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Weekly Farm Recap 7/8-14: Thomas’ strong week

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The week in review for the Cardinals minor league affiliates.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap. The smoke from the fireworks has settled and the action from the first week of July is in the books. Let’s take a look.

You can read this week’s daily farm reports from Andrew St. John at the previous links. Also, take a look at:

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (1-3) | Overall: (37-57)

Division: 4th (last), 16 GB

The Redbirds took on the Oklahoma City Dodgers (41-52) in a four-game set after the All-Star Break, dropping three of four. They didn’t gain or lose any ground, staying in last place and 16 games back in the PCL Am. Northern division. This week, they’ll play the Round Rock Express (55-39) in four games and the Omaha Storm Chasers (42-52) in three.

Hitter of the Week: Lane Thomas, OF

Stats: 4 G, 12 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K

Thomas has actually had a subpar year overall with Memphis, with 86 wRC+ through 248 PA. It’s the lowest offensive mark he’s posted since coming over to the Cardinals from the Blue Jays when he was at High-A in 2017.

He put up solid numbers in the four-game set against OKC, striking out just once. That’s been a crux for him, with a 26.2% strikeout rate that exceeds his usual mark.

Pitcher of the Week: Austin Warner, LHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Warner earned a call-up from Springfield on June 29 and has made three starts for Memphis. This week’s was his first solid performance.

He gave up 11 earned runs over his first two starts, but righted the ship, going six innings and limiting the OKC Dodgers to two runs. Warner gave up seven home runs in those first two starts, but gave up just one in his last outing.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (5-2) | Second half: 12-12 | Overall: (42-52)

Division: 3rd, 3 GB

Springfield had a great week, taking two of three from the Tulsa Drillers (13-11) and three of four from the division-leading Arkansas Travelers (15-9). The week moved the Cardinals up from last place and into third, just three games back in the second half of the Texas League.

This week, Springfield starts a road trip with three games against the Amarillo Sod Poodles (13-11) and the Corpus Christi Hooks (11-13).

Hitter of the Week: Yariel Gonzalez, 3B/1B

Stats: 7 G, 29 AB, 13 H, 5 R, 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 SB

Gonzalez bounced around the infield at the beginning of his professional career but settled in as a corner infielder with an emphasis on first base over the past two seasons. That was partly due to playing with Elehuris Montero, a third base prospect who had an excellent showing in 2018.

This season, Gonzalez has played much more third base. He’s seen time at Palm Beach, Springfield and Memphis this season, but put up poor numbers with the Redbirds, with 71 wRC+ in a limited 26 PAs. His numbers over 97 PA with Springfield are much better, slashing .303/.351/.472, good for 123 wRC+.

Pitcher of the Week: Tommy Parsons, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 10 K

It’s Parsons again. The strikeout numbers keep climbing for the 23-year-old righty, who notched 10 Ks in 6 IP this week. He’s now touting an impressive 25.7% strikeout rate, which is even more impressive when paired with a miniscule 3.5% walk rate.

Parsons has been stung by the home run since moving up to Springfield, giving up two in his start this week.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (3-5) | Second half: (8-18) | Overall: (43-47)

Division: 6th (last), 12.5 GB

The PB Cards fell further back in the second half of the Florida State League, splitting a series with the Clearwater Threshers (14-13) and dropping three of four to the Jupiter Hammerheads (12-14).

Palm Beach will play three games at home against the Florida Fire Frogs (8-18) before playing three against Jupiter as the road team.

Hitter of the Week: Nolan Gorman, 3B

Stats: 8 G, 32 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 9 K

Gorman has adjusted pretty well to High-A, with 113 wRC+ in 86 PA.

The 19-year-old top prospect has had trouble getting on base, with a .291 OBP, but has knocked seven of his 20 hits for extra bases. His strikeout rate is in roughly the same place as it was with Peoria, hovering around 29%, but his walk rate dropped into single digits after the promotion.

That’s to be expected, given his age and the caliber of competition, but the fact that Gorman is finding offensive success with his aggressive promotion schedule is promising.

Pitcher of the Week: Perry DellaValle, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

DellaValle was a 27th-round pick in 2018, but has made this list quite a few times over the past year. He blew through the rookie competition last season and found his way to Palm Beach, where he’s pitched pretty well.

DellaValle has made starts in 17 of his 18 appearances, logging 93 innings and carrying an ERA and FIP of 3.00 and 3.22.

