The first full week of play may not be complete, but we’ve now seen the first weekend of minor league baseball for the 2019 season.
As the year goes on, we’ll be looking at the performance of each of the Cardinals’ minor league affiliates over the last seven days, including standouts on the mound and at the plate.
With four games in the books, here are the results across the Cardinal farm:
Memphis Redbirds: 2-2
The Redbirds sandwiched two losses between two wins to start an opening five-game series against the Omaha Storm Chasers in Memphis.
Memphis scored nine runs on Opening Day but scored just seven over the next three games combined.
Both of their losses came on lead changes in the seventh inning or later, with Saturday’s game being finished on Sunday after postponement due to weather.
The pitching has been a bright spot over the first four games, with the Redbird staff giving up just 12 runs over 36 innings, tied with San Antonio for the lowest in the Pacific Coast League.
Hitter of the Week: Adolis García, RF
Stats: 4 G, 14 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, SB
García has collected a hit in each of his last three games, and none of them have been singles. He’s picked up one of each extra-base hits along with a couple of walks to start the year.
A crowded outfield picture makes García’s early production that much more important, when looking at him as a depth piece, trade chip or otherwise.
Pitcher of the Week: Jake Woodford, RHP
Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Memphis starters did well over the first four games, but Jake Woodford put on a great performance. Woodford struck out seven batters and allowed four baserunners over five innings. His lone run surrendered was unearned.
Woodford finished the season with Memphis in 2018, making 12 starts and pitching 64 innings. He struggled a bit with command, posting nearly a 10% walk rate, with pretty weak strikeout numbers. If Woodford can show the command he did on Friday, he might turn a corner.
Springfield Cardinals: 0-4
Springfield has picked up where it left off last season, stumbling to a winless start through the first four games and being swept by NW Arkansas.
After a one-run performance on Sunday, the Cardinal offense has put up 16 runs in the past three games. Their pitching has allowed one run more each time, with all three of those games ending with one-run deficits.
Hitter of the Week: Dylan Carlson, RF
Stats: 4 G, 15 AB, 4 R, 6 H, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K
Carlson has made a steady climb through the Cardinals’ minor leagues since being drafted in the first round in 2016. He’s posted a wRC+ greater than 100 at every level, making a midseason move from Peoria to Palm Beach last year and continuing to hit well.
His power output dropped a bit, but that’s to be expected playing your games at Roger Dean. His on-base ability was still very solid, putting up a walk rate of 11.8% to go with a K% of 17.7.
He’s been a lightning rod out of the gate for Springfield this season, already picking up six hits in 15 at bats. The power has definitely resurfaced in the offense-heavy Texas League, with four of his six hits going for extra bases.
Pitcher of the Week: Roel Ramirez, RHP
Stats: 1 G, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HB
Ramirez was the third piece of the return from the Rays in the Tommy Pham deal, alongside outfielder Justin Williams and pitcher Genesis Cabrera. Cabrera has already found his way to the major league pen, and Ramirez could do the same if he makes a habit of pitching the way he did this week.
In a long relief appearance, five of Ramirez’s six recorded outs were strikeouts. That quality of stuff was something Ramirez showed in 40.2 AA innings for Tampa Bay last year.
Palm Beach Cardinals: 3-1
Palm Beach has definitely been the most successful affiliate to this point, the only team with a record above .500. The PB Cardinals have scored four runs in every game but one—they scored seven in their loss, when the Jupiter Hammerheads scored eight.
Other than that offensive outburst from the Hammerheads, Palm Beach pitching has allowed just two runs per game.
Hitter of the Week: Justin Toerner, RF
Stats: 4 G, 11 AB, 5 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
Another level, another right fielder. Toerner’s week was much different than those above him, as his focus was much less on power and more on his on-base ability.
Toerner reached in 12 of his 17 plate appearances, split right down the middle in terms of walks versus hits. He still showed some gap power with a pair of doubles. Toerner is clearly prioritizing speed this season, with two steals in three attempts through four games.
Toerner was a 28th-round draft pick last year and climbed his way up from State College to Palm Beach. He hit well across the board, with a slash line of .312/.410/.385 in 267 PA.
Pitcher of the Week: Edgar Gonzalez, RHP
Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Gonzalez was not too bad in the run prevention department, with one of his unearned runs coming from a botched throw by first baseman Luken Baker and the other being a bit of help from the official scorer, but the real story was his strikeouts.
Gonzalez recorded nine of his 15 outs with the strikeout. The 2018 sixth-round pick flashed some of that potential last year, with a 9.1 K/9 in nearly 31 innings, but this was a pretty dominant performance. That goes along with no walks allowed, painting a really nice picture of just how great his command could be.
Peoria Chiefs: 1-3
The Chiefs had a resounding 10-2 victory in the first game of the season, but have gotten clobbered since. The run output was far from terrible, with 15 over the next three games, but they surrendered 25 to opponents over that time.
Hitter of the Week: Nolan Gorman, 3B
Stats: 4 G, 16 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 3 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
The first of what I assume will be many mentions in this post series. There were several Peoria hitters who had solid starts to the year, but Gorman’s stands out with just how well he’s seeing the ball.
He’s reached base in 10 of his 18 plate appearances. He’s already tallied eight hits, half of which were for extra bases. Gorman hasn’t even started to show the over-the-fence power this season, with those hits being three doubles and a triple.
Any percentages this early in the season are going to look scary, and that’s easy to see when looking at what is a 27.8% strikeout rate. Five out of 18 doesn’t sound much better, but Gorman’s production is extremely solid, and an out is an out. With a .727 BABIP to this point, Gorman’s been doing a good job of getting hits when he makes contact.
Pitcher of the Week: Tommy Parsons, RHP
Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K
The 23-year-old Parsons is just now in his second season of professional ball, playing at the rookie level for the Cardinals last season. What stands out about Parsons’ numbers in 57 innings with Johnson City is an extremely low walk rate: just 4.3%.
Parsons pitched in 13 games for the JC Cardinals, starting nine of them, and had a K/9 of 1.58. He wasn’t showing strikeout stuff, with a 6.79 K/9, but he was able to induce a lot of weak contact.
What’s interesting about Parsons is that he isn’t a groundball pitcher; just 39.1% of balls in play against him last season were on the ground. Instead, he used his command to get weak contact in the air, with a monstrous 26.4% infield flyball rate.
As Parsons makes the jump to Peoria, it’ll be interesting to see if that profile proves sustainable.