Nobody is sounding alarms one month into the season (except for the Brewers, who have cemented April 2014 in their mind as the talent level of their club when they've been worse-than-.500 club since June 1, 2014 - maybe they should have just traded Ron Roenicke to Texas with Yovani Gallardo and saved him the grief of getting fired) but if you're a fan of any of the high-ceiling bats littering the Cardinals farm system, April was not a month that would make you feel a whole lot better about anyone on an already minuscule list of players.
The Hot Starts:
Xavier Scruggs (1B): 91 PA, .250/.407/.569, 5 HR, .319 ISO, .396 wOBA, 20.9% K, 17.6 BB%
Scruggs came out the gate like a house on fire: after the first two weeks of the season his wOBA was around .550. Which means that his last two weeks of April were nothing to write home about. Feast or famine has always been the book on Mr. Scruggs and April looks no different. The big difference? He's 27, in his second season in AAA after two plus seasons in AA before that, and can't play anywhere but first base -- meaning that he basically needs to post a .500 wOBA for a few months (or have Mark Reynolds stink so bad that the team would pay him to sit at home and it's hard to think that he would stink worse than Ty Wigginton, who lasted half a season) to have any sort of shot at getting onto the big league roster.
Tyler Lyons (SP): 21.2 IP, 2.91/2.83 ERA/FIP, 27.7 K%, 6.4% BB
Lyons peripheral line is one that makes you really question minor league ball-in-play classifications:
- BABIP: .433
- LD%: 9.7%
- GB%: 50.0%
- OFB%: 35.5%
Jonathan Rodriguez (1B): 79 PA, .315/.367/.466, .151 ISO, .449 wOBA, 20.3% K, 7.6% BB
The .382 average on balls in play is unsustainable, but other than that Joe Schwarz pick to click this year is off to a fine start but still hasn't logged a single inning anywhere other than first base defensively, which is a concern given that his path to the big leagues is as a utility bench bat that can play 3-4 positions on the diamond.
Charlie Tilson (CF): 90 PA, .310/.356/.369, .059 ISO, .363 wOBA, 7.8% K, 6.7% BB, 10 SB, 1 CS
Tilson might just make a believer out of me yet -- he's certainly trying his best to do so the first month of the year. He's cut his K-rate in half this season thus far and continues to hit the ball hard on the ground everywhere and leg out base hits with his speed. Tilson has also picked up some slack on the bases, nabbing 10 in April at a 90.9% success rate after stealing just 12 with a 54.5% success rate in all of 2014.
Only three extra base hits for a left handed hitter at Hammons Field is a legit concern, as is the sustainability of the current K-rate. His ceiling increasingly looks like Jon-Jay-with-speed-and-plus-defense, which isn't such a terrible thing, I suppose, I'm just not sold the slap-happy, Willie Mays Hays approach is going to translate when defenses get better.
Luke Voit (1B): 100 PA, .306/.400/.435, .129 ISO, .399 wOBA. 18.0% K, 14.0% BB, 2 HR
Voit is a right handed version of Mark Hamilton, up to and including the positional inflexibility to likely never have a shot at making the big leagues unless some crazy power surge shows up at age 24 or 25. Gets on base at a nice enough rate, makes enough contact, but doesn't have the power stick that most all teams look for from a first base only player.
Pitchers Not Named Littrell: 213 IP, 2.49 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 20.5% K, 9% BB
Alex Reyes is the big story here -- tossing 100 mph fastballs, striking out 43.2% of the men who dare step into the box against him. The command issues are still present though, with a walk rate at 16% so far this season, he's actually given up more free passes (13) than hits (12), with just one of those going for extra bases (a double). I think this will eventually get worked out, but it sure would be nice to see some consistent progress on overall control given how dominant his stuff is. There's no reason not to throw strikes when nobody can hit those strikes in the first place.
Rob Kaminsky has struggled a bit with command as well (10.5% BB), but neither his ERA (1.50) or FIP (2.42) have suffered because of it. That's mostly due to a boost in K-Rate (25%) while allowing just a hit per inning over his 4 starts so far this season.
Will Anderson added 8 innings of dominance at Palm Beach to his 19 innings of dominance at Peoria so far this season (2.00 ERA and 2.46 FIP thus far in 27 total innings), Perry (30.7% K) and Barraclough (36.7% K) have been dominant against balls in play out of the pen, but the double digit walk rates are a significant concern.
Luis Perdomo (SP): 17 IP, 1.59/2.38 ERA/FIP, 27.1% K, 8.6% BB
One to keep an eye on: Slight build, turns 22 this week, and has seen his K-rate climb at every stop in the minor leagues thus far.
Daniel Poncedeleon (SP): 23.1 IP, 1.54/2.64 ERA/FIP, 55.4% GB, 23.7% K, 5.4% BB
I had a chance to catch one of Poncedeleon's starts and took plenty of video to share as soon as I can get it formatted, shortened, and uploaded. Suffice to say: I came away more impressed that I already was going in. He pitched out of a jam early, then cruised into the 7th before the bullpen lost the game an inning later. Generating a ton of weak contact so far this season, with just 4 extra base hits so far and a boatload of worm burners to an infield defense that is excellent at turning them into outs.