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 19 (August 11th – August 17th)
MEMPHIS (82-43) 1st Place, 22.5 Games Up. Playoffs Clenched
Hitter Of The Week – Patrick Wisdom: 3B, Age 26 – 17 AB, 9 H, 5 Doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS, 333/357/741/1.098
I just want to say that Alex Mejia had a great week in which he hit .400+ with an OPS of .911. However, The HR and slugging percentage give Wisdom the edge in this week’s race.
A lot of people have called for Wisdom’s promotion to the Cardinals, but I ask that you keep a couple of things in mind if you are one of the people.
First, This is his second full tour at Memphis. Second, his age doesn’t do him any favors when it comes to evaluating his talent. At this point, he’s just as much a career minor leaguer as he is a professional prospect. Third, as great as his power has been, everything else that he’s done at the plate hasn’t been nearly worth a promotion. When you add all three of those points together it should help to paint the picture of a player that is doing exactly what he should do but not enough to get excited about, exactly.
That being said, I would rather see Wisdom sitting on the major league bench than Luke Voit. Voit still had some learning to do and seasoning to be… applied(?) and sitting on the major league bench, while good for his pocket book, isn’t doing him any good from a developmental stand point. Wisdom’s development is all but done. He’s a power hitter with a huge hole in his swing and great defense at 3rd.
Seems like a great little bench bat to me.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jack Flaherty(Pictured): RHP, Age 21 – 2 Starts, 1-1, 13 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, .250 Batting Average Against, .586 OPS Against. Game Scores of 52 & 64.
I have to look at Flaherty’s age every time that I write about him. It appears that my mind won’t let me believe that he is only 21 even though I know it to be true.
Over his two starts this week he’s thrown strikes 64% of the time while giving up grounders on 49% of his the contact he’s induced. That’s an incredibly efficient and effective way to get outs. It’s perfect, actually, especially when you see the nearly K per Inning that he threw this week.
In 13 starts at AAA he’s K’ed 77 in 73.1 innings while only walking 21. Also, he’s holding hitters to a batting average against of .221 and an OPS against of .621, which is actually inflated because of some early struggles with letting up the long ball at the AAA level. Those troubles have since all-but disappeared.
I’m torn about when I would like for Flaherty to make his major league debut. I think that there is good reason to wish that it’d be during the 2017 season. Especially with the bullpen being trash and Rosenthal hurt. However, the logical part of me knows that early 2018 would be a perfect time for this young man to debut.
Springfield (70-53, 35-18 In 2nd Half) 1st Place, 2 Games Up
Co-Hitter Of The Week – Andrew Knizner: Catcher, Age 22 – 15 AB, 8 H, 1 Double, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 533/588/800/1.388
OK, this is the first time that I have done this so far this season and I’m pretty damn excited about that.
It was just too hard to pick between this pair of 22 year old’s. The best part is, both of these guys were teammates to start the 2017 season for the Peoria Chiefs! That’s a two level jump in their first full season in the organization!
Knizner had a great offensive week, but he makes my list for his defense. Knizner made some of the concerns that I’ve expressed in the past about his back-stopping abilities look completely absurd this week. He appeared to stay deeper in his crouch and he kept every pitch that I saw thrown to him, even the stuff in the dirt, in front of him with his chest protector. I saw him throw a runner out at second by a mile and it appeared that he wasn’t even trying, throwing mostly from his knees.
Don’t fret about his hitting either, because he can flat HIT. I love watching the right handed hitting Knizner drive the ball to the RCF gap and I love watching him tap into his power. He’s had a break out season and he has put himself on the prospect radar similar to how Paul DeJong did during the 2016 season.
Knizner is one of my favorites and I have no doubt that he’ll be one of yours as well.
Co-Hitter Of The Week – Tommy Edman: SS, Age 22 – 17 AB, 5 H, 0 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 294/400/588/988
Tommy Edman is a beast. I mean to say, he’s a small beast, but he’s a beast none-the-less.
Edman stands an unremarkable 5’10(I don’t believe he’s that tall), but there is nothing unremarkable about his season so far. Rushed to Double-A, Edman struggled at first but he has now found his footing. He doesn’t have a lot of power in his small frame, but he’s definitely been tapping into for the last month, as 9 of his 13 XBH at the double-A level have come during that time period. That’s incredible progress from a kid who should still be at Palm Beach.
