Every Friday (and some Saturday’s when I’m too busy to get it out on Friday) until the end of the minor league season we will present you with the awards for the past weeks top pitcher and position player at each affiliate. We will include a capsule at the end of each list on an under the radar performer that has had a very good week. The stats will run from Friday through Thursday. The stats are a reflection of that weeks success.
WEEK 16 (July 21st – July 27th)
MEMPHIS (68-35) 1st Place, 19.5 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Patrick Wisdom: 3B, Age 26 – 18 AB, 4 H, 1 Double, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 6 SO, 222/364/611/975
Patrick Wisdom must be lonely.
All of his teammates from Memphis’ opening night roster, aside from that Breyvic Valera, are either in the majors (See, also; 50+ % of the current Cardinals roster) or received a demotion(looking at you Anthony Garcia). So, I guess it’s up to Wisdom to bring it home strong and represent for his former teammates.
Now, his numbers from this week aren’t the best, but they are the most “Patrick Wisdom” as they can be, and that’s why I’ve selected him this week. What’s listed above is Patrick Wisdom. There’s going to be a lot of strike outs. A lot of swing and miss. Some real power. He might be able to hit 20+ HR over the course of a major league season, but think of him as a poor man’s Randal Grichuk at the plate.
Wisdom’s week extends past the stat line. He walked the game off with a double in the 13th inning for Memphis on Wednesday night. That’s pretty good. Also, Wisdom was responsible for two of the best web gems at 3rd base that you’ll see in the minors this season.
There are many people that think Wisdom will be in the majors in the near future. While his power has really spiked this month and his defense is major league caliber, Wisdom still has a lot of work to do. That being said, his power and defense off the bench, if he can be effective in that role, would be another huge boost to the major league lineup.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jack Flaherty: RHP, Age 21 – 2 Starts, 1-0, 11.1 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, .195 BA Against, .445 OPS Against. Game Scores of 74 & 55
Flaherty is 21, he’s at Triple-A, and he’s about as close to ready for the majors as you could expect. He’s gone from being interesting, to surging, to on the cusp in under four months and that’s damn exciting.
As you know, Flaherty dominated Springfield and earned himself a promotion to Memphis at the onset of June. He got off to a tough start, and over his first 5 starts, all in June, he had an ERA of 4.33 while walking 10 and allowing 6 HR in 27 innings pitched. The PCL is tough on pitchers, especially young and inexperienced pitchers, and it was starting to look like Flaherty was amidst a rude introduction to the highest level in the minors.
The struggles only lasted through June. In four July starts over 19.2 IP, Flaherty has K’ed 18, walked 5, allowed only 1 HR, while only being touched for an ERA of 1.37. The batting average against of .236 over those four starts, paired with the 1 HR against also tells you that he’s figured things out and that he’s done it in a hasty manor.
With Luke Weaver subbing-in for Adam Wainwright who is on the DL and no other clear option for a Lance Lynn replacement in the Cardinals rotation if Lynn gets traded, all signs point to a MLB debut for Flaherty in the very near future.
Springfield (57-47, 22-12 In 2nd Half) 1st Place, 2 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Tommy Edman: SS, Age 22 – 23 AB, 10 H, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB, 435/440/522/962
It was a close week between the gentleman who placed on the list last week, Darren Seferina, and Tommy Edman, but I’m going to give the nod to Edman because his success this week is more impressive to me.
First, Edman had really struggled at Springfield up until about July 8th. He started the season at Peoria, was promoted to Palm Beach(which is where he should have stayed for his development), but received another promotion to Double-A just 19 games later because Springfield needed a SS after they had to place Edmundo Sosa on the DL. He wasn’t nearly ready for that jump and it was kind of unfair to him to have him playing at that level. However, Edman kept grinding away in the batter box and playing great defense at short. And he battled. Battled and battled and battled.
And now it’s paying off.
Edman is better at short than he was when he was drafted in 2016. His range is above average and his arm is strong. Aside from his SS prowess, Edman has been damn good in the box since July 8th to the tune of a slash line of 305/344/390/734 with 1 HR, 2 Doubles, 4 BB, and 4 SO in 59 AB. He isn’t doing much slugging, but he is K-ing and BB-ing equally and his hits are falling in, showing off his above average contact tool. Edman nearly went the entire week without striking out but was K’ed twice on Thursday night. That’s a developing bat.
