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Weekly Farm Recap 6/17-23: Short-Season Affiliates Start

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All of the Cardinals’ minor league affiliates are playing ball.

milb.com

Happy Sunday to everyone. It’s time for the weekly farm recap — one that now includes all short-season affiliates as well. Two Cardinals affiliates have already clinched playoff berths from strong first-half performances and others seem headed that way. As always, you can find all of the daily recaps here. Make sure to check out Greg Ratliff’s recent piece on the Memphis Redbirds and the start of Jason Rollison’s coverage of the State College Spikes.

Memphis Redbirds - Week: (4-2), Year (45-30)

The Redbirds are still rolling. Now 45-30, their record trails only the Fresno Grizzlies (Houston’s affiliate) for the best record in the Pacific Coast League. Memphis is currently in the midst of a four-game set against the New Orleans Baby Cakes (Miami), winning Friday and Saturday’s games against former farmhands Zac Gallen and Sandy Alcantara. They hold a 8.5-game lead over the Baby Cakes in the American Southern division and have a chance to extend that margin with a win today.

Pitcher of the Week

Dakota Hudson (RHP): 2 GS, 14 IP, 15 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K

Last week’s pitcher, John Gant, will now toe the rubber against Cleveland on Monday. This week’s pitcher, Hudson, was being discussed in the media for that same rotation spot, and he hasn’t made it an easy choice (beyond the 40-man roster moves required). Hudson has been fantastic with Memphis this year, pitching to a 2.04 ERA over 88.1 innings. He hasn’t netted a lot of strikeouts, but he’s excellent at generating ground balls, as has been a love of the Cardinals for so long. Hudson has never posted a GB% under 57% at any professional level. FIP isn’t as sweet on him, but that’s to be expected given how reliant a groundball pitcher is on his defense. Even with the 40-man move required, it would be surprising if we didn’t see Hudson at Memphis sometime this year.

Player of the Week

Rangel Ravelo (1B): .600/.667/1.200, 1 R, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K

Ravelo gain takes the honors for Memphis. He only had three starts and 12 PA, but he made the most of his chances, falling a double short of the cycle in his performance on Saturday night. His wRC+ now sits at 128, a number that would be his highest mark at AAA if the season ended today. Ravelo has now matched his HR total from the past two years in roughly half the games. His ISO of .211 is a career-high. Some of the most impressive numbers from Ravelo are focused on his plate discipline — his BB% and K% are 9.2% and 11.2%, respectively.

Springfield Cardinals - 2nd Half (1-4), Year (34-41)

This is one of those situations where we’re rounding the “week” a bit; the second half of the Texas League began Tuesday. Springfield has continued a downward slide, currently 7-15 in the month of June. Their struggles this week came from both the mound and the plate, as they were outscored 13-28 across the first five games of the second half. They’re already three games back from the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League North.

Pitcher of the Week

Austin Sexton (RHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, HBP

Eleven pitchers came to the mound for Springfield across their five games. Only two didn’t allow a run. Of those two, only Sexton pitched more than 2.1 innings. Sexton was called up to Springfield from Palm Beach on June 16 and has been sterling, making three scoreless appearances. He had two outings to start the second half, going two innings on Wednesday and three innings on Friday. His FIP over those two scoreless starts is 4.42, so Sexton will be someone to watch as he continues to adjust to AA.

Player of the Week

Andrew Knizner (C): .600/.600/.867, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 1 K

Knizner can hit. That, at this point, has been confirmed. He’s put up at least a 124 wRC+ at every level he’s been assigned, including his 51-PA trip to Memphis when Kelly was with St. Louis. His nine-for-15 performance to start the second half has his triple-slash now at .329/.390/.455 for Springfield in 2018.

Palm Beach Cardinals - 2nd Half: (1-2), Year (40-27)

Palm Beach won the division in the first half of the Florida State League, beating the Jupiter Hammerheads by a half-game on the last day of the half. Second baseman Andy Young knocked 14 homers in the FSL HR Derby, advancing to the second round. Young was one of six PB Cardinals to make the trip to the All-Star Game. The others were Evan Kruczynski (LHP), Will Latcham (RHP), Anthony Shew (RHP), Jose Godoy (C), and Evan Mendoza (3B), who is now with Springfield. Palm Beach’s 1-2 start has them two games behind the Fort Myers Miracle in the FSL South division.

Pitcher of the Week

Jake Walsh (RHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

A 16th-rounder in 2017, Walsh is climbing pretty quickly. After spending last year with the short-season affiliate Johnson City, Walsh started 2018 with Peoria and climbed to Palm Beach in mid-May. He’s actually performed better with the High-A PB Cardinals than he did with the Chiefs, by both ERA (3.12 to 2.32) and FIP (3.76 to 3.37). His strikeout totals have been down since the promotion, however, but seem to be tracking up after posting six in his last outing, the most he’s netted in an appearance at Palm Beach.

