The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of four wins and two losses and recorded their fifth consecutive winning week. They are currently 35-29 and are in second place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League. They are five games behind the league champion Elizabethton Twins. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were officially eliminated from the division race on Friday of this week.
In the ten-team Appy League, the offense now ranks second in ten different offensive categories (runs, hits, home runs, runs batted in, total bases, walks, stolen bases, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and on-base plus slugging percentage). They are fourth in batting average (.271), seventh in triples (15), and ninth in strikeouts. The offense has the most at bats and ranks third in doubles.
The pitchers have the most walks, hit batters, and innings-pitched in the league, however, they have improved from last to fifth in the league in walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) over the last three weeks. They are also fifth in earned run average (ERA), hits, home runs allowed, and saves. They are sixth in runs allowed and seventh in earned runs allowed. The pitchers are in second place in the league in strikeouts and third in shutouts.
Appy League All-Stars and Player of the Year
Earlier this week, the media and
coaches were asked to vote for the Appy League All-Star team. I was honored to be able to vote for the
second year in a row. The bad news
with this honor is that I couldn't vote for any
On Friday afternoon, word came from the league office that our own Curt Smith was not only honored as the Appy League All-Star first baseman, but he also garnered the biggest award of all, Player of the Year! Brian Walton wrote a nice article on Curt so I will just reference it for now (Curt Smith: Appy League Player of the Year).
If I include Smith (who would
definitely have received my votes at first base and Player of the Year),
fourteen of the seventeen I voted for were named to the All-Star team. I would have voted Niko Vasquez as a
utility infielder (behind shortstop Wilmer Flores of the Kingsport Mets) so I
will have to admit that I was disappointed he didn't make the All-Star
team. Alex Castellanos was
definitely playing like an All-Star over about four of the nine weeks he was in
The heart of this year's team has pretty much been dismantled the past
two weeks. Adam Veres, Brett Lilley, and Jairo Martinez were promoted three weeks ago, Deryk Hooker, Jorge Rondon, and Alex Castellanos were promoted two weeks ago and this week, Curt
Smith, Niko Vasquez, and Osvaldo Morales were promoted. Smith and Vasquez moved to Quad Cities
to join Hooker and Rondon while Morales went to
That brings the total number of
promotions from this year's Johnson City Cardinals to ten (six position players,
two starting pitchers, and two relief pitchers). The active roster this year has seen a
total of forty-one players (nineteen position players and twenty-two
pitchers). Ten of those forty-one
have been promoted to
Reinforcements from the
Yunier Castillo and Ryde Rodriguez
were called up and brought in.
Castillo made his debut with a start at shortstop on Wednesday (Game 62)
Walton put together a good article on the promotions of Smith, Vasquez, and
Morales and the additions of Ryde Rodriguez and Yunier Castillo (Cardinals Promote Five More
Prospects). The promotions of Smith, Vasquez, and
Morales, while disappointing for
Injury/Playing Time Updates
The active roster now stands at thirty players (seventeen pitchers, three catchers, four infielders, and six outfielders). Twenty-nine of those thirty players saw action during the week.
Matt North missed his third consecutive start this week (Thursday, Game 63) and was the only player on the active roster to miss action this week. I will try to have an update on North for my last report.
The Week in Review
A two game win streak to start the
week was followed by a tough extra inning loss to end the series in
The hitters struggled to put up good numbers this week. The team put up a rather anemic AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS line of .254/.313/.352/.664 line. The defense committed twelve errors (five by Yunier Castillo) that led to only four unearned runs.
The pitchers saw their team season earned run average and walks plus innings pitched both improve by posting a 2.90 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in fifty-nine innings pitched this week. The team allowed five home runs while hitting four. Both the relievers and the starters performed well relative to WHIP (1.11 and 1.01 respectively) but the starters posted a 2.27 ERA versus the relievers 4.69 ERA. The team allowed just twelve walks this week, two from the relievers in fifteen and one third innings pitched and ten from the starters in forty-three and two thirds innings pitched.
Sunday: Appy League scheduled off-day.
Game 60 (Monday): Win 4-2: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/19.
Game 61 (Tuesday): Win 8-1: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/20.
Game 62 (Wednesday): Loss 6-7: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/21.
Game 63 (Thursday): Win 4-2: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/22.
Game 64 (Friday): Loss 0-7: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/23.
Game 65 (Saturday): Win 5-4: The Cardinals Minor League Notebook 08/24.
League Leaders (Top Ten)
Curt Smith has most likely won the Appy League batting title this year. Smith has 193 at bats which are above the minimum of 184 at bats needed by the end of year to qualify for the batting title. Fellow Appy League All-Star Juan Fuentes of the Pulaski Mariners is the only player that appears to have an outside chance of catching Smith. Smith leads Fuentes .378 to .343 but Fuentes would have to go twelve for twelve or better in his last three games to move his average above .378.
