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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: 03/16

Following are the highlights from the first minor league games of 2011. A pair of intersquad games were held on Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s initial contests against external competition. Another pair of intersquad matchups will occur on Thursday.

As he has been doing the last few seasons, Cardinals farm director 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.

Lineups for the day were previously posted here.

Working Group #2 9, Working Group #1 5

I spoke with P.J. Walters after his start, about which he was not particularly pleased. His fastball was up and he lacked control of his secondary pitches, which made for a rough outing. He allowed six runs, five earned on eight hits and a walk in four innings. Walters fanned four.

His 6-foot-8 younger brother Eric threw for the Cardinals on Wednesday, two days after having done so for Washington, but P.J. said Eric must go through the draft and is ineligible to sign at this time.

Other Group #1 Pitchers

Kevin Thomas, down from major league camp, yielded just one hit in two innings and fanned three.

Tyler Norrick completed an inning on eight pitches, including a strikeout

Ryan Kulik allowed three baserunners on a pair of hits and a walk with two runners scoring, one earned over his inning of work.

Cory Rauschenberger, back for a second stint as a minor leaguer after having retired once, surrendered three hits and one run in his mound inning.

Andrew Brown was batting third and playing third base (at least until Matt Carpenter appears, if he does), with Zack Cox batting cleanup in Group #2. Brown was on base all three times with a single, double, and a walk. He drove in one and scored once.

Other Group #1 Hitters

Donovan Solano flashed rare extra-base talent, with a double and triple in three plate appearances. He also had and RBI and a run scored.

Charles Cutler plated three on a home run.

Steven Hill was on base twice, with a single and walk.

Xavier Scruggs doubled and scored.

Aaron Luna, Ryan Jackson and Jose Martinez each had just one at-bat, but made the best of it, with singles.

Shelby Miller allowed three baserunners on a pair of hits and a walk, but none crossed the plate in two innings. He fanned a pair. Not surprisingly, #30 drew a large crowd of onlookers.

Other Group #2 Pitchers

The next three pitchers that followed Miller all allowed Group #1 to increase their scoring.

Scott McGregor allowed three baserunners in his inning and one came home.

Richard Castillo and Mark Diapoules went a pair of innings each and each allowed two runs. They totaled five strikeouts, three by Castillo.

Matt Frevert and Dean Kiekhefer each tossed shutout innings. The lefty Kiekhefer allowed two baserunners, but also fanned two.

Edgar Lara had three hits in four at-bats and scored twice to pace the Group #2 offense.

Other Group #2 Hitters

Greg Garcia singled and doubled in two plate appearances.

Frederick Parejo had a pair of extra base hits as he doubled and homered.

Zack Cox shot a solo home run to right field. Though the wind was not especially strong, if anything, he had that wind behind him. I didn’t see it, so I don’t know how hard it was stroked.

Roberto Espinoza and Ivan Castro each singled and walked

Working Group #3 2, Working Group #4 0 (10 innings)

The length of the game was decided by the pitchers that needed to see work as both runs were scored in the first inning.

Group #3 Pitchers

When I asked Vuch who made a good impression, the first name he mentioned was Seth Blair. It was the second-rounder’s first semi-official mound appearance as he did not pitch after signing last summer. He had two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts.

Blair’s former Arizona State teammate Jordan Swagerty (pictured) followed with a pair of shutout frames of his own. He also fanned two, but also yielded two hits. After relieving in college, Swagerty is listed among the starters this spring.

Others who shared in the combined shutout: Andrew Moss (two innings) along with one-inning hurlers George Brown, Jesse Simpson, Kevin Siegrist (two strikeouts) and Scott Bittle.

The Cardinal Nation subscribers should look for an interview with Bittle, coming back from shoulder surgery, in the upcoming days. He has yet to pitch in an official game despite having been drafted in 2009.

Group #3 Hitters

Jonathan Rodriguez was the game’s hitting star as his bases-loaded single scored the game’s only runs. He did it with a two-strike count.

Yunier Castillo had a pair of hits.

Knuckleballer Houston Summers is listed among the Group #4 starters early in camp, but for rehab purposes as much as anything. There is no clear mandate that he will be changing roles in 2011. He allowed two runs, one earned, in two innings.

Other Group #4 Pitchers

Justin Edwards struck out three of the six straight batters faced and retired.

Justin Smith allowed four baserunners over two innings, but kept them off home plate. He fanned a pair.

Chase Reid, Nick McCully (two strikeouts), Charllan Jimenez and Ricky Martinez finished up with a scoreless inning each.

Group #4 Hitters

Colin Walsh’s double was the only extra base hit. No one in Group #4 had two or more hits.

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