Player of the Week

Dylan Carlson (OF): .364/.417/.364, 1 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB

The offense for Palm Beach was hard to find over the past three games, but Carlson was the most consistent. No extra-base hits, but Carlson was four-for-11 with one walk and a stolen base to start the second half. Carlson was promoted from Peoria earlier in the season, and has struggled to find himself offensively, posting a 98 wRC+ when he’s posted above-average offense at every other level.

Peoria Chiefs - 2nd Half: (3-0), Year (42-31)

Peoria didn’t win the division in the first half, but were able to clinch a playoff spot. They’ve started the second half strong, going 3-0 out of the gate, currently in a three-way tie with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Clinton LumberKings. They’ll look to finish a four-game sweep of Burlington today.

Pitcher of the Week

Alex Fagalde (RHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K

Fagalde again takes the honors for Peoria. The 30th-rounder continues to adjust well to starting, moving his ERA down to 2.18 for Peoria this season. Command continues to be a strength for Fagalde, as he now 9.15 K/9 and 1.52 BB/9.

Player of the Week

Matt Fiedler (OF): .333/.455/.778, 1 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K,

Fiedler is no stranger to this list, and he started the second half strong. He currently holds a 119 wRC+ through 108 PA for Peoria in 2018, already eclipsing last year’s stolen base and home run totals in his performance across both A and High-A. Even with topping last year’s homer total, his dinger this week was just his second for Peoria in 2018 and his third across all levels this season.

State College Spikes - Year (3-6)

The Spikes haven’t gotten off to a great start, going 3-6 to start the season. They’re averaging roughly a one-run differential per game, 3.3 R/G compared to opponents’ 4.2. They’re already 4.5 games back in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney division.

Pitcher of the Week

Jake Dahlberg (LHP): 2 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Dahlberg was a 21st-rounder in 2017 who spent the short season with Johnson City. He started 2018 with a relief appearance for State College and followed with a five-inning start in which he gave up four hits and struck out four. Dahlberg has yet to walk a man in his two 2018 appearances. He hasn’t surrendered a run as of yet and his FIP currently sits at 1.95. Dahlberg is a bit old for the New York-Penn League, turning 25 this year.

Player of the Week

Nick Dunn (2B): .320/.438/.520, 4 R, 3 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, SB

Dunn was the fifth-round pick for the Cardinals this year and he’s shot out of the gate for State College, putting up a triple-slash eclipsing the oft-desired .300/.400/.500 split. One of the most promising sights has been the plate discipline, as Dunn has drawn six walks compared to two strikeouts across 33 PA. He’s also showing some speed, having stolen a bag already in the young season. Dunn leads the Spikes in offensive production, currently boasting a 171 wRC+.

Johnson City Cardinals - Year (1-4)

It’s been a rough start for Johnson City. Walked-off in one loss, a failed ninth-inning comeback attempt in another, and a blowout with a 10-run differential. Just five games in, the JC Cardinals are last in the Appalachian League West, four games behind the Kingsport Mets.

Pitcher of the Week

Noel De Jesus (RHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K

De Jesus was signed as an international free agent in 2015 when he was 18. He struggled in his first 11 innings in the Dominican Summer League in ‘15, but has steamrolled the competition from 2016 on, going form the DSL to the GCL and now in the Appalachian League. All of his work has been with short-season affiliates and he’s yet to log 60 innings in a season, but it’s a strong start to 2018 for De Jesus.

Player of the Week

Dariel Gomez (3B): .444/.500/1.111 (10 PA), 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K

Gomez is another international signing, brought on at the age of 17 out of the Dominican Republic. As De Jesus did, Gomez played two seasons in the DSL before moving to the GCL in 2017 and now playing for Johnson City. He’s posted above-average production at every level, but has already matched his 2017 home run total in roughly 8% of last year’s plate appearances.

GCL Cardinals - Year (4-0)

The GCL Cardinals have kicked off 2018 with a bang. They dominated in their first game, beating the GCL Astros 10-0. The offense has stayed, scoring more than five runs in each contest so far. They currently hold the lead in the GCL East.

Pitcher of the Week

Diego Cordero (LHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K

The 20-year-old Cordero was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 and has played the last three seasons in the DSL, where he slowly transitioned to a starting role. Last season, he pitched to a 3.09 ERA and 2.71 FIP across 67 innings, featuring a measly 1.75 BB/9. Cordero had a strong start to 2018 in his first outing, and he gets the ball today against the GCL Astros.

Player of the Week

Raffy Ozuna (SS): .526/.550/.737, 7 R, 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K

Ozuna is yet another international signing from the 2015 class out of the DR, just 19 years old and feasting on GCL pitching through his first 20 PA. He struggled in the DSL in 2016 but dominated in 2017 and has shown no signs of slowing down. A .769 BABIP is obviously unsustainable, and the 5% BB% will need work, but with an average over .500 through the first few games, the kid seems fine for now.