All posts by Brian Walton

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

Cardinals Add Ravelo and Webb, Send Leone and Helsley Out

photo: Tyler Webb (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Sunday, July 21) they have recalled INF Rangel Ravelo (rahn-HEL) and LHP Tyler Webb from Memphis (AAA) and have optioned RHP Ryan Helsley and RHP Dominic Leone to Memphis (AAA) following Saturday night’s game in Cincinnati.

Ravelo, 27, is being recalled for the third time to St. Louis and has appeared in six Major League games, earning his first hit against Miami on June 19.  The rookie infielder had played in 838 career minor league games before his contract was originally purchased on June 17.

In 77 games this season at Memphis, Ravelo was batting .313 with nine home runs and 43 RBI, earning him a spot on the Triple-A All-Star team.  Ravelo was recently optioned to Memphis and played in six games which he started four at third base after appearing the majority of his games at first base during the 2019 season.

Rangel Ravelo

Webb, who turned 29 yesterday, was optioned to Memphis on July 7 and is being recalled for the second time this season.  He has made 36 appearances out of the St. Louis bullpen posting an 0-1 record with a 4.45 ERA over 30.1 innings with 26 strikeouts.  Webb earned his first Major League save on June 22 vs. Los Angeles (AL) to close out a game in which incumbent closer Jordan Hicks left with an injury.  In five minor league appearances this season, Webb posted an 0-1 record and a 2.70 ERA.

Tyler Webb

Helsley made one appearance last night and threw 2.0 scoreless innings against Cincinnati.

Ryan Helsley

Leone, a Major League veteran of 217 appearances over six seasons, has made eight appearances posting a 4.70 ERA since his most recent recall to St. Louis.

Dominic Leone

Ravelo wears uniform No. 47 and Webb wears uniform No. 30.


Brian Walton’s take

It does not surprise me that the Cardinals wanted another arm in Webb, who becomes the third lefty in the pen. In his 5 1/3 innings since being sent down during the West Coast road trip, Webb allowed one run on five hits and no walks with three strikeouts with Memphis.

Helsley, The Cardinal Nation’s no. 5 prospect, will be back, but since he threw two innings Saturday night, the Cardinals are going with the more-rested Webb for the time being.

Leone has struggled and may not be back for a while. However, the one redeeming factor for these pitchers are that they are the only 40-man roster arms currently active. In other words, the Cardinals don’t have any more choices to add to the relief shuffle without making roster changes.

Ravelo returns St. Louis’ bench to four players after the Cardinals played Saturday with just three reserve hitters and nine relievers. He is either the second first baseman or the fifth outfielder, depending on where you count him. He will most often pinch hit and be a late game defensive replacement in the outfield.


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

State College Spikes Notebook – 2019 Week 5


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.

Cardinals Add Pitching Depth in Ryan Helsley

photo: Ryan Helsley (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Ryan Helsley (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Saturday, July 20) they have recalled RHP Ryan Helsley from Memphis (AAA) and optioned INF Edmundo Sosa to Memphis (AAA) following Friday night’s game in Cincinnati.

Edmundo Sosa (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Helsley, who turned 25 years-old on Thursday, is being recalled for the fifth time this season and spent 13 days on the Major League Injured List with a right shoulder impingement from June 13-26.  The hard-throwing right-handed made seven relief appearances in St. Louis with no record and a 3.48 ERA striking out 12 in 10.1 innings with an 0.97 WHIP.   In 15 appearances at Memphis this season, Helsley was 2-3 with a 5.06 ERA covering 32.0 innings making five starts with one save.

Sosa, 23, played in three games since his recall on July 16 and recorded his first Major League hit on Thursday night in Cincinnati.

Helsley will join the Cardinals for tonight’s game in Cincinnati and wears uniform No. 56.


Brian Walton’s take

With the bullpen stretched after the 12-11 win Friday, it was not surprising for the Cardinals to add the most rested 40-man roster pitcher available. It was an easy decision, as Helsley was just one of two active choices.

I outlined the situation Friday night and Saturday morning on Twitter, as Helsley had been Memphis’ scheduled starter Saturday night.

Going with another pitcher creates a roster imbalance of 14 pitchers and 11 position players for St. Louis, a situation that will likely not be maintained long. The return of Matt Carpenter from the injured list may be that next step, with a pitcher going back to Memphis at that time.


Kodi Whitley (St. Louis Cardinals)

Update – Whitley follows

To replace Helsley on the Memphis roster, Kodi Whitley was called up from Springfield and will be making his Triple-A debut. In 31 games at Double-A this season, Whitley posted a 1.83 ERA in 39 1/3 innings over 31 relief appearances and converted seven of nine save chances. The 24-year old struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings and walked 3.0 per nine.

Seth Elledge is starting Saturday night for the Redbirds in place of Helsley in what has become a bullpen game.


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

State College Spikes Notebook – 2019 Week 5


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.

Average Cost to Attend Cardinals Game Down Slightly in 2019

photo: Getty Images

As the St. Louis Cardinals passed two million in home attendance again during the last homestand, it seems a good time to re-visit the annual Fan Cost Index (FCI)*, which compares the price for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game across the 30 franchises. The data is compiled and published by Team Marketing Report, with the 2019 version released in March.

While the St. Louis Cardinals had ranged between the 10th and 15th-highest payroll in the game since moving into Busch Stadium III in 2006, they crept back into the top 10 in 2019 for the first time since 2005. Correspondingly, the cost to a family to attend a Cardinals game has consistently ranked in the top 10 compared to their MLB peers.

For 2019, St. Louis fans pay the ninth-most across MLB to see the team with the ninth-highest player payroll as the season opened. This is the first time since 2004 that the Cardinals’ ranking in these two vastly-different measures are the same.

Adam Wainwright and Busch Stadium fans (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals’ 2019 FCI of $254.46 represents decline of 1.0 percent compared to last year. It breaks the team’s nine-year streak of annual increases and is only the second decrease in the 17 years that I have been tracking it.

This 1.0 percent FCI decline for 2019 basically reverses the 0.9 percent increase last year and is the only decline for St. Louis since a 1.2 percent slide in 2009.

St. Louis looks even better this year when considering the average FCI increase of 1.8 percent across MLB.

In the table below, comparative data is presented back to 2003. First is the Cardinals Opening Day player payroll and rank of 30. Next is St. Louis’ FCI, change from prior year and rank. Next are the FCI averages across MLB. At the far right are the most and least expensive teams in FCI.

