2014 Cardinals Minors Hitting Leaders, Notes

Brian Walton’s commentary on a number of offensive leaders across the St. Louis Cardinals system. Xavier Scruggs led the organization in RBI and is now with St. Louis.

As I mentioned in my September top 40 prospect rankings article, in recent days I have been studying the stats leaders across the St. Louis Cardinals system in 2014.

In this piece, I will share the offensive lists as well as some observations. Even though I major on the minors for a living, when stepping back to look at the big picture, I discovered surprises along the way and I bet you will, too.

The ground rules

The main overarching decision I needed to make was where to draw the line in terms of minimum at-bats for the rate stats, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. I wanted to not exclude deserving short-season players, but still keep the data meaningful.

I ended up selecting 150 at-bats. For each of the categories shown below, I also made a decision where to stop the listing of names this article. I will call them out along the way.

As you will see in the pitching counterpart article yet to come, I dipped all the way down to 30 innings for the hurlers.

BA and OPS

We will start with two of the most-commonly referenced stats, batting average and on-base plus slugging percentage.

The system had an even 10 hitters who finished the season with a .300 batting average or better. It was interesting from a bookend-view with four Gulf Coast League hitters and three Triple-A ones.

In all fairness, it is difficult to fairly evaluate two proven college hitters, yet undrafted free agent signings in Michael Pritchard and Derek Gibson. One could argue the two should succeed against teenaged pitching.

An interesting reminder that Oscar Taveras and Shane Robinson placed in the top 10. Also note Tommy Pham’s five-month BABIP of almost .400.

On the OPS table, I drew the line for display purposes at .850. I wish I knew whether Rowan Wick’s out-of-this-world start at State College or his struggles at Peoria is closer to his reality.

Like Pham, Xavier Scruggs has toiled in the system for a long time and had a very solid season. The two were rewarded with first-time late season call ups to the majors.

Name Tm AVG BABIP AB   Name Tm AB OPS
Magneuris Sierra GCL 0.386 0.444 202   Rowan Wick SC-Peo 260 0.991
Malik Collymore GCL 0.333 0.430 177   Magneuris Sierra GCL 202 0.939
Michael Pritchard GCL 0.330 0.339 182   Tommy Pham Mem 346 0.886
Tommy Pham Mem 0.324 0.397 346   Malik Collymore GCL 177 0.883
Oscar Taveras Mem 0.318 0.337 239   Derek Gibson GCL-PB 151 0.880
Derek Gibson GCL-PB 0.318 0.341 151   Casey Turgeon JC 221 0.876
Breyvic Valera PB-Spr 0.311 0.331 521   Oscar Taveras Mem 239 0.872
Casey Turgeon JC 0.308 0.346 221   Xavier Scruggs Mem 472 0.864
Shane Robinson Mem 0.304 0.339 191          
Jacob Wilson PB-Spr 0.302 0.348 252          

OBP and SLG

11 players appear on each of the on-base and slugging leaderboards. They finished with .380 or better OBP or .460 or better SLG.

Though it could be argued that on-base and slugging skills are quite different, I found it very interesting that six of the 11 names are common to both lists.

Three of the OBP-heavy guys are 2014 draftees – Casey Turgeon and Casey Grayson of Johnson City and Nick Thompson at State College. It was nice to see a veteran reserve in Jermaine Curtis take advantage of his limited opportunities for Memphis. Same for his teammate Ed Easley.

Most of the names on the slugging list were expected, though it bears repeating that Magneuris Sierra and Malik Collymore of the GCL are two of the players on all four rate stats tables. The others are Pham and Gibson.

A few interesting names appear at the end of the SLG table in second baseman Jacob Wilson of Springfield and State College first baseman Alex Deleon.

Name Tm AB OBP   Name Tm AB SLG
Magneuris Sierra GCL 202 0.434   Rowan Wick SC-Peo 260 0.608
Casey Turgeon JC 221 0.428   Magneuris Sierra GCL 202 0.505
Michael Pritchard GCL 182 0.409   Oscar Taveras Mem 239 0.502
Malik Collymore GCL 177 0.403   Xavier Scruggs Mem 472 0.494
Derek Gibson GCL-PB 151 0.403   Randal Grichuk Mem 436 0.493
Nick Thompson SC 227 0.396   Tommy Pham Mem 346 0.491
Tommy Pham Mem 346 0.395   Malik Collymore GCL 177 0.480
Jermaine Curtis Mem 225 0.386   Derek Gibson GCL-PB 151 0.477
Rowan Wick SC-Peo 260 0.383   Ed Easley Mem 277 0.473
Casey Grayson JC 225 0.382   Jacob Wilson Spr 252 0.460
Shane Robinson Mem 191 0.380   Alex De Leon SC 239 0.460

Home runs and RBI

For the common run production lists, I ended up with top nine names by drawing the lines at 12 home runs or 55 RBI.

Scruggs and Randal Grichuk at the top were expected, as was Wick. Though the latter’s production was in just 260 at-bats, Mason Katz’ totals were close to Wick’s as the other 20-home run hitter in the system.

