Harrison Bader (Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation)

Springfield outfielder Harrison Bader is our choice as the Cardinals top minor league hitter in April

Springfield outfielder Harrison Bader is our choice as the Cardinals top minor league hitter in April.

It has been demonstrated many times over the years that the Texas League is a favorable hitters’ league. So it was for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Double-A franchise in Springfield to open the 2016 season. In the month of April, the S-Cards’ offense featured five of the top six home run hitters in the Cardinals system as well as leaders in a number of other offensive categories, as well.

As always, in selecting The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Month, I reviewed the organizational leaders in key offensive measures, narrowing the pool of candidates to those who had at least 50 at-bats during the month.  

In April, among the top performers across the board were three members of the Texas League Cardinals – second baseman Bruce Caldwell plus outfielders David Washington and Harrison Bader. The former two are returnees to Springfield from 2015, while the latter is not only new to the level, he jumped over Palm Beach in his first full season as a professional.

For his strong introductory performance at Double-A, Bader is TCN’s April Player of the Month.

http://www.scout.com/player/175479-harrison-bader?s=321

Still just 21 years of age, St. Louis’ third-round draft pick last June led the Cardinals system in April home runs (five, tied), batting average (.338), slugging (.563, tied) and OPS (.961). Bader was also tied for third in RBI (13) and fourth in on-base percentage (.398).

Bader finished the month on fire in his impressive push to the top, with four of his home runs struck in his last five games and 11 hits, six runs scored and eight RBI over his final seven contests in April.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Check out our exclusive interview with Bader, conducted by TCN’s Derek Shore in Springfield this past weekend.

Now, let’s look at the full lists of first-month system-wide standouts in a number of key offensive categories.

Rate stats leaders

There were six .300 hitters across the system during the first month of the 2016 season, with a wide gap between the trio at .333 or better and the other three right around .300. Along with Bader, Memphis’ Charlie Tilson and Peoria’s R.J. Dennard are off to fast starts despite being new to their respective levels of play in 2016.

http://www.scout.com/player/191957-michael-pritchard?s=321

Six Cardinals also posted an on-base percentage of at least .380, with five of the six names common with the BA list. The difference in OBP is most notable. Palm Beach’s Michael Pritchard is the system-wide leader by a wide margin, due in a large part to his organization-best 17 walks (against just five strikeouts and 18 hits).

Name Tm AVG   Name Tm OBP
Harrison Bader  SPR 0.338   Michael Pritchard  PB 0.456
Danny Diekroeger  PB 0.333   Danny Diekroeger  PB 0.411
R.J. Dennard  PEO 0.333   David Washington  SPR 0.408
Charlie Tilson  MEM 0.302   Harrison Bader  SPR 0.398
Magneuris Sierra  PEO 0.300   R.J. Dennard  PEO 0.393
David Washington  SPR 0.300   Charlie Tilson  MEM 0.384

Moving to slugging, Bader and Caldwell set the pace with dependable Washington close behind. Not known in the past for his power, Palm Beach’s Danny Diekroeger appears among the April leaders, not only in slugging, but in the other rate categories, too.

http://www.scout.com/player/169906-bruce-caldwell?s=321

Putting it all together, Bader edged out Washington, with Caldwell and Dennard the other hitters with a .900 OPS last month. Another name not mentioned yet is veteran outfielder Carlos Peguero, who along with Tilson had a nice April for a Memphis team that is struggling to score runs.

Name Tm SLG   Name Tm OPS
Harrison Bader  SPR 0.563   Harrison Bader  SPR 0.961
Bruce Caldwell  SPR 0.563   David Washington  SPR 0.958
David Washington  SPR 0.550   Bruce Caldwell  SPR 0.938
R.J. Dennard  PEO 0.507   R.J. Dennard  PEO 0.900
Luke Voit  SPR 0.478   Danny Diekroeger  PB 0.885
Carlos Peguero  MEM 0.476   Carlos Peguero  MEM 0.842
Danny Diekroeger  PB 0.474   Michael Pritchard  PB 0.833

Counting stats leaders

Across the system in April, six hitters launched at least three home runs, with two more Springfield Cardinals - Luke Voit and free agent signee Chris Jacobs - joining the leaders.

http://www.scout.com/player/154575-danny-diekroeger?s=321

The RBI leaders are tightly-bunched, with Caldwell and Diekroeger on top. In his first full-month at Memphis, first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez tied Bader for third in runs batted in with 13.

Name Tm HR   Name Tm RBI
Harrison Bader  SPR 5   Bruce Caldwell  SPR 14
Bruce Caldwell  SPR 5   Danny Diekroeger  PB 14
Luke Voit  SPR 4   Harrison Bader  SPR 13
David Washington  SPR 3   Jonathan Rodriguez  MEM 13
Carlos Peguero  MEM 3   R.J. Dennard  PEO 12
Chris Jacobs  SPR 3   David Washington  SPR 11

Many of the names are different on the steals and runs tables, with Tilson carrying over on a perfect 6-for-6 month swiping bases. Palm Beach’s Oscar Mercado, who edged Tilson for the organization’s stolen base crown last season - 49 to 46, again led the way in April, with his success rate of 73 percent almost identical to 2015.

http://www.scout.com/player/177876-oscar-mercado?s=321

Another outfielder taken in the 2015 draft, Oklahoma’s Craig Aikin, does not receive as much attention as Florida’s Bader, but the former Sooners star crossed home plate 17 times for Peoria in April. That is five more than any other Cardinals farmhand.

Name Tm SB/CS   Name Tm R
Oscar Mercado  PB 11/4   Craig Aikin  PEO 17
Eliezer Alvarez  PEO 7/1   Bruce Caldwell  SPR 12
Charlie Tilson  MEM 6/0   R.J. Dennard  PEO 12
Darren Seferina  PB 6/1   David Washington  SPR 12
C.J. McElroy  SPR 5/1   Oscar Mercado  PB 11
Magneuris Sierra  PEO 4/2   Magneuris Sierra  PEO 11
Mikey Reynolds  SPR 4/1   Luke Voit  SPR 11

Coming soon

The Cardinal Nation’s April Pitcher of the Month will be announced next. In addition, our first monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings for 2016 is coming this week, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Expanded Cardinals Extended Spring Training

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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