StL
Open
Payroll MLB MLB MLB
Year ($ MM) Rk StL FCI YTY Rk avg FCI YTY #1 FCI Tm #30 FCI Tm
2019 165.3 9 $254.46 -1.0% 9 $234.38 1.8% $370.12 ChC $142.42 Ari
2018 146.9 13 $257.16 0.9% 8 $230.64 2.4% $368.28 ChC $145.58 Ari
2017 131.7 15 $254.96 4.5% 5 $225.34 2.7% $368.44 Bos $136.62 Ari
2016 123.1 14 $243.96 3.0% 6 $219.54 3.7% $360.66 Bos $132.10 Ari
2015 120.3 12 $236.81 3.5% 6 $211.68 2.5% $350.86 Bos $126.89 Ari
2014 112.3 10 $233.86 1.3% 6 $212.46 2.3% $350.78 Bos $126.89 Ari
2013 112.3 11 $230.94 2.7% 9 $210.46 1.2% $336.99 Bos $151.55 Ari
2012 105.4 10 $224.76 0.7% 9 $207.68 2.4% $336.99 Bos $145.94 Ari
2011 105.4 12 $223.18 3.1% 8 $197.35 2.0% $339.01 Bos $120.96 Ari
2010 93.5 12 $216.56 0.9% 9 $194.98 -0.7% $334.78 Bos $115.24 Ari
2009 88.5 13 $214.72 -1.2% 10 $196.89 3.2% $410.88 NYY $114.24 Ari
2008 99.6 11 $217.28 3.8% 7 $191.75 8.3% $320.71 Bos $136.91 TB
Busch III 2007 90.3 11 $209.23 0.8% 7 $176.55 3.8% $313.83 Bos $123.42 KC
Busch II 2006 88.9 11 $207.21 10.6% 4 $171.19 4.1% $287.84 Bos $120.35 KC
2005 92.1 5 $177.66 4.2% 9 $164.43 5.6% $276.34 Bos $119.85 KC
2004 83.2 9 $170.45 0.9% 9 $155.52 2.0% $263.09 Bos $108.83 Mon
2003 83.8 8 $164.04 6.6% 8 $148.66 3.3% $248.44 Bos $94.62 Mon

Note: The source of annual club season-opening player payrolls is USA TODAY.

For Cardinals general admission tickets, this year’s average price of $35.54 is the same as last season, but is approaching $6.00 higher than the team’s average ticket price of $29.78 when the new ballpark opened in 2006.

Across MLB, the average ticket price increase this year is 1.7 percent, to $32.99.

The Chicago Cubs rank first in MLB in average ticket price at $59.49 and lead in the FCI for the second consecutive season, at $370.12. The Cubs had unseated the long-time expense leader, the Boston Red Sox, a club that remains a close second in FCI.

AP/Richard Lui

As mentioned above, the average FCI across MLB of $234.38 represents a 1.8 percent increase over last year. The best value in the game is the $142.42 it takes for a family to see the Arizona Diamondbacks, lowest of the 30 teams for the 11th year in a row.

The other teams in the NL Central firmly reside in the lower third of MLB clubs in FCI: Milwaukee Brewers (22nd), Cincinnati Reds (23rd) and Pittsburgh Pirates (27th).

* The FCI, developed by Team Marketing Report, is made up of the prices of four adult average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

2019 Gen. ticket Prem. ticket Beer Soft drink Hot dog Parking Cap FCI
St. Louis $35.54 $87.56 $5.00 $6.25 $5.00 $17.30 $20.00 $254.46
MLB avg. $32.99 $119.03 $5.97 $4.60 $4.95 $14.80 $18.74 $234.38

In these measurements, the Cardinals are above the MLB average in general seating ticket prices, soft drinks, hot dog (barely), parking and baseball cap prices but below average in premium seating and beer pricing.

Not every group of four would spend this much money, and of course, these are averages, not absolutes. However, the FCI provides a consistent point of comparison across the 30 teams over time.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 15


Get TCN’s New 2019 Prospect Guide

Order The Cardinal Nation’s 190-page 2019 Prospect Guide now – available in PDF with a special 50% off deal for annual members and printed book form, now $5 off.

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 Up the Middle Defenders Rank in NL’s Top 10

photo: Kolten Wong, Harrison Bader, Paul DeJong (Brett Davis/Imagn)

Our eyes tell us that the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals have addressed a number of their defensive woes from recent seasons – and the metrics back up the perception. One big reason why is the steady play of the infielders up the middle – second baseman Kolten Wong, shortstop Paul DeJong and center fielder Harrison Bader.

This week, the trio were announced as being among the National League’s top 10 defenders during the first half of the 2019 season – not at their respective positions, but across the entire league. This is according to the SABR Defensive Index, or SDI, through July 7.

In its seventh year, the consolidated metrics-based view of player performance in the field will again account for 25 percent of the annual Gold Glove Award scoring, with further updates coming during the second half and at season’s end.

No measure is the be-all, end all, which is why actual voting by managers and coaches still make up the lion’s share of the Gold Glove scoring, 75 percent. But the SDI has a solid foundation, based on not one, but a group of defensive metrics. Though some discount any single-season’s worth of fielding results, those behind the SDI originally created and refined many of the measurements and devised the Index as a blended measure of multiple stats. (SDI background can be viewed here.)


The big picture

Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

With SDIs of 8.2 and 8.0, respectively, DeJong and Wong are fourth and fifth among all defenders – both in the NL and across MLB. Bader’s SDI of 6.1 places him 10th overall in the Senior Circuit.

Despite the lofty individual ranking, DeJong is just second at his position, with Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed, at 12.0, MLB’s top defender across all positions.

Wong has the top SDI at second base in MLB, with D.J. LeMahieu of the Yankees, the AL leader, next at 5.7. (As many readers may know, LeMahieu, then with Colorado, won the 2018 NL Gold Glove Award over Wong and also had the higher SDI.)

In center field, Bader leads the NL. Only Minnesota’s Byron Buxton at 7.6 has a higher SDI than Bader. Buxton is also the AL leader at all positions.


How all Cardinals fared

Now, let’s look at how St. Louis Cardinals front-liners fared at their respective positions in the first half release of the SDI for the 2019 season.

The NL leaders by position are listed to the left with Cardinals’ scores next. Click on the link just above to crawl through the individual player detail, if you would like. The “Trend” field indicates whether the player’s SDI is higher or lower compared to full-season 2018.

