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Weekly Farm Recap 8/12-18: Carlson shines in first Triple-A series

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The breakout minor leaguer went 7-for-17 with four extra-base hits in his first four games with Memphis.

St Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB photos via Getty Images

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap.

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

Though he won’t be included below, it’s worth noting that Harrison Bader has a .322/.429/.678 slash line since heading to Memphis, with six home runs in 15 games. Whatever issues Bader faced offensively this season, they aren’t much of a problem at Triple-A.

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (5-1) | Overall: (59-66)

Division: 2nd, 7 GB | Elim#: 9

This week’s results:

1-1 @ Fresno Grizzlies (55-70)

4-0 vs. Iowa Cubs (66-59)

Upcoming:

4 vs. Round Rock Express (75-49)

3 vs. Omaha Storm Chasers (53-72)

Hitter of the Week: Dylan Carlson, OF

Stats (w/ Memphis): 4 G, 17 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K

Carlson’s season hasn’t been his only plus performance in his professional career, but it’s been quite a spectacle.

After earning a promotion to Triple-A, the 20-year-old top prospect absolutely mashed in a four-game set against the division-leading Iowa Cubs. He was 7-for-17 with four extra-bas hits, launching his first Triple-A homer in the final game of the series.

Barring an unexpected demotion, Carlson’s final Double-A line in 2018 will read .281/.364/.518 across 483 PA, with 21 home runs and 18 stolen bases. He currently sits at 94 on THE BOARD at FanGraphs.

Pitcher of the Week: Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K

There’s not much left to say about Ponce de Leon. Since returning to Memphis, he’s thrown 18 shutout innings across three starts, allowing four hits, five walks and striking out 28. That’s a 44.4% strikeout rate with a 7.9% walk rate. He doesn’t seem to have much else to do at Memphis other than sit and wait for an opening and a call-up.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (3-4) | Second half: 26-30 | Overall: (56-70)

Division: 3rd, 5 GB | Elim#: 10

This week’s results:

1-3 @ Tulsa Drillers (31-25)

2-1 vs. Arkansas Travelers (31-25)

Upcoming:

3 @ Frisco RoughRiders (27-28)

3 @ Midland RockHounds (28-28)

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

Stats: 7 G, 27 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, IBB, 3 K

Defensively, Gonzalez is getting moved around quite a bit. In addition to the corner infield spots, he’s logged time at second base, shortstop and left field this season. That might be a move to get some more versatility in the switch hitter’s toolset, as he’s now 25 years old and fighting off competition higher up on the depth chart.

Gonzalez has moved quite a bit this year, starting with Palm Beach and earning a short promotion to Springfield before that vaulted him to Memphis by June 16. After a seven-game stint struggling with the Redbirds, Gonzalez returned to Springfield and has put up a really nice season for the Cardinals.

His slash line in 222 PA with Springfield is .278/.329/.483, with 122 wRC+. His strikeout rate is extremely low by today’s standards, sitting at 14.4%.

Across all levels, totaling 482 PA, Gonzalez has 15 home runs and five stolen bases.

Pitcher of the Week: Angel Rondon, RHP

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

Rondon was promoted from Palm Beach to Springfield pretty early in the season, after logging 45 innings in eight starts with a 2.20 ERA.

He’s now thrown 100 innings at Double-A across 17 starts. In that time, Rondon has seen his ERA rise nearly a run, to 3.15. Not terrible when going from a home park of Roger Dean Stadium in the FSL to the offense-heavy Texas League.

The home run bug has definitely bitten Rondon, going from surrendering a long ball once every 15 innings to once every 10 innings. That coincides with a boosted fly ball rate and a decrease in his K-BB from 16.8% to 13.9%.

Still, Rondon is holding his own in his first exposure to an offense-prone league at just 21 years old.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (1-5) | Second half: (19-38) | Overall: (54-67)

Division: 6th (last), 22 GB | Eliminated

This week’s results:

0-3 @ Tampa Tarpons (29-28)

1-2 @ Daytona Tortugas (26-33)

Upcoming:

3 vs. Bradenton Marauders (31-28)

3 vs. Fort Myers Miracle (29-28)

Hitter of the Week: Luken Baker, 1B

Stats: 6 G, 22 AB, 5 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K

Baker takes the honors again this week. I wrote more about Baker last week, and Andrew St. John mentioned Baker as his pick to break out next year in one of this week’s daily recaps. It’s with good reason.

