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 9 (June 2nd – June 8th)
MEMPHIS (36-24) 1st Place, 4 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Nick Martini: OF, Age 26 – 20 AB, 7 H, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 350/435/500/935
Nick Martini and Harrison Bader had nearly identical weeks in Memphis, but I’ve giving Martini the nod because his OPS is higher on the week. I love OPS. Deal with it!
This is, I believe, Nick Martini’s 300th season in the organization. Or, at least it seems that way to me. Martini, much like Springfield’s Alex Mejia, Jacob Wilson, and Anthony Garcia, is a dynamite player to have in your organization for depth purposes, but has no real path or potential for the major leagues.
But please understand that Martini is a terrific player. He’s spent parts of three season in Memphis. He’s been good over those 419 Triple A at-bats, slashing 301/389/427/817 with 37 extra base hits while only striking out 70 times. He can play all three OF positions, although he isn’t exactly good in CF.
Martini is exactly what you need in the minor leagues if you have to trade a prospect-OF for an upgrade because he can play anywhere and do it without compromising the “true” prospects chances of winning and having team success. You can never have enough of these guys in the system.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jack Flaherty: RHP, Age 21 – 2 Starts, 0-0, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 13 K. Game Scores of 57 & 78.
HA! Well, Flaherty has been at Triple A for one week. So, of course he was going to pitch better than any other pitcher in Memphis over that time because that’s what he does!
As it might have been expect, Flaherty was solid but unspectacular in his first AAA start. That’s the way it works, often, for prospects when they make the jump-up a level. However, Flaherty shook the rust off quickly and his 2nd start at the Triple A level turned out to be your regular Flaherty-dominant start. In that 2nd start he threw 61 of 99 pitches for strikes while striking out 8, walking one, and allowing no earned runs.
In his first start, he only induced 4 swinging strikes, but in his 2nd start he jacked that number all the way up to 14. He had hitter off balance. Flaherty has faced 47 Triple A hitters. He’s thrown 63% of his pitches for strikes while holding those hitters to a batting average against of .159 and an OPS against of .463.
He’s made the PCL look about as foolish as he made the Texas League look so far.
Springfield (31-27) 1st Place, 1 Game Up
Hitter Of The Week – Oscar Mercado: OF, Age 22 – 28 AB, 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB, 464/483/714/1.197
My-oh-my is that a full stat line!
Mercado’s success at Springfield has lasted longer than anybody could have imagined. He is showing signs that he is becoming a more well rounded player, too. His K rate dropped in May from April, his stolen bases and success rate increased, and his doubles totals went up. He’s been even better so far over a small June sample, as the numbers above prove.
Mercado has become such an exciting player to follow and watch, but there is still work for him to do. He’s come a long way in CF, but he is still raw out there. I’ve seen him track down some very hard to get to fly-balls, but I’ve also seen him bobble and lazily approach grounders hit to him. Overall, he’s further along at CF than he should be this early into a position switch, but it needs a little tending.
Now, with he and Magneuris Sierra back in Springfield and sharing the same outfield and top of the lineup with Mercado, Oscar is poised to really breakout.
Pitcher Of The Week – Dakota Hudson: RHP, Age 22 – 1 Start, 1-0, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Game Score of 57
To confess, I’m cheating here. I’m giving the award this week to Hudson because I was really impressed with what I saw during his start. So impressed, that I don’t give a damn if another pitcher in Springfield pitched statistically better than he did.
I give Matt Pearce, another right-hander in the SPR rotation and frequent member of this list, a lot of credit for his ability to control and manipulate the strike zone. I have to tell you, Hudson has the ability to do the same thing as Pearce, but with more dynamic stuff. His slider/cutter really is a pitch of beauty and his fastball that lives in the mid-90’s is free and easy.
But even more impressive, Hudson loves him some ground balls. He induced 15 ground balls during his start on the 7th. As a matter of fact, he’s induced more ground balls than fly balls in 7 of his 10 starts while throwing 62% of his pitches for strikes. ERA isn’t everything, but his 2.98 ERA is a number to be extremely encouraged by. The Texas League isn’t always easy on pitchers, especially pitchers that are less than a year removed from College(ask Andrew Morales).
However, Hudson is doing just fine…
PALM BEACH (35-21) 1st Place, 1.5 Games Up
Hitter Of The Week – Chris Chinea: 1B/C, Age 23 – 16 Ab, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 375/375/563/938
Over the course of our counting-week Palm Beach had four games rained out, so the pickings were relatively slim. However, it was a fruitful offensive week for the club, as picking between Chinea, Randy Arrozarena, and Luke Dykstra turned out to be a difficult chance.