NL 1H 2019 Top SDI SDI Cardinals 1H 2019 SDI Rank Trend from 2018
Pitcher Max Fried 3.1 Miles Mikolas 2.0 4th of 70 up (8th, 1.3)
Jack Flaherty 0.8 18th of 70 not ranked
Adam Wainwright 0.3 T25th of 70 not ranked
Dakota Hudson 0.2 T29th of 70 not ranked
Michael Wacha -0.3 T47th of 70 not ranked
Catcher Austin Hedges 9.1 Yadier Molina 3.0 4th of 22 up (6th, 2.0)
First base Christian Walker 5.2 Paul Goldschmidt 1.4 6th of 18 up (8th, 1.6)
Second base Kolten Wong 8.0 Wong 1st of 16 up (2nd, 13.8)
Third base Nolan Arenado 7.8 Matt Carpenter -2.8 17th of 19 down (5th, 3.0)
Shortstop Nick Ahmed 12.0 Paul DeJong 8.2 2nd of 17 up (T3rd, 6.4)
Left field David Peralta 4.7 Marcell Ozuna -2.0 17th of 19 down (7th, 2.0)
Center field Harrison Bader 6.0 Bader 1st of 18 up (2nd, 7.6)
Right field Cody Bellinger 7.6 Dexter Fowler -1.2 9th of 15 not ranked
Jose Martinez -5.8 14th of 15 down (13th, 1B)

The Cardinals rankings show a clear delineation between a group of very good defenders and five who are not (at least according to the SDI).


Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The haves

Miles Mikolas has improved his already-elite standing among NL pitchers and Jack Flaherty just made the top quarter in the league. Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson score respectably, ranking in the top half of the NL.

Along with the aforementioned three up the middle standouts, catcher Yadier Molina has both improved his raw SDI from 2018, and ranks in the top quarter of National League catchers – at age 37.

Paul Goldschmidt moved up to sixth among NL first basemen from eighth, though is SDI is slightly down.


The have nots

Five Cardinals have negative SDIs, and not surprisingly are among the worst at their respective positions in the first half.

Michael Wacha is in the bottom half of NL pitchers, as is Dexter Fowler among right fielders.

The bottom three Cardinals are not only really low-ranked in comparison to their peers, they also carry a lower individual SDI score compared to 2018.

Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna (Joe Puetz/Imagn)

Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna are each third from last at their respective positions. Both had positive scores and were ranked in the top half last season.

Jose Martinez is second-to-last among NL right-fielders with a -5.8 SDI, even worse than his -5.5 mark at first base last season.


In closing

In the year-to-year comparison, three of the nine Cardinals who had scores in 2018 came in with a lower SDI in the first half of 2019.

All six who improved their rankings compared to their peers also had higher SDIs this year, while Bader moved up from second to first among center fielders, but with a lower SDI.

In my view, the first-half drops of Carpenter and Ozuna are the most concerning, but neither’s ranking should be a major surprise. In right, Fowler and Martinez continue to be what they are – below average defenders.

The pitching scores and rankings are pretty good, in my opinion, with the only defensive laggard, Wacha, having already been removed from the rotation due to inconsistent and ineffective mound work.

It will be interesting to watch how these scores change during the second half, with updates usually in mid-August and again in mid-September. Final SDIs are not published until after the Gold Glove Award winners are disclosed in November.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

13 Cardinals Minor Leaguers in Tuesday’s Happenings


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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.

Matt Carpenter Back on Cardinals Injured List

photo: Matt Carpenter (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Tuesday, July 16), that they have placed infielder Matt Carpenter (right foot contusion) on the 10-day Injured List and recalled rookie infielder Edmundo Sosa from Memphis (AAA).

Carpenter injured his foot during the 7th inning of last night’s game when he fouled off a pitch.

Edmundo Sosa (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Sosa, 23, appeared in three games for the Cardinals last September (0-for-2), making his Major League debut on Sept. 23, 2018 as a pinch-hitter.  He played one inning in the field (2nd base) following his promotion last season.

The right-handed batting Sosa was batting .252 (78-for-309) with 10 home runs and 34 RBI in 83 games for Memphis this season, playing 49 games at shortstop, 17 at second base and 15 at third base.

The 6-0, 205-pound Sosa, a native of Panama, was signed by the Cardinals as an international free agent on July 2, 2012 and has been part of championship teams at both Memphis (2018) and Palm Beach (2017).

Carpenter becomes the seventh Cardinals player currently on the Injured List, along with regulars Yadier Molina and Marcell Ozuna.

Sosa wears uniform no. 63.


Brian Walton’s take

Carpenter, who is in a season-long slump, played in just four games after coming off the IL on Friday. He sat out eight games (June 29-July 11) due to a back problem.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager Mike Shildt expressed optimism about Carpenter’s return.

Though Sosa is the immediate roster replacement, primary playing time for Carpenter at third base is likely to be shared between Yairo Muñoz and Tommy Edman. The latter made the start on Tuesday night and is also in Carpenter’s leadoff position in the batting order.

Sosa, The Cardinal Nation’s 19th-ranked prospect, is a notorious hot and cold hitter. June was good, as 13 of his 31 hits went for extra bases, including five home runs. His OPS was .937. However, July is another story. He is just 7-for-46 with a slash line of .152/.170/.283/.453.

In 2019, the 23-year old is in his final minor league option season. With the emergence of Edman, joining the pre-arbitration Munoz as reserves behind long-term contract holders Carpenter, Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong, Sosa’s path to a full-time roster spot with St. Louis remains cloudy.


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

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2019 Week 15


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.

Throw out the Triple-A Stats – Ponce de Leon has earned a Rotation Shot

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Filling in for injured starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (back spasms) Friday evening at Busch Stadium, Daniel Ponce de Leon gave the St. Louis Cardinals 6 2/3 innings of strong results. The 27-year old right-hander held Arizona to three hits, including a solo home run, walked none and fanned seven. 69 of his 107 pitches went for strikes.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

This performance lowered his St. Louis ERA to 1.99 for the season, leading to fan calls for Ponce de Leon to remain in the rotation – if not for Wainwright, then to replace disappointing and inconsistent veteran Michael Wacha (5.54 ERA).

Earlier this season, when Wacha was pulled from the rotation for two starts, it was rookie lefty Genesis Cabrera who received the call instead. The 22-year old was clearly not ready and is now back at Memphis. Had they not been injured, Alex Reyes and Austin Gomber were considered by many to be ahead of Ponce de Leon in the rotation pecking order, as well.

So, why has Ponce de Leon been passed over?

I have a theory.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Memphis Redbirds)

He simply wasn’t pitching as well at Memphis this season as in prior years, making the prospect of installing him in the rotation less appealing to the Cardinals.

