While we all said goodbye to summer over Labor Day, the farm system said goodbye to the regular season. After Palm Beach closed out their schedule on Sunday, Memphis, Springfield, Peoria and State College all followed suit on Monday. The playoffs will begin tomorrow with Palm Beach starting a series against the Fort Myers Miracle.
Two of the four teams recapped below have qualified for postseason play (sorry, Springfield and State College). So with the near term fates of these teams all but set in stone, todays farm report will be more focused on highlighting strong season-long individual performances.
Nashville Sounds 6, Memphis Redbirds 5
Chris Ellis (SP): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
Lane Thomas (CF): 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, R
Ramon Urjas (1B): 1-4, HR, RBI, R
Rangel Ravelo (DH): 2-3, 2B, RBI, R
As far as the game itself goes, Memphis held a 5-2 lead heading into the eighth inning. The wheels came off when Andrew Morales, who will be heading to the AFL this year, took over for Landon Beck. Morales issued a walk, a hit by pitch, and allowed a single, a double and a triple on his way to a four run inning.
Meanwhile, another player on his way to the AFL had a strong day at the plate. Lane Thomas hit his sixth homer for Memphis and his 27th of this minor league season. Thomas split time between Springfield and Memphis this year, playing in 132 games and compiling 575 PA’s. Across those 575 PA’s, Thomas slashed a healthy .264/.333/.489 for a 120 wRC+. That came with a 8.7% BB% and a 23.3% K% while playing most of his games in center field. At worst, he’s looking like a potential 4th OF capable of handling all three outfield spots and providing some pop off the bench.
Then there is Ramon Urias. The 24 year old infielder has had an interesting season since being signed out of the Mexican League. He’s been yo-yo’d between Springfield and Memphis, looking lost at times but utterly dominant at others. Here’s a look at his line:
Springfield (AA): 44 G, 194 PA, .333/.406/.589, 170 wRC+, 9.3% BB%, 14.9% K%
Memphis (AAA): 46 G, 149 PA, .261/.291/.430, 84 wRC+, 4.0% BB%, 19.5% K%
Season: 90 G, 343 PA, .300/.356/.516, 132 wRC+, 7.0% BB%, 16.9% K%
A good performance as a whole with some pretty shocking splits. It’s difficult to figure out what to make of it all, given how unique Urias’s profile is already. He’s a little old for a prospect, undersized, and recently spent five seasons in the Mexican League after being cut loose in rookie ball by the Texas Rangers. Double-A is generally considered the toughest jump in the minors, so the fact that he mashed AA pitching but struggled to stay above water in AAA makes things all the more confusing. In the end, if somebody asks “is Ramon Urias good?” all we can do is shrug our shoulders and wait and see.
Tulsa Drillers 6 at Springfield Cardinals 2
Evan Kruczynski (SP): 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 5 K’s
John Nogowski (1B): 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R
Jose Martinez (SS): 2-4, 2B
Evan Mendoza (3B): 2-4
The Springfield Cardinals won’t be advancing to postseason play, but two of the players noted above had very successful 2018 campaigns.
First, there’s lefty Evan Kruczynski. The 23 year old, was drafted in the 9th round of the 2017 Draft and has made it all the way to Double-A in his second professional season. He started the year at Palm Beach, making 15 starts there before moving up the ladder and making 6 starts for Springfield. His overall line looks like this:
2018 (A+/AA): 115.2 IP, 8.33 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, 3.50 ERA, 3.31 FIP
In a year for the system where hitters stole the spotlight, Kruczysnki was sneakily solid. He’ll continue to show his stuff in the Arizona Fall League this year.
So how about John Nogowski? Here’s the skinny on Nogowski: he’s 25, he’s a right-handed hitting first baseman, and he doesn’t show a whole lot of power. Doesn’t really jump off the page, right? But what if I told you that Nogowski has some extreme plate discipline numbers? Here’s what he did in Springfield:
2018 (AA): 83 G, 347 PA, .309/.392/.463, 11.8% BB%, 6.1% K%, 136 wRC+
Yes that is not a typo, Nogowski actually walked at nearly twice the rate he struck out. The .154 ISO was modest, but actually an uptick from what he’d posted at all of his previous stops. 2018 should see him get a shot at AAA.
Quad Cities River Bandits 2, Peoria Chiefs 1
Jake Dahlberg (SP): 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K’s
Luken Baker (1B): 2-4, 2B
Rayder Ascanio (SS): 1-3, HR, RBI, BB, R
Mariel Gonzalez (RF): 2-3, BB
Peoria is advancing to the postseason and will take on Quad Cities on Wednesday.
Highlighting individual performances in Peoria is a little tricky. On one hand, there are the heavily-covered exploits of Elehuris Montero. I could rehash his stellar year, but he’s in Palm Beach now and there isn’t much more that I can add. There’s also Nolan Gorman, who destroyed the App League and reached Peoria as a teen, but Gorman has struggled in his first taste of Midwest League pitching. So let’s get under the hood a little bit more and see who else performed.
How about Scott Hurst? If you recall, Hurst was the first selection the Cardinals made in 2017 after picks were lost due to multiple reasons I won’t go into here. He was a toolsy, slightly undersized, injury maligned outfield prospect out of Cal State Fullerton. He spent most of his time at Peoria with a little time at Palm Beach. Here’s his overall line:
2018 (A/A+): 68 G, 293 PA, .312/.389/.447, 139 wRC+, 10.9% BB%, 18.1% K%
There was some time missed to injury this year, mind you. That’s never encouraging, especially so with a player like Hurst that has had injury issues in the past. But the on field performance is encouraging, showing a nice blend of on-base skills and pop. Hopefully he can build on the campaign next year.
State College Spikes 1 at Williamsport Crosscutters 0
Manuel Silva (SP): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K’s
Alexis Wilson (C): 1-4, 2B
Lars Nootbaar (RF): 2-3, BB
State College, being a short-season affiliate, always provides a unique blend of newly drafted college players and teens. Delvin Perez and Wadye Ynfante were two of the most tooled up teens in the group, but struggled from start to finish in 2018. A handful of college players performed, but it’s hard to draw conclusions when some of these guys are old for the level and/or player against competition a step down from some college conferences. I would like, however, to highlight a pitcher who spent 1⁄3 of his time in State College.
Angel Rondon is 20 years old, stands 6’2, 185lbs and has spent the previous two seasons in complex leagues. The righty entered the season as “somewhat physically projectable and sitting 90-92 with feel for a curveball” per Eric Longenhagen over at Frangraphs. He’s acquitted himself well this season:
2018 (A-/A): 88 IP, 8.18 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, 3.17 ERA, 4.16 FIP
There isn’t much more literature on Rondon beyond that. The system is light on pitching compared to the recent past, but perhaps Rondon will emerge from under-the-radar in 2019.