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Weekly Farm Recap 6/3-9: Arozarena erupts for Springfield

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

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap. With the draft happening this past week, we have quite a bit of draft coverage available, if you’ve missed it. There’s

  • Two reviews of the first-round pick Zack Thompson
  • Two reviews of the second pick, Trejyn Fletcher
  • A recap of rounds three through five
  • A recap of rounds six through ten
  • A recap of the full second day of the draft
  • A recap of rounds 11 through 40
  • And some fun coverage, like a look at the Cardinals’ draft prospects success in making it to the show, a grading of the ever-elusive sixth tool (the draftees’ names), and a visualization of the Cardinals’ drafts in the 21st century.

You can read this week’s daily farm reports from Andrew St. John and Austin Ward at the previous links.

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (4-2) | Overall: (27-37)

Division: 3rd, 7 GB

The Redbirds posted a solid week, taking a three-game set against the Tacoma Rainiers (30-34) and winning two of the first three against the Reno Aces (27-36). They’ll play the final game of the Reno series today.

Memphis put up seven or more runs in four games this week—unsurprisingly, they were all the games in which the Redbirds came out on top. They benefited from the Iowa Cubs’ ongoing six-game losing streak to climb up the standings, now seven games back in the PCL American Southern division.

The Redbirds will follow the Reno series with a homestand featuring three games against the Salt Lake Bees (28-34) and four against the Las Vegas Aviators (34-30).

Hitter of the Week: Rangel Ravelo, 1B/COF

Stats: 6 G, 20 AB, 4 R, 9 H, 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 1 K

Ravelo has seemed to dominate this spot as the season has gone on, and with good reason. He’s now slashing .317/.398/.503 through 226 PA with Memphis. He has an OPS over .800 for his entire three years as a Redbird.

This season, Ravelo has shown more gap power than over-the-wall power, but it’s resulted in 22 XBHs to this point in the season. He had 34 across his entire 2018 campaign.

Pitcher of the Week: Harold Arauz, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Arauz is making another appearance on the list, this time pitching six scoreless innings in relief. He’s been up and down between Springfield and Memphis this season, with his appearance this week being his first since returning to AAA.

Arauz has typically functioned as a starter, and will probably resume that role in the future. He took over for Daniel Ponce de Leon after three innings, presumably because Ponce de Leon would be called up to the major league squad later.

The numbers are hard to deal with for Arauz. He’s demonstrated strikeout ability at times, but it’s never been consistent. At AAA, he’s netting fewer that five strikeouts per nine this season, with a BB/9 of 3.60. His ERA is 4.95, but he has a pretty frightening 6.35 FIP. Those numbers aren’t better at AA, sitting at 7.71 and 6.14, respectively.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (1-6) | Overall: (24-39)

Division: 4th (last), eliminated (17 GB)

Springfield was officially eliminated from the Texas League first half race this week. The Cardinals dropped six of seven, getting swept by the Tulsa Drillers (32-30) and losing three of four to the NW Arkansas Naturals (28-34).

As they continue through the remainder of the first half, the Cardinals will host the Midland RockHounds (31-31) and the Corpus Christi Hooks (31-31) for three games each. With the Texas League South currently all separated by no more than a game, the Cardinals have a chance to play spoiler for both teams as they come into Springfield.

Hitter of the Week: Randy Arozarena, OF

Stats: 7 G, 24 AB, 5 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 1 IBB, 3 K, 3 HBP, SB

What we saw from Arozarena this week is a snapshot of the player the Cardinals hope he can become. The power was a pleasant surprise, but Arozarena was able to bring a high-OBP approach while generating runs and stealing a base as well.

Arozarena started the year with the Redbirds but struggled enough to elicit a return to Springfield. He was electric through 102 PA at AA last season, with 211 wRC+, which earned him a return to Memphis. In total, he spent 89 games with the Redbirds, where his line was just .232/.328/.348.

Enter this season, and the 24-year-old outfielder is slashing .309/.420/.521 through 112 PA as a Springfield Cardinal. Arozarena might be at a point where he’s developed beyond AA pitching and has to sink or swim at AAA.

Pitcher of the Week: Seth Elledge, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 WP

Elledge offered Springfield some consistency from the bullpen, making two scoreless appearances of very different lengths—one spanning two innings, one spanning two outs.

A former Mariner prospect who came over in the Sam Tuivailala trade, Elledge is now in his second stint at AA. He got his first exposure at the end of 2018, pitching 16.2 innings over 13 appearances with an ERA/FIP of 4.32/4.47. This season, Elledge’s ERA/FIP is 4.00/3.41 over 27 innings (22 appearances).

