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Weekly Farm Recap 8/12-18: Young Slugs for Springfield

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

Tom Hagerty/MiLB.com

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap. This week features a slew of rehab assignments, including Adam Wainwright, Dominic Leone, Carlos Martinez, Yairo Munoz and Michael Wacha. As always, you can find all the daily recaps here, where you can find more info on the individual rehab performances. Also take a look at A.E. Schafer’s recent addition to the System Sundays series.

Memphis Redbirds - Week: (2-5), Year: (76-49)

It was a down week for the Redbirds, one in which they rode a four-game losing streak. Even with their recent struggles, Memphis still has a 10-game lead in the PCL American Southern division over the Nashville Sounds, who have finally fallen back to earth with a four-game losing streak of their own. The Redbirds’ magic number is now just six.

Pitcher of the Week

Jake Woodford (RHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Woodford’s performance isn’t pretty on the stat line, but his seven innings contributed to one of only two wins for Memphis this week. Woodford earned a call-up from Springfield in late July and has pitched modestly in 48 innings for the Redbirds, holding a 4.13 ERA in that span. His numbers have improved in every facet since the promotion from Springfield; he’s walking fewer batters while striking out more, his home run rate has dropped and his run prevention has improved. Overall, Woodford is adjusting well in trying to fill one of the many holes left in the Memphis pitching staff.

Players of the Week

Tommy Edman (2B/3B/SS): .385/.452/.500, 6 R, HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K, SF, 2 SB

Edman just earned the promotion from Springfield to Memphis on August 11 and has gotten off to an excellent start. The 23-year-old Stanford product was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 draft and has shot up the ranks from State College to Memphis in that time. He was just above average at the plate in 473 PA for Springfield but has posted 143 wRC+ in 36 plate appearances with the Redbirds, holding a .400/.444/.500 line through eight games. Edman slugged his first home run with Memphis this week. Though he saw considerable time at third base with Springfield, Edman has played only shortstop and second base in his time at AAA.

Springfield Cardinals - Week: (1-4), 2nd Half: (22-32), Year: (55-69)

It was more of the same for Springfield this week, who have fallen to 10 games below .500 in the second half and even further down in their overall record. They’re now 8.5 games back from the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League North’s second half and have an elimination number of eight. Springfield is dead last in the division no matter how it’s viewed.

Pitcher of the Week

Matt Pearce (RHP): 1 GS, 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Pearce has been in the Cardinals’ system since 2014, when he was drafted in the 13th round out of Polk State Community College. Now 24, the right-handed pitcher has bounced back and forth between Springfield and Memphis over the past few seasons as he’s struggled to find success. This year has been tough on Pearce from a health standpoint, as his struggles with injuries have limited him to just 36.2 innings to this point. His extreme flyball nature (just a 28% GB rate) hasn’t helped things; when combined with his 10% HR/FB rate, it really highlights the struggles Pearce has faced in the Texas League. His 4.48 FIP is a bit more forgiving of his performance than his 5.15 ERA, but Pearce still seems to be at a pivotal point in his development.

Player of the Week

Andy Young (2B): .316/.381/.737, 2 R, 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, HBP

Young has been featured quite heavily in these recaps, initially at Palm Beach and then here for Springfield after his July 21 promotion. Young was great for Palm Beach, with 137 wRC+ in 351 PA, but his performance at Springfield has been even better. Young has 197 wRC+ in 101 PA with the Cardinals, with eight home runs in that time compared to the 12 he collected in more than three times the plate appearances in the FSL. His total of 20 on the year eclipses his 2017 mark by three, with a little less than a month left on the schedule. In fact, Young’s overall power has erupted with Springfield, holding a .670 slugging percentage and .318 ISO in his time in the Texas League. That type of power is great to see, but especially so from a middle infielder.

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

Another 4-3 week saw the PB Cardinals gain a game in the Florida State League South, now 6.5 games behind the Charlotte Stone Crabs, but it’s highly unlikely Palm Beach makes a push to take the second-half crown like they did in the first half. Palm Beach and Charlotte are now tied for the best overall record in the division.

Pitcher of the Week

Jesus Cruz (RHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K

Cruz, 23, earned a promotion from Peoria in mid-July. He had a great start in the FSL but struggled to find his footing as time went on. After getting roughed up for six earned runs through 2.2 innings on August 2, Cruz seems to have settled down. His last two starts have both been six innings and included nine strikeouts with just one walk. His last start was an impressive outing in which he allowed just four baserunners on four hits, walking none and allowing one run. Cruz was signed out of the Mexican League in July of 2017 and has shot up the system from the DSL to Palm Beach in just over a calendar year.

Player of the Week

Elehuris Montero (3B): .400/.438/.633, 5 R, 4 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, HBP, SB

He’s baaaaaack. There were some excellent offensive performances from Palm Beach this week, including a strong showing from Kramer Robertson who’s struggled to find his footing this season, but the now-20-year-old corner infielder takes this one given how fresh he is in the Florida State League. As good as Montero was in the Midwest League, being named the league’s MVP, he’s been even better in his short stint with Palm Beach. Through a small sample of 49 PA, Montero has 181 wRC+, knocking seven of his 18 hits for extra bases. His home run this week was his only one with the PB Cards to this point, but the out-of-the-park power falloff is somewhat expected given the nature of Roger Dean Stadium.

Peoria Chiefs - Week: (5-3), 2nd Half: (32-21), Year: (71-52)

Peoria surged to a 5-3 record this week to tie the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League Western Division. The Chiefs played the Kernels in a four-game series, two of which were a doubleheader played on Thursday, but were able to make up the remaining ground in their other contests. Their overall record of 71-52 is two games ahead of Quad Cities for the best in the division.

