The Johnson City Cardinals Report: 08/17/09

19-year-old catcher Robert Stock hit .353 this week in five games to help cement Johnson City (4-3 week, 28-22 overall) in second place of the Western Division of the Appalachian League.

The Johnson City Cardinals appear to have cemented their second place position between the Elizabethton Twins (35-17) and the Kingsport Mets (19-28).  Johnson City moved their season record in games decided by one run to an amazing 12-3 by going 1-1 this week.  They are 5-5 against Elizabethton this year with one more game to play.  The Cardinals ended their 9-game season series with both Bristol and Kingsport this week (5-4 each). 


A review of the team league leaders shows that Johnson City has hit 51 home runs (2nd in league).  The offense is second in slugging (.434) and is third in wins (28), doubles (95), total bases (714), and on-base plus slugging (.770).  The Cardinal hitters are 9th out of ten in triples (10).  They are 4th through 8th in all other offensive categories.  Their team batting average (.271) fell for the third week in-a-row (4th) although they were able to draw 30 walks in 7 games this week to move from 9th to 6th in that category. 


The pitchers fell to 3rd in the league in shutouts (4) and hits allowed (458) but maintained their second place position with the fewest walks allowed (137).  The Cardinals pitchers lead the league in holds (20) and are 9th in hit batters (41).  The team ERA (4.62) and walks plus hits per inning pitched or WHIP (1.40) both improved slightly this week although they both still rank 7th.   


I was able to attend all seven of the games this week in person and those observations provide the basis for this report.  The Cardinals begin a 9-game (over 10 days) road trip on Sunday.  I will be able to attend only one or two of these games. 


Roster and Injury Updates


After a huge section in last week's report, roster changes/injuries were quiet this week with one minor exception.  The active roster stayed at 32 players (35 maximum) with two members of the roster rehabbing their injuries in Jupiter, FL.  The active roster has 17 pitchers (10 tandem starters and 7 relievers) and 15 position players (3 catchers, 4 outfielders, and 8 infielders).


Pablo Ortiz (2-0, 6.75 ERA), a starting tandem pitcher, missed his scheduled start on Monday July 20 due to weakness in his shoulder and elbow.  Ortiz is rehabbing in Jupiter, FL.  There is no specific time frame scheduled for his return to Johnson City.   


Outfielder C.J. Beatty (.179, 2 HR) injured his right hand/wrist on a strikeout in his first at bat on August 4.  He had to come out of the game early and is now out for the season.  This is a new injury to add to his bruised elbow suffered earlier in the year.  I have forgotten to confirm the injury with anyone yet but I thought I heard some informal discussion at a game that mentioned that CJ "broke his hamate bone".  Beatty had been restricted to DH prior to injuring his hand/wrist.  His last game in the outfield was June 26.  Beatty has begun his rehab in Jupiter, FL.   


First baseman Jonathan Rodriguez (.275, 2 HR, 40 AB) twisted his right ankle when he got in a rundown between first and second base to end the fourth inning of Thursday's game (August 13).  Rodriguez has missed two games so far. 


Infielder Romulo Ruiz (.119, 3 HR) continues to see most of his action as a designated hitter due to his offseason labrum surgery.  Ruiz has filled in at 1B for two games while Rodriguez has been injured.  Ruiz will slowly be integrated into a day-to-day fielding position as his throwing shoulder permits it. 


Second baseman Luis Mateo (.319, 3 HR, 5 SB, 18 games) suffered a hamstring injury on July 12 that was re-injured during warm-ups on July 23.  Mateo has missed 30 games and was on a four-game hit streak (7-for-16, .438) when he was injured.  Mateo may be healthy enough to return to the lineup this week. 


