Springfield Cardinals First-Hand Report 6/3 - 6/4

The other day in a main page post, I mentioned that I was going to Springfield to watch the AA Cardinals play. I took requests on players in which you would like scouting reports. Keep in mind, I am nowhere near the level of a semi-professional scout, or anything like that. I have watched baseball for years and my father was with me and has watched baseball for 30+ years longer than I have. Here is what we came up with:

June 3rd Game v. Corpus Christi Hooks - 13th row directly behind home plate

Kolten Wong - leadoff hitter - second base

In Wong's first at bat, he got jammed on a 98 mph fastball and popped up to second base.

On defense early in the game, there was a broken-bat, soft roller up the middle that Kolten had to make a backhand scoop and throw on the run up the middle in front of the second base bag and got the runner at first.

Again on defense, Kolten made a routine grounder look routine.

In Wong's second at bat, he singled to right field, pulling a 95 mph FB through the 1st/2nd base hole. He then went first to home on a double in the right center gap, scoring the first run of the game.

On defense, Kolten turned a double play beautifully with a runner bearing down on him (third to second to first double play).

In his next AB, Wong beat a small shift (the second baseman was playing well to the left of his normal positioning with the shortstop only moved a couple of steps toward second base from his normal position) by hitting a ball up the middle to the right side of second base - where the 2B had been on the previous single through the hole. He then stole second off of the pitcher and went to third on a bad thrown down to second in the dirt. He scored another run that time later in the inning.

Defensively, Kolten made an incredible play up the middle, one well behind the second base bag that both my father and I had assumed was a hit immediately - it was past the pitcher on one bounce before he could put up his pitching hand to try and stop it. He could not get the runner at first, however.

Later that inning, Kolten was playing double play depth and another soft bouncer was hit toward second. Kolten was standing on the bag by the time the ball got there. A simple catch and throw would have been the easiest double play of the game, most likely. Kolten just flat out missed the ball - which hit either his leg or the second base bag and bounced into short left field. Ugly play - his only of the game. (Ruled a 1B by the official scorer - BOO).

His 4th at bat led to an even bigger shift, think Big Papi or Barry Bonds shift. Kolten tried to beat the shift through the 3B/SS hole, but didn't quite push it enough, grounding out to the SS up the middle.

Last PA of the game, Wong got hit by an 80 mph (slider?) pitch.

Jermaine Curtis - batted second - third base

In Curtis' first at bat, he saw a 1-2 count sinker or 2-seamer at 95 mph, which he topped back to the pitcher for an out.

On defense, there was a weak grounder down the third baseline, eventually ruled foul, that Jermaine made a very nice play coming in on with a bare hand that would have gotten the runner.

Again defensively, he charged a weak hit ball toward the shortstop, cut it off on a nice play on a short hop (glove hand this time) and gunned the runner out.

Curtis' second at bat was a long at bat, fouling off some tough pitches, before he popped out to the second baseman.

On Wong's previously mentioned double play, Jermaine made a perfect throw to Wong to start it.

Curtis' third at bat faced a drawn in infield, Wong on 3rd with nobody out, and he singled up the middle past a diving 2nd baseman to drive in the run.

Jermaine started an even nicer double play later - bases loaded, 1 out - in which he snagged a grounder down the line on the run, stepped on third and threw to first to get the runner, keeping the guy on third from scoring since that ended the inning.

Curtis hit a first pitch grounder to third, I missed the speed of that pitch, but it looked like he might have been out front on a breaking ball or changeup.

In his last at bat, Curtis walked.

In the 9th inning, Jermaine made two more great defensive plays, the second getting a standing ovation from the crowd. Both were slow rollers in front of him, the first he cut off the shortstop, who would have had a very tough play to his right. The second he had to come straight in - pitcher would have had zero chance of getting the runner, Jermaine got him by a half-step on the throw.

Oscar Taveras - batted third - center field

Taveras saw four straight 95+ mph pitches to start his first at bat before taking a 79 mph breaking pitch on the outside corner for strike three.

Defensively, Oscar played a line drive very well in the 2nd inning.

