The GCL Cardinals (17-21) lost six in a row after winning the first game of the week. They are still in second place, one game ahead of the Marlins but now 15 games behind the Nationals, who have won 21 of their last 23 games.
The Cardinals won the first of two games with the Mets, then lost three to the Nationals and two to the Marlins. The Cardinals were outscored 33-15, though most of that disparity was due to back-to-back games in which they gave up 10 runs each to the Nationals and Marlins. Their opponents outhit them 55-40.
The Nationals (32-6) are now running away from the rest of the East Division, literally. With a league-leading team on-base percentage of .370 (the Cardinals are at the bottom of the 16-team league at .302) and 85 stolen bases (Mets 34, Cardinals 29, Marlins 11), the Nationals have scored 215 runs in 38 games, compared with 141 for the Mets, 139 for the Cardinals and 127 for the Marlins.
The Nationals also are pitching well and not beating themselves on defense, Cardinals manager Steve Turco said. The Nationals lead the GCL in earned run average by a wide margin and have allowed only 16 unearned runs (Cardinals 39, Marlins 37, Mets 34). The pitching staffs of the Cardinals, Mets and Marlins have all allowed a higher total of hits and walks than their offenses have generated, but the Nationals have had 116 more hits and walks combined on offense than their staff has allowed their opponents.
The highlight of the week was Rafael Medina's two-out, tie-breaking hit in the sixth inning of the 5-2 win Monday over the Mets. Anthony Ray ignited the rally with a one-out single. Ray stole second before Oscar Mercado walked. After Jhohan Acevedo flied out, both runners moved up on a passed ball before Leobaldo Pina walked to load the bases, setting up Medina's decisive hit.
Comings and Goings
LHP Marco Gonzales was promoted to Palm Beach, which sent RHP Kyle Barraclough to the GCL for a rehab assignment. RHP Mike Mayers was promoted to Peoria. OF Jhohan Acevedo was promoted to Johnson City.
Hot and Not
C Luis Cruz had two hits in each of his first three starts, going 6-for-10 for the week. C Elier Rodriguez had three hits against the Marlins on Friday to give him a 4-for-9 week. In his fourth outing, LHP Rob Kaminsky tossed three innings, allowing one hit and one walk while fanning two.
A Closer Look At
This week's capsule scouting reports are based on interviews with Darwin Marrero, the GCL Cardinals' pitching coach:
Kaminsky has mound poise betond his age and experience level, Marrero said. "He's very competitive and coachable," Marrero said. "He doesn't realize yet how good he can be with all the stuff he has." In seven scoreless innings over four appearances so far, Kaminsky has allowed four hits and three walks while striking out 11. "He will do a lot of good things for himself and this organization," Marrero said. "We're happy to have him here."
Kyle Grana: The 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander from Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Mo., and Bellarmine University in Louisville is reminiscent in many ways of Jonathan Broxton when I saw him at about the same age with Double-A Jacksonville in 2005. Broxton, however, signed out of high school at 18 years old, so he was in Triple-A by age 22, so Grana has some catching up to do as a 22-year-old in Rookie ball after being signed in June as a non-drafted free agent.
Marrero said Grana should be able to compete next spring for a spot on a full-season team. Grana doesn't possess Broxton's 98 mph fastball, throwing his at 91-94 mph, but he has good command, likes to pitch inside, handles adversity well and is not afraid to throw his fastball in any situation, Marrero said.
A starter in college, Grana projects as a reliever because of his ability to quickly forget a bad outing and what he describes as his "rubber arm." The day after a five-out save, Grana said he could pitch, but that the Cardinals do not let pitchers work on consecutive days. Marrero said that later in the season, Grana may have that opportunity. Grana is getting better with his curveball and is developing a split-finger fastball as his offspeed pitch, Marrero said.
Hawkins is also developing a circle change that is still a work in progress. The 19-year-old pitched for Brevard Community College near his home in Melbourne, Fla. Marrero said of Hawkins, "He can pitch to both sides of the plate, but to get right-handed batters out consistently he will have to improve his change."
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