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Weekly Farm Recap 8/5-11: Urías erupts in Memphis

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The older brother of Padre Luis Urías went 13-for-22 with two doubles and four homers this week.

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap.

You can read this week’s daily farm reports from Andrew St. John at the previous links. Also, take a look at yesterday’s edition of A.E. Schafer’s System Sundays series.

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (4-2) | Overall: (54-65)

Division: 2nd, 10 GB | Elim#: 12

This week’s results:

1-0 vs. El Paso Chihuahuas (69-50)

1-2 @ Sacramento River Cats (64-55)

2-0 @ Fresno Grizzlies (54-65)

Upcoming:

2 @ Fresno

4 vs. Iowa Cubs (64-55)

Hitter of the Week: Ramón Urías, 2B

Stats: 6 G, 22 AB, 5 R, 13 H, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, HBP

The older brother of the Padres’ Luis Urías, Ramón doesn’t have the same hype or pedigree his brother has carried. But he’s been a plus at the plate at nearly every level, and it seems he figured out Triple-A pitching this year.

Urías went from Rookie ball with the Rangers in 2011 and 2012 to the Mexican League, regarded to be more similar to a Triple-A equivalent in terms of talent level. He struggled the first two seasons, but turned into a bit of a star in his final three years, with an OPS of 1.011 in his final year (2017).

The Cardinals signed Urías to a minor-league deal and he destroyed Double-A pitching in 2018, with 184 wRC+ in 194 PA. Though the middle infielder struggled to adjust to Triple-A last year, he’s clicked this season, with a .269/.394/.429 slash line in 290 PA.

Urías struggled out of the gate this season before he was sidelined by injury in mid-June. It was a tale of two halves this season for Urías, and this week’s performance showcased the difference. His OPS before the injury was just .668. Since returning to Memphis on July 16, Urías has an OPS of 1.175.

Pitcher of the Week: Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K

Ponce de Leon has been riding the I-55 shuttle pretty frequently this season, and he’s showing that he no longer has anything to prove in the minors.

Since being optioned to Memphis, Ponce de Leon has made two starts. In those, he’s thrown 11 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and five walks while striking out 19.

Though Ponce de Leon has some wonky peripherals at both levels, with some high walk rates (11.7% at Triple-A and 12.7% in St. Louis) and a FIP at least half a run higher than his ERA, he’s now mowing down his Triple-A competition and should at least be in the discussion to take starts from the struggling Michael Wacha.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (2-5) | Second half: 23-26 | Overall: (53-66)

Division: 3rd, 5 GB | Elim#: 17

This week’s results:

0-3 @ Tulsa Drillers (27-22)

2-2 vs. Arkansas Travelers (28-21)

Upcoming:

4 @ Tulsa

3 vs. Arkansas

Hitter of the Week: Dylan Carlson, OF

Stats: 6 G, 23 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 5 K, HBP, 3 SB

Carlson is having the epitome of a breakout season, but it’s not like he wasn’t a plus player before this. His bat has been above-average at every level before this season, but it’s the explosion of power and speed that have put him on the Top 100 lists.

The highest home run total posted by Carlson before this season was 12, split between A-ball and High-A last year. After the three bombs he hit this week, his 2019 total is at 21.

It’s the same on the basepaths. Last year Carlson swiped eight bags, a career high. This season, after the three this week, he’s already doubled it with 16.

Carlson’s BB/K has actually decreased from last season, from 0.70 to 0.50. But he’s putting the ball in play more, and driving it for extra bases much more often.

Pitcher of the Week: Evan Kruczynski, LHP

Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 13.1 IP, 13 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 3 HR, 4 BB, 21 K

A first look at that stat line may make you think this is a joke. Or that there were very few decent pitching performances to choose from at Springfield this week. The latter is true, but one of Kruczynski’s starts this week was pretty excellent.

Saturday, the lefty threw 6.2 innings, giving up two runs – one earned – on six hits. Beyond being stingy with the runs, the Arizona Fall league alum walked just one batter while striking out 11.

The 2018 season was excellent for the lefty, but he’s struggled with walks and home runs in 2019.

Aside from the six-run outing he posted this week, Kruczynski hadn’t given up more than two runs in a start since early July. He’s struggled to find his footing, starting at Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A where he posted an 8.01 ERA and 5.13 FIP before heading back to Springfield.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (3-3) | Second half: (18-33) | Overall: (53-62)

Division: 6th (last), 18.5 GB | Eliminated

This week’s results:

1-1 vs. Jupiter Hammerheads (25-27)

2-2 vs. Clearwater Threshers (24-29)

Upcoming:

4 @ Tampa Tarpons (24-26)

3 @ Daytona Tortugas (22-30)

Hitter of the Week: Luken Baker, 1B

Stats: 5 G, 16 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 4 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K

The big bat out of TCU was the Cardinals’ compensatory pick in 2018, taken 75th overall, and he’s handled himself pretty well being roughly a year removed from a return from a broken leg that ended his college career.

Baker has a .235/.323/.358 line through 434 PA with Palm Beach, good for 106 wRC+. The power doesn’t seem phenomenal, but taking into account the Florida State League’s park environments, and the home games they play at Roger Dean Stadium, gives it a bit more context.

