Every Saturday (and some Fridays when my schedule isn’t as busy) 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 5 (May 5th – May 11th)
MEMPHIS (22-12) 1st Place, 7 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Paul DeJong(Pictured): SS, Age 23 – 25 AB, 0 Doubles, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 BB, 4 SO 320/346/680/1.026
Hey, you guys…… Paul DeJong is REALLY good.
This is the second week in a row that DeJong takes home the honor, and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
As most know by now, The Memphis Redbirds have won 12 of their last 13 games as they enter play on Friday night. It isn’t a coincidence that all of this is happening while DeJong has been raking. Over the last 13 games he is slashing 348/380/804/1.184 with 6 HR and 16 RBI in 46 ABs. Luke Voit and Patrick Wisdom have hit extremely well to start the season, and Carson Kelly and Harrison Bader have been solid but not great, but DeJong has keyed an winning streak that Redbirds definitely needed.
Every time I write about DeJong I’m going to say the same thing: he is never going to walk and he is always going to strike out. So, sit back, keep your expectations exactly right there, and enjoy the show.
Pitcher Of The Week – Arturo Reyes: RHP, Age 25 – 2 Starts, 15 IP, 4 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, .217 Batting Average Against. Game Scores of 78 and 52
This is two weeks in a row now for Reyes as the best pitcher in Memphis. I love to see that. Especially now that Luke Weaver is back in the rotation. Anytime that another pitching prospect is out-pitching Weaver is a great time to be a Cardinals fan.
His first start of the week was a dominant affair, as he tossed 8 innings of 4 hit, 4 strike out baseball and posting the 2nd best game score of his minor league career. His second start of the week was a solid 7 inning affair that was one run-allowed shy of being a quality start.
In 2014 Reyes ended the season in Memphis after starting the season in Palm Beach. Many, including myself, thought that he was going to contribute in some capacity at the major league level last season, but he struggled to maintain consistency during his 2016 campaign. Now, back at Memphis, Reyes is back to showing that promise that made many of us think that he’d have a chance to contribute for the Parent Club.
Springfield (16-14) 2nd Place, 1.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Gabriel Lino: Catcher, Age 23 – 11 AB, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 455/533/636/1.170
There are few things that make me more excited than talking about a player that you might not know anything about.
There are even fewer things that excite me more than learning the dirty little details about a prospect that I might have over-looked. In this instance, Lino is one of those prospects.
Lino, although only 23, has been around the minor leagues for what seems like FOREVER. As a matter of fact, way back in 2012 a then-19 year old Lino was traded as part of package from the Orioles to the Phillies for JIM THOME! How crazy is that?!
As an international free agent signing out of Venezuela, Lino showed a lot of promise but he could never quite put it all together. So, after the 2016, the Phillies released him. Shortly there after, the Cards swooped in and signed the catcher.
More than likely, Lino will never be anything more than a career minor league catcher that adds important depth to an organization. But, if that’s the case, I’m happy that he saved the best for his time in the Cardinals Organization.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jack Flaherty: RHP, Age 21 – 1 Start, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K. Game Score of 79
You’ve heard me gush relentlessly about how good he’s been while he wins” Pitcher of the Week” honor after “Pitch of the Week” honor. So, instead, you’ll just get more stats:
99 pitches thrown, 73 strikes. 16 swinging strikes. 16 strikes looking. Only one count that reached 3 balls(went for a walk).
He’s throwing free and easy and he is making it look even easier than he is throwing it. IF Memphis needs a fill in starter as they wait for Marco Gonzales or John Gant following the horrific liner that Daniel Poncedeleon took to the head earlier in the week, Flaherty is the man.
PALM BEACH (17-17) 2nd Place(tied), 4.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Darren Seferina: 2B, Age 23 – 27 AB, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 370/393/444/837
Mags Sierra’s speed, since being promoted to the major league level, has been a fun point of discussion among Cards fans. Many fans want to see Mags race Billy Hamilton or Dee Gordon, while dreaming of contests against all-time greats Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.
