Cardinals leaving mark in professional ranks

<b>2011 draft pick Blake Ford has impressed as the closer for the Tri-City ValleyCats this season.</b>

2011 draft pick Blake Ford has impressed as the closer for the Tri-City ValleyCats this season.

Aug. 20, 2012

With 51 appearances this season with the San Francisco Giants, former Lamar baseball star Clay Hensley has made the most of his first season on the Bay, and he is just one of multiple former Cardinals leaving a stamp across professional baseball.

Hensley, an eighth round draft pick by the Giants in 2002, broke into the majors as a member of Padres organization in 2005, and after spending the previous two seasons with the Marlins, he returned to the Giants last offseason. The move has certainly worked as the righthander boasts of a 3.27 ERA out of the bullpen with a 4-3 record and ranks second on the team in appearances, helping San Francisco in a battle atop the National League’s West Division.

Brian Sanches has also spent a fair amount of time in the majors, playing for the Phillies, Nationals and Marlins. After beginning the season in Philadelphia, he was dealt to the Astros last month, and he’s currently plying his trade for the AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks. The native of nearby Nederland and 1999 second round pick has made 195 appearances in the majors for his career.

Randy Williams had spent the better part of the last five seasons in the majors before making his last appearance last August, but the 36-year old southpaw has continued to play at the professional level this season after signing with the Saitama Seibu Lions of the Japan Pacific League. Williams leads the team with a 1.30 ERA in 33 appearances, all out of the bullpen, striking out 31 batters in just 27.2 innings pitched. A 1997 12th round pick by the Chicago Cubs, Williams made his debut in 2004 with the Mariners before also spending time with the Padres, Rockies, White Sox and Red Sox organizations.

Collin DeLome hopes to be on the verge of breaking through to the majors after spending the last three seasons at the AAA level. He’s currently a member of the Braves-affiliated Gwinnett Braves after beginning the season with the RedHawks. The Beaumont native was a fifth round pick by the Astros in 2007.



Blake Ford and Stephen Tromblee round out the Cardinals in affiliated ball clubs after both were selected in the 2011 draft. Ford, a 44th round pick by the Astros, has played much of the 2012 season with the Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy, N.Y. The Lufkin native carries a 2.59 ERA and leads the team with 23 appearances and 14 saves.

Tromblee was a 35th rounder for the Angels, and he’s currently pitching for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in Iowa. His 41 appearances lead the team and with a 4-3 record he is one of three on the squad to boast of a winning mark. He carries a 4.09 ERA and has struck out 49 batters in 50.2 innings pitched.

There is also a pair of independent leaguers playing, including Derrick Gordon. Originally a 26th rounder by the Oakland A’s, the Beaumont native began this season with the Sugar Land Skeeters before getting dealt to the York Revolution in York, Pa. He’s made five starts for the Revolution, putting together a 3-2 record with a 3.38 ERA.

Matison Smith, a 2010 graduate, is also in independent ball, pitching for the Edinburg Roadrunners in the North American League. He holds a team-best 7-5 record this season over 16 starts and carries a 4.54 ERA.



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