Cardinals Farm Report

Francisco Samuel
Relief Pitcher
AA-Springfield Cardinals
23 years old
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 185 lbs
Signed by Cardinals as an undrafted Free Agent in 2006
Just like every Saturday here on i70baseball, the Cardinal Farm Report spotlights one of the prized Cardinal minor leaguers. This week, it is Francisco Samuel, one of the most talented pitching prospects the Cardinals have ever produced.Samuel was signed by the Cardinals in 2006 as an 18-year-old, undrafted Free Agent. In his first two seasons as a Minor Leaguer, Samuel struggled getting people out. His ERA was over seven and his WHIP hovered around 2.5.

Yet, in 2008, Samuel experienced the breakthrough that caught so many eyes. He started out the season in Quad Cities but only pitched seven innings there before promoted to Palm Beach to take over their closing role. In 63 2/3 innings with the Single-A club, Samuel struck out 94 batters while saving 30 games. He finished the season off with an ERA of 2.86 and his WHIP had dropped a full point.The following year, Samuel spent his entire season in Double-A Springfield where he again ran into a rough patch. He ended up recording 22 saves, but had given up 30 runs in only 47 2/3 innings of work. He was, however, selected to the MLB All-Star Future’s Game for the first time.

This season has been up and down for the right-handed flamethrower. He seems to finally be back on track after suffering from a minor shoulder tweak earlier in the season. Thus far this year, Samuel has three saves, a 4.19 ERA, and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings pitched.

Like I said above, I think there is little doubt that, when it comes to “stuff”, Samuel is one of the best the Cardinals have seen. This kid can simply bring it. He has been compared to Jose Valverde, and Carlos Marmol. His 99 mph fastball is reason enough to be amazed, but his best pitch is actually his slider. There is no doubt that his slider is MLB-ready. A scout/friend of mine told me that it was “devastating” and “full of life”. It tops out around 92 mph and is considered Samuel’s definite strikeout pitch.

There is one major problem though… His control.

Baseball America said it best, “Control is the only thing keeping Francisco Samuel from rocketing through the Cardinals system. His stuff is generally unhittable.”

He is talented enough to be a closer in the big leagues today, but he has to find command. Hitters have learned they can work him for a walk. In his five seasons in the minors, Samuel has a BB/9 mark of 8.3. In 2010, it is 7.5. Once he gains some control, he’ll be a Major League pitcher. Until then, he will idle in AA.

Things are appearing to get better though. Samuel has recently reclaimed the closing role for Springfield and, according to his coaches, the control is starting to come along.

“He’s keeping his delivery a lot more efficient, and his misses aren’t as drastic as they have been. He’s getting to where he can repeat his mechanics,” says Springfield manager Pop Warner.

Pitching coach Dennis Martinez believes he has found and fixed the problem. He told Samuel to incorporate his legs and torso into his delivery. Before, he would rely too heavily on his arm and just “let it rip”. This often causes control problems for young pitchers.

Martinez has spent a ton of time with the prospect pitcher and he believes it is paying off. “Finally, Samuel is not jerking. We’ve really been hammering that out. And finally he’s starting to look comfortable.”

MiLB WEEKLY ROUNDUP
AAA-Memphis Redbirds
Record to date: 49-44, fourth place in the PCL American North, 1.5 games behind Omaha and Iowa.

This past week: 1-3
The Redbirds finished off a five-game series with Nashville at the beginning of this week. They dropped game four 5-1 but took the final game of the series behind another great start by P.J. Walters. Memphis then had three days off for the All Star break before heading to New Orleans for a four-game set. Lance Lynn’s six innings of four-hit ball wasn’t good enough in game one and the Redbirds lost 1-5. Last night’s 4-7 loss was just as disappointing though.

Transactions: Allen Craig was promoted to St. Louis from Memphis (.308, 11 HR, 65 RBI in AAA), Adron Chambers was promoted to Memphis from Springfield (.282, 5 HR, 52 R in AA)

Coming up: The Redbirds will finish up their series in New Orleans. Games three and four are on Saturday and Sunday. They will then come home for a four-game series against Omaha that will go through Thursday. Oklahoma City will then take on the Redbirds in a four game set starting Friday.

AA-Springfield Cardinals
Record to date: 6-11 in the second half (44-43 overall), fourth place in the TEX North, 7.5 games behind Tulsa

This past week: 2-3
Just like Memphis, Springfield did not exactly have a week’s full of games. Unlike Memphis however, the Cardinals were plagued by rainouts instead of having the All Star break. Sunday, Thursday, and both of the games last night were rained out. They did get a double-header in on Saturday but only managed a split with Frisco to wrap up a four-game series. Game one of the series with Midland was rained out, but the Cards won behind an excellent start by Ryan Kulik on Monday before dropping games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Transactions: Adron Chambers was promoted to Memphis from Springfield (.282, 5 HR, 52 R in AA), Chris Swauger was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (.294, 4 HR, 26 RBI)

Coming up: The Cardinals have three games to make up with NW Arkansas, but when those games will be made up is yet to be known. They will have a double-header on Saturday that will cover one of those games, but I doubt they will make up the other two until next weekend. The Cardinals will then take on Tulsa, the league leaders, on Monday through Thursday before starting another series with NW Arkansas on Friday.

A-Palm Beach
Record to date: 12-8 in the second half (50-39 overall), third place in the FSL South, 1 game behind Bradenton and St. Lucie

This past week: 3-3
Palm Beach started the week with a series against the league leaders, Bradenton but only took one of three thanks to a great start by Arquimedes Nieto. The team then traveled to Lakeland to take on the Flying Tigers. Game one was a tough 3-4 loss and game two was rained out, but Palm Beach won both of the games of the double-header last night with a combined score of 13-1.

Transactions: Chris Swauger was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (.294, 4 HR, 26 RBI)

Coming up: The Cardinals will play the final game against Lakeland tonight before they take on Brevard County in a four-game series that will go through Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will be game’s one and two of the Tampa series.

POSITION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Matt Carpenter, 3B, AA-Springfield
.500 AVG (7-for-14), .643 OBP, five runs, two doubles, two home runs, four RBI, two walks
Carpenter has been the Cardinals best hitter since being brought up from Palm Beach a couple months ago. This week was no exception. On the year, Matt is hitting .304 with 43 RBI and 55 runs scored.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Arquimedes Nieto, SP, Palm Beach
One win, seven innings, six hits, no runs, no walks, seven strikeouts
Not to take anything away from Ryan Kulik’s one-hitter in seven innings on Monday because he did great, but Nieto was on his game and, more importantly, didn’t allow a run. This season, Nieto is 7-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 62 SO in 93 1/3 innings.

Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com and his blog, Cardinals Front Office, that is also dedicated to Cardinal baseball. You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here.

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