Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook: Week 10

Steve Bean

More scouting reports plus all the news from the back fields of Jupiter, Florida about the St. Louis Cardinals' Gulf Coast League club as the playoffs begin. Anthony Bryant, Jhohan Acevedo, Steve Bean and Rowan Wick are among this week's featured players.

Comings and goings

RHP Hansel De Los Santos and INF Daniel Barbuena were suspended for violating team rules and sent home early.

Final week recap

The GCL Cardinals season ended Sunday with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the GCL Pirates in a one-game semifinal playoff that was moved to Lakeland because of weather conditions in Jupiter.

In the loss to the Pirates, the Cardinals managed only four singles. Two of those singles came in the eighth inning. Sandwiched around DH and leadoff batter Anthony Bryant's fourth strikeout of the game, both of those base runners was thrown out trying to steal second.

The Cardinals other good scoring opportunity came in the fifth inning. Steve Bean started the frame with a single off lefty reliever Jackson Lodge, who was credited with the win. Bean went to second and Kenny Peoples-Walls reached first safely on a sacrifice bunt/fielder's choice. The runners moved to second and third when Rafael Medina struck out on a passed ball, but the runners had to hold on Yoenny Gonzalez's ground out to short before Bryant was caught looking at a third strike.

The Pirates, who totaled seven hits, scored their lone run off Fidencio Flores in the fifth on a single to right, a sacrifice bunt and a single to center before a strike-‘em-out-throw-‘em-out double play ended the inning.

In the final week of the regular season, the Cardinals went 2-2. The wins came in a doubleheader sweep of the Nationals on Thursday in which Cardinals pitchers allowed only two runs in 14 innings. Two other games were rained out, including the scheduled season finale Saturday against the Marlins that would have been meaningless. With a final record of 34-24, the Cardinals won the GCL East Division for the first time and posted the best record in their six-year history.

Renfro
Year Record Manager Key contributors

2007: 24-30, Enrique Brito Edgar Lara, Oswaldo Morales, Carlos Gonzalez

2008: 17-38, Enrique Brito Ryde Rodriguez, Rainel Rosario, Chris Notti

2009: 25-31, Steve Turco Jonathan Rodriguez, Virgil Hill Jr., Trevor Rosenthal, Keith Butler

2010: 28-28, Steve Turco Luis Pimentel, Starlin Rodriguez, Steven Ramos, Michael Santana, Manuel De La Cruz

2011: 31-24, Steve Turco Luis Perez, Ildemaro Vargas, Lance Jeffries, Tyler Melling, Brad Watson, Ramon Ulacio

2012: 34-24, Steve Turco Luis Perez, Brett Wiley, Anderson Gerdel, Norge Paredes, Cole Brand, Josh Renfro

Carried for most of the season by their pitching staff, the Cardinals entered their first postseason game with six hot hitters – Brett Wiley, Jhohan Acevedo, Anthony Bryant, Luis Perez, Steve Bean and Kenny Peoples-Walls.

• Wiley was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and hitting .222 when he came to the plate in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss at home to the Nationals on Aug. 7. He doubled in that at-bat, and from that point went 20-for-41 (.488), including a 10-game hitting streak and his first home run as a professional.

• Though Acevedo hit .350 (14 for 40) in his last 12 regular-season games, it cannot be considered a hot streak because he has hit consistently since the season started.

• Bryant hit .452 (14 for 31) in his last nine games since Aug. 11, including a five-hit game Aug. 13 at Kissimmee when he had a home run, a double, three singles, four RBI and three steals.

• Since going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Aug. 6, Perez has a 10-game hitting streak during which he hit .410 (16 for 39). After a slow start (.176 in his nine June games), Perez has contributed for most of the season, hitting .348 for July and August.

• Peoples-Walls got hot on July 20 and has been hitting since. A month into the season, he was hitting .160. Since then, he hit .360 (27 for 75).

