Each homestand for the Springfield Cardinals offers a ton of baseball value. Not only do we get a chance to evaluate potential future St. Louis Cardinals talent, but we get to pull back the curtain and see other future Major Leaguers. Each time a new team comes to Hammons Field, we will offer up a Homestand Report, detailing what happening with the Springfield Cardinals and their opponents.
Opponent: Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals)
Series: 4 games, Tuesday-Friday
Well, here’s the good news. You didn’t miss any of Springfield’s wins while they were on the road. Why not? Because the Cardinals have lost 10 straight games, including all 8 on a recent road trip to NWA and and Tulsa.
They lost games in every way imaginable, mixing poor offense with good pitching, great offense with poor pitching, bullpen implosions, etc. SGF returns tied for the worst record in the Texas League, tied with San Antonio at 8-16. Just 24 games into the season, SGF is already 10 game behind first-place Tulsa (18-6).
• Oscar Taveres, OF: Tavares continues to hit, raising his average 34 points since you saw him last. His .340 batting average ranks him fourth in the Texas League, but he’s doing it with power. His .670 slugging percentage is second in the T-L, thanks to his tied-for-second 6 home runs.
And, he’s doing all of this at just 19 years old. He doesn’t turn 20 until June.
2012: .340/.374/.670, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 4 BB, 13 SO, 1 SB (0 CS)
• Kyle Conley, OF: While Conley has played well, you can tied the 10-game losing streak directly to Conley. After all, the 7th round pick in the 2009 draft out of Washington has been up for how long? 10 games.
After batting just .154 at High-A Palm Beach, Conley was promoted and hasn’t looked back. He’s playing every day and has maintained a .928 OPS over the 10-game losing streak.
2012: .297/.333/.595, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 12 SO, 0 SB (0 CS)
• Sam Freeman, LHP: Freeman is on the 40-man roster, so success shouldn’t be a surprise. Still, his level of dominance is impressive, especially considering there aren’t that many close late-game situations right now.
He’s only struck out 6 in 14 innings, but opponents are hitting just .196 against him. While many assume lefthanded pitchers are specialists who only face lefthanded batters, that’s not Freeman’s role. He’s out there to get everyone, facing more righties than anyone. That doesn’t mean he’s not especially tough on southpaw hitters, though. In 6 1/3 innings, he’s giving up just 4 hits (.178)
2012: 0-2, 1.29 ERA, 14 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, 10 H, .196 BAA
• Xavier Scruggs, 1B; Niko Vasquez, 3B and Audry Perez, C:These three guys were expected to help Taveres provide power and depth to the lineup. Instead, each of them are hitting .200 or worse.
Perez has lost considerable playing time to the eternal veteran Nick Derba, who is actually hitting this year. If Perez was hitting, they’d let him iron out of defensive troubles. However, he’s hitting .200/.213/.267≥
Scruggs continues to ruin minddle-of-the-order at-bats. He’s hitting just .176 over 85 at-bats. He has light-tower power, but you have to make contact for that to happen. He’s struck out 29 times, nearly twice as many as his 15 hits.
And then there’s Vasquez. Niko is a sad story, a high school product who was thought to be a dynamic offensive talent. But if you looked at his .149/.231/.170 hitting line, you can see he’s 7-for-47 with one double. He’s been benched in the favor of other light-hitting infielders and he may be an early release when rosters start to move.
Perez: .149/.216/.213, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 18 SO, 0 SB (1 CS)
Scruggs: .176/.263/.306, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 9 BB, 29 SO, 1 SB (2 CS)
Vasquez: .149/.231/.170, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 16 SO, 0 SB ( CS)
Conley was added to roster at the end of the last homestand, taking the roster spot of Tommy Pham. Pham was placed on the DL on April 20.
