Every Friday (and some Saturday’s when I’m too busy to get it out on 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 15 (July 14th – July 20th)
MEMPHIS (63-35) 1st Place, 16.5 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Carson Kelly: Catcher, Age 23 – 17 AB, 6 H, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SO, 353/476/706/1.182
What a great week it turned out to be for Carson Kelly. Sure, he should probably be disqualified from the list because he’s currently on the major league 25-man roster, but since our week of counting stats ends on Thursday I’m going to let that qualify Kelly. Sorry Harrison Bader. You had an amazing week, but not as good as Carson Kelly.
On Friday, Kelly was promoted to the majors and received the emergency start against the Cubs in place of the ailing Yadier Molina. He went 1 for 5 on the day with a double and 2 RBI. That’s a pretty good season debut for the rookie-eligible catcher.
This will probably be the last time that Kelly finds his way on the award’s sheet. I don’t think he’ll find his way back to the minors any time soon. With that in mind, I want to take one last opportunity to let everyone know that this is the best all around catcher that the Cardinals currently have the pleasure of paying a salary. He’s the slowest runner on Earth, even slower than Yadi, but he’s a better hitter than the Cardinals catcher and he gets down on a ball in the dirt better than Yadi does at this point. His arm isn’t as strong as Yadi’s, but it’s still plus. He’s the total-catching package and I’m looking forward to watching him as often as possible with the big club.
Pitcher Of The Week – Luke Weaver: RHP, Age 23 – 2 Starts, 2-0, 10 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. Game Scores of 63 & 57
After a brief taste of pitching out of the Cardinals bullpen prior to the All-Star game, Weaver was returned to the Memphis rotation and he has continued his dominant ways.
Both of his two starts were limited by pitch count restrictions as he stretched himself back out and into a starting role, while the Cardinals work to conserve his innings a little. That’s why both start were only 5 innings long. I would imagine that he’ll be fully stretched out for his next start.
Weaver is totally dialed in and he is as ready for the majors as Carson Kelly is. In his brief taste with the Cardinals, pitching out of the bullpen, he pitched 3 dominant innings over 2 appearances that yielded three hits, two strike outs, and no earned runs. Personally, I am hoping that the Cardinals trade Lance Lynn and give Weaver a chance to start every fifth day for the Parent Club. He’ll be pretty damn good if he ends up relegated to the bullpen, though. Either way, he deserves to be on the 25 man roster.
Then again, as we learned from the Marco Gonzales for Tyler O’Neill trade that transpired on Friday, MLB ready and controllable pitchers carry a hefty price tag. Weaver’s potential and skill set is better than Gonzales, so maybe Weaver’s value is best suited as a trade piece at this point.
Springfield (53-45, 18-10 In 2nd Half) 1st Place, 2 Games up
Hitter Of The Week – Darren Seferina (Pictured): 2B, Age 23 – 23 AB, 12 H, 1 Double, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS, 522/577/826/1.403
What we witnessed last week out of Darren Seferina is easily one of the best single performances over a week time span in the organization this season. Definitely a top 10 performance. With that said, it might surprise you to find out that this was also probably the best week in the career of Darren Seferina.
His week is made even more impressive because it was only his second week since being promoted to Double-A Springfield. He’s adjusting wonderfully to his new surrounding. He’s also been doing it at the top of the order in place of Magneuris Sierra and that’s helped Springfield continue on with their winning ways while Sierra has been with the Cardinals.
If you’ve been following this list all season then you are the least surprised group of Cardinals fans by how well Seferina is playing. You know that he’s the best defensive 2B in the organization, he’s equally as fast as Sierra, if not a tick faster. After a down 2016 season, Seferina is putting himself back on the prospect radar.
Keep a close eye on this young man. He’s poised to be a fast riser on the prospect list. While he might not ever crack the Top 25, that doesn’t mean that his star isn’t burning brighter every day.
Pitcher Of The Week – Zac Gallen (Pictured): RHP, Age 21 – 1 Start, 1-0, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 81
Gallen returned to Springfield after successfully filling in for Luke Weaver in the Memphis rotation. Gallen is one year removed from being drafted, and to see him handle himself so well at the most advanced level of the minors is a tremendously positive sign.
