All posts by Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.

Eight Cardinals Prospects Open 2019 Arizona Fall League Play

Wednesday night, September 18, marks the opening of the 2019 Arizona Fall League schedule. Six teams made up of prospects from all 30 MLB organizations will play 30 games each, through Friday, October 25. The league finals will be the next day, on Saturday, October 26. Also, the annual Fall Stars Game will be held on Saturday, October 12.

The 2019 AFL consists of two divisions, with the following make-up:

East Division

  • Mesa Solar Sox: Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Indians, Tigers
  • Salt River Rafters: Diamondbacks, Marlins, Rays, Rockies, Twins
  • Scottsdale Scorpions: Blue Jays, Braves, Giants, Mets, Phillies

West Division

  • Glendale Desert Dogs: Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Reds, White Sox
  • Peoria Javelinas: Astros, Mariners, Padres, Pirates, Red Sox
  • Surprise Saguaros: Orioles, Nationals, Rangers, Royals, Yankees

2019 changes

This year’s schedule begins three weeks earlier than in the past, with the intent to eliminate the prior time gap of a month between the end of the minor league season and the start of the AFL.

In prior years, the AFL took Sundays off. That is not the case in 2019. Instead, teams will not play on three Mondays, two Thursdays, a Tuesday and a Sunday.

10 league games will be held against teams from the Mexican Pacific League and Mesa will play two contests in the Mexican Baseball Fiesta.

Now eligible for the AFL are rehabbing MLB players and any minor leaguers. There is no longer any restriction on players participating who played below the Double-A level during the prior season.

Because of the Arizona heat, all September contests will be held in the evening, starting at 6:30 p.m. local time. Selected day games, starting at 12:30 p.m. will be held in October.

Due to construction at regular AFL venues Surprise and Scottsdale, two teams will double up this year. Scottsdale will share Salt River Fields at Talking Stick with the Rafters and Surprise joins the Javelinas at their home in Peoria. (All AFL parks’ primary purpose is to serve as MLB spring training venues.)


Springfield hitting coach Brandon Allen (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

Cardinals – Glendale overview

The eight Cardinals prospects and their Glendale Desert Dogs teammates will play their home games at Camelback Ranch-Glendale, the spring home of the Dodgers and White Sox.

One of four coaches under Glendale manager Luis Bolivar (Reds) is Springfield hitting coach Brandon Allen. The 33-year old just completed his third season in the Cardinals system after serving in the same capacity at Palm Beach in 2018 and Johnson City in 2017. As a first baseman-outfielder, Allen played 13 years in professional ball, including parts of four seasons in the majors, 2009-2012.

Elehuris Montero (Memphis Redbirds)

One of Glendale’s two athletic trainers is Springfield’s Dan Martin.

While 20 members of MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects were among the initial group announced to play in the AFL, only one is currently on the Glendale roster, Reds third baseman Jonathan India (No. 92), their first-rounder in 2018. Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson, since pulled from the league, would have been the other and highest-ranked Desert Dog at no. 50 nationally.

Ivan Herrera (St. Louis Cardinals)

As is traditional, the Cards have assigned four position players and four pitchers to the AFL. The latter group includes one starter and three relievers. (Each club has the same target, ideally creating a five-man rotation and a 15-man bullpen, ensuring pitchers do not get overworked.)

Five of the eight are ranked in The Cardinal Nation August Top 50 plus one honorable mention. The headliners are third baseman Elehuris Montero, no. 3, and catcher Ivan Herrera, no. 12.

Outfielder Conner Capel was recently added to the group, replacing Carlson, and Roel Ramirez was chosen as the final relief pitcher.

Three of the Cardinals – all three of the relievers – finished the season with Memphis, though they all spent the majority of 2019 down one level, at Springfield. The Double-A Cards also have three representatives, plus the Palm Beach battery of Griffin Roberts and Herrera rounds out the group. Herrera, who played most of 2019 at Peoria, is the second-youngest player in the AFL, at the age of 19 years and three months.

Cards in AFL 2019 Pos Tm TCN Top 50 Rank
Pitcher Griffin Roberts RHS PB 30
Seth Elledge RHR Mem 29
Kodi Whitley RHR Mem HM
Roel Ramirez RHR Mem NR
Hitter Conner Capel OF Spr 35
Elehuris Montero 3B Spr 3
Kramer Robertson SS Spr NR
Ivan Herrera C PB 12

To read more about all eight players, check out these earlier articles.

Cardinals Add Capel, Ramirez to AFL Contingent

Seven Cardinals Named to the 2019 Arizona Fall League


What is Next

We will have all the details and analysis from the 2019 AFL campaign here at The Cardinal Nation. That includes our free daily Desert Dogs game recaps, starting with the opener on Wednesday, September 18, through the final games on October 26.

Others may talk about it, but we have been on the ground in the AFL every year for each of the last 15 years and will again bring you our exclusive members coverage directly from Glendale in October.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Seven of Nine Cardinals Minor League Teams Declined in 2019


Not yet a member?

If you enjoyed this article and you want to unlock more, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Add Capel, Ramirez to AFL Contingent

photo: Conner Capel (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

As many St. Louis Cardinals fans already know, the organization decided to pull top prospect Dylan Carlson from participating in the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase. Coming off his Texas League Player of the Year honors, the 20-year old had a relatively short, but very successful Triple-A debut with the Memphis Redbirds to close the regular season.

With Carlson logging over 550 plate appearances between the two stops, a very busy year, coupled with the aforementioned success, the Cardinals decided that he would be better served by working out at home in California rather than playing six more weeks in the desert this fall.

As a result, St. Louis needed a replacement outfielder for the AFL’s Glendale Desert Dogs. That selection is Springfield’s Conner Capel.

The Cardinals also had a player to be named, not made in the initial announcement, a third relief pitcher, increasing their total AFL participation to eight. The choice, joining bullpenners Seth Elledge and Kodi Whitley, is another Double-A Cardinal, Roel Ramirez.

Seven Cardinals Named to the 2019 Arizona Fall League


Capel

Capel, 22, was the Cleveland Indians’ 2016 fifth-round pick and was acquired by the Cardinals in the Oscar Mercado trade at the 2018 trade deadline. The Texan, a son of former major league pitcher Mike Capel, finished that season at Palm Beach before spending most of 2019 with Springfield.

Conner Capel

With Springfield, Capel encountered peaks and valleys, posting a .232/.283/.352/.635 slash line with 12 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 98 games in the Texas League.

As organizational injuries mounted, Capel received a mid-June introduction to Triple-A Memphis. In eight games for the Redbirds, he put up strong numbers for a week, hitting .433 (13-for-30), including seven extra-base hits.

Capel is The Cardinal Nation’s number 35th prospect in our August rankings.

TCN Springfield reporter Derek Shore profiled Capel in August.

Cardinals’ Conner Capel Competes


Ramirez

Ramirez was also a July 2018 trade acquisition by St. Louis. The 24-year old was picked up from Tampa Bay in the Tommy Pham deal.

Repeating Double-A in 2019, the right-hander was a workhorse for manager Joe Kruzel. Ramirez made 36 relief appearances and five spot starts, logging a 4.98 ERA. He fanned 80 and walked 29 as Texas League batters hit a collective .276 against him.