This series’ probable starting pitching matchups
• Today, 7:08 p.m. — NWA, LHP Noel Arguelles (0-2, 6:05 ERA)vs. SGF, LHP Tyler Lyons (0-3, 4.58 ERA)
• Wednesday, 12:08 p.m. — NWA, LHP Justin Marks (1-1, 7.13 ERA) vs. SGF, RHP Scott Gorgen (0-2, 4.38 ERA)
• Thursday, 7:08 p.m. — NWA, RHP Tim Melville (1-1, 6.89 ERA) vs. SGF, LHP John Gast (3-2, 3.20 ERA)
• Friday, 7:08 p.m. — NWA, LHP Chris Dwyer (1-3, 5.64 ERA) vs. SGF, RHP Scott Gorgen (0-1, 2.63 ERA)
• Today —Drury University Red T-shirt giveaway; Great Southern Bank $1 Dog Day
• Wednesday — CoxHealth Healthy Living Educational Day
• Thursday — Cardinals World Series Championship Replica Ring Giveaway; Johnsonville Buck a Brat Night
• Friday — AM Pyrotechnics Friday Night Fireworks
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
So far, Tulsa is the class of the Texas League, and has jumped out to a league-best 9-3 record, including 5 straight wins and a sweep over Corpus Christi earlier this week.
And, to make it better — or worse — for local fans, the Rockies’ Double-A roster is loaded with prospects. Tulsa boasts 10 of its franchise’s top 30 prospects according to Baseball America.
• Wil Myers, OF: Last year was a perfect example of how everyone needs to take a deep breath when judging/evaluating young baseball players. See, Wil Meyers was on such a fast track, many thought he’d ace Double-A and shoot to the big leagues around the time of his 21st birthday. Instead, he spent much of 2011 either injured or slumping. He still finished with 354 ABs and .254/.353/.393 with 8 home runs and 49 RBIs. It was very disappointed.
So, as people jumped off the Myers bandwagon, it seemed to lighten his expectations. And with that, he’s raking at Double-A this season. So far, he leads the Texas League in OPS (1.065), is third in average (.349, trails by 4 points) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.402). His 6 home runs are tied for second in the Texas League.
This was what people were expecting to see. He might not be long for Double-A, with this type of performance. He’s the Royals’ No. 3 prospect behind LHP Mike Montgomery and wunderkind prospect Bubba Starling.
2012: .349/.402/.663, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 25 SO, 3 SB (0 CS)
• Christian Colon, SS: Colon hasn’t been the fast-track major leaguer many expected. After being the fourth pick of the 2010 draft, Colon was lackluster at Double-A last season and is starting here again. While it’s anticipated his big-league future is at second base, he’s still at shortstop and with a .728 OPS, he’s producing good offense and defense.
Over his last 10 games, Colon is .371/.436/.571. He’s not a burner on the basepaths, but on the season, he’s walked nearly as many times (6) as he’s struck out (7). Not bad for 92 ABs.
He’s the Royals’ No. 11 prospect.
2012: .286/.333/.551, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 8 SO, 5 SB (1 CS)
• Chris Dwyer, LHP: Dwyer is full of promise as the Royals’ No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America. He’s a 6-foot-3, 215-pound southpaw who has the ability to throw hard and drop a 12-to-6 curveball. However, outside of a solid 2010, where he aced High-A and 4 Double-A starts, he’s been uneven.
In 2011, he made 27 Double-A starts, ending with a 5.60 ERA. An ERA that high doesn’t quite make sense with his .238 batting average against, but he struck out 126 and walked 78, as well.
It’s expected for him to read Triple-A at some point this season, but he’s going to need better results than he’s had so far for NWA. You’ll see him in Friday’s series finale.
2012: 1-3, 5.64 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 20 K, 11 BB, 24 H, .273 BAA
• Other Baseball America Top 30 prospects: No. 4, Jake Odorizzi RHP; No. 6 John Lamb, LHP (DL); No. 17 Noel Arguelles, LHP; No. 19 Tim Melvile, RHP
Texas League Standings
|Tulsa Drillers (COL)||18||6||.750||-||12-2||6-4||9-1||W5|
|Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KC)||12||12||.500||6.0||10-4||2-8||7-3||W1|
|Arkansas Travelers (LAA)||10||14||.417||8.0||6-4||4-10||4-6||L1|
|Springfield Cardinals (STL)||8||16||.333||10.0||5-5||3-11||0-10||L10|
|Frisco RoughRiders (TEX)||15||9||.625||-||10-4||5-5||6-4||W2|
|Midland RockHounds (OAK)||13||11||.542||2.0||6-4||7-7||5-5||W2|
|Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)||12||12||.500||3.0||9-5||3-7||6-4||L2|
|San Antonio Missions (SD)||8||16||.333||7.0||4-6||4-10||3-7||L2|