There is no doubt Patrick Wisdom had a forgettable season at Springfield, yet his 14 long balls were still seventh-most in the organization. Though Stephen Piscotty had a relatively-quiet season for Memphis, his fourth-highest RBI count is worth noticing.

A couple of very interesting names appear at the end of the RBI list. I am guilty of narrowly labeling Breyvic Valera as a .300 hitter only, but that is not fair. Only seven others drove in more runs than the outfielder/second baseman. Notice how often Valera appears on other lists, too.

The other is Juan Herrera, who adds considerable speed and plays a premium defensive position, shortstop.

Name Tm AB HR   Name Tm AB RBI
Randal Grichuk Mem 436 25   Xavier Scruggs Mem 472 87
Xavier Scruggs Mem 472 21   Randal Grichuk Mem 436 71
Rowan Wick SC-Peo 260 20   Mason Katz Peo-PB 413 71
Mason Katz Peo-PB 413 20   Stephen Piscotty Mem 500 69
David Washington PB 327 16   Rowan Wick SC-Peo 260 60
Scott Moore Mem 416 15   Nick Martini PB-Spr 454 60
Patrick Wisdom Spr 452 14   Scott Moore Mem 416 58
Cody Stanley Spr 385 12   Breyvic Valera PB-Spr 521 57
Bruce Caldwell Peo-PB 369 12   Juan Herrera Peo-PB 410 56

Doubles and triples

I am not sure why 11 seems to be such a common number, but that is exactly the quantity of organizational players with 20 or more doubles and with five or more triples during the 2014 season.

One often looks to doubles leaders for young players who may be able to lengthen those hits to home runs later.

On this list, Piscotty, Wilson and Herrera are back and worthy of note, as is another interesting name in Ronald Castillo. The outfielder hit 25 doubles while continuing to tease us as to what he could accomplish if he could just remain healthy for a whole season. Is Castillo becoming the new Tommy Pham?

A well-known prospect in Charlie Tilson was tied at the top of the three-base hits list by an emerging outfielder in Peoria’s Vaughn Bryan. Palm Beach’s Bruce Caldwell is an under-the-radar guy with interesting talents, also having launched a dozen long balls to go with seven triples.

Name Tm AB 2B   Name Tm AB 3B
Stephen Piscotty Mem 500 32   Vaughn Bryan Peo 317 9
Xavier Scruggs Mem 472 29   Charlie Tilson PB-Spr 509 9
Nick Martini PB-Spr 454 26   Malik Collymore GCL 177 8
Ronald Castillo Peo 353 25   Bruce Caldwell PB 369 7
Jacob Wilson Spr 252 25   Breyvic Valera PB-Spr 521 6
Randal Grichuk Mem 436 23   Tommy Pham Mem 346 6
Pete Kozma Mem 379 23   Richy Pedroza Peo 254 6
Scott Moore Mem 416 22   Nick Martini PB-Spr 454 5
Juan Herrera Peo-PB 410 22   Luke Voit PB 351 5
Luke Voit PB 351 21   Mike ONeill Spr-Mem 417 5
Anthony Garcia PB 343 20   Edmundo Sosa GCL-SC 212 5

Runs and stolen bases

To place on one of these lists, a player must have scored at least 60 runs or swiped at least 15 bags this season.

A new name on the run-scoring and base-stealing leaderboards is C.J. McElroy. The outfielder did his job at the top of the lineup in his return year at Peoria.

Two young players with high steals and especially good success rates are both middle infielders – Johnson City’s Oscar Mercado and State College’s Darren Seferina. Though not reflected in the table below, Mercado added six more stolen bases in the Appalachian League playoffs.

Like many of the less-experienced players mentioned, Mercado and Seferina are among the players currently working in instructional league camp in Florida.

Name Tm AB R   Name Tm AB SB CS
Xavier Scruggs Mem 472 82   C.J. McElroy Peo 490 41 18
C.J. McElroy Peo 490 74   Juan Herrera Peo-PB 410 28 13
Charlie Tilson PB-Spr 509 73   Oscar Mercado JC 243 26 7
Randal Grichuk Mem 436 73   Tommy Pham Mem 346 20 2
Stephen Piscotty Mem 500 70   Rafael Ortega Spr-Mem 382 19 10
Breyvic Valera PB-Spr 521 66   Darren Seferina SC 194 19 5
Tommy Pham Mem 346 63   Robelys Reyes Peo-SC 272 18 10
Greg Garcia Spr-Mem 397 62   Breyvic Valera PB-Spr 521 17 15
Nick Martini PB-Spr 454 61   Carlos Talavera DSL 233 15 4
Rafael Ortega Spr-Mem 382 61   Greg Miclat PB-Spr-Mem 236 15 3
Mike ONeill Spr-Mem 417 60            

Coming up

I have started to prepare a similar analysis for organizational pitchers, but may have to do some splitting of data between relievers and starters to put together a better picture.

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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