Hey again, and happy Monday. The Cardinals’ minor league affiliates are lacking that team success they’ve experienced as a unit over the past few years, but there’s still a division leader and a second-place contender in the mix in this somewhat young season.
You can read this week’s daily farm reports from Austin Ward at the previous links to get in-depth game-by-game recaps, a great feature on the Peoria Chiefs from Andrew St. John on the Peoria Chiefs and A.E. Schafer’s most recent 2019 draft preview.
Week: (1-5) | Overall: (21-22)
Division: 2nd, 5 GB
The Redbirds had yet another disappointing week, riding into the end of it on a four-game losing streak.
After splitting the final two games with the Nashville Sounds (16-26) to take that series, they dropped the first four against the San Antonio Missions (26-17) and will look to avoid a sweep tomorrow.
Luckily, they didn’t lose much ground on the division-leading Iowa Cubs (26-17). The Redbirds were four games back from the Cubs a week ago; it’s fortunate their cold streaks have coincided, or Memphis could’ve been staring at a very steep hill to climb.
The bullpen was the biggest concern for the Redbirds this week, as three of their five losses came late. Two of those involved falling behind in the ninth—one a walk-off on the road, one at home.
The Redbirds will open up a week in which they play the same opponents in different parks. A four-game set in Nashville is first, followed by the first few of six games against the Missions in Memphis.
Hitter of the Week: Rangel Ravelo, 1B/COF
Stats: 6 G, 19 AB, 1 R, 9 H, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K
Ravelo made these lists quite a bit last year. He’s now in his third season as a Memphis Redbird, having signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals in 2017 after struggling to find the success that carried him through the lower levels when he reached Triple-A with the Athletics.
Though he’s been a part-time player, logging 345 and 399 PA in his first two seasons in the Cardinals’ system, he’s put up an OPS in the upper .800s both times.
Ravelo hasn’t hit for a ton of power, notching double-digits in the home runs category for just the second time last season, but he’s been consistent with a slugging percentage around .480 and OBP nearing the .400. mark. Last season was his first as a Redbird where he didn’t hit at least 20 doubles, falling just short at 19.
Though Ravelo’s bat hasn’t been as strong this year, he’s still been above average. He’s also been drawing a lot more playing time, appearing in 37 of 43 games for Memphis. He’s hurt a bit by the fact that his primary positions are places where the Cardinals have quite a bit of depth already: first base and the corner outfield spots. There are plenty of names ahead of him if a call-up is needed.
Pitcher of the Week: Austin Gomber, LHP
Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Here he is again. All things considered, there were some single-game performances better than Gomber’s outing this week, but they were followed up by some very rough appearances. On the whole, Gomber did what he’s been doing a lot this season: Keeping the game close and striking out batters.
Gomber showed a lot of stamina this week, too. That’s something the Cardinals have struggled to get out of starters. Gomber has gone six or more innings in half of his starts this season, and a lefty with the ability to go deep into games while nearing double-digit strikeouts is a valuable asset.
Week: (3-4) | Overall: (18-25)
Division: 4th (last), 9 GB
Springfield had a pretty big chance to gain ground on the Arkansas Travelers (26-15) this week and didn’t capitalize.
Not in the head-to-head matchups with the Travelers, though. Springfield took two of three from Arkansas.
No, it was the following four-game set with the Texas League South’s other cellar dwellers, the NW Arkansas Naturals (19-25), where the Cardinals struggled. They dropped three games, losing the series and falling behind the Naturals, back into last place.
The Cardinals now ride a three-game losing streak. The final two games against NW Arkansas were nearly different results, as both saw Springfield launch ninth-inning comebacks that fell one run short of tying it up.
This week, Springfield will open up with a three-game series against the Tulsa Drillers (21-21) at home, followed by four games in NW Arkansas.
Hitter of the Week: Dylan Carlson, OF
Stats: 6 G, 24 AB, 5 R, 10 H, 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, SB
Dylan Carlson is pretty good at baseball.
He has 135 wRC+ through 177 PA for Springfield after a pretty aggressive promotion, seeing fewer than 450 trips to the plate in Peoria last year. He was featured on the list of expected members of FanGraphs’ top 100 prospects for 2020 by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel earlier this year.
That’s all I can really say. Mainly because A.E. Schafer did a great feature on Carlson and his timetable in the organization for yesterday’s System Sundays piece. If you want more on the 2016 first-rounder, you should definitely read it.
Pitcher of the Week: Evan Kruczynski, LHP
Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, WP
This one’s a bit of a cheat, because Kruczynski earned a call-up to Memphis shortly after his performance this week. He gave up 3 ER over 4.1 innings in his first Triple-A start on Saturday. But this is about his final start in Springfield, because it was excellent.
Kruczynski really didn’t have a great start for Springfield. After putting up a 2.50 ERA in six starts for the Cardinals to end 2018, the start of this season was a bit different. Nearly the same number of innings—39.1 IP to last season’s 39.2—but with a 6.64 ERA.
It all came from Kruczynski’s first five starts of the year, across which he threw 21.1 innings and gave up 26 earned runs. His final three starts, he pitched 18 innings and surrendered just three earned runs. That total is smaller than the amount given up in any of his first five starts alone.
Even though Kruczynski got roughed up a bit in his first start for Memphis, he didn’t walk a batter (though he did hit one) and struck out five of the 20 hitters he faced. Having walked at least three in each of his first five starts to the year, that’s a promising turn of events.
Palm Beach Cardinals
Week: (6-1) | Overall: (27-15)
Division: 1st, 2 games ahead
Palm Beach looked fantastic this week. Go even further back and they still looked great. They’ve won eight of their last nine. Before a loss on Saturday, they were on a seven-game winning streak.
