This is the final installment of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly three-part series in which we announce our Players and Pitchers of the Month – from the latter group, starters and relievers separately - across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals themselves recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.
Let’s get right to it. The Cardinals already announced Jorge Rodriguez as their Pitcher of the Month for August. The Cardinal Nation agrees with the selection, with this article illustrating how dominant his performance was, even when compared to his top peers.
From the 46 starting pitchers making up the population across the organization, I narrowed them down to the nine who threw at least 20 innings with ERAs under 2.50.
Unlike the top August relievers, which were skewed toward short-season ball, five of the nine starter finalists pitched for one of the four full-season clubs. Every single one of the seven teams in the system were represented, however, from Memphis to the Gulf Coast League.
Here is the list of August system-wide leaders in a group of key pitching categories.
A number of the candidates had good months, so even though we know Rodriguez is the winner, let’s dig in a bit deeper.
ERA and WHIP leaders
Rodriguez wins his award right off the bat, with the lowest ERA and WHIP, the latter a surrogate for baserunners allowed. His ERA of just 0.65 is 8/10ths of a run better than the next-closest pitcher, his teammate for most of the season, Derian Gonzalez.
The only finalists with ERAs under 2.00 are the two mentioned just above plus Memphis right-hander Arturo Reyes. The latter had a very solid comeback month for the Triple-A Redbirds. Not far behind were Jack Flaherty of Palm Beach (2.01) and Juan Alvarez (2.05) from the GCL.
All except for Jordan Hicks of State College have good August WHIPs. However, Rodriguez, Flaherty and Ross Vance of Johnson City all are really exceptional at under 1.00.
Strikeout and walk leaders
Vance and Meyers led the way in strikeout rate, but also carried the highest ERAs among the final nine. After them, Gonzalez and Rodriguez posted as impressive of strikeout rates as they did low ERAs, at 10.1 per nine innings and 8.8, respectively.
Steven Farinaro put himself back on the prospect radar with a huge month for State College. One reason why is his system-low walk rate of 0.8 per nine innings. Vance and Meyers join him among those stingiest in walks, but among the better ERA finalists, Rodriguez again stands out at 2.3.
Putting them together, Rodriguez’ strikeout to walk ratio of just under 4-to-1 is the best among the six finalists with ERAs under 2.23.
Ground balls vs. fly balls
This is the lone area in which Rodriguez performed relatively poorly.
On the other end of the spectrum, if Hicks could lower his walks, his phenomenal ground ball to fly ball rate of 6.7-to-1 could propel him up the prospect rankings.
As noted, The Cardinal Nation’s August Starting Pitcher of the Month is Peoria’s Jorge Rodriguez. That 0.65 ERA and 0.882 WHIP - in his first month in the Chiefs’ rotation, no less - are just too tough to beat.
In August, the 22-year-old went 2-0 with a 0.65 ERA in six games (five starts) for the Midwest League club and fanned 27 batters in 27 2/3 innings pitched. The product of the Cardinals Dominican Academy was signed on February 2, 2012 as a non-drafted free-agent from San Cristobal, D.R.
Overall this season, the 6-2, 175-pound right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 26 games (five starts) while helping Peoria to the first-half title in the Midwest League’s Western Division. Rodriguez has totaled 63 strikeouts to just 19 walks on the year in his 67 2/3 innings pitched. He throws a fastball in the 88-92 mph range as well as a change up and slider (82 mph).
Even if you have never heard of him, Rodriguez is no flash in the pan as he posted a 3.11 ERA in 14 starts for State College in 2015. He was our Spikes Starting Pitcher of the Year last season and earned the same accolade for his work in the Gulf Coast League in 2014.
July’s winners in August
How did Austin Gomber and Luke Weaver, our July Starting Pitchers of the Month, perform in August?
First of all, they took very different paths – one to the bigs and the other to the disabled list.
As you well know, Weaver made his MLB debut on August 13th and has performed well with St. Louis. Gomber suffered a finger injury that limited him to just one appearance for Double-A Springfield on the final day of the month. However, the lefty has been selected to start in the upcoming Arizona Fall League, a great place to make up lost time.
Prior award winners
Here are the earlier winners of all of the monthly awards for 2016 – both from The Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals themselves – along with links to those prior articles.
|Pitcher of Month||Starter of Month||Reliever of Month|
|2016||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||The Cardinal Nation||2016|
|April||Andrew Morales||Austin Gomber||Kevin Herget||April|
|May||Jake Woodford||Jake Woodford||Rowan Wick||May|
|July||Matt Pearce||L Weaver/A Gomber||Brian Pirela||July|
|Aug||Jorge Rodriguez||Jorge Rodriguez||Colton Thomson||Aug|
|Player of Month|
|2016||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||2016|
|April||Harrison Bader||Harrison Bader||April|
|May||David Washington||David Washington||May|
|July||Allen Cordoba||Wadye Ynfante||July|
|Aug||Luke Voit||Luke Voit||Aug|
Starting on Monday, September 12 will be The Cardinal Nation’s annual series with in-depth recaps of every minor league team in the organization, followed by our Players, Starting Pitchers and Relievers of the Year by each level, plus system-wide awards, too.
© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.