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Weekly Farm Recap 6/24-30: Lopez shines at plate, Cabrera’s solid start

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

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap. Let’s take a look at the action from the last week of June.

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

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (2-5) | Overall: (34-49)

Division: 4th (last), 13 GB

After taking four of five from Oklahoma City to end last week, the Redbirds were swept by the Nashville Sounds (35-47) in a four-game series and fell into the cellar. They snapped a five-game losing streak with a win last night, and will play three more games against the New Orleans Baby Cakes (45-38) before getting a crack at the division-leading Iowa Cubs (47-36) on the road for four games.

Hitter of the Week: Irving Lopez, 2B

Stats: 6 G, 17 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K,

A 19th-round pick in 2017, Lopez has ascended through the minors pretty quickly. That success comes on the back of an excellent offensive track record, with the lowest wRC+ he’s posted at any level being 118 in 233 plate appearances in Springfield to start the season.

Lopez was promoted to Memphis on June 14 and hasn’t shown much need for an adjustment period in his first 12 games, slashing .324/.390/.568 in 41 PA.

The contact-laden results are very likely due for regression, as Lopez hasn’t hit over .300 at any level and he’s currently boasting a BABIP of .440. But the middle infielder has always shown a propensity for getting on base. with his career OBP falling somewhere in the .350 to .380 range, and has seen his slugging percentage climb at every level.

The 24-year-old second baseman played a little bit of third base and shortstop at High-A and below, and saw less than an inning in left field for Springfield this season, but has gotten his reps exclusively at second otherwise.

Pitcher of the Week: Génesis Cabrera, LHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 WP

Cabrera’s numbers this week weren’t dazzling, but he put up the best pitching performance from a Memphis hurler. That partially speaks to the poor results from the Redbirds this week, but the line Cabrera posted really showed some positivity in areas where he’s struggled: allowing baserunners.

Cabrera has definitely surrendered a ton of runs in his 2019 performances, with an ERA/FIP of 5.44/6.05 at Memphis and 6.17/5.77 in his 11.2 major-league innings.

A lot of that has come from home runs. Cabrera’s HR/9 in St. Louis was 1.54, and it’s 1.99 through 49.2 innings in Memphis. Add a walk rate around 10% to 12% and it’s a recipe for disaster, regardless of strikeout ability.

The lone run surrendered by Cabrera on Thursday wasn’t on a home run. He didn’t walk anyone. He did so while striking out four. Cabrera’s last two outings have featured 12 strikeouts, three walks, 10 hits and two runs over 10 innings. That’s a look at what Cabrera could be.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (3-1) | Second half: 4-6 | Overall: (34-46)

Division: 4th (last), 4 GB

The Cardinals only played one series this week against the NW Arkansas Naturals (4-5), taking three of four. They’ll have a tough challenge this week, with a chance to climb the divisional standings, playing three against the Tulsa Drillers (6-4) at home and four on the road against the division leaders, the Arkansas Travelers (8-2).

Hitter of the Week: Dylan Carlson, OF

Stats: 3 G, 12 AB, 4 H, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K, SF

With Springfield only playing four games this week, there wasn’t a ton of action. But Dylan Carlson continued to build his case as yet another outfield prospect worth attention in the Cardinal’s farm system.

Carlson was in this spot last week when we looked at the hitter of the half, so there’s not much more I can add of worth to a short write-up here. But an update on his season numbers is that, over 324 PA, Carlson is slashing .282/.361/.496 with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases.

His walk rate is just over 10% and his strikeout rate is under 20%. All of that is good for 130 wRC+ in the Texas League. Carlson’s season is looking like a major breakout for a player who already had a pretty solid offensive profile.

Pitcher of the Week: Angel Rondon, RHP

Stats (AA only): 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K

Rondon made his way back to Springfield this week after a single start with Palm Beach and did so with a flourish.

The 21-year-old right-hander began the season with Palm Beach but earned a call-up on May 17. He was sent down to Palm Beach for a single start before coming back to Springfield and tossing seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters.

Rondon has thrown nearly identical amounts between High-A and Double-A, with counts of 45 IP and 45.1 IP, respectively. He’s posted strikeout rates just over 26% at both levels, with K-BB% at around 16% for both levels.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (2-3) | Second half: (3-8) | Overall: (38-37)

Division: 5th, 5.5 GB

Palm Beach won two of three against the Florida Fire Frogs (4-9) this week before dropping both games of a rain-shortened series against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (9-3).

The losses pushed Palm Beach further down the divisional standings, nearing the bottom with a 3-8 record. Their overall record now sits very close to the .500 mark after a fantastic stretch in the first half.

The PB Cards will take on the Lakeland Flying Tigers (5-8) at home and the Fort Myers Miracle (3-10) on the road this week.

Hitter of the Week: Lars Nootbaar, OF

Stats: 4 G, 16 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K

The offense wasn’t stunning for Palm Beach, but Nootbaar continued to put up numbers a little better than average as he adjusts to High-A.

Nootbaar logged 122 PA with Peoria this season before being called up to Palm Beach. He’s posted 141 PA for the PB Cardinals, slashing .271/.333/.341 with 104 wRC+.

That line may not seem to impressive, but the FSL isn’t a particularly slugging-heavy league, especially playing most of their games in Roger Dean Stadium.

