Johnson City Cardinals 2010 Preseason Report

On Tuesday night, the Johnson City Cardinals begin their 36th consecutive season as an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Our Shawn Kerrick met the team on Sunday and has the roster and much more news from the Appalachian League club.

The Johnson City Cardinals enter their 36th consecutive season as an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals (54th year overall as the Johnson City Cardinals) and will begin play in the Appalachian League (founded 1937) at home against the Kingsport Mets on Tuesday night June 22 at 7 PM.  Shawn Kerrick will be attending many of the games in person and will file reports and updates during the season.


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Returning Manager and Pitching Coach with New Hitting Coach


Serving as Johnson City manager for the second year in a row will be Mike Shildt.  Shildt returns after leading Johnson City to a second place finish last year.  Johnson City's 37-30 record in 2009 was their best finish since 1996.   


Shildt was the hitting and fielding coordinator for Johnson City in 2008 and served in 2007 as a coach for the Batavia Muckdogs, the Cardinals New York-Penn League team in Batavia, NY.  Mike served as a Cardinals area scout and in player development from 2004 to 2007.  Prior to joining the Cardinals, Shildt worked three years as an associate scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau.  Shildt, 41, has a total of five years of collegiate coaching between stops at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He also owned and operated On Deck Baseball Academy in Pineville, NC.


The pitching coach for the second year in a row will be Doug White.  White came to Johnson City after coaching the pitchers in Batavia in 2008.  White is the founder of the "Passion for Pitching" program, which provides the tools necessary to assist pitchers in becoming effective and efficient in their movement patterns through drills and exercises.  White has also coached for the Montreal Expos organization and for the Mid-Missouri Mavericks of the Frontier (Independent) League.


The new hitting coach this year is Ramon Ortiz.  Ortiz replaces Johnny Rodriguez, who is now the Manager of the Quad Cities River Bandits, the St. Louis Cardinals' lowest A-level full-season minor league team.  Ortiz, 57, served as the hitting coach for Batavia last year.  He was in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization from 2005-2007 and spent six seasons, from 1999-2004, as a coach with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' organization.  The Venezuelan native spent nine seasons prior to that as a coach in the Cardinals' system.  Ortiz, an outfielder, played five seasons of professional baseball with the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins. 



New Playoff System for 2010


A new four-team playoff structure has been implemented in the 10-team Appalachian League this year.  The new system replaces the two-team best-of-three system used for years.  The new system was reportedly suggested by the St. Louis Cardinals Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow and was approved by league President Lee Landers and team representatives during the winter. 


In the first round of the playoffs, each division leader will face the second place finisher of the opposite division in a best two-of-three series.  The series will start September 1 at the home of the second place finisher and will conclude with game two and game three, if necessary, at the home of the division winner.  The two winners of the series will play in the Appalachian League Championship Series.


Following the completion of the first round, the two winning teams will square off in a best two-of-three playoff that will begin at the home of the easternmost club in 2010.  The Championship Series will conclude with game two and game three, if necessary, at the opponent's park.


The new structure should benefit a team like Johnson City, which has finished in second place in the Western Division of the Appy League each of the last two years.  Landers said the expanded playoffs mean natural rivals could meet in the Championship Series.  In the past, only one team per division played after the 68-game regular season.



The Schedule


The 2009 Appalachian League will have ten teams again this year with no changes to the team names or the affiliations.  The schedule for each team has 21 three-game series and a "four plus one" series with one of their geographically closest rivals.  All home games scheduled Monday through Friday will start at 7:00 PM EDT.  Home games scheduled Saturday and Sunday will start at 6:00 PM EDT.  Doubleheaders scheduled due to rainouts usually start one hour earlier.  The schedule also includes three league-wide off-days.


·         68 scheduled games over 71 days

·         Starts June 22

·         11 games against perennial Appy League powerhouse Elizabethton Twins (seven at home and four on the road).

·         Nine games each against the Bristol White Sox, Greeneville Astros, and Kingsport Mets

          6 road games at Bristol and Greeneville

          6 home games vs. Kingsport

·         Six games each, three home and three away, against the East Division (Bluefield Orioles, Burlington Royals, Danville Braves, Princeton Rays, and Pulaski Mariners).

·         Three scheduled off days

          July 13 (Tuesday)

          August 4 (Wednesday)

          August 18 (Wednesday)

·         Ends August 31

·         Top two in each division (Johnson City is in the West) begin a best-of-three series September 1



The Roster


I met the team Sunday afternoon and talked with most of the players and coaches about the upcoming season.  The 2009 roster currently includes five of 31 players returning from the 2009 team.  C Travis Tartamella, currently in Palm Beach and substituting for injured C Nick Derba, is expected to join Johnson City in a week or two. 


Of the 31 active players on the opening day roster, 17 were drafted in the June 2010 First-Year Player Draft and will begin their professional baseball careers in Johnson City. 


Johnson City will again utilize a "piggyback" starting rotation of ten different pitchers.  However, only nine of the ten starters had been determined as of the writing of this article.  Doug White and the other coaches (Brent Strom and Dyar Miller were in Johnson City on Sunday) need to see several of the relievers pitch in game situations before giving them some starts in the piggy-back system. 


