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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Notebook: 03/17

Highlights from Wednesday’s St. Louis Cardinals minor league spring training games from Jupiter, Florida.

On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers had their first games. This was intersquad action before they take on the Florida Marlins Thursday in the first of 2 ½ weeks of spring game competition.

As he has been doing the last few seasons, Cardinals director of minor league operations John Vuch will be sharing game highlights with this site and several others with interest in Cardinals prospects. As always, the raw data is his, but the comments mine.

Both lower-level clubs took close wins in day one as Quad Cities won on a grand slam.

My Pitcher of the Day: Jesse Simpson, Palm Beach
My Hitter of the Day: Xavier Scruggs, Palm Beach

Springfield (1-0) defeats Memphis (0-1), 5-4

Memphis pitching

Charlie Zink (Brian Walton photo)Charlie Zink – 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K’s. I watched Zink pitch BP the other morning and find his knuckleball release amazing. He barely strides toward the plate at all (see photo).

David Kopp – 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. The oft-injured righty has been rehabbing hard all winter. Someone to watch closely this spring.

Nick Additon – 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s

Thomas Eager – 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB

Adam Reifer – one perfect inning. Will his secondary offerings improve enough so hitters can’t sit on his fastball?

David Carpenter – one perfect inning with two K’s. The less-heralded of the former catcher-to-pitcher converts proved his durability last season. His 52 appearances for Quad Cities tied for seventh-most in the system and his 12 saves was sixth.

Memphis hitting

Kevin Howard – 1-for-3, 2 RBI’s. Veteran minor leaguer seems slated to play third for the Redbirds.

Jim Rapoport – 2 walks, scored a run. Continues to draw walks. His 71 free passes at Springfield last season was by far the most in the system as the next closest was 54 (Niko Vasquez).

Mark Shorey, Colt Sedbrook and Tony Cruz – 1-for-3

Mike Folli – 1-for-3, run scored, diving play on ground ball up the middle.

Springfield pitching

Richard Castillo – 2 IP, 0 hits, 1 BB, 1 K. A very encouraging start for a young man (age 20) from whom much is still expected.

Eric Fornataro – 1.2 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K

Scott Schneider – 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 unearned run, 1 BB, 1 K

Miguel Tapia – 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K

Joel Pichardo – one perfect inning

Springfield hitting

Pete Kozma – RBI single and scored. Ex-first-rounder had a cup of coffee in MLB camp earlier, going 0-for-2 with a stolen base and run scored.

Curt Smith – 2-for-3 with a HR and a walk. Great 2008 debut and now fighting to rise above considerable 1B competition (Arburr, Brown, Hamilton).

Blake Murphy – 2-for-2 with a double, walk and RBI

Tommy Pham – singled and walked

Rich Racobaldo – doubled, scored and was HBP

Charlie Cutler – singled in his only AB. Cutler’s .322 batting average last season between Quad Cities and Palm Beach was second in the entire system to Matt Adams (.355).

Quad Cities (1-0) defeated Palm Beach (0-1), 8-7

Palm Beach pitching

Joe Kelly – 2 IP, 0 hits, 2 BB, 2 K’s. Minor league pitching coordinator Dyar Miller has been among the coaches calling out the converted closer as a pitcher impressing early in camp.

Andrew Moss – 2 IP, 2 hits, 2 unearned runs, 1 BB, 1 K

Jesse Simpson – two perfect innings, 3 K’s. His 1.01 walks per nine innings last season was seventh-stingiest in the system. Simpson pitched at Batavia.

Justin Smith – 2 IP, 0 hits, 1 unearned run, 2 BB, 1 K

Josh Squatrito – took the loss, 1 IP, 4 hits, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s

Palm Beach hitting

Jose Garcia – 2-for-5, run scored, 2 RBIs. A player Jeff Luhnow told me could be one to step forward this season.

Xavier Scruggs – 2-for-4, 2 runs, HR, walk, 2 RBIs. Scruggs finished tied for eighth in the system in 2009 with 59 RBI between Batavia and Quad Cities.

Osvaldo Morales – 2-for-3

Ivan Castro – solo HR

D’Marcus Ingram – 1-for-4

Quad Cities pitching

Daniel Calhoun – 2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB

Angel DeJesus – 2 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 3 ER, 2 K’s

Anthony Ferrara – 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K’s

Keith Butler – 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K’s

Jason Novak – winning pitcher with a perfect 8th inning

Hector Hernandez – struck out two in a perfect 9th inning for the save. Lefty was taken in the 10th round in 2009 and remained in the Gulf Coast League all summer.

Devin Shepherd (Brian Walton photo)Quad Cities hitting

Niko Vasquez – Grand Slam to cap a 5-run 9th inning. The shortstop-turned-third baseman has just seven career regular season home runs – four in 2008 and three last season.

CJ Beatty, Ted Obregon and Jonathan Rodriguez – all singled in the 9th to set up the heroics by Vasquez.

Devin Shepherd doubled. Back after a year away. Was taken in the 11th round in 2008, them played in the GCL that summer (.272/.346/.325). Haven’t seen him do anything more than take BP cuts this spring, but he has the look of a player (see photo).

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