Since then, the Redbirds have managed to scratch their way into sole possession of first place with just two games remaining. One of the spark plugs of their resurgence has been infielder Greg Garcia, The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for August.
When a player is promoted, opportunity is often created for others. So was the case when Kolten Wong received his first Major League call to St. Louis on August 15. Instead of rotating across the infield positions, Garcia essentially became the Redbirds' every-day second baseman and has brought the lumber.
To be fair, Garcia began his recent surge in July. The left-handed batter has hit safely in 26 of last 38 games at a .378 clip (41-for-110). His team-leading .368 average (32-for-87) in August is the third-highest in the entire Pacific Coast League.
Garcia's stats for the month add up to an impressive and symmetric OPS of 1.000 on a line of .368/.471/.529. He scored 16 runs, drove in 12 and was a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts. Among qualifiers across the system, Garcia was first in batting average, on-base percentage and OBP and fourth in slugging.
Of course, no one can remain on fire forever and there is some good fortune in any hot streak, as his August BABIP of .476 reminds. On the season, Garcia's line is .272/.378/.387/.765.
Though he is not yet on the Cardinals' 40-man roster, Garcia was a non-roster invitee to major league spring training camp and was The Cardinal Nation's 16th-ranked prospect coming into the season.
With his hot hitting and defensive versatility - having started 19 games at second, 67 at shortstop and eight at third - the seventh-round pick in 2010 from the University of Hawaii has to be playing his way into the big-league picture.
To come up with my top ten hitters for the month across the system, I selected only those with at least 50 August at-bats and an OPS over .835. The names are listed in OPS order.
|Rowan Wick||Johnson City||0.277||0.384||0.530||0.914|
|Steven Ramos||State College||0.364||0.408||0.500||0.908|
|Luis Cruz||Gulf Coast||0.280||0.351||0.520||0.871|
|Richy Pedroza||Johnson City||0.333||0.406||0.450||0.856|
|Brett Wiley||State College||0.318||0.378||0.471||0.849|
|Charlie Tilson||Peo-Palm Beach||0.317||0.379||0.458||0.837|
Garcia's closest competitor is a man who may be the most underrated player in the system this summer in State College outfielder Steven Ramos. The 23-year-old leads the New York-Penn League with a .362 batting average and with a 24-point lead with just four games remaining, seems to have clinched the title. In the short-season league, he is also third in OBP at .399. Ramos led the Cardinals system in August steals by a huge amount, going 14-for-16, and was also first in runs scored with 22.
Second in the system with six home runs in August and second in OPS as well is Johnson City outfielder/catcher Rowan Wick. The Canadian's bat was a steady force for the Appy League Cardinals all season long. On the downside, Wick fanned 32 times in 83 at-bats.
Outfielder Stephen Piscotty is ramping up for his upcoming Arizona Fall League campaign with a solid August at Double-A Springfield during which the 2012 first-rounder batted .330.
Among the standouts is a trio of recently-promoted players, doing well at their new levels. Infielders Trevor Martin at Peoria and Brett Wiley at State College just finished their first full month after stepping up. Palm Beach outfielder Charlie Tilson was promoted during August, a month in which the speedster topped the system with five triples.
All things considered, Greg Garcia's August numbers stood out above these other strong performers. Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player of the Month.
How did July's winner fare in August?
As July came to a close, The Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals organization agreed that Palm Beach's Jonathan Rodriguez was the top player system-wide during the month.
The first baseman had a good but uneven August. On one hand, he blasted seven home runs to lead the organization and had more walks, 22, than strikeouts (20). His OPS was a solid .829. However, Rodriguez had very bad luck with a .229 batting average fueled by an unbelievably-low .218 BABIP.
Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
|Player of Month||Pitcher of Month|
|2013||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization|
|April||Jamie Romak||Tommy Pham||John Gast||John Gast|
|May||Kolten Wong||Kolten Wong||Kevin Siegrist||Kevin Siegrist|
|June||Anthony Garcia||Anthony Garcia||Carlos Martinez||Carlos Martinez|
|July||Jonathan Rodriguez||Jonathan Rodriguez||Tyler Lyons||Tyler Lyons|
Our Pitcher of the Month for August will be revealed Monday followed by our final monthly update to the Cardinals prospect rankings from one through 40 along with the explanation why, the latter exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.
On Wednesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals organization also named Garcia the organization's Player of the Month for August. Cardinals director of minor league operations John Vuch commented on the winner.
"Greg had a tremendous all-around month, showing significant improvement as he completed his first AAA season. Not only did he hit for average and reach base at a high rate, but he also ran the bases well and played solid defense at three different positions."
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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