photo: John Nogowski (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
It is again the time to select The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Month. This covers play during June across the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league affiliates.
There were a number of June parallels between the major league Cardinals and their Triple-A club in Memphis. Both teams struggled, losing five straight before closing the month with a victory on the 30th. Memphis’ issues were even greater, as the club went just 11-16 during the month, while falling into last place in its division.
Though the team as a whole scuffled, that doesn’t mean there weren’t top performers. In fact, the Redbirds featured the two highest average and OPS hitters in the entire Cardinals system last month – and both are first basemen!
Rangel Ravelo also plays the corner outfield and was honored during the month with his first-ever promotion to the majors. John Nogowski is a first base-only player who couples a smooth glove with a potent bat.
With a strong combination of batting average, power and production, Nogowski is our choice as the June Player of the Month.
In addition to the accomplishments of the Memphis pair, I will note many other offensive standouts during the month, as well.
Please remember, this is NOT is the “Player 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.
To qualify, a player must have taken at least 40 at-bats in June. That narrowed our population down to 50 players. To make the list of 12 finalists, an OPS of .850 or higher was required.
We will take two views of the data. First look will be at counting stats, followed by rate stats. Names are listed in the same sequence in both tables, in descending OPS order.
Counting stats – finalists
|Gustavo A. Rodriguez||DSLB||76||25||14||9||1||1||39||20||6||23||0||0||0.865|
|Brendan Donovan||Peo IL||62||17||12||3||0||2||26||10||18||13||2||1||0.851|
As noted, Ravelo and Nogowski led the way in OPS, but two others also finished the month over 1.000, an exceptional level of performance. Before we get to them though, I want to call attention to Nogowski’s system-leading total off 11 doubles and his 23 runs batted in, tied for second in the organization.
In his professional debut in the 2018 Dominican Summer League, now-18-year old outfielder Diowill Burgos batted just .210 and had a .681 OPS. So no, I did not see this coming. Notice his highlighted count of 30 RBI, delivered in just 23 games, which is the most in the entire Cardinals system. Also, his walk total exceeded his strikeout count. A very impressive performance.
Randy Arozarena has been on this path before, but in 2019 so far, the prospect outfielder has been able to continue to hit well even after his promotion to Triple-A Memphis. His total of five June home runs split between Springfield and Memphis tied two others for second in the system after the surprise leader, S-Cards’ catcher Jose Godoy, with six.
Another with five long balls is another Triple-A standout, shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who seems to be alternating hot and cold months, with June a really good one.
One of Sosa’s partners up the middle for the Redbirds is second baseman Irving Lopez, whose line is very comparable to Sosa’s, albeit with 44 fewer at-bats.
Three more DSL hitters are next in the OPS sequence, all with marks between .862 and .876. Outfielder Hansel Otamendi is showing little power, but drew considerably more walks than strikeouts taken and was 4-for-4 stealing bases. Fellow DSL Blue outfielder Gustavo A. Rodriguez hit nine doubles and drove in 20. Sticking with the outfield theme, Red’s Claudio Ramirez delivered a balanced performance. Like Burgos, Ramirez scuffled in his 2018 debut, batting just .211.
Juan Yepez is back and hitting well for Peoria, but this marks his third year at the level. Like Lopez, Kramer Roberson actually hit better with Memphis than at Springfield. Note the infielder’s 23 RBI, equal to Nogowski.
Before he went on Peoria’s injured list on the 27th, Brendan Donovan continued to do what he does best – take walks. Only one Cardinal, DSL Red shortstop Albert Inoa (20) had more than Donovan’s 18 free passes taken in June.
Rate stats – finalists
|Gustavo A. Rodriguez||DSLB||0.329||0.352||0.513||0.865||7.3%||23.2%|
|Brendan Donovan||Peo IL||0.274||0.432||0.419||0.851||22.5%||17.3%|
It is a shame to have to choose between two over-.400 hitters, but not only did Nogowski barely edge Ravelo, .410 to .409, the latter was already recognized as our May Player of the Month. The two were also pushing a .500 on-base percentage during June and were two of four .600 sluggers, along with Burgos and Arozarena.
The Player of the Month
When all is considered, John Nogowski is the winner of The Cardinal Nation’s June Player of the Month honors. The right-handed hitter, left-handed thrower has been exceptionally consistent, moving into July with an active 15-game hitting streak, just five short of the team record. The 26-year old has eight multi-hit games during that span.
As noted, Nogowski led the system with his .410 average and 11 doubles in June, with his .479 OBP and 1.081 OPS second and .602 slugging ranked third.
Long before I sat down to do the analysis for this article, I happened to comment publicly about Nogowski’s exceptional defense.
Doesn’t show in the box score, but John Nogowski made at least three difficult scoops at 1B, saving errors for the left side of the IF, Max Schrock and Edmundo Sosa. Also extended his hitting streak to 14 games, but Memphis lost its fifth straight and is 2-for-last-22 at home.
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) June 30, 2019
After three years in the Oakland system, reaching high-A, the former Florida State star was released at the end of spring training 2017. Nogowski soon found a home in independent ball, where he caught the attention of the Cardinals by batting .402.
Just a few days more than two years ago, the Cardinals acquired his contract. Nogowski spent the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018 at Springfield, his path the Memphis seemingly blocked by Ravelo. Last season, Nogowski’s .312 average and 44 walks were both in the top 10 of the system and Baseball America labeled him the organization’s Best Strike-Zone Discipline hitter.
With Ravelo injured to open the season, Nogowski seized his chance to move up to Triple-A. Instead of sending him back down when Ravelo was activated, the organization allowed him to stay. The Redbirds lineup has benefited from both of them playing regularly.
Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation’s June Player of the Month, John Nogowski.
What is next
At the other end of my OPS-sorted spreadsheet for June are some prominent hitters in the Cardinals system. Next up for members of The Cardinal Nation will be a look at some who were expected to deliver more than they did last month.
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