It also appears that he’s learned a thing or two about pitching while he was at Memphis.
Gallen’s 81 Game Score for his start this week represents the best start so far of what’s been a stellar start to his pro career. Gallen is a high-control, low-walk pitcher that isn’t afraid to throw any of his pitches at any point in any count. I’m anxious to see how the rotation shuffles out now that Marco Gonzales is no longer a part of the organization. My guess is that Dakota Hudson gets the next promotion to Memphis, but Gallen has already proved that he’s good enough to not only hold his own, but also impress at that level.
PALM BEACH (54-39, 14-12 In 2nd Half) 3rd Place, 3.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Danny Diekroeger: IF, Age 25 – 17 AB, 6H, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 353/353/529/882
Danny Diekroeger is a fine player. He’s been a great organizational depth-piece since being drafted by the Cardinals out of Stanford in the 10th round of the 2014 draft. He’s played nearly every position on the diamond and word on the street is that he is a great mentor to the younger players.
With all of that said, he is a 25 year old advanced college bat toiling away without major success in “A” Ball. He started the season in Springfield but was quickly sent back to Palm Beach after struggling over his first 16 games.
While my first inclination is to completely dismiss Diekroeger, I can’t help but think that this is the player most likely to be on the Chris Swauger-path. That’s to say, he’s the most likely to go straight from playing in the minors to coaching in the minors. As I mentioned, he’s highly respected by teammates and coaches alike and he has an understanding for the game that most don’t have.
So, while my first thought is to dismiss Danny Diekroeger the player, I will, instead, eagerly await the debut of Danyy Diekroeger the manager.
Pitcher Of The Week – Mike O’Reilly: RHP, Age 23 -2 Start, 2-0, 15 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 16 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.51 BA Against. Game Scores of 64 & 73
His first start of the week came in Peoria and his second start of the week came for Palm Beach.
One start at Advanced-A, one pitcher of the week award for our #29th ranked prospect. That Game Score of 68 is really good. Easily the best out of a Palm Beach starter this week. Although, shout out does go to Ryan Helsley who continues to toil away in Palm Beach. I do expect Helsley to be pitching in Springfield by this time next week. Hopefully.
But back to O’Reilly. He just continues to do what he does: throw a slider, fastball, and change from the same arm slot behind his ear with near pinpoint control and accuracy. Even better, he can throw those three pitches when ever he wants. And, he does.
There is a wee bit of concern from this start, and it’s been my concern since the get-go with O’Reilly: he let up two HR’s during this start. As good as his command is, he has a tendency to leave his fastball a little too high in the zone and that’s been known to cost him. But other than that, this was a damn fine start. He might be on course for a shelling in the near future, but I think that’ll be just a blip on the radar of this improbably prospects impressive 2017 campaign.
Peoria (46-51, 16-12 In 2nd Half) 2nd Place, 3 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Nick Plummer: CF, Age 20 – 17 AB, 7 H, 2 Doubles, 1 HR, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS, 412/444/706/1.150
Plummer’s name on this list should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is a terrific sign for the injury prone 20 year old.
By now you know Plummer’s story. First round draft pick. Athletic. Patient. Then he misses an entire season to a wrist injury. Has surgery. Comes back this season only to miss most of his first month of the season with another injury. Struggles mightily upon returning to baseball.
Well, it’s no surprise that it’s taken this long for Plummer to find his groove. Personally, candidly, I doubted(and still do a little) that Plummer would ever find his groove. But here we are, at the mid point of the season and Plummer is showing signs of life. I’ve had my birds in Peoria whispering to for the last two weeks or so that they thought Plummer was close to breaking out. He was just missing while taking really great at-bats.
Hopefully this is the start of the breakout that I was being prepared for. At this point you can’t help but root for Plummer. Now that he has almost 200 at-bats you have to wonder if this is the version of Nick Plummer that we’ll get to see for the rest of the year. I sure hope so.
