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Weekly Farm Recap 7/22-28: The Bash Brothers of Memphis

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The week-in-review for the Cardinals’ minor league affiliates

MLB: Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The past few days full of trades, promotions and DFAs have shaken up not only the active roster, but the rosters of the minor league affiliates as well. As Mozeliak said in an interview with Jim Hayes, there’s more to come; with many of the prospects in the Cardinals’ system have had monstrous weeks at the plate and the Major League team staring down a sweep of the Cubs, it’s hard to tell who stays and who goes. For now, let’s take a look at some of the monstrous performances from St. Louis minor leaguers this week. As always, you can find all of the daily recaps here. Also, make sure to check out A.E. Schafer’s newest installment of System Sundays.

Memphis Redbirds - Week: (4-2), Year: (67-39)

The Redbirds now have a monstrous 16-game lead over the second-place Round Rock Express in the PCL American Southern division. Even as the team continues to be promoted and traded, Memphis is finding success.

Pitcher of the Week

Tommy Layne (LHP): 3 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Layne goes against my usual procedure for these honors as he’s definitely not a prospect. He’s a player to watch, though, and was a sneaky, low-risk signing by the Cardinals in mid-June. The 33-year-old Layne was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2007 and he’s seen Major League time every season since 2012 with the Padres, Red Sox and Yankees. So far, he’s thrown 12.2 scoreless innings for Memphis with 14.21 K/9, 0.71 BB/9 and a 1.32 FIP. St. Louis has made no effort to hide that they’re scrambling for left-handed relief; Layne offers more depth to throw at solving that issue.

Players of the Week

Tyler O’Neill (OF): .455/.586/1.364, 10 R, 3B, 6 HR, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 8 K

José Adolis García (OF): .407/.429/1.259, 8 R, 3 2B, 3B, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K

There was no way to choose after this week’s performances by O’Neill and García. The two-man wrecking crew combined for 17 extra-base hits, 12 of which were home runs, through 57 PA.

García started the season in the conversation about the teams wealth of young outfielders but had a terrible start to the year at the plate. He’s nearly pulled himself up to league-average offense and could very well move above that mark if he continues to hit well. It would be easy to see García’s name thrown into trade discussions as Mozeliak makes moves before the non-waiver trade deadline.

O’Neill has had a monstrous season for Memphis. His wRC+ is now 173. He’s averaging a home run every 10 PA. His slash line is .311/.388/.711. I’ve made no attempt to hide that I’m high on O’Neill, but from any standpoint it’s hard to make a case for keeping him in the minors—in St. Louis or otherwise.

Springfield Cardinals - Week: (5-2), 2nd Half: (10-19), Year: (43-56)

Springfield has gone 10-4 over the last 14 games and averaged nearly seven runs per game in that span. They gained three games on the division-leading Tulsa Drillers this week, now 7.5 games back in the Texas League North’s second half. The Cardinals begin a three-game series with the Drillers on Monday.

Pitcher of the Week

Austin Warner (LHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K

An undrafted free agent, Austin Warner was signed by the Cardinals on June 23, 2017 and assigned to the GCL Cardinals. This week, he earned a promotion to Memphis. Warner gets one last look in the Springfield section for his excellent start against the division-leading Tulsa Drillers on Monday. His first start for Memphis wasn’t excellent—seven hits, two runs over four innings—but he’s shown an ability to adjust to multiple new levels over the course of the season and should be fun to watch as Memphis goes on their postseason run.

Player of the Week

Andy Young (2B): .464/.516/1.000, 7 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 0 BB, 9 K, 3 HBP

Young took the honors for Palm Beach several times this season (last week included) and earned a promotion to Springfield. He posted above-average numbers at every level to this point in his career, but he’s exploded through his first week in the Texas League. With five home runs through his first seven games, combined with his Palm Beach total of 12, Young has already tied his season total in 2017. The 2016 37th-rounder has solid power, especially for a middle infield prospect; it’ll be fun to see if he can continue to dominate the competition in Springfield.

Palm Beach Cardinals - Week: (3-3), 2nd Half: (16-19), Year: (55-44)

After a strong first half, Palm Beach has had a middling second portion of the season, stumbling to a 16-19 record. Their playoff birth was clinched with a first-half win and they still own the best overall record in the division, but the PB Cardinals are now third in the Florida State League South, four games behind the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Pitcher of the Week

Colton Thomson (LHP): 3 G, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K

At 26 years old, Thomson is a bit older than the usual competition in the Florida State League. He started the year with Palm Beach and picked up a May 18 promotion to Springfield, but after pitching to a 4.41 ERA and 4.75 FIP he was sent back down to the PB Cardinals on July 8. He’s been excellent in the FSL this season, with a 1.73 ERA, 2.23 FIP and 82.1% LOB%.

