photo: Tommy Parsons (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
This is the first part 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 April system-wide pitching leaders.
Parsons claims TCN’s top pitching honors
While a number of starters in the Cardinals system had strong Aprils, one hurler distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch of pitching to get himself on the prospect radar.
Our April Pitcher of the Month is Low-A Peoria starter and TCN’s No. 50 prospect Tommy Parsons, who should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization and is a shoe-in to garner Midwest Pitcher of the Month honors.
In 30 innings, Parsons went 3-0 for the Chiefs and leads the Cardinals system with a minuscule 0.30 ERA (allowed one earned run the entire month), and 0.53 WHIP. Midwest League teams are hitting .109 against him.
The Peoria Chiefs Opening Night starter has struck out 23 batters and walked just five. Parsons, who also leads the MWL in ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched, has the league’s only complete game, a two-hit shutout against Quad Cities on April 22.
Parsons was named the MWL Pitcher of the Week in two of the three periods in April – the first and last.
“When he goes out there, we feel confident he’ll take us late into the game,” Peoria manager Erick Almonte told the Peoria Journal Star. “Tommy’s been great. He keeps hitters off balance with his breaking ball and can throw any of his three pitches for strikes on any count. What else can you say?”
Simply put, Parsons is a feel-good story. He went undrafted last year after four excellent seasons on the hill at Division III Adrian College. The 23-year old righty signed with the Cardinals on June 12, 2018.
Parsons is not a flamethrower, but he has topped out at 94 mph on his fastball. He sits more comfortably in the 90-91 range with an effective and curveball and changeup mix that has overmatched Midwest League hitters to this point.
Last summer, Parsons started his professional career at Rookie League Johnson City. He was 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA, striking out 43 through 57 innings of work.
For an undrafted DII pitcher, Parsons has written a masterful first chapter in his first month of his first full season of pro ball.
Runner-up to Parsons is TCN’s No. 14 prospect Jake Woodford, who also has a strong case to be named the organization’s top pitcher for April. The righty posted a 1.20 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Memphis.
If the right-hander keeps pitching like this, it may not be long before Woodford finds himself on a big-league mound in St. Louis.
One pitcher whp quietly put together a strong April is Peoria starter Diego Cordero, who like his teammate Parsons is in full-season ball for the first time in his career. The 21-year old southpaw had a 1.46 ERA in four starts for the Chiefs, posting a 20-to-9 strikeout to walk ratio over 24 ⅔ innings.
High-A Palm Beach Opening Night starter Johan Oviedo is also off to a terrific start to 2019. The big Cuban right-hander owns a 1.60 ERA over six games (five starts) that includes a 34-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio. Oviedo is also a perfect 5-0 on the season for the Beach Birds and seems primed for the Texas League.
Oviedo ranks as TCN’s No. 20 prospect.
Anthony Shew also received consideration. He is a bright spot in an otherwise struggling Springfield rotation. The righty held an ERA of 1.93 in five April starts for the S-Cards, including a 27-to-6 strikeout to walk ratio over 28 innings. His reward is a promotion to Triple-A Memphis received on Monday.
Shew is TCN’s No. 45 prospect.
Palm Beach starter Angel Rondon is also worthy of mention. He had a 3-0 record with a 2.08 ERA for the Beach Birds. The 21-year old Dominican struck out 25 batters and issued nine free passes over four starts (21 ⅔ innings pitched).
Rondon rated as TCN’s No. 35 prospect in April.
Lefty Austin Gomber put together a dominant month for Memphis, posting a 2.54 ERA in five starts for the Redbirds. Gomber led the system with 30 strikeouts and he also had a seven-inning complete game shutout on April 20 against Round Rock (HOU).
Gomber, who exceeded his prospect status last year after hurling 75 innings for the Cardinals, should be among the pitchers on the I-55 shuttle between Memphis and St. Louis in 2019.
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