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2014 Memphis Redbirds Season In Review

Redbirds Make Playoffs For 4th Time In Franchise History
September 9, 2014

The Memphis Redbirds were crowned Pacific Coast League American Southern Division Champions in 2014, finishing with a record of 79-64. They concluded the season with the 3rd-best record in the PCL and the team's 79 wins were the 3rd-most in team history. It was the franchise's 9th winning season in 17 years of competition and was a boost of 10 victories from last year's 69-75 mark.

The Redbirds quest for playoff contention was clinched during the final regular season series, finishing 2.5 games in front of the cross-state rival Nashville Sounds for the divisional crown. It was the 4th time in franchise history that Memphis had competed in the postseason. The run was short-lived though, falling 3-1 in a best-of-five series to the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Omaha took the series opener at Werner Park before Memphis won their lone contest of the series the following day. The Redbirds scored the game-deciding run in the ninth inning on a wild pitch. The Storm Chasers delivered the knockout blow by winning the next two games at AutoZone Park and eliminating Memphis from the postseason.

The Redbirds were held to five runs over their four playoff games and shut out twice. The team hit only .167 against Omaha, as the offense stalled in the series loss. Scott Moore was the only Redbird with an average above .300 during the series.

Oscar Taveras had the team's longest hitting streak of the season, recording a hit for 16 straight games from April 13 to May 2. The Cardinals top prospect hit .318 during his 62 games at the Triple-A level and was 27-for-58 (.466) with runners in scoring position.

Slugging outfielder Randal Grichuk powered 25 home runs in his 108 games, tied for the 9th-best total in the league. He also finished tied for 12th in runs scored (73), 16th in extra-base hits (50) and 19th in slugging (.493). He hit 10 of his team-leading 25 homers in the first inning of games and the Redbirds posted a 20-4 record in contests that Grichuk went yard.

Most Common Batting Order
No. Player Pos.
1. Greg Garcia 2B
2. Randal Grichuk CF
3. Oscar Taveras LF
4. Stephen Piscotty RF
5. Scott Moore 3B
6. Xavier Scruggs 1B
7. Pete Kozma SS
8. Ed Easley C
9. Pitcher P

Stephen Piscotty found himself in the cleanup spot for 106 games during the season. The outfielder smacked 32 doubles, tied for 6th in the league and on the Redbirds single-season leaders list. Piscotty played in 136 games during the regular season, tied for the 2nd-most, and recorded the 8th-best hit total in the PCL (144).

First baseman Xavier Scruggs finished 5th in the PCL in RBIs (87), tied for 6th in games played (135), 7th in runs scored (82) and 14th in extra-base hits (53). He logged 11 total bases during the August 11 games at Albuquerque, the most by a Redbird all season.

Memphis finished the season with a team batting average of .273, the 10th-highest in the league. After hitting .139 in April, Tommy Pham closed out the season with a team-leading .324 mark, the 2nd-highest single-season mark in team history (Nick Stavinoha, .337, 2008).

The Redbirds ripped three grand slams and eight, four-hit games, while failing to record any five-hit contests or pinch-hit home runs. The 'Birds batters blasted nine multi-homer games, including a team-best three from Moore. Memphis pinch-hitters batted .224 (17-for-76) with 12 RBIs and 16 walks. Pham led the club in the pinch-hitting department, batting .385 (5-for-13) with a pair of doubles, while Jermaine Curtis saw the most opportunities (20 at-bats, nine walks).

Memphis batters were hit a league-leading 91 times. Moore was plunked a career-high 19 times, 2nd-most in the PCL, while Greg Garcia moved into 2nd on the franchise leaders list with 22 by getting hit 11 times for the second straight season.

