Tagged: Minor Leagues

Palm Beach’s 1-2 bullpen punch

I don’t think I’ve heard anything about Matt Scherer, but combing over the Palm Beach Cardinal stats I’m suprised no one has mentioned his name before. Scherer was drafted in the 16th round out of the 2004 first year player draft. He started 12 games that season for Johnson City, going 2-5 with a 4.03. The next season he started 24 games for the Swing of the Quad Cities, posting a solid 3.96 ERA over 134 innings. That’s all solid and good, but Scherer didn’t really look like a top tier prospect, just a solid arm who pitched fairly well in the low A ranks that you just hope will continue to develop and perhaps some day really blossom.

But since Scherer has moved to the bullpen for the Palm Beach squad this season, he has blossomed. He’s been the set up man for Springfield closer Matt Sillman (who I’ll get to in a minute), and he’s been dominating the league, posting 89 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched. He’s also demonstrated good control, walking only 15 batters. That’s about double of his K/9 rate as a starter (12.1 verses 6.45) and he’s shaved down his walk rate. The scouting report on Scherer says he has a heavy fastball, a slider and throws an occasional split-finger fastball. He’s an imposing figure on the mound at 6-5, 230 pounds.

The closer for the Palm Beach Cardinals is Mike Sillman, a 25 year old side-arming righty drafted also in the 04 draft, 21st round. He’s had dominating K ratios, 11/9IP at three different levels, but has had trouble with command with over 5 BB/9 through that span. He’s toned that down this season, with a 71:17 K/BB ratio in 49.2 innings, 1.09 ERA, opponents are only hitting .185 against and he has 29 saves to boot. Seems pretty old to be in A ball, but he’s too raw for AAA and Mark Worrell is entrenched as the closer at AA where Cody Doyne also is pretty good as the set up guy. Without seeing him pitch, I’m guessing Sillman has the chance to be Byung-Yung Kim before he was destroyed, and hopefully not after. 

Both pitchers are worth keeping an eye on as they climb up the ranks.

Mark Hamilton and the rest of the night around the farm

Mark Hamilton homered twice tonight for the State College Spikes, his 5th of the year in only 34 at bats. Hamilton was the 76th pick in the draft, and Bryan Smith at Baseball Analysts had this to say about the young slugger.

"Unfortunately for Hamilton, being drafted here means he enters an organization for which he has no future. Fortunately, he immediately becomes the system’s best power hitter, and profiles to move quickly. Hamilton would have led the nation in home runs if not for Hurricane Katrina, which kept Hamilton playing in a pitcher-friendly "home" ballpark. Earlier in the year we read about Hamilton’s big power showing on Friday nights, indicating he should transfer to the next level better than power collegiate competitors Aaron Bates and Matt LaPorta. Finally, Hamilton was solid in the Cape last summer, so wood bats won’t be a problem, either. Expect Hamilton to get more respect in the trade market in 2008, when he is ready for the show."

Smith says he has no future with the Cards, as he’s going to be blocked by another 1st baseman, um, what’s his name? But in 05 Hamilton did play 32 games in left field as a sophmore, so he’s not certain trade bait. If he keeps slugging I’m sure the Cards will find a position for him.  Also for the Spikes, first rounder Adam Ottavino pitched 4.1 solid innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk, striking out 4.

Elsewhere in the farm system: Colby Rasmus hit his 11th HR of the season, but the Swing lost in extra innings 3-2. Ex-Nebraska Husker and power hitting 1st baseman Brandon Buckman hit a double and a homerun in a losing cause for Johnson City. Buckman was selected in the 19th round. (He also took AZ 1st rounder Max Scherzer deep earlier this year.) Nick Webber was roughed up pitching for Palm Beach, giving up 6 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings. Amaury "the Body" Marti went 3 for 4, including a double and a HR, his 3rd of the season, but the Cards still lost at the fins of the Manatees. (Barbara Manatee, Manatee…you are the one for me, one for me!…some of you with small children know what that’s about!)

Springfield was off tonight and Memphis, well, honestly who really cares about how Memphis fared? The highlight of the game from my standpoint is that Josh Kinney went had a perfect inning and a third, fanning 3 and Junior Spivey had a pinch hit RBI single. Memphis 5, Nashville 1.

Latebloomer

326205 Terry Evans homered again for Springfield, his 7th for Springfield in 50 at bats, and his 22nd homer between Palm Beach and Springfield this season. (Eat your heart out, John Rodriguez.) Evans (25) was drafted in the 47th round in 2001. In his past 4 minor league seasons, he’s only hit 40 HR and has hit .239/.303/.394. I don’t know what’s changed with Evans’ approach, but it’s working. A few other added bonuses: He stolen 25 bases out of 27 attempts, and he plays corner outfield. He strikes out a bit too much (65 times in 288 at bats) and he could stand to walk a bit more (21 BB’s, 1 walk since coming to AA) but with the punchless trio of Timo, Tagu, and Roderwiffle, Evans should be starting to intrigue the F.O.