To finish the year, Ramirez was moved up to Memphis. In his two-game Triple-A introduction, he tossed three hitless, scoreless innings with five strikeouts and no walks.

Roel Ramirez


Fernandez released

No, it is not Junior.

In other minor league news, the St. Louis Cardinals have released minor league pitcher Ramon Fernandez off the Dominican Summer League Red roster. The 20-year old right-hander, a native of the Dominican Republic, was signed by the organization in July 2018.

Fernandez competed the last two seasons in the DSL, on the Cardinals Blue in 2018 and the Red this past summer. The reliever struggled both years, with a 6.07 ERA following a 7.27 mark his rookie year. Fernandez’ glaring issue was walks, as he issued 34 in his 38 1/3 career innings. He had a 4-3 record overall, but blew three of four career save opportunities to go with his 6.34 ERA.

Ramon Fernandez


What is Next

We will have all the details and analysis from the 2019 Arizona Fall League campaign here at The Cardinal Nation.

That includes our free Desert Dogs game recaps, starting with the opener on Wednesday, September 18, and running daily through the final games on October 26.

Others may talk about it, but we have been on the ground in the AFL every year for each of the last 15 years and will again bring you our exclusive members coverage directly from Glendale in October.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

2019 Cardinals Minor League System Disappoints


Not yet a member?

If you enjoyed this article and you want to unlock more, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wally Westlake, Oldest Living Cardinal, Passes

photo: Wally Westlake (Getty Images)

On Thursday, September 5, the baseball world said goodbye to the St. Louis Cardinals’ oldest living player, Wally Westlake of Sacramento, California. The 98-year old was also the second-oldest living MLB player, by just four days.

Wally Westlake (St. Louis Cardinals)

He played nine seasons in the major leagues for the Pirates, Cardinals, Reds, Indians, Orioles and Phillies, from 1947 to 1956. Westlake was primarily an outfielder with his career highlight being named to the 1951 National League All-Star team.

Westlake was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at age 19 in 1940 and credited Casey Stengel as having been key in his development as a minor leaguer while in the Pacific Coast League. After serving in World War II, Westlake made his big-league debut with the 1947 Pirates.

In the midst of his all-star, career-best 1951 season, during which he hit 22 home runs, drove in 84 and batted .266, Westlake was traded. On June 15, Pirates general manager Branch Rickey sent him to St. Louis in a seven-player trade that also included pitcher Howie Pollet and catcher Joe Garagiola joining the Cardinals. Westlake played in 73 games with his new team to finish the season, and his performance dropped off. He hit six home runs, drove in 39 and batted .255.

At 31 years of age when the 1952 season began, Westlake became a journeyman, spending that campaign with three different teams. He played just 21 more games for St. Louis, hitting one home run, driving in 10 and batting a disappointing .216. In May, he was swapped to the Cincinnati Reds in a four-player deal that included Dick Sisler, and was dealt again in August, to Cleveland.

He remained with the Tribe until 1955, when he moved to the Baltimore Orioles. Westlake finished his MLB career with five games for the 1956 Phillies, before retiring the next spring.

Over his career, Westlake played in 958 MLB games, taking 3,117 at bats, with 127 home runs, 539 RBIs and an average of .272. He spent his retirement years back in Sacramento.

September has been an especially difficult month for former Cardinals, as Chris Duncan succumbed to cancer on the 6th and Alex Grammas passed at the age of 93 on Friday.

Westlake had been the oldest living Cardinal for almost three years. Then-98 year old Bill Endicott held the record for four years before the 1946 outfielder passed away in November 2016. Now, 1954 Cardinals pitcher Bill Greason is the oldest living Cardinal. The right-hander celebrated his 95th birthday on September 3rd.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

2019 Cardinals Minor League System Disappoints


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Mourn Passing of Chris Duncan

photo: Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel (Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Chris Duncan (Getty Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals organization was saddened this evening (Friday, September 6) to learn of the passing of former outfielder Chris Duncan from brain cancer.  Duncan, the son of former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and brother of former major leaguer Shelley Duncan, was 38 years old.

“The Cardinals are deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Duncan and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Amy, the entire Duncan family, and his many friends,” said Cardinals Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr.  “Chris was an integral part of our 2006 championship team and a great teammate and friend to many in the organization.”

Chris Duncan (Getty Images)

Selected 46th overall by the Cardinals in the 1999 First Year Player Draft, Duncan made his MLB debut with the club on September 10, 2005 and hit his first major league home run on October 2, 2005, which proved to be the last regular season homer hit at Busch Stadium II.  In 2006, Duncan was named the Cardinals Rookie of the Year by St. Louis media and broadcasters after hitting a career-high 22 home runs while appearing in 90 games. He would later appear in 10 postseason games that year, including three starts against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Duncan became a regular in 2007, appearing in 127 games and finished second on the team in home runs (21) and RBI (70).  His last game in the major leagues came with the Cardinals on July 20, 2009.

After his playing career, Duncan became a local radio host on WXOS (ESPN 101) in St. Louis.


Brian Walton’s take

May he rest in peace.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2019 Week 22


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Add Eight Players via September 1 Roster Expansion

photo: Mike Mayers (Memphis Redbirds)

Monday, September 2 update

Prior to Monday’s series opener with the Giants, infielder Edmundo Sosa was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to become the 34th active player on St. Louis’ roster. Sosa, who made his Major League debut last season vs. San Francisco (Sept. 23 at Busch Stadium), previously appeared in three games for St. Louis this July.

Outfielder Randy Arozarena is expected to follow on Tuesday.

Edmundo Sosa


St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Sunday, September 1) that they have added eight players to their active roster, as Major League Baseball rules allow for the September 1 expansion of active rosters to 40.

The Cardinals today activated outfielder José Martínez (right AC joint sprain) from the 10-day Injured List, recalled catcher Andrew Knizner, first baseman/outfielder Rangel Ravelo, left-handed pitcher Génesis Cabrera, right-handed pitcher Junior Fernandez and right-handed pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon from Memphis (AAA), and purchased the contracts of right-handed pitcher Mike Mayers and catcher Joe Hudson from Memphis.

Martínez, who missed 15 games since going on the Injured List on August 13, appeared in five games with Springfield (AA) while on an injury rehabilitation assignment last week, batting .500 (8-for-16) with 4 RBI. In 110 games for the Cardinals this season, Martinez is batting .266 with 10 HR’s and 40 RBI.

Jose Martinez

Knizner, a rookie, batted .276 with 12 HR & 34 RBI in 66 games for Memphis and in 13 games for St. Louis, is batting .190 (8-for-42) with one homer and four RBI.

Andrew Knizner

The right-handed hitting Ravelo finished his season at Memphis by batting .299 with 12 HR & 56 RBI in 95 games. He made his ML debut with the Cardinals earlier this season, appearing in 14 games (.158 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI).

Rangel Ravelo

Cabrera, the 26th man for yesterday’s double-header, was 5-6 with a 5.91 ERA in 20 games (18 starts) for Memphis. The rookie lefty became the 2,000th player in Cardinals franchise history when he made his ML debut in June, and he’s appeared in five games (two starts) with the Cardinals this season, going 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA.

