Here in the fourth phase of our annual recaps of the top players across the St. Louis Cardinals system, we move from starting pitchers to position players, returning to the entry classification, the Dominican Summer League.
Dominated in recent years by pitching that was paired with a lackluster offense, the DSL Cardinals of 2016 turned the table with an impressive, league-leading offensive attack.
The team was tops in the entire 42-team DSL in runs scored with 438 and was third in batting average at .265, the team’s best BA since joining the league 12 years ago. The Cards also led the league with 134 doubles and 35 home runs. Both were new highs for the Cardinals in their 12 DSL seasons.
Taking the third-most walks at 347, meant that in OBP, they were second at .363. When they did reach base, the Cards were not standouts, however. They stole just 39 bases, dead last in the league for the second straight year. When they did try, their success rate was a good 73.6 percent at least.
In three-base hits, the power in the bats overcame the apparent lack of speed with the team’s total of 34 three-baggers ranking fourth in the circuit.
Putting it all together, in OPS, the Cardinals again led the league at .756.
Here is how the 16 individuals who received at least 50 at-bats stacked up in counting stats.
|Diomedes Del Rio||CF||31||86||11||14||2||2||0||8||12||25||3||0|
It seems pretty clear that outfielder Brian Sanchez dominated the DSL Cardinals offense in 2016 – to the point his home run and RBI totals are more than double those of the next-closest teammate, catcher Julio Rodriguez.
Even with TCN’s 2015 DSL Cards Player of the Year, center fielder Wadye Ynfante, also back for a second DSL season, Sanchez drew two more free passes than him for second-most on the team. In runs scored, Sanchez finished in second, just two behind Ynfante, who did tie for the club lead with nine steals in nine tries.
Let’s move to slash line results to see if there is anything there to diminish Sanchez’ clear leadership in the stats.
|Diomedes Del Rio||18||0.163||0.291||0.233||0.524|
The 2016 Cardinals boasted five .300 hitters, four individuals with .400 on-base percentages, two who slugged over .500, but just one with an OPS over 1.000. Of course, the latter is Sanchez.
However, while Sanchez, 20, is the landslide winner of The Cardinal Nation’s Dominican Summer League Player of the Year, a number of other performances should be recognized.
In most years, Rodriguez could have walked away with this award. Instead, the 19-year-old catcher came in second on the club (to Sanchez every time) in home runs, RBI, batting average, slugging and on-base percentage.
His fellow backstop, Carlos Soto, also batted over .300, though with considerably less power - though it is important to note that Soto is two years younger. The two catchers also have impressive plate approaches, with Soto striking out less than he walked (17 to 25) and Rodriguez having 19 of each. Both were playing in their first pro seasons, with Rodriguez having inked a deal last winter and Soto a July 2nd signee in 2016.
No slouch himself, Ynfante tied for the team lead in doubles, was second in batting average, third in OBP and OPS and fourth in slugging. That helped earn the 18-year-old an end-of-season promotion to the Gulf Coast League.
From among the 2016 DSL Cardinals’ position players, only Sanchez and $2.5 million-bonused July 2nd signee, fellow outfielder Jonatan Machado, received invitations to St. Louis fall instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida. (As the numbers indicate, the Cuban Machado did not get off to a hot start in his first 17 professional games.)
Sanchez was a repeat DSL mid-season All-Star from 2015, and was the only Cardinals position player selected this year. Further, Sanchez received the very rare honor of being named the Cardinals organization's June Player of the Month. A DSL player almost never receives that high level of recognition. But, even better, his stats make it clear that the Dominican Republic native did not slump in the second half in 2016 as he had the year before. As a result, Sanchez was named one of the three outfielders on the DSL post-season All-Star Team, and also the League’s Player of the Year, representing a whopping 42 teams.
His delay reaching the US was more due to need for defensive improvement rather than his hitting. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder first signed with the Cardinals in November 2014. Compared to 2015, his first year in the DSL, Sanchez raised his batting average 113 points, OBP 116, SLG a whopping 240 points higher and his OPS showed 357 points of improvement over 2015. That has put him on the organization's prospect map, including a place in The Cardinal Nation's top 50 prospect list, at no. 48.
Congratulations to Brian Sanchez, The Cardinal Nation Dominican Summer League Cardinals Player of the Year for 2016.
Link to master article with all 2016 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the system-wide and rookie Relievers, Starting Pitchers and Players of the Year.
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