Keep an eye on Springfield righthander Cory Doyne. The 23-year-old reliever has already advanced three levels through the Cardinals minor league system since the beginning of the season.
Doyne appeared in two games for Quad Cities, striking out five in 2.1 perfect innings, before being promoted to Palm Beach on April 11. He then went on to strike out 11 while walking only 2 and allowing only 3 hits in 9 scoreless innings for Palm Beach before being promoted to Springfield on Sunday.
The Cardinals signed Doyne in June last season after he was released by the Padres, assigned him to New Jersey, where he went 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA and a 48/12 K/BB ratio in 38.2 innings. His .141 opponents batting average ranked as the best in the Cardinals system. The Cardinals liked him enough to promote him to Low-A Peoria in time for the playoffs.
Doyne was originally drafted by the Astros in the eighth round of the 2000 draft, but they released him midway through the 2003 season.
The average prospect isn’t going to be released twice in one year, but Doyne might just be the exception to that.
In an interview shortly after signing with the Cardinals, Doyne confessed that not having baseball as a primary focus kept him from advancing up the baseball ladder and that he needed “to stay focused on baseball completely and grow up.''
``I had a little distraction, a misunderstanding between coach and player,'' Doyne told the Tampa Tribune without elaborating.
He admitted to being frustrated with the Padres organization.
``I had the talent and all of that stuff, I'm still doing the same thing [on the mound],'' Doyne said. ``I just didn't like what was happening there. That didn't help.''
The Tampa, Florida native was reportedly clocked as high as 98 mph in high school and was said to have consistently hit 94 mph with his fastball, but when he tried out for the Cardinals his fastball topped out at only 88 mph. The scouts wanted to see more velocity so they gave him some hints and some time to polish his delivery.
When Doyne returned, he was consistently hitting 92 on the radar guns.
``I also dropped some weight. I lost 15 pounds,'' Doyne said. ``That was enough.''
Originally a starter, the Cardinals decided to make him a reliever. In 382 career minor league innings, Doyne has a 3.76 ERA and a 344/188 K/BB ratio.
If he keeps this up, he could very well challenge for a spot among the Cardinals top ten prospects by next season.
News and Notes
• Camp opened this week at the Cardinal’s new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.
On March 8 the Cardinals announced that they would open a new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic after shutting down for one year to re-evaluate their direction.
The academy will be located near Villa Mella, close to the international airport in Santo Domingo, yet away from the urban sprawl of the city. The organization plans to use the facility as a base for their international player development.
The Cardinals have signed 20 position players and 11 pitchers and will field a team in the Dominican Summer League which begins their season during the first week of June. The Cardinals also have 9 international players who are currently in the United States for the first time at extended spring training in Jupiter battling for roster spots on the rookie clubs. Those who don't make it will go down and play in the DSL.
The 31 young players, ages 17-21, were signed from various parts of Latin America, including Venezuela, Curacao, El Salvador, Colombia, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
The academy will feature two baseball fields, living quarters for the players and staff, a deluxe clubhouse, exercise and training facilities, dining room, recreation areas and offices.
The Cardinals will lease the facility from Jose Mella, the architect who designed the complex and oversaw the construction. Mella is a renowned architect in the Dominican who has designed several award-winning buildings in the Dominican Republic.
• The Cardinals top two prospects, Anthony Reyes and Adam Wainwright, have dominated the Pacific Coast League lately.
On Thursday night Reyes carried a perfect game into the 7th inning against the Iowa Cubs which meant that he had retired 32 consecutive batters before Calvin Murray hit the first pitch of the seventh inning for a base hit.
''I think Anthony was in control from the first inning,'' Redbirds manager Danny Scheaffer told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. ''He got ahead of hitters. I think he established his fastball today better than he had in any of his previous starts.''
Iowa Cubs manager Mike Quade was also impressed by Reyes.
"He has a real nice arm - throws 92 to 95 mph," Quade told the The Des Moines Register. "He did a great job."
Reyes has an ERA of 3.20 with a 26/9 K/BB ratio in 25.1 innings pitched.
Meanwhile, Wainwright has arguably been even better.
Holding the Cubs to only 2 runs on 5 hits in 7.1 innings on Sunday, Wainwright lowered his ERA to 2.10 with a 27/4 K/BB ratio in 34.1 innings.
• Following Memphis' game on Tuesday night, 30-year-old infielder Mike Bell decided to retire.
''It was based upon a mutual agreement between he and his wife, I'm sure,'' Sheaffer told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. ''He's been a professional ever since I met him. For an athlete to admit that he's going to retire, it's the hardest thing to do. I had to do it. He's got a great reputation in the game. He's a smart player.
