Prieto and Saladin Named Cardinals Top Minor Leaguers for May

photo: César Prieto (Memphis Redbirds)

Darlin Saladin led all organizational pitchers with a 0.69 ERA, including 15.0 scoreless inning streak; Cesar Prieto among Cardinals minor league leaders in OPS, HR, RBI; set monthly high for XBH.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals today (Wednesday, June 5) announced their selections for Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for May, with Memphis Redbirds (AAA) infielder César Prieto and Palm Beach Cardinals (A) right-handed starting pitcher Darlin Saladin taking home the honors.

César Prieto

Prieto, 25, ranked among all qualified Cardinals minor leaguers in OPS (.880, 2nd), extra-base hits (14, 2nd), home runs (5, T2nd), slugging percentage (.537, 2nd), total bases (51, 3rd), RBI (15, 4th), and runs scored (16, 4th). His 14 extra-base hits and eight doubles in May both established new single-month career-highs. The left-handed batter reached safely in 20 of his 24 games played, and had a 20-game on-base streak from April 26-May 21. It is Prieto’s first career organizational Minor League Player of the Month award selection.

“César Prieto’s productive month produced seven multi-hit games with a .880 OPS, helping Memphis to their 17-12 record in May,” said Cardinals Assistant GM & Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque.

The 5’9”, Cuban native was acquired by the organization at last year’s trade deadline from Baltimore along with pitchers Drew Rom and Zack Showalter in exchange for Jack Flaherty. He finished sixth in all of Minor League Baseball last season with 161 hits between the Orioles and Cardinals organizations, while also ranking sixth-lowest among full season minor leaguers in strikeout rate (9.6%). He entered 2024 as the Cardinals No. 17 prospect and “Best Hitter for Average” by Baseball America and is currently slashing .297/.335/.508 with 9 HR, 22 extra-base hits, 29 runs and 29 RBI in 49 games with Memphis.

Darlin Saladin

Saladin, 21, posted a 1-0 record with a 0.69 ERA (2 ER/26.0 IP), 0.81 WHIP with 37 strikeouts across five starts in May. He began the month with a 15.0 inning scoreless streak and back-to-back quality starts, while matching his career single-game high with nine strikeouts on May 1 vs. Daytona. He ranked among the organization’s monthly leaders in ERA (1st), WHIP (2nd), strikeouts (T2nd), and opponent average (2nd, .157) and only allowed one extra-base hit (double) across his 96 batters faced. The 6’0”, Dominican native is the fourth different foreign-born player to take home Pitcher of the Month honors since the start of 2021, joining RHPs Hancel Rincón (May 2023), Inohan Paniagua (June & July 2022) and Wilfredo Pereira (July 2021).

“Darlin Saladin started five games, striking out 37 with just seven walks and limited opponents to a .387 OPS, while Palm Beach competes to win the first half of the Florida State League East Division,” stated LaRocque.

Signed as an international free agent in September 2019, Saladin pitched his first two professional seasons for the club’s Dominican Summer League affiliate from 2021-22 before coming stateside to pitch for the Florida Complex League Cardinals (12 games) and Palm Beach (1 game) in 2023. Through eight games (seven starts) at Single-A Palm Beach this season, Saladin owns a 2-0 record with a Florida State League leading 1.98 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 51 strikeouts across 41.0 innings pitched and has yet to allow a home run this season.

Brian Walton’s take

Congratulations to the winners. Earlier, The Cardinal Nation selected Saladin and Prieto’s teammate first baseman Luken Baker as our May choices for Pitcher and Player of the Month.

Refer to these articles for full May stats from the winners and top candidates.

The Cardinal Nation May 2024 Player of the Month – Luken Baker

The Cardinal Nation’s May 2024 Pitcher of the Month – Darlin Saladin

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