The Week in Review


Sunday:  The last game of the year in Kingsport against the Mets was a 6-2 victory.  The Cardinals won the road series 2-1.  Unfortunately, I showed up a little bit late and missed 5 of the 8 runs scored (first 1.5 innings).  The Cardinals fell behind 2-0 in the first on three infield singles and a fielding error (9th) on SS Hector Alvarez (.895 fielding percentage @ Johnson City).  They regained the lead for good in the second inning with the big blow being a two-run home run (6th) by RF Edgar Lara (.251).  3B Kleininger Teran (.250, 8 BB, 3 K, 48 AB) capped the scoring in the eighth with the first of the Cardinals' two bases-loaded walks this week. 

Chris Notti (2-1, 5.06 ERA, pictured) got the win by going five innings for just the second time in eight starts this year.  Notti recorded seven groundouts while allowing only five singles (four groundball and one broken-bat).  Notti walked one while recording a season high five strikeouts. 


Zach Russell (0-0, 2.45 ERA) recorded six of his seven outs (2.1 IP, 51 pitches, 31 strikes, 6-for-11 first-pitch strikes) on swinging strikeouts.  Reliever Jose Rada (4-0, 1.64 ERA) recorded his second hold and continued his good performance with inherited runners by getting Russell out of an eighth-inning jam (0.2 IP, K, 9 pitches, 6 strikes). 


Home plate umpire Rich Gonzalez continued to make a memorable mark on nearly every game I watch by ruling that a sixth-inning bunt by 2B Ted Obregon (.296) was bunted while Obregon was out of the batter's box (in front of the plate). 


Monday:  Johnson City came home to open a six-game home-stand.  The first of three games against the Bristol White Sox was a rather bizarre game from a box-score perspective.  The Cardinals were out-hit 9-4 but managed to win 7-5.  Bristol walked eight Cardinal batters and allowed four unearned runs.


3B Kleininger Teran had the best game by going 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two walks.  Teran grounded a 1-1 pitch over the first base bag for a two-out double that gave the Cardinals a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.  RF Edgar Lara hit his 7th home run to lead-off the second inning.  Lara's ~400 foot blast was on a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field (right-center field).  Lara is now 5th in the league in home runs.  The Cardinals finished the game 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and were fortunate to win this one. 


Anthony Ferrara (2-1, 3.65 ERA) got his second win by going five innings (61 pitches, 41 strikes, 12-for-18 first-pitch strikes).  Ferrara allowed four of his five hits and both of his runs during a 14-pitch fourth inning.  Ferrara struck-out six and picked-off one while walking none. 


Michael Thompson (0-3, 8.16 ERA) continued to give up a lot of extra base hits.  Thompson recorded only five outs with his 39 pitches (24 strikes, 6-for-10 first pitch strikes) while allowing a double and two triples with his three hits.  Reliever Jason Novak (0-1, 6.60 ERA) got his second hold of the year by recording swinging strikeouts on three of the four batters he retired (17 pitches, 12 strikes, 3-for-4 first-pitch strikes).  Reliever Aaron Terry (5-0, 2.75 ERA), now being used as a closer in certain situations, recorded his second save of the year. 


The White Sox's second round pick (71st overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, LHP David Holmberg, got the start and struggled with his control.  The 17-year-old Holmberg got his first professional loss while walking five over 3.2 IP (15 walks over 24.1 IP for the season). 


Tuesday:  The Cardinals lost their third one-run game of the year 5-4.  1B Jonathan Rodriguez (.275) had the best game offensively by going 2-for-4 with a two-out RBI double (2nd) and a home run (2nd).  The double was an opposite-field liner on a 1-1 pitch just over the glove of the first baseman.  The home run (2-0 pitch) was about 400 feet well over the netting above the scoreboard in left field.  2B Ted Obregon (.296) hit his 3rd home run of the year on a 1-0 pitch in the third inning.  The two-run shot was pulled by the switch-hitting Obregon about 380 feet over the right-center field wall. 


