Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2010 Week 9

Boone Whiting (4-2, 4.02 ERA) is eighth in the Appalachian League in strikeouts. Whiting has struck out 30 percent of the batters he has faced this year while walking less than 3 percent.

The Johnson City Cardinals were 3-1 this week (36-20 overall).  They moved into a tie for first place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League with the Elizabethton Twins.  They are nine games ahead of the Greeneville Astros for a playoff berth with just ten games to play.  The Twins and Cardinals are tied with the best records in the league.  Johnson City is on pace to finish 42-24.  If they did, it would be their best finish since 1986 (44-22).   


Johnson City owns the tiebreaker with the Greeneville Astros since they are 6-3 against them this year.  The Cardinals ended the week (Sunday morning) with a magic number of one to clinch a playoff spot.  Elizabethton owns the playoff tie breaker with Johnson City since head-to-head the Cardinals are 4-6 against the Twins.  The schedule makers must have known something.  If the Cardinals match the Twins over the next nine games, then the last game of the regular season (in Johnson City against Elizabethton) would be for "all the marbles" in the Western Division.


I was able to attend the only home game this week against the Pulaski Mariners in person.  I listened to the internet broadcast of the doubleheader called by Kyle Cooper of the Princeton Rays.  Those observations provide the basis for this report. 


Roster Changes


There were no changes this week.  The roster remains at 30 active players (max of 35). 




RF/1B Phil Cerreto fractured his hand when he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning on Friday August 6.  Cerreto will likely be out for the remainder of the regular season.  If Johnson City makes post-season play, it remains possible, although uncertain, that he will be ready to play.  His cast is scheduled to be removed this week and he will begin rehab if everything checks out favorably. 


Team Statistical Review


The first place offense hit just below their season average the past week.  After posting a line of .308/.373/.447 last week, they dropped to a line of .282/.324/.405 this week.  They hit 13 extra base hits in four games while striking out 22 times.  They averaged 6.8 runs and 9.2 hits per game.  They stole three bases this week (two by Virgil Hill) without being caught once.  They hit just one home run this week to drop one spot to fourth in that category.  The offense is in first place in the league in eleven different categories:  batting average (.291), on-base percentage (.359), slugging (.446), on-base plus slugging (.804), hits, runs, doubles, triples, RBIs, walks, and total bases.  The Cardinal hitters have the third fewest strikeouts in the league. 


The defense committed four errors this week that led to one unearned run.  The season total stands at 86 errors (78 by batters and eight by pitchers) for an average of 1.5 errors per game.   


The Cardinals pitching staff's ERA improved for the third week in a row after getting worse for four consecutive weeks prior to that.  A 2.25 ERA this week gave them a 4.00 season ERA (sixth in league).  The pitchers allowed just one home run this week in four games.  With that performance, they moved out of the basement in the league in home runs allowed (43, ninth).  The pitchers allowed seven walks this week in 32 innings pitched.  They have the fewest walks (103) through 56 games.  Their walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) was just 0.87 this week.  Their season WHIP of 1.26 is now fourth in the ten-team league, up two spots from last week.  As a team for the season, the pitchers have grounded out 26.6 percent of the batters they have faced, struck out 22.3 percent, and walked 4.9%.  The relievers inherited seven runners this week and allowed three to score (34 percent scored for season). 




Johnson City opened what was supposed to be a three-game series at home against the first place (East Division) Pulaski Mariners.  The series was expected to be a possible preview of a first round Appalachian League playoff series that will pit second place in the West against first place in the East. 


Sunday night, Johnson City looked good after jumping out to a 5-2 lead after seven innings.  Seven of the nine starters had hits with Oscar Taveras (three hits), Cody Stanley (fifth triple), and Packy Elkins (eight game hit streak) each recording multi-hit games.  Starter Trevor Rosenthal had more trouble than usual throwing strikes and left the game with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning when he reached his pitch count.  Rosenthal, pictured warming up in the bullpen before the game, induced 43 percent of the batters he faced on the night to groundout.  Rosenthal has forced 40.4 percent of his batters faced to groundout.  The next closest on the team is Cale Johnson (28.8 percent). 


