Every Friday until the end of the minor league season we will present you with the awards for the past weeks top pitcher and position player at each affiliate. We will include a capsule at the end of each list on an under the radar performer that has had a very good week. The stats will run from Friday through Thursday. The stats are a reflection of that weeks success.
WEEK 12 (June 23rd – June 29nd)
MEMPHIS (48-31) 1st Place, 10 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Jose Adolis Garcia(Pictured) OF, Age 24 – 17 AB, 7 H, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB(1 IBB) 2 SO, 1 SB, 412/444/588/1.033
PSA: I AM CHEATING AGAIN!
J.A.G spent the first two days of our counting-week in Springfield and the last four games in Memphis, but he’s been so good this week and he’s done it mostly in Memphis and he deserves our adoration!
Garcia is now one step away from the majors and I personally can’t wait to see him. His defense is major league ready, especially his arm.
Garcia wasn’t exactly hammering the ball or dominating Double A, but in 236 AB he slashed 286/342/433/775 with 6 HR and 18 Doubles. With his advanced age and approach, I feel comfortable in predicting that his stat line at Memphis will look similar to this by the end of the season. J.A.G still has a lot of power to tap into and I both hope and can’t wait to see that when it blossoms.
Pitcher Of The Week- Marco Gonzales: LHP, Age 25 – 2 Starts, 2-0, 14 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, .208 BA Against. Game Scores of 67 & 66
Marco has all but dominated the Pacific Coast League since being sent back down after he made a lackluster spot start for the Cardinals a few weeks ago.
I’m going to keep it short with Marco because you know the story: He needs to get better at getting the ball in on righties. He’s probably best suited for the Tyler Lyons role in the pen. He’ll serve the organization best in a trade if there is a team that values him or at least sees him as a potential starter.
This season has already been a tremendous success for 25 year old lefty coming off of Tommy John. I imagine that he’ll have an expanded role of some type with the big league club if he is still around come August.
Springfield (38-39, 3-4 In 2nd Half) 1 Game Back
Hitter Of The Week – Magneuris Sierra: OF, Age 21 – 17 AB, 6 H, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB, 353/421/471/892
Another great week, although shortened by the All-Star break, for Sierra in the Texas League. It’s common. It’s delightful. But it’s not all roses.
On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the rosters for the 2017 Futures Game and to the surprise of many Sierra’s name was left off of the list. There is no rule that prohibits players that have played in the majors from participating in this showcase, which makes his snub even more curious. However, I wanted to bring it up because I think it illustrates what the national perception of Sierra is.
We assume that Sierra is a prime-time prospect because he came to St. Louis and offered excitement to a boring lineup that Cardinals fans haven’t seen in years. But that might not be the case. Sierra has been an extra base hit machine for Springfield, but questions about his bat still linger.
The good part is, none of that national attention stuff matters when you hit the ball that way that Sierra has for Springfield. I firmly believe that Sierra is destined for, at least, a solid role as a fourth OF in the majors. One thing that we know for sure is that Mags can bring the fun and the excitement.
Sierra stole 2 bases on 3 chances this week. We know that he is working on this facet of his game and, because of that, we will be paying extra attention to his success rate for the rest of the year.
Pitcher Of The Week – Austin Gomber(Pictured): LHP, Age 23 – 2 Starts, 0-0, 15.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 16 K, .173 BA Against. Game Scores of 75 & 73
In the immortal words of the play-by-play guy from that Nintendo video game NBA JAMS, “He’s on Fire!!!”
Gomber had a sad start to his season. He struggled early, then he missed a couple of starts after sustaining a groin injury. Things seemed somewhat grim for Gomber in his first start off of the DL when he couldn’t make it through 5 innings and allowed 6 earned runs. However, Gomber has been really good over his last three starts since then.
Gomber is a strong, confident, and imposing figure on the mound with a motion that has enough deception to help his average/above average arsenal play-up. The second half in Springfield could very well belong to Gomber. He’s poised to burst back on the Cardinals prospect scene as other pitchers have passed him up.
I’d like to see Gomber cut down on his walks a little bit, but I don’t want him to do it at the expense of cutting his K Rate down.
