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 20 (August 18th – August 24th)
MEMPHIS (84-47) 1st Place, 21 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Patrick Wisdom: 3B, Age 26 – 17 AB, 5 H, 0 Doubles, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, 294/400/824/1.224
I am a sucker for the long ball. There. I said it. Also, I’m a sucker for the RBI.
Patrick Wisdom does both. A lot.
Breyvic Valera has been incredible for Memphis for the last two months and that trend continued this week. I was torn between picking Valera and Wisdom, but the extra HR and all of those RBI give Wisdom the nod in my book.
What can I say about Wisdom that I didn’t already say last week? I’ve mentioned that I think Wisdom is a perfect little bench bat for the Cardinals with defensive upside at 3rd and, I believe and believe only, 1st. He’s as developed as he’s capable of being and if there’s a time to maximize that development it is probably now. I’ve also told you that his power is real and there’s real reason to think that it won’t go away when used properly.
Wisdom has had his best month at Memphis in August while all of his former teammates have seemingly augmented the Cardinals major league roster. That’s an interesting thing to dissect for a couple of different reason. I love that he’s been successful while one of the few offensive threats. that’s encouraging.
I really hope we get a chance to see Patrick Wisdom off of the Cardinals bench by the end of September after a Memphis Championship run.
Pitcher Of The Week – John Gant: RHP, Age 25 – 1 Start, 1-0, 6 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. Game Score of 63
It was a neck and neck week for Gant and Jack Flaherty. Flaherty went one more inning than Gant did and walked fewer, but he let up a HR and that was the difference for me this week.
There is a really good chance that John Gant will be on the major league roster by the end of the weekend. Anybody that has followed along this season knows that I’m a big fan of Gant. That being said, it’s been a bit of a disappointing season for Gant, I’m sure. He’s dealt with some nagging injuries and he hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an elongated major league promotion, but his season at Memphis has been sub-standard. He’s pitched 96.2 innings, and while his 91 K’s in those 96+ innings are good, the batting average against of .272 is a little too high, as is his WHIP of 1.29.
But now that we’ve focused on the negative, let me tell you what I like about what I’ve seen lately from Gant. Over his last 3 starts (total small sample size) he’s thrown 17.2 inning of 3-run baseball while striking out 19. He’s walked a few too many, 7, but he has his ground ball rate up to 49% while throwing strikes nearly 70% of the time.
It’s been a weird year for Gant, but it looks like it’s coming together a little bit now.
Springfield (73-56, 38-21 In 2nd Half) Tied for 1st
Hitter Of The Week – Jose Adolis Garcia(Pictured): OF, Age 24 – 19 AB, 10 H, 4 Doubles, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS, 526/545/895/1.440
Yes, Jose Adolis Garcia should be playing for Memphis. Yes, JAG never should have been demoted when the Cardinals sent Piscotty to work with Mark Budaska and clear his mind at Memphis, even if he was the only reasonable option for the demotion. Yes, JAG is making short work of Springfield since said-demotion, which is an awesome thing to see.
You never know how kids are going to react to demotions, especially when they are doing well prior to the demotion. Garcia is 24, and his maturity is showing through with his play at Springfield. There are still some things about his game that need work. He’s weird-aggressive in the outfield and he has the typical Cuban profile; great skills, above average tools, great arm, weird decision making sometimes.
JAG is bringing the power, the speed, and the skill to Springfield and even though he should probably be in Memphis, he’ll be there soon enough, he’s crushing some of the concerns at the plate that I’ve had about him at Springfield.
Pitcher Of The Week – Austin Gomber(Pictured): LHP, Age 23 – 1 Start, 1-0, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Game Score of 61
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. The Cardinals need to find someone to start for Mike Leake on Saturday because Mike Leake, for whatever reason, is no longer effective. While John Gant and Jack Flaherty would be the two obvious names to take a turn in the Cardinals rotation, I think we are all overlooking Gomber’s viability as an option to start that game for the Big Club.
Gomber really impressed the major league coaching staff in spring training. If the promotion of Josh Lucas taught us anything it’s that the Spring impression really sticks with the Cardinals front office and coaching staff. Gomber is ready for the challenge and the Cardinals will have to add him to the 40 man roster in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, anyway. Why not give him the start?
He’s been really good over the last two months. Over his last 12 starts while pitching 77.2 innings he’s struck out 68, walked 20, while holding hitters to a batting average against of .185, an OPS against of .546, while throwing 67% strikes and inducing ground balls at a 44% pace.
At the very least, Gomber is ready for the Memphis challenge.
PALM BEACH (70-54, 30-27 In 2nd Half) 3rd Place, 5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Blake Drake: OF, Age 24 – 14 AB, 6 H, 1 Double, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 429/500/500/1.000
I’ve been so unprofessional over the last couple of weeks when I write and talk about the offensive abilities of the Palm Beach Cardinals. To be honest, completely honest, I’m embarrassed by actions and words.
However, that’s not going to stop me from trashing this roster.
Chris Chinea, Blake Drake, and Andy Young all had OK weeks, but there was nothing remarkable about what they did. But I like Blake Drake as a player, and you can only write “None of these players deserve accolades” so many times before you are really just mailing it in.
So, instead, I’ll spend this time reminding you that Florida State League is probably the toughest league to evaluate hitters at. Most of the guys on the PB roster are too old for the level, much like Drake, meaning that the crop of prospects is just too far past ripe to pick.
Blake Drake is a fine player and a great guy with a lot of tools, especially defensively, and it’s great to see him have a good week. He’s the kind of organizational depth piece to root for.
