor hitting and three one-run losses. The team had a .198 batting average and 6.09 earned run average for the week. Add in nine errors, no stolen bases, and five runners caught stealing and it is not too hard to understand the 0-6 record.
Sunday's loss included a rough outing from Jon Bravo and only one inning with more than two singles worth of offense. DH Osvaldo Morales hit a 440-foot home run to dead centerfield on a 3-2 pitch to start off the seventh inning.
Monday's loss could best be summarized
by two-out RBI base hits with runners in scoring position.
The only positive I could quickly see from the games I didn't see in person was that Paul Cruz hit his first professional home run – a solo shot in the top of the ninth of a 1-0 game. As I studied the box score more closely, I realized that it broke-up a no hitter of what eventually became a 2-1 loss. That sums up a frustrating week for the Appy League Cardinals.
Game 13 (Sunday): Loss 2-12: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 06/30.
Game 14 (Monday): Loss 3-4: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 07/01.
Game 15 (Tuesday): Loss 2-7: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 07/02.
Game 16 (Wednesday): Loss 7-8: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 07/03.
Game 17 (Thursday): Loss 3-11: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 07/04.
Game 18 (Friday): Loss 1-2: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 07/05.
Game 19 (Saturday): Suspended in 5th inning 4-4: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 07/06.
League Leaders (Top Ten)
Guillermo Toribio – second in stolen bases (8).
Curt Smith – sixth in home runs (4).
Brett Lilley – tenth in on base percentage (.410).
Alex Castellanos – fifth in triples (2).
Tandem Starter Pitch Counts
Runners On/Runners in Scoring Position
Through Game 18 and with at least ten at-bats, there are a few players that have demonstrated that they are much more likely to come through with a hit or with a high on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) with runners on base (RO) or with runners in scoring position (RISP).
Those who are hitting well with RO/RISP: Curt Smith (.478 RO, .615 RISP, 1.457 OPS RO, 2.104 OPS RISP), Ivan Castro (1.151 OPS RISP), Niko Vasquez (.360 RO, 1.084 OPS RO), and Alex Castellanos (.316 RISP, 0.935 OPS RISP).
Those who are looking to improve their batting average with runners on and/or runners in scoring position: Edgar Lara (.000 RISP, .059 RO), Paul Cruz (.000 RISP, .087 RO), Jarred Bogany (.091 RISP), Guillermo Toribio (.167 RISP), and Brett Lilley (.182 RO).
Those who are looking to improve contact: Travis Mitchell (26 strikeouts in 49 at-bats).
Players of the Week
Each week, I will select one position player and one pitcher as the Johnson City Players of the Week. This week, the position player is Brett Lilley (in a close competition with Osvaldo Morales) and the pitcher is Matt North.
The pitching decision was pretty easy this week. Only three of the ten piggyback starters had WHIPs of 1.00 or less (Matt North, Adam Veres, and Deryk Hooker) but only Matt North accomplished the feat over two appearances. Over nine innings pitched, the most a pitcher can pitch in one week in the normal piggyback system, North led all the starters in strikeouts (11) and WHIP (0.67). North features what he describes as a "cut fastball" or "cutter" as one of his best pitches. North also won the Appy League Pitcher of the Week Award for June 23 through June 29.
Of the eleven players with twenty or more at-bats, there really wasn't much positive to single out for any of them. The most hits by any one hitter were four and the best batting average was .250. The team put up an anemic .198/.267/.340/.607 line for the week with 53 strikeouts in 212 at bats. Osvaldo Morales had the best week relative to almost everyone else on the team. Morales led the team in home runs (2), runs (4), total bases (11), runs batted in (3), batting average (.250), slugging percentage (0.688), and on base plus slugging percentage (0.938). Brett Lilley led the team in on base percentage (.455) while drawing a team high five walks and striking out only once. Curt Smith led the team in doubles (2).
Week Three Schedule
Game 20 (Sunday): Randy Santos followed by Adam Veres @ Burlington Royals
Monday: Scheduled Appy League Off-Day
Game 21 (Tuesday): Deryk Hooker followed by Brett Zawacki – vs. Pulaski Mariners
Game 23 (Thursday): Jon Bravo followed by Matt North – vs. Pulaski Mariners
Game 24 (Friday): Kevin Thomas followed by Reynier Gonzalez – vs. Elizabethton Twins
Game 25 (Saturday): Adam Veres followed by Randy Santos – vs. Elizabethton Twins
Pitcher of the Week Matt North's delivery.
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