PALM BEACH (45-29, 5-2 In 2nd Half) 1st Place, 0.5 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Darren Seferina: 2B, Age 23 – 18 AB, 8 H, 3 Doubles, 1 Triple, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 9 BB(1 IBB), 2 SO, 4 SB, 444/615722/1.338
While his numbers on the season may not be exactly out of this world (he’s slashing 273/351/388/739), Seferina has had a very good bounce back season for Palm Beach.
I absolutely adore the week that Seferina had. Nine walks in one week is beyond incredible, but when you factor in that Seferina is the Palm Beach leadoff hitter you should get even more excited. I know that a lot has been made about Magneuris Sierra‘s “80 grade speed”. I don’t agree that Sierra’s speed is that elite, but I do grade it out at 70-75. To me, and I’ve written this a bunch now, Seferina has the most speed in the organization. He’s as close to an 80 grade as I’m willing to give out for speed.
Seferina offers above average defense at second and an interesting yet undefined profile at the plate. Seferina has 8 triples on the season as compared to 9 doubles thanks in large part to his speed. He doesn’t have anything that resembles home run power and he has struck out way more this season than his career average was tracking as he entered the season.
Aside from the strike outs, Seferina’s numbers have leveled out after a terrible 2016 season that was hampered by injuries. If he can keep his defense in line and increase his base stealing acumen then you might be looking at a player worth keeping a close eye on. I know that I hope he gets a promotion to Springfield by the end of the season.
Pitcher Of The Week – Derian Gonzalez: RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 1-0 , 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Game Score of 54
Well, the pickings for Palm Beach were slim this week. I couldn’t get myself to go with Junior Fernandez because he let up a HR to Tim Tebow and it doesn’t matter how good of a start you have when you give up a HR to Tim Tebow.
I couldn’t give it Ryan Helsley because, although he did go 6.2 innings, he didn’t strike out a batter in a start that featured Tim Tebow in the lineup. If you can’t get at least one strike out against a lineup that has Tim Tebow in it then that’s probably an indication that you didn’t have your best stuff.
So here we are. Just you, me, Tim Tebow, and Derian Gonzalez.
All kidding aside, I’m a fan of the 6’3 200 lb Gonzalez. He has a good repertoire, average command, and a frame that could still stand to fill out a little bit. He is projectable because of his size and there is reason to believe that he is only going to get better from here.
But I’ll tell you what I like most about Gonzalez: he steps up when needed. He started one game of three different double headers this season and he has pitched 19.1 of a possible 21 innings in those starts, as minor league double headers go seven innings. That’s a fighter. That’s a guy who rears back and does whatever he needs to for the betterment of the team.
Peoria (35-42, 5-3 In 2nd Half) t2nd Place, 1 Game Back
Hitter Of The Week – Ryan McCarvel: 1B/C, Age 22 – 18 AB, 5 H, 3 Doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB. 7 SO, 278/348/611/959
McCarvel is a power-first hitter that is more of a first baseman than he is a catcher. Still, it’s nice to see that little bit of versatility in his game.
When I say power first in the context of McCarvel, I mean that he can hit absolute bombs. He has massive power when he squares up a pitch. Of course, like with many players with that type of power, he doesn’t square the pitch up enough. I would also ask that you understand that when I label McCarvel a power-first prospect that I don’t mean to distract from the contact tool that McCarvel has shown in the past. He is striking out way more this season than he has in his previous two years in the organization, but he has also increased his slugging production. He has already passed his career high in doubles and he is hitting HR at a better pace than he ever has.
It seems that McCarvel has recognized that his best chance of ever making the majors is to embrace the power that he possesses. He’s outside of the top 30-40 prospects in the system, but he could easily sneak his way in if he can refine his defense at 1st, stay at 1st, and continue his powerful ways.
Shout out to Danny Hudzinga here, as well. The Peoria 3rd baseman has been very good since being recalled a week ago.
Pitcher Of The Week – Mike O’Reilly: RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 1-0, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Game Score of 66
This has to be boring for O’Reilly. Since being added to the Peoria roster from extended spring training on April 22nd he’s been nothing short of brilliant. He’s thrown a complete game shut out. He’s taken a no-hitter into the 9th. He’s held hitters to a batting average against of .185, which would be considered “dominant” but, quite honestly, that doesn’t begin to explain how good he’s been.