In his second at bat, Taveras quickly helped a runner hold at first on a pitch in the dirt - great recognition on his part at a young age. He then drilled an 82 mph breaking pitch (from the same pitcher) into right field directly at the fielder for his second out of the day.

In his third at bat, Taveras hit a 99 mph pitch on the outside corner the opposite way, but directly at the left fielder for another hard hit out.

Back to the defensive side of the ball, Oscar set his feet well and showed a good arm in keeping a runner at third during a sacrifice fly opportunity.

Taveras' 4th at bat came vs. a left-handed pitcher, setting up a lefty-lefty matchup. He ended up going down 1-2 in the count, before blooping a single to left field. He then went first to third on a single up the middle, showing good baserunning.

Lastly, Taveras came up with bases loaded and ground out to the first baseman.

Greg Garcia - batted sixth - short stop

Greg had one defensive play in the first inning in which there was a soft grounder that he rounded well (playing it a little off to the side), then threw a weak throw slightly off line that the first baseman (Scruggs) had to make a nice backhand scoop on to get the out.

Garcia then ripped a solid grounder down the first base line (pulled it) for an out on the first pitch he saw.

Defensively, Greg stayed back on another semi-soft hit grounder, showing great positioning, but barely got the leadoff man at first base because of playing it back.

In his next at bat, Garcia looked quite overmatched on a fastball and hit a one hopper to the pitcher. To his credit, he ran it out hard and was able to get on base because of a lackadaisical throw by the pitcher.

In his third plate appearance, Garcia showed great patience on a walk.

In his last at bat, Garcia batted with bases loaded and zero outs. He got down 0-2 quickly, then was able to foul a couple off and hit a weak liner to left for an RBI single.

Eric Fontanaro - right-handed relief pitcher - 8th inning with 4-1 lead - threw 20+ pitches the night before

LH 4 hitter - 95 mph FB, high bouncing ball to short for an E6.

Runner on first

LH 5 hitter - 89 mph (2 seamer?) for ball 1. 93 mph FB single to center.

Runners on first and second

LH 6 hitter - 91 mph 2 seamer for a strike, 80 slider - passed ball (not even in dirt), runners to second and third. 93 mph fastball popped up for out #1.

2nd and 3rd - 1 out

RH 7 hitter - 92 mph fastball, fouled off. 95 mph fastball for ball 1. 92 mph fastball, popped up for out #2.

2nd and 3rd - 2 outs

Wild pitch, both runners score (second on error by catcher on the throw to the plate to attempt to get the first runner). 89 mph 2 seamer for strike 1. Fly out to RF on third pitch (didn't see the pitch itself.)


June 4th Game v. Corpus Christi Hooks - 9th row directly behind home plate

Kolten Wong - leadoff hitter - second base

Wong led off the bottom half of the first by popping up on the second pitch he saw for out #1.

Wong batted again with nobody on and nobody out to lead off the second. On the first pitch he grounded out to the shortstop.

In Wong's third at bat, the third baseman was playing very far back, so Wong (with nobody on and two outs) laid down a bunt down the third base line. The pitcher made the play and fired to first. It was a bad throw - Wong was safe with a bunt 1B - but Wong made it close enough to get a hit out of it. He went first to third on a single down the right field line. He most likely would have scored except the RF made a very nice play to get to the ball before it rolled to the corner for extra bases.

In Wong's fourth AB, he drove a ball well to left field with 2 outs and the bases loaded, but the fielder was positioned perfectly and only had to go back 3-4 more steps to get the slicing line drive to end the inning.

On defense, Kolten showed bad range on a ball to his left, the ball went by for a single. However, later in game, Wong made a very good backhand play on a ball to his right - with a strong throw to first to get the hitter/runner.

Wong came to the plate again with nobody on, this time one out, and popped up an inside pitch for an out.

Wong's last plate appearance of the game came with 2 outs and nobody on base. He singled up the middle (a 10 hopper or so) then was able to steal second.

Jermaine Curtis - batted second - third base

Curtis came up with 0 on and 1 out in the bottom of the first and got the four run inning started off well. He took an 0-2 offspeed pitch and drove it through the hole for a single. He would later score from third on an infield single.