During Ryan Helsley‘s start on Tuesday night I saw Edman range and dive to his left for a ball that he had no business being close to. Somehow he managed to glove it, which left my jaw on the floor, but he threw the ball away trying to rush the throw to first to get the base runner. These things are going to happen. They’re the reason that players need time to develop in the minors. what doesn’t happen, however, is the frequency of a SS making the diving play in the first place. It was impressive.
He is impressive.
Pitcher Of The Week – Ryan Helsley: RHP, Age 23 – 2 Starts, , 1-0, 12 IP, 5 H, 3R(2 ER), 6 BB, 14 K, .125 Batting Average Against, .439 OPS Against. Game Scores of 73 & 59.
Ryan Helsley has been really really really really really good for The Springfield Cardinals over his first four starts since receiving the promotion.
Let’s see, what do I want to tell you about the magic that Helsley dished this week? First, he pitched seven straight hit-less innings between the two starts before letting up a single in the third inning of his second start this weekend. In his first start of the week, a hit-less five inning affair, he struggled a little bit with his command. He walked five, which is alarming, but he did it with a terrible inconsistent strike zone. Because of the shaky zone, he struggled to polish off hitters and on multiple accounts he went up on hitter 0-2 and 1-2, only to have them work a walk on pitches on the black.
In his second start of the week, he struck out 5 of the first 6 batters that he faced. He was hit around a little bit during the third after he had to run around the bases a couple of different times because of a 3-2, 2-out count that saw Magneuris Sierra foul off 4 pitches. He ended up scoring shortly after that, then pitching shortly after that. He pitched better when he caught his breath.
I have been so impressed with Helsley. His curveball looks sharp, his change up looks dynamic, and his cutter has an unusual movement to it. He’s past his career high in innings and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season goes for the power-tossing righty.
PALM BEACH (66-53, 26-26 In 2nd Half) 5th Place, 8.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Casey Grayson: 1B, Age 25 – 22 AB, 8 H, 1 Double, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 6 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 364/533409/942
Earlier in the week, Baseball America named their best tooled players at each level in each division in the minor leagues and Grayson was named the best defensive 1B in the Texas League. Yes, that’s correct, he was the best defensive 1B in a league that he no longer participates in.
So, there’s that.
The bad news is that Grayson isn’t exactly average at any of the other aspects of the game. He’s 25 and playing in a league that is, on average, a depressing 5.6 years younger than he is. Sure, it’s great to see him doing extremely well there since being demoted, but it means absolutely nothing.
Still, production is production.
I really like Grayson. He shares a last name with my favorite comic book character. Good for him for responding to a demotion the way he has. He’s a great organizational depth piece with some really solid skills that younger, more legitimate prospects are lucky to have around.
Pitcher Of The Week – Mike O’Reilly: RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 58.
It’s been a great year for O’Reilly. He started the year in extended spring training while many other prospects in the organization went north with the full season affiliates. Then, two weeks into the season, he was recalled to the Peoria bullpen. Then, just a matter of days later, he was inserted into the Peoria rotation. Then, after dominating Peoria as a starter(he was easily the most dominant SP in the organization before being promoted to Palm Beach. Even more so than Flaherty and Helsley) he was promoted to Palm Beach.
I was very impressed with how well O’Reilly pitched in Peoria, but I was worried how it would translate at Palm Beach. Often times, a true control pitcher like O’Reilly is able to make the younger group of players at the A-level look foolish, but then struggles upon a promotion to a more advanced league.
This hasn’t been the case with O’Reilly.
Now, keep in mind that the Florida State League and Roger Dean Stadium are pitcher-friendly environments which skews the numbers a bit, but O’Reilly has K’ed 31 in 37.2 IP over six starts since being promoted. He’s held hitters to a batting average against of .272 while throwing 68% strikes. What is alarming is that he’s allowed 8 HR over those 37+ IP, 18 total over 125.1 IP, and that is a red flag. He’s walked 17 batters on the year while letting up 18 HR. Think about that. How does that even happen?!?!
It’s been a great season for O’Reilly and he’s adapting to the new level well. As I’ve said consistently every time I’ve written about him, I don’t know what the future holds for his prospect status, but I do know that he is really good right now.
Peoria (58-64, 28-25 In 2nd Half) t2nd Place, 6 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Stefan Trosclair(Pictured): 1B/2B, Age 23 – 23 AB, 7 H, 2 Doubles, 2 Triples, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 8 SO, 304/385/6961.080
This is the second week in a row for Trosclair. He has become the premier offensive draw for the Peoria squad.