To see Edman having success at Springfield is a total surprise to me. I love to see it. Keep a close eye on this young man. He has the defensive skills to make a major league impact and we are starting to see that he has the adjustment skill at the plate that you want out of a prospect.
Pitcher Of The Week – Sandy Alcantara: RHP, Age 21 – 1 Start, 1-0, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Game Score of 73
Dakota Hudson also had a great start this week, but Alcantara was a wee bit better. More importantly, I wanted to talk about Alcantara more. That’s how I roll.
This was a great start for Sandy. As a matter of inarguable-fact, it was the best start of his 2017 season. However, even in this successful start, there is still so much to be concerned about in regards to Alcantara. First, he still isn’t striking anyone out. I’d feel a lot better about him if he was striking out a ton of players and struggling, but he’s struggling while not striking guys out. That’s no bueno for me from a guy that should be striking guys out. Second, while this was his best start, it wasn’t exactly his best start at the end of a trend of good starts. Hopefully this is the catalyst for success, but the odds are that this start is more of the outlier than the new standard.
The last month of Alcantara’s season is going to be fascinating to watch. It’s crunch time, and we need to see what he’s capable of now that he’s Double-A seasoned and most of the top talent from the lower level of the minor leagues has probably made it’s way to the Double-A level by now. He has to make the most of August.
PALM BEACH (56-44, 16-17 In 2nd Half) Last Place, 6 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Shane Billings: OF, Age 22 – 29 AB, 9 H, 1 Double, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, 310/310/345/655
Shane Billings is a slap hitting outfielder. He’s as close to Jon Jay as you’ll find in the minors. All he does is make contact and hammer the ball around. He does this while playing adequate defense at all three outfield positions.
Billings is a smart baseball player. He isn’t super fast, but he’s successful stolen 16 bases on 21 attempts, and I think that gives you the best idea of what this kid is capable of. He has the mind for the game. Billings showed a little power in college, but, so far, that part of his game hasn’t even remotely showed up, as he’s only hit 1 home run in 480+ minor league at bats.
If Billings can find some power he’ll be a prospect worth following. His week wasn’t exactly stellar, but I can’t write about Danny Diekroeger and Blake Drake anymore, and the rest of the Palm Beach offense is stuck in the mud, so you get a little ditty on Billings.
Pray for a Andy Young offensive surge this week.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jordan Hicks(Pictured): RHP, Age 20 – 1 Start, 0-0, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 74
Let the record show that this award would have gone to Junior Fernandez if he would have lasted longer than 1 inning in his start on Wednesday night. He pitched a glorious 8 inning affair earlier in the week that yielded a 70+ game score, and it might have been the best start in the system this week. However, he was pulled after one inning of his Wednesday night start with a shoulder related injury and that was enough for me to deny him an “award winning” week.
Instead, we go with the big riser on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospect list. Hicks has a big fastball/curveball mix that is really starting to get him noticed nationally. The curve has plus potential, but is “just” above average right now. The fastball dials up to the high 90’s and he is a monster to deal with when he has a feel for both pitches, which happened this week.
Hicks is the pitching prospect in the Cardinals system that you are most likely to hear a shocking-amount about this off season. He’s damn good and the success he’s had at Palm Beach so far is a sign of the maturity that he gained while anchoring the Peoria staff earlier in the year. This is a budding 1/2 SP. He’s going to be a delight to watch.
Peoria (50-52, 20-13 In 2nd Half) 2nd Place, 1 Game Back
Hitter Of The Week – Danny Hudzina(Pictured): 3B, Age 23- 24 AB, 11 H, 3 Doubles, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO, 458/440/833/1.273
I can’t tell you how surprised I am that this is the first chance that I’ve had to talk about Hudzina. He’s a really interesting kid, and he might be one of the fringe-type prospects that you should keep an eye on.
First, Hudzina has mostly played 3B, but he isn’t the best over there. When you his 3B struggles with his size (5’11-ish and about 190) and you probably have a player best suited for 2B.
