Thursday was another tough day on the farm, with Palm Beach being the only affiliate to pick up a win. Memphis was slated to take on San Antonio, but the match was postponed due to rain. The makeup date is May 27.
NW Arkansas Naturals 6, Springfield Cardinals 5
(SP) Austin Warner - 3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
(CF) Dylan Carlson - 1-4, BB, 2 RBI
(2B) Irving Lopez - 1-3, BB
The Naturals gift wrapped this one for Springfield, but one bad inning sunk it all. Springfield’s offense only racked up six hits, but was able to squeeze out five runs thanks to four errors on NW Arkansas’s side. The Naturals pitching staff only gave up one earned run on the entire day.
The wheels came off in the fourth inning. Starter Austin Warner surrendered one walk, three singles, a triple and a double before getting pulled in favor of Mike O’Reilly. O’Reilly ended the threat with a K, but the damage was done. A 4-0 Springfield lead quickly evaporated into a 5-4 deficit.
After the loss, Springfield is 5-10 for the year. The series against the Naturals continues tonight at 7:05pm CDT.
Palm Beach Cardinals 8, St. Lucie Mets 4
(SP) Angel Rondon - 5.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
(C) Julio Rodriguez - 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K
(1B) Luken Baker - 3-4, 2B, RBI, K
(RF) Justin Toerner - 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
Remember Wednesday, when Palm Beach suffered the full weight of Roger Dean and only mustered two hits? The Cardinals don’t know what you’re talking about. They put that pitiful showing in the rearview mirror and exploded at the plate on Thursday, racking up 13 hits, 5 of which went for extra bases.
Justin Toerner, in what’s becoming a recurring theme here in the early going, set the pace from the leadoff spot. The 2-5 effort actually lowered his season line to .455/.597/.636 through 62 PA’s. The good? He’s walking nearly a quarter of the time (24.2%) while striking out just slightly more than he did at Cal State Northridge (14.5%). The bad? That 269 wRC+ is buoyed by an absurd .543 BABIP.
Is he a legitimate prospect? There’s enough to like here to say yes, but the ceiling is low and the margin for error is razor thin. He’s a tweener in the outfield, without enough speed to work centerfield everyday and without enough power to profile in a corner. His hit tool is average or a touch above, however, and his approach should make him an OBP machine. The swing is geared for line drive contact, and he lacks the physicality to benefit from a more lofted stroke, so the power ceiling is basically gap-to-gap doubles.
Now for a hot take: the best version of Toerner looks like 2012-2014 Matt Carpenter at the plate. The mature approach, high OBP and doubles power certainly profile, and what Toerner is doing in his first full season is eerily similar to what Matt did between High-A and Double-A in 2010. We’ll wait for the BABIP to shakeout, but the arrow’s pointing up on this one.
The win improves Palm Beach’s record to 11-4. They play St. Lucie again tonight at 5:30pm CDT.
Burlington Bees 4, Peoria Chiefs 3
(SP) Cole Aker - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 1 K
(RP) Freddy Pacheco - 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
(DH) Lars Nootbaar - 2-4, 2B, BB
(2B) Brendan Donovan - 1-3, 2B, RBI, K
(3B) Nolan Gorman - 1-4, RBI
Cole Aker ended up getting the start last night instead of the slated Jacob Schlesener. Remember, Schlesener came in for long-relief on Wednesday and promptly walked everything in sight before getting the hook. That led to Peoria shuffling the staff and Aker toeing the rubber. Unfortunately, Aker took his cue from Schlesener and refused to find the strikezone. Of the 35 pitches he threw, only 13 went for strikes. He didn’t survive the first.
Cleaning up Aker’s mess required the tandem of Edgar Escobar and Freddy Pacheco to work in long relief. Each picked up three innings of work, surrendering no runs, no hits and just one walk. Escobar struckout four and Pacheco, as noted above, diced up Burlington for seven.
While Escobar and Pacheco worked valiantly to keep Peoria in the ballgame, the offense did what they could to pick up their end of the deal. It was a group effort, especially form the top of the lineup card. The one through six spots in the lineup went 8 for 23 with three doubles and two RBI. It was enough to tie the game heading into the ninth, where Fabian Blanco gave up a pair of free passes and got the Chiefs walked off with a sac fly.
The loss drops Peoria’s record to 5-9. The Chiefs take on the bees again tonight at 6:30pm CDT.
Rising: Angel Rondon (SP) - I was too busy fawning over Toerner to touch on Rondon in the Palm Beach writeup, so here we go. Rondon has started three games in 2019, going more than five innings each time and running a 10.34 K/9. I haven’t heard anything on his stuff this year, but historically he’s been a mildly projectable arm with a 90-93 heater and a potentially plus curve.
Falling: Wadye Ynfante (OF) - Ynfante has teased with his athletic potential for years, but never quite put it all together. Contact issues have plagued him all the way up the ladder, and the K’s have completely short circuited his speed/power combo so far in 2019. He’s striking out 40% of the time while only walking at a 2.5% rate, sinking his batting line to an abysmal .231/.250/.308. Things have gone about as bad as possible since he hinted at a breakout in 2017.
MEM: Austin Gomber
SPR: Anthony Shew
PMB: Johan Oviedo
PEO: Diego Cordero