This is the second of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly three-part series in which we announce our Players and Pitchers of the Month, both starters and relievers, across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals themselves recognize winners as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organizations’ selection criteria.
Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of April system-wide leaders in a group of key pitching categories.
21 starting pitchers were among the population considered with nine finalists chosen – those with ERAs for the month under 2.50.
Of the nine, eight come from the two Class-A clubs, four each from Peoria and Palm Beach, with just one representative from Springfield, Kyle Hald, and none from Memphis. It should not be a surprise that the April records of the Double-A and Triple-A clubs were a combined 13-27 while the A-ball teams went 22-20.
An impressive factoid is that six of the nine finalists were pitching at higher levels for the first time during April. Two of them, Will Anderson and Arturo Reyes, plus 2014 holdover Hald, have already been promoted again to start the month of May.
ERA and WHIP leaders
A player who has not received a lot of attention in our daily Minor League Notebooks during the first month, Palm Beach’s Rob Kaminsky, actually posted the best April ERA among all starting pitchers in the system at 1.50. However, the top prospect lefty has been somewhat fortunate in his first month in the Florida State League as his rate of baserunners allowed was high at 1.44.
Peoria’s Daniel Poncedeleon, up from State College in 2014, logged the next-best ERA at 1.54 while doing an exquisite job of keeping opposing runners off the basepaths with a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.00. Jimmy Reed led this category with a microscopic WHIP of 0.90.
Strikeout and walk leaders
Strikeouts and walks are the next measurements to be considered.
Staying with Alex Reyes, his amazing strikeout totals rightfully catch the attention of casual fans, but the walk totals are also continuing to elevate. The Cardinal Nation’s number two prospect in the system issued a whopping 5.8 free passes per nine innings during April. That does not positively compare to his 4.3 rate in 2013 and 5.0 mark last season at Peoria.
Perdomo and Kaminsky both fanned more than a batter per inning, but Reyes’ teammate Kaminsky is also issuing too many walks at 4.0 per nine. Perdomo is a bit high at 3.2, as well.
Next is Poncedeleon at 8.5 strikeouts per nine and offering a very balanced performance at fewer than two walks per nine. Stingiest with the free passes were control artist Anderson at 0.9, Reed and Pearce.
When combining the two, strikeouts and walks, three named pitchers showed especially well - Anderson, Reed and Poncedeleon.
Looking at ground ball to fly ball ratio, in this measure, five of the pitchers have marks at better than 2.0 – Arturo Reyes, Hald, Anderson, Perdomo and Poncedeleon. At the other end, Reyes and Kaminsky were the most fly ball prone of this very select group.
The winner and new champion
In summary, it is clear there were a number of very deserving performances by starting pitchers across the Cardinals system in April. One pitcher stands out to me as the most balanced, being among those with lowest ERA, WHIP and walk rate, while also among the best in strikeouts, strikeout to walk ratio and ground ball to fly ball rate.
As a result, I name Peoria’s Daniel Poncedeleon as The Cardinal Nation’s Starting Pitcher of the Month for April. The right-hander, The Cardinal Nation’s 34th-ranked prospect coming into 2015, is our first-month winner by a nose over Perdomo, Pearce and Anderson, with the common thread being that all of them pitched for Peoria.
The Cardinal Nation’s Relief Pitcher of the Month will be announced next, as will our first monthly update to our Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings, the latter exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
Bonus for The Cardinal Nation members
In the following interview, exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers, Poncedeleon discusses his unique college background, failing a post-draft physical with the Cubs and most importantly, his first 10 months as a professional, including an uptick in velocity in 2015.
Join today for as little as $7.95 after our seven-day free trial and be able to read all of our exclusive content year-round.
© 2015 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.