In preparing these monthly awards, July and August are most interesting as the short-season players have logged full months of results, making for some very challenging comparisons. The players at the lower four rungs of the system often really need to stand out to bring home the recognition.
Such was the situation in identifying the top hitter in the St. Louis Cardinals system this past month. 11 of the 17 .300 hitters with at least 50 at-bats during July competed in short-season ball, including three of the four hitters logging .350-plus averages.
However, one hitter clearly stands above them all with a lusty .439 average and the only OPS over 1.000 – in fact, it was almost 1.100. The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for July is Gulf Coast League Cardinals outfielder Magneuris Sierra.
In his very first full month of official play in the US, the left-handed batter was also among the system leaders in runs scored (21) and stolen bases (nine).
Further, it is important to note that Sierra, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 160 pounds, will not turn 19 years of age until next April. The San Cristobal, Dominican Republic native signed in July, 2012 for a $105,000 bonus.
Sierra “is a potential five-tool player who will develop easy power,” GCL Cardinals manager Steve Turco told TCN’s Paul Ivice. “He has a good swing, a good approach; it’s going to be hard to stop him from hitting, especially at the lower levels, but I think he will hit at all levels.”
Update: On Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals organization also announced Sierra as their Player of the Month for July.
Now, let’s look at the July system-wide leaders in a group of key offensive categories.
|Magneuris Sierra||GCL||0.439||0.493||82||Magneuris Sierra||GCL||1.087|
|Michael Pritchard||GCL||0.388||0.392||80||Michael Pritchard||GCL||0.952|
|Tommy Pham||MEM||0.380||0.529||71||Casey Turgeon||JC||0.951|
|Casey Turgeon||JC||0.354||0.416||96||Nick Martini||PB||0.944|
|Nick Thompson||SC||0.333||0.356||84||Rowan Wick||SC-PEO||0.942|
|Ed Easley||MEM||0.328||0.375||58||Malik Collymore||GCL||0.917|
|Derek Gibson||GCL||0.328||0.340||58||Collin Radack||SC||0.916|
|Collin Radack||SC||0.327||0.385||52||Mason Katz||PB||0.907|
|Malik Collymore||GCL||0.324||0.418||71||Nick Thompson||SC||0.905|
|Alex De Leon||SC||0.314||0.380||105|
|Randal Grichuk||MEM||8||Bruce Caldwell||PB||23|
|Rowan Wick||SC-PEO||5||Jake Stone||SC||23|
|Bruce Caldwell||PB||5||Rowan Wick||SC-PEO||22|
|Nick Martini||PB||4||Casey Grayson||JC||20|
|Mason Katz||PB||4||Malik Collymore||GCL||19|
|Xavier Scruggs||MEM||4||Robelys Reyes||SC||18|
|Luke Voit||PB||4||Mason Katz||PB||18|
|Michael Pritchard||GCL||23||C.J. McElroy||PEO||11|
|Nick Martini||PB||22||Oscar Mercado||JC||10|
|Alex De Leon||SC||21||Robelys Reyes||SC||9|
|Casey Turgeon||JC||21||Magneuris Sierra||GCL||9|
|Nick Thompson||SC||21||Darren Seferina||SC||9|
|Magneuris Sierra||GCL||21||Carlos Talavera||DSL||7|
|Danny Diekroeger||SC||20||Michael Pritchard||GCL||6|
Honorable Mentions – Full Season
Tommy Pham continues to hit for Triple-A Memphis. The outfielder’s .380 average was third-highest in the system, though his amazing .529 BABIP tempers the enthusiasm a bit.
In reality, the BABIP point can be made for Sierra and several other batting leaders as well. Still, this is about bottom line results in July and the averages are what they are.
Nick Martini stumbled in his brief Springfield introduction earlier this season, but seems to have the Florida State League figured out. In July, the outfielder batted .323 with a .944 OPS for Palm Beach that ranked fourth in the system. Martini drove in 15 and was second in the organization with 22 runs scored.
It is interesting that all seven of the hitters with four or more home runs during July compete in full-season ball. Further of note is that four of them play in the Florida State League, a circuit with big ballparks and a pitching slant.
Beach Birds Bruce Caldwell, Mason Katz and Luke Voit may not be among the batting average leaders, but all three rank among the top home run hitters and RBI producers last month. Caldwell tied for the lead the latter category with 23.
Memphis’ Randal Grichuk continues to blast long balls, with his eight last month being three more than anyone else. If the outfielder can cut down on the strikeouts, our May Player of the Month would seem to be well positioned to stick as a bench asset with St. Louis.
Honorable Mentions – Short-Season
OK, so Michael Pritchard was not drafted this June. The two-time All-Big Ten outfielder can play the game. Racking up stats against younger pitchers in the Gulf Coast League, the 22-year-old was second in the system in July batting average (.388) and OPS (.952), first in runs scored (23) and tied for seventh in stolen bases (six).
In his second summer in the GCL, things are coming together at the plate for second baseman Malik Collymore. The 19-year-old native of Ontario batted .324 with a .917 OPS. The right-handed batter drove in an impressive 19 runs, fifth-most in the organization.
Johnson City’s Casey Turgeon continues to play well. The second baseman was tied for third with 21 runs scored, his .354 average was fourth and his OPS was third, just behind Pritchard at .951.
State College’s Nick Thompson also had a fine July, coming in fifth with a .333 average, a .905 OPS, 16 RBI and 21 runs scored.
Thompson’s teammate Collin Radack is another name prominently-placed on the July leaderboards. The 22-year-old outfielder batted .327 while logging a .916 OPS.
June’s Winner in July
How did Rowan Wick, the consensus Player of the Month for June, fare in July?
The answer is, it depends.
The 21-year-old continued to tear up the New York-Penn League until his promotion to full-season Peoria on July 23. For that reason, Wick remains among the leaders in the tables above. Since the move, however, there has been a marked adjustment period to the higher level of play.
On the positive side, in his first 11 games in the Midwest League, Wick has two home runs and eight RBI. On the other hand, the left-handed hitter is batting just .238 and has struck out in over 45 percent of his at-bats (19 of 42).
|Pitcher of Month||Pitcher of Month||Starter of Month||Reliever of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||The Cardinal Nation||2014|
|April||Tim Cooney||Nick Petree||Justin Wright||April|
|May||Chris Perry||Chris Perry||(none)||(Perry)||May|
|June||Rob Kaminsky||Rob Kaminsky||Kyle Grana||June|
|Player of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||2014|
|April||James Ramsey||Jonathan Rodriguez||April|
|May||Randal Grichuk||Randal Grichuk||May|
|June||Rowan Wick||Rowan Wick||June|
The Cardinal Nation’s July Starting Pitcher of the Month and Relief Pitcher of the Month will be announced next. In addition, our fourth monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings is coming this week, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.
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