10/17/2003 4:45 PM ET
Notes: AFL prospects heating up
Winter Ball begins; minor league schedules released
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Jon Nunnally is playing Winter Ball in Mexico. (Fernando Medina/Getty Images)
It's still early in the Arizona Fall League season, but the prospects have played enough that we're starting to get an idea of how they're faring. Here's the second look at the performances of Cardinals prospects in the AFL.
RHP Josh Axelson: It was a better week for Axelson, that's for sure. After getting roughed up in the early going, he turned in a solid five innings, allowing two runs. Axelson's ERA is down to 9.24 in 12 2/3 innings. He's struck out five and walked two in four games, three of them starts.
OF Shaun Boyd: Boyd had a very nice week, going 7-for-17 to get his overall numbers back into more respectable territory. Overall, Boyd is at .256 with two doubles and two triples in 39 at-bats. He's scored four runs and drawn three walks. Cardinals fans have been hearing about Boyd for a while, but he's still 22 -- if he holds his own offensively in the AFL, it will be a promising step.
LHP Tyler Johnson: The reliever with the sick curveball gave up two runs in two innings, including his first home run allowed. He's still at a spiffy 3.00 ERA with six strikeouts and one walk. Johnson has pitched six innings in four games, holding opponents to three base hits.
SS John Nelson: Nelson is playing part-time as shortstop for the Rafters and went 1-for-7 this past week. He's batting .154 with no walks and no extra-base hits in 26 at-bats.
OF Skip Schumaker: Schumaker still sports a nice .375 OBP, with seven hits and five walks in eight games. He has slowed down a bit after a scorching start, but overall he's faring nicely.
Minor league notes
Right down the river: If any fans in St. Louis can't wait the extra couple of days to see their team next spring, they can drive down to Memphis on April 2-3, 2004. That's when the Cardinals and the Triple-A Redbirds will play at AutoZone Park. Last season, the Major League team faced off with Memphis and Class A Palm Beach at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., before heading north.
The Memphis team announced the game on its website, with scheduled start times of 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday, April 2, and 1:05 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 3. The Cardinals have not released their regular-season or Spring Training schedules yet.
Roster moves: Since the season ended, the Cardinals have made a few changes to their 40-man roster. They removed pitchers Chance Caple, Scotty Layfield and Jason Pearson from the roster, outrighting all three to Memphis to clear space. Then they added righty Jason Ryan to the roster, ensuring that Ryan will not be lost to minor league free agency.
The roster currently stands at 38, counting the three players on the 60-day disabled list: Kiko Calero, Chris Carpenter and Gene Stechschulte. That number will come down some by December's Winter Meetings as some Cards test the free-agent waters.
Winter Ball starts: The Caribbean winter leagues are getting under way, with the Mexican League already a week into the season. Jon Nunnally and Scott Seabol are among the members of the Cardinals organization from this past year who are playing Winter Ball. Both are in Mexico.
Schedules released: Memphis and Double-A Tennessee have announced their schedules for the 2004 season. Both teams get started on April 8. The Redbirds host Albuquerque, an affiliate of the National League champion Marlins, to open the campaign. The Smokies start on the road against Jacksonville. The first game at Smokies Park is set for April 16, when Mobile comes to town.