Editor’s note: This new monthly feature for The Cardinal Nation members from John Nagel looks at performances across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system during the prior month.
Overall, May was a tough month for the St. Louis Cardinals affiliates. While the big club was expanding its lead in the National League Central, three of its four full-season minor league clubs were struggling to make it to .500 for the month. Only the club’s highest affiliate, the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, posted a winning record during May. Springfield (Double-A) and Palm Beach (Advanced-A) were well under the .500 mark and Peoria finished just a game shy.
Let’s take a look at individual performances, hot and cold, as well as major roster moves for the four Cardinals affiliates in action for the month of May.
The Memphis Redbirds finished the month of May at 16-14, the only winning record in the Cards minor league system. A big boost was an eight-game winning streak put together during the middle of the month.
Greg Garcia led the way for the Redbirds with a .361 batting average. Garcia drove in 12 runs and scored 11 times. He also had a solid .421 on base percentage and a .962 OPS. Joining Garcia in the “hot” column is catcher Ed Easley, who is no longer with the team as he is on the Cardinals 25-man roster. Easley hit .340 with two home runs and seven runs driven in. His OPS was slightly higher than Garcia’s at .992. Garcia was the Cardinals organization’s choice for Player of the Month; Easley was The Cardinal Nation’s selection.
Stephen Piscotty hit five home runs in May, tied for the system lead. In the cold column you will find first baseman Xavier Scruggs. During May, Scruggs slashed .180(AVG)/.295(OBP)/.337(SLG) and struck out 22 times. Catcher Cody Stanley also had a rough month, hitting .212 with no home runs, six RBI and 15 strikeouts.
On the mound, Zach Petrick led the way in May going 3-3 with a 1.95 ERA and a WHIP of 1.00. He struck out 28 over the organization-leading 37 innings. A couple of relievers had strong months as Marcus Hatley logged a 0.55 ERA over 16 1/3 innings and Heath Wyatt posted a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings.
May marked the MLB debut of Redbird Miguel Socolovich, who was strong in a short stint with the St. Louis Cardinals. The second month of the season also included the release of a two veterans in Scott Moore and Boone Whiting and the addition of veteran slugger Dan Johnson. Pitcher Kyle Hald and infielder Jacob Wilson were promoted from Double-A Springfield and saw their first Triple-A action of their careers.
The Springfield Cardinals finished the month at 12-18. Their longest winning streak of the month was just two while they had a pair of four-game losing streaks.
Newly-signed outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker led the way for the Springfield Cardinals during May, hitting .328 with two home runs and six RBI. Hazelbaker had a nice OPS of .936. Also in the “hot” column is Nick Martini, who hit .322 and scored 12 runs. Anthony Garcia tied for the organizational lead with five May home runs, and he slashed .276/.396/.553 and drove in 16.
Reliever Jordan Swagerty and starter Andrew Morales had struggles during May with Swagerty’s ERA at 7.36 over 7 1/3 innings and Morales’ ERA at 6.66 in 24 1/3 innings.
During May, the Cardinals released two Springfield veterans in outfielder Starlin Rodriguez and pitcher Jonathan Cornelius. They signed infielder Jeremy Hazlebaker, who had a strong month. Patrick Wisdom was sent back to Florida for work on his swing, later returning and showing some success. Arturo Reyes, Kyle Barraclough, and Bruce Caldwell all made their Double-A debuts in May.
The Palm Beach Cardinals went 12-17 in May with their longest winning streak at three games and their longest losing streak at two games.
Offensively, Collin Radack had a nice start to his Advanced-A career as he hit .333 over 30 at bats for Palm Beach. Infielder Robelys Reyes was next on the list with a .286 batting average and a near .700 OPS. Carson Kelly led the Palm Beach Cardinals with two home runs, but he struggled at the plate hitting .200 and had a .560 OPS.
Palm Beach had a rough month offensively as you can see above. Ronald Castillo had one of the roughest months in the Cardinals system as he hit .128 with 12 strikeouts over 39 at bats and eventually was demoted to extended spring training. Luke Voit slashed .215/.317/.243 in May, not ideal for a slugger. Voit saw some time at extended spring as well.
On the mound, Trey Nielsen was the ERA leader of the six starting pitchers. Over 21 1/3 innings, Nielsen had a 1.69 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. With a 2.28 ERA, Corey Littrell also had a strong May. Littrell was part of the John Lackey-Allen Craig trade last season. Alex Reyes was tied for second in the organization with 31 strikeouts. He finished the month with a 2.66 ERA. Steve Sabatino was the The Cardinal Nation Reliever of the Month as he did not allow an earned run in over 10 innings. Will Anderson had the highest ERA of all the Palm Beach starters at 3.82, an indication thta the Palm Beach rotation was excellent in May. In relief, Cody Schumacher and Tyler Melling struggled with ERA’s above seven.
2014 first-round draftee Luke Weaver was activated off the disabled list in May and has since made four starts. Pitchers Ian McKinney and Kender Villegas saw Advanced-A first for the first time, albeit a very short stint with Palm Beach. Jake Gronsky, Collin Radack, Casey Turgeon, and Jose Godoy were the first timers at the High-A level on the offensive side. Rowan Wick was sent back to extended spring to learn how to pitch after a rough start to the season.
The Peoria Chiefs ended May just one game under .500 at 15-16. The Chiefs longest winning streak in May was three games while their longest losing streak hit four games in the middle of the month.
Outfielder Vaughn Bryan was returned to Peoria in May after starting the season at extended spring and had a nice start. Over 36 at bats, Bryan hit .306 and had an OPS near .800. Nick Thompson and Blake Drake supplied the power for the Chiefs as Thompson hit five long balls while Drake had one less. With that said, Thompson had just 15 hits in the month and averaged .170 even with the five bombs. Drake fared better in May with an OPS of .753. Shortstop Oscar Mercado was named a Midwest League All-Star.
Infielder Andrew Sohn and catcher Luis Cruz struggled in May as Sohn hit .157 and struck out 18 times, while Cruz hit .157 and had no extra base hits. First baseman Alex De Leon also struggled with a .174 batting average during the month.
Luis Perdomo, The Cardinal Nation Starter of the Month, finished May with a 1.43 ERA over 31 2/3 innings. Fellow starter Austin Gomber also had a strong month with a 2.25 ERA and 31 strikeouts, which was tied for second in the organization. Daniel Poncedeleon, the third member of the rotation recognized as a 2015 Midwest League All-Star, also had a nice month with a 2.01 ERA.
Fernando Baez really struggled from of the starting rotation in May. Over 22 1/3 innings, Baez had an 8.06 ERA and walked 13 batters before being placed on the disabled list.
It was a tough month in Peoria as three Chiefs exited from the organization. Infielders Richy Pedroza and Justin Ringo along with pitcher Zach Loraine were released. Making their Midwest League debuts in May were Casey Turgeon, Kender Villegas, Nick Frey and Julio Mateo. St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Jon Jay completed a three-game rehab assignment with the Chiefs in May. Lastly, 2014 first rounder Jack Flaherty returned from the disabled list late in the month.
John Nagel can be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow John on Twitter @CardinalsFarm.
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