All posts by Brian Walton

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

Molina Returns to St. Louis’ Active Roster

photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s (Tuesday, June 11) game, that they have activated catcher Yadier Molina from the 10-day injured list and optioned rookie catcher Andrew Knizner to Memphis (AAA).

Molina missed 11 games after being sidelined on May 29 due to a right thumb tendon strain.

At the time he was placed on the Injured List, Molina was leading all Major League catchers in games played (50), innings caught (416.2), RBI (33), hits (50), doubles (13) and stolen bases (4).

Molina, 36, collected his 1,900th career hit on May 25, ranking 8th all-time among Cardinals.   For the season, Molina is batting .265 with 4 HR’s and 33 RBI which rank 2nd on the team.

Knizner, who is one of five Cardinals to have made their Major League debut this season, appeared in two games following his call-up.


Andrew Knizner (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Brian Walton’s take

This is good news for the Cardinals. Matt Wieters had been slumping and can return to his reserve role. Knizner will have to wait for his first MLB hit, but it will surely come.

A series of moves will be required in the minor league system from Knizner’s return to Memphis, but they have not been disclosed as of yet. The Triple-A Redbirds have Tuesday off, so the full extent may not be clear until Wednesday. A likely move is the return of catcher Jose Godoy to Springfield from Memphis.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

Possible 2019 Cardinals Draft Bonus Strategy


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.

Wainwright Placed on Cardinals Injured List

photo: Adam Wainwright (USA TODAY Sports Images)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Adam Wainwright (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced that RHP Adam Wainwright has been placed on the 10-day Injured List with a left hamstring strain effective today.  Right-handed pitcher Ryan Helsley has been recalled from Memphis (AAA).

Wainwright, 37, was removed from last night’s game in Chicago during the 5th inning after injuring his left hamstring while reaching base on a double in the top half of the 5th inning.

Ryan Helsley (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals veteran pitcher has made 13 starts this season, tied for the most on the club, while ranking second on the team in innings pitched (70.1) and strikeouts (61).  During last night’ game, Wainwright became the sixth pitcher in Cardinals franchise history to surpass 2,000 innings pitched.

The move to the Injured List is Wainwright’s first since last May 14-September 9, 2018, when he missed 104 games with right elbow inflammation.  This marks Wainwright’s ninth term on the Injured List over his 14-year Major League career.

Merandy Gonzalez (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Helsley, 24, has made six relief appearances for the Cardinals this season posting no record and a 2.70 ERA while holding his opposition to a .121 batting average (4-33).  The rookie right-hander is coming off back-to-back scoreless appearances this past weekend in Chicago, before being optioned back to Memphis on Sunday with the recall of RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon.  Today will mark Helsley’s fourth recall of the season to St. Louis.

Right-handed pitcher Merandy González has cleared waivers and will be out-righted off the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster.  He remains in Springfield (AA) on the Cardinals double-A active roster.


Brian Walton’s take

It is unclear who will take Wainwright’s next turn in St. Louis’ rotation, scheduled on Friday in New York.

Helsley was eligible for recall so quickly after having been optioned out because he is replacing an injured player. In those cases, the 10-day maximum can be waived. The right-hander is The Cardinal Nation’s fifth-ranked prospect.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

Dylan Carlson Continues to Make Waves at 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!

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 Secure First Two Signings from 2019 Draft

photo: Jake Sommers (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

The St. Louis Cardinals took to Twitter on Monday morning, June 10, to announce their first two signings from the 2019 draft class, pitchers Jake Sommers and Will Guay.

Bonuses have not been disclosed and their initial team assignments are yet to be announced.

Sommers was taken on Draft Day 2 and Guay on Day 3. To read more about the pair, see the detailed articles below:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Eight on 2019 Draft Day 2

Cardinals Complete 2019 Draft with Final 30 Picks


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

Dylan Carlson Continues to Make Waves at 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!

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 Recall Ponce de Leon, Option out Helsley

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon (Douglas DeFelice/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s (Sunday, June 9) game, that they have recalled right-handed pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon from Memphis (AAA) and optioned right-handed pitcher Ryan Helsley to the triple-A Redbirds.

Ponce de Leon, 27, will be making his second appearance for the Cardinals this season.  He worked 5.0 innings in a start on April 23, allowing one run, while striking out seven, in the Cardinals 4-3 win over Milwaukee.

Ryan Helsley (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

In 11 starts for Memphis this season, Ponce de Leon is 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 47 in his 55.1 innings pitched, limiting the opposition to a .237 batting average.  Ponce de Leon made his most recent start on June 6 at Tacoma, working 3.0 scoreless innings in planned short start.

Since debuting last season, Ponce de Leon is 0-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 12 career games (5 starts) for the Cardinals, striking out 38 batters in 38.0 innings pitched.