What’s been impressive from Nootbaar is his eye, with an 8.5% walk rate and 12.1% strikeout rate. Nootbaar hasn’t had a ton of professional experience, being a 2018 draft pick, but he’s yet to post a strikeout rate at or above 20% at any level.

Pitcher of the Week: Griffin Roberts, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HBP

Roberts has made six appearances, five of which were starts, for Palm Beach this season. He was a CBA pick in 2018, but was suspended for 50 games after a positive drug test in the winter.

Viewed as a quick-mover, being a college pitcher out of Wake Forest, Roberts has struggled after a late start to the season. Through 28.2 IP, Roberts has a 6.91 ERA and 4.48 FIP.

He’s yet to give up a home run, but most of it has come from a lack of control. Roberts has put up a 12.5% K% and 11% BB% on the season and a .361 BABIP against him.

Roberts’ previous start was his best of the season, and could be a sign of turning a corner. HBPs are still a problem for him, having hit seven batters so far on the season, but he was able to limit baserunners and runs while showing some increased strikeout potential.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (1-5) | Second half: (3-7) | Overall: (33-46)

Divison: T-6th, 5 GB

The Chiefs were swept on the road in a four-game set against the Clinton LumberKings (6-3) to start the week and split the first two games of a series against the Burlington Bees (3-7), playing the last game of the set today.

The Chiefs sit pretty low in the standings with a 3-7 record for the second half, but will have a chance to make up ground with short series against division opponents: the Kane County Cougars (8-2), Clinton and Burlington.

Hitter of the Week: Leandro Cedeno, 1B/OF

Stats: 5 G, 19 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K, HBP

Cedeno didn’t show much in terms of power this week, but the hits were enough to warrant a spot on the list. Mainly because he’s struggled to put the ball in play this season in his first exposure to anything outside of rookie ball.

The 20-year-old first baseman and corner outfielder has posted a line of .271/.318/.394 with a strikeout rate over 27% and a walk rate under 5%. That’s above average, with 106 wRC+, but a far cry from the .359 and .419 OBPs he put up in 2017 and 2018.

Cedeno returned to Peoria after missing most of June in a roster shuffle, but he seems to have found his stride with three multi-hit games this week.

Pitcher of the Week: Kyle Leahy, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 16 K, 2 HBP

Leahy’s on this list because of his dominant start on Tuesday, when he pitched six scoreless innings and struck out 10 batters, walking none and allowing just three baserunners.

A 22-year-old, 17th-round selection in last year’s draft, Leahy has seen a single start at Palm Beach this season as well. It was last week, and it only lasted three innings, but gave up three runs (two of which were earned) on seven hits.

His next start was the shutout mentioned above. Through 61.1 IP, Leahy has a 2.64 ERA and 3.26 FIP for Peoria.

State College Spikes

Past week: (4-2) | Overall: (10-6)

Divison: 1st, +0.5 G

The Spikes surged into the top spot this week, sweeping the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (9-7) in a three game set. They lost two of three to the Auburn Doubledays (7-8), but the success against the former division leaders was enough to put the Spikes on top.

They’ll take on the second-place Batavia Muckdogs (9-6) and the third-place Scrappers again this week, which is sure to help things shake out at the top.

Hitter of the Week: Matt Duce, C

Stats: 4 G, 16 AB, 5 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K

A 23-year-old catcher, Duce was drafted last year out of Dallas Baptist. He had an underwhelming rookie debut, with 57 wRC+ in 94 PA, but had a promising on-base approach with BB% and K% of 13.8% and 21.3%.

This season the walks have been almost nonexistent through his first 33 PA with State College, but it’s been replaced by some major production. He has 14 hits in 31 at-bats, five of which were doubles.

Pitcher of the Week: Enmanuel Solano, RHP

Stats: 3 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HBP

Solano started his season with a two-inning appearance for Palm Beach in mid-May before being removed from the roster.

He had a rough start for State College before his outing last week. Through his first two games, Solano surrendered 10 runs in 10.2 innings. He didn’t tout much strikeout potential in rookie ball, but always averaged two or fewer walks per nine. That number has shot up to 3.24 in his first long-term exposure beyond the rookie level.

Johnson City Cardinals

Past week: (4-2) | Overall: (7-4)

Divison: 1st, +0.5 G

The JC Cards started the week by dropping two of three against the Greeneville Reds (5-7), but followed with a three-game sweep of the Kingsport Mets (6-6).

The performance was enough to vault the Cards in to the top spot in the division, with a slim half-game lead.

Johnson City will play Greeneville again this week, as well as three games against the Bluefield Blue Jays (6-6) on the road.

Hitter of the Week: Chandler Redmond, 2B

Stats: 5 G, 18 AB, 7 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, HBP

Chandler Redmond doesn’t have a Fangraphs page, if that tells you anything about his “off-the-radar” status.

He has absolutely torn up the Appalachian League to this point in the season, with a .346/.469/.846 line in his first eight games.

Redmond was just a 32nd-rounder in this year’s draft, a 22-year-old middle infielder out of Gardner-Webb. At this point, he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Pitcher of the Week: Francisco Justo, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 6.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, HBP

Justo was a 12th-round pick in 2018 and the 20-year-old righty has started much stronger in his second chance at short-season rookie ball.

He has a 0.79 ERA and 2.62 FIP through two starts, striking out 11 of 40 batters he’s faced while walking just two.

Justo has a pretty large frame already, listed at 6’4” and 217 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see if his success continues through the remainder of the year.