Once a week for the last 22 or so weeks I have compiled a list of the top performers at each of the full season clubs in the Cardinals minor league system. I highlighted one pitcher and one hitter at each of the four full-season levels (Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, and Peoria) in an effort to give context to the type of season that a player was having within the organization but on a smaller scale. This is the wrap up
The other benefit to highlighting players on a weekly basis is that it gave me a chance to talk about some of the unsung heroes in the minor league system; some of the players that you might not otherwise hear or know about as the tough grind of minor league baseball from year to year takes them out of the game in the blink of an eye.
Scroll down to the bottom of this article for links to the prior 20 weeks-worth of articles that I wrote. It’s fun to go back over some of that stuff. Also, the picture below is the final tally with all of the players that were represented this season.
What I wanted to do here is give a rundown of how the Weekly Awards shook-out now that the minor league regular season is complete. This is more an article of observations and tallies than anything.
First, the two top talliers in the system were RHP Jack Flaherty and RHP Mike O’Reilly. They both placed on the list during 7 of the 19 weeks that I compiled the list. Flaherty, who will most certainly be the organizational pitcher of the year, did this twice with Memphis and five times with Springfield.
O’Reilly, who started the year in extended spring training and wasn’t on the Peoria roster until the last week of April, Placed on the Palm Beach list twice while dominating the Midwest league five different weeks. Peoria had a rough season of starting pitching aside from Jordan Hicks, and O’Reilly really helped to stabilize a SP disaster.
The top tallier so far as hitters go was OF Randy Arozarena, tallying 6 Player of the Weeks awards. He did this three times with Palm Beach, which had easily the weakest offense in the system at every point in the season, and three times as a member of the dynamic Springfield offense. Arozarena is an exciting prospect who really struggled over the first and last month of the season, but was about as good of a hitter as the organization had between May and early August while splitting time at Palm Beach and Springfield.
Overall, 62 different players were award recipients over the 19 week write-ups. 28 different hitters represented their respective affiliates and an incredible 34 different pitchers won a weekly award at least once. That is a very solid amount of variance. Keep in mind that, in total, there were only 76 awards all season handed out for both pitchers and hitters, for a total of 152 awards. That means that a little over 41% of the time a new player was having a remarkable amount of small sample size-success in the Cardinals system.
- It was a rough second half in particular for the Palm Beach offense. Often, I had to scrape to find a player worth the award and I even refused to name a player one week. It turned out to be excitement-void offensively as the season wound down. Crazy yet awesome to see that team win a share of the Florida State League Championship.
- Austin Gomber had a terribly underrated season. He was rocked in his first start of the season, missed nearly a month to a hamstring injury, yet still won pitcher of the week six-different times for Springfield. Even with the promotions to the majors and Triple-A happening around him, the Springfield rotation was really good nearly all season. That enhances the terrific season that he had, to me.
- There were a combined 23 Player Of The Week awards between Luke Voit, Paul DeJong, Harrison Bader, Magneuris Sierra, Jack Flaherty, Marco Gonzales, Carson Kelly, and Luke Weaver(all of the players that made a measurable major league impact for the Cardinals in 2017)
- 11 different players won the award at multiple levels after promotions. Anthony Garcia is the only player to win an award at a second level after a demotion
- Catcher Andrew Knizner and SS Tommy Edman were two of the eleven players mentioned above, but they’re the only two players on the list to do it while being promoted over two levels. Knizner skipped Palm Beach but won the award for Peoria and Springfield.
- And speaking of Tommy Edman, he is the only player to win the award for three different levels. He won the award over one of the three weeks that he was in Palm Beach between winning the award for both Peoria and Springfield
- 36 of the 62 players that compose this list finished the season at Double-A or higher
- There are only two players that won a Player of The Week award that are no longer with the organization: Danny Diekroeger & Marco Gonzales. Gonzales was traded for Tyler O’Neill(who won the award once for Memphis) and Danny Diekroeger, who won the award twice for Palm Beach, was released in August.
It turned out to be a very good year for the Cardinals minor league system. The top six teams in the organization(Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, Peoria, State College, and Johnson City) went a combined 384-312 over the regular season. The only two of those six teams with losing records was Palm Beach (69-70) and Johnson City(33-34) and both of those teams only finished 1 game under .500. Made even better, Palm Beach, anchored by a strong first half that got them into the playoffs, won a share of the Florida State League playoffs. Both Memphis and Peoria are also in the playoffs, while Memphis broke their franchise wins record while going 91-50.
It truly was a great season! But what are some of the things that you took away from the 2017 minor league season? Let us know! More importantly, thank you for being on this season long trip through the minor league system with me! I really appreciate it and I am looking forward to keeping you apprised to the off-season goings-on!
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
No Prospect Awards For Week 13
Thanks for reading!