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Weekly Farm Recap 8/5-11: Urías Shines in Memphis Return

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

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap. This week has featured both Dominic Leone and Tyler O’Neill rehabbing with AAA Memphis, as well as the call-ups of Adolis García and Patrick Wisdom, with the latter being long-awaited. Additionally, some high-profile prospects in the system have earned promotions to the next level of competition and done pretty well with their adjustments. Let’s take a look! As always, you can find the daily recaps here. Also take a look at A.E. Schafer’s recent addition to the System Sundays series.

Memphis Redbirds - Week: (4-2), Year: (74-44)

Even with the entire opening day rotation in St. Louis and one-fourth of the position players called up or traded, the Redbirds are still rolling. Now 30 games above .500, Memphis has an 11-game lead in the PCL American Southern division over the Nashville Sounds, who are on a ridiculous 12-game winning streak. Their magic number now sits at 12.

Pitcher of the Week

Austin Warner (LHP): 1 GS, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

Warner has now taken this spot for every team with which he’s pitched in 2018. At 24 years old, Warner made the climb from Palm Beach this season and has been excellent in his first three starts for Memphis. The lefty has a 2.16 ERA, 3.30 FIP in his first 16.2 innings with the Redbirds and has struck out roughly seven per nine innings while walking just under three per nine. His time with Springfield was pretty rocky, especially compared to his stellar performance with Palm Beach, so it’s great to see him settle back down in his first taste of AAA. The lefty has filled one of the holes left by graduated prospects well over the past month or so.

Players of the Week

Ramon Urías (2B): .455/.478/.636, 6 R, 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K, HBP

Urías actually played one of his games this week for Springfield, earning a call-up on August 7. He’s been injured more than once this season, taking a pitch off of the helmet for his first DL stint, and returned from another trip to the disabled list on August 2. His 1.017 OPS in 180 PA at Springfield was enough to earn him another promotion to Memphis, where he’s already seen some time this year but struggled out of the gate. He had no trouble with the AAA competition this week, launching a home run and a double while collecting ten hits in 22 at-bats.

Springfield Cardinals - Week: (3-3), 2nd Half: (21-28), Year: (54-65)

Springfield is still sputtering along, with playoff hopes all but all but gone at this point. They remain 7.5 games back from the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League North’s second half and sit seven games below .500, with their elimination number currently at 15. First half, second half or overall, the Cardinals are in last no matter how it’s sliced.

Pitcher of the Week

Evan Kruczynski (LHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

It’s Kruczynski again for Springfield. His first three starts since promotion to AA have all gone seven innings and included just one earned run with 19 Ks and three walks in those 21 innings. Known for its offensive production, Kruczynski seems to have completely stumped the Texas League since his promotion and could very well be continuing his climb soon, given the rate at which the Cardinals are promoting AAA pitchers.

Player of the Week

John Nogowski (1B): .364/.440/.500, 4 R, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 0 K

Nogowski was signed by the Cardinals midway through 2017 after he’d been released by the Athletics earlier that season. He’s done well for the Cardinals but this year has undoubtedly been his best year at the plate, currently with 135 wRC+ and a career-high home run total of nine through 282 PA. Nogowski’s walk rate has been 12.1% while his K% has been an astounding 6.7%. His OBP is nearly .400. Though the production has been impressive, Nogowski is 25 years old and has never seen any time at AAA.

Palm Beach Cardinals - Week: (4-3), 2nd Half: (23-25), Year: (62-50)

After a first-half division win, a second-half repeat doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Palm Beach. Even with an above-average week, the PB Cardinals fell further in the Florida State League South, now 7.5 games behind the Charlotte Stone Crabs. The Stone Crabs are riding a six-game winning streak and now have a one-game lead over Palm Beach in the overall standings as well with a 64-50 record.

Pitcher of the Week

Jake Walsh (RHP): 2 GS, 12 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K

Walsh, 23, earned a promotion to Palm Beach form Peoria in mid-May and has been excellent for the PB Cardinals. His strikeouts have dropped considerably but he’s lowered his BB/9 from 3.12 with Peoria to 1.97 with Palm Beach. This week featured two six-inning outings, which is about what Walsh has averaged per start this season, in which he really highlighted his command and showed an improved strikeout ability. His ERA through 82.1 innings is 2.30 and he carries a FIP of 3.82.

Player of the Week

Scott Hurst (OF): .625/.700/.875, 7 R, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 1 K

Hurst was going on an absolute tear this past week before he landed on the 7-Day DL. Promoted from Peoria on August 1, Hurst had a string of multi-hit games, collecting 10 hits over three contests, before being injured on August 10. This was his second injury of the season, as a hamstring issue sidelined him for nearly a month between June and July. When healthy, he’s been excellent in 2018; he had 120 wRC+ through 216 PA with Peoria and was off to a great start with Palm Beach.

Peoria Chiefs - Week: (3-3), 2nd Half: (28-18), Year: (67-49)

Even after a middling week, Peoria held ground in the second-half division race, still just two games behind the the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League Western Division. Their overall record of 67-49 is still the best in the division. The Chiefs will begin a three-game series against Cedar Rapids on Wednesday.

Pitcher of the Week

Zach Prendergast (RHP): 2 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

Prendergast came out of the bullpen twice for Peoria in difficult situations and righted the ship both times with some solid pitching. In both appearances, he was cleaning up after Paul Balestrieri really let the game get away. Prendergast’s appearances were 3.1 and 2.2 innings respectively and he didn’t allow a walk in either outing. The 3.1-inning performance was particularly impresive, as Prendergast came into the game and didn’t allow a hit, pitching well enough to allow a Peoria comeback for the win. He owns a 2.66 ERA in 64.1 innings for Peoria in 2018.