Genesis Cabrera

Fernandez, also a rookie, has pitched at four levels this season, including the majors, where he made five relief appearances (0-0, 3.60 ERA) for the Cardinals in August. The 22-year-old Fernandez combined to go 3-2 with 11 saves and a 1.52 ERA in 45 games in the minors this season, fanning 80 batters in 65.0 innings pitched.

Junior Fernandez

Ponce de Leon is slated to make the start in tonight’s second game of the double-header. He completed his year at Memphis with an 8-4 mark and 2.88 ERA in 16 starts. In 10 games (7 starts) for St. Louis this season, Ponce de Leon is 1-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 40.2 innings of work.

Daniel Ponce de Leon

Mayers, whose season was slowed by a right shoulder lat strain while on the Injured List from April 16 to July 23, has appeared in just 12 games (0-1, 7.24 ERA) with St. Louis. Mayers made a total of 20 relief appearances with Memphis this season, and during his most recent stint (August 9-29), he allowed just two runs in 10 games (10.0 IP) for a 1.80 ERA with 15 strikeouts.

Mike Mayers

Hudson, a right-handed hitting catcher, who played eight games in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels in 2018, batted .223 with 10 HR & 30 RBI in 60 games with Memphis. Hudson threw out 39 pct. (15-of-38) of attempted base stealers this season, made just one error behind the plate, and had just one passed ball.

Joe Hudson

The Cardinals also announced today that they transferred outfielder Lane Thomas (right wrist fracture) from the 10-day Injured List to the 60-day Injured list.

Martínez wears uniform no. 38, Knizner is no. 7, Ravelo 47, Cabrera 61, Fernandez 44, Ponce de Leon 62, Mayers 59 and Joe Hudson 68.


Brian Walton’s take

This is the first, but perhaps not final group of additions to St. Louis’ roster for the final month. With Memphis having two games remaining, others could still follow.

Of this group, only Mayers and Hudson are minor surprises – both 40-man roster additions.

Hudson’s selection is likely directly related to Matt Wieters’ calf injury suffered while running the bases Saturday night. Hudson will likely be cut loose again this fall so the 40-man spot can be used to protect another.

Mayers, who had been removed from the 40-man roster just a month ago, going unclaimed, pitched extremely well while with Memphis, as noted above.

Martinez and Ravelo will join the outfield-pinch hit brigade, with the latter also a defensive backfill at first base. Cabrera had already been added as Saturday’s 26-man, and remains, as expected. Ponce de Leon will start Sunday’s double-header Game 2. The rookie Fernandez rejoins the bullpen mix.

The Cardinals had one 40-man opening and created the other needed with the decision that Thomas’ rookie season is over. Those two spots were used by Mayers and Hudson.

Following Memphis’ Monday game, outfielder Randy Arozarena and infielder Edmundo Sosa will join the St. Louis roster to make 35 active players, per Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch.

The five 40-man players passed over will be  outfielders Adolis Garcia and Justin Williams, infielder Ramon Urias, left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber and injured right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes. Gomber was trying to make it back to St. Louis via minor league rehab appearances, but the club reportedly decided against it.

Others not added to the 40-man roster include right-handed pitcher Jake Woodford and outfielder Dylan Carlson.


Update – Domino moves

Several moves were also made at Memphis and Springfield on Sunday to help replace some of the promoted players above.

• C Brian O’Keefe from Springfield to Memphis
• RHP Michael Baird from Palm Beach to Springfield
• RHP Kyle Leahy from Palm Beach to Springfield

O’Keefe is clearly set to backfill Hudson, joining Jose Godoy as the Memphis catchers for the final two games of the 2019 season. In his sixth year in the system, the 26-year old will be making his Triple-A debut.

In 301 at-bats over 88 Texas League games this season, O’Keefe slashed .229/.319/.389/.708. He hit 13 home runs and drove in 40.

Brian O’Keefe

Baird and Leahy help cover for relievers Connor Jones and Roel Ramirez, promoted to Memphis on Saturday.

Baird, 24, was previously promoted from Peoria to Palm Beach on July 16. In the Florida State League, he made five starts and four relief appearances, with a 2.42 ERA. He fanned 29 and walked eight in 26 innings and held FSL batters to a collective .181 average.

Michael Baird

Leahy, 22, received his promotion to Palm Beach on August 1. In his month in the FSL, he scuffled through six starts, going 1-5 with a 6.30 ERA. Leahy walked 12 vs. 19 strikeouts in 30 innings. FSL batters hit a lusty .336 against him.

Kyle Leahy


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Major Decline in Cardinals Post-Season All-Stars


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ponce de Leon is The Cardinal Nation August Pitcher of the Month

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon (Frank Ramirez/The Cardinal Nation)

It is time to select The Cardinal Nation’s final Pitcher of the Month for 2019. This covers play during August across the St. Louis Cardinals’ nine minor league affiliates.

As a reminder, this is NOT is the “Pitcher of the Month Among Top Prospects”. Every player in the system has an equal chance, with only their performance during the month used to differentiate the best of the best. Age and level, which are key prospect considerations, are not factors here, either.

Among our group of 11 finalists, Memphis right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon logged the lowest ERA and highest strikeout rate while showing the Cardinals he is ready to return to the majors. The 27-year old is our Pitcher of the Month.

Read on for the details on how I came to our decision, while recognizing a number of other mound standouts during the month, as well.

Guidelines

To qualify, a pitcher must have thrown at least 20 innings during August. To make the list of 11 finalists, an ERA of 4.00 or better was required.

In the following tables, names are listed in descending ERA order.


Counting stats

Pitcher Tm Age IP R H ER HR BB SO ERA FIP
Daniel Ponce de Leon Mem 27 29 3 13 3 1 13 39 0.93 2.91
Alvaro Seijas PB 20 28.2 5 23 5 0 16 17 1.57 3.90
Enmanuel Solano SC 20 33 9 22 8 2 8 23 2.18 3.70
Wilfredo Pereira Peo 20 21 7 19 7 0 6 22 3.00 2.20
Jake Woodford Mem 22 29.2 11 22 11 5 11 25 3.34 5.42
Hector Soto JC 22 24 11 23 9 2 4 26 3.38 3.44
Scott Politz SC 23 33 16 32 13 1 7 27 3.55 2.97
Angel Rondon Spr 21 36.2 15 29 15 5 11 30 3.68 4.65
Adrian Mardueno SC 21 24.1 12 26 10 2 4 21 3.70 4.29
Dalton Roach Peo 23 34 16 30 14 0 15 34 3.71 2.96
Jake Sommers JC 22 26 12 23 11 5 10 28 3.81 5.39

Six of the nine affiliates are represented among the finalists, with only the complex leagues (Gulf Coast and Dominican Summer) missing out.

Just one of the 11 finalists had and ERAs under 1.00, just more came in under 2.00 and only one other below 3.00.

Wilfredo Periera (Robert Kell)

Ponce de Leon delivered the lowest ERA at a very impressive 0.93. While Alvaro Seijas came in next at 1.57, his walk count of 16 against 17 strikeouts suggested good fortune.

In fact, the final column at the right shows the finalists’ Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). Seijas slides to sixth in that measure. Ponce de Leon is second, with the leader Peoria’s 20-year old Wilfredo Pereira.

Speaking of 20-year olds, joining Seijas and Pereira among the best of the best is State College’s Enmanuel Solano, whose August ERA was a sharp 2.18.

