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.
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.
|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.
|Keith Butler||24||5/04/13||Demoted from AAA|
|Nick Greenwood||25||5/04/13||Demoted from AAA|
|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
|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.
|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.