This Week in the Cards Minors– 05/11– Hitters

In our weekly stats-based report, Leonda Markee analyzes position player performances across the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system. John Rodriguez is among the recent standouts.

This report begins with what I find to be a fascinating fact. Cardinals' farmhands currently either lead or are tied for the lead in home runs at each active level at which they participate in the minors. The applicable minor leaguers are: Rick Ankiel (Memphis), Joe Mather (Springfield), Allen Craig (Palm Beach) and Brandon Buckman (Quad Cities). Thanks to poster Cardsfan86 for pointing that one out on our Message Board.

Now let us get going. Please note that the statistics listed below are for the most recent two weeks, unless otherwise indicated.

How Are They Doing?  (Standings as of May 11, 2007)

Memphis Redbirds – 17-18, Third place, two and one-half games behind the Iowa Cubs

Springfield Cardinals – 13-17, Third place, three games behind the Tulsa Drillers (COL)

Palm Beach Cardinals – 18-15, Third place, one game behind the Daytona Cubs

Swing of the Quad Cities – 19-15. Three-way tie for second place with the Beloit Snappers (MIN) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (LAA), one game behind the Clinton LumberKings (TEX)

 

Up, Down and Out

Here are the transactions for the week:

 

05/05/07 - Quad Cities (Extended Spring Training) - LHP Brian Schroeder chose to be granted his unconditional release, RHP Eddie Degerman called up from Extended Spring Training

05/06/07 - St. Louis (Memphis) - OF Preston Wilson placed on the 15-day Disabled List (right knee), RHP Dennis Dove optioned to Triple-A Memphis;  OF Ryan Ludwick, RHP Brian Falkenborg: contracts purchased from Triple-A Memphis and added to both the 40- and 25-man rosters (called up)

 

05/06/07 - Springfield (Palm Beach) - RHP Brian Stitt placed on the 7-day Disabled List (right elbow soreness); RHP Nick Webber called up from A-Advanced Palm Beach

Ryan Ludwick's promotion leaves the Memphis roster one short.  That slot will most likely be filled upon Juan Encarncion's activation from the Disabled List.  Encarnacion is expected to join the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday in San Diego, which will likely send someone down to Memphis.

 

Eddie Degerman's activation on May 5th moved Mike Schellinger out of the Quad Cities tandem rotation and into the bullpen, taking Schroeder's place.  Degerman takes Schellinger's rotation slot.

 

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Triple-A – Memphis Redbirds

League Affiliation - sixteen-team Pacific Coast League, four-team America North division

Overall Record – 17-18 

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=0.91, H=0.94, 2B=0.93, HR=1.08, BB=1.01, SO=1.04

 

Roster Link

Current Two-Week Hitting - .278/.327/.451/.778, .316 BABIP, 68.34 RC

Hitting Year-to-Date* – .260/.320/.421/.741, 294 BABIP, 150.08 RC

*Note:  Pitchers' offensive statistics excluded

 

Who's Hittin' Hot

Outfielder John Rodriguez is raking!  Rodriguez went .424/.533/.758/1.291, 14-for-33, the past two weeks with six doubles, one triple and one home run.  Another interesting factoid is that Rodriguez walked more (eight) than he struck out (seven).  It goes without saying that he will not sustain this production level; his BABIP is .520, for the sabermetrically-inclined.  But a productive Rodriguez gives St. Louis another alternative. 

 

Who's Hittin' Not

Third baseman Travis Hanson continues to struggle at the Triple-A level as he hit .190/.244/.262/.506, 8-for-42 with only two extra base hits.  He struck out six times and walked three times.  Hanson's .222 BABIP indicates that he is due to improve but he still has a ways to go.

 

Of Note –   

The most interesting item of note in Memphis is the injury to pitcher Chris Narveson on May 9th.  Narveson left the game after facing just four batters and traveled to St. Louis to be checked out by their medical staff.  They diagnosed an injury to his oblique which will result in him missing several starts.  (Sure hope he heals faster than Woody Williams did.)   It is also reported that Mike Smith will move back into the rotation in Narveson's absence as St. Louis wants Chris Lambert to remain in the bullpen.

 

Outfielder Rick Ankiel is tied with Albuquerque's Val Pascucci (FLA) for the league home run lead with nine dingers and his 31 runs batted in ties him with Iowa's Micah Hoffpauir (CHC) for second in the league.  Recently promoted Ryan Ludwick still leads the league with 36 runs batted in.  Overall, the difference in his righty/lefty splits is: .073/.135/.206/.341.  Ankiel needs to work on hitting left-handed pitching. 