Memphis’ Jake Woodford had the highest FIP, which was over two runs higher than his 3.34 August ERA.


Rate stats

Pitcher Tm ERA AVG SLG OPS WHIP BB/9 K/9
Daniel Ponce de Leon Mem 0.93 0.131 0.202 0.432 0.90 4.0 12.1
Alvaro Seijas PB 1.57 0.225 0.294 0.630 1.36 5.0 5.3
Enmanuel Solano SC 2.18 0.193 0.263 0.519 0.91 2.2 6.3
Wilfredo Pereira Peo 3.00 0.241 0.316 0.611 1.19 2.6 9.4
Jake Woodford Mem 3.34 0.196 0.348 0.617 1.11 3.3 7.6
Hector Soto JC 3.38 0.242 0.358 0.642 1.13 1.5 9.8
Scott Politz SC 3.55 0.248 0.364 0.661 1.18 1.9 7.4
Angel Rondon Spr 3.68 0.216 0.351 0.633 1.09 2.7 7.4
Adrian Mardueno SC 3.70 0.271 0.427 0.727 1.23 1.5 7.8
Dalton Roach Peo 3.71 0.240 0.304 0.633 1.32 4.0 9.0
Jake Sommers JC 3.81 0.242 0.463 0.784 1.27 3.5 9.7
Enmanuel Solano (State College Spikes)

Here is where Ponce de Leon’s dominance is clear. The 27-year old leads in all slash stats as well as WHIP and strikeout rate. In fact, all of his numbers dominate the others, starting with his .143 batting average against and his strikeout rate of 12.1, with all other finalists under 10.

Solano again stands out with the second-lowest batting average, slugging, OPS and WHIP.

Three finalists walked fewer than two batters per nine, with Hector Soto of Johnson City and State College’s Adrian Mardueno tying at 1.5 and the latter’s teammate Scott Politz at 1.9. Mardueno and Politz are 2019 draftees, college pitchers taken in the 20th and 29th rounds, respectively.

Soto, 10th rounder Jake Sommers of Johnson City and Pereira were other finalists with a strikeout rate over one per inning.


The Pitcher of the Month

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Daniel Ponce de Leon is the winner of The Cardinal Nation’s August Pitcher of the Month recognition. The right-hander was very consistent, pitching three scoreless starts and allowing just one earned run and two, respectively, in his two other outings.

“Ponce” averaged just under six innings per start. He has won four consecutive starts, and 14 of his last 20 decisions at Triple-A, stretching back to May 2018.

He struck out 11 Sacramento River Cats hitters on August 9, which was his personal season-high and the most strikeouts by any Redbirds pitcher in 2019. That start set him up to be the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for August 5-11.

When Ponce de Leon allowed an earned run in the sixth inning on August 20, it was the first charged to him after 26 consecutive scoreless innings.

With his Memphis season ERA of 2.88, Ponce de Leon would lead the Pacific Coast League if he had enough innings to qualify. Same for his .203 batting average against.

He is being recalled by St. Louis to start Game 2 of Sunday’s double-header against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium and will remain in the majors for the final month of 2019.


July’s winner in August

Michael YaSenka (Robert Kell)

I like to look back at how the prior month’s winners performed in the four weeks following their system-wide honors.

The consensus top pitching selection for July was Michael YaSenka, then of Johnson City, named by both the Cardinals organization and The Cardinal Nation.

YaSenka was rewarded with a promotion to State College and continued his strong performance in the New York-Penn League. However, carrying a 2.45 ERA through two innings of his third Spikes start, on August 16, he departed from the game after walking the first two batters in the third inning, and has not pitched since.


What is next

On Monday, TCN’s Derek Shore will disclose our Player of the Month for the Cardinals system during August. The Cardinals organization will announce its winners this coming week, as well.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Major Decline in Cardinals Post-Season All-Stars


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Major Decline in Cardinals Post-Season All-Stars

Other than Texas League Player of the Year Dylan Carlson, the St. Louis Cardinals had no league Post-Season All-Stars across their four full-season squads – the poorest showing by far in at least a decade, and likely longer. Brian Walton looks into possible reasons why.

This content is for Paid – Monthly, Paid – Three Months and Paid – Annual members only.
Log In Register

Cardinals Thomas Out with Fractured Wrist; O’Neill Returns

photo: Lane Thomas (Benny Sieu/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Friday, August 30), prior to their series opener with Cincinnati, that rookie outfielder Lane Thomas (right wrist fracture) has been placed on the 10-day Injured List, retroactive to August 28, and outfielder Tyler O’Neill has been activated from the 10-day I.L.

Thomas, who suffered hit by pitches to his right arm in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday, is batting .316  (12-for-38) with four home runs and 12 RBI in 34 games with St. Louis, and ranks T2nd among National League leaders in pinch-hit homers with three.

Lane Thomas

O’Neill is returning to the active roster after a six-game injury rehabilitation stint with both Memphis (AAA) and Springfield (AA), where he combined to go 6-for-22 (.273) with a home run on Tuesday (Aug. 27) against Frisco.

The right-handed hitting O’Neill has appeared in 46 games with St. Louis this season, batting .279 (36-for-129) with 5 HR’s & 16 RBI.   He was placed on the Injured List on August 1, due to a left wrist strain, and missed 25 games.

Tyler O’Neill

The Cardinals also announced today that infielder/outfielder Drew Robinson has cleared release waivers and is now a free agent.


Brian Walton’s take

It is a tough injury for Thomas, who had been fighting a losing battle to secure playing time, first from Tommy Edman, then the promotion of Randy Arozarena, the re-emergence of Harrison Bader, and with the returns of O’Neill and Jose Martinez from their own injured list stints just ahead.

In other words, while the Cardinals lose a good young player in Thomas, they still have a wealth of outfield options for the final month. Three 40-man outfielders remain with Memphis – Arozarena, Justin Williams and Adolis Garcia. One or more of them may be promoted next week. (I shared my earlier predictions for TCN members in the article below.)

A lot has changed in St. Louis since O’Neill was injured. He had been given regular playing time in left field while Marcell Ozuna was out with an injury of his own, but now there is no clear path to a starting job.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN’s St. Louis Cardinals September Call-Up Predictions – 2019


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Seven Cardinals Named to the 2019 Arizona Fall League

photo: Ivan Herrera (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The St. Louis Cardinals will be sending eight minor leaguers to the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase for 2019, led by Memphis outfielder and no. 1 prospect Dylan Carlson and the second-youngest player in the league, catcher Ivan Herrera.

Carlson’s Memphis teammates will be right-handed relievers Seth Elledge and Kodi Whitley. From the left side of the Double-A Springfield infield are third baseman Elehuris Montero and shortstop Kramer Robertson and Palm Beach is represented by pitcher Griffin Roberts and catcher Ivan Herrera. The Cardinals will name their eighth participant, a pitcher, later.

For 2019, the Cardinals will be a part of the Glendale Desert Dogs of the West Division, joining prospects from the Reds, Dodgers, Brewers and White Sox. Their home park is Camelback Ranch, the spring home shared by the Dodgers and Sox. Springfield hitting coach Brandon Allen will be part of the Desert Dogs’ coaching staff.

AFL Opening Day is Wednesday, September 18. The Fall Stars Game will be held on Saturday, October 12 with the title game on Saturday, October 26.