Prevailing logic, backed up by plenty of data, suggests that a pitcher at the start of his MLB career will probably not perform as well in the majors initially as he did in Triple-A.

Ponce de Leon appears to be an exception.

For reasons that are unclear to me, he has been a much better pitcher as a major leaguer than he has shown while in Triple-A. Not only is his ERA lower, he has pitched as deeply into games while walking fewer batters.

Let’s look at some numbers that back this up.

Walks

In his 64 2/3 innings with St. Louis over 2018 and 2019, Ponce de Leon has a walk rate of 3.3 per nine innings – just ok.

For Memphis in 180 2/3 innings in 36 appearances, 35 starts since 2017, his walk rate is considerably worse, at 4.6 per nine. And the trend is not positive over time, with his 2019 mark for the Redbirds up to a concerning 4.9.

Innings per start

In his 11 starts with Memphis this season, “Ponce” threw a total of 55 1/3 innings for an average of just five innings per outing.

It is not new. Over his 35 career Triple-A starts, he secured an out in the seventh inning just once, in his final start last June before being called up to St. Louis.

Yet, Ponce de Leon has pitched into the seventh in two of his eight MLB starts over last season and this, including on Friday evening. In all fairness, though, he has averaged just five innings over his eight starts as a major leaguer, as well.

ERA

For the Redbirds, Ponce de Leon’s ERA increased substantially this year – to 3.90 in 2019 from 2.16 and 2.24 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Over the three seasons, it is 2.74.

His two-year ERA with the Cardinals is 2.37, with a 2.73 mark last year and the 1.99 ERA in 2019. Now, there is a difference in that 23 2/3 of his innings with St. Louis have been as a reliever. However, coming out of the bullpen, Ponce de Leon’s 3.04 ERA pales in comparison to his 1.98 ERA over his eight starts as a Cardinal.

Conclusion

Throw the Triple-A stats out the window in this case. By now, Ponce de Leon has been given enough opportunity with St. Louis to demonstrate that he can be an effective major league starter.

Though Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was non-committal in his Friday post-game remarks, I agree with those who believe Ponce de Leon should continue in St. Louis’ rotation unless/until he proves he should not.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

State College Spikes Notebook – 2019 Week 4

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.

Pinder Packs Again

In an uncharacteristically quiet Friday across the St. Louis Cardinals system, the only transaction was the return of outfielder Chase Pinder to Palm Beach from Springfield.

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Cardinals Update with Miller and Condon – Out of the Break

photo: Taylor Sullivan/Viewfinder

On Friday morning, as the St. Louis Cardinals prepare to open the second half of their schedule with 14 of 20 games against National League Central Division opponents, I joined co-hosts Ken Miller and Trent Condon in the newest installment of our long-running series to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals in the Des Moines radio market and on the internet. The two anchor the Miller and Condon Show at KXnO Radio 1460, the home of the Cardinals in Central Iowa.

Our discussion included a review how the first half concluded, key requirements for the second half, possible trade focus, when Adam Wainwright may retire, Futures Game participants, how the division and wild cards may end up and more.

Follow @MillerAndCondon, @imKenMiller and @trentcondon on Twitter.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2019 Week 14


Get TCN’s New 2019 Prospect Guide

Order The Cardinal Nation’s 190-page 2019 Prospect Guide now – available in PDF with a special 50% off deal for annual members and printed book form, now $5 off.

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.

What is New? MLB All-Stars Rattle Strike Sabers

photo: Rob Manfred, KC mayor Sly James, Tony Clark (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

At the mid-season break, this spring’s rumblings from disgruntled Major League Baseball players were back in the news, but nothing has really changed.

During spring training, players as deeply respected as 14-year MLB veteran Adam Wainwright and as young as second-year pitcher Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals were among those who first spoke out with their concerns. At the All-Star Game, many other players continued.

Major Leaguers are as mad as hell over how they are being treated by owners and aren’t going to take it anymore. In February, a strike had been threatened – and soon.

OK, that isn’t what anyone said verbatim. That was a paraphrase of a monologue by the late Peter Finch as Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network, but it does reflect the genuine anger being expressed by players about a spectrum of matters related to pay – from the slow free agent market for veterans to service time manipulation and artificially slow growth of contracts of younger players.

Less-experienced players are becoming more and more important in today’s game. As teams evolve their player valuation models to recognize earlier contributions, some veterans are left behind – or at least have to lower their once-lofty contract expectations.


A bank run

Against this backdrop, a curious phenomenon occurred this spring. An unprecedented string of multi-year extensions signed by young MLB players evoked reminders of a bank run just before a financial collapse. Players were taking their money out as quickly as they could, apparently because of a lack of confidence in the system.

Since last winter, teams guaranteed players over $4 billion in new contracts. In the final week of spring training alone, teams doled out more than $1 billion to 10 players via contract extensions, including the game’s best player, Mike Trout, and Paul Goldschmidt, who signed a five-year deal before ever playing his first official game with his new club. Just one of the pre-free agent examples is Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, who secured a record $26 million as a fifth-year player.

In the midst of this stampede, anxious owners doled out deals for lesser veterans, as well, that just a few months later look ill-advised, such as the Cardinals’ extensions with over-30 players Matt Carpenter and Miles Mikolas.

Even with all this action, the ground is far from level across MLB. Just three teams carry a player payroll of over $200 million while eight teams are under $100 million, a reminder that the problems run deeper.

Back to Wainwright. Here is his exact quote, from February 15.

“Unless something changes, there’s going to be a strike, 100%,” Wainwright told St. Louis’ InsideSTL.com. “I’m just worried people are going to walk-out mid-season.”

That led to direct rebuttals from his team’s owner as well as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. As one would expect, Players’ Association head Tony Clark fired right back, claiming free agency was “under a two-year attack” – while his rank and file were avoiding the future open market by the dozens.


So, at mid-season, where are we?

Not much had been written on the matter once marquee free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado finally received their 10-year-plus, over $300 million contracts in March. (Neither of these so-called “generational talents” were among the 2019 MLB All-Stars, but that is a different story for a different day.)

Though neither Harper nor Machado were in Cleveland, 78 other players were recognized as regular or replacement All-Stars. While there, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale decided to kick the hornet’s nest, and sure enough, many of the game’s best players are still buzzing. In fact, they may be louder than ever.

Though no All-Star quoted threatened a strike as specifically and as soon as did Wainwright five months earlier, several mentioned the possibility if progress is not made.

“As players, we don’t want a stoppage,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said. “And I’m sure the owners don’t want one either. But some things are going to have to get negotiated.”