Randy Santos (1-4, 4.75 ERA) had his best outing of the year (5 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, BB, 5 K, 70 pitches, 51 strikes, 15-for-19 first-pitch strikes) and gave a 3-1 lead to newcomer Patrick Daugherty (0-1, 10.80 ERA).  Daugherty struggled with his control (3 BB, 38 pitches, 21 strikes) despite throwing first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 11 batters he faced.  Daugherty picked up the blown save and loss with a critical throwing (high to first base) error (2nd) by 3B Kleininger Teran (.917 fielding percentage) resulting in two unearned runs. 


Wednesday:  The Cardinals more than doubled their hit output for the series in this game (13 hits) as compared to the first two games against Bristol (10 hits) and won this game 9-4.  The Cardinals won the series 2-1 and finished the nine-game season series against the White Sox by winning it 5-4. 


Johnson City jumped ahead 5-0 in the second inning on home runs from Audry Perez (6th) and Robert Stock (5th).  Perez (.217) pulled a 1-0 pitch high over the left-center field netting (approx. 380 feet).  Stock (.339) pulled an 0-1 pitch approximately 400 feet over the right-center field fence. 


Reynier Gonzalez (2-4, 6.10 ERA) was cruising along (4 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 55 pitches, 38 strikes, 14-for-16 first-pitch strikes) into the fifth inning when he got into trouble.  Gonzalez gave up a 3-2 (9th pitch of the at-bat) lead-off home run, a single, and a double before being relieved (4.1 IP, 71 pitches, 48 strikes, 17-for-20 first pitch strikes). 


Andy Moss (1-1, 1.73 ERA) made a rare middle-of-the-inning appearance and struggled by allowing a swinging RBI-dribbler in front of the plate and a two-RBI double that was barely fair down the left field line (one-hopped the wall).  Moss settled down after that and recorded his first professional win (4.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 inherited and 2 scored, 57 pitches, 38 strikes, 12-for-18 first-pitch strikes). 


With Moss pitching, the Cardinals extended the lead to 9-4 on RBI-doubles from Robert Stock (.339), Kleininger Teran (.250), and Rainel Rosario (.257).  Stock ended the game 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs.  Obregon, Teran, and Ross Smith (.177) each had two hits. 


Thursday:  The last series of the year against the Kingsport Mets started on a sour note as Johnson City lost 7-1 and got out-hit 14-5.  The Cardinals added three errors, leading to one unearned run, to top off a frustrating evening of baseball. 


Angel De Jesus (0-1, 13.50 ERA) got his first start and his first loss.  In De Jesus' defense, only two of the eleven hits were really well hit.  The infield is normally watered down just before game-time however, due to the length of a pre-game concert, the dirt-area in front of home plate was rock-hard.  Here are my notes about the hits:

·         1st:  430 foot home run to dead CF – A BLAST!

·         2nd:  1-handed liner (single) to CF

·         3rd:  1-hop triple over the 1B head

·         4th:  broken bat liner to CF

·         5th:  bloop single down RF line – landed on line?

·         6th:  high chop over 3B head

·         7th:  1-hop off the wall over LF Rainel Rosario's head

·         8th:  weak bloop single to CF – Ross Smith bobbled; threw out at 2B

·         9th:  single off end of bat

·         10th:  hard roller past P feet to 2B – Obregon cross-body throw late

·         11th:  weak bloop to CF – Ross Smith dive comes up short


De Jesus finished his four innings on 65 pitches (47 strikes, 15-for-21 first-pitch strikes).  RF Edgar Lara (.251) hit a first-pitch one-hop RBI double over the third base bag in the fifth inning to plate the only run of the game for the Cardinals.  DH Audry Perez (.217) finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.  Johnson City hitters struck out 13 times and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position (RISP). 


