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Minor-league report: Outfielder Alec Burleson gains league RBI lead with two-RBI game

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St. Louis Cardinals start day 4 of team workouts in Jupiter

St. Louis Cardinals non-roster outfielder Alec Burleson takes batting practice on the fourth day of team workouts on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

As he sits atop the International League leaderboard in hits and average, Class AAA Memphis outfielder Alec Burleson took claim of another statistical category on Sunday.

Burleson drove in two runs during Memphis’ 12-4 loss to Nashville to give him a league-leading 86 RBIs on the season — one ahead of Rays minor-league first baseman Jonathan Aranda. The two-RBI game in Memphis’ series finale capped off a weekend where Burleson went four-for-eight with a double over two games on Saturday and Sunday.

Along with Burleson’s productive weekend, these are some of the notable performances by Cardinals minor-leaguers:

Hits

Outfielder Alec Burleson, Class AAA Memphis: With four hits in the final two games of the Redbirds’ road trip to Nashville, the 23-year-old raised his league-leading average and hit total to .328 and 140, respectively. Since Burleson went hitless in back-to-back games from Aug. 4-5, he is batting .320 with seven doubles and 13 RBIs in his last 20 games. He hasn't gone more than two consecutive games without a hit this year.

While Burleson leads in the International League in average and RBI, his 20 home runs put him 10 behind the league leader.

Right-handed pitcher Zane Mills, Class High-A Peoria: Mills turned in his second consecutive scoreless outing with five shutout innings during Peoria’s 4-1 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. The effective outing continues the bounce back stretch from Mills since he gave up five runs in six innings on July 30.

The former fourth-round pick has kept hitters to seven runs (six earned) and four walks over his last 33 1/3 innings. He allowed 17 runs (14 earned) and walked 12 in 28 innings prior to that. On the year, Mills is 5-8 with a 3.77 ERA over 141 innings.

Right-handed pitcher Junior Fernandez, Class AAA Memphis: After giving up seven runs across his last three relief outings, Fernandez pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings and struck out three batters during Memphis’ Sunday loss. Fernandez stranded runners on second and third base by forcing a pop out and a swinging strikeout on four total pitches when he entered the game with one out in the sixth inning.

The five outs recorded by the 25-year-old were his most in a game since he logged 1 2/3 innings for the Cardinals on July 2.

Outfielder Mike Antico, Class AA Springfield: Antico combined to go four-for-10 with a homer and three RBIs in two games over the weekend against Wichita. Antico, who on Sunday stole his 59th base of the season, provided a spark at the top of Springfield’s batting order during its 8-2 win as he hit a leadoff homer on the second pitch that he saw in the first inning against the Wind Surge. In 50 games for Springfield, Antico is slashing .259/.345/.424 and is 22-for-26 on stolen base attempts.

Catcher Julio E. Rodriguez, Class AA Springfield: Rodriguez went two-for-four on Sunday and provided some heroics for Springfield in its 4-3 win when he connected on a walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning against Wichita.

The 25-year-old’s line drive single helped secure a series win for Springfield and concluded a productive week for the backstop. In four games against Wichita, Rodriguez went five-for-17 with one homer, two doubles and six RBIs.

Catcher Jimmy Crooks III, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Crooks drove in four runs and fell a double short of hitting for the cycle during Palm Beach’s 11-7 loss against Daytona on Saturday. The three-hit game by the 21-year-old highlighted a seven-for-15 four-game stretch for Crooks. Crooks, the Cardinals fourth-round pick in this year’s MLB draft, is batting .279 and has a .913 OPS in his first 19 minor-league games.

Misses

Left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore, Class AAA Memphis: Following a two-run first inning, Liberatore had seemingly found his composure during Memphis’ series finale against Nashville on Sunday. Liberatore, who pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up a season-high seven runs, faced the minimum from the second through the fourth inning and induced five groundball outs.

But shaky command in the fifth inning led the lefty to give up a single after falling behind in the count to a hitter, walk two batter and hit another before allowing a grand slam. Liberatore’s outing ended after allowing the grand slam, making his start on Sunday the third time in his last five starts that he didn’t complete five innings.

Right-handed pitcher Ian Bedell, Class Low-A Palm Beach: The former Mizzou starter gave up two hits and a run in an inning of relief work on Sunday to Daytona. Bedell began his outing by striking out the first batter he faced, but surrendered back-to-back doubles with one out in the inning. Since making his return to the mound from Tommy John surgery, Bedell has pitched 5 2/3 innings in the Florida Complex League and for Palm Beach.

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

dguerrerro@post-dispatch.com

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