The Cardinal Nation August Player of Month

Details behind why Xavier Scruggs is a very deserving selection as the Cardinals top player in August.

In preparing these awards, August is usually the most interesting month, as short-season players have reached their stride, providing interesting comparisons between newbies and more experienced players.

Yet in this case, the St. Louis Cardinals organization has already identified their top hitter in the system this past month. The winner was Memphis first baseman Xavier Scruggs.

Since that benchmark is already in place, we will compare stats from others to see if we come up with the same conclusion. One slight clarification is that I will be including the final day of the regular season, Monday, September 1, along with the August results.

To qualify, hitters must have at least 50 at-bats. As a result, 78 players were eligible.

General observations

It is easy to see why Memphis finished so strongly, coming from back in the pack to win its division. Seven different Redbirds hitters’ names appear among the August leaders below. Five of them are now with St. Louis.

On the other hand, Palm Beach and Springfield had just four names between them. Both clubs missed the post-season. At the other end of the experience spectrum, five Gulf Coast League Cardinals from the division champion club are among August’s top hitters.

Chasing Scruggs

Had Redbirds catcher Ed Easley not finished almost 50 at-bats behind Scruggs, he could have competed with the first baseman in counting stats. His averages were substantially better than his teammate, but would like have dropped with more opportunities.

The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for July, Gulf Coast League Cardinals outfielder Magneuris Sierra had a strong month in batting average and took his league’s title for the season.

As exceptional as Tommy Pham’s season was, the Memphis outfielder had yet to take home one of these Player of the Month awards. He was a very strong contender again, among the leaders in every one of the six categories documented below. That included the leading position in runs scored and a tie for second in stolen bases.

None of them can top Scruggs, however. The big first baseman was tops in the system in home runs, RBI, was second in OPS and runs scored and third in batting average. That across-the-board performance confirms his choice as The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for August.

Now, let’s look at the full lists of August system-wide leaders in a group of key offensive categories.

The leaders

There were 15 .300 hitters, eight with an OPS of at least .850 and the same number of hitters with at least one home run per week. Nine system-wide hitters drove in at least four runs per week. Seven players scored at least 18 runs while only five offensive players stole more than four bases.

Name Tm AVG BABIP AB   Name Tm OPS
Ed Easley Mem 0.391 0.400 69   Ed Easley Mem 1.159
Magneuris Sierra GCL 0.372 0.438 86   Xavier Scruggs Mem 1.103
Xavier Scruggs Mem 0.356 0.379 118   Eliezer Alvarez GCL 1.045
Eliezer Alvarez GCL 0.353 0.383 68   Derek Gibson GCL-PB 0.935
Greg Garcia Mem-Spr 0.337 0.429 83   Tommy Pham Mem 0.884
Malik Collymore GCL 0.329 0.462 73   David Washington PB 0.882
Justin Ringo Peo 0.324 0.355 111   Nick Thompson SC 0.878
Derek Gibson GCL-PB 0.323 0.317 65   Magneuris Sierra GCL 0.866
Anthony Ray JC 0.310 0.383 58        
Tommy Pham Mem 0.306 0.366 124        
Nick Thompson SC 0.304 0.333 92        
Jonathan Rodriguez Spr 0.303 0.384 99        
Brett Wiley SC 0.301 0.393 73        
Stephen Piscotty Mem 0.300 0.309 110        
Pete Kozma Mem 0.300 0.306 100        

 

Name Tm HR   Name Tm RBI
Xavier Scruggs Mem 9   Xavier Scruggs Mem 29
Ed Easley Mem 5   Ed Easley Mem 20
Randal Grichuk Mem 5   Casey Grayson JC 20
Rowan Wick Peo 5   Pete Kozma Mem 20
Tommy Pham Mem 4   Justin Ringo Peo 19
David Washington PB 4   Blake Drake JC 19
Casey Grayson JC 4   Rowan Wick Peo 17
Pete Kozma Mem 4   Tommy Pham Mem 16
        Alex Mejia Spr 16

 

Name Tm R   Name Tm SB
Tommy Pham Mem 29   C.J. McElroy Peo 12
Xavier Scruggs Mem 28   Tommy Pham Mem 11
Stephen Piscotty Mem 22   Oscar Mercado JC 11
Casey Turgeon JC 22   Robelys Reyes SC 8
Nick Thompson SC 19   Darren Seferina SC 8
Luke Voit PB 18        
Oscar Mercado JC 18        

Honorable Mentions – Short Season

Along with Sierra, the Gulf Coast League Cardinals were well-represented by .353-hitter Eliezer Alvarez, all-star second baseman Malik Collymore and outfielder Derek Gibson, who finished the season credibly helping out A-Advanced Palm Beach. Collymore’s BABIP of .462, while impressive, would be unsustainable.

Five members of the Appalachian League champions from Johnson City appear among the leaders. Casey Grayson was among the best home run hitters and RBI men, while Oscar Mercado excelled at stolen bases and run-scoring.

New York-Penn League title winner State College made a nice showing with five names. Outfielder Nick Thompson led the way, placing on three lists. Roommates and double-play partners Robelys Reyes and Darren Seferina swiped eight bags each.

Honorable Mentions – Full-Season

Though Memphis outfielder Stephen Piscotty slumped a bit mid-season, he batted .300 and was third in runs scored. Greg Garcia earned his way back to St. Louis while batting .337 while helping out at Springfield and Memphis.

Pete Kozma has finished seasons strongly before. So it was with the Redbirds this season. Not only did the shortstop bat .300 in August, he smacked four home runs and plated 20.

Palm Beach’s David Washington showed indications he may be ready to step up to Double-A next season with an August that ended with him among the top players in the system in OPS and home runs.

Peoria first baseman Justin Ringo had the kind of month that many expected from his teammate Rowan Wick. The outfielder struggled in his initial Midwest League exposure, but did complete the season among the August RBI leaders.

July’s winner in August

How did Magneuris Sierra, the consensus Player of the Month for July, fare in August?

As noted above, the answer is “quite well,” as the teenager rode a .438 BABIP to a .372 average. At the end of the GCL season, Sierra moved up to Johnson City and collected hits in five of six playoff games, going a respectable 7-for-24 (.292) with three steals.

Prior winners

  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
July   Tim Cooney Sam Gaviglio Chris Perry July
Aug   Marco Gonzales TBA TBA Aug
           
  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
July Magneuris Sierra Magneuris Sierra     July
Aug Xavier Scruggs Xavier Scruggs     Aug

Coming soon

The Cardinal Nation’s August Starting Pitcher of the Month and Relief Pitcher of the Month will be announced next. In addition, our final monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings is coming next week.



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

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