Friday:  Johnson City bounced back from Thursday's frustrating loss with their 12th one-run victory of the year (5-4).  The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning that could have been more than two runs.  A lead-off triple (2nd) by 2B Ted Obregon (.296) that was about 420 feet to dead center field was followed by a 1-0 pitch RBI double (9th) from LF Rainel Rosario (.257).  Rosario was thrown out at third when he attempted to tag-up on a Teran fly-ball to right field.  A perfect throw from 18-year-old RF Cesar Puello of the Mets seemed to put the big inning on hold.  However, the Cardinals loaded the bases on a Perez double (5th) between the third baseman and the bag, a Lara walk, and a Travis Tartamella (.224) infield single.  1B Romulo Ruiz (.119) drew an 8-pitch bases loaded walk t garner his 10th RBI.


Kingsport tied the game 2-2 in the third on two unearned runs.  2B Ted Obregon threw wildly to first base to collect his 9th error (.941 fielding percentage).  The Mets then got the lead in the fourth (3-2) on a lead-off walk and two weakly hit singles. 


Johnson City regained the lead 4-3 in the fifth on a Ruiz sharply hit two-RBI groundball double between the third baseman and the bag on a 1-1 pitch.  Kingsport tied it at 4-4 in the seventh inning on a lead-off double, a stolen base, and a groundout.  The eventual game winning run was scored in the bottom of the seventh on a Perez lead-off walk, a wild pitch, and a Lara RBI double (13th). 


Chris Notti (2-1, 5.06 ERA) pitched well again and seems to have discovered his sinker this week.  Notti followed up his seven-groundout, five-inning, quality-start on Sunday with another seven groundout, five-inning, quality-start five days later.  Notti threw 71 pitches (47 strikes, 11-for-20 first pitch strikes) while walking one and striking out six. 


Zach Russell (0-0, 2.45 ERA) was recovering from a bout of strep-throat and had a brief 28 pitch (18 strikes, 3-for-7 first-pitch strikes) outing that included his first blown save when the Mets tied the game 4-4.  Jose Rada (4-0, 1.64 ERA) got the win in relief and Aaron Terry got his 3rd save. 


Saturday:  The Cardinals lost by another big score (11-0) to the Mets and were out-hit 14-3.  Unlike Thursday night, I have no defense on this one for the pitchers.  The Cardinals lost the series 2-1 but finished the nine-game season series against the Mets by winning it 5-4. 


Johnson City gave up five doubles, two triples, and a home run (in addition to six singles) and was never competitive in this game.  Michael Thompson (0-3, 8.16 ERA) got the loss.  Relievers Jason Novak (0-1, 6.60 ERA) and Kyle Heim (0-1, 8.82 ERA) were both hit hard and Anthony Ferrara (2-1, 3.65 ERA) struggled with his control (39 pitches, 23 strikes, 6-for-14 first-pitch strikes, BB, 2 HB).


Tandem Starting Pitchers


Listed below are the pairings for Johnson City.  The experienced and healthy starters are up to about an 85 pitch limit while the less experienced starters (or those recovering from some minor malady) are up to about 65 pitches.  The primary starter of the game usually rotates every five days.  Some changes to this rotation (Thompson?) are possible next week. 


RHP Reynier Gonzalez and RHP Andy Moss

RHP Cale Johnson (replaced Ortiz) and RHP Angel De Jesus (replaced Simpson)

RHP Chris Notti and RHP Zach Russell (replaced Smith)

LHP Anthony Ferrara and RHP Michael Thompson

RHP Randy Santos and LHP Pat Daugherty (replaced Durham)


Who's Hot (Hitters)


C/DH Robert Stock (.339) was 6-for-17 (.353) this week with two runs, two doubles, a home run, and four RBIs in 5 games.  Stock's 11-game hit streak ended on August 13. 


SS Hector Alvarez (.278) was 4-for-11 (.364) with two runs, a double, an RBI, three walks, and two stolen bases in 6 games this week. 


1B Jonathan Rodriguez (.275) was 5-for-15 (.333) with a run, a double, a home run, and two RBIs in 5 games this week (before injuring his ankle). 


1B/3B/DH Matt Rigoli (.191) was 3-for-8 (.375) with two runs and two walks this week.   