''He'll probably be back in turf shoes someday on the coaching side of it, if he chooses that. He comes from a great baseball family. It takes a lot of guts to say you don't want to do this anymore.''
Bell signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals in January.
To replace him on the roster, the Cardinals re-signed infielder Wilton Guerrero, who was released shortly before the season started after being signed as a minor league free agent in January.
• Memphis Redbirds manager Danny Scheaffer believes that Memphis shortstop John Nelson will eventually become an outfielder.
“I had (Nelson) in Class A ball,” Scheaffer recently told 1380 AM, ESPN Radio in St. Louis. “He is one of the best athletes I’ve ever managed. I see him playing the outfield in the big leagues. I don’t see him playing shortstop every day. I wouldn’t be afraid to play him in the outfield right now.”
The 26-year-old shortstop is currently hitting .314/.415/.514.
• Rick Ankiel officially began his new career as an outfielder on Thursday. In his first 2 games he played right field, but on Sunday he started and played the first 8 innings in center field before moving to right field in the 9th. While playing center, Ankiel gunned down a baserunner trying to advance to third base on a fly ball.
Since being activated, Ankiel has only one hit in 11 at bats while striking out 4 times and walking once.
• According to former Cardinal prospect Brandon DeJaynes on The Birdhouse message boards, Springfield closer Josh Kinney has his fastball up to about 95 mph.
“Last year before spring training Josh had his shoulder scoped to clean up some scar tissue,” DeJaynes said. “He came back a little slow from it and that might be a huge factor in the year he had last year. Obviously now he is doing just fine. He said he doesn’t understand it, his arm is just working differently now. I think it’s great he came back from surgery the way he did, free agent or not, I think he’s a huge prospect.”
Kinney, 26, has yet to blow a save in 6 opportunities and has a 0.60 ERA with a 12/2 K/BB ratio in 15 innings pitched.
• The Cardinals have signed second baseman Aaron Herr and assigned him to Double-A Springfield.
Herr, 24, was taken in the supplemental first round (40th overall) in the 2000 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves and had spent the past five seasons in the Braves organization until he was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the Triple-A portion of the Rule-5 Draft in December.
Herr asked for his release from the Mariners last month when he learned the organization didn’t have a starting role for him. He then signed on with his hometown team, the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League, but didn’t even appear in a game before the Cardinals signed him.
The now 24-year-old served as a batboy when his father, Tom, was an All-Star second baseman for the Cardinals in the 1980s. Tom now manages the Barnstormers.
“He grew up in that Cardinal clubhouse in Busch Stadium,” Tom told the Lancaster New Era. “It’s going to be a thrill for him to put on that uniform, I can tell you that. It’s almost too good to be true.”
Aaron hit .272 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI last season for Double-A Greenville. Overall, in 5 minor league seasons he has hit .254 with 31 homers in 402 games.
• Springfield also made several other roster changes on Wednesday, adding a new pitcher and catcher to the team. Pitcher Rich Scalamandre was transferred from Palm Beach where he held a 1.23 ERA with one save in 7.1 innings pitched. Springfield also signed free-agent catcher Robinson Cancel, who spent last season in the Devil Rays organization. Entering his twelfth season of professional baseball, Cancel has appeared in 15 major league games throughout his career.
In order to make room for the roster changes that occurred on Thursday, the Cardinals transferred pitcher Nate Cotton to Palm Beach and released infielder Bo Robinson. They also transferred catcher Jason Motte and pitcher Shane Wallace to Palm Beach.
• After Shane Wallace was sent to Palm Beach he announced that he was going to retire. He had a 9.82 ERA in 7.1 innings for Springfield.
To Replace him, the Cardinals signed pitcher Jeff Randazzo.
Randazzo, 23, began the season with the Double-A New Britain (Minnesota). He was the Twins’ fourth round pick in 1999 draft. Coming into the season he had a 4.47 ERA in 5 minor league seasons.
• Cody Haerther has homered in 3 straight games and is hitting .349/.400/.674 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI for Palm Beach while spending most of his time as the team’s DH.
Mike Hobson aka BleachBum593 said that Cody’s father told him that Cody has a sore shoulder and they have just been protecting him for a few days by using him as the DH.
• Chris Lambert improved to 4-0 for Palm Beach when he held Brevard County to only 2 runs (1 earned) in 7 innings on Sunday. For the season, the Cardinals first round pick has a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings pitched with a 25/7 K/BB ratio. Expect a promotion to Springfield soon.
• According to Baseball America, the Cardinals have signed catcher Cody Palmer, and released righthanded pitchers Jose Castillo and Zach Treadway, and outfielders Jose Garcia, Steve Sherman and Brian Schwarze.