Cale Johnson relieved Rosenthal and struck out the first batter swinging.  However, he then gave up a two-RBI seeing-eye groundball single through the left side to allow two of Rosenthal's runners to score.  Johnson, who Shildt said was spotting and mixing in his breaking pitches very well, struck out six, allowed two hits, and walked none over four innings.  Johnson gave a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning to the league leader in holds, Aidan Lucas.  Unfortunately, Lucas, pictured before the game, had perhaps his worst outing as a Cardinal. Lucas allowed one of Cale Johnson's runs and three runs of his own to score over one third of an inning pitched.  Johnson City registered only two of their eleven hits in the last four innings and lost by a score of 6-5.  It was Lucas' first professional blown save and loss.   With the loss and Greeneville's win, the magic number to clinch a playoff spot remained at eight with fifteen to play. 


Monday night's game was rained out after the stadium received about one and half inches of rain just a few hours before game time.  A doubleheader of seven-inning games was scheduled for Tuesday night. 


Tuesday night, it didn't start raining until eight minutes after the scheduled 6 PM EDT start time.  However, since the radar indicated that rain was approaching, the field was covered and a rain delay was started.  Since this was the last possible day this year that Pulaski and Johnson City could play a regular season game and since both teams (and the entire league) were off on Wednesday, the curfew (latest time an inning could be started) was waived.  Both teams were prepared to play into the early morning hours to complete the doubleheader, if necessary.   Unfortunately, heavy rain and lightning arrived about 6:30 PM and another inch or more of rain came down in about an hour.  Due to so much standing water in the outfield, both games of the doubleheader were rained out around 7:30 PM.  Unfortunately, those two games will not be made up.  Therefore, the 68-game schedule was reduced to 66.  Since scheduled starter Kevin Siegrist did not warm-up, everyone's starts were pushed back a few days.  With the cancelled games, Johnson City's magic number dropped to six with thirteen games to play. 


Wednesday was an off-day across the Appy League but was a good day for me to analyze who should be on my All-Star ballot.  There were seventeen slots to fill and none of them could be a Johnson City Cardinal on my ballot.  Votes are due by Noon on Wednesday August 25 and the team should be announced soon after the league tallies the votes, possibly Wednesday evening. 


Thursday was a road trip to Princeton, WV to face the Rays for the first time this year.  Princeton's pitching staff was the best in the league early in the year and Johnson City has the best offense.  Furthermore, both teams were vying for playoff spots with the Cardinals eight games up on a spot and the Rays just one and half games back of a spot.  The contrasting strengths of each team would be an interesting storyline for the three-game series. 


Unfortunately, heavy rains earlier in the day made the field in Princeton unplayable (due to "wet grounds") on Thursday night.  A doubleheader of seven-inning games was scheduled for Friday night.  It was the third day in a row off for the Rays and the fourth in a row for the Cardinals.


Friday was a beautiful rain-free day that saw a 5:30 PM EDT start for the doubleheader.  Game 1 was a pitcher's duel that didn't see the first hit by either team until the fourth inning.  The Cardinals pushed across a run in the third inning via a walk, a two base throwing error, and a sacrifice fly.  Starter Kevin Siegrist faced the minimum through the first three innings on just 29 pitches.  Twelve pitches into the fourth inning, things weren't looking as rosy for Siegrist.  Two singles had runners on first and second with nobody out and Siegrist had just thrown a 1-2 pitch into the dirt that got away from C Cody Stanley.  Fortunately, Stanley recovered quickly, the runner on second strayed too far off second, and strong throw from Cody led to a 2-6 pickoff (his first).  Two pitches later, Siegrist induced an inning-ending groundball double play. 


The fifth inning was 1-2-3 for both teams and then the Cardinals added another run in the sixth to push the lead to 2-0.  Romulo Ruiz had a two-out gift when the right fielder lost a weak pop-up in the sun.  One pitch later, 3B Kleininger Teran made him pay with a double over the left fielder's head. 