Truth is, Mike is way too advanced for the likes of the Midwest League and he is certainly ticketed for the next promotion that becomes available. I say it every time that I write about him, but I don’t have any idea what the future has in store for him. He’s struck out 49 over 56.2 innings and only walked 9 batters, but his stuff is playing way up as he capitalizes on overly aggressive, less mature hitters. My reaction is to anticipate a steep drop at the next level, but I’m not ready to sell off this over-achiever just yet.
**SHORT SEASON PITCHER AND PLAYER OF THE WEEK**
*Writer’s Note* – With the short season clubs firing up, I’ll highlight one pitcher and one hitter over the three short season affiliates that I believe had the best week. I’m not doing it level by level because these kids are FAR away from the majors. They deserve to be treated with a little bit more distance.
Player Of The Week – Dennis Ortega, State College: C, Age 20 – 24 AB, 8 H, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO, 333/333/417/750
In my opinion, Ortega is one season away from taking Cardinals Nation by storm. He is a true catcher with gap power. He still has a lot of development to do, of course, but the 6’2 185 lb back-stop is a maniac behind the plate. Scouts rave about him. Coaches rave about him. Mom’s love him, too, I’m guessing.
His development at the dish is totally dependent on how he learns to take at-bats. In the past, he has shown that he can get on base and take walks, but right now he is being ultra-aggressive to the detriment of so some of his AB’s. The good news is, he isn’t striking out. I’ll take striking the ball, not walking, and not striking out over nearly any possible combination of the three other than the obvious.
But Ortega isn’t here just because of his offense. So far, he’s caught all three base runners that have tried to steal on him. What’s even more fun, he’s picked off two guys at 2nd while throwing behind them after receiving the pitch. He’s actually done it three times but, you, know, umpires…
Ortega was just on the outside of our top 30 list to start the season. I’m doing everything I can to not put him on my mid-season list, but he’s forced the issue.
Pitcher Of The Week – Johan Oviedo: RHP, Age 19 – 1 Start, 1-0, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Game Score of 70
I love Johan Oviedo. Aside from Ryan Helsley, he’s probably my favorite pitching prospect in the organization. He has an advanced arsenal of pitches with good command and a fastball that lives in the 93 MPH area but will dial up to 95+. His 6’6 frame is almost laughable and his arm angle and mechanics are the things that a hitters nightmares are built upon.
Oviedo was a July 2nd (J2) International signing. He signed for somewhere around $1.8 Million and that total is comical at this point. It was a tremendous deal. It won’t take Oviedo long to work his way up the ladder. I wouldn’t be surprised if Oviedo finds his way to Peoria or State College by the end of the season, especially if one of those clubs finds it’s way into a playoff race and Johnson City is faltering.
*** UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
Andrew Morales: SPRINGFIELD – RHP, Age 24 – 2017 Stats(Entering Thursday): 10.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 10 K. .175 Batting Average Against.
Morales is a very interesting prospect in the Cardinals organization and the time that he has spent with the organization since being drafted in the compensatory 2nd round of the 2014 draft has been a very interesting journey.
Morales was a hero at the University of California, Irvine. He was the Friday night pitcher and leader of the team and continually was over-worked in an effort to win a National Championship. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for Morales and Cal-Irvine.
The Cardinals are an organization known for being aggressive with their prospects. Morales was one of those prospects. After only 12.1 IP in his 2014 season after being drafted, Morales started his first full season in the organization as a starting pitcher at Double A for Springfield. That’s the same path that Dakota Hudson has been on, for perspective.
But Morales wasn’t nearly as successful as Hudson has been, and really struggled at Double A in his first season there. He started 2016 back in Springfield and was way more effective, but dealt with a recurring shoulder injury that caused him to miss a couple of starts at various different times during the season.
And that leads us to now.
Morales started this year on the DL as he nursed and rehabbed a shoulder injury back to health. Morales is now a relief pitcher, and that is a great thing for him and the organization. Morales will have a better chance to stay healthy. He will now get a chance to have his fastball and his curve ball, in particular, play up in the bullpen. The bullpen is where he belongs.
Right now, Morales is averaging a strike out per inning with a WHIP of 0.968. This level of dominance won’t last, but I think he can keep his numbers as close to that while still being realistic. I love Morales out of the pen and he is destined to continue that role in the majors if he can stay healthy.
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