Pitcher Of The Week –Ian Oxnevad: LHP, Age 20 – 1 Start, 0-0, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Game Score of 71
While his season ERA of 3.94 might seem high, I’d ask that you keep a couple of things in mind when thinking about Oxnevad. First, his last name is Oxnevad, and that’s pretty badass. Second, he throws one of the best changeups in a system full of really good changeups. Third, you absolutely need to know that Oxnevad has one of the best pick off moves in all of the minor leagues. He’s picked off 12 batters at first this season. It’s a masterpiece.
But the most important thing that I’d like for you to take note of in regards to Ian is that he is a 20 year old pitching successfully at a full season level. He’s still developing a third pitch and working on his command of his fastball and change, but there are a lot of signs that indicated that he is making strides in this area. Personally, I think Oxnevad has LOOGY written all over him, but he’s still so young and far away that’ll he’ll have plenty of time to develop into a legitimate starting pitching prospect.
Oxnevad is far away from the average-followers prospect-radar, but he’s a name in the auxiliary with the skill set to storm the list.
**SHORT SEASON PITCHER AND PLAYER OF THE WEEK**
*Writer’s Note* – With the short season clubs in full swing, I’ll be highlighting one pitcher and one hitter over the four short season affiliates that I believe is worth mentioning. It won’t always be the best player out of those affiliates for the week. I’m not doing it level by level because these kids are FAR away from the majors. They deserve to be looked upon with a little bit of distance.
Short Season Player – A LOT OF PLAYERS!
There are so many players playing well that I’m going to give you a bunch of different players stats for the week instead of a write up on one singular player. It was too hard to pick.
Scott Hurst, State College: 3rd Round Pick 2017. CF, Age 21 – 22 AB, 8 H, 4 Doubles, 1 Triple, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, 364/423/636/1.059
Chase Pinder, Johnson City: 7th Round Pick 2017. OF, Age 21 – 17 AB, 6 H, 1 Double, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, 353/421/588/1.009
Wadye Ynfante, Johnson City: 2014 International Free Agent. OF, Age 19 – 25 AB, 8 H, 2 Doubles, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 8 SO, 3 SB, 1 CS, 320/414/520/934
Luis Bandes, Johnson City: 2012 International Free Agent. 1B, Age 21 – 16 AB, 7 H, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 2 SO, 438/438/813/1.250
Irving Lopez, Johnson City: 19th Round Pick 2017. MI, Age 22 – 22 AB, 8 H, 1 Triple, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS, 364/483/455/937
Brandon Benson, State College: 20th Round Pick 2017. OF, Age 23 – 13 AB, 5 H, 2 Doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 4 SO, 385/385/769/1.154
Short Season Pitcher – Jacob Schlesener, Johnson City: LHP Age, 20 – 1 Start, 1-0, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. Game Score of 70
Schlesener is an interesting prospect, but maybe more because of geography than because of prospect potential.
Schlesener grew up in a little Missouri town know as Rogersville which is located just south east of Springfield. He was drafted in the 12th round of the 2015 draft out of high school, meaning that the Cardinals did their due diligence to track down the local kid, and that they thought pretty highly of him to draft him in the 12th round. Often times, high school kids taken between rounds 11 and 15 are difficult to sign in the current draft system.
Alas, Jacob signed and spent the two season prior to 2017 playing for the Gulf Coast League affiliate. He was a strike out per inning guy over those two seasons, but he also managed to walk an INCREDIBLE 34 batters in a mere 19 innings during his 2016 campaign. I’d call that alarming, but “alarming” checked out of the hotel about midway through his 2016 season. That high walk rate is something else entirely.
The good news is that 2017 has been pretty good to Schlesener so far. He is still walking too many hitters, 16 so far in 22.2 IP, but he’s struck out 33 batters while holding them to an average against of .173. Needless to say, if Schlesener can hone his command then he might be a name worth keeping a close eye on.
Still, I love to see the local kids playing for the Cardinals organization.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
No Prospect Awards For Week 13
Thanks for reading!