All posts by Derek Shore

Cover the Springfield Cardinals and Cardinals minor league pipeline for The Cardinal Nation | Freelance sports writer

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 18

The Springfield Cardinals’ playoff hopes faded with a disappointing 1-6 Week 18. The S-Cards are now four games back in the Texas League North with 25 games remaining. The offense stalled and the pitching was inconsistent this week. After an IL stint, Alex FaGalde has resumed leading the rotation with a 1.29 ERA at Double-A.

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Gonzalez Named TCN’s Cardinals Minors July Player of the Month

photo: Yariel Gonzalez (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

This is the first of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series as we name our Players and Pitchers of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals organization for July. While the Cardinals themselves recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.

Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of July system-wide hitting leaders.

Gonzalez claims TCN’s top hitting honors

While a number of hitters in the Cardinals system had strong months of July, one hitter distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch to carry Double-A Springfield’s offense to first-place in the Texas League North Division.

Our July Player of the Month is Springfield three-hole hitter Yariel Gonzalez, who should have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Texas League Player of the Month honors.

Among hitters to qualify with at least 75 at-bats, Gonzalez tallied the most hits (35), total bases (60) and RBIs (30) in the Cardinals system for July. He finished with the third-highest batting average (.358), slugging percentage (.612) and had the fourth-best OPS (1.029) among qualifiers.

Yariel Gonzalez

Springfield manager Joe Kruzel uses one word to summarize his three-hole hitter.

“Consistency,” Kruzel said. “He has been able to go up there and maintain his plan and approach. He stays within himself. He has put himself into a good hitting position and giving himself a good chance to put a good swing. He has had some really positive results with that.”

The versatile infielder finished with 11 extra-base hits (four doubles and seven homers) through 98 at-bats for Springfield. In that span, he established a solid 13-to-9 strikeout to walk ratio as well.

The 2018 Peoria Chiefs mid-season and post-season All-Star’s month was highlighted by him being named Texas League Player of the Week on July 14. Overall with Springfield, Gonzalez is slashing .317/.368/.525 with five doubles, eight homers and 34 runs drive in over 36 games.

While many scouts view Gonzalez as upper-level organizational depth, some Cardinals prospects tend to end up being better than most think, ala Luke Voit. He certainly has a chance to be a big-leaguer, especially if he keeps hitting.

Gonzalez has set both short-term and long-term goals going forward.

“I’m trying to move up,” Gonzalez said. “I’m trying to keep going for my goal. All my life I just want to get to the bigs. I’m pretty sure that is every player’s goal. If I stay (at Springfield), I just want to get a championship. I want a ring. I want to celebrate with my boys and have a great time.

“That is all that matters right now.”


Honorable Mentions

Runner-up is Memphis outfielder Randy Arozarena, who finished the month with a .378 batting average. The 24-year old Cuban native also had an impressive 1.047 OPS in 27 games for Memphis in July.

The Cardinals organization’s reigning Player of the Month from June collected 14 extra-base hits (10 doubles, one triple and three homers), drove in 17 runs and swiped three bags in six chances. His month was headlined by hitting for the cycle in five innings on July 26th.

After perhaps the most robust month of his professional career, Arozarena is buliding his case to make his major-league debut at some point in 2019.

“He could help our major league club in a lot of ways,” Memphis manager Ben Johnson told the media. “He brings a lot of skill to the table. With that being said, our big league club has a lot of talent there, too. But I think at some point, if the fit were right, Randy could definitely go up and help our Major League club without a question.”

Randy Arozarena

Another who received consideration was outfielder Lane Thomas, who slashed .347/.388/.667 in 20 games for Memphis this month. He had second-best OPS of anyone in the Cardinals system with a 1.054 mark. The 23-year old slugged six homers and recorded 19 RBIs for the Triple-A club before being promoted to St. Louis.

Lane Thomas

At Low-A Peoria, third baseman Brendan Donovan had a month to remember, slashing a system-best .390/.489/.675 but in 20 fewer at-bats than Gonzalez and Arozarena as well against lesser competition. The 22-year old posted the best OPS (1.164) in the system with as many extra-base hits (14) as RBIs for Peoria this month.

Donovan is a name to keep an eye on if he is able to sustain his production as he moves ahead to higher levels.