Something Elledge has in droves is strikeout stuff. His lowest K% at any level was 29% at Springfield to end last season. Right now, he’s striking out 33.6% of batters while walking just 8.6%.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (2-4) | Overall: (34-27)

Division: 3rd, 1.5 GB | elim#: 3

The race for the Florida State League’s South division has been a back and forth between Palm Beach, the Bradenton Marauders (35-27) and the Fort Myers Miracle (36-26) all season long.

This time last week, the PB Cardinals were locked in a three-way tie for the top spot in the division. They now find themselves 1.5 games back from Fort Myers after losing three of four against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (29-33) and splitting a rain-shortened series against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (32-30).

Palm Beach couldn’t ask for a more favorable matchup headed into the last four games of the first half, as they’ll play four games against the division-worst Jupiter Hammerheads (19-41).

Hitter of the Week: Luken Baker, 1B

Stats: 6 G, 21 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 7 BB, 8 K

Baker was the 75th pick in the 2018 draft, a compensation round selection out of TCU. The slugging first baseman struggled with a leg injury late in his collegiate career but came out strong for in his professional debut, blowing through rookie ball with a 1.244 OPS in 28 PA and finishing last season with Peoria, where he had a .288/.359/.417 line.

Baker has 129 wRC+ through 230 PA with Palm Beach, hitting five home runs and 14 doubles while playing most of his games in Roger Dean Stadium. Baker’s strikeout rate is up over last year, close to 25%, but his walk rate has jumped as well, now at 13.5%.

Pitcher of the Week: Tommy Parsons, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 15 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 15 K

Even though his second start of the week wasn’t dominant, there was no way Parsons could be left off the list after his outing a week ago against Lakeland. Parsons threw eight shutout innings, giving up just one hit and walking one while striking out 12 batters.

It might not have been sterling, but Parsons’ second start was serviceable. He pitched seven innings and gave up three earned runs, striking out three and walking none.

After his early-season promotion to Palm Beach, Parsons is averaging six innings per start and carrying strikeout and walk rates of 22% and 4%, respectively. He has a 2.13 ERA and 2.31 FIP.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (3-4) | Overall: (27-35)

Divison: 7th, eliminated (13.5 GB)

Peoria’s rough first half is now essentially over, as they were eliminated from the Midwestern League Western division race this week.

Peoria actually took two of three from the division-leading Quad Cities River Bandits (39-20) to start the week, but dropped three of the first four against the Cedar Rapids Kernels (33-30) to end it.

After finishing up the five-game set with the Kernels today, Peoria will start a road trip that includes three games against the Clinton LumberKings (30-32) and three against the Burlington Bees (36-27).

Hitter of the Week: Brendan Donovan, 2B

Stats: 7 G, 24 AB, 5 R, 7 H, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 5 K

Donovan was a seventh-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s listed as a third baseman and played there last year in short-season Low-A, but that’s obviously not happening with Nolan Gorman at the same level. He’s handled himself pretty well at second, with three errors in 351.1 innings.

The bat was a disappointment for Donovan in 2018, with 66 wRC+ and an OPS of .597. This season he’s closer to average, at 97 wRC+. The most promising thing has been a major leveling out regarding his on-base ability.

It was only an 18-PA exposure to professional ball last year for Donovan, but he struck out seven times (38.9%) while walking only once (5.6%). Over 220 PA for Peoria, Donovan’s K% and BB% are a much more manageable 21.4% and 11.4%. He showed his strengthed batter’s eye when he drew seven walks in 31 PA this week for the Chiefs.

Pitcher of the Week: Franyel Casadilla, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 3 K

This is Casadilla’s second time making the list for the Chiefs. This week he made two appearances, one as a starter and one in relief, pitching well in both roles.

Though he’s made several multi-inning appearances, this was only his second start of the season. He was solid over six innings of one-run ball, walking none and netting all three of his strikeouts in that appearance.

Casadilla’s first start was a five-inning outing, also surrendering just one run and allowing four baserunners on three hits and a HBP.

His strikeout stuff was never excellent, averaging around six K’s per nine innings, but it’s fallen off a bit more this year (5.52 K/9). That’s been accompanied by a drop in walks, a major drop in HR/9—from 2.25 in his first Peoria exposure last year to 0.58 now—and an increased ability to limit hits. Casadilla has an ERA/FIP of 3.77/3.96 through 31 innings in 2019.