Every Saturday (and some Fridays when my schedule allows it) 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 8 (May 26th – June 1st)
MEMPHIS (32-22) 1st Place, 4 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Carson Kelly: Catcher, Age 22 – 20 AB, 1 Double, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 350/409/550/959
Carson Kelly had a really really great May, but was over shadowed on this list by great individual weeks by Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader. It’s a shame, too, because Kelly has been every bit as good as we all hoped he would be. Maybe even better.
With 7 HR through 139 At-bats this season he has already bested his 2016 HR total (6). With 9 doubles, he is already more than half way to his 2016 total in doubles(17). He’s slugging, he’s fielding, and he’s field-generaling just as much as we all hoped he would be.
And if you question his ability to call a game, which you shouldn’t, take into account that Luke Weaver and Marco Gonzales, along with Arturo Reyes and Daniel Poncedeleon before he got hurt, are pitching as good or better than they every have. And all while pitching in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
It might sound like blasphemy, but there is a real chance that the Cardinals best catcher isn’t currently on the major league roster. That’s how good Kelly has become.
Pitcher Of The Week – Marco Gonzales: LHP, Age 25 – 1 Start, 0-1, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Game Score of 67.
Marco Gonzales appears to be back to his old tricks; the tricks that had us excited for his potential as a major leaguer.
Through 5 starts he’s thrown 4 quality starts and he is averaging just under a K per Inning. However, I’m most impressed by the control that he has shown. He’s only walked 2 batters over those 4 quality starts.
He’s had one rough start in which he walked four batters, but I have to admit that I was really impressed with him in that game. He really struggled to get the ball in on right handed batters. As a result, he was leaving everything over the middle of the plate during the early innings of the game. He even let up a couple of moonshot HR’s. But he really worked through his struggles to end that start strong. Most pitchers that are recovering from Tommy John have these kinds of games. I like that Marco has recovered well from it.
Right now, Marco is doing exactly what he needs to and he is even further along in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery than I expected. He’s throwing strikes about 67%, getting hitters to swing through strikes about 14% of the time, and he’s getting ground ball outs nearly 48% of the time.
Marco has really settled in.
Springfield (27-24) 1st Place, Tied
Hitter Of The Week – Jose Adolis Garcia: OF, Age 24 – 22 AB, 2 Doubles, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, 364/417/455/871
It was a quiet week for the bats at Springfield, so JAG’s relatively modest week turned out to be the cream of the crop.
As I often do with my time for an award winner that was “just OK” for the week, I want to take a little time to talk about what JAG needs to improve.
First off, He’s K’ed 41 times in 170 AB’s, which is too high. however, It’s not as bad as I anticipated. Yes, he needs to cut down on the strike outs, but I’m convinced that will come in time. Also, JAG is way too fast to be 5 for 10 in SB attempts. He has elite level speed, maybe even on par with Mags Sierra, and I’d like to see him use that more.
But, most importantly, I am stunned that he only has 5 HR so far this season. I expected something closer to 10 HR by this point, and his modest HR drive is shocking to me. His 11 doubles are a solid number for sure, but I thought that we see more K’s and more HR’s from Garcia at this point.
That probably proves that he is working on refining his approach to increase his chances of success at the plate, but I want more home runs!!!
Pitcher Of The Week – Matt Pearce: RHP, Age 23 – 2 Starts, 1-1, 14 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. Game Scores of 85 and 50.
So, one of Pearce’s starts was way better than the other, but that starts was so damn good that it dwarfed the mediocrity of his average start.
Pearce started the week by throwing his second straight complete game of the season, a 9 inning effort that also registered as a shutout. I love a good unheralded prospect, so it’s been fun for me to watch Pearce out-pitch some of the more highly thought of prospects in that Springfield rotation.
Pearce has won this award more often than I ever could have imagine he would, and most of what I say about him at this point is redundant. It’s the same info over and over. That’s funny to me, because my write-ups on him are exactly like his pitching performances: the same thing over and over. I’d pick Pearce if I had to pick one pitcher in the organization at this point to give me a 7 inning, less than 2 ER, 70% strike performance.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
PALM BEACH (32-21) 1st Place, 0.5 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Tommy Edman: MI, Age 22 – 19 AB, 1 Double, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 316/364/526/890
Tommy Edman becomes the first Cardinals prospects to win this award at multiple levels. He had almost been a weekly mainstay on this list for Peoria and it’s great to see that his production hasn’t fallen of since receiving the promotion to Palm Beach.
