The Cardinal Nation August 2023 Player of the Month – Thomas Saggese

photo: Thomas Saggese (Springfield Cardinals)

Edging out Peoria’s Jimmy Crooks, Springfield infielder Thomas Saggese is The Cardinal Nation’s August Player of the Month after dominating Texas League pitchers in his first month as a Cardinal. 11 finalists’ results are analyzed.

This article details the selection of The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Month for the last full month of the 2023 season. Considered were offensive results during August across the entire St. Louis Cardinals system. The winner as well as a group of runners up, or finalists, are highlighted.

Starting with the usual 60 plate appearances requirement, a total of 37 hitters in the system qualified. 11 further separated themselves with OPSes of .850 or above, which are our finalists. They include four between .850 and .899, five in the .900s, one in the 1.000’s and one really standing out with an OPS well over 1.100.

Specifically, with an OPS of 1.140 and other results that are also head and shoulders above the others, Springfield second baseman Thomas Saggese is our winner.


Triple-A Memphis, High-A Peoria and Low-A Palm Beach tied with three finalists while Double-A Springfield had two. The two short-season clubs –in the rookie-level Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League –concluded their seasons during the month, with no players having enough plate appearances to qualify.

The rookie level squads really struggled on the field this summer and their offenses were a major reason why. To that end, only one DSL Cardinals hitter had an OPS over .671 for the month, and Facundo Velasquez came in at just .714.

While Peoria had three finalists, there was a huge gap in results between that trio and the rest of their teammates. Specifically, the “best” of the five Chiefs non-finalist qualifiers (at .671) was 223 OPS points below the “worst” of the three Peoria finalists (at .900).

Just missed

Several others with good Augusts fell below the plate appearance qualification measure.

After missing out of consideration in both June and July because of time with St. Louis, the same thing occurred in August for Memphis first baseman Luken Baker. The big man played in just 10 games for the Redbirds last month but swatted an amazing eight home runs and drove in 21 while amassing a 1.449 OPS. Sadly, Baker is rarely used, residing on the Cardinals’ bench.

His new/old teammate Masyn Winn also had a hot start to August before his much celebrated promotion upward. More on that below.

The FCL club had two standouts in outfielders Jose Cordoba and Luis Piño. The former logged a .970 OPS but didn’t take a walk in 34 plate appearances. The latter had an .883 OPS, but his 29.3% strikeout rate stands out for the wrong reason.

Among qualifiers who were not finalists, Springfield’s Victor Scott swiped 16 bases in 18 tries, batted .330 and logged a decent .838 OPS. However, his walk rate is still too low at just 5.8% in August.


Please remember, this is NOT 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.

We will take two views of the data. The first look will be basic stats, followed by rate stats. Names are listed in the same sequence in both tables, in descending OPS order.

The stats

Thomas Saggese Spr 27 122 105 23 37 5 3 9 26 14 29 2 0 0.352 0.426 0.714 1.140
Jimmy Crooks Peo 24 103 95 16 36 10 0 4 22 7 17 0 0 0.379 0.427 0.611 1.038
Noah Mendlinger Spr 22 98 78 15 28 6 0 1 16 17 11 1 1 0.359 0.474 0.474 0.948
Kade Kretzschmar PB 16 62 52 9 18 2 1 1 8 7 11 2 1 0.346 0.452 0.481 0.933
William Sullivan PB 16 67 60 9 21 5 2 0 9 7 14 2 1 0.350 0.418 0.500 0.918
R.J. Yeager Peo 25 109 98 16 33 8 1 2 14 8 17 4 1 0.337 0.404 0.500 0.904
Chris Rotondo Peo 26 110 90 16 24 10 1 3 17 14 26 4 0 0.267 0.400 0.500 0.900
Ivan Herrera Mem 22 103 75 18 23 4 0 1 12 23 16 1 1 0.307 0.485 0.400 0.885
Nick Dunn Mem 24 107 87 17 29 5 0 1 11 20 10 0 0 0.333 0.458 0.425 0.883
Zach Levenson PB 20 91 80 18 21 3 1 6 18 8 18 1 0 0.263 0.330 0.550 0.880
Chase Pinder Mem 15 60 51 9 14 3 0 3 14 6 15 0 0 0.275 0.367 0.510 0.877
Thomas Saggese Spr 122 0.32 17 75 0.406 0.362 0.483 11.5% 23.8%
Jimmy Crooks Peo 103 1.63 14 58 0.432 0.232 0.412 6.8% 16.5%
Noah Mendlinger Spr 98 1.05 7 37 0.403 0.115 1.545 17.3% 11.2%
Kade Kretzschmar PB 62 2.29 4 25 0.425 0.135 0.636 11.3% 17.7%
William Sullivan PB 67 1.27 7 30 0.457 0.150 0.500 10.4% 20.9%
R.J. Yeager Peo 109 0.66 11 49 0.392 0.163 0.471 7.3% 15.6%
Chris Rotondo Peo 110 0.74 14 45 0.344 0.233 0.538 12.7% 23.6%
Ivan Herrera Mem 103 2.36 5 30 0.373 0.093 1.438 22.3% 15.5%
Nick Dunn Mem 107 0.92 6 37 0.368 0.092 2.000 18.7% 9.3%
Zach Levenson PB 91 0.72 10 44 0.259 0.288 0.444 8.8% 19.8%
Chase Pinder Mem 60 0.92 6 26 0.324 0.235 0.400 10.0% 25.0%

With a large gap of 102 points between the top OPS and the second and another 90 points between the second and the other finalists, the identity of our winner is obvious.