Brendan Donovan

Back to Springfield, 20-year old sensation Dylan Carlson continued his breakout year and proved in July that his first half was not a fluke. The switch-hitting outfielder slashed .301/.389/.602 in 23 games. Of his 28 hits for the month, 14 of those went for extra-bases. He also had his most powerful month of the 2019 season, slugging seven homers in July for the S-Cards.

Dylan Carlson

Down at short-season Rookie Johnson City, second baseman Chandler Redmond continued to be a valuable middle-of-the-order bat for the Appy League Cardinals. His OPS was .882 in 24 games and hit five home runs while driving in 16.

Chandler Redmond


Update


What’s Next

Next up will be The Cardinal Nation’s July Pitcher of the Month announcement as well as the Cardinals organization’s choices of their top performers in the fourth month of the 2019 season.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation – Hear more from Gonzalez

Yariel Gonzalez Plays for Puerto Rico – and to Reach the Majors


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.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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

Johan Oviedo Emerging at Double-A

Cuban native Johan Oviedo was one of St. Louis’ top signings in the 2016-2017 international class and is now beginning to realize his potential at Double-A Springfield. Derek Shore talks with the big right-handed pitcher and his managers prior and current.

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

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

This is the first installment of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series as we name our Players and Pitchers of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals system. While the Cardinals recognize their top players as well, we undertake independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.

Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of June system-wide pitching leaders.

Fagalde repeats

While a number of starters in the Cardinals system had strong Junes, one hurler distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch of pitching to earn a promotion to Double-A Springfield, not missing beat while further boosting his prospect stock.

Alex Fagalde (Palm Beach Cardinals)

Our June Pitcher of the Month is former High-A Palm Beach ace and now Springfield hurler Alex Fagalde, who should have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization June Pitcher of the Month honors.

In 29 ⅓ innings, TCN’s No. 33 prospect Fagalde went 2-0 and led the entire Cardinals system with a minuscule 0.31 ERA. To put that into perspective, the right-hander allowed only one earned run during June.

Fagalde struck out 21 batters and walked seven through five starts (three at Springfield and two with Palm Beach). Prior to his promotion, he ranked second in the Florida State League with a 1.99 ERA and paced the circuit with a 0.88 WHIP.

His month was highlighted by being named a FSL mid-season All-Star as well as tossing eight shutout innings in his Double-A debut on June 17, the longest start of his professional career.

“I threw a lot of strikes,” Fagalde told the media after that game. “I was in the zone a lot, and they’re an aggressive team. They were swinging early in the counts. I was just trying to keep them from hitting it too hard. They definitely got pitches to hit there in the strike zone and just missed the barrels a lot.”

From a scouting perspective, Fagalde’s fastball ranges from 86-90 mph, but hitters struggle to pick it up well and often swing through it. Some believe he has an exceptional spin rate that helps it play up. His primary secondary pitches include a slider he locates well along with a splitter.

He commands all three of his pitches, with his fastball command being plus. His stuff is so effective because he throws them all with the same delivery and arm slot, working up and down in the zone.

Fagalde has defied the odds throughout his career since being a 30th round draft pick in 2017 and a player who has always been old for his league. Scouts like him best as upper level organizational depth, but he has pitched well wherever he’s been at and it is hard not to pay attention to the numbers he has put up, including now at Double-A.


Honorable Mentions

Kyle Leahy (Peoria Chiefs)

Runner-up to Fagalde is Class-A Peoria workhorse Kyle Leahy, who allowed only two earned runs across five starts (31 innings) for the Chiefs this past month – until being touched for two more earned runs in five innings on the final day of the month. Further, the right-hander, who made a spot-start for High-A Palm Beach on June 18, gave up two earned runs on seven hits over just three innings in his FSL debut.

That outing was ultimately the deciding factor in choosing the June Player of the Month.

Alvaro Seijas (Peoria Chiefs)

17-year old starter Angel Cuenca led the way on the bump for the DSL Cardinals Red, posting a 0.67 ERA across five starts in the first month of the Dominican Summer League season. The Venezeluan native struck out 21 batters over 27 innings.

For the DSL Cardinals Blue, youngsters Reinys Portillo and Gustavo Rodriguez posted 1.80 and 1.89 ERAs, respectively. Those two were the anchors atop that pitching staff in June.

