photo: Rangel Ravelo (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
This is the first of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series as we name our Player and Pitcher 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 May system-wide hitting leaders.
Ravelo claims TCN’s top hitting honors
While a number of hitters in the Cardinals system had strong performances in May, one hitter distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch of hitting to help carry the Triple-A Memphis offense.
Our May Player of the Month is Memphis three-hole hitter Rangel Ravelo, who should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals organization Player of the Month honors.
Among hitters, Ravelo led the Cardinals system with a .384 batting average, .460 on-base percentage, .606 slugging percentage and a 1.066 OPS over 29 games in May.
Ravelo also tied with TCN’s No. 2 prospect and Springfield outfielder Dylan Carlson for the system-lead in extra-base hits. The first baseman collected eight doubles, one triple and four homers while driving in 17 runs.
The month of May represented an impressive turnaround for Ravelo after he slashed .173/.253/.307 in 21 games to open the year in April after coming off the injured list.
During this past month, the 27-year old fell just one game short of tying Adam Kennedy’s franchise-best 20-game hitting streak, and the 27-year old is now on track to put together a third straight solid season for the Redbirds.
However, Ravelo has been stuck at Triple-A for parts of the last five seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Cardinals, and with the organization recently locking up first baseman Paul Goldschmidt long-term, it essentially serves to continue blocking the career minor leaguer’s primary path to the majors.
This is repeat recognition for Ravelo, who was both TCN’s and the Cardinals organization’s Player of the Month in June 2018.
Runner-up to Ravelo is Carlson, who slashed a steady .304/.393/.559 in 27 games in May for Springfield. The 20-year old switch-hitter continues his breakout season and has proven to be one of the most complete players in the Texas League, where he is among the season leaders in 10 offensive categories..
Last month, Carlson tallied a whopping 13 extra-base hits – four doubles, five triples and four homers. He also drove in 17 runs and swiped seven bags in nine chances for the S-Cards.
“For us, he has been very consistent,” Springfield manager Joe Kruzel said. “From the beginning to right now, he has probably been our most consistent player all-around.”
Another player who received consideration is High-A Palm Beach catcher Julio Rodriguez, who slashed .333/.397/.536 in 19 May games. The 21-year old backstop slugged three home runs and drove in 14 runs for the Beach Birds.
Rodriguez, whose receives good reviews for his defense and especially his plus throwing arm, has impressed with the bat this season in the tough pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he has been named a 2019 All-Star. TCN’s no. 19 prospect seems primed for Springfield, and could move up even further in our rankings with a continued strong offensive showing.
At Low-A Peoria, catcher Ivan Herrera stood out. Herrera posted a .297/.376/.419 slash line with three doubles, two homers and 18 RBI in 20 games for the Chiefs. He accomplished that all while playing in a cold-weather league for the first time as a 19-year old.
According to scouts, Herrera has shown the ability to receive well behind the plate this season. He flashes an average arm and has gap type power. The Panamanian has a chance to be a solid backup on a major league club or become a regular on a second division team. He is currently 11th on TCN’s top 50 prospect list.
Next up will be The Cardinal Nation’s May Pitcher of the Month announcement, coming Sunday morning, as well as the Cardinals organization’s choices of their top performers in the second month of the 2019 season.
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