The Cardinal Nation June Starter of Month

Palm Beach’s Trey Nielsen is our choice as the Cards’ top minor league starting pitcher in June.

For the past few seasons, pitching has led the St. Louis Cardinals organization in terms of strong performances and that should not be a surprise. The Cardinals have made the mound a huge focus in their drafts and in subsequent player development. In recent years, the Cards have been one of the best organizations in Major League Baseball at developing pitchers. The Cardinal Nation Starter of the Month for June is a great example of this development.


Trey Nielsen was selected by the Cardinals in the 30th round of the 2013 MLB draft from the University of Utah, where he had been a third baseman primarily. Nielsen did not make an appearance in his rookie season due to Tommy John surgery. The son of former MLB player Scott Nielsen was an incredible find by the Cardinals scouting department and that is when the player development side of the organization went to work.

Nielsen returned from Tommy John surgery in 2014 and made 15 appearances (eight starts) for the State College Spikes. The 23-year old went 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA and struck out just under a batter per inning. For 2015, Nielsen made the big jump over Low-A Peoria directly to Palm Beach and has continued to excel.

In June, Nielsen went 4-1 and had a miniscule 1.03 ERA over five starts and 35 innings – yes, that is seven innings per start. Over the month, Nielsen struck out 26 batters, good for a tie for second in the organization, and held opponents to a .213 batting average against.

With a season ERA of 2.35, June was not an anomaly for Nielsen, and that includes a rough first start in July. Nielsen’s strong 2015 has been overshadowed by a couple of big-name prospects in the same Palm Beach starting rotation, Alex Reyes and Rob Kaminsky.

Many Cardinals fans are starting to open their eyes to Nielsen and he could receive a call to join the Double-A Springfield Cardinals soon.

Honorable Mentions

A couple of other incredible scouting finds had strong months for the Cardinals minor league affiliates.

Thomas Lee, an undrafted free agent, has made his way up the organizational ladder, reaching the highest minor league affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds. In June, Lee made three starts for Springfield and two for Memphis. He combined to go 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA and a .215 batting average against.

Arturo Reyes, the last pick (40th round) in the Cardinals’ 2013 draft is another prime example of player development. Reyes went 4-0 in June and had a 1.84 ERA while holding opponents to a .202 batting average against at Springfield.

Monthly Leaders

Earned Run Average (minimum 20 IP)

David Oca, DSL – 0.90
Trey Nielsen, PB – 1.03
Rob Kaminsky, PB – 1.16
Thomas Lee, Spr/Mem – 1.64
Arturo Reyes, Spr – 1.84

WHIP (minimum 20 IP)

Thomas Lee, Spr/Mem – 0.64
Tim Cooney, Mem – 0.83
Trey Nielsen, PB – 0.91
Arturo Reyes, Spr – 0.96
Rob Kaminsky, PB – 1.00


Tim Cooney, Mem – 28
Trey Nielsen, PB – 26
Rob Kaminsky, PB – 26
David Oca, DSL – 26
Arturo Reyes, Spr – 25

Short Season Stars

The Cardinals short season clubs in Johnson City, State College, and the Gulf Coast League club in Florida are a couple of weeks in and have made just a few turns through the starting rotation.

In State College, Jorge Rodriguez and Landon Beck have been the ERA leaders with Rodriguez at 0.90 and Beck at 1.80. Both have pitched 10 innings over two starts.

July will be the first month a player from a short-season club will have enough of a body of results to compete for one of our three awards.

Coming up

Coming your way in the next couple of days will be The Cardinal Nation’s June Reliever of the Month award, followed by a team-by-team analysis of the four full season clubs for June.

Congratulations to Trey Nielsen, The Cardinal Nation Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month for June.

Prior Winners

Listed below are The Cardinal Nation’s Starting Pitcher of the Month, Relief Pitcher of the Month and Player of the Month selections this season to date, including links to those earlier articles. The St. Louis Cardinals organizational winners are included, as well.

  Pitcher of Month Starter of Month Reliever of Month  
2015 Cards organization The Cardinal Nation The Cardinal Nation 2015
April  Alex Reyes Daniel Poncedeleon Kyle Grana April 
May Luis Perdomo Luis Perdomo Steve Sabatino May
June   Trey Nielsen   June
July       July
Aug       Aug
  Player of Month      
2015 Cards organization The Cardinal Nation   2015
April  Xavier Scruggs Xavier Scruggs   April 
May Greg Garcia Ed Easley   May
June   Darren Seferina   June
July       July
Aug       Aug

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John Nagel can be reached via email at Follow John on Twitter @CardinalsFarm.

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