In the second, Curtis came up with one on and nobody out and hit a towering fly ball to right field that was caught.

Defensively, Jermaine missed a high hopper down the third base line that stayed just fair. It looked to me that he gave up on the ball thinking it was foul. He visibly was cursing himself.

Later in the inning, Jermaine was more miffed at himself when he missed a soft hopper to his left - the same play he made repeatedly last night. This went for an error.

Curtis came into the batter's box and looked like he wanted to make up for his poor defense. He took a 2 out pitch with a runner on and hit one of the hardest line drives we'd seen in two nights, directly to the left fielder for an out.

Jermaine ended the following LONG inning on defense by making a diving catch on a line drive in the hole.

Curtis was hit by a pitch on his next two plate appearances. On both he scored from second base on singles to right field. The second one took a great slide by Curtis to make it home before the throw.

Curtis then walked on his final PA of the day.

Oscar Taveras - batted third - center field

Taveras batted with a runner on and one out in the 1st inning. He singled to right field on the second pitch (an inside, high 80s fastball). He later scored on a single.

Taveras came up in the 2nd inning with nobody on and two outs and roped a double to LF over the outfielder's head for a one or two-bouncer off of the wall.

When in the field in the third, the Hooks had 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and a fly ball came to center field. Oscar set his feet well, made a very strong throw to third base, but the throw was just off line. It may have beat the runner there.

Later in the game, Oscar also made a nice play on a line drive, playing it perfectly even though it was a bending drive that started right at him.

Taveras came up his third time with nobody on and nobody out and hit a home run to right-center field. It looked like the hit was wind aided, as there was a jet stream flowing out to right center on this night. Taveras looked off balance on the swing to me, he ended on one knee in the batter's box...but made solid enough contract to send it out of the yard.

Taveras came up for a 4th time with one on and zero out. He singled through the hole to the opposite field, went first to third on a single to RF, then scored on a sac fly to center (ball was hit well, so he scored easily).

In his fifth plate appearance, Taveras was walked on four straight. It did not go down in the book as an intentional pass, but the closest pitch to the strike zone had to be well over a foot away.

Finally, in his 5th at bat, 6th PA, Taveras drove an RBI single to right field.

Greg Garcia - batted 7th - short stop

Garcia hit with bases loaded and two outs in the first inning. He singled up the middle on a strange play. It was a worm burner past the pitcher's extended foot on the mound. I could not tell if Garcia was (very) slow out of the box or if he fell down - as I was watching the ball - but the shortstop made the diving stop on the outfield grass to keep the runner from second at third and nearly got Garcia at first. He would later go first to third base on a single to left field (on a 3-2 pitch with two outs, so a hit and run).

On his second at bat, Garcia drove a fly ball to the track in right-center field (about 10 feet short of where Taveras homered) for an out. It had to have been a 375-ft out or so.

Defensively, the only notable play in the game for Greg was a slow hopper to short in which he fielded it back and made a quick flip to Wong to get the force at second rather than charging to get the runner at first. It turned out to be a good decision.

In his third at bat, with a runner on first and two outs, Garcia pulled an inside 87 mph pitch for a single to right field.

In his fourth at bat, he hit a bloop single to right center - again with one on and two out.

In his fifth at bat, he had two on and two out and hit his hardest ball of the day (including the 375 foot track power blast) that one hopped the short stop. Their SS made a fantastic play on his backhand and strong throw to get Garcia at first base.

Keith Butler - right-handed closer - came in with a 4 run lead, hadn't pitched since Friday night (Mon. game)

RH 6 hitter - 95 mph FB - ball 1. 95 mph FB - strike 1. 92 mph inside FB hammered foul - deep. 75 mph curve ball for the K.

RH 7 hitter (pinch hitter for pitcher on earlier double switch) - 95 FB - strike 1. 95 FB - pop out to left field for out #2.

RH 8 hitter - 95 FB - ball 1. 92 FB - ball 2. 95 FB - strike 1. 96 FB - strike 2. 97 FB - strike three called on outside corner. Ballgame!

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