Photo: Roel Ramirez (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)
It is once again time to select The Cardinal Nation’s Pitcher of the Month. This article covers play during June across the four full-season affiliates.
As a reminder, this is NOT the “Pitcher 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.
Among our group of nine June finalists, Roel Ramirez tallied the lowest ERA, lowest WHIP, and third best strikeout to walk ratio. The 26-year-old had to beat out new signing Kevin McGovern, as well as a group of both starters and relievers in order to become our Pitcher of the Month.
Read on for the details on how the decision was made, while recognizing a number of other mound standouts during the month, as well.
To qualify, a pitcher must have thrown at least 10 innings during June. That took our prospective candidate list from 71 down to 43. To make a list of nine finalists, an ERA of 3.50 or better was required. This cut line eliminated one pitcher (John Beller, Single-A, 3.77 ERA) who met the 10-inning qualifier but had an ERA between 3.50 and 4.00.
In the following tables, names are listed in descending ERA order.
Only three of the four full-season affiliates are represented among the group of finalists, as Peoria’s pitching staff struggled as a whole, and no pitcher was able to meet the qualifications. (Four pitchers had an ERA under 4.00, but none of them threw 10 or more innings. Of the pitchers that threw 10 or more innings, Connor Lunn was the closest to qualifying with a 5.01 ERA.) Triple-A Memphis has the most finalists with four, but Single-A Palm Beach has three of the top five pitchers in terms of ERA.
Three of the nine finalists posted an ERA under 1.00, while Dionys Rodriguez was close to joining them with a 1.10 ERA. Roel Ramirez and Kevin McGovern were the top competitors for this award, but Will Guay and Rodriguez also distinguished themselves in June.
Ramirez had the lowest ERA of the group. Both he and McGovern allowed just one earned run, but Ramirez tossed two more innings. They also allowed the same number of walks and hits combined, but McGovern had one more strikeout.
McGovern made his first appearance on June 17 after being signed by the Cardinals on June 10 from the Independent American Association. If he had pitched the full month, then he might have ended above Ramirez. However, Ramirez just edged out McGovern for the Pitcher of the Month award.
Further down the list, it is important to note Dionys Rodriguez’ strikeout total, as he finished the month with the most strikeouts among the finalists (27) despite throwing 16 1/3 innings. Three pitchers on this list threw over 23 innings and were unable to top Rodriguez’ strikeout total.
Also impressive, is that none of the top six pitchers on this list, in terms of ERA, surrendered a home run.
Ramirez also led the group in WHIP and hits allowed per nine innings. Even though McGovern walked fewer hitters, his WHIP was still slightly higher than Ramirez’. Despite having just the sixth highest strikeout rate among finalists, Ramirez had the third best strikeout to walk ratio, behind only McGovern and Rodriguez.
While McGovern posted the lowest walk rate of the group, he also tied for the lead in batters plunked (2). This gives him as many hit batters and walks as Ramirez, in two fewer innings.
Will Guay had the second highest strikeout rate, but also the highest walk rate. As a result, Guay had the second worst strikeout to walk ratio. The 24-year-old also led the group in wild pitches with three.
Among the three pitchers who threw 20 or more innings. Matthew Liberatore had the lowest WHIP, and hits allowed per nine, as well as the highest strikeout rate and best strikeout to walk ratio.
TCN’s Pitcher of the Month
As the winner of The Cardinal Nation’s June Pitcher of the Month recognition, Ramirez has been consistent and versatile. The reliever demonstrated an ability to pitch multiple innings and finish games. He was often used as the first pitcher out of the bullpen in Memphis, but he also finished two games. This ability to be effective in any situation was key for a Redbirds team that ranks 19th in ERA in the 20-team Triple-A East.
Ramirez allowed just a .136 batting average this month, and he walked a batter in just two of the nine games in which he made an appearance. The 26-year-old’s strong performance earned him a promotion to St. Louis at the end of the month.
This success marks a peak in Ramirez’ career with the Cardinals. After being acquired from the Rays in 2017 as part of the Tommy Pham trade, the right-hander did not excel in the Cardinals system, posting an ERA of 4.98 in Double-A in 2019 (although his 3.85 FIP was more positive).
Following the 2019 season, the former 8th round selection posted a 2.03 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. He never got the chance to build on this success, though, as the 2020 minor league season was cancelled due to COVID-19. This meant that Ramirez was limited to one competitive appearance in 2020, although it was his major league debut. It did not go well for him as he allowed four home runs and six earned runs in just 2/3 of inning.
Ramirez did not pitch the rest of the season and was even designated for assignment in September. However, he remained in the organization and was outrighted to the minors later in the week.
Ramirez’ strong month of June marks a clear improvement for his career. The lack of a 2020 season was unfortunate for Ramirez as he did not get to build on his strong AFL performance, but his success this month, and subsequent promotion, represent a strong rebound effort.
How Last Month’s Winner Fared This Month
Jake Walsh has not appeared in a game since May 30 and was placed on the seven-day IL on June 19. The right-hander posted a 1.29 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 14 innings across a stellar month of May.
What is next
On Friday, I will be back to disclose our Player of the Month for the Cardinals system during June. The Cardinals organization should announce its corresponding winners this coming week, as well.
The Cardinals organization made their corresponding announcement on Saturday, July 3.
Our Minor League Pitcher of the Month is LHP @libby3232 💪
Liberatore posted a 3-1 record and a 3.42 ERA in four starts for Memphis in June, striking out 24 across 23.2 IP, with a 1.01 WHIP. Earlier this month, he helped USA Baseball qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics. pic.twitter.com/j7SycdalzH
— Cardinals Player Development (@CardsPlayerDev) July 3, 2021
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