Helsley, who has had three stints with the Cardinals during his rookie season, worked scoreless innings in back-to-back outings at Chicago on Friday and Saturday.   He’s appeared in six games, totaling 10.0 IP with 11 strikeouts since making his big league debut on April 16.

Ponce de Leon wears uniform no. 62.


Brian Walton’s take

Ponce de Leon’s planned short start on Thursday was designed to enable him to come back on his fourth day as long reliever behind Monday’s starter in Miami, Michael Wacha. The latter had been removed from the rotation three turns ago, with rookie Genesis Cabrera given two starts before being sent back to Memphis.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

Dylan Carlson Continues to Make Waves at 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!

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 Place Jedd Gyorko on Injured List; Promote Tommy Edman

photo: Tommy Edman (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Jedd Gyorko (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Saturday, June 8), that they have purchased  rookie infielder Tommy Edman from Memphis (AAA) and placed infielder Jedd Gyorko (lower back strain) on the 10-day Injured List.   The team also announced that Springfield (AA) right-handed pitcher Merandy Gonzalez has been designated for assignment, making room for Edman on the team’s 40-man roster.

Tommy Edman (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Edman, 24, had a team-leading .305 (60-for-197) batting mark in 49 games at Memphis to go along with 7 HR’s and 29 RBI.    The 5-10, 185-pound San Diego, Calif. native was batting .366 (15-for-32) with runners in scoring position, collecting 21 of his 29 RBI in those at-bats.   Edman, a switch-hitter, has a .349 (15-for-43) batting mark vs. left-handed pitchers and a .292 (45-for-145) average and 5 HR’s against righties in 2019.

A sixth round draft selection (196th player overall) by the Cardinals in 2016 out of Stanford University, Edman has been nearly flawless in the field this season (one error) while playing four different positions, including second base (25 games), shortstop (10), third base (9) and center field (2).

Edman is a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts this season after leading all Cardinals minor leaguers last season with his 30 stolen bases between Springfield (27) and Memphis (3).  He has been successful in 71 of 84 stolen base attempts (85 pct.) during his minor league career.

Gyorko, who made the start at third base for the Cardinals yesterday, appearing in his 38th game, is leading the team with his 21 pinch-hit at-bats.   The 23-year-old Gonzalez, acquired March 28 via waivers from the San Francisco Giants, was 2-2 with four saves in 23 games between Springfield (AA) and Palm Beach (A).

Edman has been assigned uniform no. 19 and will be making his Major League debut with his first game appearance.   He will become the fifth Cardinal to debut in 2019, joining Lane Thomas, Ryan Helsley, Génesis Cabrera and Andrew Knizner.


Brian Walton’s take

Merandy Gonzalez (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Edman is The Cardinal Nation’s 10th-ranked prospect. It is notable that he was added to the 40-man and promoted ahead of other Memphis infielders already on the roster – Edmundo Sosa, Ramon Urias and Drew Robinson – as well as non-roster infielder Max Schrock. Edman’s move to the front of the line is a reflection of his strong 2019 to date, including St. Louis’ spring training camp.

Though not mentioned in the release, reliever Gonzalez has struggled at Springfield, with a 6.75 ERA in 21 appearances. He has allowed 33 hits and walked 19 more in just 24 innings for a 2.17 WHIP and a .337 batting average against. In other words, the chances of him being claimed by another organization off waivers seem slim.

Memphis’ roster replacement for Edman has not yet been named.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

The Cardinal Nation Prospect Interview – Palm Beach’s Julio Rodriguez


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 End Cabrera Rotation Trial, Add Helsley

photo: Genesis Cabrera (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Ryan Helsley (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Wednesday, June 5), that they have recalled rookie right-handed pitcher Ryan Helsley from Memphis (AAA) and optioned rookie left-handed pitcher Génesis Cabrera to the triple-A Redbirds.

Helsley, 24, will be making his third stint with the Cardinals, after having been previously recalled on April 16 and again on May 17.  The 6-2, 230-pound Oklahoma native has made four relief appearances with the Cardinals, totaling 8.0 innings pitched with just four hits allowed and 10 strikeouts for a 3.38 ERA.  Three of his four appearances with the Cardinals, including his Major League debut on April 16, have been two innings or more.

Since returning to Memphis following an option on May 22, Helsley has made two starts, going 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA (5.2 IP/3 ER) and eight strikeouts.   He’s 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in nine games (5 starts) for Memphis overall this season, striking out 22 batters in 23.1 IP and allowing just one home run.  His most recent outing came in a start on May 31 vs. Oklahoma City when he fanned six batters in his 2.2 IP.

Helsley wears uniform no. 56.