He’s striking out about half as many batters this season as he did the last, with 6.97 K/9, but his walk rate has stayed under 2.00 K/9.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (1-5) | Second half: (4-19) | Overall: (34-58)

Divison: 8th (last), 12 GB

The Chiefs continued their slide in the Midwest League, losing the final game of the set to the Burlington Bees (9-14), getting swept by the Lansing Lugnuts (13-10) and splitting the first two games against the Great Lakes Loons (12-11).

After finishing the series against the Loons today, the Chiefs will go on the road to take on the Fort Wayne TinCaps (7-16) and the Lake County Captains (14-9).

Hitter of the Week: Brendan Donovan, 2B

Stats: 6 G, 22 AB, 9 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K

Donovan has all but erased the memory of a rough start with limited appearances at State College after being drafted in 2018. With Peoria, he has 115 wRC+ through 309 PA this season.

It’s largely been a difference of plate approach. Donovan posted a K% and BB% of 38.9% and 5.6% in a very short 18 PA stint with the Spikes last year. A longer sample seems to have worked well for the middle infielder, with K% and BB% of 21% and 13.6%.

Pitcher of the Week: Kyle Leahy, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 WP, 10 K

Leahy is another 2018 pick making the list, and he’s been tearing up the Midwest League for Peoria.

Leahy has logged 74.1 innings for the Chiefs this season, averaging a little over 5.2 IP per start. Over that time, he has nearly identical ERA and FIP of 2.91 and 2.90.

Leahy struggled with the home run in 2018, but has dropped his HR/FB rate from 12.7% to 3.5%. All the while, he’s maintained a low walk rate and boosted his K/9 by nearly two.

State College Spikes

Past week: (3-4) | Overall: (16-14)

Divison: 2nd, 2.5 GB

State College fell behind another game with their performance this week, but remain in second place in the division.

The Spikes dropped two three-game sets this week, one against the Batavia Muckdogs (18-11) and another against the Tri-City ValleyCats (12-16). They’ve split the first two of a series against the Staten Island Yankees (13-15), playing the rubber match today.

After that, the Spikes will play three at the West Virginia Black Bears (15-14) and three at home against Williamsport Crosscutters (8-21).

Hitter of the Week: David Vinsky, OF

Stats: 6 G, 27 AB, 4 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, HBP, 2 SB

The 21-year-old Vinsky was a 15th-round pick in this year’s draft. He started the season in rookie ball, where he struggled, but has thrived since his promotion to State College.

In 64 PA with the Spikes, Vinsky is slashing a monstrous .368/.438/.526, good for 187 wRC+.

Pitcher of the Week: Andre Pallante, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Pallante was the Cardinals’ 4th-round selection in this season’s draft and has had mixed results in his first four appearances.

Making two starts in those four outings, he’s posted a nice strikeout rate of 22.9% K%, but has struggled to limit walks. His BB/9 is now over three. He’s averaged just under three innings per appearance, but the last two were four a piece.

Johnson City Cardinals

Past week: (3-3) | Overall: (13-11)

Divison: 2nd, 1.5 GB

The JC Cardinals fell another game back in the standings, but jumped up a place to second in the division with a .500 performance this week.

They picked up a win against the division-leading Elizabethton Twins (15-10) and took two of three agains the Bristol Pirates (12-13).

They’ve lost the first two in another series against the Twins and will look to avoid losing the four-game set today before starting a homestand against Bristol and the Danville Braves (10-15).

Hitter of the Week: Todd Lott, 1B

Stats: 6 G, 23 AB, 4 R, 9 H, 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 SB

Lott is yet another 2019 pick, from the 9th round, who has been above average at the plate since starting with Johnson City.

In 85 PA, Lott is slashing .308/.353/.385 with a strikeout rate around 20% and a walk rate around 7%. Any extra-base power has been more about the gaps, with six doubles in his 24 hits.

He hasn’t had much success getting the ball in the air, with a 46.4% groundball rate, but might have the speed to make up for it; hehas converted both of his steal attempts to this point.

Pitcher of the Week: Michael YaSenka, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K

YaSenka has come in from the 2019 draft with quite a bang, posting a 34% strikeout rate in his first four appearances. That’s 17 strikeouts over 13.1 innings (50 batters faced).

He’s made four appearances, two of which were starts, and has an ERA of 0.68. Though his FIP is higher, at 2.38 it’s still extremely impressive.

The 21-year-old right-hander has put up a 50% flyball rate, but has an infield flyball rate of 35.7%, indicating some pretty poor contact quality.