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Minor-league report: Left-hander Connor Thomas struggles with command, gives up 11 hits

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St. Louis Cardinals start day 2 team workouts in Jupiter

Cardinals non-roster pitcher Connor Thomas fists bumps catcher Clint Coulter after throwing live batting practice on the second day of team workouts on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla.

Coming off a Sept. 3 outing during which he walked three batters and hit another two, left-hander Connor Thomas once again struggled to find his command during his start for Class AAA Memphis on Thursday.

Thomas gave up a season-high 11 hits, walked two batters, and threw 40 of his 94 total pitches for balls in 5 1/3 innings of work during the Redbirds’ 5-0 loss to Norfolk during game two of a doubleheader.

Along with Thomas’ start against the Tides, these are some of the notable performances from around the Cardinals minor-leagues:

Hits

Outfielder Mike Antico, Class AA Springfield: Antico collected his 62nd stolen base of the season by swiping second during Springfield’s 6-3 win over San Antonio. With the stolen bag, Antico is 61-for-68 on steal attempts in 124 games this year.

The former eighth-round pick has been caught four times in 28 tries while playing for Springfield. Antico, who has split his season with Class High-A Peoria and Springfield, is slashing .255/.353/.414 with 14 home runs and 62 RBIs.

Left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera, Class AAA Memphis: For the second consecutive outing, Cabrera pitched two scoreless innings of relief. In his latest appearance, Cabrera allowed one hit, one walk, and struck out three during Memphis’ 7-2 win if game one of a doubleheader against Norfolk. 

The back-to-back effective relief appearances comes after Cabrera gave up three runs, issued two walks, and allowed on Aug. 30 — his first game back in the minors after being optioned to Memphis.

Catcher Aaron Antonini, Class AA Springfield: As Springfield searched for some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against San Antonio, it was Antonini who provided the big hit for the S-Cards. Antonini connected on a towering fly ball that got just deep enough over the right field wall for a two-run homer during Springfield's 6-3 win.

Antonini’s homer was his first in 19 games since his promotion from Peoria to Springfield. The homer was also Antonini’s seventh of the season. Before Thursday, he hadn’t homered since May 29.

Left-handed pitcher Levi Prater, Class High-A Peoria: 2 1/3 scoreless innings from Prater helped limit damage by Quad Cities hitters during Peoria’s 6-2 loss and also continued an improvement in results after Prater surrendered eight runs in six innings in August. Prater has logged 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed two hits, and no walks over his last two outings. The former third-round pick finished Thursday with a 6.02 ERA across 40 1/3 innings for the Chiefs.

Right-handed pitcher Logan Gragg, Class AA Springfield: Gragg received the bounce back start he may have been looking after he gave up eight runs and 10 hits his last time out. On Thursday, he spun six innings of one-run ball for Springfield marking just his second quality start of the year and the third time in 14 starts that he completed six or more innings.

Gragg, an eight-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2019 draft, is 4-5 with a 5.06 ERA in time shared with Peoria and Springfield this season.

Right-handed pitcher Hancel Rincon, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Rincon delivered his second consecutive quality start as he threw six scoreless innings and limited Dunedin hitters to three hits and one walk. He struck out seven in Palm Beach’s 4-3 loss to give him 29 over his last 25 2/3 innings since the start of August.

Rincon has made eight starts for Palm Beach since being transferred from the Florida Complex League to Palm Beach’s roster at the start of June. As a starter for Palm Beach, he is 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA.

Misses

Left-handed pitcher Connor Thomas, Class AAA Memphis: Despite being Memphis’ most durable pitcher with a team-high 121 1/3 innings over 25 games, Thomas’ start on Thursday continued his trend of inconsistency that he’s dealt with in 2022.

The start was the fourth consecutive by Thomas where he allowed four or more runs. The 24-year-old has a 5.04 ERA and is allowing a .298 average to hitters over 121 1/3 innings. Thomas entered the season with a 3.49 ERA over 165 innings in the minors.

Outfielder Nathan Church, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Church went hitless in four at-bats during Palm Beach’s loss as he continues to search for better results at the plate to begin his minor-league career. Church, the Cardinals’ 11th-round pick from UC-Irvine during this year’s MLB draft, is batting .187 over his first 91 at-bats in the minors. The 22-year-old batted .341 in 120 games that spanned three collegiate seasons as an Anteater.

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

dguerrerro@post-dispatch.com

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