The success came against two very different opponents. They swept the Tampa Tarpons (17-25), who were at the bottom of the FSL North, and took two of three from the rival Bradenton Marauders (23-19), who just last week were in the top spot themselves. The week included three shutouts thrown by the Palm Beach pitching staff.
While Palm Beach went 8-2 over their last ten games, the Marauders went 3-7 while the division’s other formidable foes, the Fort Myers Miracle, went 4-6. That was enough to give the PB Cardinals a two-game lead.
This week presents an opportunity for Palm Beach to continue their hot streak, as they’ll start a road trip with three against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (17-25) and four against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (22-21).
Hitter of the Week: Zach Kirtley, 1B
Stats: 7 G, 27 AB, 2 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, SF
This really was a group effort by the Palm Beach offense this week, as there wasn’t one player who stood out to the degree that Dylan Carlson did for Springfield.
That said, Zach Kirtley had a pretty solid week at the plate, continuing to add on to what has been a very nice season to date.
Kirtley, a fifth-round pick in 2017, started at short-season State College after his selection and has climbed a level every season.
The 22-year-old right-hander has really shown an ability with the bat this season, slashing .283/.372/.441 and having hit more home runs (4) in the power siphon that is Roger Dean Stadium than he did the previous two seasons combined (3).
Kirtley had played first base almost exclusively before this season, aside from dabbling at second with the Spikes, but has bounced around a lot in 2019. He’s still logged most of his innings at first base, but he’s seen a couple of games each at second base, third base and both corner outfield spots.
It’s really unclear if the organization is trying to find a new primary position for Kirtley or develop some major utility, but someone with high on-base ability, decent gap power and five positions has quite a bit of value.
Pitcher of the Week: Alex Fagalde, RHP
Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, BB, 11 K
Fagalde is another pick from the 2017 draft, though he was way down in the 30th round.
He’s pitched like it was a mistake that he fell that far ever since he came into the system.
Fagalde’s ERA across all levels of the minors is 2.25. That’s over four levels and 188 IP. Through eight starts and 42.1 innings for Palm Beach this season, his ERA is 2.76 with a FIP of 3.37.
Since the start of 2018, where he opened the year with Peoria before a late call-up to Palm Beach, Fagalde has a BB/9 under 2.00 and a K/9 of 8.83.
He’s done it all with a ground ball rate under 40 percent. We don’t get contact quality data for minor leaguers (yet), but his infield fly ball rate falling between 25 and 40 percent at every level indicates he’s getting some pretty weak contact. It’s hard to imagine a reason for keeping the 25-year-old hurler at High-A for too much longer.
Week: (3-6) | Overall: (18-23)
Divison: 7th, 9 GB
Peoria was facing a week in which it would take on a last-place team with a win percentage of .322 and the first-place team in their division. They ended up losing both series.
The first, against the Beloit Snappers (15-25), included two doubleheaders, which were both split. The Chiefs lost three of five.
The series against the division-leading Quad Cities River Bandits (26-13) started out with an absolute trouncing, losing 1-21. The next game was a shutout won by the Chiefs, but they dropped the final two, surrendering 16 runs across both games.
Those head-to-head losses saw Peoria fall even further down the ladder, though they’ll have the chance to play back up this week. The Chiefs will start with a five-game set against the #6 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (18-21), including a doubleheader today, followed by four games at the #5 Cedar Rapids Kernels (20-23).
Hitter of the Week: Leandro Cedeño, COF/1B
Stats: 7 G, 21 AB, 3 R, 10 H, 5 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 4 K, SB
Cedeño signed as a 16 year old out of Venezuela in August of 2014. From 2015 to 2018, he played at the rookie level for the Cardinals, putting up some crazy offensive numbers by the end. His final line over 258 PA last season was .336/.419/.592 with 14 home runs.
Understandably, that production has gone down making the jump to Peoria and skipping over Low-A entirely. Cedeño’s slash line to this point in the season is .288/.328/.392.
He’s striking out more than he was; his K rate was already over 25 percent, but it’s now nearing 30. Additionally, his already-low walk rate has fallen to 3.7 percent. Those trends are pretty typical of a player adjusting to a new caliber of pitching. Still, Cedeño is above average for the Midwest League, with 109 wRC+.
Cedeño is listed as a catcher and first baseman on FanGraphs, but he hasn’t lined up behind the plate since 2016. These days, he logs most of his innings in left field.
Ah, yes. Another outfielder.
He didn’t start seeing outfield time until last season. In 2017, Cedeño was only a first baseman. His first exposure to full-season A-ball hasn’t produced terrible results, and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Pitcher of the Week: Alvaro Seijas, RHP
Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP (CG), 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K
Seijas is another 20-year-old prospect who is doing pretty well for Peoria, though this is his second year with the Chiefs.
He made the jump from Johnson City to Peoria last season, playing the whole year for the Chiefs, and struggled to a 4.52 ERA/5.21 FIP in his first 129 innings.
This season, Seijas has looked much more controlled, with a 2.19 ERA/3.33 FIP across his first seven starts.
Seijas threw the second game of one of Peoria’s doubleheaders and took care of all seven innings himself to net the complete game shutout.
An important part of the CGSO, aside from the run suppression, was the strikeout ability Seijas showed while limiting walks. Last year, his K/9 and BB/9 were 5.85 and 4.24, respectively. This season, those numbers are 9.97 and 3.16. There have been just two starts in which Seijas struck out fewer than seven batters this year.