I had a lot to say about Trosclair last week, and you can read that HERE, so I’ll keep it simple; Trosclair is a hitter with an advanced approach and understanding of the strike zone. He was a little too patient early on in the season and he went a long period of time between his 3rd and 4th HR because of his understanding of the zone, but he’s managed to combine power and patience since hitting his 4th HR of the season on June 24th. He’s played a little 2B, but he’s best suited for 1B.
Trosclair has had an amazing July and August in which he’s slashed 304/449/548/997 with 14 XBH in 114 AB. At this point, I expect Trosclair to skip Palm Beach next year and start the season in Springfield. He’s a sneaky prospect That I’m giving top 30 consideration to. If only he wasn’t just a little too old for the Midwest League.
A shout out needs to go to Dylan Carlson who hit above .300 on the week with a HR and an OBP of .891. He’s had an up and down season for Peoria, but it’s never to late for an 18 year old player that spent an entire season with the full-season club to come on strong.
Pitcher Of The Week – Austin Warner: LHP, Age 23 – 2 Starts, 0-0, 13 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, .116 Batting Average Against, .313 OPS Against. Game Scores of 75 & 71.
Although he is left handed as compared to the right handed O’Reilly, Warner is yet another control-first, three pitch, small bodied pitcher from a somewhat nontraditional arm slot.
What I like most about Warner right now is that he’s mixing in a lot of strike outs. The 55 K’s in 49 IP entering his start on Thursday night is impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you see that he’s held hitters to a batting average against of .241 while only walking 7. His ground ball rate is 47% and he is throwing strikes an incredible 70% of the time. It’s crazy to think, but I’d actually like to see him become just a tiny bit more wild. He’s almost too effective at throwing strikes!
Every time I write about Warner I’m going to bring up how awesome it is that he was pitching for the River City Rascal in O’Fallon, MO just a few months ago, before the Cardinals signed him. He is certainly writing his own Cinderella story, and I only hope that his stint at Peoria doesn’t turn out to be the Pumpkin. Or the carriage. Or… whatever. I had three older brothers. I was raised on DIE HARD. I tried, OK?!
**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 – Chase Pinder, Johnson City: CF, Age 21 – 19 AB, 6 H, 0 Doubles, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 7 SO, 316/480316/780
The 7th round pick out of Clemson has been really good since being drafted in June. Colin Garner and I spent a lot of time talking about him in last weeks “Prospects To Be Named Later” Podcast, so please give that a listen if you haven’t already.
But if you haven’t listened, here are the cliff notes:
Pinder is doing really well at a level that is just a kick below/or right at major division I level, talent-wise. He’s doing everything he needs to do to prove that he was worth a 7th round pick in the draft. He’s a super athletic kid who isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body in the outfield and he most certainly has the skill-set to stay in CF as of right now. There is a lot in his game that reminds me a better version of former Cardinals Farm-hand Charlie Tilson.
As his stat-line above illustrates, he has a decent way of getting on base even when he isn’t necessarily hitting for power. It’s a small thing, all things considered, to value in a player, but that is definitely a trait that I like to see out of the prospects at the lower levels.
I’d love to see how he does at State College, but I think that he’s at Johnson City for the duration of the 2017 season. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that he starts the 2018 season at Peoria with fellow 2017 draft pick Scott Hurst.
Short Season Pitcher- Jacob Patterson, Johnson City: LHP, Age 21 – 2 Appearances, 0-0, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
I’m coming way out of left field with this one.
It’s not every day that a pure left handed relief pitcher gets a spot light as a 21 year old pitching to a league that he is to advanced for, but I’m a lefty and it was National Lefty Day a few days ago, so you’re just going to have to deal with it.
There’s a lot to like about the 6’2 200lb lefty. I love that he knows that he’s a reliever and that neither he nor the organization is trying to be anything else. His fastball sits about 90 MPH on a good day and he a slider that makes a lot of lefties look foolish.
What I’m saying is, The Cardinals have in their system with Patterson a LOOGY on a potential fast track. I love that. He has also saved 9 games so far for Johnson City. In 20 IP he’s only allowed 11 hits and 5 walks while striking out 27. He was really good pitching out of the Texas Tech bullpen during his 2017 campaign before being drafted. He struck out 36 in 51.1 IP. He has shown some command issues in the past, too, as he walked 25 over those previously mentioned 51.1 IP.
He’s obviously too good for Johnson City. If you’re capable of getting excited for a LOOGY, Patterson is your guy.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
No Prospect Awards For Week 13
Thanks for reading!