Brian Walton’s take

Genesis Cabrera (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Why don’t they ever talk about the player sent down? It is like, “out of sight, out of mind”.

Of course, the main reason is that the news usually isn’t good. In his defense, both of Cabrera’s starts were rain delayed. On the other hand, it is the big leagues and performance is what matters.

In two starts totaling 8 1/3 innings, the 22-year old gave up nine runs, six earned, on 13 hits including two home runs, four walks and five strikeouts. Clearly, Cabrera’s 6.48 ERA affirms he was not yet ready for prime time.

By bringing up Helsley now, the Cardinals can get relief innings from him before needing another starter. Wednesday’s rainout could lead to the rotation being able to go longer without a new number five. Prime candidates from Memphis include Jake Woodford and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Alex Reyes needs more consistency, so time could be his friend. The most proven choice to start, Austin Gomber, continues on the injured list.

There are also rumors the Cardinals are interested in free agent lefty Dallas Keuchel, but so are a number of other clubs, apparently.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 9


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.

Chiefs Land Four on Midwest League All-Star Team

photo: Brady Whalen (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Peoria Chiefs press release

Nolan Gorman (Peoria Chiefs)

The Midwest League announced the 2019 All-Star Teams on Wednesday and the Peoria Chiefs will be represented by four players at the June 18 game in South Bend. Third baseman Nolan Gorman and first baseman Brady Whalen were voted in as starters by the West Division managers while shortstop Delvin Perez and LHP Diego Cordero were chosen as reserves. Last year the Chiefs had six All-Stars and they last had five in 2017.

Brady Whalen (Peoria Chiefs)

Gorman, 19, is batting .280 with 10 homers, 12 doubles, 38 RBI and 40 runs scored in 54 games with a .386 OBP and .523 SLUG. A 2018 first round draftee, Gorman is top five in the MWL in RBI, home runs, extra-base hits, slugging, intentional walks, runs scored and total bases.

Whalen, 21, is batting .298 with five homers, 17 doubles, 41 RBI and 24 runs scored in 48 games with a .348 OBP and a .478 SLUG. A 12th round pick in 2016 out of high school in Washington, Whalen is currently top five in the MWL in RBI, and doubles.

Delvin Perez (Peoria Chiefs)

Perez, 20, is batting .261 with two doubles, eight RBI, seven steals and 28 runs scored in 50 games. A first round pick in 2016, Perez has played in the second most games for the Chiefs this season with 49 starts at shortstop and he is batting .311 when in the leadoff spot.

Cordero, 21, is 2-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 starts. He has a team-best seven quality starts and has struck out 38 batters in 58 innings. A free agent signee in 2014 out of the Dominican Republic, Cordero is top 10 in the league in games started and second in innings pitched.

The 2019 Midwest League All-Star Game will take place in South Bend, IN on Tuesday, June 18. As the defending Western Division Champions, the Chiefs coaching staff will work the All-Star Game. The Chiefs have the third most selections in the West behind division leading Quad Cities and Wisconsin who are tied with six players. Bowling Green leads the East squad with a MWL-best eight selections.


Brian Walton’s take

Diego Cordero (Peoria Chiefs)

Congratulations to those selected. Gorman (1) and Whalen (43) are deserving starters. Perez’ (31) pick likely recognizes his defensive prowess. Cordero (NR) was off to a strong start, but has slowed lately. Still, the honor is deserved.

Respective prospect rankings on The Cardinal Nation top 50 are included in parentheses above.

Gorman was an Appalachian League honoree and Perez was a New York-Penn League pick in 2018. These are the first career All-Star selections for Whalen and Cordero.

Last season, the Chiefs had six representatives named – pitchers Bryan Dobzanski and Thomas St. Clair (DNP – promoted) and position player starters Yariel Gonzalez, Irving Lopez and Elehuris Montero plus reserve Dennis Ortega.

The Class-A league also has a single post-season All-Star Team announced near the conclusion of the season.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Get all the Peoria Chiefs news from our local reporter, Satchel Perlowski, each Tuesday.

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2019 Week 9


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.


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.

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

Cards Organization Names Fernandez and Carlson Top May Players

photo: Dylan Carlson (Aaron Doster/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Junior Fernandez (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Monday, June 3) their selections for Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for May, with Springfield Cardinals (AA) teammates Junior Fernandez and Dylan Carlson taking the honors.

Fernandez, who drew a promotion to Springfield on May 1, was a bullpen stalwart, allowing just two runs in his 10 appearances during the month (1.02 ERA), while fanning 24 batters in 17.2 innings pitched.  The 22-year-old right-hander worked two or more innings in seven of his 10 appearances in May and converted both of his save attempts.

