The Johnson City Cardinals Report: 08/18/08

Six games back with nine games to go is a big challenge in the Appalachian League or any other, but the Cardinals have had four consecutive winning weeks. The position player of the week is Edgar Lara and the co-pitchers of the week are Reynier Gonzalez and Scott McGregor.

Editor's note: Shawn Kerrick is taking his well-deserved vacation as planned, but he couldn't stay away from his duties here, which wasn't planned. As a result, there is a Johnson City Cardinals report this week after all. The full report will return in its regular place on Monday, August 25.



The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of five wins and two losses and recorded their fourth consecutive winning week.  They are currently 31-27 and are in third place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League.  They are one game behind the second place Kingsport Mets and six games behind the league leading Elizabethton Twins. 


Johnson City is still pushing hard to win the Division but with just nine games left, it is going to require a collapse by the Twins and a big winning streak from the Cardinals.  Six of their last nine games are on the road and all nine are against teams below .500 in the standings.  Johnson City has the second-best road record in the Appy League so a winning streak seems possible.  Elizabethton has six of their last nine against teams below .500 and six road games but they are 8-2 in their last ten games and have a four-game winning streak. 


I was on vacation this week so I wasn't able to see any games.  I also wasn't able to talk to any coaches.  I have pulled together a brief report based on previous knowledge from this season and the information available from the internet game summaries.  I have also run the stats for the last week and I have included some pictures from previous games this year.


Promotions to Quad Cities and Batavia


Deryk Hooker, a day after I made him player of the week last week, was promoted to the Quad Cities River Bandits.  Hooker pitched well in his Midwest League debut on Wednesday (his next scheduled day to start), allowing only five singles and one earned run over five innings. 


Jorge Rondon, a closer with an unusual shuffle step from the windup (right), was also promoted to Quad Cities this week. Rondon, a free agent signee from Venezuela, was one of our highest velocity relievers.  Rondon, after coming into the game with the bases loaded and after allowing a walk, settled down to allow two hits and one earned run over one and one third innings in his debut on Friday. 


Alex Castellanos, despite hitting only .118 this week, has been promoted to the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League.  Castellanos was a solid league leader in many offensive categories and was honored as Johnson City's player of the week three weeks ago.  The Cardinals tenth round pick of the 2008 June draft will look to continue his torrid hitting and his aggressive base running while improving his throws to first base from the field. 


Transactions with the Gulf Coast League


Eric Fornataro, the Cardinals sixth round pick in the 2008 June draft, made his debut as a piggyback starter on Friday (Game 58).  Fornataro has taken Matt North's position as a piggyback starter.  Fornataro should make two more appearances (Thursday, August 21 and Tuesday, August 26) before the end of the year.  


Miguel Flores, the Cardinals sixteenth round pick in the 2008 June draft, has yet to make his Appy League debut.  I expect Flores to pair with Randy Santos on the back end of the piggyback and make his debut on Monday (Game 60).  


Andres Rosales, who missed two starts last week and saw no action early this week, was sent down to the Gulf Coast League with a tired arm.  It would not surprise me if Rosales is done for the rest of this season. 


Injury/Playing Time Updates


With four promotions, two call-ups, and one tired arm, the active roster now stands at thirty players (seventeen pitchers, three catchers, five infielders, and five outfielders).  Twenty-nine of those thirty players saw action during the week. 


SP Matt North missed two scheduled starts this week (Sunday, Game 53 and Friday, Game 58).  North had made five consecutive starts of four innings or more and is hopefully just being rested for a tired arm.  I will try to get an update on North when Johnson City returns for their next home game on Sunday, August 24 (Game 66). 


The Week in Review


It was another up and down week.  A four-game win streak to start the week was followed by two home losses and a week ending one run victory.  The hitters put up another week of good batting average (.304) but their power was down quite a bit (.381 slugging percentage – down from .461 last week).   The defense committed ten errors (not including pitchers) that led to ten unearned runs.


The pitchers had another shutout and saw their team earned run average and walks plus innings pitched improve.  The team allowed four home runs while hitting just one.  Both the relievers and the starters performed well.  After allowing just nine walks last week, the team allowed twenty five this week. 


Game 53 (Sunday):  Win 4-3:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/11.

Game 54 (Monday):  Win 7-2:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/12.

Game 55 (Tuesday):  Win 19-8:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/13.

Game 56 (Wednesday):  Win 1-0:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/14.