TCN’s No. 37 prospect Alvaro Seijas, who is repeating Peoria, quietly has put together a bounceback 2019, including a strong month of June. The 20-year old held a 2.20 ERA across five starts, striking out 26 batters over a system-high 32 ⅔ innings.


What’s Next

Next up will be The Cardinal Nation’s June Player of the Month announcement, coming Tuesday morning, as well as the Cardinals organization’s choices of their top performers in the third month of the 2019 season.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 1


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.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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

Ravelo Named The Cardinal Nation May Player of the Month

photo: Rangel Ravelo (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

This is the first of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series as we name our Player and Pitcher of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals themselves recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.

Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of May system-wide hitting leaders.


Ravelo claims TCN’s top hitting honors

Rangel Ravelo (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

While a number of hitters in the Cardinals system had strong performances in May, one hitter distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch of hitting to help carry the Triple-A Memphis offense.

Our May Player of the Month is Memphis three-hole hitter Rangel Ravelo, who should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization Player of the Month honors.

Among hitters, Ravelo led the Cardinals system with a .384 batting average, .460 on-base percentage, .606 slugging percentage and a 1.066 OPS over 29 games in May.

Ravelo also tied with TCN’s No. 2 prospect and Springfield outfielder Dylan Carlson for the system-lead in extra-base hits. The first baseman collected eight doubles, one triple and four homers while driving in 17 runs.

The month of May represented an impressive turnaround for Ravelo after he slashed .173/.253/.307 in 21 games to open the year in April after coming off the injured list.

During this past month, the 27-year old fell just one game short of tying Adam Kennedy’s franchise-best 20-game hitting streak, and the 27-year old is now on track to put together a third straight solid season for the Redbirds.

However, Ravelo has been stuck at Triple-A for parts of the last five seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Cardinals, and with the organization recently locking up first baseman Paul Goldschmidt long-term, it essentially serves to continue blocking the career minor leaguer’s primary path to the majors.

This is repeat recognition for Ravelo, who was both TCN’s and the Cardinals organization’s Player of the Month in June 2018.


Honorable Mentions

Dylan Carlson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Runner-up to Ravelo is Carlson, who slashed a steady .304/.393/.559 in 27 games in May for Springfield. The 20-year old switch-hitter continues his breakout season and has proven to be one of the most complete players in the Texas League, where he is among the season leaders in 10 offensive categories..

Last month, Carlson tallied a whopping 13 extra-base hits – four doubles, five triples and four homers. He also drove in 17 runs and swiped seven bags in nine chances for the S-Cards.

“For us, he has been very consistent,” Springfield manager Joe Kruzel said. “From the beginning to right now, he has probably been our most consistent player all-around.”

Julio Rodriguez (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Another player who received consideration is High-A Palm Beach catcher Julio Rodriguez, who slashed .333/.397/.536 in 19 May games. The 21-year old backstop slugged three home runs and drove in 14 runs for the Beach Birds.

Rodriguez, whose receives good reviews for his defense and especially his plus throwing arm, has impressed with the bat this season in the tough pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he has been named a 2019 All-Star. TCN’s no. 19 prospect seems primed for Springfield, and could move up even further in our rankings with a continued strong offensive showing.

Ivan Herrera (Peoria Chiefs)

At Low-A Peoria, catcher Ivan Herrera stood out. Herrera posted a .297/.376/.419 slash line with three doubles, two homers and 18 RBI in 20 games for the Chiefs. He accomplished that all while playing in a cold-weather league for the first time as a 19-year old.

According to scouts, Herrera has shown the ability to receive well behind the plate this season. He flashes an average arm and has gap type power. The Panamanian has a chance to be a solid backup on a major league club or become a regular on a second division team. He is currently 11th on TCN’s top 50 prospect list.


What’s Next

Next up will be The Cardinal Nation’s May Pitcher of the Month announcement, coming Sunday morning, as well as the Cardinals organization’s choices of their top performers in the second month of the 2019 season.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Set Dominican Summer League Red and Blue Rosters


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.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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

Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 5

The Springfield Cardinals had an uneven, but even 3-3 week in Texas League action. After dropping the three-game series at Amarillo (SD), Springfield took the four-game set at Frisco (TEX) to finish the week on a strong note. The rotation, paced by Williams Perez, is performing well.

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