• Bean hit .125 in 80 at-bats in Johnson City before being sent to the GCL. Then he one hit in his first 11 GCL at-bats. Since Aug, 4, though, watch out. Bean has hit .385 (15 for 39), not including a pair of doubles that drove in four runs in a game at Kissimmee that was washed out before the fifth inning was completed.

Those six hot hitters were the bulk of Turco's lineup against the Pirates. To get them all in the same lineup, Turco put Perez in right field and had Bryant as the DH. Fidencio Flores, the Cardinals' hottest pitcher with only one earned run allowed in 16-2/3 innings pitched since July 16, started the game.

Of the four lefty hitters in the lineup - Bryant, Wiley, Jem Argenal and Bean - and switch-hitting Yoenny Gonzalez, only Bean has shown an ability to hit lefty pitchers with any consistency.

A Closer Look at …

This is the last report on individual players on the GCL Cardinals roster. This week, we look at one returnee and three players who were new to the GCL Cardinals this season. These assessments are based on interviews with Cardinals manager Steve Turco.

Bryant
Anthony Bryant: The 20-year-old Texan, a 16th-round pick in 2010, began the season with Johnson City, but after five games there he was sent back to Jupiter for a third season the GCL. The lefty-swinging Bryant has tools.

"He's one of the faster players in the organization and has as much raw power as anyone in the organization," Turco said. No one said it officially, but Bryant was sent back for an attitude adjustment. "He has become a better team player," Turco said. "He's just starting to understand what he needs to do to play at higher levels." Bryant recently became engaged and was a late invitee to Instructional League.

Jhohan Acevedo. The 19-year-old Venezuelan outfielder, who was signed in 2010, made a strong, positive impression on Turco in his first season on U.S. soil. "He's definitely above average in centerfield, and runs and throws above average, which in itself will allow him to stick around the game for quite a while," Turco said.

At the plate, Turco said, "he stays on the ball really well and hits to the opposite gap, but can turn on the ball." Though only four of his 39 hits went for extra bases, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was fair at best, Acevedo is a good bunter and "does the little things to help you win ballgames." The 6-foot-1, 173-pound right-handed hitter "has been a pleasant surprise," Turco said.

"His work ethic and intangibles are off the charts." Turco said that when coaches adjust Acevedo's positioning for certain hitters, he remembers and doesn't have to be told twice about positioning for that same hitter.

Bean
Steve Bean. The last of the Cardinals' five first-round picks this June, including three in the supplemental round, the 18-year-old from Rock Well, Texas, was the 59th overall pick. Bean was the fourth catcher taken and the second high school catcher. Starting Bean off in the Appalachian League might have been a tad too ambitious for the Cardinals, but Turco said he was pleasantly surprised when the lefty-hitting catcher was reassigned to the GCL to replace Adam Ehrlich, who moved up to Johnson City in July.

Bean hit .125 in 80 at-bats in the Appy League and started 1-for-11 in the GCL, but "he's completely turned that around," Turco said. "He's honed in offensively at the plate." Turco said when Bean first arrived he was hitting the ball almost exclusively the other way to left field, "but now he's shown an ability to turn on the ball." Bean also has "shown he has skills and tools to be a front-line catcher in the big leagues, but there are still some things that need to be tweaked," Turco said.

Wick
Rowan Wick. A 19-year-old JUCO player from North Vancouver, British Columbia, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wick is affectionately called "Drago" by his teammates after the fictional Russian boxer of the 1985 movie Rocky IV. Turco describes Wick as a "physical specimen" and "even-tempered."

The Cardinals' 9th-round draft pick this June, Wick "has a plus-plus arm and strength in his bat," Turco said. The lefty-swinging Wick struggled to make contact this season, hitting .156 and striking out in 27 percent of his at-bats. Wick could have been drafted by Seattle as a pitcher, but said he wanted to catch. "I think he's got some upside," Turco said.



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