Siegrist breezed through the sixth inning by recording two strikeouts and a groundout on just eleven pitches.  Siegrist's total pitch count through six innings of facing just eighteen batters was 60.  The decision for Mike Shildt and Doug White in a 2-0 game in the seventh and last inning was whether to stay with Siegrist or go for Corpas.  They opted for Siegrist.  He struggled to a 3-2 count on the first batter before inducing an easy groundout.  He struggled to another 3-2 count on the next batter and gave up a double off the left centerfield wall.  There was some indecision with the next batter, as announcer Kyle Cooper said that Manager Mike Shildt started up the dugout steps and then stopped.  Perhaps a left-handed hitter facing the left-handed pitcher led him to return and let Siegrist face one more hitter.  A 2-0 count brought Pitching Coach Doug White to the mound but three pitches later, Siegrist was done after a walk. 


Hector Corpas entered for what he hoped was a two-out save with runners on first and second.  Before Corpas could throw a pitch though, he was charged with a balk that put the tying run on second and removed the double play possibility.  The next pitch, with the infield back and willing to trade an out for a run, was a grounder back to the mound.  The next pitch after that was a groundout to second and the Cardinals celebrated a 2-0 well-pitched victory.  It was Johnson City's first shutout of the year, Siegrist's third win, and Corpas' fourteenth save.  Packy Elkins ended his eight game hitting streak. 


The Cardinals went for a sweep of the doubleheader on Friday night in Game 2 by sending a well rested Charllan Jimenez to the mound.  It turns out that they didn't need him to be that sharp though as Rays' pitching allowed sixteen hits and the Rays' defense committed seven errors in a 13-2 Johnson City trouncing.  The "Three R's" (Romulo, Roberto, and Reggie) combined to go 8-for-12 with five runs and two RBIs.  Oscar Taveras and Cesar Valera combined to go 4-for-7 with five runs and three RBIs.  C Travis Tartamella and pinch hitter Pack Elkins were the only hitless batters.  Tartamella ended his five-game hit streak.  Jimenez did what he had to do when faced with an 11-0 lead in the fourth inning; throw strikes.  Jimenez threw twelve pitches in the fourth (all strikes) and went on to record his first Appy League victory.  Iden Nazario got in another inning but continued his trend of allowing about one hit, one walk, and recording one strikeout in each of his one-inning outings. 


Johnson City earned the series sweep on Saturday night in Princeton with a 7-1 victory over the Rays.  The story of the night was pitching as four Cardinal pitchers combined to allow just four hits and one unearned run.  Jeff Nadeau, pictured, earned his first professional win by scattering four hits (three doubles) over five innings.  Nadeau and C Cody Stanley combined to pickoff one runner and to catch another stealing while two Cardinal errors allowed a runner to score in the first.  Johnson City plated three in the second on a walk, two doubles, and a sacrifice fly.  The Cardinals stretched it to a 5-1 lead in the fourth on a double, a single, an error, two walks, and another sacrifice fly.  Boone Whiting came on in the sixth inning and struck out the side.  Whiting walked one while allowing no hits and striking out five over his three innings.  Bob Revesz and Aidan Lucas combined for a hitless ninth. 


Everything that could go right for the Cardinals Saturday night went right as the first place Twins and the third place Astros each lost.  That pulled the Cardinals even with the Twins for the best record in the league and put the magic number at one with ten games left to play.  


Pulaski 6 @ Johnson City 5, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/16/10

Johnson City 2 @ Princeton 0, Game 1, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/21/10

Johnson City 13 @ Princeton 2, Game 2, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/21/10

Johnson City 7 @ Princeton 1, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/22/10


Tandem Starting Pitchers


Listed below are the pairings.  With the arrival of supplemental first round pick Tyrell Jenkins last week and with his pro debut expected Thursday night of this week, an "extra" pitcher has been added.  The five primary starters (which usually switches between the two every six days) are limited to around 85 pitches and the secondary starters are limited to around 65 pitches (varies from pitcher to pitcher – i.e. Jenkins will pitch one or two innings and will have a reduced pitch count).  Seven of the pitchers spent time in the Cardinals organization last year (Rosenthal, Hernandez, De Jesus, Daugherty, Johnson, Jimenez, and Siegrist).  The other four pitchers were drafted during the June 2010 First-Year Player Draft. 


