Although multiple Johnson City Cardinals were worthy of the highly-desired honor, The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Year award for the 2015 Appalachian League club goes to Allen Staton.
The infielder was signed by St. Louis in June as a non-drafted free agent and had a busy summer. After two weeks of dominating Gulf Coast League pitching, Staton was promoted to Johnson City, where he played in 42 games. Once the Cards fell out of playoff contention, the recently-turned 23-year-old topped off his rookie campaign with nine games at high-A Palm Beach.
Despite his 163 at-bats being just sixth-most on the JC roster, 53 fewer than team-leader Magneuris Sierra, Staton posted team highs in home runs (nine) and RBI (44). The latter was 13 more than the next closest Cardinal and delivered at an impressive rate of just over one RBI per game.
At .307, Staton was one of five Cardinals who hit .300 on the season. The others are Sierra (.315), Eliezer Alvarez (.314), Chris Chinea (.313) and Edmundo Sosa (.300). Staton’s performance across the board was unmatched, however, as he topped the club in slugging at .571 and OPS at .910.
Staton was a force to be reckoned with across the entire Appalachian League. Despite many fewer at-bats than most all of the other leaders, he finished in a tie for sixth in the rookie-level league in home runs and tied for fourth in RBI. Though his at-bat totals were too low to qualify, Staton’s slugging mark would have been second in the league and his OPS would have been sixth.
Staton, a Laurens, South Carolina native, was named the Appalachian League Player of the Week for the week ending August 2nd. His performance at the plate that week helped the Cardinals soar to their longest winning streak in the last three seasons, and he produced the first four-hit game by a Cardinal since Casey Turgeon in 2014, and the first Cardinal grand slam since Chris Rivera, also in 2014.
Magneuris Sierra - The center fielder had impressive and team-bests in batting average at .315 and on-base percentage at .371 this season. Sierra also led the club with 38 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts, which helped earn him a rightful spot as an Appalachian League All-Star.
Eliezer Alvarez – The second baseman was another All-Star selection for the Cardinals this season. Alvarez had 204 at-bats in 52 games with a team-best 20 doubles. His 32 runs scored and 31 RBI were both second-most on the club, and his .314 batting average was just one point behind Sierra.
Edmundo Sosa – The shortstop was the third and final All-Star selection for the Cardinals in 2015. Sosa was second on the team in home runs with seven, hit .300, and finished third on the club in both slugging at .485 and OPS at .854.
Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that includes our selections as the Johnson City Cardinals Relief Pitcher and Starting Pitcher of the Year.
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