Minor League Transactions

Dilip Vishwanat

From STL to Peoria: Taking a look at the promotions, demotions, and DL stints for the Cardinals' minor league system.

The season is early but there's already been quite a bit of up-and-down movement in the Cardinals' minor league system. Let's take a look.

St. Louis Cardinals

Player Age Date Movement
Seth Maness 24 4/29/13 Promoted from AAA
Carlos Martinez 21 5/03/13 Promoted from AAA
John Gast 24 5/12/13 Promoted from AAA

Thanks to a St. Louis bullpen that had gone horribly awry, Carlos Martinez and Seth Maness were promoted to St. Louis earlier than anyone anticipated. While Martinez seemed bound to join the major league bullpen at some point this season, that was not necessarily so for Maness, who was actually promoted first. John Gast was also called up on Sunday to replace the injured Westbrook's rotation spot for a couple of starts.

Maness' arrival in St. Louis was partially a testament to the impression he made in Spring Training and convenient timing. John Gast seemed like the no-brainer move since he had started the season with 32 scoreless innings and the Cardinals were replacing a lefty (Rzepczynski). Unfortunately for Gast, he had just started the day before, so Maness got the call. Maness has lived up to his reputation by pounding the zone (fifteen of eighteen pitches have been strikes), coaxing ground balls (100% of balls in play), and living below 90 mph (per Brooks Baseball's PITCHf/x data). It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle Maness once a demoted veteran pushes for another chance, Jake Westbrook returns from the DL, or Chris Carpenter returns from the dead.

In his first two appearances, Martinez threw 42 pitches that Brooks Baseball has classified as 52% 4-seam fastballs, 29% sinkers, 17% curveballs, and a lonely changeup. Martinez's 4-seamer has averaged 98 mph while his sinker has been around 95 mph. In 2.2 innings, Martinez has struck out three and walked one. He allowed three runs after striking out the first two batters he faced in yesterday's blow-out loss to Colorado. Hopefully, Martinez still gets a chance to start in the future but I'm not complaining about his bullpen assignment right now.

Memphis Redbirds

Player Age Date Movement
Marc Rzepczynski 27 4/29/13 Demoted from MLB
J.R. Towles 29 4/29/13 Activated from DL
Ryan Jackson 25 5/02/13 Demoted from MLB
Mitchell Boggs 29 5/03/13 Demoted from MLB
Eduardo Sanchez 24 5/04/13 Activated from DL
Jermaine Curtis 25 5/06/13 Demoted from MLB

As mentioned above, Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski were demoted after miserable starts to the season. Rzepczynski has never regained the promise he showed in his first half season in St. Louis following the Colby Rasmus trade. Derrick Goold reported that Rzepczynski needed to exhibit better body language and receptiveness to suggestions on his approach. For his stay in Memphis, it's unclear what we should be monitoring, at least in terms of numbers. Other than favoring his fastball more often, his peripherals and tendencies appear unchanged since arriving in 2011.

Mitchell Boggs is also a curious case in that he started the season by walking batters 8% more often than he had previously in his career despite hitting the strike zone just as often. If it weren't for the preposterous amount of line drives he's allowed (32%), I'd say his strand rate (51%) and BABIP (.410) would surely regress. Maybe he should aim for some different areas of the strike zone.

Rzepczynski and Boggs have both enjoyed positive results since joining Memphis. Rzepczynski has only allowed two runs on six hits and two walks in 7.1 innings that have included four strikeouts. Boggs still hasn't given up a run in four innings that have included four base runners (three hits, one walk) and three strikeouts.

Springfield Cardinals

Player Age Date Movement
Keith Butler 24 5/04/13 Demoted from AAA
Nick Greenwood 25 5/04/13 Demoted from AAA
Neal Pritchard 24 5/05/13 Released
James Ramsey 23 5/05/13 Promoted from AA
Luis Mateo 23 5/05/13 Activated from DL
Travis Tartamella 25 5/06/13 Demoted from AAA

Keith Butler finds himself back in double-A after walking as many batters as he struck out (15%) in 5+ innings for Memphis. His 3.38/3.52 ERA/FIP for Springfield in 2012 was decent but not great for a reliever. At least part of his struggles in Memphis can be linked to an impossibly low strand rate (52%). He's found comfort in his return to Springfield. In six innings, he has yet to allow a run while striking out more than half of the batters he's faced and drastically reducing his walk rate (4%).

James Ramsey suffered a hamstring injury in late April but was then promoted to Springfield just two days after returning from the DL. Ramsey underwhelmed in his professional debut (.309 wOBA, .086 ISO) but has quickly changed the conversation by walking as often as he struck out (15.7%) and showing quite a bit more pop (.197 ISO) in his return to Palm Beach. He's walked in six of twenty-six plate appearances for Springfield but has struck out eight times and is still looking for his first extra base hit.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Player Age Date Movement
Jonathan Keener 23 4/15/13 Placed on DL
Danny Miranda 22 4/15/13 Placed on DL
Stephen Piscotty 22 4/18/13 Activated from DL
Tyler Melling 24 4/20/13 Placed on DL
Scott Gorgen 26 4/21/13 Demoted from AA
David Popkins 23 4/25/13 Promoted from A
Sam Gaviglio 23 4/30/13 Placed on DL
Chris Corrigan 25 5/01/13 Placed on DL
Cody Stanley 24 5/03/13 Placed on DL
Dean Kiekhefer 24 5/05/13 Demoted from AA
Ryan Sherriff 23 5/05/13 Placed on DL
Juan Castillo 23 5/07/13 Demoted from AA

Palm Beach has had quite a few players hit the DL, most notably Stephen Piscotty and Sam Gaviglio. Piscotty's DL stint only lasted seven days after being hit on the left forearm by a pitch and, thankfully, the injury didn't have any lasting effects on his performance as he has slammed five home runs and four doubles since returning to action. He maintains an above .400 wOBA in 114 plate appearances. That'll do.

I haven't been able to find any information about Gaviglio's injury. He's an underrated pitching prospect who keeps the ball in the strike zone and on the ground. Hopefully, he'll return to action soon. According to Palm Beach's official site, Ryan Sherriff is expected to return from the DL to start Monday night's game against Lakeland.

Peoria Chiefs

Player Age Date Movement
Carson Kelly 18 4/20/13 Promoted from Rookie
Dail Villanueva 23 4/20/13 Placed on DL
Nick Martini 23 4/25/13 Activated from DL
Steven Ramos 22 4/29/13 Promoted from A-
Ildemaro Vargas 21 5/04/13 Activated from DL
Michael Swinson 23 5/04/13 Activated from DL
C.J. McElroy 20 5/04/13 Placed on DL
Jordan Walton 23 5/08/13 Activated from DL
Silfredo Garcia 21 5/11/13 Promoted from Rookie
Samuel Tuivailala 20 5/12/13 Promoted from Rookie
Dixon Llorens 20 5/12/13 Placed on DL

Carson Kelly, C.J. McElroy, Silfredo Garcia, and Samuel Tuivailala were among the players added to Peoria's roster after the season's initial assignments, exposing them to full-season ball for the first time. McElroy and Llorens are two promising talents, so hopefully their injuries won't cause them to miss too much time. Keep an eye on Garcia. He rarely walked anyone (2% BB-rate) and struck out 28% of the batters he faced last season in 66.1 innings split between the Gulf Coast League and Johnson City. It should be interesting to see what kind of numbers Tuivailala can put up too as he has been converted from the infield to the mound.

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