Tandem Starting Pitchers (11): 

LHP Ryan Copeland and LHP Hector Hernandez

RHP Angel De Jesus and LHP Pat Daugherty

RHP Trevor Rosenthal and RHP Cale Johnson

RHP Charllan Jimenez and LHP Kevin Siegrist

RHP Tyrell Jenkins/RHP Boone Whiting and LHP Jeff Nadeau


Tandem Starter Pitch Counts


8/15:  Trevor Rosenthal:  56 pitches, 34 strikes, and 8-for-14 first pitch strikes.

8/15:  Cale Johnson:  57 pitches, 35 strikes, and 6-for-14 first pitch strikes.

8/20(G1):  Kevin Siegrist:  79 pitches, 50 strikes, 14-for-21 first pitch strikes.

8/20(G2):  Charllan Jimenez:  60+ pitches, 47+ strikes, 12+-for-19 first pitch strikes.


NOTE:  I missed Jimenez' first inning due to computer difficulties.  He probably threw about seventy pitches total.  I recorded 56 pitches (from the second inning on) after he faced four batters in the first (i.e. 60+). 


Who's Hot (Hitters)


Six different hitters hit .333 or better this week.  Those hitters are listed below in decreasing order of this week's batting average.  Cerreto is still a league leader in a few categories despite falling below the 151 minimum plate appearances required for qualifying for the season averaged categories. 


3B/DH Romulo Ruiz (.263) was just 7-for-14 (.500) with a double and a team-high five runs in four games this week.  Ruiz led the team in OPS this week at 1.105.  Ruiz ranks second in the league in walks (28), fourth in doubles (16), and ninth in games (52).  Ruiz committed one more error this week to give him a season total of 21 errors in 42 games as a third baseman.


LF/CF Reggie Williams (.288) was 2-for-5 (.400) with three runs and two RBIs.  Williams, pictured, is tied for second in the league in triples (6).  The most amazing fact about Williams is that he has NO doubles in his 104 at bats.


OF Virgil Hill (.288) was 4-for-11 (.364) with two doubles, two stolen bases, and a run this week in four games.  Hill is seventh in the league in walks (21). 


1B/3B Kleininger Teran (.295) was 5-for-15 (.333) with four doubles, four RBIs, and two runs in four games this week.  Teran led the team this week in slugging (SLG) at .600, total bases (9), and RBIs (4).  Since Teran is listed officially as a designated hitter (DH) by MiLB, he should get consideration as an Appy League All-Star for that position. 


LF Oscar Taveras (.320) was 5-for-15 (.333) with a double, an RBI, and four runs this week in four games.  Taveras ranks third in the league in both RBIs (38) and batting average (.319).  He is fifth in the league in both slugging (.539) and OPS (.905).  He is seventh in total bases (90), eighth in home runs (7), and tenth in OBP (.366).  Taveras should be a top candidate for an Appy League All-Star outfielder position later this week. 


2B/3B Packy Elkins (.283) was 2-for-6 (.333) with two runs, a walk, and an RBI in three games this week.  Elkins is pictured singling to left field this week on a letter high pitch.  Elkins should get consideration as a candidate for the Appy League All-Star utility infielder position. 


Phil Cerreto (.420) was out with a fractured hand again this week but he is still a league leader in four offensive categories.  Cerreto is fifth in RBIs (37), sixth in doubles (15), eighth in home runs (7), and tenth in total bases (90).  Despite the injury and his recent lack of playing time, Cerreto could get some consideration as an Appy League All-Star third baseman since that is how he is listed by MiLB.  Cerreto has not played any third base for Johnson City this year. 


