The Cardinals minor leaguers played a full slate of games Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so let's get right into it.
Friday, March 24th
New Orleans 3 - Memphis 1
- Bruce Caldwell (3B): 1-2, 2 BB,
- Todd Cunningham (LF): 2-3, 1 BB
- Daniel Pondedeleon – 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB
Springfield 4 - Jacksonville 2
- Mason Katz (3B): 1-1, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
- Thomas Spitz (LF): 1-2, 1 R, 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
- Zac Gallen: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 4 SO
Bruce Caldwell and Mason Katz are both bat-first second baseman who have hit well in Springfield. They are part of the logjam of utility infielders (along with Valera and DeJong) who are in turn blocked by the infield jam on the big league roster...rb had Zac Gallen rated the 19th best prospect in the Cardinals system. The 2016 3rd rounder doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but his pitches play up thanks to his command...Daniel Poncedeleon held his own in the Texas League last year, and is part of the next wave of pitchers who are starting to accumulate in the high minors. This is a welcome development after Memphis had a rotation made up almost entirely of minor league roster filler last season.
Jupiter 5 - Palm Beach 3
- Edmundo Sosa (SS): 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
- Nick Plummer: 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB
- Junior Fernandez: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Greensboro 1 - Peoria 0
- Jordan Hicks – 4.0 IP, 1H, 1 BB, 6 SO
Jordan Hicks is 2015 draft pick whose impressive stuff hasn't yet translated into impressive results...Junior Fernandez was the 8th in rb's rankings this offseason and is well-known to Future Redbirders. He has premium velocity and a swing and miss changeup. His ceiling will be determined by his ability to command his fastball and develop a breaking pitch to go with his impressive fastball/changeup combo...Nick Plummer was a first round pick in 2015 who had uneven debut in the complex league that same year. He showed an impressive approach, but lacked the power or contact ability to go with it. He lost a crucial season of development last year to a wrist injury, which is troubling for a couple of reasons. Wrist injuries are always scary to me, especially for a kid whose calling card is his bat, and kids from colder climates are elready missing out on reps compared to their counterparts who hail from warmer regions. Losing his age-20 season puts him even further behind.
GCL Marlins 10 - Peoria2 5
Extended Spring Training Results
- Jonatan Machado (CF): 2-3, 1 R
- Anthony Ciavarella: 1.2 IP, 3 K
As rb noted in his rankings, Jonatan Machad posesses an impressive collection of tools. His speed gives him a chance to be an impact player on the base paths and in CF and his contact ability could be a true plus tool at the big league level. The question is how much bigger he will get than his current 5'9" 155 pound frame. The 18 year old has plenty of time and will get his first taste of baseball in the US this summer.
Saturday, March 25th
New Orleans 5 - Memphis 3
- Breyvic Valera (2B): 2 -4, 2B
- Matt Pearce: 3.2 IP, H, ER, BB, 2 K
Breyvic Valera is part of the previously referenced logjam of utility types in the upper minors. The Cardinals added him to the 40 man this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft so they must believe the resurgence he had in AAA after multiple failures in the Texas League was for real. His contact ability is probably a carrying tool and it fuels his contact-heavy zero true outcomes approach at the plate. Unless his SSS walk rate in Memphis last year was for real, he'll always be at the mercy of the BABIP gods, but his ability to put bat to ball and stand anywhere on the field with a glove on his hand mean that he'll likely at least get a chance to ride the Memphis Shuttle one day.
Springfield 1 - Jacksonville 1
- Oscar Mercado (CF): 1-1, 2B
- Jack Flaherty: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 4 K
Oscar Mercado was drafted as an impressive defender at short, with a questionable bat. His career stalled and to make way for more promising shortstops he was moved to center field, where the lack of offense is presumably even more of a problem. He has speed as evidenced by his 80 plus stolen bases over the last two years, so if that can translate to defense it could buy him some time to figure things out at the plate and out of the way of more impressive prospects...Jack Flaherty came in at #5 in our offseason rankings. The 2014 comp round pick has held his own while being young for his level the last two years. He hasn't blown people away, but has been impressive nonetheless. This fits with his profile as a pitcher; above average command to go along with a wide array of above-average offerings, but no true standout pitch or skill. He looks set to start the season in the hitter-friendly Texas League which puts him on track to be in the mix for a big league spot when the St. Louis rotation begins to turn over in the next couple of years.
Jupiter 4 - Palm Beach 2
- Craig Aikin (RF): 2-3, R, BB, K
- Ross Vance: 4.0 IP, 2 H, ER, 7 K
Greensboro 4 - Peoria 3
- Brady Whalen: 1-3, R, HR, RBI
Peoria2 8 - Greensboro2 3
- Carlos Rodirugez (1B): 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI
- Ronnie Williams: 4.0 IP, 2H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Ronnie Williams started last year in the NY-Penn League before getting an in-season promotion to Peoria. He didn't miss many bats in State College, but avoided walks and hard contact. Those results were reversed in the Midwest League, although it's hard to say if that is due to better competition or a conscious effort to throw more breaking pitches. He'll spend his age-21 season in full-season leagues trying to pair his ability to miss bats with his ability to generate grounders and avoid walks.
Sunday, March 26th
Springfield 3 - Memphis 1
- Jacob Wilson (SS): 1-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
- Mitch Harris: 1.0 IP
I'm sure everybody is familiar with Mitch Harris' back story at this point. He added another facet this offseason when he opted for an experimental ligament repair surgery in lieu of Tommy John. If his elbow holds up he'll probably find himself in Memphis this summer on the fringes of the big league bullpen.
- Danny Diekroeger: 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB
- Sam Tuivailala – 1.2 IP, 2 BB, 3 K
Tuivailala has scrapped his cutter for a curve this spring, and the results so far have been impressive. Like Mitch Harris he is in the big league bullpen mix, but on the outside looking in. The problem for Tuivailala, Harris and everybody else fighting for a spot in the St. Louis bullpen is that all of the relievers in St. Louis are either firmly entrenched, out of options, or both. And they still have to find a spot for Tyler Lyons once he is healthy. This will make it difficult for the Cardinals to use the Memphis bullpen as a taxi squad and mean that barring injury or a total collapse by somebody in St. Louis, the Cardinals bullpen looks set for the time being.
Palm Beach 0 - Peoria 0
- Mick Fennell (RF): 1-2, 1 H
- Yeison Medina: 1.0 IP, 1 K
- Nick Plummer (IF): 2-3, 2 H
- Bryan Dobzanski – 4.0 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Bryan Dobzanski has yet to make his to make his full-season debut, but his sinker is a true plus pitch and it will give him a chance to keep moving up the ladder.
That's a wrap for the weekend. The Cardinals prospects are playing their counterparts from the Nationals' system as I type this. We'll be back to cover those games tomorrow.