Pitcher of the Week

Jake Dahlberg (LHP): 2 GS, 14 IP, 14 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K

Dahlberg has made a few appearances here this year, mainly with State College, and takes the spot this week mainly due to his excellent performance on Monday. Dahlberg threw a complete game shutout, allowing eight hits and no walks while striking out six on 104 pitches. Dahlberg’s second start was less impressive, five innings in which he surrendered two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five, but it was still good enough for Peoria to pick up the win. Dahlberg now has a 2.42 ERA over 26 innings with Peoria after earning a call-up on August 1.

Player of the Week

Luken Baker (1B): .391/.500/.739, 4 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K

Baker is the player of the week for Peoria again, as his bat continues to roll along. In 99 PA with the Chiefs, Baker has 145 wRC+, holding a .311/.374/.489 line in that time. The delayed start due to injury doesn’t seem to be hurting him in the slightest, as he’s now showed dominance over both the GCL and the Midwest League.

State College Spikes - Week: (3-1), Year: (28-31)

The Spikes continue a climb toward .500, but their postseason hopes seem nonexistent. State College gained a bit of ground, now 6.5 games behind the new division leaders, the Auburn Doubledays, in the NY-Penn’s Pinckney Division. Mahoning Valley had held the top spot for most of the short season but have fallen into a seven-game losing streak and dropped into second place. State College’s elimination number now sits at 11.

Pitcher of the Week

Eli Kraus (LHP): 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Kraus started two of State College’s four games this week and helped the team to wins in both. A 24th-rounder in 2018, the Kent State product has only started three of his 10 appearances for the Spikes but looked solid in the past two, holding a 2.39 ERA through 26.1 innings. The 22-year-old hurler doesn’t have remarkable strikeout stuff; he’s K’d 6.84 batters per nine innings on the season, but he’s kept his BB/9 under two during that span. He adds to a string of interesting left-handed pitching prospects currently populating the St. Louis farm system.

Player of the Week

Brady Whalen (1B): (18 PA) .333/.444/1.067, 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, HBP

Whalen was drafted by the Cardinals in the 12th round of the 2016 draft and has moved pretty steadily, going from the GCL to Johnson City and now to State College. He found his production at the plate last year in the Appalachian League and has built on it further this season with 131 wRC+ in 205 PA for the Spikes. The Spikes only played four games this week but that didn’t stop Whalen from collecting five extra-base hits, including three homers. Formerly playing third base and a bit of middle infield, Whalen has spent the 2018 season exclusively at first.

Johnson City Cardinals - Week: (4-4), Year: (25-30)

Johnson City played to the tune of .500 ball in a week which featured three doubleheaders and held tight in the division race. They’re in fourth place in the Appalachian League West, five games behind the Elizabethton Twins. Johnson City’s elimination number is now 11.

Pitcher of the Week

Evan Sisk (LHP): 2 G, 4.2 IP, 2 SV, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K

Sisk has come out of the pen in all but one of his 16 appearances this season and has had electric stuff. 21 years old, Sisk was the 16th-round pick for the Cardinals in 2018 out of the College of Charleston and has a 1.73 ERA in 26 innings for Johnson City. This week featured two outings, one of which was a three-inning save where he collected five strikeouts and allowed no baserunners. Sisk has a K/9 of 10.38 to a BB/9 of 2.77.

Player of the Week

Moises Castillo (2B): .367/.406/.633, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, SB

Castillo was signed as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. Now 19 years old, he transitioned to second base after the 2016 season and has steadily progressed through the minor league ranks. Castillo just barely put up positive offensive value in his seasons in the DSL and GCL but has struggled in 150 PA for Johnson City with just 73 wRC+. He’s been bitten by the strikeout bug, with a K% of 22.7%, but it’s exacerbated by a meager 4.7% BB%, easily the lowest of his young career. Castillo put up an excellent eight-game stretch over the packed week, hopefully an indication that he’s returning to the average-to-above-average hitter he was previously.

GCL Cardinals - Week: (4-1), Year: (34-16)

The GCL Cardinals easily clinched an East Division win this week, moving to 18 games over .500 on the year and securing a playoff spot. The Cardinals have torn through the Gulf Coast League and will look to build on that momentum when they (more than likely) play as the first seed in the GCL playoffs. The regular season ends this Saturday.

Pitcher of the Week

Edgar Escobar (RHP): 3 G, 3 IP, 3 SV, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Escobar has been serving as the closer for the GCL Cards and has been lights out this season, holding a 1.33 ERA over 20.1 innings—at 1.11, his FIP is even higher on his performance. He’s shown brilliant command, striking out 31 and walking only three in 17 appearances over the course of the short season. He hasn’t allowed a single home run, either; in fact, Escobar has done an excellent job of limiting balls in play at all, with opponents hitting just .145 against him. The 21-year-old pitcher was signed as an international free agent at the end of May, a bit late compared to the usual age of international signings, but he’s been dominant in his first taste of professional ball.

Player of the Week

Jhon Torres (OF): .444/.545/.722, 3 R, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HBP, SB

Torres takes the honors again this week. As mentioned last week, he was one of the outfielders acquired from Cleveland in the Oscar Mercado trade and he’s lighting up the Gulf Coast League after changing over from the Arizona League. The 18-year-old outfielder now has 57 PA with the GCL Cards and has a .426/.526/.723 line in that time. His .298 ISO is nearly double what it was in 2017 and in his earlier AZL stint, both at .152.