Game 57 (Thursday):  Loss 4-6:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/15.

Game 58 (Friday):  Loss 1-11:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/16.

Game 59 (Saturday):  Win 7-6:  The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/17.


Game Notes


The Cardinals scored a season high nineteen runs on Tuesday (Game 55).  Paul Cruz (right) and Alex Castellanos combined for nine runs scored on just 2-for-10 hitting.  How did they do that?  The Astros allowed ten errors and walked thirteen batters. 


The Cardinals combined for four saves and two holds this week.  Jorge Rondon had two of those saves just before his promotion. 


Matt Frevert had his best week of the year.  Frevert allowed only one hit and one walk in two appearances and two and two thirds innings pitched.  Frevert averaged 20.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and was one of six pitchers to allow no runs on the week. 


Every pitcher had at least one strikeout this week and Rickey Noland was the only batter to fail to record a hit (three at bats).  


Alex Castellanos only had two stolen bases this week but it wasn't because he was being thrown out on the base paths.  It was because he wasn't reaching base (.211 on base percentage). 


The outfielders put up impressive numbers this week.  The group of five was 36-for-87 (.414) with Joey Hage posting the worst average of the bunch at an impressive .348.  Their combined AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS line was .414/.457/.506/.963.  Paul Cruz (.400) and Travis Mitchell (.381) both had their best offensive weeks of the year.  The group combined for five of the team's ten stolen bases and six of the team's eleven doubles.  Paul Cruz walked five times while striking out only once and led the team with three stolen bases. 


Players of the Week


Each week, I select one position player and one pitcher as the Johnson City players of the week.  The position player of the week, for the first time this year, is Edgar Lara.  The co-pitchers of the week are Reynier Gonzalez, for the first time this year, and Scott McGregor, for the second time this year.


The six relievers combined for a 3.77 ERA and 1.26 WHIP while the eleven starters combined for a 3.70 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  There were only six pitchers that threw four or more innings this week and three of those pitchers had a walks plus innings pitched (WHIP) of 1.0 or less (Scott McGregor, Jon Bravo, and Reynier Gonzalez). 


Of the three, Bravo had the best strikeout rate per nine innings pitched (11.3) by a whisker over Reynier Gonzalez (11.0).  McGregor had the lowest WHIP (0.33) while allowing no runs, no walks, and just two hits in one appearance.  McGregor also pitched the most innings this year in a single game by going six innings in Wednesday's 1-0 shutout of the Astros.  McGregor works fast, throws lots of strikes, and has a good sinking action on most of his pitches.  


Gonzalez (right) had the most strikeouts (11), the most innings pitched (nine), and the best improvement in control.  Reynier had recorded 27 walks in 41.1 innings pitched prior to this week but recorded just one walk in nine innings this week.  McGregor's shutout pitching and Gonzalez' control improvement are what garnered them this week's co-pitchers of the week awards. 


The offense this week was again very good, especially from the outfield.  The hitters posted a line of .304/.367/.381/.749.  Thirteen of the fifteen hitters had ten or more at bats and six of the thirteen (Edgar Lara, Curt Smith, Paul Cruz, Travis Mitchell, Joey Hage, and Jack Cawley) had above-team average (.304) batting averages. 


Just two of those six players dominated the offensive team leader categories.  Curt Smith, the only player to play all seven games, led the team in runs (6), hits (12), triples (1), home runs (1), total bases (18), and runs batted in (9).  Edgar Lara, in just four games, led the team in doubles (2) while posting team leads this week in all the hitting averages: .533/.563/.667/1.229 and that is why Edgar Lara was selected as the player of the week for his first time this year.


The Week Ahead (educated guesses with no input from coaches)


Sunday:  Appy League scheduled off-day.

Game 60 (Monday):  Miguel Flores followed by Randy Santos – @ Bluefield Orioles

Game 61 (Tuesday):  Jose Mateo followed by Scott McGregor – @ Bluefield Orioles

Game 62 (Wednesday): Jon Bravo followed by Mike Blazek – @ Bluefield Orioles

Game 63 (Thursday):  Brett Zawacki followed by Eric Fornataro – @ Princeton Rays

Game 64 (Friday):  Kevin Thomas followed by Reynier Gonzalez – @ Princeton Rays

Game 65 (Saturday):  Randy Santos followed by Miguel Flores – @ Princeton Rays


Bonus photos


Pitcher Jon Bravo in action.




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