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

*Picture of Andrew Knizner courtesy of the incomparable @cardinalsgifs. FOLLOW THIS MAN ON TWITTER*

This week was capped by the Fall Stars game; the annual gather of the best and brightest rising stars in the AFL. Otherwise, it was same old same for the Cardinals prospects. 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: 4 Starts, 5.73 ERA, 11 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 8 BB, 10 K, 1.64 WHIP, .244 BA Against

Sandy didn’t make an appearance this week for the first time in preparation for his relief performance on Saturday night during The Fall Stars game. That was kind of a bummer to me because I wanted to see how he’d do after starting twice in one week for the first time last week.

I totally understand why they did it, and giving him that rest did wonders for him. Entering in relief, Alcantara threw 2 scoreless inning while allowing only 2 hits and striking out 2. He also threw 16 of his 22 pitches for strikes and really flashed that fastball/changeup combo that can be electric when he can command both pitches.

Speaking of the changeup, it got a lot of attention earlier in the week when it was named the best changeup in the AFL. It’s pretty damn good when he has command of it, but he’s been frighteningly inconsistent with it up until this point in his career. The continued development of that pitch is needed and is still too far off to call plus.

RHP Jordan Hicks: 7 Appearances, 8.49 ERA, 11.2 IP, 17 H, 11 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 6 BB, 12 K, 1.97 WHIP, .362 BA Against

As we’ve said  countless times, his age and lack of experience makes the AFL a tough assignment for him, but he had a pretty damn good week this week, and that’s worth getting excited about. Hicks made two appearances this week and he threw 3 scoreless innings while only allowing 1 hit, 2 walks, and striking out 4. As Colin and I talked about in our pre-AFL podcast, this is exactly what Hicks needed to do. The struggles were going to be there, but it looks like he’s harnessing his command and making the correct adjustments.

That’s what top pitching prospects do, and that’s what Hicks is doing.

RHP Josh Lucas: 8 Appearances, 5.63 ERA, 8 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 1 BB, 8 K, 1.38 WHIP, .323 BA Against, 1 Save

2 appearances to mixed results this week for Lucas. In his first appearance he let up a 2 run HR and in his second appearance he pitched a relatively clean inning. So, instead of disecting that any further than that, I’m going to stay baseline with Lucas: he’s still only walked one hitter. He’s still striking out a batter an inning. He is definitely letting up too many hits, and there is wayyyyyyy to much air underneath the balls that batters are hitting off of him, but he’s doing exactly what he needs to be doing. I think?

Just, you know, throw that slider more, brother.

RHP Arturo Reyes: 8 Appearances, 5.40 ERA, 10 IP, 13 H, 6 ER, 0 HR Allowed, 1 BB, 9 K, 1.40 WHIP, 3.25 BA Against, 1 Save

Same story with Arturo that it was with Lucas: Two appearances. Shelled in the first appearances to the tune of 2 ER(however, he didn’t let up a HR), and quick and efficient in his second appearance. One thing that I definitely love about his AFL showing so far is that he hasn’t allowed a HR yet.

That second appearance was extra important for Reyes because he had allowed earned runs in his prior three appearances. It’s nice to see him on the clean side of the sheet again after struggling. He got off to such a great start and it’s nice to see him back to those ways, even if for just one appearance.

POSITION PLAYERS

C/1B Andrew Knizner: 13 Games, 51 AB, 18 H, 2 Doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 BB, 10 SO, 353/400/569/969

It was nice to see Knizner get a little time behind the plate during the Fall Stars Game, even if it was only for a third of the game. I have so many thoughts about Knizner as a catcher and Knizner as a first baseman that there’s no way that I can fit it into this little space, so expect something soon. I will say this, even with the groundball out during his AB in the Fall Stars Game, you can see the shortness and quickness of his swing. I’m willing to bet everything that his bat will play in the majors. He started the week out by going 3-3 with three singles and that’s pretty much what you can expect in one degree or the other from Knizner.

I’d love to see a little bit more power, but only because I’m selfish and dumb. He did hit a bomb this week and he has a hit in all but one of the AFL games he’s played in, so shut up, Kyle.

CF Oscar Mercado: 15 Games, 58 AB, 15 H, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 10 BB, 11 SO, 4 SB, 0 CS, 259/362/310/673

Although he was a part of the Fall Stars roster, Mercado did not appear in the game. And, yes, I was heartbroken by that.

It’s a shame, too, because Mercado made news this week when Baseball America proclaimed that he was a better outfielder than Magneuris Sierra(I love BA, but I politely disagree).

As the walks indicate, he has really been working on his understanding of the strike zone in Arizona. I love to see that he is having success with it, too. Sure, he isn’t doing much slugging, but that fine. He has it in him and everyone knows it. The four stolen bases in four attempts is a thing of beauty, too. He led the Texas League in SB during the 2017 season with 38, but he was thrown out 18 times and it’s really nice to see him working on his SB efficiency. If he isn’t traded by November 20th then he will most certainly be added to the 40 man roster.

SS/3B/2B Edmundo Sosa: 12 Games, 41 AB, 12 H, 0 Doubles, 1 Triple, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 9 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS, 293/326/341/667

a 2-4 game on Friday night really helped Sosa’s slashline this week. With his defense being the way that it can be (really really really good at multiple infield positions) a slash of 293/326 is perfectly acceptable, until you realize that he still hasn’t taken a walk and his OBP is aided by the two times that he’s been hit by a pitch.

With two weeks left in the AFL season, all that I want from Sosa is for him to take a few walks. I’d love to see him average one walk per game from here on out. Hell, scrap all of that. Let’s start with one walk and work from there.

1B/LF/DH John Nogowski:

.I’m sure that it hasn’t been the most ideal situation for Nogowski this fall, but he’s done well enough with his time there. A surprise member of the club and the Taxi Squad representative, Nogowski hasn’t played much. That shouldn’t detract from just how wonderful his story is, coming from Indy ball after being released by the A’s and finding his way into the Arizona Fall League.

The 2017 season from Nogowski has been impressive and an inspiring story of perseverance. This organizational depth piece is very impressive young man.

OTHER LEAGUES

****** Normally I’d discuss a pitcher here, but the only pitcher worth talking about is Mike Mayers and nobody wants to talk about him so it’s a hard pass this week. Just know that Mayers is pitching lights out, I mean DOMINANT, in the Dominican Republic

.

OF Randy Arozarena: 19 Games, 82 AB, 23 H, 4 Doubles, 1 Triple, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 19 SO, 3 SB, 2 CS, 280/322/463/785

If you’ll remember from last week’s roundup, Randy had a very tough week at the plate last week. Well, he was given a small break and now he’s back on track. He’s 6 for his last 15 since the little respite with a HR, a double, and a SB. He’s also back to playing LF after playing mostly CF in Mexico, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s made marked improvements at the plate while playing LF.

I’ve said it 100,000 times, but I am bullish on Randy.

Thanks to the great @cardinalsgifs for the great picture of Andrew Knizner 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

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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