Maintaining perspective

Many fail to remember that at the height of the spring round of rhetoric, Clark attempted to diffuse the imminent strike talk, saying that while he understood Wainwright’s perspective, MLB players will honor the current labor agreement.

Neither Clark nor Manfred were quoted in the new Nightengale article.

In mid-March, both sides pledged to start working on these economic matters, almost three years ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and owners.

In closing, Nightengale did note that “Executive director Tony Clark has had one preliminary meeting with Commissioner Rob Manfred, and they plan to meet formally again this summer.”

So, what is really new at mid-season 2019? As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing.

With 2 ½ years remaining, we are going to have to deal with more and more “negotiating” through the media until the day finally comes that a new agreement is struck.

It cannot come a day too soon for my already-weary eyes and ears.


For more

For those interested in further discussion and a number of links to related 2019 articles on this subject, check out the long-running “MLB labor unrest” thread at The Cardinal Nation’s free forum.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield’s Angel Rondon Improves Pitching and Prospect Status


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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.

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Carpenter, Shreve and Knizner Rejoin Cardinals

photo: Matt Carpenter (Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Thursday, July 11) that they have activated infielder Matt Carpenter (lower back strain) from the 10-day Injured List, purchased the contract of left-handed pitcher Chasen Shreve from Memphis (AAA) and will recall rookie catcher Andrew Knizner from Memphis tomorrow when they open the season’s second half with a weekend series against Arizona.

Chasen Shreve (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The team also announced that catcher Yadier Molina (right thumb tendon strain) has been placed on the 10-day Injured List, retroactive to July 8, and have optioned left-handed pitched Tyler Webb and first baseman/outfielder Rangel Ravelo to Memphis.  The team also transferred pitcher Jordan Hicks from the 10-day Injured List to the 60-day Injured List to make room for Shreve on the team’s 40-man Major League roster.

Andrew Knizner (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Carpenter has been sidelined since June 29, last making a game appearance on June 28 as a pinch-hitter.  Molina pinch-hit on July 6, but hasn’t started a game since July 3.  He missed 12 games from May 29 to June 10 while on the Injured List with the right thumb strain.

Shreve, who turns 29 tomorrow, appeared in 20 games for the Cardinals last season after coming over in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees on July 28.   He went 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 innings pitched with St. Louis in 2018 and owns a career mark of 15-8, 3.66 ERA in 215 games pitched with Atlanta, the Yankees and St. Louis.

Shreve was 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 37 games (42.2 IP) for Memphis this season, striking out 50 and walking just 19.   Since June 1, he’s posted a 1.72 ERA (15.2 IP) with 21 strikeouts and just three walks in 15 games for Memphis.

Knizner, 24, made his Major League debut on June 2, and appeared in two games (0-for-7) for the Cardinals during his earlier call-up (May 31 to June 10).

The right-handed hitting rookie is batting .277 (56-for-202) with 7 HR’s & 24 RBI in 53 games for Memphis, earning selection to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

Shreve wears uniform no. 40 and Knizner is no. 7.


Brian Walton’s take

Only the Webb and Carpenter moves were telegraphed, though it was clear that Molina’s ongoing hand injury had taken a turn for the worse when Matt Wieters started behind the plate in the final pre-break series in San Francisco. The rookie Knizner will back Wieters up until Molina’s return.

For the club to keep a second left-hander in the bullpen behind Andrew Miller, Shreve returns to the 40-man roster and the 25-man active roster after having been dropped from both earlier this season.

On the other hand, right-hander Mike Mayers remains in limbo, otherwise known as minor league rehab with Memphis. The team’s easy 60-day IL move of Hicks to clear a 40-man roster spot was used on Shreve, not Mayers.



The 27-year old rookie Ravelo’s story of perseverance continues back in Memphis with the return of Carpenter to the active roster. By remaining with St. Louis this long, Ravelo missed the Triple-A All-Star Game, but he likely isn’t complaining.

The major question heading forward is how much rookie standout Tommy Edman will get to play now that Carpenter is back. The veteran leadoff man has been in a deep slump that ran during the entire first half.

In fact, note how Carpenter’s career-worst 2019 stats were not included in the above release. In 326 plate appearances over 77 games, the 33-year old slashed .216/.325/.381/.706, for an OPS+ of 88, or 12 percent below MLB average. Carpenter has just 28 RBI this season, eighth on the Cardinals.

Jose Godoy (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

A legitimate question remains how much rope Carpenter will be given if his struggles continue in the second half – as his team languishes around .500 yet the division remains there for the taking.

As a result of these transactions, Memphis’ roster remains whole, with Knizner and Shreve replaced by Ravelo and Webb.

However, with the Redbirds down to just one catcher, Joe Hudson, and with a roster opening, they received backstop Jose Godoy from Springfield. The 24-year old was also with Memphis from May 31 to June 12, while Molina was on the IL previously and Knizner moved up. While down a player, the Double-A Cards have two catchers in Brian O’Keefe and recently-returned Chris Chinea.

While St. Louis does not begin post-break play until Friday, the Triple-A Redbirds open their (logical, not mathematical) second-half Thursday evening. So now, the rosters are set – for one day, at least.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, 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’s Angel Rondon Improves Pitching and Prospect Status


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.

Manfred: MLB and Minors Talking About Player Salary Increases

photo: Rob Manfred (Bill Streicher/Imagn)

The growing number of baseball observers supporting pay raises for sub-minimum wage minor league players had a small victory this week.

However, I should reinforce the word “small”. While there is a new path forward, the end result is unclear.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told The Athletic, “You’ve got to pay correctly,” while disclosing negotiations have begun between MLB and Minor League Baseball, a group of mostly-independent owners of teams affiliated with MLB.

Of course, the devil is in the details as to what “correctly” means, who would foot the bill and what collateral damage ensues.

This change in posture by MLB is significant in one aspect, since one of their more recent initiatives was to lobby Congress to pass a bill that exempts them from paying players minimum wage, the “Save America’s Pastime Act (SAPA)”. Part of the tactics to secure agreement was the veiled threat that minor league baseball in small town America could be lost forever if pay was increased. (Details can be found in the following article.)

If MLB Players Don’t Care About Minor League Salaries, Who Will?

That threat of contracting teams, or perhaps even entire leagues, may return in these just-started talks. The Athletic article suggests that Major League owners may ask Minor League owners to foot some portion of the increased expenses incurred as well as potentially contract some teams.

Traditionally, MLB organizations handle player and coach costs and the Minor League teams cover operational costs. However, the latter also shares a percentage of ticket revenues with MLB, which could become a leverage point for MLB to force its will.