Tandem Starting Pitchers (9): 

LHP Hector Hernandez (1A) and LHP Ryan Copeland (1B) – Tuesday vs. Kingsport

RHP Angel De Jesus (2A) and LHP Pat Daugherty (2B) – Wednesday vs. Kingsport

RHP Zach Russell (3A) and "Bullpen" (3B) – Thursday @ Kingsport

RHP Trevor Rosenthal (4A) and LHP Dean Kiekhefer (4B) – Friday @ Greeneville

RHP Boone Whiting (5A) and LHP Jeff Nadeau (5B) – Saturday @ Greeneville


Relief Pitchers (4):  RHP Drew Benes, RHP Aiden Lucas, LHP Iden Nazario, and LHP Bob Revesz.


Relief Pitchers Predominantly Used in Save Situations (3):  RHP Hector Corpas, RHP Francisco Guzman, and RHP Chris Patterson.


Catchers (2):  Juan Castillo and Cody Stanley.


Infielders (8):  Philip Cerreto (3B/1B – some OF), Packy Elkins (Utility), Greg Garcia (MIF), David Medina (1B – some OF), Romulo Ruiz (3B/DH), Kleininger Teran (3B/1B – emergency C), Cesar Valera (SS), Colin Walsh (2B/3B). 


Outfielders (5): Chris Edmondson (LF), Virgil Hill (CF/OF), Steven Ramos (CF/LF), Roberto Reyes (RF/CF), Reggie Williams (OF). 




Roster Statistics


2010 Draft Picks:  17 of 31

2009 Draft Picks:  4 of 31 (will be 5 of 32 with Tartamella)

2008 Draft Picks:  none

2007 Draft Picks:  1 of 31

2008 Free Agents (from Latin America):  1 of 31

2007 Free Agents (from Latin America):  3 of 31

2006 Free Agents (from Latin America):  3 of 31

Tallest:  Angel De Jesus and Pat Daugherty – 6'6"

Shortest:  Cody Stanley – 5'10"

Oldest:  Philip Cerreto – 22 years, 9 months (born October 4, 1987)

Youngest:  Cesar Valera – 18 years, 3 months (born March 8, 1992)

Heaviest:  Aiden Lucas – 235 lbs.

Lightest:  Steven Ramos – 150 lbs.

Longest in the Cardinal organization:  Kleininger Teran – signed March 6, 2006

Highest 2010 draft pick:  Cody Stanley – 4th round, 139th overall

Highest 2009 draft pick:  Virgil Hill – 6th round, 189th overall



Exhibition Game Highlights/Statistics


Johnson City 10, Tennessee Tornado 1.  This one looked like a mismatch from the start.  It was far different from the walk-off 2-1 win by the Cardinals last year.  Twelve different players fielded and made plate appearances with only one player (Steven Ramos at 0-for-1) failing to record a hit, walk, or run batted in.  The Cardinals jumped ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning and didn't stop there.  They scored in every inning except the second and seventh while allowing only one unearned run (Cesar Valera fielding error) on three hits.  Johnson City combined for sixteen hits (three doubles and thirteen singles). 


2B/SS Greg Garcia:  3-for-4, 2B, 3 R, RBI, SF

SS Cesar Valera:  2-for-3, 2 RBI, fielding error

2B Colin Walsh:  1-for-2, RBI

RF Roberto Reyes:  3-for-5, 2 R

1B David Medina:  2-for-5, R, 2 RBI

LF Chris Edmondson:  0-for-2, RBI, SF, K

LF Steven Ramos:  0-for-1

3B Romulo Ruiz:  1-for-3, 2B, R, K

3B Packy Elkins:  0-for-0, BB

DH Philip Cerreto:  2-for-4, R

C Juan Castillo:  1-for-3, RBI, SF

CF Virgil Hill:  1-for-4, 2B, 2 R


Notes:  C Cody Stanley was hit on the right side of his head (near his ear) with a ball this week during practice and was held out of the exhibition game for precautionary reasons.  He is expected to play Tuesday night.  Teran served as the very busy bullpen catcher. 


Seven different pitchers saw action in the game with the third group of tandem starters (Rosenthal and Kiekhefer) combining for the first five innings.  The pitchers combined for 113 pitches (85 strikes), one walk, and ten strikeouts while allowing two singles, one double, and one unearned run over eight innings pitched. 


Trevor Rosenthal:  3 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, H, 3 K, 38 pitches (28 strikes), 7-of-10 first-pitch strikes

Dean Kiekhefer:  2 IP, 3 K, 27 pitches (18 strikes), 2-of-6 first-pitch strikes

Drew Benes:  1 IP, H, BB, WP, PO (1B), 16 pitches (7 strikes), 2-of-4 first-pitch strikes

Aiden Lucas:  1 IP, K, 12 pitches (8 strikes), 2-of-3 first-pitch strikes

Chris Patterson:  1 IP, K, 7 pitches (6 strikes), 3-of-3 first-pitch strikes

Hector Corpas:  0.2 IP, H (2B), K, 8 pitches (6 strikes), 2-of-3 first-pitch strikes

Francisco Guzman:  0.1 IP, K, 5 pitches (4 strikes), 1-of-1 first-pitch strikes



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