Player of the Week

Irving Lopez (2B): .381/.440/.714, 5 R, 4 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, SF

Lopez was the Cardinals’ 19th-round pick in 2017 and has hit well throughout his short professional career. After putting up a 117 wRC+ at Peoria this season, he earned a call-up to Palm Beach late last week. The numbers above are currently his entire sample size in the FSL; he’s come into the new level and adjusted very well to this point. With the home run he hit this week, he tied last year’s home run total of five.

Peoria Chiefs - Week: (4-2), 2nd Half: (21-12), Year: (60-43)

Peoria again put on a solid performance, now nine games above .500 in the second half, but remain three games behind the the surging Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League Western division. Peoria begins a three-game set with the Kernels on Wednesday. Their overall record of 60-43 is still tops in the division.

Pitcher of the Week

Alex Fagalde (RHP): 2 GS, 12 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 15 K

Fagalde is a pitcher we’ve seen here pretty frequently, and with good reason. In 77.1 innings for Peoria, he has a 1.63 ERA, striking out just under nine batters per nine innings and walking just under two. A 30th-round pick in 2017, the 24-year-old Fagalde made two starts for the Chiefs this week and gave up only two hits across twelve innings, striking out 10 batters in his seven-inning start on Saturday.

Player of the Week

Yariel Gonzalez (1B): .476/.500/.857, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K, SB

Peoria’s corner infielders have been stellar, pretty much alternating weeks in their placement on this list. Gonzalez collected ten hits in 21 AB, four of which went for extra bases. The 24 year old’s wRC+ now sits at 127 on the season for Peoria. Gonzalez’s average is now at .317 and his strikeout rate is below 13%.

State College Spikes - Week: (4-2), Year: (17-23)

Even with above-average play this week, State College remains 8.5 games behind the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the NY-Penn’s Pinckney division. They play the Scrappers next Saturday to start a three-game series.

Pitcher of the Week

Michael Baird (LHP): 1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Baird has made seven appearances for State College, but Wednesday’s start was just his second so far. It was an excellent performance, giving up no hits over five innings and striking out six. Baird was the Cardinals’ 23rd-round selection in this year’s draft and currently has a 1.48 ERA through 24.1 innings with the Spikes.

Player of the Week

Brandon Benson (OF): .333/.375/.600, 4 R, 2 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 SB

Benson started his professional career with a nice short-season at State College in 2017, but started 2018 with the GCL Cardinals. He trounced the competition there and was sent back to the Spikes on July 10, where he struggled for the most part. This past week, however, he had a very strong performance across 16 PA, posting an OPS of .975. Benson was promoted to Peoria yesterday.

Johnson City Cardinals - Week: (3-4), Year: (16-20)

Johnson City struggled to a 3-4 record over the past seven days, now in a three-way tie for last place, seven games behind the Elizabethton Twins in the Appalachian League West.

Pitcher of the Week

Cole Aker (RHP): 2 GS, 10 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K

Aker, turning 22 in September, was the Cardinals’ 18th-round pick in this year’s draft. He began the season with the GCL Cardinals and made six appearances totaling 17.1 innings, one of which was a start. Since his promotion to Johnson City on July 17, both of his outings have been starts—and both took place this week. He didn’t surrender a run over his 10 innings, carrying a WHIP of 1.00 and striking out 11.

Player of the Week

Leandro Cedeno (C/1B/OF): .400/.419/.633, 8 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 9 K, HBP, SB

Cedeno was an international signee at the age of 16 in 2014 and has spent the previous three seasons between the DSL and the GCL. Through 128 PA with Johnson City, the 19 year old has a 128 wRC+, currently slashing .330/.398/.548. Though listed as a catcher defensively, he actually hasn’t logged any time behind the plate since 2016. This season, he’s spent the bulk of his time at first base or the corner outfield spots.

GCL Cardinals - Week: (1-3), Year: (22-10)

It was an uncharacteristic performance from the GCL Cardinals going 1-3 in their rain-shortened week. They lost two head-to-head matchups with the GCL Mets but still hold a four-game lead in the East division.

Pitcher of the Week

Chris Hunt (RHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Hunt was drafted by the Cardinals in the 39th round in 2017. This is his second season in the GCL and, though his FIP has slightly increased, his actual results have greatly improved, moving from 4.09 ERA in 2017 to a 2.53 so far in nearly the same number of innings in 2018. Hunt doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, but he doesn’t walk many either; his BB/9 is 1.27 to this point. His K/9 has dropped more than an entire strikeout since last year, but that may be intentional — his groundball rate has gone up 10%, from 29.7% to 39.7%.

Player of the Week

Andrew Warner (OF): .333/.368/.611, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K, HBP

Another late-rounder in the GCL, Warner was a 40th-round pick for the Cardinals in the 2018 draft. He’s having a monster year through 131 PA, with a 176 wRC+ and a slash line of .333/.427/.577. Through those appearances, he already has 20 extra-base hits: 16 doubles, one triple, and three home runs. Warner’s walk rate is around 8.4% and his K% is below 20%. If he continues to dominate GCL pitching like this, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 22 year old earn a promotion.