Fernandez, who was signed as an international free-agent in July of 2014, began the year at Palm Beach (High-A) and between Palm Beach and Springfield, he’s combined to go 0-0 with a 1.15 ERA (31.1 IP) in 20 games with six saves and has yet to allow a home run this season.   The 6-3, 205-pound Dominican native made starts in 52 of his first 60 professional appearances before moving exclusively into a relief role last season.

Dylan Carlson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Carlson, 20, has excelled all season long at Springfield, leading the team in batting (.296), home runs (9), RBI (37), doubles (12), triples (6), stolen bases (10), runs (41), slugging pct. (.547), on-base pct. (.372) and OPS (.919), ranking in the top-10 among Texas League leaders in all 10 categories.  The switch-hitting Carlson batted .304 during the month of May with four home runs, 17 RBI and a .952 OPS in 27 games with 13 of his 31 hits going for extra bases, including five triples.

Carlson’s six triples, 41 runs scored, 27 extra base hits and 111 total bases lead all Class AA players this season.

The 6-2, 200-pound Carlson was the Cardinals 1st round selection (33rd player overall) in the June, 2016 amateur draft out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High School.   He’s started 41 of his 53 games in centerfield this season and has four outfield assists to rank among Texas League leaders.


Brian Walton’s take

Congratulations to both honorees.

Over the weekend, The Cardinal Nation went through our own monthly process to evaluate all players in the system and came to different conclusions, with Palm Beach’s Alex Fagalde the top pitcher and Memphis’ Rangel Ravelo the hitter with the best May performance, in our view.

Reference the following two articles to review the comparative stats during the month from the four as well as other honorable mentions. Swing by TCN’s free forum if you would like to discuss the selections.

Fagalde Takes The Cardinal Nation May Pitcher of the Month Honors

Ravelo Named The Cardinal Nation May Player of the Month


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Read Derek Shore’s Monday article for the details directly from Fernandez and his manager on the pitcher’s 2019 renaissance.

Fernandez Back on Track Toward St. Louis


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.

Fagalde Takes The Cardinal Nation May Pitcher of the Month Honors

photo: Alex Fagalde (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

It is again the time to select The Cardinal Nation’s Pitcher of the Month. This covers play during May across the St. Louis Cardinals’ four full-season 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 nine finalists, Palm Beach right-hander Alex Fagalde logged the lowest ERA, WHIP, batting average against and OPS. For that reason, the 25-year old is our May Pitcher of the Month.

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


Guidelines

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

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


Results

Pitchers May Tm IP R H ER HR BB SO ERA AVG SLG OPS WHIP
Alex Fagalde PB 34.1 6 21 6 4 7 29 1.57 0.176 0.336 0.571 0.82
Perry DellaValle PB 27.2 8 26 5 1 5 22 1.63 0.250 0.317 0.608 1.12
Tommy Parsons PB 27.1 11 33 7 0 6 24 2.30 0.287 0.391 0.711 1.43
Angel Rondon PB/Spr 28 8 21 8 2 8 29 2.57 0.204 1.04
Daniel Ponce de Leon Mem 23.2 11 21 9 1 17 22 3.42 0.236 0.315 0.691 1.61
Edgar Gonzalez PB 36.1 15 41 14 2 9 45 3.47 0.285 0.368 0.699 1.38
Kyle Leahy Peo 27 12 24 11 2 9 17 3.67 0.233 0.369 0.664 1.22
Alvaro Seijas Peo 28 14 33 12 2 11 21 3.86 0.306 0.454 0.838 1.57
Diego Cordero Peo 29.2 16 36 13 2 5 18 3.94 0.298 0.421 0.752 1.38

The first thing that should be obvious is the dominance of the Palm Beach staff compared to the rest of the system. To be specific, the top four and five of the top six in ERA began the month in the Florida State League.

Angel Rondon (Palm Beach Cardinals)

Angel Rondon earned a promotion up to Double-A Springfield mid-month and while the 21-year old continued to pitch well, he could not match his Palm Beach 2.08 ERA (vs. 3.00 in the Texas League). In other words, even if he had stayed down and sustained, he would have been third in ERA.

Daniel Ponce de Leon continues to be solid for Memphis, but he also continues to issue too many walks, driving up his WHIP and driving him from most games before finishing the sixth inning.

The Peoria trio of Kyle Leahy, Alvaro Seijas and Diego Cordero are worthy of consideration. However, ERAs between 3.67 and 3.94 were not good enough to take these honors.

That leaves the Palm Beach four.

Perry DellaValle (Palm Beach Cardinals)

In his first full season as a professional, Edgar Gonzalez is holding his own, but fell down this month’s list with a clunker outing on May 31st. April promotee Tommy Parsons ramped up his game in his first full month at Palm Beach, but unlike most of the other best of the best, allowed more hits than innings pitched.

