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Weekly Farm Recap 7/1-7: Carlson shines in Futures Game

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The Cardinals saw two players selected to represent the National League in the Futures Game on Sunday.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

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 report from Austin Ward at the previous link, as well as an interesting piece from John LaRue on the organization’s approach to talent development.

Futures Game

Before we get to team performances, we’ll look at the results from the Futures Game held on Sunday. The Cardinals had two participants: outfielder Dylan Carlson and third baseman Nolan Gorman.

Carlson started the game in right field for the National League, this being the first year the game pitted leagues against each other instead of the original Team USA vs. Team World format, and batted seventh. He was 1-for-2, singling home one of the NL’s two runs in the 2-2 tie.

Gorman was a mid-game replacement at third and had one at bat, fouling off several pitches before striking out looking.

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (2-5) | Overall: (36-54)

Division: 4th (last), 16 GB

The Redbirds had a repeat of their record from the previous week, falling further into the cellar after dropping two of three to both the New Orleans Baby Cakes (49-41) and the division-leading Iowa Cubs (52-38).

Interestingly enough, all but one of the Redbirds’ games this week were decided by one run, making for a run differential of -5, which isn’t what one would expect from a 2-5 week. The Baby Cakes and the Cubs each had walk-off wins against Memphis.

The Redbirds head into the Triple-A All-Star Break now, before finishing the week with a four-game set against the Oklahoma City Dodgers (38-51) at home. The Redbirds’ two All-Star selections were pitcher Jake Woodford and catcher Andrew Knizner.

Hitter of the Week: Randy Arozarena, OF

Stats: 7 G, 25 AB, 2 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K

This isn’t Arozarena’s first appearance here this year. Take a look at previous recaps for some deeper dives, but the big story about the outfielder this season is that his bat is now playing at Triple-A like it has at every other level.

Arozarena’s first stint at Triple-A last season saw him post 81 wRC+, much lower than his career average that hadn’t fallen below 114 at any level in the Cards’ farm.

He started this season back in Springfield and hit .309/.422/.515 in 116 PA. Through 110 PA in Memphis, his line is .388/.445/.561.

Pitcher of the Week: Hunter Cervenka, LHP

Stats: 3 G, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 WP, 6 K

Cervenka made three scoreless relief appearances this week, one spanning two innings.

The Cardinals are the 29-year-old lefty’s sixth organization, signing a minor-league deal after spending last year with the Tigers. He has 48 major-league innings to his name, split between the Braves and the Marlins.

Cervenka was excellent with Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate in 2018, posting 10.46 K/9 and 2.70 BB/9 alongside a 2.36/3.33 ERA/FIP.

The strikeout stuff has stayed this year, a little higher than last year’s mark, but his command has really fallen off. Cervenka is now giving up just under six walks per nine, with little-to-no change in the rest of his game. That’s been enough to bump his ERA/FIP to 3.60/4.41 over 35 innings this year.

That’s what was great about Cervenka’s performance this week: He only walked one batter, while maintaining his ability to put hitters down on strikes.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (3-4) | Second half: 7-10 | Overall: (37-50)

Division: 4th (last), 5 GB

Springfield now has a better record than Memphis, and are much closer to the Arkansas Travelers (12-5) at the top in the second half. They could’ve been closer, but dropped three of four against the Travelers to end the week, getting shut out twice in the first two games.

Before that series, they took two of three from the Tulsa Drillers (9-8), scoring 19 over the series.

They’ll face the same opponents for the same number of games this week, but will swap locations. That means three on the road in Tulsa, and four at home against Arkansas.

Hitter of the Week: Dylan Carlson, OF

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

Carlson takes the honors for Springfield, even having missed games for the Futures Game.

He collected five hits, four of which were for extra bases. While he struck out in six of his 23 plate appearances, he also walked five times. Carlson is showing a power-focused, patient approach that’s resulted in a slash line of .282/.366/.510 over 347 Double-A plate appearances.

Pitcher of the Week: Tommy Parsons, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 WP, 2 BK, 11 K

The Tommy Parsons Project returns to the recap.

The 23-year-old right-hander made the climb from Peoria to Springfield before the calendar turned to July, having only played short-season rookie ball in 2018.

His offense-suppression numbers in the run-heavy Texas League haven’t been as great as they were at Single-A and High-A, with a 4.25 ERA/5.53 FIP through five starts. Most of that comes from his second outing, though, when he surrendered seven earned runs over 3.1 IP. The rest of his starts have seen three runs or fewer with at least six innings pitched.

His most recent start was a seven-inning, scoreless outing where he allowed only three hits and struck out seven. Strangely enough, Parsons had two balks in that start, but walked none.

A really promising stat is that Parson’s K/9 increased quite a bit going from Peoria to Palm Beach, and it’s maintained since his promotion to Springfield while his BB/9 has gone down. Parsons is striking out just over eight batters per nine innings while walking less than one.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (2-5) | Second half: (5-13) | Overall: (40-42)

Division: 6th (last), 9 GB

The PB Cardinals fell below .500 on the season with their poor week, going 2-5 and falling into last place in the FSL South for the second half.

They dropped two of three against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (7-12), getting outscored 15-2. They also dropped three of four against the Fort Myers Miracle (9-11).

This week they’ll play four against the Clearwater Threshers (12-8) and the Jupiter Hammerheads (8-10) this week.

Hitter of the Week: Imeldo Diaz, SS

Stats: 4 G, 15 AB, 3 R, 8 H, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K

Diaz began the season with State College but was moved up to Palm Beach after a few games. He only has 33 plate appearances for the PB Cardinals, but he’s hit extremely well in a few chances.

