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Minor-league report: Pitching prospect Gordon Graceffo throws seven shutout innings

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Springfield Cardinals

Springfield’s 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

Effective outings by starters and relievers alike resulted in some low-scoring Cardinals minor-league ballgames on Wednesday.

These are some of the notable performances by Cardinals minor-leaguers:

Hits

Right-handed pitcher Gordon Graceffo, Class AA Springfield: For the fourth time this season since he was promoted from Class High-A Peoria to Class AA Springfield, Graceffo completed seven innings in his start. In his latest seven-inning outing, Graceffo limited Tulsa to one run on four hits and struck out five batters in the S-Cards’ 3-1 win.

The only run surrendered by Graceffo came on a solo homer off the bat of third baseman Brandon Lewis in the fifth inning, but the righty was able to retire the next nine batters he faced before his exit. The solo homer was the seventh Graceffo surrendered in 53 1/3 innings at the Class AA level. In nine starts with Springfield, Graceffo has a 3.21 ERA.

Right-handed pitcher Tink Hence, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Hence set a season-high innings when he threw four scoreless frames and struck out eight batters in Palm Beach’s 1-0 win against Lakeland. The eight strikeouts also matched a season-high that Hence previously set on June 29. The 19-year-old allowed a leadoff single in the top of the first inning, but followed that by retiring 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.

Six of Hence’s eight strikeouts on Wednesday were swinging as he used a sinker that reached 97.9 mph and generated 13 swings-and-misses while utilizing his entire arsenal. Of the five balls put in play by Lakeland hitters, only two had exit velocities above 85 mph with the max being an 88.3 mph single to left field.

The four scoreless innings lowered Hence’s ERA to 1.16 over his 27 1/3 innings pitched this year. Despite the limited innings, Hence has collected 48 strikeouts.

Left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson, Class AAA Memphis: Making his first appearance back in the minors after he was optioned on July 11, Thompson struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief during the Redbirds’ 3-2 win over the Sounds. Thompson kept Nashville hitless and faced the minimum on 27 pitches (19 strikes).

The relief appearance also marked Thompson’s first appearance out of the bullpen while with Memphis. In a relief role with the Cardinals this season, the former first-round pick is 1-1 with a 0.60 ERA over 15 innings.

Catcher Pedro Pages, Class AAA Memphis: Pages was responsible for driving in all three of Memphis’ runs in its win over Nashville. The 23-year-old put the Redbirds on the scoreboard with a two-run homer in the second inning — marking his second since debuting at the Class AAA level — and broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly that brought Paul DeJong around to score.

The three RBIs by Pages were his most in a game since making his Memphis debut on June 17. In 14 games as a Redbird, Pages is batting .196 with a .560 and six RBIs in 51 at-bats.

First baseman Thomas Francisco, Class Low-A Palm Beach: With offense hard to come by in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel between Palm Beach and Lakeland, Francisco collected all three of the PB-Cards' hits and lone RBI in the home win. Francisco’s three singles include a two-out RBI. Francisco’s three hits were his most in a single-game this year and makes him six-for-10 in three games since he was assigned to Palm Beach on July 7.

Misses

Right-handed pitcher Edgar Manzo, Class High-A Peoria: Manzo could not make it out of the fourth inning in his start against South Bend. He surrendered season-highs in hits (11) and runs (nine) before he was lifted after throwing 82 pitches (52 strikes). The start was Manzo’s third consecutive and fourth of the season. He had given up three runs over his last two starts that spanned 11 innings. Overall in 2022, Manzo is 3-1 with a 4.83 ERA in 18 games and 41 innings.

Catcher Leonardo Bernal, Class Low-A Palm Beach: Like many Palm Beach hitters aside from Francisco, Bernal went hitless. He also left seven runners on base in his four at-bats. Bernal grounded into a double play with bases loaded in the first inning, flew out with runners on first and second base in the sixth inning, and flew out with runners on first and second base in the eighth inning. Bernal, who is batting .200 this season, has a .227 average and 11 RBIs in 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

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