Bader, Flaherty Tops in the Cardinals System in 2017

photo: Harrison Bader (Memphis Redbirds)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Thursday, December 21) their 2017 Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year selections, honoring outfielder Harrison Bader and right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty for their accomplishments on the field. Both Bader and Flaherty made their Major League debuts in 2017.

Harrison Bader (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Bader, 23, batted .283 with 20 home runs and 55 RBI in 123 games played at Memphis (AAA). His 20 homers ranked third on the team, and his 55 RBI were T3rd among his teammates. During the course of the season, the speedy outfielder stole 15 bases, 2nd-most for Memphis. The right-handed hitting Bader was named Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month in July, batting .317 (32-for-101) over 21 games with six home runs and 12 RBI while going 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts. Bader played the majority of his games in centerfield for the Redbirds, starting 108 games at that position.

Bader’s contract was first purchased by St. Louis on July 25, and he made his Major League debut that night starting in centerfield and scoring the game-winning run on a walk-off sac-fly in the bottom of the 9th. He started six games for St. Louis before an option on July 31, and then was recalled on September 1 for the remainder of the season. He started 20 of his 27 games played for St. Louis, 17 in center, two in left-field and one in right-field.

“Harrison highlighted an outstanding season in Memphis with his first Major League promotion in July,” said Gary LaRocque, Cardinals Director of Player Development. “He returned to Triple-A to lead Memphis to the Pacific Coast League playoffs before a September call-up to St. Louis, earning him the 2017 Organization Player of the Year.”

Jack Flaherty (Memphis Redbirds)

Flaherty, 22, went a combined 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA in his fourth professional season. He began his 2017 season starting 10 games at Springfield (7-2, 1.42 ERA) where he allowed just 10 earned runs in 63.1 innings pitched. He was named Pitcher of the Week for April 17-23 after making two scoreless starts, spanning 13.2 innings and striking out 14 between the two. He was then named Texas League Player of the Month by Minor League Baseball for his 4-0 April (five starts) in which he had a stellar 0.56 ERA, leading the league in innings pitched (32.1) with 28 strikeouts and holding the opposition to a .191 average.

Flaherty was promoted to Memphis on June 1, and went 7-2, 2.74 ERA in 15 starts for the Redbirds. The 6’ 4”, 225-pound righty was named to the MLB All-Star Futures Game and pitched one inning. He was named the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the Month for August after five starts, posting a 4-1 record along with a 1.97 ERA, with 29 strikeouts during the month.

Flaherty made his Major League debut on September 1 at San Francisco in one of his five starts for the Major League club during the month of September (also one relief appearance). He was named a Post-Season All-Star for the Texas League and selected to Baseball America’s 2017 Minor League All-Star Team.

“Jack started 2017 in Springfield with a promotion to Memphis, June 1,” commented LaRocque. “He started 25 games at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, and made his Major League debut in September, earning the selection as the Organization Pitcher of the Year.”

Bader was the Cardinals third-round selection (100th player overall) in the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft, while Flaherty was a first-round pick (34th overall) in 2014. Both players will be presented with their awards at the 2018 St. Louis Baseball Writers Association of America Awards Dinner on Sunday, January 14.

Brian Walton’s take

Congratulations to both winners, who are among the organization’s brightest prospects.

Back in October, The Cardinal Nation went through a detailed system-wide player evaluation process, naming Flaherty our 2017 cross-organization Starting Pitcher of the Year. However, in our analysis, catcher Andrew Knizner had a better 2017 than Bader, and was named TCN’s Player of the Year.

This past season, Bader’s weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) at Memphis was 111, against a team and league adjusted average of 100. Knizner’s corresponding marks at Peoria and Springfield were 124 and 133, respectively. Though the 23-year old outfielder has been a more decorated prospect and has reached St. Louis, Knizner, 22, has not.

All three – Flaherty, Bader and Knizner – are yet to come in TCN’s Cardinals 2018 top prospect rankings, with the countdown currently at #12.

Full details of TCN’s top player and pitcher selections along with over 40 additional Cardinals minor league honors for 2017 can be found here. (Some articles are member-only.) Top award winners over the last decade are available here.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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