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 6 (May 12th – May 18th)
MEMPHIS (26-15) 1st Place, 6 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Luke Voit: 1B, Age 26 – 20 AB, 3 Doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 SO, 400/478/700/1.178
If Luke Voit had a business card it would state, simply, “Luke Voit: I Rake”.
The thing that stands out to me the most about the start that Voit has gotten off to is that he is well out-pacing all of his numbers from his breakout 2016 campaign for Springfield. He finished last season with 20 doubles and 19 HR in just under 500 AB. So far in 2017 he has 12 doubles and 8 HR in just under 150 AB. It isn’t easy to have those kinds of gains and, potentially, your best career season at AAA. He deserves way more attention than he is getting.
The fun thing for Cardinals fans to do lately is compare Voit to Xavier Scruggs or David Washington. Let me makes this clear: Voit is better than both of those guys and he is probably dialed in at the plate more now than any of the other flash-in-the-pan prospects we are familiar with. He has staying power and I hope he gets a chance at the major league level.
Pitcher Of The Week – Marco Gonzales: LHP, Age 25 – 1 Start, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 71
Welcome back, Marco Gonzales! Luke Weaver might have had a more dominating start against El Paso this week, but Marco’s start was more impressive.
In his first start at Memphis since having Tommy John Surgery in 2015, Marco threw 59 of 84 pitches for strikes while inducing 14 swing and misses with an 8/9 ground ball to fly ball ratio. This probably doesn’t make any sense, but what I liked most about this start, other than that it went 7 innings and was totally efficient, was that it almost matched the rehab start that he put together last week for Palm Beach. He’s already pitching consistently, which is rare this early on in recovery from Tommy John.
With Marco and Weaver pitching like top prospects at Memphis, John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny can breathe easy knowing that there is a little bit of starting pitching depth ready to answer the call at Memphis if needed.
Springfield (20-18) 2nd Place, 1 Game Back
Hitter Of The Week – Anthony Garcia: OF, Age 25 – 25 AB, 3 Doubles, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO, 400/467/640/1.107
I have to say that the current state of the Springfield lineup is heart breaking. It’s worth getting and staying excited about Mercado and Jose Adolis Garcia, but with Eliezer Alvarez now on the DL, the lineup looks more like the cast outs of the Memphis Redbirds than it does a Springfield Cardinals roster.
That being said, Garcia did have a very solid week. I’ve heard that he is using the demotion to Springfield to refine his approach and that is absolutely needed. I don’t know. Honestly, there really isn’t a lot to say here. Good luck to the veteran Double A+ trio of Anthony Garcia, Jacob Wilson, and Alex Mejia.
Pitcher Of The Week – Matt Pearce: RHP, Age 23 – 1 Start, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Game Score of 66
If I could use one adjective to describe Matt Pearce it would be “sneaky”.
As the fifth member of a pitching staff loaded with top 15 organizational prospects, Pearce has been Springfield’s second best SP behind Jack Flaherty. He consistently throws strikes and pitches low in the zone, and he’s held hitters to a .204 average against. This level of effectiveness isn’t new for Pearce. In 2016 he led the system in complete games with 4. That’s a pretty solid number. He is never going to strike out a lot of guys, but the is a future in the major leagues for any pitcher that can keep the ball in the ball park.
The big body right hander reminds me in nearly every way of former Cardinals’ SP Jake Westbrook and I really hope that he keeps it up.
PALM BEACH (21-19) 2nd Place, 4.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Darren Seferina: 2B, Age 23 – 28 AB, 2 Doubles, 3 Triples, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, 429/429/714/1.143
Seferina has really been heating up over the last two weeks and that is such a great sign. As I mentioned after he won the award last week, Seferina is an absolute burner and he is probably the best defensive 2nd baseman in the organization, so to see that he is starting to hit with more regularity is a great sign.
It isn’t a coincidence that Seferina success is coming as he starts to cut down on the strike outs. Over his last 55 AB spanning the last two weeks he has only struck out 7 times which is a drastic change of pace when compared to the 21 times that he struck out in his first 71 at bats of the season. Seferina has never been a high K guy, so it’s important that we are seeing that rate regress to the norm.
