What follows is The Redbird Daily’s selection for The Cardinals’ April players of the month award. Each month we will give you one position player and one pitcher that had the most productive month in the organization.
Here are our winners for the month of MAY.
Hitter Of The Month – Andy Young: Peoria – Infielder, Age 23
May 2017 Stats: 95 AB, 6 Doubles, 1 Triple, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 9 BB, 22 SO, 4 SB, 56 Total Bases, 280/381/589/970
In all honesty, this award should probably belong to Paul DeJong. However, his late-May addition to the Cardinals 25 man roster put him just short statistically of Andy Young’s full month in the minors.
The first thing that I want you to notice from the stats above is that the 5’11, 200-pounder has serious pop. It’s tough to hit 7 HR over a single month in the Midwest League.
The second thing that I want you to notice is that I’ve listed Young as an “infielder”. That’s because he is truly a utility player. He’s played SS, 2B, 3B, RF, and LF since being drafted. He’s become the heartbeat of a poor Peoria lineup that has been stagnant for most of the season.
Speaking of the draft, Young is another late round draft find of the Mozeliak era. Young was taken in the 37th Round of the 2016 draft out of Indiana State. He spent his Junior and Senior seasons there after spending his first two years at a Junior College. He was a consistent middle of the order threat for the Sycamores, but he never profiled as a plus defender at any position and he K’ed too much for his own good.
Well, Young has worked hard to turn both of those characteristics around. He’s done a great job of improving as a defender at multiple positions. He’s striking out about 25% of the time, which is still too high, but he’s taking good at-bats and you can see that he’s progressed as a hitter.
Over the years the Cardinals have had some success developing decent utility middle infielders to supplement the major league club. Guys like Greg Garcia and Daniel Descalso come to mind immediately. However, they’ve never had a major league level bench bat that brings the lumber the way that Young brings it. Now you just hope he doesn’t follow the same career path as Jacob Wilson…
Pitcher Of The Month – Matt Pearce: Springfield – RHP, Age 23
May 2017 Stats: 5 Starts, 5-0, 39 IP, 0.69 ERA, 3 ER, 4 BB, 28 K, .194 AVG Against, 2 HR Allowed
It was a tough month to pick the best pitcher. The organization saw dynamic pitching performances from Zac Gallen, Jack Flaherty, Marco Gonzales, and Luke Weaver, among others. Yet no one was more impressive than Matt Pearce.
Matt Pearce wins the Pitcher Of The Month for May for so many impressive reasons that it’s almost comical. Aside from the stats that we’ve already provided for you, here are just a few isolated reasons why he is worthy:
- He finished the month by throwing two straight complete games, one of which was a shut out.
- All five of his starts were quality starts.
- He never allowed more than 1 ER in any of his 5 starts.
- He threw 72% of his pitches for strikes.
- He held batters to an OPS of an incredible .494
There are plenty of flashier pitching prospects in the organization (hell, there are four flashier in his own rotation), but there are few that have been as successful at controlling the strike zone in the minor leagues since the Cardinals drafted Pearce in the 13th Round of the 2014 draft.
Pearce led the organization with 4 complete games in 2016 and he accomplishes that by being extremely efficient. He doesn’t have the stuff to blow you away, but he paints the corners and works low as well as any pitcher in the minors for the Cardinals. His fastball lives around the 90 MPH mark and he does a great job locating his slider/change/curve off-speed combo.
PREVIOUS MONTHS AWARD WINNERS:
Thanks for reading!