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Minor-league report: Cardinals prospect Gordon Graceffo spins six scoreless innings

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Springfield Cardinals

SpringfieldÕs Gordon Graceffo delivers to the plate during a baseball game on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. Paul Halfacre, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Over what has been a stretch of highs and lows at the Class AA level for Gordon Graceffo, the hard-throwing righty on Friday delivered one of his most efficient start of the second half of the minor-league season.

Graceffo gave Springfield six scoreless innings, allowed three hits, no walks, and struck out seven batters in a 6-5 win against San Antonio. The start was Graceffo’s longest since he pitched seven innings of one-run ball on July 13 and his first start without issuing a walk since Aug. 7.

Along with Graceffo’s scoreless start, these are some of the notable performances from around the Cardinals minor-leagues:

Hits

Right-handed pitcher Gordon Graceffo, Class AA Springfield: Graceffo completed his six innings of work on 74 pitches (49 strikes) and faced three batters over the minimum. The seven strikeouts by the 22-year-old were his most since he struck out seven on June 25 against Northwest Arkansas.

Graceffo entered Friday with a 6.99 ERA over his last 28 1/3 innings and having allowed a .927 OPS to opposing hitters. Graceffo, who sported a 0.99 ERA in 45 2/3 innings for Class High-A Peoria, has a 4.21 ERA over 87 2/3 innings while with Springfield.

Catcher Ivan Herrera, Class AAA Memphis: Having gone over three months without hitting a home run, Herrera ended that drought on Friday and he did so by notching his third career multi-homer game. Herrera connected on a solo homer in the fourth inning of Memphis’ 6-5 loss and added to his night with a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

After hitting a line drive single in the eighth inning, Herrera secured his 16th multi-hit game this season. The 22-year-old is batting .281 with a .787 OPS for the Redbirds.

Third baseman Michael Curialle, Class Low-A Palm Beach: The UCLA product went two-for-four and drove in two of Palm Beach’s eight runs in its 8-1 win over Dunedin. Curialle’s multi-hit game on Friday boosted his average to .246 over his first 20 games as a minor-leaguer. Since getting drafted by the Cardinals in the 12th round of this year’s MLB draft, Curialle has doubled four times, walked six times, and driven in five runs. 17 of Curialle’s 19 starts have come at third base for the PB-Cards.

Right-handed pitcher Matt Hickey, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Hickey allowed just one hit and no walks in 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the PB-Cards on just six pitches. As one of the Cardinals’ recently drafted pitchers who has received consistent innings since turning pro, Hickey has shown some effectiveness with his opportunities. The Tarleton State product has allowed three runs (two earned) in 10 innings and struck out nine batters since making his minor-league debut on Aug. 10.

Outfielder Chris Rotondo, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Rotondo went three-for-six that included a double and two runs scored batting from the two spot of the PB-Cards' lineup. The three hits for the former Villanova Wildcat are his most in a game since making his pro debut. Rotondo, a 19th-round pick in this year's MLB draft, is batting .306 over his first 72 at-bats for Palm Beach. The 23-year-old has connected on four doubles and a homer in 23 games.

Outfielder L.J. Jones, Class High-A Peoria: When he stepped to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning, Jones had been hitless in his previous four at-bats on Friday night. But with Jacob Buchberger standing on third base as the go-ahead runner after he tripled home two runs, Jones’ only hit proved to be the deciding one in Peoria’s 7-6 comeback win over Quad Cities.

Jones singled home Buchberger to give Peoria a one-run lead, capping off a four-run inning from the Chiefs who began the top of the ninth trailing 6-3.

Second baseman Francisco Hernandez, Class High-A Peoria: Hernandez led Peoria’s lineup in hits as he went four-for-four with a double and two runs scored in the Chiefs’ road win. Hernandez’s four-hit game was a season-high and career-high for the 22-year-old. He is batting .219 with a .330 on-base percentage and a .332 average.

Misses

Right-handed pitcher Zane Mills, Class High-A Peoria: Mills needed 70 pitches to complete three innings during which he gave up three runs as Peoria's starting pitcher. Coming into Friday, Mills had sported a 1.62 ERA over his previous 33 1/3 innings. That effective stretch for the former fourth-round pick included six consecutive starts during which he pitched five innings or more in each and gave up two runs or fewer.

Right-handed pitcher Tanner Jacobson, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Despite striking out two batters in 1 2/3 scoreless innings for Palm Beach, Jacobson struggled with his command during his relief appearance against Dunedin. Jacobson, the Cardinals’ 10th-round pick in this year’s MLB draft, needed 38 pitches to record five outs and walked two batters. Half of his 38 pitches missed the strike zone. In 6 1/3 innings of work in the Florida Complex League and with Palm Beach, Jacobson has allowed three runs.

Outfielder Tommy Jew, Class High-A Peoria: Jew was the only hitter in Peoria’s lineup who went hitless on a night that it combined for 14 hits. The 24-year-old went zero-for-four and struck out three times. With the quiet night at the plate, Jew’s average dipped to .186 and his strikeout total raised to 117 over 104 games this year. Since making his debut in 2021, Jew is a career .190 hitter over 179 games in the Cardinals minor-league system.

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

dguerrerro@post-dispatch.com

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