By: Jim Tsapelas
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Official Grapefruit League schedule begins Thursday, March 3, 2016 when the Miami Marlins invade the visitor’s dugout to take on the Redbirds at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.
As a warm-up to Grapefruit League action, the Cardinals hosted the fifteenth ranked Florida Atlantic University Owls in an exhibition game on Wednesday. The Owls and the Cardinals have met on four previous occasions, the most recently in 2007.
In the last meeting of the Owls and Cardinals, February 26, 2007, the Owls rallied for a pair of runs in the final inning, but lost to St. Louis by the score of three to two.
Non-roster invitee, Austin Gomber, started for the Cardinals against the Owls. Gomer pitched last year for Class A-Peoria. Gomber attended college at Florida Atlantic University. The left-hander stands 6’5” and was drafted by the Cardinals in the 2014 Amateur Draft in the Fourth Round; and was the one hundred thirty-fifth pick overall. Gomber is the organization’s reining Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In three seasons with the Owls, Gomber, posted a 3.27 ERA and struck out two hundred thirty-eight.
Wednesday against the Owls, the Cardinals jumped to an early one to nothing lead in the bottom of the third when the Cardinals’ Charlie Tilson scored on a Jacob Wilson fly ball out to right field. In a January 11th article Five MilB Players to Watch This Spring, I wrote, “Charlie Tilson is a twenty-three year old left-handed outfielder. The 5’11” Tilson has a four season MiLB batting average of .296. As a minor leaguer, he has seventy-four career stolen bases; having stolen forty-six in 2015 at AA-Springfield of the Texas League.”
The Owls quickly tied it at one in the top of the fourth, and continued their hit parade to end the inning leading the Redbirds by a score of six to one. A fielding error by the Cardinals’ second baseman Dean Anna contributed to the Owls scoring their last run of the inning.
The Cardinals picked up twelve runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead; Owls six-Cardinals thirteen. Of note, non-roster invitee third baseman Jacob Wilson hit a Grand Slam in the bottom of the eighth. Wilson who is twenty-four was drafted in the Tenth Round of the 2012 Amateur Draft by St. Louis and was the three hundred thirtieth pick overall. Also going yard was Patrick Wisdom, also a non-roster invitee who was selected by St. Louis in the First Round of the 2012 Amatuer Draft and was the fifty-second pick overall.
Cardinals’ starter Gomber threw two inning of shutout ball, striking out three. He was relieved by Seung Hwan Oh who worked one inning, striking out one. In total the Redbirds auditioned seven pitchers with Miguel Socolovich getting the last out; pitching the ninth and allowing one walk.
Getting the Cardinals’ win was non-roster invitee Trey Nielsen (1-0). Nielsen who is twenty-four is a 6’2” right-hander who was drafted by the Cardinals in the 2013 Amateur Draft in the Thirtieth Round and was the nine hundredth and fifth pick overall.
Cameron Ragsdale (0-1) took the loss for the Owls.
Spring Training Odds and Ends:
Second baseman, Kolton Wong, signed a five year contract extension with the Cardinals. Financial terms of the contract have not been released. Wong has the potential to develop into a five tool player. The Cardinals hold an option for a sixth season.
Lance Lynn, recovering from Tommy John Surgery, has taken on a mentor’s role in Spring Training. Lynn is expected to miss the entire 2016 campaign.
Yadier Molina, who has been cleared for catching, but not for swinging the bat, caught Cardinals’ Ace Adam Wainwright. Molina caught warm-up pitches from his knees, prior to assuming the traditional catcher’s position to receive approximately twenty-pitches from Wainwright.
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