Thomas Saggese

Springfield second baseman Thomas Saggese had a tremendous first full month as a Cardinal and is our very deserving winner. But Peoria catcher Jimmy Crooks also had the numbers to win this award most months.

Saggese led the Cardinals system in hits (37), extra base hits (17), runs scored (23), triples (three), home runs (nine), RBI (26), slugging (.714), OPS (1.140) and isolated power (ISO at .362) plus he was third in batting average (.352).

Despite a reputation as a free swinger, Saggese had a credible 11.5% walk rate. His strikeout rate of 23.8% is consistent with his career norm. Also note his strong tendency to put the ball in the air, as evidenced by his .32 to 1 ground out to fly out ratio.

Along with Saggese’s strong debut, there were many other notable August performances, starting with Crooks.

Jimmy Crooks

Peoria’s catcher had a tremendous month, starting with the system’s top batting average at .379. His hit total of 36 was just one behind Saggese. While Crooks had “only” four home runs, he tied for the organization’s lead with 10 doubles, pointing to even better results ahead. His .611 slugging was second in the system to Saggese.

Noah Mendlinger

Springfield’s Noah Mendlinger posted an impressive .359 batting average, second in the system. Walking more than he struck out, 17 to 11, powered Mendlinger’s on-base mark of .474, which was also second in the organization.

Iván Herrera

With an amazing walk rate of 22.3% in August on 23 free passes taken (against just 16 strikeouts), both system bests, Ivan Herrera backed that up with a solid .307 batting average. Together, they created an OBP of .485, best in the Cardinals organization as the Memphis catcher continues his strong 2023 season.

Of minor concern was that 18 of Herrera’s 23 hits were singles, making his .400 slugging percentage the lowest among our 11 finalists. His ground out to fly out ratio of almost 2.4 to 1 was highest among our August leaders.

Nick Dunn

The third finalist with more walks (20) than strikeouts (10) was our June Player of the Month, Nick Dunn. Then with Springfield but now with Memphis, the second baseman quickly adapted to Triple-A, batting .333 with a .458 OBP for the Redbirds in August.

Chris Rotondo

Despite batting just .267 in August, Peoria outfielder Chris Rotondo made his hits count, with 14 of 23 going for extra bases. That included a system-tying best 10 doubles. Rotondo was also perfect in four stolen base attempts.

Zach Levenson

Newly signed after being selected in the fifth round of the 2023 draft from the University of Miami, Palm Beach outfielder Zach Levenson had a strong first full month as a professional. He slammed six home runs, third in the system behind Saggese and Baker, with a .550 slugging mark that is third among finalists after Saggese and Crooks.

Also notable is that Levenson accomplished this despite a very low .259 BABIP.

Speaking of BABIP, there were a lot of high counts in August, with the top five finalists in OPS all posting BABIPs over .400. Of course, some good fortune contributes to good results. However, it should also be noted that Saggese has never had a season BABIP below .350 in his career.

Other August finalists include two more newcomers at Palm Beach, Kade Kretzschmar and William Sullivan, plus Peoria’s R.J. Yeager and Memphis outfielder Chase Pinder.

About the winner

Thomas Saggese (Frisco RoughRiders)

Saggese’s August was not a flash in the pan. Before joining the Cardinals organization from Texas in the Montgomery-Stratton trade, he was tearing up the Texas League for Frisco.

His 26 RBI with his new club in August increased his season total to 104, best in the league in 2023, same as his .322 average. And his 24 home runs in aggregate is second only to new teammate Chandler Redmond (28), making a Texas League Triple Crown a possibility, not to mention the league MVP award.

Saggese leads all Minor League Baseball in hits (152) and total bases (263) and is among Double-A leaders in 11 offensive categories this season.

The infielder debuted on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List at number 10.

How did last month’s winner fare?

Masyn Winn

After 10 games in August, our July winner Masyn Winn received a promotion to St. Louis. He earned it by remaining red-hot into the month, slashing .325/.391/.550/.941 over 46 plate appearances with Memphis. While the shortstop has not performed at the same level in his Major League introduction, the future of our number one Cardinals prospect remains bright.

What is next?

Check back on Sunday for The Cardinal Nation’s August Pitcher of the Month announcement. The Cardinals organization should also name their own selections of Player and Pitcher of the Month in the coming week.

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