Who's Not Hot (Hitters)


1B/DH Romulo Ruiz (.119) was 1-for-12 (.083) in 4 games this week. 


LF/CF Rainel Rosario (.257) was 2-for-14 (.143) in his first 5 games back from FL this week. 


LF Joey Hage (.143) was 2-for-12 (.167) in 5 games this week. 


CF Ross Smith (.177) was 4-for-23 (.174) in 7 games this week.


Who's Hot (Pitchers)


Chris Notti (2-0, 5.06 ERA) has found his sinker.  Notti was 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA this week in two appearances.  Notti recorded 14 groundball outs and 11 strikeouts in 10 IP (1.10 WHIP, 9.9 SO/9)


Andy Moss (1-1, 1.73 ERA) continues to be the best remaining original starter in batting average allowed (.196).  Moss has a walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) of 0.96.  Moss is in the top ten of the Appalachian League in three categories:  ERA (3rd), WHIP (3rd), and holds (6th). 


Other starters with noteworthy statistics this week:

·         Zach Russell (0-0. 2.45 ERA) averaged 18 strikeouts per nine-innings pitched.

·         Randy Santos (1-4, 4.75 ERA) averaged 9 strikeouts per nine-innings pitched and recorded a 0.80 WHIP. 

·         Cale Johnson (1-0, 2.77 ERA) recorded a 0.00 ERA and 0.50 WHIP and has not allowed a home run in 13 IP. 


Reliever Aaron Terry (5-0, 2.75 ERA) continues to pitch well in tough situations.  The coaches have noticed a little extra pop with his fastball.  Terry recorded two saves in two games this week.  Terry recorded a 1.0 WHIP while striking out three over 2 IP (13.5 strikeouts per nine-innings-pitched).  Terry had a little bit of a scare when he deflected a hard one-hopper back to the mound with his bare hand this week.  After getting the numbness out of his fingers with three warm-up tosses, he resumed pitching. 


Reliever David Kington (2-1, 3.60 ERA) is leading the league in saves (8) by two saves and is 1st in both games finished (16) and games (17).  Kington has not allowed a home run in 15 IP.  Kington pitched one and two thirds scoreless, hitless, and walk-free innings this week.  Kington struck out two (10.8 strikeouts per nine-innings-pitched).   


Reliever Jose Rada (4-0, 1.64 ERA) was 1-0 with one hold in two games this week.  Rada pitched two innings this week while allowing no runs or walks.  Rada allowed just one hit (0.50 WHIP) while striking out three (13.5 strikeouts per nine-innings-pitched).    


Other relievers with noteworthy statistics this week:

·         John Durham (1-1. 9.43 ERA) averaged 18 strikeouts per nine-innings pitched.

·         Travis Lawler (1-1, 3.45 ERA) averaged 20.3 strikeouts per nine-innings pitched and recorded a 0.75 WHIP.


Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)


Several pitchers struggled this week.  Starters Pat Daugherty (0-1, 10.80 ERA), Michael Thompson (0-3, 8.16 ERA), and Angel De Jesus (0-1, 13.50 ERA) all recorded WHIPs of 1.9 or greater this week.   


Reliever Jason Novak (0-1, 6.60 ERA) recorded a WHIP of 2.4 this week. 


Week Nine Schedule


Game 53 (Sun):  Randy Santos followed by Pat Daugherty @ Greeneville Astros

Game 54 (Mon):  Andy Moss followed by Reynier Gonzalez @ Greeneville Astros

Game 55 (Tue):  Cale Johnson followed by Angel De Jesus @ Greeneville Astros

Wednesday:  Scheduled Appy League off-day

Game 56 (Thu):  Zach Russell followed by Chris Notti @ Burlington Royals

Game 57 (Fri):  Anthony Ferrara followed by Michael Thompson @ Burlington Royals

Game 58 (Sat):  Pat Daugherty followed by Randy Santos @ Burlington Royals


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