Prediction audit

Earlier this month, I made my annual predictions of which Cardinals would be invited to the AFL (members article). So far, I have correctly pegged four of the seven.

Also in the table below are the selectees’ respective rankings on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List (Rk) for August.

Actual Tm Rk Predictions  Tm
Pitcher Griffin Roberts PB 30 Angel Rondon Spr
Seth Elledge Mem 29 Elledge
Kodi Whitley Mem HM Whitley
TBA Jesus Cruz Mem
Hitter Dylan Carlson Mem 1 Carlson
Elehuris Montero Spr 3 Montero
Kramer Robertson Spr NR Ramon Urias Mem
Ivan Herrera PB 12 Justin Williams Mem

Pitchers

Springfield’s Angel Rondon is a top-20 pitcher in the system (ranked 18th), while Roberts had been as high as 12th to open the season, but has slid to no. 30. Given Roberts missed the first 50 games of the season due to suspension, it makes sense to get the 43rd overall pick in the 2018 draft more work.

Roberts has accrued just 60 2/3 mound innings this season compared to Rondon’s 157, as the latter continues to pitch deep into Double-A games every fifth day. Rondon, just 21 years of age, may be better off with rest this fall.

It is worth noting, however, that part of the reason Roberts’ inning count is so low is that he is averaging just 4 2/3 innings per start this season. His season ERA is 6.82, with walks a major problem – 34 against just 30 strikeouts. Florida State League hitters are hitting a collective .310 against the former Wake Forest standout.

Further, Roberts’ results in the high-A FSL have not improved as the season progressed. Here are the 23-year old’s ERAs by month:

  • June 6.91
  • July 5.30
  • August 8.78

When you consider the caliber of hitters in the AFL are more advanced than Roberts has been seeing in the Florida State League (guys like Carlson and Montero, for example), one can see that the Cardinals are taking some risk by sending Roberts. Based on his bumpy season at Palm Beach, I didn’t think they would chance it.

Griffin Roberts

Elledge, 23, joined the Cardinals in the Sam Tuivailala trade with Seattle last June and remains a solid relief prospect, having earned a promotion from Springfield on June 25.

Seth Elledge

Whitley moved even faster in 2019, having started the season at Palm Beach. (Derek Shore recently profiled Whitley for TCN members.)

Kodi Whitley


Catcher/infield

The inclusion of Montero was a slam dunk since the third baseman missed two months with a power-sapping hamate bone injury in his hand. Our no. 3 prospect can accrue another 80-100 plate appearances and partially make up for lost time.

Elehuris Montero

Though I had mentioned Robertson as a possibility in my predictions, I guessed 40-man infielder Urias instead. Part of the reason is that I suspect Urias, our no. 33 prospect, will get squeezed out of a September St. Louis call-up and part is that Urias is much better offensively than Robertson.

The latter has not hit well at Springfield (.227) or in two Memphis trials (.235), which together were longer than his time spent in Double-A this season. On the positive side, Robertson has a combined .355 OBP and is versatile defensively. (Shore also wrote about the infielder recently.)

Kramer Robertson

While 12th-ranked Ivan Herrera has tremendous potential and is just 19 years of age, the catcher was just promoted to Palm Beach a month ago, so he is on the low edge of both age and experience among Cardinals AFL assignees. For those reasons, I did not project the organization would send the catcher, or anyone else at his position.

If Herrera performs well in the desert, it would be quite a feather in his developmental cap. And if he doesn’t, we should not be overly concerned, as this is stretch assignment, in my view.

To that end, Herrera is the second-youngest player invited to the 2019 AFL (Seattle outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez is five months younger) and only one of three in the league to have been born in 2000 or later.

Ivan Herrera


Outfield

Texas League Player of the Year Carlson is another easy selection. The only concern I can think of is the 20-year old’s possible fatigue level. After a red-hot start with Memphis, Carlson is just 2-for-18 (.111) with one walk in his last five games. The switch-hitter has already logged 540 plate appearances between Springfield and Memphis in 2019.

Dylan Carlson

In my predictions, I had mentioned Carlson’s Memphis outfield teammate Justin Williams as another injury-recovery player who could benefit from more playing time.

However, the 24-year old, acquired from Tampa Bay as part of the Tommy Pham trade, has been tearing the cover off the ball since rejoining Memphis 30 games ago (1.113 OPS and 23 RBI). Perhaps so much that the Cardinals could be considering using the left-handed batter off the bench in St. Louis in September instead of sending him to the AFL. In reality, Herrera got that spot.


What is next

We will have all the details and analysis from the 2019 AFL campaign here at The Cardinal Nation, including daily Desert Dogs game recaps.

Others may talk about it, but we have been on the ground in the AFL every year for each of the last 15 years and will again bring you our exclusive coverage from Glendale in October.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Tune Rosters for Final Week in Minors


Not yet a member?

If you enjoyed this article and you want to unlock more, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Dylan Carlson Named Texas League Player of the Year

photo: Dylan Carlson and Joe Kruzel (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

Springfield Cardinals media note

Dylan Carlson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Texas League announced on Tuesday (August 27) that OF Dylan Carlson has been named the 2019 Texas League Player of the Year.

One of the youngest players in Double-A at just 20 years old, Carlson rocketed up MLB.com’s Prospect Rankings to No. 2 in St. Louis’s organization and No. 50 in all of Minor League Baseball with career-highs in average (.281), slugging (.518), home runs (21), hits (117), doubles (24), triples (6), stolen bases (18), OPS (.882), extra-base hits (51) and total bases (216) in 108 games with the Springfield Cardinals.

Carlson is the ninth Cardinals prospect to win the TL Player of the Year award in its 89-year history. He joins OF Oscar Taveras (2012) and 1B Matt Adams (2011) as the three Springfield Cardinals who have taken home the league honors since the team’s inception in 2005, along with RHP Dakota Hudson winning Texas League Pitcher of the Year in 2017.


Brian Walton’s take

This is deserving recognition for the current hot-hitting Memphis Redbird, who is ranked no. 1 on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List.

It was a very positive step for Carlson’s development, in my opinion, for the organization to leave him in the Texas League long enough to have his first real taste of success (from Opening Day until August 15). Because he had been moved ahead aggressively before, Carlson had never been an All-Star at any of his prior stops in 2016, 2017 or 2018, let alone a league Player of the Year.

Carlson is expected to report to 2020 spring training as one of the competitors for St. Louis’ starting left field spot.


Update

On Wednesday, Carlson was announced as a post-season Texas League All-Star, assumed when he was named Player of the Year. Carlson was also a mid-season All-Star in the Double-A league.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Kodi Whitley’s Relief Career is on a Fast Rise


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Bring Up Leone, Option Out Fernandez

photo: Dominic Leone (Kelley L. Cox/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Thursday, August 22) that they recalled right-handed reliever Dominic Leone from Memphis (AAA).  Rookie right-hander Junior Fernandez, who worked 2.0 scoreless innings last night, has been optioned to Memphis.

Leone, 27, will be making his fourth stint with the Cardinals, already appearing in 28 games earlier this season with 35 strikeouts in 29.0 innings pitched.  Leone was optioned to Memphis most recently on July 20, and in 10 games following that option, he’s allowed just one run in 12.1 innings (0.73 ERA) with 23 strikeouts and just two walks.