Baker has seven home runs and 26 doubles in his second professional season and first year at High-A, with a 22.1% strikeout rate and 10.8% walk rate that are nice to see from a player whose highest-rated tool is his power (60 FV game power, 70 FV raw power).

Pitcher of the Week: Michael Baird, RHP

Stats: 2 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, WP, 8 K

Baird was a 23rd-round pick in 2018 and has moved around quite a bit already in the short season in 2019.

Starting in State College, Baird moved from the Spikes to Peoria to Palm Beach, throwing just over 10 innings at each level before earning his promotion.

Baird excels at striking out batters, with a 30.6% strikeout rate through 36.2 innings across the three levels. That comes alongside a very low 5.6% walk rate.

In 12 appearances, seven being starts, Baird has allowed just five runs, but only two earned, on 23 hits.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (1-6) | Second half: (14-35) | Overall: (44-74)

Divison: 8th (last), 19 GB | Elim#: 7

This week’s results:

0-2 @ Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (26-23)

1-2 @ Beloit Snappers (21-28)

0-2 vs. Clinton LumberKings (29-20)

Upcoming:

1 vs. Clinton

3 @ Kane County Cougars (33-16)

4 vs. Wisconsin

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

Stats: 6 G, 19 AB, R, 11 H, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, SF

Cedeno put on a hitting clinic for Peoria this week, going 11-for-19 with a home run. There may not have been a lot of power behind it, but it was a welcome sight from a player who drew his high offensive marks in four seasons of rookie ball from a high-contact approach.

Cedeno’s BB/K this season is just 0.21. That, combined with a drop in average from .336 in 2018 to .272 this season, saw his OBP plummet. The first baseman/corner outfielder has also seen what looked to be a power breakout in 2018 take on the appearance of a fluke. Cedeno had 14 homers and 13 doubles in 258 PA last season in rookie ball. This year, through 325 PA, those numbers are just six and 16.

Still, Cedeno has 107 wRC+ with Peoria, with a .272/.320/.399 slash line.

Pitcher of the Week: Colin Schmid, LHP

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

Schmid may not put up monster strikeout rates, but he’s been turning in solid outings throughout the season. He made the jump from rookie ball to Peoria, like Cedeno above, and has averaged roughly 5.1 innings in his 16 starts this season with a 3.95 ERA and 4.03 FIP.

State College Spikes

Past week: (2-4) | Overall: (27-28)

Divison: 3rd, 5.5 GB | Elim#: 16

This week’s results:

0-2 @ Auburn Doubledays (21-33)

2-1 vs. Batavia Muckdogs (33-23)

0-1 @ Williamsport Crosscutters (22-34)

Upcoming:

2 @ Williamsport

3 vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (25-30)

4 vs. Auburn

Hitter of the Week: Pedro Pages, C

Stats: 5 G, 19 AB, 2 R, 7 H, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI, BB, 3 K

The 20-year-old catcher taken in the sixth round of this year’s draft has put on quite a show in his short season debut, with a .303/.396/.467 slash line at State College, good for 157 wRC+. By that metric, Pages is tied for fifth-best among all New York-Penn batters with at least 140 PA.

He’s making a lot of solid contact and driving the ball, with 17 of his 37 hits going for extra bases, but Pages also demonstrates a patient approach at the plate, with a 16.7% strikeout rate and 11.8% walk rate.

Pitcher of the Week: Scott Politz, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

Politz is another 2019 draftee, from the 29th round. The 22-year-old right-hander hasn’t posted phenomenal numbers to this point with the Spikes, posting a 5.87 ERA and 4.08 FIP through 46 innings. This week’s performance was excellent, tossing seven innings and allowing no runs while striking out nine batters.

The outing was good to see from Politz, as he’s had trouble with his command to this point in the season. He’s put up a 16.4% strikeout rate with an 8.7% walk rate, which has spelled trouble for him in his appearances.

Johnson City Cardinals

Past week: (2-5) | Overall: (27-24)

Divison: 1st, +1 G

This week’s results:

1-2 vs. Burlington Royals (31-21)

1-2 @ Elizabethton Twins (26-25)

0-1 vs. Princeton Rays (24-27)

Upcoming:

2 vs. Princeton

3 @ Burlington

4 @ Pulaski Yankees (35-16)

Hitter of the Week: Mateo Gil, SS

Stats: 6 G, 23 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K

Gil actually doubled his home run total on the season with his efforts this week. The shortstop went 9-for-23 and showed a bit of patience, which was nice to see from a hitter with a 7.7 BB% and 25.2% K%.

Just turning 19 in July, Gil’s .270/.329/.454 is good for 110 wRC+ in the Appalachian League. The middle infielder now has six doubles, a triple and six home runs through 155 PA with Johnson City.

Pitcher of the Week: Jake Sommers, RHP

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

Sommers is yet another 2019 draftee, out of the 10th round. The 22-year-old pitched a great game this week, with some excellent K-BB numbers and very little damage done to him.

The strikeouts and walks come as no surprise. Sommers has a 24.5% strikeout rate and 6.8% walk rate through his first 37.2 professional innings.

Unfortunately, the home run doesn’t shock, either. Sommers has surrendered five over his nine games (seven starts), a 1.19 HR/9. The righty gets about half of his balls in play in the air and carries a 16.1% HR/FB rate, a big contributor to his 4.30 ERA/4.68 FIP. He’s given up at least one home run in four of his past five outings.