Seferina is a very talented player that has done a good job of turning a tough start to the season into adjusted success. If Eli Alvarez’ DL stint at Springfield last longer than than the Cardinals hope, I’d be anxious to see Darren get a chance at the Double A level.
Pitcher Of The Week – Zac Gallen(pictured): RHP, Age 21 – 1 Start, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 80
Want to sound smart? Start throwing Zac Gallen’s name around when you talk about the top pitching prospects in the Cardinals system.
The 3rd round pick and former Tar Heel has been the best pitcher not named Jack Flaherty in the Cardinals system as we approach the two month mark in the minor league season. His week was good, but his season has been better. Through 7 starts the righty has K’ed 51 in 43 innings while posting an ERA of 1.47, a WHIP of 0.93, and he has allowed 1 walk for every 6.38 strike outs.
Gallen entered the season as a soft throwing, strike throwing, command-first pitcher, but he has seen his velocity tick up while getting a better feel for his off speed offerings, specifically his curve and change, thus elevating where his ceiling might originally been viewed at. The windy confines of Roger Dean is a tough place to gauge the effectiveness of a prospect, but the future certainly looks bright for Gallen.
And, for the love of Pete, he wears glasses on the mound!!!
Peoria (14-24) 7th Place, 9 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Andrew Knizner(pictured): C/1B/ DH, Age 22 – 24 AB, 4 Doubles, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, 375/444/917/1.361
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Knizner’s week at the plate has been the best week at the dish for a Cardinals hitting prospect so far this season. He brought the power, patience, and dramatics this week.
As I mentioned on Twitterk, Knizner is probably the best of the unheralded hitting prospects in the Cardinals system. He’s patient and disciplined at the plate and he is proving to be a leader and catalyst for Peoria. He’s the type of clutch player that you hope to have in your organization as well, as his dramatic 3 run home run in the 14th inning to walk it off for Peoria on Thursday night demonstrates.
In 315 AB’s since being drafted last June, Knizner has displayed good power, slugging 13 HR while striking out only 31 times and walking 30 times. That K to BB ratio is awesome and impressive and worth taking note of. A .400 OBP guy that doesn’t strike out and hits the ball with authority, Knizner is a name that you’ll be hearing a lot about in the future.
Pitcher Of The Week – Austin Sexton: RHRP, Age 22 – 3 Appearances, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, .190 Batting Average Against.
The starting staff at Peoria has been a major let down so far this season. After getting off to a good start, Aaron Hicks has had a rough May, Ronnie Williams has been demoted to the pen, and John Kilichowski has struggled to find consistency and the strike zone.
As a result, Sexton is our first relief pitcher to win a weekly POW award. Now, don’t let the futility of the starting staff distract you from how good Sexton was in week 6.
Sexton is yet another successful late round draft pick that is making solid strides in the organization. The 22 year old, 18th round draft pick in 2016 has been lights out over two levels so far in 2017. He has yet to allow a walk since being moved to Peoria and he has only allowed 1 earned run. It’s tough to gauge a relief pitcher at the minor league level, but that kind of production can not be ignored.
***UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
Nick Plummer: Peoria: OF, Age 20 – 2017 Stats- 42 AB, 1 Double, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 18 SO, 214/389/381/770
The stat line above, aside from the OBP isn’t impressive. It’s pedestrian. Here at The Redbird Daily we (almost exclusively ME) have been quick to point out how injury prone Plummer has been, which was catalogued once again as he missed a month of the season with an oblique injury.
But Plummer has been pretty good since coming off of the DL which is a great sign for a kid that hasn’t seen regular at bats in a year and a half.
In 9 Games since coming off of the DL on May 8th, Plummer has slashed 222/400/444/844 with 2 HR, 7 walks, and 12 strike outs in 27 at bats. The strike out number is alarming high, but I’m betting that we see that rate go down as he starts to get the regular at bats that we mentioned before.
It’s a pretty solid start for a the former first round pick and I can’t wait to keep an eye on how he progresses.
PREVIOUS WEEKS AWARD WINNERS
Thanks for reading!