Dominic Leone

Fernandez, 22, made his Major League debut on August 11, and in five games with the Cardinals, he fanned seven batters in 5.0 innings and allowed two runs.

Junior Fernandez


Brian Walton’s take

Prospect lovers, do not despair. Fernandez will almost certainly be back no later than the end of Memphis’ season, September 2. After he threw 41 pitches in an eventful, but ultimately successful stint Wednesday night, Fernandez would be unavailable to pitch for several days ahead.

This way, the Cardinals get a fresh arm by bringing up Memphis shuttle member Leone, another pitcher who almost assuredly would have been back when rosters expand, anyway.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 20


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

“Bring Up Dylan Carlson!”

photo: Dylan Carlson (Frank Ramirez/The Cardinal Nation)

A segment of St. Louis Cardinals fans have begun to pine for the promotion of the organization’s top prospect, outfielder Dylan Carlson, to the major leagues this season.

Most eye-catching is the 20-year old’s very recent results. The switch-hitter is off to a tremendous, albeit brief, start to the Triple-A phase of his career with a .520/.586/.960/1.546 slash line in 24 at bats over six games as a member of the Memphis Redbirds. Prior to that, Carlson was on a historic 20-20 path with Double-A Springfield.

While as a concept, I can understand the appeal to bring Carlson to St. Louis, practically speaking, the reasons against a promotion tip my scale hard in that direction.

They include:

  1. No clear playing time with St. Louis
  2. A better developmental opportunity in the Arizona Fall League
  3. Saving a 40-man roster spot
  4. Not starting his service time clock

The “pro” to these cons is an assertion that if placed in the Cardinals every-day lineup immediately, Carlson would perform better than whoever he replaces, enhancing the 2019 club’s playoff run.

Dylan Carlson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

I get the frustration of fans watching a lineup each night of veterans who are underperforming compared to their career norms. But practically, doing something about it is another matter entirely. Installing an unproven rookie as a regular in a pennant race carries its own risks – with that player and others.

However, I am not here to debate how Carlson might perform compared to other outfielders in his first month as a major leaguer, as it can neither be proven nor refuted until it actually occurs.

Instead, I will explain by expanding on the four prior points why I believe Carlson isn’t likely to be coming up this September.

But first, I want to address a very specific overriding principle.


I’ve got your back

While the context of the discussion was why he continues to start long-slumping third baseman Matt Carpenter, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt revealed what I believe to be a core element of his lineup management philosophy this week when he noted that he has “the back” of his (veteran) players.

Mike Shildt (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Anyone who has followed the Dexter Fowler situation since the day Shildt became manager already knew this, but the corollary has also been made clear this season. Rookies – even when among the very best prospects in the system and arriving in St. Louis in a hot spell – are played sparingly and not in meaningful situations. Examples include pitchers Ryan Helsley and Junior Fernandez and outfielders Lane Thomas and Randy Arozarena.

The only exception to this is Tommy Edman, who has been named by Shildt as a regular, despite not having a clear spot defensively. In order to protect regular at-bats for Carpenter (in my assessment), Edman was deployed out of position as the semi-regular right fielder in recent weeks – despite no professional experience as an outfielder and offensive splits that did not seem to explain why the better-hitting young outfielders were not tried instead.

Harrison Bader (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Harrison Bader, who was given four months to work out of a major slump of his own, was finally dispatched to Triple-A Memphis on July 29 to re-discover his swing and regain his confidence at the plate. With his mission accomplished, the center fielder was returned to St. Louis on Tuesday.

So far, in two games back, Bader has started both. This suggests to me that he may be another player who can feel that his manager has his back – as opposed to rookies Thomas and Arozarena, neither of whom has ever been given more than two consecutive starts in the majors.

So, where would Carlson fit in this veteran-rookie construct?

With that background, let’s get back to the four points affecting the prospect.


  1. Playing time

As noted above, some assume that Carlson would immediately out-hit whichever St. Louis outfielder he displaces. Let’s take these displacement candidates one-by-one.

Left field – While Marcell Ozuna’s future as an impending free agent may open the door for Carlson in 2020, there is no way the team’s best power threat will be displaced by Carlson in the final month of a pennant race.

Dexter Fowler (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Right field – Forget 2018 for a moment. Even forget his contract. Dexter Fowler remains one of five Cardinals hitters performing above league average this season. There is nothing in Fowler’s 2019 performance that would give Shildt reason to not continue to have Fowler’s back, as the manager has since he took over 13 months ago. In fact, the outfielder’s 103 OPS+ is identical to that of All-Star shortstop Paul DeJong.

Center field – In his return, Bader has played in just one game so far and in it, displayed discipline at the plate that he lacked earlier. He also laced a triple off the wall in left-center and played his usual strong game defensively. Explain how Bader should sit in favor of Carlson after just a handful of trial games back with St. Louis? Bader needs the playing time to answer the immediate question about his future – starter or reserve?

Other outfielders – Let’s put aside Thomas and Arozarena (not to mention fellow 40-man outfielders Adolis Garcia and Justin Williams). The returns of Tyler O’Neill and Jose Martinez are nearing. While Martinez could (and probably should) be deployed as a pinch-hitter, O’Neill has yet to answer the question of whether he has what it takes to be a major league starter. How could that be furthered if he is the fifth outfielder at best in the season’s final month?

But couldn’t Carlson benefit just by being on the big-league bench, soaking up the aura of a playoff race, his supporters ask?

That leads me to point number two.


  1. A better place to develop

The Arizona Fall League prospect showcase is tailor-made for players like Carlson – on the cusp of the majors, but looking to gain more experience against advanced competition. In the AFL, Carlson could keep playing five days a week from mid-September through October, logging another important 100 plate appearances.

This is a strategy successfully deployed by the Atlanta Braves with then-19-year old outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., sent to the 2017 AFL after the top prospect had appeared in 54 Triple-A games. Following his standout performance in the desert, Acuña went on to become the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year.

Edman went to the AFL last fall, after his first 17 games with Memphis – which is about the most time Carlson could log with the 2019 Redbirds, as well.

In my opinion, the AFL would be a far better choice to extend Carlson’s development this fall versus riding the pines with St. Louis – and it is not even close.

Update

Carlson was in fact selected to play in the AFL.

Seven Cardinals Named to the 2019 Arizona Fall League

Update no. 2 – September 12

Carlson has been pulled from the AFL.


  1. 40-man roster spot

Because he was drafted in 2016 as a high schooler, Carlson does not require addition to the 40-man roster this fall to be protected from this December’s Rule 5 Draft. By promoting him now, the organization would have to leave another prospect unprotected and at risk to be lost via Rule 5.

Yes, departing free agents will free up 40-man spots this fall, just as those on the 60-day injured list will have to be added back in. We have no idea how other roster moves – such as trades, releases or outrights – could also affect the roster, as there are too many moving parts to predict at this time.

However, there can be no debate – adding Carlson early would have some downstream impact.


  1. MLB service time

Major League players are eligible for free agency at six years of service. Bringing Carlson up now would log his first month of MLB service time. While the Cardinals say (and their prior actions back this up), they do not manipulate player service time to defer arbitration eligibility or free agency, starting Carlson’s service clock in 2019 could have negative ramifications later.

