(photo: Mike Mayers/USA TODAY Sports Images)
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. 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 June system-wide pitching leaders.
Mayers claims TCN’s top pitching honor
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 land a big-league call-up before the end of the month.
Our June Pitcher of the Month is Memphis starter Mike Mayers, who should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization and the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Month honors.
Among starters, Mayers led the Cardinals system with a minuscule 0.72 ERA, finishing second with a 0.88 WHIP and 29 strikeouts through 25 innings pitched in June.
The Cardinals 2013 third round selection allowed a combined two earned runs over his four starts before receiving a call-up to St. Louis on June 25.
The past two months have represented an impressive turnaround for the righty (3.67 May ERA and sub-1.00 June ERA) after posting a horrendous 8.15 ERA in four starts (17 2/3 innings) start off the season in April.
Moreover, the adjustments were simple for Mayers, who was stinger with baserunners, driving down his opponents’ batting average (.395 April, .259 May, and .194 June) drastically in addition to his WHIP (2.15 April and 1.51 May).
Had it not been for one abbreviated outing that skewed his monthly results, Mike O’Reilly might have been on the winning side of the spectrum. Regardless, the control artist continues to open eyes following being a virtually unknown product in the organization entering the 2017 season.
“O’Reilly has been really good since he got here,” Low-A Peoria manager Chris Swauger told the Peoria Journal Star. “Once he moved from the bullpen into the rotation, he was comfortable — he was a starter in college. He’s a guy who needs to establish his fastball and mix in his slider and changeup, and when it goes well, he can turn over a lineup three times.”
O’Reilly followed up a terrific May (1.83 ERA) with a tremendous June, posting the system’s second lowest ERA (1.75) among starters. The righty had a remarkable 0.62 WHIP and held opponents to a .115 average through 25 2/3 innings.
Springfield’s Dakota Hudson did not feature the same swing and miss results as the others above. The sinkerballer did boast the third-lowest ERA with a 1.93 mark, and his 1.13 WHIP is nothing to sneeze at either. His average of 12.9 pitches per inning was also one of the lowest among starters, so he was extremely economical this past month.
Hudson’s June 22 start marked the longest outing of his career, as he navigated through eight shutout frames to extend his quality start streak to eight games. He should be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Memphis sooner rather than later.
While he dealt with another back injury for part of the month, Luke Weaver was effective when on the mound with a 1.59 ERA through four starts. The slender-built righty had a 22-to-7 strikeout to walk over 17 innings hurled.
Next up among our honorable mentions is another sinkerball in Jake Woodford, who had a 2.10 ERA in 25 2/3 innings at High-A Palm Beach. Woodford worked into the sixth inning in each of his four starts, including three into the seventh while showing promise with a 1.01 WHIP.
Also with the Beach Birds, the often overlooked Ryan Helsley went a perfect 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA (five starts, 28 innings pitched), including a 23-to-7 strikeout to walk count.
Starting pitching prospects Sandy Alcantara (Springfield), Marco Gonzales (Memphis), and Diego Cordero (DSL Cardinals) delivered 2.35, 2.55, and 2.63 ERAs, respectively.
Next up will be The Cardinal Nation’s June Player of the Month announcement as well as the Cardinals organization’s choices of their top performers in the third month of the 2017 season.
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