Sadly, the players themselves have no representation, so will not be a part of these discussions, despite the fact the outcome of the talks could dramatically re-shape the minor league landscape. Minor leaguers are specifically not represented by the MLB Players’ Association, who in fact, have been known to secure benefits for their rank and file by giving ground on minor league matters.

A recent example is the decision to add a 26th active MLB player starting in 2020, but also limiting September call-ups to just two (28-man maximum roster), down from today’s theoretical maximum of 15 additions. Most of these September call-ups are minor leaguers. (Details in this article.)

Why MLB’s 26th Roster Spot Reduces Prospect Opportunity

By opening these talks, Manfred, a skilled labor negotiator, may be throwing a bone to quiet the growing discontent over salaries, for which the SAPA was crafted as a hammer to squash the tide of lawsuits that had been filed against them.

It is also worth noting that the current Minor League Agreement does not expire until the end of 2020. So, Manfred could simply be taking a page out of his predecessor’s playbook. Bud Selig was a master of the “study and stall” approach to difficult problems.

An optimistic conclusion would be an agreement to substantially increase minor league pay without forcing large numbers of minor league teams to cease operations.

A pessimistic conclusion is that MLB plays the heavy, pushing major cost increases on Minor League teams, either forcing many of them out of business or simply contracting them out of existence.

Of course, many fewer teams would translate into many fewer players. So in this latter case, the remaining players might earn more money, but there would not be as many of them to reap the benefits.

However, if the public furor is too great and representatives of Congress are attuned, MLB could risk losing the air cover provided by the SAPA. Then again, if salaries are increased to regular wage levels, MLB may no longer need the SAPA, anyway.

Any contraction would seem to fly in the face of recent initiatives by MLB teams to gain a competitive advantage in the international marketplace by scouting 13 and 14-year olds and signing large numbers of them when they turn 16. These raw teens need many years and levels of play to mature as ballplayers.

Sadly, the most likely scenario perhaps is that a middle ground cannot be found and the current system continues. Only time will tell, but my fear is that any meaningful benefits provided to minor leaguers will come with a high associated cost.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 14


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Good News and Bad: Cardinals Sign 13th-Rounder Tommy Jew

photo: Tommy Jew (Eric Isaacs/UC Santa Barbara)

It was good news with a hint of bad news, as well, for the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

After no action on the signing front since June 19th, the St. Louis Cardinals put their 32nd player drafted in 2019 under contract with the addition of Tommy Jew.

However, the outfielder has been placed on the 60-day injured list of Short-Season State College, meaning he will not play this summer.

Tommy Jew

The organization’s 13th-round draft choice this June hails from Cal Santa Barbara. As a junior, Jew could have chosen to return to school and had until this Friday, July 12 to make his decision.

An injury suffered in UCSB’s NCAA Stanford regional game on June 1st must have been a factor.

According to a game report, the team captain hit a chopper to third and as he legged out an infield single, he immediately fell to the ground in pain. Jew was carted off the field with what was determined to be a broken leg, an injury that required surgery and is obviously serious enough to keep him from suiting up this summer.

Prior to the addition of Jew, the Cardinals had nine remaining unsigned draftees. Any of them who receives more than $125,000 to sign would use up a portion of the team’s remaining spending surplus of approximately $164,000. Jew’s signing bonus has not yet been disclosed.

Update: Per MLB Pipeline, Jew signed for $125,000. This leaves the team excess cap money to try to sign one or more of the eight unsigned players in the final few days remaining before the deadline.

On Draft day 3, The Cardinal Nation’s Blake Newberry wrote the following about the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder:

Jew had a lot of success in summer leagues throughout his collegiate career. He won MVP of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2017 and played in the Cape Cod League in 2018.

In the spring he led the Gauchos in home runs with 11, showing a nice uptick in power from the nine combined home runs he hit in his previous two years. He projects to stick in center field as a professional due to his plus speed. He swiped 20 bases in 23 attempts showing a penchant for stealing and using his speed efficiently.

Jew also shows off average arm strength in the outfield, as well as good instincts, leaving hope that he will become a plus defender in center field.

At the beginning of his college career he was more a slap hitter who racked up singles but could not hit for extra bases. However, in his junior year he began to hit the ball with authority. Unfortunately, as his power increased, so did his strikeout rate.

He needs to figure out how to hit for some power without striking out at a high rate to succeed as a hitter. However, if his bat can come around, he shows enough defensive promise to provide value at this pick.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, 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’s Alex FaGalde Keeps Earning Recognition


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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!

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Cardinals Change Reserves – Ravelo for Thomas

photo: Lane Thomas (Frank Ramirez/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Rangel Ravelo (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Friday, June 5), that they have recalled rookie first baseman/outfielder Rangel Ravelo from Memphis (AAA) and optioned outfielder Lane Thomas to the triple-A club.

Ravelo, a 27-year-old rookie, made his Major League debut last month in a four-game stint, going 1-for-6.  Prior to his promotion, he’d appeared in 838 career games in the minors, including tours with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics organizations.   The Havana, Cuba native, who pronounces his name RAHN-hel, was signed by the Cardinals as a minor league free-agent in April of 2017.

Lane Thomas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The right-handed hitting Ravelo is batting .323 (80-for-248) with 9 HR’s and 42 RBI in 71 games for Memphis, ranking 11th in the Pacific Coast League in batting.  He has a team co-leading 18 doubles in addition to a .914 OPS that leads all Memphis regulars. Ravelo had a 19-game hit streak earlier this season (May 2-24) that was one-game shy of the Memphis franchise record.

The 6-1, 225-pound Ravelo has played 36 games in the outfield and 30 at first base this season. He wears uniform no. 47.

Thomas, also a rookie, has appeared in 11 games for St. Louis this season (.308; 4-for-13) with a HR and 4 RBI.


Brian Walton’s take

I can see two reasons for these moves, which on the surface simply replaces one right-handed hitting reserve with another.

First of all, Ravelo plays first base (along with the corner outfield). With both of St. Louis first base reserves on the injured list – Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko – the club had no true first sacker backing up every-day player Paul Goldschmidt.

The other reason is that Thomas has a clearer future with the organization and is better served continuing to develop by playing each day at Memphis, rather than serving as the fifth outfielder with St. Louis. On the other hand, Ravelo may not be with the Cardinals next year due to minor league options being exhausted and is over three years older than Thomas.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, 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

Injuries Drive Cardinals Double-Digit Friday Minors Transactions

Pros guide

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.

