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St. Louis Cardinals: Recapping Week Five Of The Arizona Fall League

*Picture of Edmundo Sosa and Sandy Alcantara comes courtesy of the incomparable @cardinalsgifs. FOLLOW THIS MAN ON TWITTER*

This week belongs to a beautiful Friday start from Sandy Alcantara. Every week I’m going to try to update you on how everyone is doing in the AFL, along with how a few others are doing in some of the other offseason leagues.

If you’d like to see the complete breakdown of Cardinals stats during the Fall/Winter, you can follow THIS LINK HERE.

It’s November, the Cardinals aren’t in the playoffs, yet there are still plenty of reasons to keep on an eye on future Cardinals Players.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

PITCHERS

RHP Sandy Alcantara: 5 Starts, 4.20 ERA, 15 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 8 BB, 14 K, 1.27 WHIP, .208 BA Against

It turned out to be a beautiful Friday night start for Alcantara. He didn’t just pitch well, he dominated his start for what might have been one of his finest outing of the 2017 calendar year, never mind the AFL. He threw strikes (34 of his 57 pitches were strikes, which is solid for him). He K’ed 4 while pitching four fast-paced and efficient innings. He only allowed 1 hit. He got ahead early in counts. AND. HE. DIDN’T. WALK. ANYONE (he did hit a guy, but who cares).

Aside from the one bad inning during his last start a couple of weeks ago, he’s been pretty good over his last four starts and that doesn’t included his solid showing last week in the Fall Star’s Game. In the last week he’s been on the superlative tour. His changeup was named the best in the AFL and, while scouts aren’t afraid to point out that he might not know where his arsenal is going, many scouts are saying he has the best stuff in the AFL.

 

RHP Jordan Hicks: 8 Appearances, 7.82 ERA, 12.2 IP, 18 H, 11 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 6 BB, 14 K, 1.89 WHIP, .353 BA Against

Jordan Hicks is officially cooking and I, for one, am really excited about this development.

We knew that he was going to struggle. The AFL is a tough league for someone so inexperienced. We knew his stuff was good but with some command questions. We hoped that he’d finish strong and make the adjustments.

Our hopes have been fulfilled.

With one week left in the AFL Hicks is putting it all together and letting his nastiness speak for itself. He’s issued some walks, 2 over his last 4 innings, but he’s only allowed 2 hits over those 4 IP while striking out six. He’s thrown 40 of his 61 pitches over those last 4 IP for strikes and it’s been said that he’s starting to rely on his dynamite curveball more. The good news about that curveball is that it’s been known to be thrown with less spin than it needs but appears to spin appropriately when he’s throwing it more often.

It appears that Hicks is poised for a great finish.

 

RHP Josh Lucas: 10 Appearances, 5.40 ERA, 10 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 3 BB, 10 K, 1.40 WHIP, .289 BA Against, 1 Save

Lucas entered the 9th inning of a 10-10 on Saturday night and gave up the lead. He did it while allowing very little, a hit and a walk, and he didn’t strike out anyone.

And this is essentially what the AFL has shown us about Lucas.

He’s still striking out a hitter per inning, but he’s walked a hitter in two straight games and it appears that he/they can’t decide to commit to throwing the slider as much as he needs to. He’s given up some leads over his 10 AFL appearances and it looks like his spot on the 40 man roster is getting shakier and shakier.

 

RHP Arturo Reyes: 10 Appearances, 6.23 ERA, 13 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 1 HR Allowed, 2 BB, 12 K, 1.54 WHIP, .340 BA Against, 1 Save

The step backwards for Arturo Reyes and simultaneous step forward of Jordan Hicks is a lesson on prospects that needs to be told and one that I hope I can find the chance to tell you more about in the near future.

I’m a noted fan of Reyes, but the fact that this command/control righty has allowed runs in 5 of his last 6 appearances and multiple runs in 3 of those outings is alarming. He also allowed his first HR of the AFL season this week. Reyes is showing serious signs of fatigue and this is probably the worst time for a player of his type on the prospect scale to struggle. He started the AFL so strong and now he has one week to end it in the same manner.

POSITION PLAYERS

C/1B Andrew Knizner: 16 Games, 63 AB, 21 H, 3 Doubles, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 4 BB, 11 SO, 333/382/524/906

I love hearing the words “battery mate, Andrew Knizner“, and we got to hear plenty of that after Alcantara’s Friday night start.

Knizner is still splitting time between catching and playing first, but he’s starting to get some of his past critics in regards to his ability to catch to change their tune. For instance, Eric Longenhagen, Fangraph’s prospect guy. The question followed by the answer:

Longenhagen is an important critic because of perception. He usually gets poor information about prospects that he hasn’t seen but, because he’s a part of Fangraphs, his word is often taken as gospel.