Well, Mags is definitely fast, but he wasn’t even the fastest runner on the Palm Beach roster before being promoted to the Majors. That honor belongs to Darren Seferina.
Seferina is a bolt of lightning out of the box and at 2nd base. He’s seen his prospect status rise and fall since being drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 draft, but the speed is undeniable. Eli Alvarez is flashy at 2nd, but Seferina is the more sure-handed of the two and he might be the best defensive 2B in the organization. Now he just needs to find the consistency at the plate to regain his status as a top 30-35 prospect.
Pitcher Of The Week – Junior Fernandez: RHP, Age 20 – 1 Start, 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 85
Just 5 weeks into the 2017 Minor League Baseball season and one pitcher in the system is the owner of the two best starts so far this season. It’s not Sandy Alcantara, Austin Gomber, Luke Weaver, or even the dominant Jack Flaherty(although he has the next-two-best starts), it’s Junior Fernandez.
Fernandez made headlines this week after he threw the first complete game of his career. What an awesome moment. However, in an even more awesome moment of pure joy from the prospect, he tweeted out the screen shot(pictured above) of his stat-line from that start.
Fernandez has had a bit of a roller coaster season so far, following both of his gems with an average to below average start, so I’m extra excited to see how his next start goes this coming week. It’s great to see Fernandez keeping pace with some of the more heralded SPs in the organization.
Peoria (12-19) 6th Place, 5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Andrew Knizner: C/1B/DH, Age 22 – 23 AB, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 304/385/565/950
Knizner made our “Best of the Rest” prospect list mostly because of the pop, pitch recognition, and patience at the plate that he showed at Johnson City after being drafted. It is highly encouraging that this trend has continued so far this season at Peoria.
In 101 ABs this season Knizner has only struck out 9 times while walking 7 times and slugging 4 HR. That’s the kind of line that you want to see from a former Freshman All-American 3rd baseman turned Catcher. Knizner is still new to catching and he is making progress behind the plate, but his best chance at making the majors at this point would be as a corner infielder.
Don’t count Knizner out just yet, though. He’s an impressive blend of athleticism and intelligence(Academic All-American) that you want behind the plate.
Pitcher Of The Week – Mike O’Reilly: RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 65
What a weird season it has been so far for Peoria’s pitching staff. It’s been nothing but inconsistent aside from Jordan Hicks. So, with that lede, I present to you Mike O’Reilly.
O’Reilly is a former 27th round pick out of the obscure Flagler College in Florida and, much like with Gabriel Lino, I have to admit that I don’t know an awful lot about him. I know that he has a good K rate so far in his young minor league career playing against equal-aged talent, but that he isn’t a traditional “swing and miss” kind of pitcher. So, those 12 swing strikes in his start is a good sign worth keeping an eye on.
Another thing that I do know is that he made a successful transition from the bullpen to the rotation this week to help a starting staff that was in dire need of stability. He’ll be in the rotation for the foreseeable future with Ronnie Williams moving to the pen to sort out his early season problems.
***UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
John Brebbia – Memphis: RHRP, Age 26 – 2017 SEASON: 11 Appearances, 20.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB, 21 K. 2.18 ERA. .200 Average Against.
Brebbia is yet another example of a pitcher/prospect that the Cardinals shoveled off of the scrap heap. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 30th round all the way back in 2011. He was decent for them for a little bit, but he found himself playing Independent League Baseball 3 seasons after being drafted.
And that is where the Cardinals found him. Brebbia isn’t the most impressive pitcher, but I really like watching him throw. He has a deceptive delivery and a 3/4-above arm slot that, when repeated, is tough for hitters to pick up.
Brebbia closed out Memphis’ game on Thursday night with a 2 inning performance that sealed the win for Arturo Reyes and the Memphis Redbirds. I think he has a small chance to make a major league impact, but only time will tell.
PREVIOUS WEEKS AWARD WINNERS
Thanks for reading!