When it was time to name the Players of the Month for the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system for the month of April, the Springfield Cardinals had two very strong candidates. The Cardinal Nation went with outfielder James Ramsey, while the Cardinals organization made first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez their choice.
We were both spot on as the two were among five S-Cards named to the 25-man North Division team, which will compete in the 2014 Texas League All-Star Game on June 24. The other three Cardinals honorees are catcher Cody Stanley, and two relievers, right-hander Joe Donofrio and lefty Kyle Hald. From among the position players, Ramsey and Stanley were named starters with Rodriguez designated a reserve.
Just like in the first of his two seasons as a Cardinal, Ramsey got off to a fast start. The 24-year-old claimed the Texas League's initial Player of the Week Award and continued his hot hitting until being placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury on May 17.
At that time, Ramsey was tied for the Double-A lead with 11 home runs, which is still tied for second in the Texas League. Through 40 games, Ramsey is hitting .305, with 28 RBI, 34 runs and a league-leading .583 slugging percentage. The left-handed hitter was ranked as the Cardinals #8 prospect by The Cardinal Nation prior to the season.
As noted, Rodriguez, 24, also got off to a strong first month in Double-A, named the Texas League Player of the Week for April 21-26. After missing the first half of May due to a hamstring injury, it took several weeks for the right-handed hitter to heat up again. Overall, the Puerto Rican native is hitting .252 with five home runs, 23 RBI and 10 doubles through 42 games. Rodriguez was a 2013 Florida State League mid-season and post-season All-Star.
A top prospect coming into 2012 before his progress slowed the last two seasons, Stanley is enjoying a turnaround in his second year with Springfield. When Rodriguez and Ramsey slowed in May, Stanley helped pick up the slack, hitting .364 that month. Overall, the left-handed hitter is batting .298 with a .774 OPS in 42 games.
Stanley remains strong behind the plate. The 25-year-old is second in the league and first in the North Division with a 42.4% caught-stealing percentage, having thrown out 14 of 33 would-be base stealers.
After making a big jump from the Midwest League this season, Donofrio has been a major surprise as one of the Double-A league's top relievers. The Los Gatos, California native has a 1.33 ERA through 24 outings. With 34 strikeouts through 27 innings, Donofrio has the fourth-highest strikeout-per-nine innings ratio in the league at 11.33. The 25-year-old is also fifth in the TL with a .194 batting-average-against, and his 24 appearances ranks fourth.
Hald, 25, has been one of the Texas League's top starting pitchers even though he did not join Springfield from Palm Beach until April 20. The 25-year-old made his mark quickly, being named the Texas League's Pitcher of the Week for May 5–11. Overall, through nine starts, the Springfield, Virginia native has gone 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA, fifth-best ERA in the league. In 52 1/3 innings, he has struck out 38 and walked 20.
Former Springfield hitting coach Phil Wellman, now Arkansas manager, will pilot the North Division squad.
The 78th annual Texas League All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, June 24 at the home of the Arkansas Travelers, Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Last year, the Cardinals had six players named to the all-star team. Three were unable to play due to promotion with three others added as replacements.
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