While the parent clubs enjoy a much deserved break, minor leaguers across the country are hard at work. At the top of the system there’s Jake Woodford, who pitched two scoreless innings with two K’s as the starter in last night’s Triple-A All Star Game. Andrew Knizner and Rangel Ravelo also represented the Redbirds. Farther down the ladder, Palm Beach’s game was suspended in the fourth inning with the Cardinals trailing Clearwater 3-1. It will be continued later today. Here’s the rest of the action.
Springfield Cardinals 8 @ Tulsa Drillers 4
Angel Rondon (SP) - 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Dylan Carlson (CF) - 3-5, BB
Zach Kirtley (1B) - 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
Rayder Ascanio (SS) - 3-4, RBI, BB
Dylan Carlson is on a mission. Fresh off his national prospectdom debut in the Futures Game, Carlson is building on the momentum by torching the Dodgers’ Double-A club. The switch-hitter is 6 for 10 in the Tulsa series, notching five singles, a double, and a stolen base while striking out and walking once apiece. He’s now slashing a hefty .292/.374/.516 with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases in a half-season at Double-A. Did I mention Carlson won’t turn 21 until October?
The steady rise of Angel Rondon shouldn’t be ignored, either. In his first year of full-season ball, Rondon has pitched to a combined 2.53 ERA in 18 starts across High-A and Double-A. This isn’t just a flukey suppressed BABIP run - it’s been backed up by impressive peripherals all the way. He’s struckout batters at around a 25% clip, while keeping the ball in the park and walking a workable 9.5%. The most recent report on his stuff I can find comes from Eric Longenhagen in 2017, who included Rondon as a person of interest on the Cardinals top prospects list. According to Longenhagen in 2017, Rondon was “somewhat physically projectable and sitting 90-92 with feel for a curveball”. From the looks I’ve gotten this year, it looks like that curveball feel has evolved into a legitimately deadly slider.
Lansing Lugnuts 8 @ Peoria Chiefs 2
Michael Baird (SP) - 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Brady Whalen (1B) - 1-4, RBI
Parker Kelly (RP) - 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Woof. There isn’t a whole lot to recap here. The Peoria offense was punchless, tallying not a single extra base hit on the night. Brady Whalen provided the only offensive production, but even that isn’t saying much. Whalen’s single was just his sixteenth since June 1, a brutal stretch that has seen him limp along at a .192/.306/.231 line. If we extend the window a month, Whalen is only hitting .229/.308/.337 with a 88 wRC+ since May 1. What’s changed since his scorching April? Plenty. He cooled off in May a bit, seeing a downtick in power output along with an uptick in aggressiveness at the plate. His BABIP stayed high - .352 versus April’s .361 - but not alarmingly so. Elevated BABIPs in the low minors can be a marker of true talent level, after all. But then June happened. Whalen’s BABIP cratered to .207, his ISO deflated to .027, and his line sunk to .164/.287/.192. The strikeouts came down and his walk rate went up, but to my eye it seemed he became overly passive rather than suddenly evolving his plate discipline. He’s still posting a 107 wRC+ in aggregate, but the nosedive is a definite red flag, especially for an infielder who has already tumbled down the defensive spectrum.
Tri-City ValleyCats 14, State College Spikes 7
Scott Politz (SP) - 5 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
Fabian Blanco (RP) - 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Andrew Warner (RF) - 1-3, 2B, BB
Donivan Williams (2B) 1-3, 3 RBI, 2 BB
There isn’t a lot to glean from State College this early in the season, but there are a handful of interesting starts.
Jonatan Machado is back with the Spikes after a wet-fart 2018, and things are going better this time around. He’s playing his game, using his speed, discipline and extreme contact ability to run a hearty .345/.409/.431 boosted by only a slightly inflated BABIP. He’s put one ball over the fence as well, moving him 50%(!) of the way to his 2018 season total.
Meanwhile, the Spikes are getting a lot of production from the catchers spot. College bats Matt Duce and Pedro Pages have manned the position along with 20-year old Carlos Soto, all of whom are running above-average offensive lines. Soto clocks in lowest with a 108 wRC+, while Pages and Duce are swinging to 158 and 167 wRC+’s, respectively.
On the pitching side, soft tossing lefty control artist Connor Thomas has struckout thirteen and walked none in his first two starts.
Johnson City Cardinals 6 @ Bristol Pirates 3
Dalton Roach (SP) - 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
TERRY FULLER (RF) - 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Todd Lott (DH) - 2-4, 2B, RBI, BB
Jhon Torres (LF) - 1-4, BB, K
Official 2019 TERRY FULLER Home Run Count: 1
Johnson City is going to be a fun team to follow this season, given the promotion of Trejyn Fletcher and the demotions of Jhon Torres and Malcom Nunez. Nunez is a curious case, though, as he hasn’t appeared since being sent down. I’ll try to dig up some info.
Along with Fletcher, Torres and Nunez, the roster of the baby birds includes shortstop Mateo Gil, catcher Zach Jackson, and outfielders Terry Fuller, Carlos Soler, and Victor Garcia. Plenty of lottery tickets to go around, folks. Fuller has found the most success in the early going, walking at an astounding 19.4% clip en route to a .281/.431/.439 line. What does this tell us? Absolutely nothing. Fuller has played so little that our knowledge of him as a hitter still extends no further than his 70-grade raw power. Still, nice hitting, Terry.
GCL Cardinals 2 @ GCL Mets 1
Francis Ventura (SP) - 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Wilman Madera (RP) - 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Francisco Hernandez (3B) - 2-5, 2B, RBI
Yowelfy Rosario (SS) - 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB, K
DSL DBacks 8, DSL Cardinals Red 3
Hancel Rincon (SP) - 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Larimel Soriano (RP) - 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Endri Salas (CF) - 1-2, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Diowill Burgos (RF) - 0-1, RBI, 2 BB
DSL Twins 11 @ DSL Cardinals Blue 2
Engels Martinez (SP) - 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3 HR
G.A. Rodriguez (RF) - 1-3, 2B, RBI, K
Elvin De Jesus (2B) - 1-4, 2B
Luis Rodriguez (LF) - 3-4, RBI
MEM: Mike Hauschild
SPR: Tommy Parsons
SC: Adrian Mardueno
JC: Jake Sommers