January 27, 2005
2004 Tennessee Smokie (AA) Season Highlights
Reported by Ray Mileur
The Tennessee Smokies were Southern League Co-Champions in 2004. The Smokies won the East Division Championship for the season's 1st half with a 39-31 record, and then defeated 2nd half winner Chattanooga 3 games to 1 in the Southern League semifinals. The Southern League Championship series against Mobile was cancelled due to the threat posed by Hurrican Ivan, resulting in Tennessee and Mobile sharing the Southern League championship.
Following the conclusion of the 2004 season, the Cardinals announce the purchase of the El Paso Diablos franchise of the Texas League, and their plan to move the franchise to Springfield, MO. The Cardinals played two seasons in Tennessee and made the playoffs in both seasons.
Brad Thompson began the year in record fashion, pitching his first 49 innings without allowing a run, which set the Southern League record. Additionally when combined with his final 8.2 scoreless innings in 2003, the combined 57.2 IP without allowing a run, broke the 97 year old Minor League record established by Irv Wilhelm of the Birmingham Barons in 1907.
Skip Schumaker led the Southern League with 163 hits and was 4th in the league with a .316 average.
Papo Bolivar was 9th in the league with a .295 average and was 2nd in the league with 51 stolen bases. Bolivar led the Cards organization in stolen bases, and the Smokies led the Southern League with 134 stolen bases. So if you like Whitey Ball perhaps a rode trip to Springfield this season would be in order.
Anthony Reyes now considered the Cardinals top pitching prospect, was promoted to Tennessee at mid-season and was 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in August. He also limited opponents to a .218 average that month and struck out 45 batters while allowing just 6 walks in 31 IP to earn Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month honors.
Gabe Johnson was a two-time Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Month winner, earning the honors in May (.314, 8 HR, 20 RBI) and July (.315, 5 HR, 21 RBI)