The most heralded pitcher on the team, Francisco Samuel was the pitcher I most wanted to see. Though he did not pitch the first night I was there, I was able to meet the 22-year-old.
I was able to see him pitch on Saturday and he is green, green, green. Admittedly, the radar gun at Springfield was inconsistent but his fastball sat in the low 90's. He did seem to dial a few pitches up that came up blank on the radar board.
Before he took the mound, someone told me you could tell how his outing would go by the first couple of pitches. When his second pitch went to the backstop, I knew the Dominican right-hander would struggle. On this day, Samuel fought with his control and lasted only a third of an inning.
Of the field, he carried himself in a way reminded me a lot of Pedro Martinez. Samuel just seemed to have that certain something and that Latin flair. When I had a chance to talk with him, he came across very shy and the exchange reminded me a lot of the first time I met Elvis Hernandez.
There is a lot of buzz about the 23-year-old Hernandez. This was the first time I had spoken to him in two years and it was really exciting to see he much more confident he was in conversation. When I first met him, he was a shy kid who seemed to avoid speaking (not rude, just shy). Now he is very personable and seemed to enjoy the conversation. He misses PB because it was never this cold but he is really happy to be in Double-A.
I've always felt that Herandez' stuff was electric at times and that he could be dominant in short spurts. It seems that some in the organization feel this way and look for him to be a riser on the Cardinals' depth chart as the season progresses.
Friday night starter Justin Fiske is a feel good story for sure. He was picked up out of the indy leagues and made his way all the way to Double-A after starting in the Midwest League in 2008. The left-hander possesses a fastball that tops out at 86 MPH and below average offspeed pitches. He nibbles on the corners and his lack of "stuff" leaves very little room for mistakes.
Brandon Dickson was signed as a free agent after his college career was done at Tusculum. The long, lean right-hander brings a fastball that reaches the mid-to-high 80's with average at best breaking ball. He finds success when he mixes up his offering enabling to keep hitters off balance. On this day, "Cotton" had very good control, a must if he is going to be successful.
When I asked him if he gets any satisfaction in reaching Double-A after not being drafted, he replied, ""I am not where I want to be yet."
In 2008, Kenny Maiques ranked as the number 15 prospect in the Cardinals' system according to the Birdhouse. Wow, how he has fallen. Maiques continues to struggle with his control and that was certainly the case on this night. The 23- year-old came in to walk four, throw two wild pitches, and hit a batter. He did settle down to totally dominate one hitter. His fastball was registering 92 while his slider had good tilt.
The Quad Cities single season saves leader definitely has above average "stuff" but I am beginning to have doubts if he is going to be able to put it together.
Once a pretty good starter, Tyler Norrick seems to be taking to his role in the bullpen. The southpaw seems to fit in relief with a max effort delivery. The former SIU Saluki was working off a 93 MPH fastball that touched 95. He hides the ball well and he uses that to make up for average off-speed offerings.
With good control and 12 strikeouts in seven innings, he should be on the fast track to Memphis. Unfortunately, he seems to be blocked by the plethora of southpaws at Memphis.
Pete Parise is what he is, a journeyman bullpen pitcher. He's not flashy but he will give his team innings and keep his club in the game.
Dustin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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