When it came right down to it, only two qualifying pitchers delivered ERAs under 2.30 and in fact, both Perry DellaValle and Alex Fagalde came in at 1.63 or under.

DellaValle, who like Gonzalez, jumped into the high-A rotation in his first full-season, had an excellent all-around performance, but was edged by his teammate Fagalde in most key measures. DellaValle’s walk rate was slightly lower, but so was his strikeout rate. Further, his rate of hits allowed was higher.

Still, either would have been a worthy honoree.


The Pitcher of the Month

Alex Fagalde (Palm Beach Cardinals)

When all is said and done, Alex Fagalde is the winner of The Cardinal Nation’s May Pitcher of the Month honors. The right-hander was very consistent, going seven innings in three of his five full starts. I say “full starts” because one of his six outings was a rain-shortened two-inning start on May 9.

In only one of those appearances did he allow as many as two runs. Also unlike all of the other finalists except Rondon, no unearned runs came home during Fagalde’s 34 1/3 innings pitched during May.

He allowed more than six baserunners in only one of his May appearances, with his sub-1.00 WHIP at 0.82 very impressive. A part of that is a stellar .176 batting average against, making Fagalde the only finalist to hold hitters under .200.

The only blemish on his record was four home runs allowed. Imagine how dominating his month would have been had he been able to keep the ball in the park!

Still, as the month closed, Fagalde was chosen to represent the South in the Florida State League All-Star Game.

After his selection by the Cardinals in the 30th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft, 904th overall, the former Cal Riverside standout split his first partial season between the Gulf Coast League and State College.

Fagalde opened 2018 in the Peoria rotation and excelled. After logging a 1.63 ERA in 77 1/3 innings, he earned the organization’s Pitcher of the Month honors last July and a promotion to Palm Beach.

In his FSL debut, the California native made seven starts with a 3.20 ERA, while maintaining a steady rate of a strikeout per inning. His WHIP for the season of 0.99 is one reason Baseball America named him the organization’s “Best Control” artist in 2018.

Fagalde finished last season among the system leaders in wins (10, tied for second), strikeouts (116, tied for sixth), ERA (2.16, second), batting average against (.212, second), K/BB ratio (4.5, 10th), and WHIP (eighth). The Cardinal Nation named him Peoria Chiefs Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Fagalde is The Cardinal Nation’s 33rd ranked prospect.


Honorable mention relievers

Though their innings-pitched total fall short of the starters, four relievers deserve mention. With May ERAs at 1.00 or less, they are especially notable in a season that has been rough for bullpenners overall in the system. Unlike the imbalance across the top starters, each full-season squad is represented here.

Relievers May Tm IP R H ER HR BB SO ERA AVG SLG OPS WHIP
Bryan Dobzanski PB 10 0 4 0 0 2 12 0.00 0.114 0.114 0.276 0.60
Junior Fernandez Spr 16.2 1 9 1 0 5 23 0.54 0.155 0.172 0.395 0.84
Edgar Escobar Peo 12 4 5 1 0 8 16 0.75 0.116 0.163 0.432 1.08
Ryan Meisinger Mem 18 6 18 2 2 4 25 1.00 0.261 0.406 0.703 1.22
Bryan Dobzanski (St. Louis Cardinals)

Though Bryan Dobzanski was only called upon for 10 innings, Palm Beach’s closer did not allow a run on just four singles and two walks to go with 12 strikeouts. The FSL All-Star seems ready for his next challenge.

Junior Fernandez is finally healthy and his 23 punchouts and one run allowed in 16 2/3 innings at Springfield are helping to restore his prospect luster.

Peoria’s Edgar Escobar is a relatively new name to watch. The only concern in a strong May is eight walks against just five hits.

Finally, Ryan Meisinger has performed in every job asked of him at Memphis, whether spot starting or in long relief. His only runs allowed in the month came on a pair of solo homers.


April’s winners in May

Tommy Parsons (Peoria Chiefs)

Our top pitcher selection in the first month of the 2019 season was Parsons, when he was with Peoria. In May, after giving up five runs on 12 hits in his initial Palm Beach start, the 23-year old spun 23 1/3 innings with just two earned runs allowed (0.76 ERA).

In other words, the right-hander has definitely handled the transition well.

On the other hand, the Cardinals organization chose then-Palm Beach pitcher Johan Oviedo as their April Pitcher of the Month instead. With his promotion to Springfield, his May results were understandably not to the same level.

In his first 27 Texas League innings, Oviedo was charged with 17 earned runs for a 5.69 ERA. Of some concern Is 13 free passes issued and .311 batting average against.


