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 7 (May 19th – May 25th)
MEMPHIS (29-19) 1st Place, 4 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Harrison Bader: OF, Age 22 – 28 AB, 1 Double, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 393/433/536/969
Well, I guess that Mr. Bader heard the message loud and clear after being “snubbed”(I use that term lightly here) by the Cardinals when they turned to Magneuris Sierra over him when they needed an outfielder at the major league level.
All indications are that Bader will top out as an average defensive CF, so he is really going to need to keep hitting the ball the way that he did this week. I still struggle to see how he fits in with this organization, but he’ll have a place if he keeps hitting.
Pitcher Of The Week – John Gant: RHP, Age 24 – 1 Start, 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Game Score of 56
It was kind of a weird week for the starting staff at Memphis. Marco Gonzales had another great start at the beginning of the week, only to be shelled on Thursday night. Also, Luke Weaver was less than spectacular over his two starts.
So, instead, I am going to give this award to John Gant because he was really good as he continues to build his pitch count back up following his DL stint to start the season.
I also wanted to mention Gant because the major league bullpen is going through a bit of an identity and confidence crisis as we speak. Gant is already on the 40 man and he’d be my pick for a bullpen spot if someone either got hurt, was released, or DFA’ed. Keep an eye on that.
Springfield (24-21) 1st Place, 2 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Jose Adolis Garcia: OF, Age 24 – 24 AB, 2 Doubles, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 417/462/750/1.212
HA…. HAHAHA… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Wow, did Jose Adolis Garcia (or “JAG” as I’ve come to refer to him as) absolutely smack the cover off of the ball this past week!!! Both of his homer’s were no-doubters, too. So far this season, JAG’s season has been a bit of a roller coaster. He started off slow, then adjusted and murdered the ball. Then he used the last week to bust out of another slump. I get the impression that Mr. Garcia is going to be a very streaky hitter because of this early trend.
Garcia has played mostly RF for Springfield, but he has shown the ability to hold his own in CF when called upon. Of course, that won’t matter so much now that Mags Sierra is there, as he is probably third on the depth chart behind Oscar Mercado then Mags.
But Garcia has a cannon of an arm that, I imagine, will start to get more attention very soon. He registered his Double A leading 7 outfield assist this week. He is a blast to watch when he is on.
Pitcher Of The Week – Matt Pearce: RHP, Age 23 – 1 Start, 9 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 74
It’s taken 7 weeks to get there, but we are finally where we thought we’d be with the Springfield staff. While not all of the starts from the staff this week were “quality starts”, the SP left every game this week with a chance for their team to win the game.
But even then, this award has been a two horse race for some time now between Matt Pearce and Jack Flaherty, and this week wasn’t any different. Flaherty had the better game score by one point this week, but Pearce gets the nod for going the distance in his start. As we mentioned the last time that Pearce won the award, completing games that he starts is something that he does more frequently than anyone in the organization.
Pearce is a contact pitcher that needs to work down in the zone to not get blown up and he doesn’t have much swing and miss stuff, but he throws strikes and hits the corners as well as any pitcher in the system. I’m a big fan of Pearce, but I have no feel for his professional career-potential.
PALM BEACH (27-20) 2nd place, 0.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Randy Arozarena: OF, Age 22 – 28 AB, 5 Doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 8 SO, 393/414/679/1.092
I believe that it is not a coincidence that both of the big name Cuban signees that are playing for full season affiliates are starting to get hot at the same time. Much like Mr. JAG at Springfield, Arozarena is getting hot as the weather gets hot, much like the conditions they’ve spent their entire lives playing in.
Among the highlights for Randy this week were back-to-back games in which he went 4 for 5. I am a concerned by the high K number and nonexistent walk number this week, so that’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on. Also, Arozarena has been spending way too much time at a corner OF position for my liking and his talent level, and I’d really like to see him there everyday over the likes of Shane Billings and Thomas Spitz.
Pitcher Of The Week – Ryan Helsley: RHP, Age 22 – 2 Starts, 14.2 IP, 11 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 K, .216 Average Against. Game Scores of 68 and 80.
Through 43.2 innings over 8 starts Helsley has 42 Ks, an ERA of 3.50, a WHIP of 1.19, an Average Against of .236, and an OPS Against of .638. Pretty good.
But let me stress this; Helsley has been better than those stellar numbers indicate.
Helsley’s numbers are bogged down by two horrendous start in which he only pitched a total of 5.2 innings over those starts while walking 6 and allowing 13 earned runs. He has only allowed 4 earned runs in his other 6 starts spanning 38.2 IP.
Helsley has electric stuff (he induced 18 swinging strikes in his last start), especially his fastball. The problem that he runs into is that he tries to over power with it too much. As a result, he walks more guys than he should.
What I like most about where he is at right now is that he followed up one of his worst starts of the season with his two best starts. It’s a terrible and often untrue sports cliche, but maybe he just needed to get kicked around a little to understand the importance of locating his pitches at this advanced level.
Peoria (17-28) 8th Place, 9 Games back
Hitter Of The Week – Nick Plummer: OF, Age 20 – 21 AB, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 8 SO, 286/375/429/804
Nick Plummer had a very solid week and I love to see that his numbers are trending in the correct direction (expect for those strike outs), but please take note that this average week was head and shoulders the best offensive week by a Peoria Chiefs position player.
Now, with Tommy Edman getting promoted to Palm Beach and Andrew Knizner struggling for the first time in his professional career, that team is really going to need someone else to step up and start showing signs of true development, because right now they just aren’t getting that from anybody not named above.
Still, good for Nick Plummer. I love to see that he is hitting and hitting with a little bit of pop, as the 3 doubles illustrate. I’ve heard reports that his defense in CF has been a little shaky, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt for a little bit as he gets back up to game speed after missing so much time over the last few season to injury.
Pitcher Of The Week – Mike O’Reilly(pictured):RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 8.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. Game Score Of 96
Just a couple of things worth knowing about Mike O’Reilly:
-He started the season in Extended Spring Training but was called upon by Peoria on 4/22 for bullpen depth.
-He was a 27 round pick in in 2016 out of Flagler(huh?).
-He is….. Irish?
But the only thing that really matters is that this wild card of a pitcher now owns the best starting performance of the season for a Cardinals affiliated pitcher. O’Reilly is in control and efficient, and that was on display when he took a no-hitter into the 9th on 5/20. After striking out the first hitter of the ninth swinging, a single to right broke up the no-no.
So far, O’Reilly has been more than just a one start phenom for Peoria. Over 26 innings spanning 3 starts and 6 total appearances, O’Reilly has struck out 26, walked 3 batters, and has held hitters to a .156 average against entering his Friday night start. He might just be a name that fades into the Cardinals’ prospects history books, but he certainly has my attention right now.
***UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
Jose Martinez – Peoria: SS/IF, Age 20 – 17 AB, 6 H, 0 Doubles, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, 353/421/353/774
I have to admit that I am not putting Martinez on here for his past-weeks’ performance. This is more about mentioning a player that I think is going to surge a little bit over the coming weeks.
Now, when I say “surge” I don’t mean “tear the cover off of the ball”. What I mean is that with Tommy Edman getting the promotion to Palm Beach, Martinez, the scrappy infielder not the 29 year old strapping OF that Cards Nation knows and loves, is going to be getting his fair share of reps at SS and 3B for Peoria. There is virtually little power in that frame and stroke, but he could provide a speed-spark for a lineup that needs help.
I love highlighting middle infielders and slick defensive players, and Martinez is both of those things. No, he isn’t going to rake. He will be fun to watch, though.
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