Since July 27, spanning 74 PA, Baker has a slash line of .354/.432/.662. He has a 12.2% walk rate and 17.6% strikeout rate. He’s had 13 of his 23 hits go for extra bases.

The big corner infield bat seems to have figured out High-A. He now has 109 wRC+ in 459 PA this season.

Pitcher of the Week: Alvaro Seijas, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K

Seijas pitched 80 innings over 14 starts with the Chiefs in 2019 before getting called up to Palm Beach, where his performance has not faltered.

In 42.2 innings, thrown across eight starts, Seijas has a 2.95/3.65 ERA/FIP with the PB Cards, compared to a very similar 2.93/3.97 with Peoria.

Seijas has seen his HR/FB rate drop from 7.3% to 4.3%, and it seems it’s due to a lot of weak contact. Before the promotion, Seijas had an infield fly ball rate of 13.4%. After? 30.4%. The 20-year-old righty isn’t a fly ball pitcher, getting about a third of balls in play in the air, but that weak contact has been a major boost after seeing his strikeout rates drop.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (2-4) | Second half: (16-39) | Overall: (46-78)

Division: 8th (last), 19 GB | Eliminated

This week’s results:

0-1 vs. Clinton LumberKings (33-22)

2-1 @ Kane County Cougars (35-20)

0-2 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (30-25)

Upcoming:

2 vs. Wisconsin

3 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits (31-24)

4 @ Cedar Rapids Kernels (31-24)

Hitter of the Week: Delvin Perez, SS

Stats: 4 G, 14 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 4 K, HBP, 2 SB

Perez is a prospect who needed to start showing some improvement with the bat, even though he’s just 20 years old. I mentioned him in the season preview piece, as the gamble the Cardinals took selecting him in the first round in 2016 after testing positive for PEDs needed to show at least a little promise.

Perez’s line isn’t phenomenal, with 94 wRC+ in 459 PA this season, but it’s much better than the 61 and 76 marks he posted at the previous two levels.

In fact, Perez has a slash line of .277/.343/.367 following the Midwest League All-Star Break, good for 110 wRC+. He’s collected 14 of his 19 extra-base hits in that time.

Perez has also shown some wheels, with 19 stolen bases. The highest mark he had reached in a season prior to this was 12, in his first year. His success rate on the base paths is 70.4%.

Pitcher of the Week: Dalton Roach, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, HBP, 5 K

Roach started this season with State College but earned a call-up after two starts, striking out 16 while allowing three earned runs over 11 innings. He put up some solid numbers on paper, but his 4.24 FIP was nearly two runs higher than the 2.45 he logged.

Since joining Peoria, he’s had the opposite problem. Roach has a hefty 5.52 ERA across three starts with the Chiefs, spanning 14.2 innings. His FIP is 2.77.

The major issue in Roach’s pitching since the call-up has been command. His walk rate went from 8.7% with the Spikes to 13.2% now, while his strikeout rate decreased from 34.8% to 29.4%.

Those strikeout rates are still pretty dominant, but the changes saw his K-BB drop close to 10%, from 26.1% to 16.2%. Batters have a .421 BABIP against Roach in the Midwest League.

State College Spikes

Past week: (6-2) | Overall: (33-30)

Divison: 3rd, 2 GB | Elim#: 13 | Wild Card: 5th, 2 GB

This week’s results:

2-0 @ Williamsport Crosscutters (25-37)

1-2 vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (31-31)

3-0 vs. Auburn Doubledays (21-40)

Upcoming:

1 vs. Auburn

2-1 vs. Batavia Muckdogs (34-29)

3 vs. West Virginia Black Bears (34-27)

Hitter of the Week: Dariel Gomez, 1B

Stats: 7 G, 25 AB, 4 R, 9 H, 3 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K

This season with the Spikes has been the first taste of play beyond rookie ball for Gomez, who signed in December 2013 as a 17-year-old international free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Now 23, Gomez is slashing .254/.338/.370 in 204 PA with State College, good for 114 wRC+ in the NY-Penn League.