Curt Smith – first in batting average (.378), on-base percentage (.418), and RBIs (49); second in on-base plus slugging percentage (1.004); third in slugging percentage (.585); fifth in hits (73); seventh in total bases (113); ninth in doubles (14) and home runs (8).
Alex Castellanos – second in stolen bases (20); third in runs (42); sixth in triples (4); eighth in slugging percentage (.536); ninth in doubles (14); tenth in on-base plus slugging percentage (.889).
Niko Vasquez – second in on-base percentage (.416); third in walks (29) and runs (42); sixth in doubles (16); ninth in hits (66); tenth in batting average (.317).
Osvaldo Morales – fourth in home runs (12) and slugging percentage (.579); sixth in on-base plus slugging percentage (.924).
Travis Mitchell – sixth in stolen bases (13).
Jose Mateo – first in holds (5) and sixth in games (19).
Jorge Rondon – second in games (21) and seventh in saves (6).
Matt Frevert – third in games (20).
Samuel Freeman – third in games (20) and seventh in holds (2).
Joel Pichardo – sixth in games (19).
Randy Santos – seventh in holds (2).
The Johnson City Cardinals have clinched an above .500 record for the first time in twelve years. The 1996 Johnson City Cardinals (42-26) were the last team to finish with an above .500 record and as high as second place in the division.
Edgar Lara, normally a right fielder, played first base for only the third time this year on Saturday (Game 65).
Right fielder Ryde Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of Saturday's game (Game 65) and was removed from the game prior to his next at bat.
Saturday's game (Game 65) was the second longest game of the year at four hours and fourteen minutes. The fifteen inning win took almost as long to win as the fifteen inning marathon on July 11 (Game 24) that lasted four hours and thirty minutes.
Every pitcher had at least one strikeout this week and every hitter had at least one hit.
Guillermo Toribio led the team in walks this week with five. Toribio was just two for twenty-one this week (.095 batting average).
Players of the Week
Each week, I select one position
player and one pitcher as the
The six relievers combined for a 4.69 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while the ten starters combined for a 2.27 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. There was one reliever (Santo Maertz) and seven starters (Eric Fornataro, Mike Blazek, Randy Santos, Brett Zawacki, Scott McGregor, Miguel Flores, and Kevin Thomas) that threw four or more innings this week. Six of those eight pitchers had a walks plus innings pitched (WHIP) of 1.0 or less (Eric Fornataro – 0.50, Mike Blazek – 0.75, Randy Santos – 0.83, Santo Maertz – 0.88, Brett Zawacki – 0.92, and Scott McGregor – 1.00).
Of the six, Maertz had the best strike
out per nine innings pitched (11.1), the most wins (1), and the most strikeouts
(7). Fornataro had the lowest WHIP
(0.50) and ERA (0.00) while allowing no runs, no hits, and just two walks in one
save appearance. The other six had
noteworthy performances as well but Santo wins the award in a close competition
based on his relief performance in
The offense this week was down quite a bit. That should be expected with the loss of all the best offensive performers from earlier in the year. The team has lost 290 of their 611 hits (47 percent), 62 of their 122 doubles (51 percent), 9 of their 15 triples (60 percent), and 35 of their 53 home runs (66 percent). Despite the loss of all the offense, the pitching has improved, the team has kept winning, and the offense has produced well enough to be successful.
The hitters posted a line of .254/.313/.352/.664 this week. Eleven of the sixteen hitters had ten or more at bats and but only two of the eleven (Edgar Lara and Jack Cawley - right) had batting averages above .300 for the week.
Edgar Lara led the team in home runs (1) and was second on the team in batting average (.370). Rickey Noland, who posted the third best batting average on the team (.286), led the team in slugging percentage (.571). Jack Cawley led the team in runs (5), hits (10), doubles (3), triples (1), total bases (15), and runs batted in (5) while posting team leads this week in all the hitting averages except slugging: .370/.433/.556/.989. Jack Cawley was an easy winner this week of the Player of the Week award.
The "Short" Week Ahead
Game 67 (Monday): Mike Blazek followed by bullpen* – vs. Bluefield Orioles.
Game 68 (Tuesday): Brett Zawacki followed by Eric Fornataro – vs. Bluefield Orioles.
* Jon Bravo is resting with a "tired arm"
After this article was submitted, we learned that Scott McGregor was pulled from his Sunday start and promoted to Quad Cities, where he may be starting on Monday night. Best of luck to Scott!
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