Cardinals Take Advantage of Rehabbing Kazmir, Defeat Vero Beach, 4-3

The Cardinals continued a blistering hot start to the season today, proving the doubters wrong by jumping all over rehabbing Tampa Bay Devil Rays starter Scott Kazmir at Roger Dean Stadium today. Kazmir, making his first rehab start, was shelled for seven hits and four runs over four and two thirds. Tyler Henley continued to look like one of the breakout players this summer for the St. Louis organization, with a lead off home run (3) off Kazmir to start the game. Henley, a 2007 eighth round draft pick out of Rice University, has pushed his average back up to .329 with three longballs and twelve RBI on the young season.

Steve Hill, another player on the rise for the Cardinals farm system, went 3-4 on the day with a single, triple and home run, raising his average to .371 on the season. Hill, brought up in recent discussions about a possible Double-A promotion, already has sixteen RBI for Palm Beach, with three home runs and two triples. With the ability to play catcher, first, and third, he's offering the organization an intriguing bat to be advancing rapidly through the system possibly. Hill, 23, is also a fellow 2007 draft pick along with Henley, taken in the 13th round by the Cardinals. After a .436 average in Batavia last year, Hill was promoted to Quad Cities and responded by hitting .303 with 11 homeruns and 44 RBI.

Kyle Mura, the second "starter" for Palm Beach today may have been the real star however, shutting Vero Beach down for three innings after relieving David Kopp in the fifth inning. Mura held the Devil Rays to two hits and a walk over the three frames, striking out six. After a great season in 2007 with Quad Cities (1.66 ERA,
59 IP, 13 BB, 53 K), Mura is shaping up to be one of the more reliable arms in the Palm Beach organization. Although a bit old for the Single-A level, if Mura can continue to put together quality innings like today, he could be looking at a promotion to Double-A at his age-24 season, putting him in the running for a possible bullpen spot in Triple-A in 2009.

The bullpen finally seems to be settled, with Marco Gonzalez taking the mound to setup the save (and pick up the hold) for new closer Jon Mikrut, who picked up his third save of the season after a scoreless ninth. Mikrut, demoted from Double-A Springfield earlier in the month, has turned things around with Palm Beach, converting three straight save opportunities now. Ken Maiques, #14 on the 2008 Baseball America Cardinals prospect list, has apparently lost his hold on the closer role after walking sixteen in only seven innings.