Photo: Allison Rhoades, MiLB.com
Triple-A Memphis: 10-2, 4.0 Game Lead
Memphis is a really, really good Triple-A team, as evidenced by their record. Let’s take a look at their rotation individually, though.
Jack Flaherty went six innings and allowed three runs while striking out five. He didn’t have his best stuff and was still able to turn in a quality start. Dakota Hudson made two starts this week. In the first, he had three strikeouts in three innings, and it looked like he may have turned a corner. Alas, he only notched one more strikeout in that start and four total is his subsequent start, which covered six innings. Strikeouts, not ERA, is the stat to watch for Hudson this season. Austin Gomber goes tonight, and he’s been good but not great, although he pitched into the seventh his last time out. John Gant has turned in three quality starts to start the year, and Daniel Poncedeleon has gone five innings in both his starts and allowed just one run.
Offensively, Oscar Mercado broke out, homering in back to back games and his hitting .341. Speaking of homers, Tyler O’Neill already has six bombs and is still hitting over .400. He’s only taken one walk and struck out ten times, but with that kind of power production, I’m not complaining.
Carson Kelly has not been good to start 2018. He’s hitting .182, but two of his six hits have gone for extra bases and he’s walked as much as he’s struck out. I’m confident Kelly will turn it around, but he’s not forcing a promotion the same way he did last year.
Double-A Springfield: 5-6, 2.0 GB in TL North
After going 1-5 on the first road trip of the season, Springfield has rebounded with a 4-1 homestand, and they lead 3-2 in the 6th inning of their final game of that homestand. Much like the team itself, Darren Seferina has rebounded from a slow start; after starting the season 0-for-23, he’s gone 6-for-14 since then with a homer and two doubles. While you won’t find Seferina on Top 30 lists, he’s quietly one of the most consistent infielders in the Cardinals’ system.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the play of Edmundo Sosa. Springfield manager Johnny Rodriguez urged patience with him, especially since he had wrist surgery that cost him most of his 2017 season. He’s tallied three multi-hit games on the homestand and has shown more pop than expected with a homer and three doubles on the homestand. Andrew Knizner is back to being Andrew Knizner, and his season line of .379/.455/.586 proves it.
Ryan Helsley has had two concerning starts, and he sported an 8.38 ERA entering play on Tuesday. His struggles stemmed from an inability to command the bottom of the zone with his fastball or curveball. Because he was in hitters counts most of the time, hitters were able to sit on his fastball and hammer it. Helsley allowed two runs early in Tuesday’s start (which is still in progress as I’m writing), it appears he made a mechanical adjustment which allowed him to get his fastball down in the zone. He’s retired seven straight as he starts the seventh inning. (Update: Helsley walked the first two before being pulled. Both came around to score, but a Lane Thomas homer put Springfield back in front.)
Conner Greene had a phenomenal home debut; he went six shutout innings and allowed just one hit. He struck out eight, but the biggest positive is that he threw 63% strikes and only walked one after.
High-A Palm Beach: 7-4, 1 GB in FSL South
Ronnie Williams has had a really interesting start to his 2018. After being in the back half of Top 30 lists entering 2017, he was awful. A year later, he’s pitching mostly out of the bullpen and has yet to allow an earned run in 10 1/3 innings. He made a spot start on April 11 and went 3 2/3 shutout innings. All of his outings have been of the multi-inning variety and he’s struck out 24.3 percent of hitters that he’s faced. When he has allowed contact, it’s been weak: opponents are hitting .118 of off him.
Evan Mendoza and Andy Young have been absolutely raking. It was rumored that they were going to start the season with Double-A Springfield, and they’re showing why that was a possibility. One cause for concern with Mendoza: he’s walking in just 2.3 percent of his plate appearances. He’s not striking out very much (14.0 K%), but the lack of walks is becoming a trend in Mendoza’s game. It’s hard to make an adjustment when you’re hitting over .350, as Mendoza has for most his pro career, though.
Palm Beach has several Top 30 position players on its roster, but catcher Jose Godoy is outhitting all of them. The Cardinals signed him way back in 2011, and he’s such a deep sleeper The Cardinal Nation didn’t mention him in their prospect guide, which is as comprehensive as it comes. He’s hitting .421 to lead the Palm Beach club with a 1.003 OPS.
Low-A Peoria Chiefs: 4-5, 3.0 GB in MWL West
Juan Yepez was the return for Matt Adams last season. A lot of people wrote him off because, like Adams, he’s a first baseman. Unlike Adams, he was just 19-years-old with a lot of development ahead of him. Now 20, he’s hitting .500 with a homer, three doubles, and two triples. He was named the Midwest League player of the week. Last year, he looked overwhelmed but not this year. He’s been in complete control of his at-bats and been destroying Midwest League pitching.
Dylan Carlson had a fantastic week. His batting average is .292, which is good but not dominant. He homered and hit five doubles this week and 2018 could be a breakout season for him. You won’t find a bigger fan of Dylan Carlson than me, and if he’s not in Springfield by the end of the season I’d be shocked.
Jake Walsh has been the Chief’s best starter so far. He was dominant in his first start (five shutout innings) and okay in his last start (five innings and three earned runs). I’ve haven’t watched him enough to know for sure, but he looks like a groundball pitcher with limited upside.
Alvaro Seijas had a great start last time out. He went five innings and allowed one earned run while striking out seven. Johan Oviedo, 20, only walked two in 4 2/3 innings, a huge improvement from his first start in which he walked and recorded just one out.
Thanks for reading.