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Weekly Farm Recap 8/26-9/1: Sosa Keeps Slugging

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

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap, where the sample sizes are small and the points don’t matter. As always, you can find all the daily recaps here.

Memphis Redbirds - Week: (3-4), Year: (82-56)

Though Memphis clinched the division, their status as the best team in the PCL is at stake. Both the Fresno Grizzlies and the El Paso Chihuahuas are now 81-56, a half-game behind the Redbirds for the top seed in the playoffs. Even with the postseason secured, the final seven games of the season are still full of purpose for Memphis.

Pitcher of the Week

Tyler Lyons (LHP): 2 G, 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K

Yes, Tyler Lyons. He’s been pitching after Adam Wainwright’s rehab starts and has done so well in the two chances this week that he finished out both games, picking up a save and a win. Lyons now has a 2.49 ERA through 21.2 innings for Memphis and shouldn’t be forgotten when considering September call-ups and potential postseason pitching.

Players of the Week

Edmundo Sosa (SS): .318/.385/.591, 5 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K, SF, SB

Sosa continues to make the most of his chance at Memphis, taking the honors for the second straight week. This week he started hitting the ball out of the park again, now owning five homers at AAA and 12 on the season, which is now his career high. Sosa has an OPS of 1.026 over the last two weeks and should be fun to watch in the Redbirds’ postseason run.

Springfield Cardinals - Week: (3-4), 2nd Half: (27-40), Year: (60-77)

It’s been a season to forget for Springfield. The Tulsa Drillers clinched the division and the Cardinals are cemented in last place, both for in the second half and the overall standings. Currently 17 games under .500, Springfield has two more to play before the regular season comes to a close on Monday.

Pitcher of the Week

Genesis Cabrera (LHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Springfield continues to struggle with the pitching staff, but Cabrera was able to put up what qualified as a quality start for the Cardinals, going six innings and allowing two earned runs. Cabrera was one of the prospects acquired in the Tommy Pham deal and hasn’t put up the best numbers since the trade, posting a 4.74 ERA in 24.2 innings. This last start was a step in the right direction for the left-hander, as he showed much more command with his one walk than he has in previous starts, as indicated by his 4.74 BB/9.

Player of the Week

John Nogowski (1B): .400/.471/.467, 3 R, 2B, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K

Nogowski has been featured here before, a 25-year-old minor league journeyman who has yet to play above AA. After his performance with Springfield this year, it’s hard to deny him a shot at Memphis. Nogowski is slashing .310/.395/.448 in 339 PA for the Cardinals this season, good for 134 wRC+. His walk rate is 12.1% with a miniscule 6.2% K rate. His ten home runs well eclipse his previous season high, and there’s no reason the roster drain for September call-ups shouldn’t warrant a promotion for the first baseman.

Palm Beach Cardinals - Week: (4-3), 2nd Half: (36-32), Year: (75-57)

The PB Cardinals were eliminated from the second half division race but have secured a playoff spot as well as the best overall record in the division. The last game of the Florida State League regular season is today and the playoffs begin this Wednesday, September 5.

Pitcher of the Week

Jake Walsh (RHP): 1 GS, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

Walsh earned a midseason promotion to Palm Beach and has been excellent, pitching to a 2.24 ERA in 96.1 innings. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher, with 72.3% of the contact off him going in the air, but he’s still given up just seven home runs and greatly limited walks with under two per nine. 23 years old, Walsh was drafted in 2017 and has shot up the system in his calendar year of professional ball.

Player of the Week

Scott Hurst (OF): .467/.526/.800, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, SF

Hurst, the 2017 third-round pick for the Cardinals, has been raking through the minors since his debut. After 216 PA with Peoria in which he posted a .355 wOBA, Hurst was promoted to Palm Beach and has been even more spectacular. He has a .980 OPS in 57 PA for Palm Beach, walking 14% of the time while striking out in just 17.5% of plate appearances. Hurst is another exciting outfielder in the Cardinals system—and one who primarily plays center.

Peoria Chiefs - Week: (2-4), 2nd Half: (37-30), Year: (76-61)

A four-game losing streak from Peoria combined with an eight-game winning streak from Cedar Rapids eliminated the Chiefs from the second half division race, but they have plenty of time to play for the top overall record in the division. They play Quad Cities, who currently leads the overall standings by 2.5 games, in all of their five remaining contests. Peoria did secure a playoff spot in the first half of the season.

Pitcher of the Week

Fabian Blanco (LHP): 2 G, 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

The Chiefs really struggled to find consistent run prevention this week but Blanco served as a stopper in both of his appearances. The 20 year old has struggled with command this season, walking just over four batters per nine innings, but lowered his HR/FB rate from 2017’s 13.6% to 1.6% this season. Even with a year-to-year increase in ERA of nearly two runs, he’s actually lowered his FIP from 2017 to 2018, 3.72 to 3.40 respectively.

