The Cardinal Nation April Starter of Month

Peoria’s Daniel Poncedeleon is The Cardinal Nation’s top starting pitcher during the first month of the season. A members-only interview with the winner follows.

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.

Stats leaders

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.

Name Team IP ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 K/BB GB/FB
Rob Kaminsky  PB 18.0 1.50 1.44 9.5 4.0 2.4 1.5
Daniel Poncedeleon  Peo 23.3 1.54 1.00 8.5 1.9 4.4 2.2
Luis Perdomo  Peo 17.0 1.59 1.12 10.1 3.2 3.2 2.3
Matt Pearce  Peo 16.0 1.69 1.19 6.8 1.7 4.0 1.8
Alex Reyes  PB 20.3 1.77 1.24 15.5 5.8 2.7 1.6
Kyle Hald  Spr 16.0 2.25 1.25 6.2 2.8 2.2 2.4
Will Anderson  Peo 19.0 2.37 1.05 7.6 0.9 8.0 2.3
Arturo Reyes  PB 14.7 2.45 1.76 4.9 3.7 1.3 2.6
Jimmy Reed  PB 21.7 2.49 0.90 5.8 1.2 4.7 1.8

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.

Three other starters posted ERAs under 2.00 during April which surely deserves mention. They are Peoria’s Luis Perdomo and Matt Pearce, the latter up from Johnson City, and Palm Beach’s Alex Reyes.

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.

Key ratios

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.

Poncedeleon

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.

Coming soon

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.



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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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