Hudzina is the perfect Cardinals prospect, even if he isn’t exactly a “prospect”. He’s a patient hitter who rarely K’s. He is capable of hitting a good amount of HR. Think around the 15-20 mark. There is more walk ability in his bat, but he hasn’t exactly harnessed that so far in the minors.
I’m a big fan of Hudzina and I’m anxious to see where his minor league career takes him. He’s a wee bit too old for the Midwest League, but there is a skill set there that translates to the upper levels.
I love it when a prospect ends his week with a higher batting average than OBP. Baseball, ya know?!
Pitcher Of The Week – Austin Warner: RHP, Age 23 – 1 Start, 1-0, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Game Score of 70
WHO IN THE HELL IS AUSTIN WARNER?!?!?!
I mean this. Who is this kid? I honestly didn’t have any idea he existed until this start.
Well Cardinals fans, I’ve got some good news. You’re going to love This kid for so many different reason that it might actually make you hate him.
First, Warner went undrafted in the 2016 draft. Then he went on to pitch the rest of the 2016 season for the RIVER CITY RASCALS of the Indy League. That’s in O’Fallon, Missouri, and if you aren”t laughing to yourself yet then your missing an opportunity to do so. He stated the 2017 season with the Rascals and was a K per Inning guy while there. However, the mid-levels (Mostly Peoria) needed pitching help so the Cardinals went to the Indy league to get Warner.
And he’s been good for them.
I’m the blunt type, so please understand that I don’t mean to crush you on this kid immediately. More than likely, he’ll fade into oblivion before you ever hear his name again. Or, at the very most, he might develop into a minor league bullpen role. That should not take away from the fact that it’s awesome to see a local kid who once played in Indy ball getting a chance with the organization. Sometimes, that’s all that you need.
**SHORT SEASON PITCHER AND PLAYER OF THE WEEK**
*Writer’s Note* – With the short season clubs in full swing, I’ll be highlighting one pitcher and one hitter over the four short season affiliates that I believe is worth mentioning. It won’t always be the best player out of those affiliates for the week. I’m not doing it level by level because these kids are FAR away from the majors. They deserve to be looked upon with a little bit of distance.
Short Season Player – Wadye Ynfante, Johnson City: OF, Age 19 – 25 AB, 8 H, 2 Doubles, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 6 SO, 2 SB, 400/444/840/1.284
This might seem like a weird spot to bring this up, but I am a noted doubter of Cardinals prospect Jonatan Machado. He’s been good for the GCL affiliate. No doubt there. However, I won’t be a believer until he’s at Johnson City and he starts doing what Ynfante is doing there.
Ynfante might not be a familiar prospect to you, but it might be time to familiarize yourself. What’s going to hurt him is that his hitting skill set is best suited for CF, but he doesn’t have the skill to play in CF.
Ynfante is still trying to get a feel for what kind of hitter he wants to be. He has the potential to bring a little pop, as the unexpected 6 HR this season illustrates. He’s shown the ability to be an OBP monster before, but he’s really aggressive at the plate and that contradicts his OBP potential. That aggressiveness has also gotten him into trouble this season, as he’s striking out more than he needs to be.
Short Season Pitcher – Daniel Castano, State College: LHP, Age 22. Season stats – 7 Starts, 6-1, 49 H, 13 ER, 5 BB, 46 K, BA Against of .282, OPS Against of .687.
Castano is an interesting prospect and he might be the pitcher not named Oviedo or Seijas at the short season level most-worth keeping an eye on.
The 6’4, big bodied lefty is an imposing figure on the mound. He throws a cutter and a curveball, and both have flashed signs of being average so far in the young State College season. His velocity was sitting low 90’s when he was drafted, but it has since since a little bit on an increase. It’s hitting 93 regularly while touching 94/95.
Castano is a 2016 19th round pick of Baylor, and I can’t help but be intrigued by a large, big-conference collegiate lefty. I’m going to try and not over react to his early season success, but there is reason to be optimistic, even if he is way too old for the level he’s pitching at.
Castano had a rough start this week, but his season has been really good so far. That’s especially encouraging after he had a rough 2016 season.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
No Prospect Awards For Week 13
Thanks for reading!