Related article

Ravelo Named The Cardinal Nation May Player of the Month


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Cardinals Set Dominican Summer League Red and Blue Rosters


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Molina Heads to Injured List with Knizner Called Up

photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s (Friday, May 31) game that they have placed catcher Yadier Molina on the 10-day Injured List with a right thumb tendon strain retroactive to May 29.  Rookie catcher Andrew Knizner (KIZZ-ner) had his contract purchased from the Memphis Redbirds (AAA) and was added to the Cardinals active roster for tonight’s game against Chicago.

Molina, 36, a nine-time National League All-Star and Rawlings Gold Glove winner, was batting .265 with 4 home runs and 33 RBI through 50 games this season and had started 49-of-53 games through May 28.  This will be the sixth time Molina has been placed on the Injured List over his 16-year Major League career, last appearing on the I.L. from May 6-June 4, 2018 causing him to miss 26 games.

Knizner, 24, the Cardinals seventh round selection (226th overall) in the June 2016, First-Year Player Draft out of North Carolina State University, has been the starting catcher in Memphis, appearing in 37 games while batting .286 with 5 home runs, 17 RBI and eight doubles.

He has a career batting average of .307 over 279 minor league games with 30 HR and 155 RBI.  The right-handed hitting backstop has hit safely in 72 percent of his career games not going more than two games without a hit during the 2019 season.

Defensively, Knizner has thrown out 17-of-32 attempted base stealers (53.1%) this season, with his 17 runners caught stealing leading all Pacific Coast League and Triple-A catchers while ranking T-9th among all minor league catchers.

A member of the 2018 Pacific Coast League Championship Redbirds squad, Knizner was named an All-Star in the Midwest League (2017) and prestigious Arizona Fall League (2017).  He was selected to the 2018 All-Star Futures Game for the USA Team in Washington D.C., last July.

Knizner will wear uniform No. 7.


Brian Walton’s take

Matt Wieters (St. Louis Cardinals)

In any other year, a Molina move to the IL could mean ample playing time for a prospect as good as Knizner, currently ranked no. 4 in the system by The Cardinal Nation. However, in 2019 the Cardinals have a proven MLB starter in reserve in Matt Wieters, who has hit well in the rare occasions he has been called upon. As a result, I would not expect to see Knizner playing much. Doubly so with two Cubs series in the next week and the Cardinals struggling.

While Molina’s slash line of .265/.294/.397/.690 has not been particularly impressive, he has been exceptional at bringing runners home, with 33 RBI as noted above.

According to manager Mike Shildt, Molina has a small ligament tear between his thumb and forefinger and is scheduled to get a second medical opinion following the MRI that disclosed the tear.

At Memphis this season, Knizner has had a typical season for him offensively, hitting right around .300 (.286) with some, but not a lot of pop (SLG of .450), and a solid .805 OPS. Reports on his defense behind the plate are of steady improvement.

The Cardinals had one 40-man roster spot open after the release of Luke Gregerson earlier this month.

Veteran Joe Hudson should see the majority of the time behind the plate for Memphis during Knizner’s absence. He will be backed up by Jose Godoy, promoted from Springfield on Friday.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2019 Week 8


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Cardinals Update with Miller and Condon – First Home Cubs Series

On Friday morning, just a few hours before the 2019 home opener at Busch Stadium between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, 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 focused on the poor play by the Cardinals in May and the various potential reasons for it as well as reactions to it. As most would agree, there is no single answer, with talk about rotation changes, lineup changes and bullpen changes and much more. (Spoiler: We didn’t solve it!)

Follow @imKenMiller and @trentcondon on Twitter.


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Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2019 Week 8


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Cardinals Need Friday Win to Avoid Worst May in Team History

photo: Larry Vanover and Mike Shildt (Quinn Harris/Imagn)

Update: The Cardinals managed to squeak out a 2-1, 10-inning victory on Friday. Their 9-18 (.333) mark for the month means it was only the franchise’s third-worst May since at least 1908.

By finishing with two consecutive wins, it was St. Louis’ first and only “winning streak” during a month in which they won no series, lost eight and tied one.

The original article follows.


By holding on to claim the final game of the series in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals collected their eighth win in the month of May, against 18 losses.

Even so, the result of Friday’s contest against Chicago at Busch Stadium could put the 2019 Cardinals in the record books. If they lose, they will clinch the unenviable recognition of having the worst May of any team in franchise history (since 1908), with a winning percentage of .296 (8-19).

On the other hand, a second consecutive victory would not only represent the team’s first “winning streak” of the month, it would mean the 2019 Cardinals will finish as only the third-worst Cardinals May team ever, at .333 (9-18).

May % W L Year May manager
Worst case 0.296 8 19 2019 Mike Shildt
Best case 0.333 9 18

With the Thursday win, the 2019 club did avoid one May futility record, however. The 1978 Cardinals dropped a record 20 games; however, they played two more games during the month (and thereby raising their winning percentage).