Gomez has seen his walk rate decrease a bit since moving up from Johnson City, going from 15.1% to 11.3%, but he’s seen the same thing happen with his strikeouts. That rate has dropped from 23.2% to 20.1%.

The more contact-focused approach might actually be hurting him, given that his slash line with Johnson City in 2018 was .270/.389/.454. He’s sacrificed across all three categories, as his wRC+ in the Appy League last year was 125.

Pitcher of the Week: Hector Villalobos, LHP

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

Villalobos is in his second stint with State College and is pitching about the same as he did last season, which was still good, but with some peripheral improvements.

Turning 23 today – happy birthday, Hector – the lefty has pitched 36.1 innings over 17 appearances in 2019. He’s thrown two or more innings in 12 of those, filling more of a long relief role. He’s pitched to a 3.22 ERA and 2.92 FIP, compared to the 3.16/3.13 marks he had in 25.1 innings with the Spikes last season.

Villalobos has seen his strikeout rate rise and walk rate decrease, going from a 15.9% K-BB last season to 20.7% this year. He’s striking out 27.6% of batters he faces this season.

Beyond that, Villalobos has a significantly reduced BABIP this year, going from .342 to .264. He’s been stingy with the long ball in his two seasons in the St. Louis system, with three home runs surrendered over 70 innings. Mix that with an increase in strikeouts and a reduction of successful balls in play and he’s made some major improvements that may be overlooked on the surface.

Johnson City Cardinals

Past week: (2-5) | Overall: (29-29)

Divison: 1st, +0.5 G

This week’s results:

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

1-2 @ Burlington Royals (35-23)

0-2 @ Pulaski Yankees (39-19)

Upcoming:

2 @ Pulaski

2 vs. Elizabethton Twins (27-30)

3 vs. Bristol Pirates (28-29)

Hitter of the Week: Jhon Torres, OF

Stats: 4 G, 14 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 5 K, SF

Having turned 19 just before the start of the season, the placement of Torres at Peoria was a bit of a stretch to begin with, coming off of a season in the Arizona League and the Gulf Coast League. Top prospect Nolan Gorman started the season in Peoria as well, and he’s not even two months older than Torres.

Even if it isn’t very developed yet, part of the reason the Cardinals acquired Torres from Cleveland in the Oscar Mercado deal was the promise of a big outfield bat. Torres has FV ratings of 50, 60 and 65 on his hit tool, game power and raw power, respectively (per FanGraphs). He’s listed as 6’4”, 199 lbs before reaching his 20s.

Showing that power is part of what Torres has done since heading to Johnson City. He has a .259/.358/.519 slash line through 95 PA with the JC Cards, good for 134 wRC+. Though he’s striking out at a rate of 29.5%, Torres is balancing it with a pretty decent walk rate of 12.6%.

Torres also has more extra-base hits (11) to his name than he does singles (10). With five homers, he’s averaging one every 19 plate appearances. Not even qualifying for the league leader categories in the Appalachian League, Torres is still ranked inside the top 40 in homers.

Pitcher of the Week: Hector Soto, RHP

Stats: 1 G, 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

Soto has seen outings at four different levels this season, from the GCL Cardinals all the way up to Palm Beach. He’s gotten the majority of his innings, 21.2 of 41.1, with Johnson City. That’s also where he’s been most effective.

Over seven games, three being starts, Soto has a 2.91 ERA and 3.40 FIP with the JC Cardinals. He’s struck out 28 batters and walked five over those 21.2 innings.

Strikeout stuff is part of Soto’s game. Even with some struggles in the GCL and the FSL, Soto’s total K/9 in across all levels in 2019 is 10.88, while his BB/9 over that time is 2.40.

Still just 20 years old, it’s understandable that Soto isn’t mowing down the upper levels at this point. That he’s seen some time above rookie ball is promising, paired with the performance he’s given with Johnson City.