Again, just as in number 3, the exact impact is unknown at this time. The extra month could be immaterial later on, or in the worst case for the Cardinals, Carlson could become free agent-eligible a year earlier than otherwise.

One can debate how substantial the impact may be, but there is risk at a level only to be determined over the upcoming years.


Conclusion

Sorry “Carlson in 2019” supporters, but as I see it, there are too many reasons not to call Carlson up for the final month and no clear practical benefit in doing so.


Agree or disagree?

Stop by The Cardinal Nation’s free forum to weigh in on this, and any other Cardinals topic – affecting the major or minor leagues, as well as join our busy daily game threads.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 20


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bader Returns to St. Louis with Arozarena Sent Down

photo: Harrison Bader (Jim Cowsert/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Tuesday, August 20) that they have recalled outfielder Harrison Bader from Memphis (AAA) and optioned rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena to the Triple-A club.

Bader, who appeared in 90 games with the Cardinals to begin the season, was batting .317 (20-for-63) with a 1.125 OPS, 7 home runs and 15 RBI in 16 games with Memphis. The right-handed hitting Bader, who was optioned to Memphis on July 29, had hit safely in his last nine games (.400; 14-for-35) and homered in three of his past four games.

Bader, 25, is leading Cardinals outfielders in assists (7). He was batting .195 (43-for-221) with 6 HR & 19 RBI at the time of his option.

Harrison Bader

Arozarena, 24, was purchased from Memphis on August 13 and appeared in three games (.250, 2-for-8) after debuting last Wednesday (August 14). Arozarena is batting a combined .349 with 10 HR and 42 RBI in 80 minor league games this season between Memphis (AAA) and Springfield (AA).

Randy Arozarena


Brian Walton’s take

Bader did what was asked of him in Memphis, which was to get his bat going. He has earned his way back, but will he be returned to his old starting job in center field?

Arozarena and Lane Thomas (still with St. Louis) were also coming off hot hitting with the Redbirds, only to receive just eight at-bats each since Arozarena joined St. Louis. Instead, infielder Tommy Edman became a semi-regular in right, with fellow utility infielder Yairo Munoz also receiving starts in the outfield. This deployment has confused many, including this writer. If Edman returns to the infield mix, it could put additional pressure on third baseman Matt Carpenter, who has been playing daily despite being in a season-long slump.

Even if Bader starts again in center field, he may have less than two weeks to re-establish himself, with the expected returns of Tyler O’Neill and Jose Martinez from the injured list not too far away. The ability of Dexter Fowler to play either right or center alongside left fielder Marcell Ozuna offers Mike Shildt considerable additional flexibility. To suggest the manager has been creative with his outfield alignments is an understatement.

Since Arozarena was not going to play with St. Louis, he may as well finish the 2019 regular season with two more weeks of regular starts with Memphis. Even if he returns to the Cardinals when rosters expand in September, the outfield depth chart is so crowded with outfielders and non-outfielders, there is no reason to believe he will see the field much other than as a pinch runner or late-inning defensive replacement.

Even with the expected loss of Ozuna as a free agent this fall, the Cardinals will need to find some way to sort out their outfield, with nine other outfielders on the 40-man roster, excluding utility players Edman, Munoz and Drew Robinson. Top prospect Dylan Carlson is not even among the aforementioned 13.


For more

To track the 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Toerner Fastest from Cardinals 2018 Class to Reach Double-A


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce 2020 Spring Training Schedule

photo: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals)

On Monday, August 19, Major League Baseball announced its 2020 spring training schedules.

The St. Louis Cardinals will play 30 games between February 22 and March 23. Their Grapefruit League opener will be on Saturday, February 22 at Roger Dean Stadium vs. the New York Mets and the spring finale will be at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas against the Rangers on Monday, March 23.

St. Louis schedule includes 15 home games and 15 away contests. All but seven will be against one of the four other teams in the Eastern Florida area – the Mets (Port. St. Lucie), Miami Marlins (Jupiter), Houston Astros and Washington Nationals (both in West Palm Beach).

The Cardinals will also play home and away games versus the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. The former’s February 27 home game will be at Atlanta’s new facility at North Port, south of Sarasota, while the latter two will be consecutive games in Fort Myers, on March 9 and 10.

The schedule also includes two split squad days and two planned days off.

St. Louis’ 2020 regular season will open on Thursday, March 26 in Cincinnati.

Day     Date            Opponent Location
Saturday February 22 New York Mets Jupiter
Sunday February 23 at New York Mets Port St. Lucie
Monday February 24 at Miami Marlins Jupiter**
Tuesday February 25 Washington Nationals Jupiter
Wednesday February 26 Miami Marlins Jupiter
at Houston Astros West Palm Beach
Thursday February 27 at Atlanta Braves North Port
Friday February 28 at New York Mets Port St. Lucie
Saturday February 29 Washington Nationals Jupiter
Sunday March 1 at Houston Astros West Palm Beach
Monday March 2 Minnesota Twins Jupiter
Tuesday March 3 Houston Astros Jupiter
Wednesday March 4 at New York Mets Port St. Lucie
Thursday March 5 New York Mets Jupiter
at Washington Nationals West Palm Beach
Friday March 6 OPEN DATE
Saturday March 7 Houston Astros Jupiter
Sunday March 8 Miami Marlins Jupiter
Monday March 9 at Minnesota Twins Fort Myers
Tuesday March 10 at Boston Red Sox Fort Myers
Wednesday March 11 at New York Mets Port St. Lucie
Thursday March 12 Miami Marlins Jupiter
Friday March 13 Houston Astros Jupiter
Saturday March 14 at Miami Marlins Jupiter**
Sunday March 15 Boston Red Sox Jupiter
Monday March 16 at Houston Astros West Palm Beach
Tuesday March 17 OPEN DATE
Wednesday March 18 Miami Marlins Jupiter
Thursday March 19 Atlanta Braves Jupiter
Friday March 20 New York Mets Jupiter
Saturday March 21 at Miami Marlins Jupiter**
Sunday March 22 at Washington Nationals West Palm Beach
Monday March 23 at Texas Rangers Arlington, Texas

** Cardinals are “away” team at Roger Dean


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 8


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Five State College Spikes Named to NYPL All-Star Game

photo: Andrew Warner (Bret Jacomet photo)

State College Spikes press release

The State College Spikes will send five players to the 2019 New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Wednesday, August 21 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George in Staten Island, N.Y. Pitchers Andre Pallante and Hector Villalobos will join outfielders Andrew Warner and David Vinsky and infielder Martin Figueroa at the NYPL’s annual showcase of future stars.

The quintet of Spikes is just one shy of the franchise record for most players selected for the NYPL All-Star Game, set in 2017. This is the fourth time in the last six seasons that State College has had at least five players selected for the league’s late summer extravaganza.

The NYPL All-Star Game is set to return to Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, the home of the Staten Island Yankees for the second time. The All-Star Game also visited Staten Island in 2010.

Pallante, the Cardinals’ 2019 fourth-round draft choice out of UC Irvine, is off to an outstanding start in his professional career. The right-hander out of San Clemente, Calif. has posted a 1-0 record with a 2.67 earned run average over eight appearances, six of them starts, and has struck out 31 batters while walking only nine over 27 innings of work. Pallante has also held opposing batters to a .194 average and recorded a WHIP of 1.04.