Batting Leaders
(min. 2.7 plate appearances/lg. game)
Category Player Stat
Average Tommy Pham .324
Games Stephen Piscotty 136
At-Bats Stephen Piscotty 500
Hits Stephen Piscotty 144
Total Bases Xavier Scruggs 233
Extra-Base Hits Xavier Scruggs 53
Runs Xavier Scruggs 82
RBI Xavier Scruggs 87
Home Runs Randal Grichuk 25
Triples Tommy Pham 6
Doubles Stephen Piscotty 32
Stolen Bases Tommy Pham 20
Walks Xavier Scruggs 53
Strikeouts Xavier Scruggs 114

Memphis base runners swiped 80 bags during the season, finishing four spots from last in the league. Pham led the way, going 20-for-22 in stolen base attempts. Piscotty (11) and infielder Pete Kozma (10) were the only other players to reach double digit stolen base totals.

Pham ended with a team-leading six triples, 11th-most in the league, and an on-base percentage of .395. He became the first player in franchise history to notch back-to-back four-hit contests and the first to record four hits, four runs and four RBIs in a contest, doing so during the August 7-11 series against New Orleans.

Kozma climbed the ranks in the franchise record books. Following a successful 2014 season, he claims the 7th spot on the Redbirds career leaders list in games (360), at-bats (1225) and RBIs (164).

Redbird hitters grounded into a franchise-record 141 double plays, tied for third-most in the league. Scruggs hit into 19 twin-killings, tied for most in the PCL.

Pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd guided the Redbirds pitching staff to a 3.97 ERA, which was the 3rd-best in the league and only the 6th time in franchise history to finish with a mark below 4.00. Memphis hurlers broke a strand of six consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 strikeouts, fanning a league-low 967 batters.

Memphis saw 17 different pitchers make a start during the season while nine different arms notched a league-best 43 saves, led by Eric Fornataro's career-high 15.

The staff allowed the 2nd-fewest runs (593) and walks (410) in the PCL, while tossing the 2nd-most complete games (5) and shutouts (13). Tyler Lyons went the distance in back-to-back starts on July 29 and August 3, setting a new franchise career record for complete games (5). In total, Memphis starters finished with a record of 49-36 and threw 50 quality starts (six fewer than 2013).

Pitching Leaders
(min. 0.8 innings pitched/league games)
Category Pitcher Stat
ERA Tim Cooney 3.47
Games Jorge Rondon 51
Starts Tim Cooney 25
Wins Tim Cooney 14
Losses Boone Whiting 7
Saves Eric Fornataro 15
Games Finished Eric Fornataro 28
Complete Games Tyler Lyons 2
Strikeouts Tim Cooney 119
Innings Tim Cooney 158.0
Hits Allowed Tim Cooney 158
Runs Allowed Tim Cooney 61
Walks Allowed Tim Cooney 47
Home Runs Allowed Tim Cooney 21
Hit Batsmen Scott McGregor 12
Wild Pitches Tim Cooney 7

Tim Cooney anchored the staff for the entirety of the season and was one of eight left-handers to make a start for the 'Birds in 2014. Cooney's 14 wins in his team-leading 25 starts led the Pacific Coast League and put him atop the franchise's single-season wins list. He was also 4th in ERA (3.47) and innings pitched (158.0) and tied for 14th in strikeouts (119). The Wake Forest-product came within one out of tossing the franchise's first no-hitter on May 29 against Iowa at AutoZone Park, but allowed a single with two away in the top of the 9th inning.  

Lyons won six consecutive decisions from July 18 through August 14, a season-best for Memphis pitchers. He has won 18 games for the Redbirds since 2012 which moved him into 10th place on the franchise career leaders list.

Zach Petrick and Boone Whiting became the first two pitchers in Redbirds history to throw back-to-back complete game, seven-inning shutouts. The pair shut down the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the twinbill on July 19 at AutoZone Park, allowing only two hits apiece.

Scott McGregor tied a team record, plunking three batters in two separate starts. Angel Castro suffered the loss in the Redbirds worst defeat of the season on April 9 at Omaha. The Storm Chasers put up ten runs against Castro and recorded 29 hits in the game, the most ever given up by a Redbirds team. The 20-3 defeat also tied the largest losing margin in team history.