 

First Baseman Tagg Bozied is in a three-way tie for fifth in the league in runs batted in with 28.  The others are Oklahoma's Victor Diaz (TEX) and Albuquerque's Chad Hermansen.  Bozied has been hot the past two weeks as well, going .365/.404/.673/1.077, 19-for-52, with 12 runs batted, seven doubles and three home runs.  The issue with Bozied remains his defensive flexibility or lack thereof as he has played almost exclusively at first base for Memphis.  (He has appeared in right field twice.)

 

 

Prospect Watch

Rick Ankiel – his average is climbing but he needs to work on the walks, .306/.340/.551/.891, 15-for-49, three walks, 13 strikeouts, 10 RBI's, .382 BABIP, 9.01 RC, .204 ISO, 1:3.77 K/AB, 3.79 PA/Game

Travis Hanson - .190/.244/.262/.506, 8-for-42, three walks, six strikeouts, four RBI's, .222 BABIP, 2.69 RC, .048 ISO, 1:7 K/AB, 3.21 PA/Game

John Rodriguez - .424/.533/.758/1.291, 14-for-33, eight walks, seven strikeouts, eight RBI's, .520 BABIP, 13.41 RC, .303 ISO, 1:4.71 K/AB, 3.21 PA/Game

Brendan Ryan good improvement in batting average but the on-base percentage is poor, .300/.317/.400/.717, 18-for-60, two walks, four strikeouts, three RBI's, .321 BABIP, 6.88 RC, .067 ISO, 1:15 K/AB, 4.50 PA/Game

Nick Stavinoha combines a slightly high BABIP with low numbers, .255/.283/.294/.577, 13-for-51, two walks, 12 strikeouts, five RBI's, .333 BABIP, 4.40 RC, .039 ISO, 1:4.25 K/AB, 3.79 PA/Game

 

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AA – Springfield Cardinals

League Affiliation - eight-team Texas League, four-team East division

Overall Record – 13-17

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=1.03, H=1.02, 2B=0.98, HR=1.16, BB=1.02, SO=1.10

 

Roster Link

Current Two-Week Hitting - .280/.344/.439/.782, .304 BABIP, 60.59 RC

Hitting Year-to-Date* – .253/.326/.417/.743, 280 BABIP, 131.17 RC

*Note:  Pitchers' offensive statistics excluded

 

Who's Hittin' Hot

My comment about outfielder Colby Rasmus in my last hitting report was ‘look for him to get untracked'.  Boy did he get ‘untracked'!  Rasmus went .380/.436/.720/1.156, 19-for-50 with eight doubles and three home runs.  Better yet, Rasmus struck out just four times which is a huge improvement from his Johnson City days and was under his stolen base number (five). 

 

Who's Hittin' Not

Catcher Bryan Anderson has cooled off from his excellent April numbers.  The past two weeks he went just .229/.289/.286/.575, 8-for-35.

 

Of Note –

Those checking the May 10th boxscore may notice that Eric Haberer faced only one batter.  That was due to a subsequent three-hour rain delay and not because of an injury.

 

Joe Mather leads the Texas League in both home runs (11) and OPS (1.074) and is tied for third with San Antonio's Tim Brown (SD) with 21 runs batted in.  Colby Rasmus is leads the league in doubles (14), is tenth in slugging (.526) and thirteenth in OPS (.881). 

 

Outfielder Sean Danielson is making the most of his limited at bats by going a torrid .500/.542/.636/1.178, 11-for-22, with three doubles, two walks, two runs batted in and two strikeouts.  His BABIP was an unworldly .550.

 

Outfielder Jon Jay has been out of action with a jammed right shoulder suffered when he slid into third base.  (Aside: A major pet peeve of mine is that few players these days seem to know how to slide into a base correctly, feet first.  It is Basic Baseball 101 that a feet first slide results in fewer injuries than does a head first slide.  But you actually have to practice and learn how to slide feet first rather than belly whop your way towards the base.  Players who slide head first should be fined.)  Anyway, although Jay was not put on the Disabled List and is listed as day-to-day; he has missed seven games and counting.

 

Prospect Watch

Bryan Anderson – is struggling; 229/.289/.286/.575, 8-for-35, two walks, six strikeouts, two RBI's, .276 BABIP, 2.70 RC, .057 ISO, 1:5.83 K/AB, 2.79 PA/Game

Juan Encarnacion – not much of an improvement but his BABIP says the improvement should be more, .175/.283/.250/.533, 7-for-40, five walks, eight strikeouts, .219 BABIP, 2.67 RC, .075 ISO, 1:5 K/AB, 3.29 PA/Game

Mike Ferrisagain has very limited at bats, only 1.86 plate appearances a game but is not doing much when he does play, .125/.192/.167/.359, 3-for-24.  Ferris' time will likely increase some when Juan Encarnacion's rehabilitation assignment ends.  Then Joe Mather is likely to move back to the outfield and Ferris will take over first base.

