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Minor-league report: Nootbaar has three-homer game; Burleson has third consecutive three-hit game

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St. Louis Cardinals report to Spring Training

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar takes live batting practice the day before the official start of spring training on Sunday, March 13, 2022, at the Cardinals training facility in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Three was somewhat of a magic during some of the Cardinals minor-leagues games on Saturday and Sunday.

From a three-homer game to a third straight three-hit game, these are some of the notable performances from the weekend’s Cardinals minor-league games:

Hits

Outfielder Lars Nootbaar, Class AAA Memphis: With Memphis on a four-game losing streak against Gwinnett, Nootbaar provided the boost the Redbirds needed to get in the win column. Nootbaar homered three times and drove in seven runs in a 10-4 win against the Stripers on Sunday. The three-homer game was the first of his professional career, and he tied a career-high of seven RBIs that he originally set on Aug. 24, 2018.

Nootbaar is hitting .275 and with a 1.050 OPS in 40 at-bats for Memphis since he was optioned in late April. He was limited by an injury after leaving a May 6 game early following a play in the outfield where he tried to rob a home run, but returned to game action on Wednesday. The 24-year-old doubled, singled twice and drew three walks in games on Wednesday and Friday against Gwinnett.

Outfielder Alec Burleson, Class AAA Memphis: On Saturday and Sunday against the Stripers, Burleson continued to hit the ball well by delivering three-hits games in both contests. The three-hit outing on Sunday marked his third consecutive three-hit performance. In six games against Gwinnett, Burleson went 14-for-26 (.539), smacked four doubles, three homers, and drove in nine RBIs. Burleson is tied for fourth in hits among all Triple-A hitters of the last month of the season. The 23-year-old is batting .321 and slugging .591 in 35 games for Memphis.

Right-handed pitcher Jake Walsh, Class AAA Memphis: In his first appearance since getting sent back down to Memphis after an outing in which he gave up four runs and didn’t record an out against the Mets, Walsh threw a scoreless inning and struck out one batter in Memphis’ 6-5 loss to Gwinnett on Saturday. The clean inning of work against the Stripers lowered Walsh’s minor-league ERA with the Redbirds' to 0.75 over 12 innings.

Right-handed pitcher Freddy Pacheco, Class AA Springfield: Pacheco had the bounce back outing he hoped for when he took the mound on Saturday against Wichita. The righty struck out four and didn’t allow a runner to reach base when he completed a five-out save in Springfield’s 9-7 win against the Wind Surge.

Pacheco struck out back-to-back batters to end the eighth inning after he entered the ballgame with one out and runners on second and third base. In the ninth, he closed out the win by striking out the first two batters he faced, then by getting a softly-hit fly out to end game. All four of Pacheco’s strikeouts were swinging, and the scoreless outing snapped a streak of four consecutive outings in which he gave up a run.  

Right-handed pitcher Jose Moreno, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Moreno continued to show his effectiveness from the bullpen in Sunday when he threw three scoreless frames in Palm Beach’s 6-5 loss to Bradenton. The 21-year-old allowed one hit and walked three batters in the relief outing. Of the eight balls put in play against him, only one registered as a hard-hit ball (a ball with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher), per statcast.

Moreno’s ERA lowered to 0.62 following his relief appearance. He has logged 29 innings of work as a starter and a reliever. When used a reliever, Moreno hasn’t allowed a run across 12 innings and is limiting hitters to a .209 batting average.

Misses

Right-handed pitcher Edwin Nunez, Class Low-A Palm Beach: The 20-year-old continued to display his hard-throwing capabilities, but struggled to command his sinker in his 2/3 innings on Sunday. Nunez averaged 96.4 mph while using his sinker and touched 98.3 mph with the pitch, but allowed five runs on four hits and walked three batters in his 35-pitch outing.

Nunez allowed back-to-back singles to begin the sixth inning, then gave up an RBI double. But even after a mound visit with one out in the inning, Nunez’s struggles continued as he walked a batter, threw a wild pitch, gave up a double, and threw a second wild pitch that prompted a second mound visit.

He was removed after issuing back-to-back walks — the latter of which was on four pitches.  Through 6 2/3 innings since making his season debut on May 7, Nunez has walked 11 batters and possesses a 12.15 ERA.

Right-handed pitcher Ryan Loutos, Class AA Springfield: Loutos’ streak of seven consecutive outings without giving up a run was snapped on Sunday. The righty pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but gave up a one-out double that was followed by an RBI single, the result of which led to a walk-off 2-1 loss against Wichita. Loutos, who was promoted from High-A Peoria to Springfield on May 17, sports a 2.75 ERA across 19 2/3 inning.

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

dguerrerro@post-dispatch.com

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