Reliever Jorge Rondon appeared in a team-high 51 games, adding 10 saves in the process. Since 2012, the right-hander has played in 114 games with Memphis, 8th-most in franchise history.

Memphis led the PCL with a .984 fielding percentage, the franchise's best mark in that department during their 17 years of play. They broke their past record of fewest errors as well (94), making only 82 mistakes in the field. Kozma led all PCL shortstops with a .977 fielding percentage, committing only 10 errors in 428 total chances. Scruggs led all first baseman in games (133), total chances (1125), putouts (1063) and double plays (106). Garcia's 209 putouts was tops among all second basemen.

Memphis catchers threw out 38.3% (36 of 94) of potential base stealers, the 3rd-best percentage in the PCL. Ed Easley finished second in the league behind Reno's Bobby Wilson, throwing out runners at 42.3% (22 of 52).

The Redbirds recorded their first five-game series sweep in 2014. They played five contests over the span of three days at Principal Park in Iowa, beating the Cubs in all five games from July 25-27.

After setting a franchise record in 2013 with 150 transactions, Memphis made only 132 moves during their 143 games this season.

Nine players spent the entire season on the Redbirds roster (Pham, Piscotty, Easley, Curtis, Moore, Scruggs, Cooney, Whiting and Heath Wyatt). Whiting was the only one of the nine not active for every game. A total of 55 players appeared in a contest for Memphis this season, including 22 position players and 33 pitchers.

Not including rehab assignments, 16 players made a combined 30 trips to and from St. Louis. Nineteen players made their Triple-A debut, with 37 moves involving Double-A Springfield.

Promoted To. St. Louis (19)
* Major League Debut
Pos. Player
RHP Eric Fornataro *
RHP Jorge Rondon *
LHP Tyler Lyons
OF Randal Grichuk *
INF Greg Garcia *
OF Joey Butler
INF Kolten Wong
LHP Sam Freeman
OF Shane Robinson
OF Oscar Taveras *
LHP Nick Greenwood *
INF Pete Kozma
C Audry Perez
RHP Carlos Martinez
LHP Marco Gonzales
LHP Kevin Siegrist
INF Xavier Scruggs *
OF Tommy Pham *
RHP Sam Tuivailala *

Twenty-four different Redbirds spent time in St. Louis this season. Twelve different players from Memphis' Opening Day roster were promoted to St. Louis at some point during the season, while nine different Redbirds - pitchers Nick Greenwood, Sam Tuivailala, Fornataro and Rondon, outfielders Pham, Grichuk and Taveras and infielders Garcia and Scruggs - made their Major League debut.

First baseman Matt Adams, infielder Mark Ellis, and pitchers Jaime Garcia, Joe Kelly and Jason Motte all made rehabilitation assignments with the Redbirds.

Six different players spent time on the disabled list this season, with pitchers John Gast and Jose Almarante making more than one stint.

Piscotty and Castro represented the Redbirds on the PCL squad during the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina. Piscotty entered as a defensive replacement in the 6th inning and was 1-for-2 with a single. Castro faced two batters during the eighth inning, striking out one and allowing a hit.

Marco Gonzales appeared at four different levels of professional baseball during the 2014 season and made eight starts for Memphis. He was selected to play in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Games at Target Field in Minnesota, but earned a promotion to St. Louis before being able to compete in the game. Redbirds manager Ron "Pop" Warner was selected as a coach for the Futures Game.

Four Memphis players earned PCL weekly honors this season. Starting pitchers Cooney (May 26-June 1) and Lyons (July 28-August 3) and position players Pham (August 4-10) and Scruggs (August 11-17) all won a weekly award from the Pacific Coast League. Lyons, Pham and Scruggs became the first three players in franchise history to win the league's weekly honor in three consecutive weeks.

Five Memphis Redbirds were recognized as the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player & Pitcher of the Month: starting pitchers Cooney (April & July) and Gonzales (August), outfielder Grichuk (May) and first baseman Scruggs (August).