Welcome aboard Eric(also, feel free to spend some time watching Cardinals prospects because you barely ever know what’s up).

Knizner is legit. Get used to it.

 

CF Oscar Mercado: 19 Games, 74 AB, 19 H, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 13 BB, 16 SO, 6 SB, 0 CS, 257/364/297/661. 3 HBP

Oscar Mercado had a poor week at the plate. No doubt about that. He’ll enter the last week of the AFL season on a 4-16 slump and he’s struck out 5 times over his last 12 at bats. He had a rough Saturday night all around. He went 1-5 with 2 strikeouts and he even sent his fellow outfielder and Twins prospect LaMonte Wade to the hospital with a concussion after colliding with him in the outfield.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Mercado. He stole another base on Saturday and he is now a perfect 6-6 in stolen base attempts. He also added 3 more walks this week and the 13 walks to 16 strikeouts is encouraging, too, for a prospect that many view as having a pitch recognition issue.

In his last week in Arizona it’s time for him to pump up the slugging. He’s proven he can walk, now it’s time to prove he can rake.

 

SS/3B/2B Edmundo Sosa: 15 Games, 50 AB, 15 H, 0 Doubles, 1 Triple, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 10 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS, 300/364/340/704

In last week’s report I stated that it was time for Sosa to step up and take a walk or three because he hadn’t done that yet in Arizona.

Well, with three walks this week Sosa has done everything that I’ve asked. Thank you, Mr. Sosa.

This was a great week for Sosa. He got his batting average up to .300, his OBP up to .364, and he only struck out once. He did all of this while starting three games at a different position in each of those games. That’s a lot of successful versatility for the defense-first infielder and member of the 40 man roster. As we’ve mentioned, Sosa missed a huge chunk of the 2017 season and it appears that he is making up for lost time, just like he needed to. More of this, please.

 

1B/LF/DH John Nogowski: 7 Games, 24 AB, 6 H, 4 Doubles, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 250/333/417/750

Nogowski only received one start this week but it was another start with another double. He’s only played in 7 AFL games but he has doubles in 4 of them and that’s a great thing to see. Unfortunately, that’s all that there is to say about Nogowski. He DH’ed in his one start and he walked, struck out, and drove in a run. That’s probably as good as you can do with such little exposure.

OTHER LEAGUES

LHP Fabian Blanco: 5 Appearances, 0.00 ERA, 2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 HR Allowed, 1 BB, 2 K, 1.71 WHIP, .300 BA Against

If there is one thing you need to know about me it’s that I am an activist for the left-handed. I am a champion of my people and the years of oppression have gone unnoticed for too long! Revolt thine south-paws!

Now that the nonsense is out of the way, let’s talk about how great the name “Fabian Blanco” is. It’s legit. I want this kid to make it to the majors just to hear Mike Shannon says his name.

The 19 year old relief pitcher showed well in Johnson City this season and, so far, has shown the correct amount of success for his age and level. Blanco is almost certainly a LOOGY and baseball is moving further and further away from LOOGY’s, but so far Blanco has been a very good one. He’s struck out 120 in 99 minor league innings pitched and, although he’s pitched limited innings in the Venezuelan League, his fall is proving those numbers accurate.

 

OF Randy Arozarena: 25 Games, 113 AB, 35 H, 11 Doubles, 1 Triple, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 4 BB, 26 SO, 3 SB, 2 CS, 310/350/558/901

I’d like to refer to what Randy has done since the little break October 30th and November 1st as “Randy, finna do Randy”.

Arozarena is 18 for his last 46 since November 2nd with 8 doubles, 2 HR and 12 RBI. That’s good for a slash line of 391/404/696/1.100 which is so damn impressive. Now he just has to keep it up. Maybe add a walk or two.

I believe he will keep it up. Take notice; he’s adding power to his game. The Mexican League isn’t the best way to evaluate if that power will transfer over to the U.S game, but it’s a great sign nonetheless.

 

Thanks to the great @cardinalsgifs for the great picture of Edmundo Sosa and Sandy Alcantara above. If you don’t follow @cardinalsgifs on twitter then you are missing out on the best Cardinals account on that social media platform, bar-none!

PREVIOUS RUNDOWNS

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

WEEK 3

WEEK 4

Thanks For Reading!

-Kyle Reis

@kyler416

Kyle Reis

Kyle is a South City St Louis born and raised. He is 30 years old and grew up at old Busch Stadium. His favorite Cardinals player of all time is Ray Lankford.
Kyle is an overly simple person who loves countable baseball statistics, following minor league baseball, and friendly discourse.
He tends to not take people seriously that refer for the team that they root for as “we” instead of “them”.

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