Player of the Week

Luken Baker (1B): .368/.429/.632, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K

Baker started the season late due to injury, but the Cardinals’ third pick of 2018 mashed the competition in the GCL to the point that he was given a promotion to Peoria after 24 at-bats. The TCU product has leveled out a bit for the Chiefs but is still producing at an above-average rate with 106 wRC+. He hit his first home run with Peoria this week, also knocking two doubles.

State College Spikes - Week: (6-1), Year: (25-30)

After a 2-6 record last week, the Spikes put on a dominant showing to log a 6-1 week and crawl a bit closer to the .500 mark. State College gained a bit of ground, now eight games behind the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the NY-Penn’s Pinckney Division. They’ve been a team full of streaks, alternating between winning five straight games, losing six straight, and their most recent five-game winning streak. State College’s elimination number now sits at 13. They’ll have a chance to gain more ground on Mahoning Valley when they begin a three-game set against the Scrappers on Friday.

Pitcher of the Week

Jacob Schlesener (LHP): 2 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 17 K

Schlesener was taken in the 12th round of the 2015 draft by the Cardinals as an 18-year-old high school pitcher and has spent the last few years working up through the GCL and the Appalachian League. His strikeout numbers have been through the roof the past two seasons, striking out more than ten batters per nine in both seasons, as you can see with his 17 Ks through 12 innings this week. Where Schlesener has struggled is in ridding himself of erratic command, again evidenced by his five walks in the above line. The good news is that, even though his 4.37 BB/9 in 2018 is still high, it’s more than three walks fewer than his 2017 total. Expected stats are even higher on his performance than his actual results have indicated, with a 3.09 ERA and 2.95 FIP in 35 innings with State College.

Player of the Week

Stanley Espinal (3B): .417/.462/.542, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, BB, 4 K, HBP

Espinal was picked up from the Red Sox in 2015 for international bonus pool money. Until this year, he hadn’t shown positive value at the plate in a season since his rookie ball debut in 2015. Espinal’s 2018 wRC+ is 127, easily the highest of his career, and he sports a .292/.346/.435 line through 161 PA. His BB% is around 7% and his K% sits at roughly 15%, and those are match up pretty well with his career norms. His BABIP is at .328, the highest mark of his career and nearly 100 points higher than last year, which could be the cause of his offensive breakout. Then again, his first pro season, in which he posted a 113 wRC+, was the only other season with a BABIP above .300, so we could see Espinal returning to form.

Johnson City Cardinals - Week: (1-4), Year: (21-25)

Johnson City reversed their performance from the previous week and fell further below .500. This week featured four rainouts in total, some of which will be made up today in a doubleheader against Bristol. The Cards lost a half game on the division-leading Elizabethton Twins and are now 5.5 games back in the Appalachian League West.

Pitcher of the Week

Colin Schmid (LHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

Schmid takes the honors again for Johnson City. He maintained his streak of given up three or fewer runs in all of his five starts and seemed to drill in further on his command issue, walking just one while striking out six. His seven innings of work dropped his season ERA below 5.00 for the first time (4.96), and the 2018 13th-rounder’s FIP is now at 4.56.

Player of the Week

Leandro Cedeno (1B): .331/.381/.667, 3 R, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI, BB, 5 K, HBP, SF

With Gorman’s graduation comes a much more fluid player of the week for Johnson City. This week, 19-year-old Leandro Cedeno takes the title with a power-packed performance at the plate. Signed out of Venezuela in 2014, Cedeno’s first pro season in the DSL in 2015 was a subpar performance with 90 wRC+. Since then he’s yet to post a total under 132, currently sitting at 161 wRC+ through 170 PA with Johnson City in 2018. His nine homers are just one short of his total from the previous three years combined and his .345/.424/.581 slash line is incredible. He’s definitely a victim of the strikeout bug, sitting down on strikes just over 28% of the time while walking roughly 7%. If he continues to produce like he has this season, that won’t matter much.

GCL Cardinals - Week: (3-3), Year: (30-15)

The GCL Cardinals played .500 ball this week but maintained their East Division lead of six games over the GCL Astros. Their magic number is now six, easily the best in the Gulf Coast League. The GCL Cards will have a significant chance to trim that number even further as they play the Astros twice this week (Monday and Saturday).

Pitcher of the Week

Brian Pirela (RHP): 2 GS, 13 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Pirela has been the most consistent pitcher on the GCL roster to this point in 2018, and he’s been featured here frequently because of it. Nine of his ten starts this season have gone at least five innings, and six of those have been six innings or more. His first start is the outlier, at four innings. He still isn’t striking out a ton of batters, but he’s showing much better command than he has in previous seasons, dropping his BB/9 by one batter since last season. His ERA (2.91) and FIP (3.82) show the results have been solid, even if the expected stats haven’t been as stellar as his results.

Player of the Week

Jhon Torres (OF): .391/.481/.783, 7 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, HBP

Torres was one of the outfielders acquired from Cleveland in the Oscar Mercado trade and he seems to be doing just fine adjusting to his new league and team. The 18-year-old outfielder was an international signee out of Colombia in 2016 and has put up above-average production in both of his professional seasons to this point. After starting in the DSL in 2017, he was playing on Cleveland’s Arizona League affiliate before the trade and is already two extra-base hits shy of tying his total in the AZL, but in nearly one-third of the at-bats.