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Daily Farm Report: Let’s Talk About Malcom Nunez

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Recapping Wednesday’s action down on the farm.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, so the lead picture isn’t Malcom Nunez. It’s Adolis Garcia, another Cuban player signed by the Cardinals who happened to make his MLB debut last night. But you knew that already. Truth is, there aren't many high quality pictures of Nunez floating around the interwebs. So you get Garcia during his debut. Still, there’s reason to start talking about a certain 17-year old crushing the DSL today.

In other news, Memphis had the day off on Wednesday while Johnson City had their game postponed due to rain. State College and Palm Beach picked up wins, making them the only non-complex teams to do so.

San Antonio Missions 4, Springfield Cardinals 1

Matt Pearce (SP): 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K’s

John Nogowski (1B): 1-4, RBI

Evan Mendoza (3B): 2-4

Tommy Edman (SS): 2-4, R

Springfield opened the scoring in the top of the first. Tommy Edman leadoff the contest with a single to left field. After an Andy Young HBP, Evan Mendoza grounded out to advance both runners. John Nogowski put the Cardinals up 1-0 with an RBI single to left.

San Antonio responded in the bottom of the second. After a leadoff walk, Austin Allen put his 20th home run of the season over the right field wall. The Missions added two more in the bottom of the fourth with a one out RBI single and another with two outs.

The Cardinals bats never showed enough life to overcome the deficit. Springfield is now 52-64.

Palm Beach Cardinals 16 at Florida Fire Frogs 10

Ian Oxnevad (SP): 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K’s

Scott Hurst (RF): 4-5, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 3 R

Stefan Trosclair (2B): 2-5, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 R

Brian O’Keefe (C): 1-4, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R

There were too many stellar offensive performances in Palm Beach to condense into a handful of highlighted players.

This game was all but finished after the top of the second, when the Cardinals put up 12 runs on the Fire Frogs. The huge inning included three double and one home run. Florida was able to cut the lead to 12-9 by the end of the seventh. In the top of the eighth, however, Kramer Robertson doubled and Trosclair and Yepez grounded into force outs that all amounted to three insurance runs. That was more than enough to shut the door on Florida.

Palm Beach is now 61-48.

Kane County Cougars 4, Peoria Chiefs 2

Jake Dahlberg (SP): 5 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 K’s

Zach Kirtley (DH): 2-3, 2B, BB

Luken Baker (1B): 1-5, 2B

J.R. Davis (CF): 2-4, 3B, 2 R

Nolan Gorman made his Midwest League debut, filling the hole left by Elehuris Montero’s promotion after dominating the GCL to the tune of a 180 wRC+. Gorman went 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.

As for game action, Kane County jumped out to an early lead. The Chiefs trailed a modest 2-0 heading into the fifth inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Wood Myers singled to center to score J.R. Davis. The Cougars responded with a run a piece in the bottom of the fifth and bottom of the sixth, however, further extended the lead. Peoria put up one more run in the top of the seventh but the rally ended there.

Peoria is now 66-47.

State College Spikes 3, West Virginia Black Bears 2

Diego Cordero (SP): 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s

Wadye Ynfante (CF): 1-4, 2B, RBI

Edwin Figura (SS): 2-5, RBI

Justin Toerner (RF): 3-5, 2 R

Starter Diego Cordero put up a performance very emblematic of his season to date, posting modest K/BB numbers but riding an absurd LOB% to a terrific outing. West Virginia tagged Cordero for one run in the top of the fifth with a sac fly after a leadoff triple. The Black Bears added another in the top of the sixth on a two-out RBI single to left.

The Spikes entered the eighth inning trailing 2-1. Brady Whalen singled to lead off the inning and Stanley Espinal followed that up with a walk. After a Lars Nootbaar lineout, Wadye Ynfante doubled to right to score Whalen. All tied 2-2. State College would then walk off the Black Bears one a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth.

The Spikes are now 23-29.

