The Cardinal Nation August Player of Month

At a higher level of play, outfielder Mike O'Neill repeats as the top player across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system.

What can you say about a player that was the hottest hitter in the St. Louis Cardinals system in the summer's hottest months? I say Mike O'Neill is The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month - again.

After considering the candidates for the previous Player of the Month in the system, O'Neill, then at Palm Beach, had to be our choice. The outfielder won the July award from the Cardinals organization, as well.

Still, it was nagging at me a bit that O'Neill had seemed to have been left at the A-Advanced level too long, rather than challenged at Double-A. The left-handed hitter was batting a lusty .342 in what is considered a pitchers' league, the Florida State League. The Cardinals addressed those concerns when they promoted the 24-year-old to Springfield on August 12.

Despite the wait, it would have been understandable, perhaps expected, had O'Neill struggled in his initial period in the Texas League, as adjustments are often needed. Instead, at the higher level, O'Neill picked up his game even more.

Interestingly, he had been slumping over the first 10 days of August, batting .273 in what was his final period with Palm Beach. Once he arrived in Springfield, however, O'Neill shifted into another gear. He hit .563 (18-for-32) with a .634 on-base percentage and an OPS of 1.353 in 12 Double-A games to finish the month.

Between both stops, O'Neill had numbers that would have made Ted Williams proud. The Texas League playoff and Arizona Fall League-bound outfielder batted .415 (27-for-65) with a .513 on-base percentage and 1.006 OPS in 22 August games.

As the data below indicates, others had better power numbers and drove in more runs, but the next nearest competitor to O'Neill batted 33 points less and a whopping 42 points distanced him from the challenger with the next-best on-base mark.

That kind of dominance is why O'Neill repeats as The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month, adding August to his July award. Earlier, he was announced as the Cardinals organization's back-to-back winner, as well.

Other August hitting notables

In any other month, a line of .355/.407/.618 might be enough to become the Player of the Month. Add to that 18 RBI in 23 games and you can see that Johnson City infielder Bruce Caldwell has a strong case. The 15th-round pick from the 2012 draft was rewarded in another manner as he was promoted to Batavia after the Appalachian League playoffs ended.

Caldwell's teammate and infield partner at Johnson City, Ildemaro Vargas, has joined him with Batavia, but not until Vargas batted a cool .367 last month. The 21-year-old finished third in the Appy League batting race, but most eye-catching from his August results may have been his .582 slugging percentage, tied for second-highest among this group.

Infielder Brett Wiley had everything going his way in 16 games in the Gulf Coast League. His average and OBP was even better than Caldwell and Vargas at .382 and .453, respectively. Wiley's teammates, infielder Kenny Peoples-Walls and catcher Steve Bean, each had a strong August, as well. It is no wonder the GCL Cardinals were division-winners.

As O'Neill went upward last month, Alan Ahmady went down, returning to Palm Beach from Springfield. The outfielder did not let the step backward affect his hitting, as he logged a .313 batting average and a .936 OPS between the two stops.

Stephen Piscotty drew a lot of attention as one of the Cardinals supplemental first-round draft picks this June. The third baseman was placed at Class-A Quad Cities and delivered in August. Piscotty drove in 17 runs in 30 games while batting .305.

Since his recovery from ligament surgery on his thumb, Batavia first baseman Danny Stienstra has been making up for lost time. The 23-year-old plated 16 last month to go with a .358/.410/.519 line for a red-hot Muckdogs club that went 16-3 to close out August.

O'Neill PB-S 0.415 22 65 27 5 0 0 12 4 0.513 0.492 1.006
Ahmady S-PB 0.313 26 64 12 20 6 0 3 12 8 14 0 0.389 0.537 0.936
Piscotty QC 0.305 30 118 14 36 8 1 3 17 9 14 1 0.379 0.466 0.845
Stienstra Bat 0.358 28 106 18 38 6 1 3 16 9 8 5 0.410 0.519 0.929
Caldwell JC 0.355 23 76 23 27 6 1 4 18 8 18 1 0.407 0.618 1.025
Vargas JC 0.367 25 98 36 8 2 3 7 10 0.407 0.582 0.989
Bean GCL 0.357 13 42 7 15 4 0 0 7 8 10 0 0.471 0.452 0.923
P-Walls GCL 0.358 16 53 8 19 1 1 2 8 0 10 2 0.393 0.528 0.921
Wiley GCL 0.382 16 55 9 21 4 2 1 7 6 12 1 0.453 0.582 1.035

Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly award selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.

Player of Month   Pitcher of Month  
2012 The Cardinal Nation Cards organization The Cardinal Nation Cards organization
April  Oscar Taveras Oscar Taveras Seth Maness Seth Maness
May Colin Walsh Colin Walsh Richard Castillo Trevor Rosenthal
June Xavier Scruggs Oscar Taveras Ryan Sherriff Ryan Sherriff
July Mike O'Neill Mike O'Neill Tyler Melling John Gast
Aug Mike O'Neill Mike O'Neill Shelby Miller Shelby Miller

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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