Andre Pallante

Villalobos has been a linchpin in the bullpen for the Spikes, serving as a main left-handed option in the later innings in 2019. The San Quintin, Mexico native is 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA, two saves and two holds over 16 appearances totaling 34 1/3 innings. Villalobos has struck out 39 batters and walked 10 while holding opponents to a .200 average, including a .108 batting average for left-handed hitters.

Hector Villalobos

Warner leads the Spikes with seven home runs, which places him in a tie for the seventh-best mark in the NYPL through August 15. The 2018 40th-round draft choice of the Cardinals out of Columbia College in Missouri, Warner is hitting .270 with a .378 on-base percentage over his first 37 games. The Lee’s Summit, Mo. native has also produced six doubles, a triple and 23 runs batted in while scoring 24 runs.

Andrew Warner

Vinsky joined the Spikes in late June and is eighth in the NYPL with 13 doubles through August 15. The 2019 15th-round draft choice of the Cardinals out of Northwood University in Michigan has notched a .283 batting average and a .344 on-base percentage through his first 40 games while serving as the Spikes’ regular center fielder. Vinsky has also hit one home run, compiled 13 RBI and stolen five bases.

David Vinsky

Figueroa has been playing primarily second base for the Spikes but was named to the game as a first baseman owing to his versatility. The Elizabeth, N.J. native was originally selected by the Astros in the 32nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Rhode Island. Figueroa then played the 2018 season for the Sussex County (N.J.) Miners of the Can-Am League before signing with the Cardinals and joining the Spikes in 2019. The switch-hitter is batting .301 with four home runs and 27 RBI, second-most on the team, over his first 30 games this year.

Martin Figueroa

State College will be one of seven teams represented on the Red team for the game after a format change. The Spikes will join players from Aberdeen, Auburn, Connecticut, Hudson Valley, Vermont and the host Staten Island squad on the Red side, with Batavia, Brooklyn, Lowell, Mahoning Valley, Tri-City, West Virginia and Williamsport comprising the Blue team.

Complete rosters can be found at MiLB.com for the Red and Blue squads. More information on the 2019 New York-Penn League All-Star Game can be found at the host Staten Island Yankees’ official website, SIYanks.com.


Brian Walton’s take

The Spikes’ count of three position players is the same as last year (Nick Dunn, Delvin Perez and Edwin Figuera). However, no State College pitchers were selected in 2018, so the net year-to-year increase is two.

Of the five, the career potential of the 2019 draftees Pallante and Vinsky are most interesting, as they have the longest runway ahead. The others are into second helpings for various reasons.

Warner is a college player in his second short-season campaign. Still, the 40th rounder in 2018 has performed well wherever assigned. 2019 is the 23-year old Villalobos’ repeat season in the NYPL. The second shot at affiliated ball for the 23-year old Figueroa as a do-it-all utilityman is admirable.

Congratulations to all!


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – Week 19


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Carlson Approaching Rare Double-A 20-20 at 20

photo: Dylan Carlson (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

The Cardinal Nation’s no. 1 St. Louis Cardinals prospect, Dylan Carlson, is apparently spending the entire 2019 season at one level, Double-A, with the Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League, after previously having been moved ahead aggressively in his still-young professional career.

In this assignment, Carlson was the fourth-youngest player in the circuit on Opening Day. And even while staying put, the 20-year old is more than three years younger than his league’s average player.

None of that matters to his performance, as the 2019 Futures Game participant is putting together a historic season, headlined by consistency and diverse offensive contributions.

Carlson is nearing a 20-20 home run-stolen base milestone that has not been achieved by a player his age or younger in the Texas League in the last 32 years.


Carlson’s current counts

Dylan Carlson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Carlson leads all of Double-A (including the Southern and Eastern Leagues, covering all 30 MLB organizations) in runs (81), slugging percentage (.518), and total bases (216), while ranking second in home runs and extra-base hits.

In the Texas League, the outfielder is first in the same categories, of course, while ranking among league leaders in 11 other stats. One of those is stolen bases, with his count of 18 (against seven caught stealing) ranking him in a tie for eighth.

The other measure in which Carlson is tops in the TL is a high-visibility one – home runs. His total of 21 round-trippers is four more than the next-closest pair of sluggers.

In other words, Carlson is just two stolen bases from a 20-20 season at the Double-A level – while just 20 years of age.


Historic context – with Cardinals connections

The Cardinal Nation’s Bob Reed took on the research task to determine how rare Carlson’s feat would be.

Gregg Jefferies

As it turns out, the last Texas Leaguer age 20 or younger to post a 20-20 season was a then-future Cardinal – Gregg Jefferies, 32 years ago. Jefferies, just 19 in 1987 as a former first-round pick of the New York Mets, popped 20 homers and pilfered 26 bases, which ranked him 11th and seventh in the league, respectively. His best stat may have been his 48 doubles, however.

Jefferies went on to play 14 seasons in the Major Leagues as an infielder/outfielder, but his only All-Star seasons were during his two years as a Cardinal – 1993 and 1994. That 1993 season was his career best across the board, with 16 home runs, 83 RBI and 46 stolen bases. While the switch-hitter (as is Carlson) had six other seasons with double-digit long balls, Jefferies never swiped more than 26 bags in any year, before or after.

Delmon Young

In the Southern League, 19-year-old Delmon Young was the most recent to achieve the feat, with a 20-25 season in 2005 – in just 84 games! The right-handed hitting outfielder was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, their no. 1 prospect in the game, and he made his MLB debut the next season.

Young, younger brother of former Cardinal Dmitri, came up with the Tampa Bay Rays, but never realized his immense potential and was out of the big leagues before reaching his 30th birthday. His top season was in 2010, when he hit 21 home runs and plated 112 for the Minnesota Twins. Young’s peak stolen base count was just 14 with the 1998 Twinkies.

Cliff Floyd

In the Eastern League, one has to go back to 1993, when Montreal Expos outfield prospect Cliff Floyd recorded an amazing 26-31 season in just 101 games. Floyd was 20 years of age, with a common comp for him at the time being Frank Thomas, but with speed. Imagine that!

Instead, injuries partially derailed Floyd’s career, which still lasted 17 years, during which he launched a total of 233 home runs and stole 148 bases. The left-handed hitter’s only All-Star selection was with the Florida Marlins of 2001, when he had career bests of 31 home runs and 103 runs batted in. His top stolen base season was 27, also with the Marlins, in 1998.


What is Next?

With his entire MLB career still ahead, will Carlson become the next Jefferies, Young, Floyd, or someone else entirely?

In the short term, the question of whether Carlson can become the organization’s first Texas League Player of the Year since Oscar Taveras is on the minds of many, including his manager.

“He’s definitely got to be a name that has to be in the discussion for Player of the Year,” Joe Kruzel said. “He has put himself – the way he has played and the numbers he has put up – he has put himself into that category.”


Update

With this news, the 20-20 quest is over at 20-18, but the bigger picture is more important, as Carlson moves a step closer to St. Louis.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Read the rest of Kruzel’s extensive remarks about his center fielder Carlson in the following article by TCN Springfield reporter Derek Shore:

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 19


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2019 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are $5 off, so get yours today!

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.