GCL Cardinals 2 at GCL Astros 1

Connor Coward (SP): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K’s

Mateo Gil (SS): 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R

Carlos Soler (CF): 1-3

GCL Astros 3, GCL Cardinals 2

Griffin Roberts (SP): 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K’s

Jhon Torres (RF): 3-3, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, R

Diomedes Del Rio (LF): 1-2, BB, R

The GCL squad played a double header on Wednesday to makeup a postponement from July 29. Despite a lack of action overall, there were some things to note:

  • Griffin Roberts made his 2nd pro start. The Wake Forest righty was roughed up in his first outing (1.1 innings, 2 R, 2 BB) but dominated on the back of his wiffleball slider in his second go around.
  • Jhon Torres, the second piece of the Oscar Mercado deal, has torn up the GCL in 21 PA’s since coming over from Cleveland. The toolsy outfielder has batted .588/.667/.1.118 with 2 homers, 3 doubles, and 4 walks against only one strikeout. SSS for sure, but it raises his overall line in rookie ball this year to .319/.402/.526 for a 156 wRC+.

DSL Cardinals Red 17, DSL Cubs 9

Martin Cordova (SP): 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s

Claudio Ramirez (LF): 2-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R

Luis Montano (CF): 2-4, 2 B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 R

Alexander Samuel (RF): 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

DSL Cardinals Blue 12 at DSL Twins 4

Julio Puello (SP): 4 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K’s

Malcom Nunez (3B): 1-3, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R

Jean Selmo (DH): 2-3, 2B, RBI, BB, 4 R

Pablo Gomez (SS): 2-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB

DSL Cardinals Blue 17, DSL Twins 2

Francis Ventura (SP): 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K’s

Malcom Nunez (1B): 2-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

Freddy De Jesus (DH): 3-3, 3 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 4 R

Ramon Mendoza (3B): 2-4, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, R

Now I have to start any conversation on Malcom Nunez with some disclaimers. He’s a teenager in a complex league with only 137 pro PA’s to his name. So take all the numbers with a huge grain of salt. Stat lines don’t normally become super significant for scouting purposes until players get to full season ball. Short season numbers can be looked at as well, but the overall quality of the pitching and defense can still distort the picture a bit.

That being said, some markers in complex leagues can be read as significant. One huge one is age relative to performance. It’s a league populated with teenagers, but a younger player, say 16 or 17, outperforming 18 and 19 year olds is always a plus. BABIP at this level, unlike at the higher levels, is more an indicator of true talent level than predictor of regression. Plate discipline numbers can be looked at as well, but with a small caveat. Walk numbers aren’t overly reliable, since we’re talking about teenage pitchers who all might not be the best at throwing strikes. Strikeout numbers are a little more reliable, since a feel for contact is always preferable to swing and miss problems. Defensive stats are also weird, since so many outside factors like the quality of the playing surface and the quality of the surrounding defenders can distort error numbers. So maybe there’s nothing to make of Nunez’s hot start to his pro career. But maybe, just maybe, there’s something we can glean from it.

Our very own A.E. Schafer profiled Nunez here. It’s a terrific, insightful read, but here’s the skinny for those pressed for time: strong frame, advanced approach, plus raw power, plus arm strength, and the glove, well, it’s too soon to tell. He’s also just 17 years old and won't turn 18 until the around Spring Training time next year.

Now for his performance. Through 137 PA’s, Nunez is slashing .434/.511/.779 with a 13.1% BB% and 14.6% K%. That all adds up to a 241 (!) wRC+. For context, among hitters with at least 100 PA’s in the DSL, the next closest batter is Rangers 18-year old Heriberto Hernandez with a 188 wRC+.

The power potential has manifested itself in the form of 7 homers, 14 doubles and 2 triples thus far. Over the fence pop at 17 is the most significant marker, for me at least. In a lot of cases home run pop is what comes last for teenage players, as physical maturity and strength gains turn warning track fly balls into honest-to-god home runs. The fact that he’s already muscling balls out of the yard is incredibly encouraging.

As for BABIP, Nunez is running an absurd .472 clip. If elevated BABIP really is indicative of true talent level, then the Cardinals may have captured lightning in a bottle here. Nunez is, of course, more than several years away, and complex league numbers shouldn’t be taken to mean much at all. So maybe this was all a useless exercise. Time will tell.

Now all that was a little expansive for a DFR, maybe deserving of a separate article. But I was given a Starbucks Cold Brew this morning instead of an iced coffee, and something tells me these suckers wield an unsafe amount of caffeine. Or they’re laced. Who knows. Either way, there’s 300-something words on a 17-year old in the DSL. Time to discuss.

~

Thursday’s Probables

MEM: Austin Warner

SPR: Casey Meisner

PMB: TBD

PEO: TBD

SC: Chris Holba

JC: TBD