Let’s review the four current poorest May teams in Cardinals history. Surprisingly, some very, very successful leaders were involved.

May % W L Year May manager Season % W L Place Sept. manager
0.308 8 18 1980 Ken Boyer 0.457 74 88 4th of 6 Whitey Herzog
0.310 9 20 1978 Ken Boyer 0.426 69 93 5th of 6 Ken Boyer
0.346 9 17 1986 Whitey Herzog 0.491 79 82 3rd of 6 Whitey Herzog
0.346 9 17 1925 Branch Rickey 0.503 77 76 4th of 8 Rogers Hornsby

Ken Boyer

1980

As the above table indicates, the current record-holder for May futility is the 1980 Cardinals, a club in transition. Their .308 May occurred under future retired number honoree and team Hall of Famer Ken Boyer. The long-time third base star was fired by owner Gussie Busch on June 8 and replaced by another manager who later received the same career recognition from the club, Whitey Herzog.

As was the case with all four prior teams that played so poorly in May, the 1980 Cardinals improved slightly the rest of the way, but fell far short of the playoffs.


1978

Boyer was also the manager of the Cardinals when the aforementioned 1978 team limped home at 9-20 in May. His predecessor, Vern Rapp, had been fired late in April, making Boyer’s first and last full months as manager – in Mays two years apart – record-settingly bad.

While Boyer’s first club “improved” to .426 for the 1978 season, it was the poorest overall performance by a Cardinals team since 1924. No St. Louis team has fared worse since 1978, either, making it a 95-year-and-running low point for the franchise.


In both 1925 and 1986, the Cardinals registered a 9-17 win-loss record (.346) in May.

Branch Rickey

1925

The Cardinals opened 1925 with future Hall of Famer Branch Rickey in his seventh year as field manager. However, after a 13-25 start, owner Sam Breadon removed Rickey from the dugout, installing him as the team’s general manager, instead. That occurred following the games of May 30, as the Cards were swept in a four-game series at Pittsburgh.

Yet another future Hall of Famer, second baseman Rogers Hornsby, was made player-manager and made his debut in the dual role on May 31, a win. The 1925 team improved the rest of the way, playing .551 ball under the new skipper, and won the World Series in 1926.


Whitey Herzog

1986

In an odd season to say the least, the underachieving 1986 Cardinals are forever lodged in the history books between two World Series clubs – of 1985 and 1987. The season began terribly, with their 8-10 April followed by the aforementioned 9-17 May.

Being one of the best defensive teams in MLB history and sporting National League Rookie of the Year Todd Worrell was not enough for the Birds as the Miracle Mets went on to win 108 games. Herzog brought his club back to within three games of .500 at the end of the year, but they finished 28 ½ games back in the East Division.

Special thanks to researcher Tom Orf for the May historical records.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 8


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Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 8

The Springfield Cardinals won two of five this past week, falling to nine games under .500. Manager Joe Kruzel discusses the need to return to doing the little things that lead to wins. Outfielder Dylan Carlson remains a consistent force on offense, ranking among Texas League leaders.

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The Paths of Griffin Roberts and Alex Reyes Meet Again

photo: Griffin Roberts (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

A major milestone was passed Tuesday evening in Palm Beach’s home loss to Daytona. In the Florida State League’s team’s 50th game of 2019, the 31-19 Beach Birds lost by a 5-2 score in a contest started by former St. Louis Cardinals top pitching prospect Alex Reyes.

Alex Reyes (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

It is quite the coincidence that Reyes, who had been the highest profile Cardinals farmhand suspended for marijuana use (in November 2015), was the starter in the final game of fellow right-hander Griffin Roberts’ comparable suspension, handed down three years later.

Having been on the roster of the Cardinals high-A affiliate at the time of his second failed test, Roberts was required to sit out the club’s first 50 games of the 2019 regular season, a penalty that is now officially complete.

In a further connection, a report has Roberts stepping into the Palm Beach rotation on Sunday – the very spot that Reyes himself had taken the last two times through.


Griffin Roberts (Joe Freiday Sr.)

The background

Roberts was selected by St. Louis with the 43rd overall selection last June as a junior from Wake Forest and received an at-slot signing bonus of $1,664,200. The pick was in Competitive Balance Round A, the Cardinals’ second selection, after first-rounder Nolan Gorman.

Expected to be a fast riser with a potential ultimate role as a late-inning reliever with a plus slider, the 22-year old was eased into action last summer, throwing just 9 2/3 innings after signing. Roberts is currently ranked 13th on The Cardinal Nation top prospect list.


The suspension

As noted, it was a second violation by Roberts. Under the Minor League program, first-time drug-of-abuse offenders are given help and only suspended if a subsequent test is also positive.

Baseball’s inconsistency in its drug stance is a point of contention for many, as marijuana is not tested for at the Major League level. Still, the rules are the rules and are emphasized with every player.

