Every Saturday (and some Fridays when my schedule isn’t as busy, i.e today) 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 3 (April 21st – April 27th)
MEMPHIS (10-11) 2nd Place, 1 game back
Hitter Of The Week – Harrison Bader: OF, Age 22 – 18 AB, 1 Double, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 333/455/556/1.010
There we go. It’s great to see Bader make the list in week 3. For the past two weeks this award has been won by older prospects Patrick Wisdom and Luke Voit and it’s about time that one of the big three prospects at Memphis started to push them aside (although Voit did, again, hammer the ball).
I’ve been critical of Bader’s defense in CF and I still don’t think he can stick there, but he did throw a guy out at home plate from mid-shallow CF to stop the potential winning run from scoring in the 8th of Thursday nights game. He then hit a two run go-ahead HR in his next AB that gave Memphis a lead they couldn’t keep. He only struck out three times this week in 18 AB, so more of that, please.
Pitcher Of The Week – Daniel Poncedeleon: RHP, Age 25 – 1 Start, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. 61 Game Score
Make no mistake, the pitching in Memphis has been almost comically bad. Mike Mayers, Josh Zeid, and Chris Ellis have been getting hammered on a regular basis and with Luke Weaver and John Gant on the DL there hasn’t been much to get excite about with the Memphis staff. So, It’s only fitting that the kid who was supposed to repeat the season at Springfield is the only SP pitching consistently well for Memphis so far. As a matter of fact, Poncedeleon has pitched so well that he’s held batters to a batting average of .167 in his three Memphis starts.
Poncedeleon is still allowing way too many flyballs for a pitcher that needs to get groundball outs for sustained success, but that is not to detract from the success that he has had. This was Daniel’s 2nd start in a row against an OKC Dodgers team and the fact that he was better this time than he was in his first start against OKC is a tremendous sign.
Springfield (10-9) Tied For First
Hitter Of The Week – Oscar Mercado: CF, Age 22 – 29 AB, 1 Double, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 SB 276/300/483/783
Now THIS is worth being happy about. Oscar Mercado has completely reinvented himself as a player since moving from SS to CF. He’s made an adjustment at the plate, his confidence is high, and, as Jimmy “The Cat” Hayes would say “This bird is ready to soarrrrrr”.
Do you want to know what I love about this stat line? Mercado is going to give you one of everything. The three SB’s are a really nice touch, as well. He did strike out 10 times in those 29 ABs which is alarming, but it’s still very nice to see the XBH’s coming despite the K’s. It has been awesome to watch Mercado emerge so far during the early part of this season.
Pitcher Of The Week – Austin Gomber: LHP, Age 23 – 1 Start, 7 IP, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. 63 Game Score
Gomber just barely edges out the reigning two week champ Jack Flaherty for this weeks’ award and we are splitting hairs here.
Gomber gets the edge because he induced a solid 18 swinging strikes in his start as compared to Flaherty’s 5. That tells me that Austin’s stuff was dancing. He let up three more runs than Flaherty, but he also struck out more batters. Also, Dammit Jack. Let someone else have the spotlight!
His first two starts were less than stellar, but Gomber’s last two have been spectacular. It’s nice to see one of the other studs in the Springfield rotation challenging Flaherty for this award.
PALM BEACH (11-9) 1st Place, 0.5 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Randy Arozarena: OF, Age 22 – 20 AB, 2 Doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 400/500/650/1.150
If you read last weeks Prospect awards and you talked about it with friends that had not read it then you probably sounded like an expert. Here at The Redbird Daily we knew this breakout was coming, we highlighted it, and Randy didn’t disappoint.
It was awesome to see the Cuban hit his first HR on American soil earlier in the week, but it’s been even better to see this young man come into his own. He’s a bit lost in the fray of some of the bigger named OF prospects in the system, but Randy can really mash. His strike outs per AB are starting to tick down and there is still a lot of speed that hasn’t been tapped into on the bases. It’s coming, though. I love Randy in CF, but that Mags Sierra spot now that he is off of the DL. Still, he is definitely gifted enough to play there regularly.
Pitcher Of The Week – Zac Gallen: RHP, Age 21 – 1 Start, 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. 53 Game Score
This wasn’t exactly Gallen’s most dominating start (as a matter of fact, it’s his worst start so far this season) but it was the best start of the week for the PB rotation that struggled mightily.
Although the start wasn’t great, it was steady none-the-less. He induced 14 strikes swinging, 16 strikes looking, and wasn’t missing the black by much. Four starts into the season and Gallen, our #23 prosect, hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in any of his starts. In 23 innings so far, this ‘control first’ pitcher has K’ed 29 and walked 6, and he appears to have a chance to be another advanced college arm drafted by the Cardinals to make a quick Major League impact.
Peoria (8-12) Last Place, 5.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Brian O’Keefe: Catcher, Age 23 – 21 AB, 1 Double, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 333/417/667/1.083
I was half tempted to put “Peoria’s Catchers” as the player of the week to hedge my bets, but O’ Keefe was the easy standout. What an envious position manager Chris Swauger must be in to have three catchers that he can rely on in O’ Keefe, Jeremy Martinez and Andrew Knizner.
O’ Keefe is probably the most talent of the three as of right now behind the plate, as well. That means that if the bat continues to play then Brian might be one of these names that you absolutely have to keep an eye on. Especially because he is coming off of a sneaky-productive 2016 in which he slashed 252/361/796 with 13 HR in 381 AB.
Pitcher Of The Week – Ian Oxnevad: LHP, Age 20 – 2 Starts, 12 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, 1 QS. Game Scores of 44 and 59.
The 20 year old former 8th round pick is the man who has dethroned Jordan Hicks as Peoria’s pitcher of the week. When we did our “Best Of The Rest” prospect list, Oxnevad was one of the names that John Nagel highlighted as someone he thought was about to break out. So far in 2017, Oxnevad has been solid.
My favorite stat about Ian is that he has already picked three runners off at 1st just four starts into the season. It’s the reverse of the Big League Club, and it makes me chuckle out loud every time I think about it. That pickoff move is dynamite, and it’s going to be fun to watch develop.
His first start of the week hurt him a little bit, but he recovered well and in his second start he was a lot sharper. He was in complete control over 7 innings while striking out 3. There is more of that to come.
***UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
Ian McKinney: Palm Beach LHP, Age 22 – 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 Save In 2 Relief Appearances
As I already mentioned, it was a rough week for the Palm Beach starting staff, but a great week for their long reliever/swing-man Ian McKinney.
The former 5th round pick came in to relieve Ryan Helsley in the 3rd inning of a game that Helsley allowed 7 ER in and proceeded to shut down a solid offense over 3.2 innings. Then, McKinney followed Gallen’s solid 5 inning start with a 4 inning save that sealed a needed win for Palm Beach. McKinney reminds me a lot of Tim Cooney, and he is perfectly suited for a minor league swing-role. He’s held lefties to a batting average of .174 and you can never have enough guys in the system that can come in and shut down the lefties.
PREVIOUS WEEKS AWARD WINNERS
Thanks for reading!