I’m giving the award to Chinea because, like OPS, I love doubles and Chinea doubles. He loves to double. He doubles, in spades.
Chinea’s 17 doubles, a number for which he is tied for second in doubles affiliate-wide, on the season leads Palm Beach and fellow prospect Arozarena by 1, as the two of them are engaged in a cat and mouse game of trying to out double each other.
Chinea would be my pick to follow the Luke Voit path to relevance if I had to chose. However, I do think that is unlikely. Still, I really love Chinea’s power potential and skill set.
Pitcher Of The Week – Jake Woodford: RHP, Age 20 – 1 Start, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Game Score of 80
I love Jake Woodford and sometimes I forget that.
When first glancing at his stats you’d immediately think that this 20 year old, former first round pick is having an OK season, at best. However, keep in mind that he is pitching in a league that is 3 years older than him on average. That takes some adjusting.
And “adjusting” is exactly what Woodford is doing. His batting average against on the season is .288, but over his last four starts he has it down to a more reasonable .250. He’s also struck out 17 over the 23 innings that comprise those four starts after only striking out 11 in his first 23 innings.
His start this week was easily the best of his season and one of the top 3 in his career. He is on the right track.
Peoria (26-33) 5th Place, 7.5 Games Out
Hitter Of The Week – Stefan Trosclair: 1B, Age 22 – 12 AB, 1 Double, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 1 IBB, 2 SO, 417/529/500/1.029
I had almost forgot that someone other than Andy Young could win the award for Peoria.
Trosclair is a really solid player that is kind of boring, but in a good way. He’s steady. He gets on base a lot, he doesn’t drive the ball or hit for a lot of power. He gives you consistent and solid at-bats. He can hit anywhere in the lineup. He plays a solid 1st base.
That’s great and Trosclair is fine and all, but Peoria is really starting to turn their season around and that has coincided with Andy Young turning up his productivity at the plate. As guys like Trosclair, Andrew Knizner, and Dylan Carlson start to balance out and succeed as the season progresses, I believe that Young’s ability to drive the ball is really starting to, through osmosis of the lineup, help these guys see better pitches and take more relaxed at-bats. Even when they aren’t directly in front of him in the lineup.
Getting back to Trosclair, he’s basically James Loney-lite right now, but he does have the frame and hands to add power, so don’t sleep on him for very long.
Pitcher Of The Week – Mike O’Reilly: RHP, Age 22 -1 Start, 1-0, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Game Score of 85
Well, O’Reilly did it again. I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised by the way a pitching prospect has burst onto the scene the way that O’Reilly has.
In mid-March, O’Reilly came 2 outs away from a no hitter, which is still the best Game Score(95) that a Cardinals minor league pitcher has put up this season. The taste of unsuccessfully being able to end that game must have been sour to O’Reilly, because it only took 3 more starts to find his grove and pitch a complete game shut out.
And the best part of his first career complete game shutout this week? He only needed 85 pitches to do it! He was more Greg Maddux than Greg Maddux as he completed the “Greg Maddux”.
I’d be lying to you if I told you that I had any idea if O’Reilly’s start at Peoria is sustainable. He lets up an awful lot of fly balls for a guy that doesn’t have the stuff to strike out a ton of guys. Honestly, I don’t even care if it’s sustainable. I just love to see the kid, any kid, pitching lights out.
***UNDER THE RADAR PERFORMER***
Ronnie Williams – Peoria: RHP, Age 21 – Season Stats – 41 IP, 48 H, 31 ER, 19 BB, 45 K, 6.80 ERA, .296 Batting Average Against
It’s been a tough season for Ronnie Williams. He has seen his stock plummet just two months after working his way up the organizational prospect rankings. After his start on May 8th he was demoted to the bullpen, a move that he was not happy with. He struggled out of the pen at first, as well. The good news is that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for Williams.
Over his last 6 relief appearances (15.1 IP) he has posted an ERA of 2.35 while holding hitters to BA Against of .226. He’s done this while striking out 16 and only walking 4. However, the number that I like the most is that he has only allowed 1 HR over those 15.1 Innings after allowing 6 HR in his first 25+ innings.
I am keeping an ultra-close eye on Williams. The Cardinals need him to be successful. They need him to rediscover his groove. And, at least recently, it looks like he is finding it.
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