Cardinals Progress Thompson and Locey in “The Wacha Plan”

photo: Zack Thompson (University of Kentucky)

In the last eight years, since the St. Louis Cardinals selected Texas A&M pitcher Michael Wacha 19th overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the organization has handled many of their top pitching signees carefully in their first partial season as professionals.

Michael Wacha (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The logic is that these players have already thrown a full collegiate schedule before the draft and risk of injury increases if they are asked to carry a full starting load with the Cardinals, as well.

Instead, these pitchers are placed at a much lower level than their skills warrant, typically the Gulf Coast League, due to its location in the Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Florida. There, the hurlers pitch a scripted inning roughly once per week.

Later in the summer, they are moved up, with their first stop often being high-A Palm Beach. Not only is it a better test for the pitchers’ skills, it is also right in the same facility. Only starting fresh the next spring after a winter of rest and following the Cardinals conditioning program are these pitchers stretched back out as a starter.

2019 first-rounder Jake Thompson, like Wacha the 19th overall selection in his draft, has taken the next step in this plan with his promotion from the GCL to Palm Beach. However, this move came fairly quickly – after Thompson made just two GCL appearances of one inning each.

In those two scoreless GCL innings – one on June 28 and July 2 – the 21-year old yielded three hits, walked no one and fanned four.

With the relatively-early timing of this move (two months remain on the 2019 schedule) and with success in the Florida State League, Thompson could finish his first partial season like Wacha in 2012 – with Springfield of the Double-A Texas League.

Zack Thompson

Also on Thursday, July 4, the Cardinals promoted their second-drafted pitcher in 2019, third-round right-hander Tony Locey of the University of Georgia. His destination is Class-A Peoria of the Midwest League.

In the GCL, Locey, 20, pitched on the same two days, following Thompson each time with a scoreless frame of his own. He allowed just one hit, but walked two and struck out three.

In an interesting side story, Locey’s father Anthony also pitched for Peoria as a reliever in 1994. Anthony had been the Cubs’ 13th-round selection in the 1993 draft. (Tony was born several years later.)

The two – Thompson and Locey – become the first players in the Cardinals’ 2019 draft class (currently at 31 signed) to reach full-season ball.

Tony Locey


For more

The Cardinal Nation GCL reporter Paul Ivice covered the outings of both top draftees, including their most recent (and final) GCL appearances on Tuesday July 2nd. His report includes significant detail on their pitch offerings, velocities and more.

Join The Cardinal Nation to get this depth of insider information on the Cardinals minor league system year ‘round.

Cardinals Draftees Thompson and Locey in Tuesday GCL Play


Avelino promoted

As noted above, the Class-A Chiefs also receive pitcher Rodard Avelino from State College. The 20-year old, who is stepping up rapidly from the 2018 GCL, had an 8.31 ERA in five outings for the Spikes. Walks were a big problem, with 10 issued (plus two hit batters) in 4 1/3 innings. Avelino allowed just three hits, though, and fanned seven.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound native of the Dominican Republic was a July 2nd signing three years ago. He competed his first season and a half in the Dominican Summer League before finishing last summer in the GCL, always as a reliever. Avelino’s career ERA in 44 appearances over four seasons is 9.89.

Rodard Avelino


For even more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, 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!

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 Name Arozarena, Seijas Top June Player and Pitcher

photo: Randy Arozarena (Memphis Redbirds)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Thursday, July 4) that Memphis Redbirds (AAA) outfielder Randy Arozarena (pronounced Ahh-ROW-sa-ray-na) and Palm Beach Cardinals (High-A) right-handed pitcher Alvaro Seijas (pronounced SAY-hoss) have been honored as the Cardinals Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for June for their accomplishments on the field.

Randy Arozarena (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Arozarena, 24, signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals in late July 2016 out of La Habana, Cuba. The 5-foot-11, 175 lb. outfielder batted .374/.456/.607 with five home runs, eight doubles, 20 RBI, and four stolen bases in 28 June games between Springfield (AA) and Memphis (AAA). The outfielder capped his month by going 9-for-14 (.643) with a pair of four-hit efforts over his final three games of the month.

Before promoted to Memphis on June 12, Arozarena hammered Texas League pitching at a .382 clip (13-34), with six of 13 hits going for extras bases for a .706 slugging percentage and 1.206 OPS. Overall this season, the 24-year-old is hitting .347/.437/.545 with six home runs, two triples, 13 doubles, and 26 RBI in 48 games between Springfield and Memphis. Despite his season not beginning until May 11 due to a fractured right hand suffered in Spring Training, Arozarena’s nine stolen bases rank T9th in the Cardinals organization.

Alvaro Seijas (St. Louis Cardinals)

Seijas, 20, who earned a promotion to Palm Beach yesterday, went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA (8 ER/32.2 IP) and 26 strikeouts in five starts in June for the Peoria Chiefs (A). The 6-0, 175-pound right-hander allowed three runs or fewer in all five starts, which included a season-high 7.1 scoreless innings of three-hit ball on 6/1 at Wisconsin (A-Brewers). Seijas fanned 26 batters against nine walks while recording quality starts in four outings.

A 2019 Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star, Seijas ranks among Midwest League leaders in innings pitched (80.0, 2nd), starts (14, T9th) and ERA (2.93, 10th). The right-hander’s 71 strikeouts is the 4th-highest total in the Cardinals minor league organization, while his 2.93 ERA ranks as the 9th-best. The Tumero, Venezuela native was signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2015, and has made starts in 61 of 65 professional appearances.

The minor league honor is the first for Seijas and second for Arozarena, who was recognized in June 2017 while playing for Palm Beach.


Brian Walton’s take

Both honorees are to be commended for performing at a high level during June.

In fact, during my weekly podcast Wednesday at ScoopsWithDannyMac.com, I noted that Arozarena is perhaps the non-40-man roster player with the most momentum to reach St. Louis this fall. And after a year and a half at Peoria, Seijas clearly earned his promotion to Palm Beach.

However, there is a caveat. The two were the top prospects to perform at the highest level, but arguably not the best player and pitcher in the entire system last month.

Using a stats-based analysis, The Cardinal Nation instead selected far less-heralded players John Nogowski of Memphis and Alex Fagalde of Springfield as our June Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively.

Review their comparative stats in the articles below and make your own call, then head over to The Cardinal Nation’s free forum to weigh in with your opinion!

Fagalde Repeats as TCN’s Cardinals Minors Pitcher of the Month

Nogowski Named The Cardinal Nation June Player of the Month


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!

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Cardinals Announce 23 July 2nd Signings

photo: Scouting Supervisor Angel Ovalles, Jose Davila, International Director Luis Morales (St. Louis Cardinals)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Tuesday, July 2) that the club has agreed to terms with 23 free-agent players representing the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela from the first day of Major League Baseball’s international signing period for 2019-20.