Who's Not Hot (Hitters)


It was another good team effort this week for Johnson City.  All twelve batters had at least one hit or one run.  Ruiz, David Medina, and Travis Tartamella were the only ones without an RBI.  


C Cody Stanley (.307) was just 3-for-16 (.188) with a triple and three RBIs in four games this week.  Stanley, a catcher, is fifth in the league in triples (5)!  He is eighth in batting average (.307), eighth in OPS (.871), ninth in RBIs (32), and ninth in OBP (.369).  Stanley, who should be a top candidate for the Appy League All-Star catcher, is pictured taking a pitch high and outside against the Mariners this week. 


2B/SS Greg Garcia (.285) was 1-for-16 (.063) with a home run and two runs in four games this week.  Garcia is third in the league in runs (42).


Who's Hot (Pitchers)


Three pitchers allowed no earned runs this week with walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIPs) of less than 1 over at least three innings pitched.  Those three are listed below followed by the top ten league leaders in several pitching categories. 


Boone Whiting (4-2, 4.02 ERA) allowed no hits and one walk this week (0.33 WHIP) over three scoreless innings pitched.  Whiting is eighth in the league in strikeouts (58).  Whiting led all pitchers (including relievers) in K/9 (15) this week.  He also leads the starters for the season in the percentage of strikeouts per batter faced (29.6) and the percentage of walks per batter faced (2.6).  Despite a high ERA, Whiting could get some consideration as the Appy League right handed All-Star pitcher based on his strikeout performance, his pinpoint control, and his good WHIP. 


Kevin Siegrist (3-2, 1.78 ERA) allowed no runs, three hits, and two walks (0.79 WHIP) while striking out seven over six and one third innings this week.  Siegrist is a top candidate for the Appy League Pitcher of the Week award this week.  Leonel Santiago of the Burlington Royals pitched a little bit better than Siegrist this week though and should win the award. 


Jeff Nadeau (1-2, 2.83 ERA) allowed one run, four hits and no walks this week (0.80 WHIP) while striking out two over five innings pitched.  Nadeau's delivery is featured from an early July game.


Ryan Copeland (6-0, 1.59 ERA) didn't pitch during this short week.  He is first in the league in both WHIP (0.79) and ERA (1.59).  Copeland should be the leading candidate for Appy League left handed All-Star pitcher despite currently showing only five starts in the official stats.  He is second in the league in wins (6) and tenth in holds (2). 


Hector Corpas (0-1, 2.11 ERA) recorded another save this week.  He leads the league in saves (14), games finished (18), and games (20).  As a result of the saves stat alone, he should be almost a shoe-in for Appy League All-Star reliever.  


Chris Patterson, Drew Benes, Charllan Jimenez, Hector Hernandez, Angel De Jesus, and Jeff Nadeau are among the league leaders in holds. 


Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)


Trevor Rosenthal (3-0, 2.48 ERA) looked a little tired toward the end of his start this week.  Rosie allowed two earned runs (5.41 ERA), three hits, and two walks this week (1.50 WHIP) over three and one third innings pitched. 


Aidan Lucas (1-1, 4.08 ERA) allowed three earned runs (40.5 ERA), two hits, and one walk (4.50 WHIP) over two thirds of an inning pitched this week.  He recorded his first pro blown save and his first pro loss.  Despite one bad outing, Lucas leads the league in holds (6) and games (20). 


Week Nine Schedule


Game 57 (Sun):     Hernandez/Copeland @ Bristol White Sox

Game 58 (Mon):     Daugherty/De Jesus @  Bristol White Sox

Game 59 (Tue):     Johnson/Rosenthal @  Bristol White Sox

Game 60 (Wed):     Jimenez/Siegrist vs. Princeton Rays

Game 61 (Thu):     Jenkins/Whiting/Nadeau vs. Princeton Rays

Game 62 (Fri):       Copeland/Hernandez vs. Princeton Rays

Game 63 (Sat):      De Jesus/Daugherty vs. Bluefield Orioles


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