Pitcher Of The Week – Sam Tewes: RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 1-0, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Game Score of 71
I keep qualifying my picks this week, but I want you to know that Jake Woodford had the best start of the week for Palm Beach. It was an 8 inning performance that yielded a game score of 78. However, Woodford came into Thursday’s game in relief of the rehabbing Kevin Siegrist and was less than effective, so I’ve decided to give the award to Tewes. Plus, there are some things that I want to tell you about Tewes.
First, as my colleague Colin Garner likes to point out, he pronounces his last name like “Davis” but with a “T” replacing the “D”. Second, I want you to know that Tewes was drafted by the Cardinals in the 8th round of the 2016 but didn’t pitch an inning for the Cardinals last season as he was recovering from Tommy John Surgery. There is a very good chance that Tewes would have been a to 100 pick in the 2016 had it not been for the arm injury that sidelined him.
While his numbers on the season haven’t exactly been amazing, there’s a lot to be encouraged by. He appears to be getting stronger as the season progresses as demonstrated by his slight kick in K’s. Another thing to get excited about is that he’s worked his way to Palm Beach by pitching effectively at two other level in the system. I love all of these things from a player working his way back from Tommy John.
2018 will be a telling season for Tewes. There is reason to think that the Cardinals might put him on a Dakota Hudson-esque fast track of he keeps showing the signs of progressions that he has. there is still a lot of work for him to do, a lot of work, but there is reason to be excited about this young man.
Peoria (61-68, 31-29 In 2nd Half) Tied For 2nd, 8 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Brian O’Keefe: Catcher, Age 24 – 19 AB, 7 H, 1 Double, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 6 SO, 368/429/579/1.008
Brian O’Keefe is old for Peoria, but do not dismiss him as a player the way that I’ve taught you to. There is some interest with him.
First, all indications are that O’Keefe is one of those “Team Leader” catcher types. He’s a very good defensive catcher that pitchers have learned to trust. He’s been the primary catcher for Peoria since Andrew Knizner was promoted to Springfield and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of the unknown, control-command pitchers that have pitched at this level have been as successful as they have been. That doesn’t continue to happen if O’Keefe isn’t there.
He has a weird amount of power, as well. He’s hit 14 HR in 369 AB entering Thursday night. He’s an interesting combo of power and defense that make him an interesting guy to keep an eye. If I’m betting with smart money, O’Keefe’s minor league journey probably stops after double A next season, but with a little refining behind the plate and a small uptick in power, O’Keefe could be the kind of guy that finds himself in a back up catcher roll in the major leagues similar to how former Cardinals legend Keith McDonald did.
Pitcher Of The Week – Anthony Shew: RHP, Age 23 – 2 Starts, 2-0, 13.1 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 16 K, .188 BA Against, .533 OPS Against. Game Scores of 77 & 65
Anthony Shew is a 6’2, 200lb righty that went undrafted in the 2016 draft and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals out of the University of San Francisco. He was less than good in his stint with GCL last season, and most of the time those guys disappear into oblivion after struggling the way that he did after going undrafted.
But here he is.
Shew appears to be continuing and building on the legacy of control-oriented pitchers that are doing well against the Midwest League for Peoria. 27th round pick Mike O’Reilly was one of those guys. So is last weeks award winner and former River City Rascal Austin Warner. Now, Shew gets his little taste of supremacy.
Truth be told, I don’t know much about Shew. I’ve heard some good things from eyes in Peoria, but there isn’t much in the way of a solid or reliable scouting report. So, instead, we get to look at his beautiful stat line and dream of a potential hidden-gem prospect. I like doing that. Let’s do that!
I promise you this: I’ll have a full scouting report of Shew if he does this again next week. I say we look forward to that!
**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 – Imeldo Diaz, Johnson City: SS, Age 19 – 21 AB, 7H, 1 Double, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 333/364/524/887
Around July 2nd the Cardinals traded International signing money to the Boston Red Sox for two minor league prospects, Stanley Espinal and Imeldo Diaz.
It appears that Diaz might have been a find.
Delvin Perez was supposed to be the short stop at Johnson City making noise. However, with Delvin’s season over because of a broken hand, Diaz has stepped up and impressed at the level. Hell, Diaz was even more impressive than Delvin when Delvin was healthy.
In 25 games entering Thursday as a member of the Cardinals organization, Diaz has slashed 289/360/456/816 with 3 doubles, 4 HR, 13 strike outs, and 6 BB in 90 AB. I wish I could tell you more about his defense, but the reports I have read have been mixed. It seems like most scouts view him as being better suited for 2B, others 3B, and most don’t think he can stay at SS. However, all that I can say for sure is that he hasn’t hurt Johnson City with his play at SS and, to me, that’s the most important thing that you want out of a developing age 19 short stop at the short season level.
He’s also proven that he can be a show stopper on more than one occasion, and most recently won Thursday nights game in walk off fashion with a two run home run.
Short Season Pitcher- Andrew Summerville, State College: LHP, Age 21 – 1 Start, 0-0, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Game Score of 61.
Another day, another Stanford alum in the Cardinals organization.
As we like to point out, the Johnson City level, The Appy League, is about on par(if not a tick lower) talent-wise with major Division One college baseball. So, it’s great and appropriate to see Summerville doing great at the level. Summerville was drafted in the 12th round of this season draft and started his major league career pitching out of the Johnson City bullpen. But four appearances out of the bullpen later and he was pitching out of the rotation.
How good has he been in the rotation? Really damn good. In 7 starts he’s thrown 38 Innings and allowed, 7 ER, 15 BB, 26 K, and 3 HR while holding hitters to a batting average against of .216 and an OPS against of .640. The 3 HR allowed in 38 IP is a weeeeeee bit concerning, and the 15 walks are even more concerning, but Summerville is still an interesting guy that I’m anxious to keep an eye on.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
No Prospect Awards For Week 13
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