Five outfielders, two catchers, six infielders, nine right-handed pitchers and one left-handed pitcher were among the signees, highlighted by Maracaibo, Venezuela native and right-handed pitcher Jose Davila, who profiles as starter with fastball, curveball and changeup mix, and Jeremy Rivas, a sound defensive shortstop from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela with a high offensive upside.

A complete listing of the Cardinals international player signings is at the bottom of this article.

All of the announced player signings are subject to final contract approvals from the Office of the Commissioner, and will be assigned to the Dominican Summer League Cardinals. Right-handed pitchers Americo Lugo, Brayan Ramirez, and Hancel Marcelino will be activated immediately, with the remaining 20 signees being eligible to play in 2020.


Brian Walton’s take

This is the largest quantity of players signed by the Cardinals on July 2nd in at least the last four years and perhaps the highest first-day total for the team ever. One year ago, the organization signed just two players on day 1, though one was budding star Malcom Nunez and they later added 35 others.

In 2017, the Cards announced 10 signings on July 2nd. Even in their major overspending year of 2016-2017, just 13 signees were disclosed initially.

Perhaps in this uncertain international market, where risks are higher because of the youth of the players, the Cardinals are going for quantity, hoping a few will eventually emerge as major leaguers.

Prospect-watching national entities may undertake the challenge of ranking the unsigned players. None of the 23 new Cardinals are among this year’s top 30 international prospects according to MLB Pipeline. However, due to the inherent uncertainties in this market, Baseball America has stopped ranking international prospects.

Coming into the day, the two Cardinals’ Dominican Summer League rosters had a total of just six active roster openings, three of which will undoubtedly be filled by Lugo, Ramirez and Marcelino. The other 20 new signees will likely report to the Cardinals’ academy in the Dominican to train and prepare for 2020.

Player signing bonuses are never announced by the organization, though some amounts will be disclosed later through the media. One can guess that the two players highlighted by the team – Davila and Rivas – received the most money.

Davila has three pitches – a fastball at 90-93 mph, a high-spin curve and a change-up. Rivas has a future power profile, while the former Venezuelan U14 World Cup infielder is said to make the routine plays defensively.

The Cardinals’ total bonus pool this period is $6,481,200, tied with seven other clubs for the most in MLB. This is a hard cap that cannot be exceeded, though teams can acquire additional cap room in trade. After two years of the Cardinals being restricted to a $300,000 per-player limit for overspending in 2016-2017, that penalty is no longer in place.

The video of shortstop Lizandro Espinoza and outfielder Santiago Carbonara come from Ben Badler of Baseball America.


Last Name First Pos. B/T HT WT Season DOB Age Country
Beltre, Alexander LHP L/L 6-1 169 2020 11 05 02 16 Dominican Republic
Bolivar, Javier SS R/R 6-1 170 2020 12 19 02 16 Venezuela
Carbonara, Santiago OF R/R 6-0 187 2020 9 23 02 16 Venezuela
Cervantes, Alejandro RHP R/R 6-2 189 2020 5 15 01 18 Mexico
Cordoba, Jose OF R/R 5-11 165 2020 1 03 03 16 Venezuela
Cuello, Antoni RHP R/R 6-5 190 2020 11 07 02 16 Dominican Republic
Davila, Jose RHP R/R 6-3 184 2020 11 09 02 16 Venezuela
Encarnacion, Bryan SS S/R 6-1 136 2020 4 20 03 16 Dominican Republic
Espinoza, Lizandro SS R/R 5-9 145 2020 11 20 02 16 Dominican Republic
Guerrero, Justin C R/R 6-1 195 2020 5 20 03 16 Dominican Republic
Guzman, Frankely RHP R/R 6-2 155 2020 6 19 03 16 Dominican Republic
Guzman, Raul 3B R/R 6-0 175 2020 9 14 02 16 Dominican Republic
Hernandez, Maikel C S/R 6-0 163 2020 2 02 03 16 Venezuela
Justo, Maicol SS S/R 5-10 141 2020 2 02 03 16 Venezuela
Martinez, Miguel RHP R/R 6-0 150 2020 1 26 03 16 Venezuela
Ramos, Jeremy OF R/R 6-2 173 2020 4 04 03 16 Dominican Republic
Reynoso, Francis OF R/R 6-4 206 2020 12 26 02 16 Dominican Republic
Rivas, Jeremy SS R/R 6-0 172 2020 3 04 03 16 Venezuela
Salas, Juan RHP R/R 6-1 175 2020 2 14 03 16 Mexico
Taveras, Felix OF L/R 6-1 186 2020 3 08 03 16 Dominican Republic
Lugo, Americo RHP R/R 6-1 192 2019 8 27 00 18 Dominican Republic
Marcelino, Hansel RHP R/R 6-1 175 2019 6 16 02 17 Dominican Republic
Ramirez, Brayan RHP R/R 6-4 200 2019 9 29 01 17 Colombia

For more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, 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

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2019 Week 13


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.

Brebbia Returns to Cardinals as Carpenter Moves to Injured List

photo: Taylor Davis and Matt Carpenter (Quinn Harris/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

John Brebbia (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Tuesday, July 2) in Seattle that they have activated right-handed pitcher John Brebbia from the Paternity List and placed infielder Matt Carpenter (lower back strain) on the 10-day Injured List, retroactive to June 29.

Carpenter is batting .216 with 10 HR’s & 28 RBI in 77 games this season.  He appeared as a pinch-hitter on Friday, June 28 at San Diego in the opening game of the current road trip, but hadn’t started since June 25.

Brebbia left the team on June 29 to join his wife, Amanda, for the birth of the couple’s first child.   He’s 1-3 with 3.40 ERA in 36 games in relief this season.


Brian Walton’s take

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Interesting in that Carpenter’s Sunday absence was said to be a stomach ailment, not a back problem. The latter has been an ongoing issue for the third baseman over the years.

Carpenter’s injury opens the door for rookie Tommy Edman to remain with St. Louis, though Yairo Munoz is starting at third base on Tuesday night. St. Louis’ other third baseman, Jedd Gyorko, remains on the IL himself.

Perhaps the time away will help Brebbia, who struggled to an 8.71 ERA in June. Even so, Brebbia’s 36 appearances this season is just one off a share of the team lead (John Gant).

With Brebbia’s return, the Cardinals are back to eight relievers and four reserve position players.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ draft picks, 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

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2019 Week 13


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.