Player of the Week

Justin Toerner (OF): .529/.619/.647, 4 R, 3B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K

Toerner showed exceptional on-base skills for Peoria this week, reaching in 12 of his 21 PA. All but one of his nine hits were singles but it was a show of absolute command of the competition, being demoted from Palm Beach on the 26th. Toerner was a 28th-round pick in this year’s draft who posted 127 wRC+ in 202 PA with State College to start the season. He was promoted to Palm Beach in mid-August and put up an .816 OPS in 46 PA, striking out less than 20% of the time and walking just over 10%. The 22-year-old outfielder looks set to climb the system quickly.

State College Spikes - Week: (0-7), Year: (34-40)

As close as the Spikes got in early to mid-August, they lost it all with an eight-game losing streak which resulted in their mathematical elimination from the playoffs. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Auburn Doubledays continue to battle it out in a tight division race. The Spikes have two more to play on the year, as the regular season ends tomorrow.

Pitcher of the Week

Cory Malcom (RHP): 1 G, 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K

Malcom takes this spot for two reasons. The first is that starting pitching was absolutely dreadful for the Spikes this week, in multiple cases giving up anywhere from six to ten runs. The second reason is that Malcom was nothing short of dominant in his 2.2-inning appearance, striking out seven of the eight batters he retired. Malcom’s K/9 has been over ten at every professional level but his issue has been one of command, walking over four batters per game this year. If he can get his command under control and drop the walks, he might get his ERA in line with his FIP—Malcom’s State College ERA was 4.91 and his FIP was 3.28.

Player of the Week

Stanley Espinal (1B/3B): .250/.357/.458, 1 R, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K

Espinal was picked up from the Red Sox for international bonus pool money and he has been phenomenal in his first full season in the Cardinals’ system. Espinal hadn’t posted a wRC+ above 100 since he put up 113 in his rookie season in 2015. This year, he’s at 136. Espinal has also put up his highest slugging percentage of his career (.453) and broken his season-high home run total.

Johnson City Cardinals - Week: (3-1), Year: (31-37)

The Appalachian League regular season ended Wednesday with the JC Cardinals in fourth place, nine games back, six games under .500. The Elizabethton Twins, who spent the majority of the regular season in first, took the division.

Pitcher of the Week

Kyle Leahy (RHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

Leahy was a 17th-round pick out of Colorado Mesa University in this year’s draft and really struggled to find his footing. His performance over 58.2 innings was pretty rough, though maybe not as bad as his 5.52 ERA indicates. His 2018 FIP was 4.67 and xFIP was even more forgiving at 4.21—still rough numbers, but not nearly as abrasive as an ERA above 5. Leahy was roughed up by the long ball, ending the year with a 12.7% HR/FB rate. Ultimately he showed some decent command, striking out just under seven batters per nine innings and ending with a BB/9 of 1.69.

Player of the Week

Moises Castillo (2B/3B/SS): (14 PA) .500/.643/.800, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 0 K, HBP

Castillo had been average or better at the plate in his previous two professional seasons in the DSL and GCL, but his bat fell off considerably in his exposure to the Appalachian League. He posted 84 wRC+ through 194 PA at Johnson City with an OPS of .681. A positive was that Castillo’s home run power shot up quite a bit, hitting four bombs when he had just one over his previous two seasons. He was also able to raise his walk rate while lowering his K% at the same time, showing a bit more maturity in his approach.

GCL Cardinals - Postseason: (2-2)

The GCL Cardinals pushed past the GCL Phillies East in the one game semifinal to play the GCL Tigers West in the championship. After splitting the first two games, the GCL Cards lost the winner-take-all game at Roger Dean 2-9. Even with the loss at the end, the Cards had an incredible 40-16 season in which they fell one win shy of the championship.

Pitcher of the Week

Perry DellaValle (RHP): 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K

DellaValle probably delivered the most impressive season of any pitcher for the GCL Cards. Over 45.2 innings, the 22 year old finished with a 1.97 ERA and struck out 67 while walking only seven batters. Opponents hit .247 against DellaValle. His one postseason performance was in the one game playoff against the GCL Phillies East where he was dominant, striking out nine and allowing no runs through six innings. DellaValle was a 27th-round pick in this year’s draft.

Player of the Week

Carlos Soto (C): .333/.375/.467, 2 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K

Soto was one of the most consistent postseason bats for the GCL Cards, playing in all four games and collecting five hits in 15 AB. Though he was demoted from Johnson City after 29 games in 2018, Soto’s offense was above average at both levels. He put up 110 wRC+ in 29 games in the Appy League and 117 in the GCL, posting walk rates over 10% with both teams.