Clean sweep! The farm system went a cool 3-0 on Wednesday on the back of several strong offensive performances. Peoria was slated to take on Wisconsin, but the game was scratched due to rain.
Memphis Redbirds 6, San Antonio Missions 3
Ryan Helsley (SP): 3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Alex Reyes (RP): 2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Edmundo Sosa (SS): 2-4, HR, RBI
Tommy Edman (3B): 3-5, 2B, K
The 3-5 start has been rather surprising for Memphis, given the level of talent on the roster this year. It’s not like they’ve been playing the heavyweights of the Pacific Coast League, either. Sure, San Antonio features top flight hitting prospect Keston Hiura - but dropping four of five games to an Omaha team that trots out Bubba Starling is painful. Alas, that’s just baseball sometimes. The extreme depth of this Redbirds team will even things out in the long run.
Thursday’s win featured two pitchers who should find themselves in the big league picture sometime this season, one probably sooner rather than later.
Ryan Helsley is the tardy one, on account of last years injury issues and the organizational depth ahead of him. Yesterday was a control over command day for Helsley, with everything living around the zone but far too many pitches missing in the meat of the plate. He had success when he elevated with his fastball, but his ability to do so waxed and waned throughout the outing. Ultimately he was pulled after 57 pitches.
Alex Reyes was sharp in his second appearance since being sent down to iron out his command. He worked ahead in counts, avoided hard contact, and just generally looked like a guy starting to shake off the rust. Even the four pitch walk to Nate Orf wasn’t worrisome - two pitches that got called low easily could’ve gone the other direction. If Reyes can get himself right, the major league pen will be mighty scary.
Meanwhile, Tommy Edman has carried his strong spring into the minor league season. The switch hitter has displayed his contact and on base skills early, slashing .345/.394/.483 through the first seven games.
The win bumps Memphis to 3-5. They begin a four game road set with Round Rock tonight at 7:05pm CDT.
Springfield Cardinals 12, NW Arkansas Naturals 11
Evan Kruczynski (SP): 5.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
Irving Lopez (2B): 2-6, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 K
Dylan Carlson (CF): 2-4, 2B, BB, K
Elehuris Montero (3B): 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 K
Kramer Robertson (SS): 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB
The Cardinals traded shots with the Naturals all the way to the final frame on Thursday. Entering the bottom of the ninth, Springfield trailed 11-9 after giving up a two spot in the top of the inning. Outfielder Scott Hurst got the rally started with a pulled single to right on a 1-2 count. The Naturals hurt their own cause with an error at third base, setting the stage for Jose Godoy to drive in one on a deep sac fly to center. Irving Lopez then dealt the final blow, yanking a 1-1 pitch away over the right field fence.
Offensively, Kramer Robertson and Irving Lopez continued to swing red hot bats. Over the last four games, the middle infield duo has gone a combined 12 for 28 with five home runs and six walks. Robertson has been especially strong in the early going, mashing to the tune of a .320/.419/.720 in 25 AB’s.
Prospect wise, Dylan Carlson’s long predicted breakout looks like a prophecy fulfilled so far. He’s picked apart AA pitching at just 20 years old, slashing .346/.375/.731 with two home runs over 30 AB’s. The approach has been pull heavy and his walk rate is slightly lower than his career norm, but it’s hard to fault a guy who’s feeling it for attacking everything. The current homestand against NW Arkansas and Tulsa will be the first opportunity for the league to adjust to Carlson, and how he fares will be worth keeping an eye on.
Springfield will look for their second win tonight against the Naturals at 7:10pm CDT.
Palm Beach Cardinals 6, Daytona Tortugas 0
Alex Fagalde (SP): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Junior Fernandez (RP): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Luken Baker (DH): 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Nick Dunn (2B): 3-4, 2 RBI
The Tortugas hung with Palm Beach early before getting shelled for five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Fagalde, Saylor, Whitley and Fernandez combined for the shutout while holding Daytona to just four hits. Fagalde picked up the win, his first of the season, and Saylor recorded a two-inning hold.
Junior Fernandez looks like he’s moved to the bullpen full time now, which is disappointing but not exactly shocking. Then short righty’s stock has been up and down over the years, largely due to health. Two seasons of nagging injuries precipitated a move to the bullpen during the 2018 campaign, but even then he never looked 100% right. I haven’t gotten any reports on his stuff in the early going, but he’s tossed six frames of scoreless baseball and struckout four versus just one walk.
Luken Baker finally, finally flashed some power with a pair of doubles on the day. The second of the two, a ground rule double, came as part of the sixth inning rally. The 2 for 4 effort raised his line to .346/.514/.462, pushing his ISO up from a Magneuris Sierra-esque 0.45 to a simply pedestrian .116.
The win moves Palm Beach to 6-2 and into a first place tie in the FSL South. They begin a six game road trip tonight with a 5:30pm CDT tilt against Charlotte.
Rising: Brendan Donovan (2B/3B) - Feels good to get back to your roots. Donovan fits neatly into the modestly tooled, polished college hitter archetype the Cardinals have made a habit of unearthing in the mid-to-late rounds. He scuffled in very, very limited action after being selected in the 7th round last year, but he’s hit the ground running at Peoria. In 6 games, the lefty is slashing .409/.552/.591 and walking nearly one-fourth of the time.
Falling: Elehuris Montero (3B) - Don’t lambast me for overreacting to a slow start, I’m right there with you on small sample size skepticism. I’m not concerned for Montero in the long run yet and his stock in reality hasn’t changed at all, but there are alarming elements in his early profile. Before going 2 for 5 with a double on Thursday, he was going down on strikes at a 42.3% rate. That’s bizarre for someone with such well-developed bat to ball skills, and is worth watching.
MEM: Daniel Ponce de Leon
PMB: Perry DellaValle
PEO: Jacob Schlesener