The key issue, an even more pressing matter in the area of player salaries, is that minor leaguers have no collective bargaining leverage with ownership.


Is Roberts ready?

One positive is that Roberts was allowed to pitch in extended spring training (EST) to ramp up his workload for when his suspension was complete. While he has been temporarily moved to EST (State College roster) in a paperwork move, he was already there. On Sunday, he may physically re-join nearby Palm Beach to start (per a report from Rob Rains).

I watched Roberts pitch in EST two weeks ago and he dominated the competition, albeit hitters who were younger and less experienced.

Griffin Roberts (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

On May 14, Roberts went 5 2/3 scoreless innings on 76 pitches against the Mets’ EST team. He allowed just one hit, walked two and fanned nine. His fastball was in the 89-92 mph range and his dominating slider, at 80-81, was almost unhittable.

In other words, Roberts should be ready for Florida State League hitters.

We will have to see what roster moves are made, but it would not be surprising for Roberts to take Reyes’ spot on the Beach Birds’ 25-man roster as well as in the rotation come Sunday, as the latter moves up in the system.

Until being cleared to hit while coming back from a self-induced broken finger, Reyes will have to be deployed where Cardinals affiliates are allowed to use the designated hitter. It is worth noting that Memphis is currently one player short of its 25-man limit and Sunday’s starting pitcher is listed as “TBA”.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 8


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Cabrera Promoted to St. Louis, Thomas Sent Down

photo: Genesis Cabrera (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Genesis Cabrera (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Wednesday, May 29) in Philadelphia, that they have recalled rookie left-handed pitcher Génesis Cabrera (pronounced hen-e-sis) from Memphis (AAA) and optioned outfielder Lane Thomas to the triple-A Redbirds.

Cabrera, 22, will be making his Major League debut tonight and will become the 2,000th player to appear in a game for the Cardinals in their 128-year history as a member of the National League dating to 1892.

The Dominican-born Cabrera was 2-3 with a 6.35 ERA in nine games (7 starts) for Memphis this season, but has gone 6.0 innings in each of his past three starts, and allowed just four runs for a 3.00 ERA in his last two outings, the most recent a 4-2 win on May 21 at Nashville.

The 6-2, 190-pound Cabrera was acquired by the Cardinals last July 31 in a four-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that sent outfielder Tommy Pham to Tampa Bay.   Cabrera earned All-Star selections in both 2018 (Southern League-AA) and 2016 (Midwest League-A), and he was named the 2018-19 Dominican Winter League Rookie of the Year.

Cabrera, who wears uniform no. 61, will become the first Cardinal to make his Major League debut as a starting pitcher since Daniel Ponce de Leon (7/23/18 at CIN) and the first lefty to do so since Tim Cooney (4/30/15 vs. PHI).  There have been just three past Cardinals pitchers to make their M.L. debuts in starts at Philadelphia: Al Olmsted (1980), Gordie Richardson (1964) and Mort Cooper (1938).  All three worked nine innings or more, including 9-1/3 innings by Olmsted in a 5-0 Cardinals win in 11 innings.


Brian Walton’s take

Lane Thomas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The promotion of Cabrera, to assume the starting spot from which Michael Wacha was removed, was announced by manager Mike Shildt on Sunday. The decision, somewhat of a surprise, was made in part based on Cabrera’s recent success.

Other primary candidates, his Memphis rotation mates Ponce de Leon and Jake Woodford, have been good this season, but less so recently. Fellow lefty Austin Gomber seemed the most obvious selection, but remains on Memphis’ injured list. So, while this move may or may not work, it illustrates a willingness on the Cardinals to take some risk with a top talent, one who might not be fully ready.

Beyond the obvious benefit of being a left-hander, Cabrera sports an upper 90’s fastball, but the key to his success may lie in how much his complimentary pitches have improved. Cabrera is currently The Cardinal Nation’s ninth-ranked prospect.

Shildt was quoted as saying that this will not be a one-and-done opportunity for Cabrera – assuming he pitches well. Another rotation candidate, Alex Reyes, is still at high-A Palm Beach and has not yet been cleared to swing a bat – a necessary prerequisite to return.

Thomas, our no. 6 prospect, spent a week with St. Louis during his second period in the majors. The outfielder made just two appearances, one as an end-game defensive replacement and the other as a pinch-runner. The 23-year old will likely be back later, returning to center field duties for Memphis in the meantime.

It seems clear the Cardinals are more comfortable going with an eight-man bullpen and four reserve position players, which is the end result of these moves.

Both Thomas and Cabrera were added to the 40-man roster last November to protect them from the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, so no further changes are required there.


For more

To track the Cardinals’ 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

Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 8


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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, out 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.