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Minor-league report: Left-hander Matthew Liberatore completes six scoreless innings

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St. Louis Cardinals V Milwaukee

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore (52) throws a pitch in the first inning of a baseball game between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday May 28, 2022, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

For much of Matthew Liberatore’s time with Class AAA Memphis since he was optioned on July 13 has left the lefty searching for more consistent results.

Heading into his Saturday start against Norfolk, Liberatore had a 7.51 ERA across his previous eight starts for the Redbirds and had completed six or more innings in just two of those starts.

But on Saturday, Liberatore snapped a rough skid by tossing six innings of scoreless baseball against the Tides. The 22-year-old limited the Tides to five hits and a walk while striking out five.

Along with Liberatore’s start, these are some of the notable performances by Cardinals minor-leaguers:

Hits

Left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore, Class AAA Memphis: The six scoreless inning provided by Liberatore during Memphis’ 4-1 win on Saturday gave the southpaw his sixth quality start of 2022 and earned his sixth win of the season. Saturday’s outing also marked Liberatore’s fifth scoreless start of five innings or more — two of which have come in the majors. In 102 1/3 innings for Memphis, Liberatore has a 5.10 ERA and has struck out 102 batters.

Outfielder Joshua Baez, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Baez went one-for-four with a walk, but did strikeout twice during Palm Beach’s 9-3 loss on Saturday to Dunedin. After Palm Beach’s Sunday series finale was canceled due to weather, Baez finished the 2022 regular season with a .286/.418/.549 slash line in 101 at-bats as a PB-Card.

Baez missed most of the regular season with a wrist injury that sidelined him on May 17. He returned to Palm Beach’s roster on Aug. 16 and hit three homers and drove in 16 runs over 20 Class Low-A games.

Third baseman Delvin Perez, Class AAA Memphis: Perez went two-for-two with a walk, a double, and stolen a base for Memphis during its 9-2 loss to Norfolk on Sunday. Perez, who has had limited playing time for the Redbirds since his June 21 promotion from Class AA Springfield, is batting .241 over 40 Class AAA games.

The stolen base on Saturday was Perez’s 19th of the season, making him a 19-for-19 on attempts this year. He had productive stretch of offense when he slashed .382/.432/.676 over 34 at-bats in July but is batting .193 over 57 at-bats since then.

Outfielder L.J. Jones, Class High-A Peoria: The Long Beach State product finished off the Class High-A regular season by going five-for-eight with a double and three RBIs over two games on Saturday and Sunday for Peoria. Jones’ three-hit game came during Peoria’s 12-11 season-finale loss to Quad Cities during which the Chiefs had a seven-run inning.

Jones, the Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in the 2020 MLB draft, finished the regular season batting .261 with a .777 OPS, and 64 RBIs in 102 games. It was during his final nine games of the Midwest League that he batted .343 with an .857 OPS over 35 at-bats.

Right-handed pitcher Kyle Leahy, Class AA Springfield: Leahy pitched six scoreless innings, giving him his second consecutive scoreless outing of six innings for Springfield. Leahy, who entered in the second inning of Saturday 8-6 win over San Antonio in relief of rehabbing Cardinals starter Steven Matz, entered September with a 5.85 ERA on the season, but has since lowered it to 5.33. Including his Aug. 26 start against Northwest Arkansas, Leahy has allowed just two runs in his last 19 innings.

Right-handed pitcher Nick Trogrlic-Iverson, Class High-A Peoria: The second half surge Trogrlic-Iverson provided from the bullpen carried into Peoria’s season finale in the form of five scoreless relief innings of one-hit baseball from the Oakville, Ontario, Canada native. Trorglic-Iverson faced one batter over the minimum and completed five innings on 52 pitches. With his effective bullpen appearance, Trogrlic-Iverson posted a 1.98 ERA over his final 41 innings of relief during the Midwest League and limited hitters to .177 batting average.

Left-handed pitcher Alfredo Ruiz, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Ruiz, the Cardinals’ sixth-round pick in the 2021 MLB draft, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless inning of relief, struck out four, and walked two batters during Palm Beach’s loss to Dunedin on Saturday. Ruiz entered the ballgame having given up runs in each of his last two relief appearances, but worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning by striking out Dunedin’s Estiven Machado to escape the frame.

Having spent all of the 2022 regular season with Palm Beach, Ruiz posted a 3.53 ERA over 35 2/3 innings and struck out 47 batters.

Misses

Outfielder Juan Yepez, Class AAA Memphis: The hot stretch at the plate that Yepez had been on to finish August and begin September has cooled down over his last few games. Yepez went zero-for-seven in games on Saturday and Sunday and is two-for-20 with only a pair of singles and a walk in his last six games. Yepez had come into the start of last week 16-for-43 (.372) with six home runs and 19 RBIs over 12 games.

Right-handed pitcher Dakota Hudson, Class AAA Memphis: In his second start back in the minors since he was optioned on Sept. 5, Hudson gave up six runs (three earned), walked three batters, and hit another over 7 1/3 innings vs. Norfolk. Hudson faced one batter over the minimum through his first three innings before he gave up two runs in the fourth that came way of a leadoff walk and three consecutive hits with one out in the frame.

Hudson began the eighth inning at 103 pitches, but gave up back-to-back singles with no outs and later a one-out walk that led to his removal from the game.

Left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera, Class AAA Memphis: Working with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning after Hudson departed from Memphis' series finale against Norfolk, Cabrera struck out the first batter he faced on four pitches.

But things took a turn after a fielding error by first baseman Luken Baker cost the Redbirds a run and extended the inning. Cabrera allowed a single to the following hitter that pushed two more inherited runners across. Cabrera returned for the ninth inning, but allowed a walk, two singles, and a sacrifice fly that led to three more runs. In 6 2/3 innings in the minors, Cabrera has allowed six runs on seven hits.

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

dguerrerro@post-dispatch.com

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