But the raving about Edman doesn’t stop there. Edman spent his first three games for Palm Beach playing 2nd base after playing SS almost exclusively for Peoria. But with regular SS edmundo Sosa struggling to field the position that he was once grade out as “plus” at, Edman has taken over the normal short stop duties for the Cardinals. He’s a solid SS that lacks any real standout tools in the field, but he can make the flashy play when needed.
Edman is a professional hitter that is probably playing at an equally talented level for the first time since he was taken in the 6th round of last years draft. More than likely, he’s the next Greg Garcia or Daniel Descalso, but there is a lot of upside there that should be fun to watch as he learns to tap into it.
Pitcher Of The Week – Ryan Helsley: RHP, Age 22 – 2 Starts, 2-0, 13 IP. 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 19 K. Game Scores of 80 And 72.
Ryan Helsley was so good this week that he wins this award over a guy in Derian Gonzalez that threw consecutive 7 inning, 0 ER, 6 K performances. He also outperformed an 8.2 IP gem from Zac Gallen. Simply put, Helsley has been dominant.
Over these two starts he’s held hitters to a batting average against of .136 and an OPS against of .356, which is laughable. He’s doing this while relying heavily on a fastball that lives in the 96-97 MPH range that is lively and nasty. He’s also learning, successfully I might add, how to better use a change up and curve that both have shown signs of being average/above average.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spend a lot of time gushing about the potential of Helsley. I’ve said on multiple occasions that this is his season to break out and shine. Well, he is doing that and, aside from two really rough starts, Helsley has been one of the 5 most dominant pitchers in the systems. He is three dominant starts removed from his last rough start, and he has yet to let up an earned run over those 20.2 innings since. He’s done that while striking out 23, walking 3, and holding hitters to a slash line of 181/213/236/449.
Get on board the Helsley train before it leaves the station, folks. You’ll see him in the majors before it’s all said and done.
Peoria (22-31) 6th Place, 8.5 Games Back
Hitter Of The Week – Andy Young: Utility, Age 23 – 25 AB, 4 Doubles, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, 400/444/1.040/1.484
I love middle infielders who can rake. The only thing that I love more than that is catchers who can rake.
Andy Young RAKES. Also, Andy Young can and has played EVERYWHERE on the diamond. Since being drafted in the 37th Round of the 2016 draft he’s played SS, 2B, 3B, RF, and LF. He isn’t above average at any of those positions yet, but he is showing signs of improving at both 3rd and 2nd in particular. He’s listed at 6’0, 195 pounds, but I’d bet he’s a kick shorter than his listed height and a kick stockier than his listed weight.
Andy Young was our organizational Player Of The Month for May because he outperformed some truly great performances by guys that a more highly touted than he is. However, because of his swing mechanics, power potential, and versatility, I’m going to bet that we see Andy Young’s name a lot more than the Cardinals or their fans could have anticipated.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jordan Hicks: RHP, Age 20 – 2 Starts, 2-0, 12 IP, 3 ER, 6 BB, 11 K. Game Scores of 56 And 59
It’s nice to see Jordan Hicks’ name back on the list. It’s been a few weeks.
While both of his starts weren’t exactly spectacular, Hicks has become a model of consistence for Peoria. You can count on him to go six innings. He’s usually going to give you a quality start. He walks a few too many hitters, but his stuff is so electric that those walks generally don’t hurt him too bad (yet).
He’s been hitting 97-96 MPH regularly with his fastball, even late in games. Even though he doesn’t have the command of it that you’d like to see, his curve is still a 70 grade and he is getting a better feel for it every start.
Peoria’s rotation has been less than stellar since the beginning of the season. Hicks’ consistent and solid performance since the start of the season, along with the breakout pitching of Mike O’Reilly, has been about the only thing that Peoria can count on.
***UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
Ian McKinney: Springfield – LHP, Age 22 – Double A Stats – 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1.80 ERA, .222 Average Against
McKinney gets the nod here for a lot of different reasons.
First, McKinney is a swing-man type cut from the clothe of Tyler Lyons. He’s a reliable reliever that can start when needed just like he was lined up to do on Friday night.
Second, he has good command of the strike zone and he can really make us lefties look dumber than we otherwise might be without his aid. I can really see him making an impact as a LOOGY in the majors.
Third, while the sample size is limited, McKinney has been every bit as good since getting the promotion to Springfield as he was for Palm Beach. It’s hard to evaluate players in the Florida State League because it can be a pitchers paradise, and that’s why it’s so great to see McKinney going pitch for pitch in the hitter-leaning Texas League as he did in the FSL.
McKinney is averaging a strike out an inning this season and, aside from one really bad appearance, is doing an improved job of limiting walks. If he keeps this up, McKinney could end up on the Ryan Sherriff train to St. Louis.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
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