Tommy Pham

Not sure if anyone noticed or cares, but 16th round draft pick Tommy Pham did sign with the Cardinals and is playing in the Appy League. He’s 6 for 13 so far for Johnson City, including a double, a triple, a walk and a stolen base. (And two errors.)

He’s a shortstop from Durango High School in Nevada, where he was the 4A Division Player of the Year, hitting .633 with 8 HR. He was considered by a Baseball America affiliate to be the top High School player in Las Vegas (big fish, relatively small pond, I know. But hey, Brad Thompson is out of LV.) BA also named him to their second team 2006 All American. He ran the 60 in 6.84 seconds and can throw 91mph. It looks like the Cardinals will have him play at short for now, but he has the arm to pitch.   

Pham had already signed with perennial college powerhouse Cal State Fullerton, but the Cards were able to pry him. Of course it’s very early, but he may be one to keep an eye on. Yeah, the draft was very college, but here’s a pretty strong high school talent in Pham. 

Who are you, Jason Marquis?

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WPA graph from www.fangraphs.com

Jason had a good outing last night as he went right after batters, pounding the ball with fastballs on the lower inside and lower outside of the strike zone. His command was good, too, only walking a couple of batters. But he wasn’t blowing guys away, striking out 3. I think the roller coaster is what we’re going to be left with Jason. He’ll have games where the balls in play fall more for hits than usual, and games where they fall less, like this one. The best thing he can do for himself is stay as stingy as possible with the walks.

A few other quickie thoughts on last night’s game:

  • Am I sick if I derive pleasure from watching Ray King open up the flood gates for the Cardinals in the 7th? Okay, I admit it was wrong but it was even more fun watching him walk Spiezio to score a run. Rockie fans, we know your frustrations.
  • Hector Luna continues to swing a hot bat, as LaRussa keeps finding positions for him to play, left field, shortstop, 2nd base, 1st base. The Secret Weapon, Part 2?
  • Doubles. Rodriguez doubled, Miles doubled, Marquis doubled, Encarnacion doubled, heck, even Timo Perez doubled.
  • The Albert-less offense has been good, scoring 5.25 runs per game. What’s even more exciting, Albert’s return may be sooner then we originally thought.  (Just not too soon, Albert!) The Cardinals are now 7-5 w/o King Albert.

I admit, I panicked when Albert went down. The offense looked mediocre without him but they’ve really picked it up in his absense. Since June 4 (when Albert went on the DL)

  • Rolen is hitting .466/.510/.744
  • Edmonds is hitting .297/.366/.459
  • Encarnacion .400/.426/.578
  • Molina .296/.367/.593
  • Luna .324/.375/.405

Last night there was some interesting pitching in the minors. Anthony Reyes didn’t pitch his best game, allowing 4 runs in 6 innings, striking out 3, walking none and allowing 2 homeruns. Chris Lambert struck out 8, allowed 2 walks, 2 hits and no runs in 7 innings for AA Springfield. 2005 28th round draft pick Trey Hearne pitched a brilliant game last night, striking out 10 in 6 innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 walk and no runs. In 46 innings, Hearne has struck out 49 and only walked 9, with a 2.74 ERA. He’s 22 years old and out of the Texas A & M Corpus Christi. He may be worth keeping an eye on. I’ll also note that on the hitting side of things, Colby Rasmus was on base all night last night. He drew 3 walks and had a couple of hits.

Marti homers in first game

Remember the 27 year old Cuban the Cards drafted a week ago? He homered in his second at bat for Palm Beach tonight. That Cuban, who’s name I’m sure most of you remember is Amaury Cazanos Marti. He went 2-3 with a homerun, a single and a strikeout hitting in the #3 spot in the lineup. Blake Hawksworth picked up the W in a rain shortened 7 inning game. He walked two, allowed 4 hits and two runs and struck out 1. Hawksworth’s ERA is now sitting at 2.47.

Also of note:

  • Colby Rasmus has homered in 2 straight games, for 7 total for this season.  The 19 year old center fielder is now hitting .299/.351/.445 in 238 at bats. He’s also stolen 13 bases.  Colby recently had a little Q and A session at the forum Gateway Redbirds, be sure to check it out.
  • Miami U closer and Cardinal draft pick Chris Perez pitched in the 5th thru the 8th innings last night, striking out 5 and allowing 2 runs. Another Cardinal draft pick, Jon Jay, went 3 for 3  with a key stolen base and scored the go ahead run. The victory ensured the ‘Canes a trip to the College World Series where they will face the University of Oregon.