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Minor-league report: Rookie Juan Yepez’s three RBIs help lift Memphis to rout of Norfolk

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Cardinals, Orioles at Busch

St. Louis Cardinals Juan Yepez soars into the air on the third baseline as he makes his way around the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at Busch Stadium. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Prior to the Cardinals’ 4-1 Tuesday win over the Nationals at Busch Stadium, manager Oliver Marmol made it clear of what the organization wants to see from Juan Yepez before he could be recalled from the minors.

“No real thought other than we need to see him take good at-bats,” Marmol said.

Later Tuesday night while down in Memphis, Tennessee, Yepez showed progress in possibly rejoining the major-league club by going three-for-five with a home run and three RBIs for Class AAA Memphis.

Yepez’s multi-hit game was his third in his last four games, and helped the Memphis to a 12-0 series-opening win over Norfolk.

Along with Yepez’s three-RBI game, these are some of the notable performances by Cardinals minor-leaguers:

Hits

Outfielder/First baseman Juan Yepez, Class AAA Memphis: On the same day he was eligible to be recalled to the majors, Yepez began Memphis’ game on Tuesday by striking out and grounding out in his first two at-bats. He ended it with a line drive singe in his third at-bat, a two-run homer in his following at-bat, and an RBI single during his last at-bat to give the Redbirds’ their 12th run of the night.

The homer gave Yepez 26 total in 2022 — 11 of which have come in the major-leagues. The rookie is batting .306, homered six times and driven in 19 runs over his last 62 at-bats with Memphis. He began that stretch three-for-22 and didn’t connect on an extra-base hit across six games.

Outfielder/Third baseman Jordan Walker, Class AA Springfield: Walker connected on his team-high 30th double of the year as he went two-for-four with an RBI, and a walk in Springfield’s 8-4 loss to San Antonio. Aside from leading the S-Cards in doubles, Walker is tied for second in doubles among Texas League hitters. Just like Yepez, Walker’s multi-hit game on Tuesday was his third in his last four games. He is batting .310 and slugging .524 in 422 at-bats at the Class AA level.

Outfielder Alec Burleson, Class AAA Memphis: Burleson contributed to Memphis’ rout of Norfolk with a three-for-five game that included an RBI single in the first inning. The 23-year-old’s multi-hit game was his third consecutive multi-hit performance and fourth in his last five games.

With his multi-hit game, Burleson leads the International League in hits (143), average (.331), and RBIs (87). He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games. He hasn’t gone hitless in back-to-back games since Aug. 4-5.

Shortstop Kramer Robertson, Class AAA Memphis: Robertson drove in three of Memphis’ 12 runs with his three-run homer in the sixth inning against the Tides. The homer was Robertson’s first since Aug. 23 and highlighted his two-for-four game on Tuesday that included a double. Robertson’s three RBIs were his most in a game since May 6, which was when he drove in a season-high five against Jacksonville. Since he returned to the Cardinals organization on Aug. 5, Robertson is batting .238 and has a .772 OPS in 24 games.

Right-handed pitcher Andrew Marrero, Class Low-A Palm Beach: With a chance to clinch a playoff spot on the line, Marrero managed to shut the door on a 4-3 Palm Beach win over Dunedin. Marrero allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out in the ninth inning, but struck out the next two batters he faced to earn his 11th save of the season. The save clinched a playoff spot for Palm Beach, marking its first playoff appearance since 2018.

Outfielder L.J. Jones, Class High-A Peoria: After he began September by going three-for-19 in six games after he drove in eight runs on Aug. 28, Jones found another glimpse of success at the plate during Peoria’s 8-7 loss against Quad Cities. Jones went two-for-five with a solo home run and three RBIs. The Long Beach State product is batting .251 and has a .765 OPS with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs in 98 games for Peoria.

Right-handed pitcher Jack Ralston, Class High-A Peoria: Ralston logged two scoreless inning of relief and limited Quad Cities hitters to one hit. The two scoreless innings extended Ralston’s streak of scoreless relief outings to four. The former seventh-round pick has given up one run in his last eight innings of relief for Peoria. Since rejoining the Chiefs for the first time after injury sidelined him 2021, Ralston has a 3.75 ERA in 10 appearances.

Outfielder Chris Rotondo, Class Low-A Palm Beach: The Villanova product went two-for-three with a double, a walk, and two runs scored during Palm Beach’s win over Dunedin. Rotondo’s productive game at the plate raised his average to .302 over his first 20 games since making his minor-league debut. The 23-year-old was taken by the Cardinals in the 19th-round of the 2022 MLB draft.

Misses

Right-handed pitcher Andre Granillo, Class High-A Peoria: Granillo matched his longest outing of the year by completing 2 2/3 innings of relief work in Peoria’s extra innings loss, but could not strand the automatic baserunners that began the 10th and 12th innings at second base.

With Peoria leading by a run in the 10th inning, Granillo allowed a leadoff single that accounted for the righty’s fourth blown save of the year. He pitched a scoreless 11th to send the game to the 12th, but walked the first batter he faced and gave up a sacrifice fly two batters later.

A passed ball by Wade Stauss wound up becoming the deciding factor in Peoria’s loss. Although he didn’t give up an earned run, the three runs allowed by Granillo tied for the second most he’s allowed in an outing this year.

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

dguerrerro@post-dispatch.com

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