Acquired from the Red Sox for international bonus pool money in 2017, Diaz is 21 years old and plays shortstop with some second base and third base mixed in. He hadn’t played since June 27 before playing both games of a doubleheader on Friday and continuing through the weekend, where he went 8-for-15.

Diaz is a contact guy, with his career strikeout rate under 15% and his career walk rate in the 5%-7% range. After coming to the Cardinals in 2017, he flashed some power with five home runs in 130 rookie-ball PAs.

Pitcher of the Week: Diego Cordero, LHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 WP, 5 K

Cordero has only made three starts at Palm Beach in 2019 since getting called up from Peoria and has been stellar across them all. He has a 1.59 ERA and 3.41 FIP through 17 innings, both numbers lower than the totals he posted in 70.1 innings with Peoria.

This week, Cordero tossed seven scoreless innings and showed pretty solid command while striking out five. With an 18.5% strikeout rate and 6.2% walk rate, Cordero isn’t dazzling by putting hitters down on strikes, but he isn’t walking the bases loaded, either. The strikeout rate is actually his highest since his last stint in rookie ball in early 2018, having made four separate stints across all variants of A-ball since then.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (0-7) | Second half: (3-14) | Overall: (33-53)

Divison: 8th (last), 9 GB

The Chiefs are off to an abysmal start in the Midwest League second half, not winning a single game this week.

Their poor effort dropped them into last place, nine games back in the division. Their losses were to the Burlington Bees (6-11), Clinton Lumberkings (11-6) and the first-place Kane County Cougars (12-5), all division rivals.

This week, the Chiefs will wrap up a series against Burlington before taking on the Lansing Lugnuts (9-8) and the Great Lakes Loons (7-10).

Hitter of the Week: Edwin Figuera, 3B/SS

Stats: 7 G, 26 AB, 2 R, 9 H, 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K

Figuera went from Peoria to State College to Palm Beach and back to Peoria this season, bouncing around quite a bit.

The 21-year-old infielder is posting subpar offensive numbers this year at all levels, with identical 78 wRC+ at State College and Peoria, largely due to an inflated strikeout rate. After striking out well under 20% of the time at all levels, he’s seen that rate climb to 27.6% at Low-A and 24.7% at Single-A.

Pitcher of the Week: Thomas St. Clair, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 WP, 4 K

St. Clair faced the minimum in a multi-inning relief appearance, the likes of which has become a common occurrence for him.

Eight of St. Clair’s 20 relief appearances this year have gone for two or more innings. He hasn’t had much success on the season, with an 8.59 ERA and a slightly more forgiving 5.69 FIP, but he was very solid this week for the Chiefs in relief.

Much of St. Clair’s struggles have come from a walk rate that’s continued to rise throughout his time in the minors, now walking just over eight batters per nine innings.

State College Spikes

Past week: (3-4) | Overall: (13-10)

Divison: 2nd, 1.5 GB

The Spikes fell out of a slim first-place lead this week. They dropped two of three to the Batavia Muckdogs (14-8), who now sit in first place. The Chiefs followed with a series victory against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (12-10), but dropped the first game in a home series against Batavia yesterday.

The Spikes will have a chance to flip the division with two games remaining against the Muckdogs. then three-game sets against the Tri-City ValleyCats (7-14) and the Staten Island Yankees (11-10).

Hitter of the Week: Jonatan Machado, OF

Stats: 5 G, 23 AB, 6 R, 9 H, 2B, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, SF, SB

Listed at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, Machado isn’t a huge guy. He’s making up for it with an on-base approach with an extremely disciplined plate approach and heavy contact.

In 50 PA for State College this short-season, Machado has a walk rate of 10% and a strikeout rate of just 6%. All the while, he has a slash line of .364/.420/.409.

Pitcher of the Week: Jacob Schlesener, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 12 K

Schlesener is another repeat from previous lists, and he more than earned it with his performance this week. Giving up just two runs – one earned – this week, Schlesener struck out 12 while allowing two hits.

He was a bit erratic, with two walks, a hit-by-pitch and two wild pitches, but his stuff was clearly effective at limiting runs and baserunners. Schlesener has a K% of 29.6% for State College.

Johnson City Cardinals

Past week: (3-4) | Overall: (10-8)

Divison: 3rd, 0.5 GB

The JC Cardinals were another short-season team to fall out of first this week. They took a two of three against the Greeneville Reds (6-13) to start, but followed with a series loss against the Bluefield Blue Jays (11-8).

Johnson City has a considerable chance to make up some ground this week. They lost the first game against the Elizabethton Twins (11-8), who are tied for first with the Bristol Pirates (11-8), but have another game against Elizabethton today as well as a four-game set to end the week. They’ll play the Pirates in three games at Bristol in-between those series.

Hitter of the Week: Jhon Torres, OF

Stats: 7 G, 25 AB, 8 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K, HBP

Torres was a piece of the Oscar Mercado trade with Cleveland. The 19-year-old, 6-foot-4 corner outfielder is hitting really well for Johnson City after struggling with Peoria at the start of the season.

It was a pretty aggressive promotion for Torres, who finished last season in the Gulf Coast League. While Johnson City is still rookie ball, it presents an opportunity for a higher talent level among competition without the intense jump from the GCL to the Midwest League.

Since the demotion, Torres has a slash line of .243/.349/.486 in 43 PA.

Pitcher of the Week: Francisco Justo, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 6 K

Justo wasn’t incredible, but he was one of the best for Johnson City this week. Mainly due to his first outing, in which he pitched five innings and allowed only one run, striking out four.

Drafted in the 12th round in 2018, Justo is in his first stint outside of rookie ball and has pitched well – possibly beyond what he should’ve. He has a 2.53 ERA and 4.32 FIP through four starts with Johnson City, averaging just over five innings per start.