Tyler Greene may be coming around, .262/.340/.429/.769, 11-for-42, four doubles, four walks, seven strikeouts, .294 BABIP, 5.55 RC, .167 ISO, 1:6 K/AB, 3.36 PA/Game

Colby Rasmus – living up to the press clippings, .380/.436/.720/1.156, .372 BABIP, 16.5 RC, .340 ISO, 1:12.5 K/AB, 3.93 PA/Game

 

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A-Advanced – Palm Beach Cardinals

League Affiliation - twelve-team Florida State League, six-team East division

Overall Record – 18–15

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=0.89, H=0.96, 2B=1.06, HR=0.71, BB=0.97, SO=1.07

 

Roster Link

Current Two-Week Hitting - .262/.328/.391/.719, 306 BABIP, 59.25 RC

Hitting Year-to-Date – .258/.325/.374/.699, .299 BABIP, 137.77 RC

 

Who's Hittin' Hot

Third baseman Allen Craig continues to stroke the ball well, going .315/.393/.593/.986, 17-for-54, with 11 runs scored, one double, one triple, four home runs and 10 runs batted in.  On the down side, he did make five errors and his BABIP is .361.

 

Who's Hittin' Not

Utility player Dan Nelson is swinging a cold bat, .119/.224/.119/.344, 5-for-42, with six walks against 13 strikeouts.  Nelson has a .172 BABIP so his numbers should rebound upwards.

 

Of Note –

Although Palm Beach stands seventh in the league in at bats with 1,120, they are fourth in runs batted in (138) and a close fifth in runs scored (151).  Their 37 stolen bases place them in a second place tie with the Tampa Yankees.   

 

Allen Craig leads league with eight home runs, is third in runs batted in (26) and fifth with a .333 batting average.  While he has appeared in eight games at first base, Cardinals' management says that is merely to increase his flexibility and that there are no plans to move him from the hot corner.

 

Catcher Brandon Yarbrough is twelfth in the league with a .307 batting average.  Yarbrough's bat appears to be coming around and he had an excellent two weeks, going .341/.372/.512/.884, 14-for-41, with two doubles, one triple, one home run, six runs scored and eight runs batted in.  Yarbrough sported a .419 BABIP so he will come back down to earth but it is nice to see him doing well.

 

Outfielder Ian Church is swinging a hot bat lately and has seen his playing time increase in the most recent games.  Church went .333/.350/.556/.906, 6-for-18, with two doubles and a triple.  His BABIP is .375 but I always root for the Independent League-signees because I like the underdog.

 

Prospect Watch

Isa Garciacontinues to struggle at this level, going .219/.306/.250/.556, 7-for-14, .269 BABIP, 1:5.3 K/AB, 2.71 PA/Game

Mark Hamilton – is on fire, .340/.357/.585/.942, 18-for-53, four doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI's, .395 BABIP, 11.27 RC, .245 ISO, 1:4.42 K/AB, 4.00 PA/Game

Nathan Southard – his bat is still asleep, .250/.291/.385/.676, 13-for-52, four doubles, one home run, four RBI's, .286 BABIP, 5.98 RC, .135 ISO, 1:5.78 K/AB, 4.00 PA/Game

 

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Low-A – Swing of the Quad Cities

League Affiliation - fourteen-team Midwest League, eight-team West division

Overall Record – 19–15

Three-Year Weighted Park Factor – R=0.97, H=0.99, 2B=1.09, HR=0.93, BB=0.93, SO=0.98

 

Roster Link

Current Two-Week Hitting - .274/.340/.401/.741, .326 BABIP, 64.06 RC

Hitting Year-to-Date – .260/.329/.382/.711, .307 BABIP, 139.06 RC

 

Who's Hittin' Hot

First baseman Brandon Buckman continued his hot hitting by going .404/.474/.787/1.261, 19-for-47, with 11 runs scored, four doubles, one triple, four home runs and 18 runs batted in.  He had a .484 BABIP and struck out an average of once every 3.92 at bats.

 

Who's Hittin' Not

Third baseman Donovan Solano went a mere .128/.208/.128/.335, 6-for-47, with four walks, five stolen bases and three errors.

 

Of Note –

As a team the Swing rank fourth in the league in both batting average and on-base percentage and third in slugging and OPS.  They lead the league in home runs with 23.

 

Brandon Buckman is fifth in batting average (.344), first in home runs (nine) and runs batted in (35) and second in OPS (1.042)

 

Catcher Christian Reyes' limited playing time may change if he continues to swing a hot bat.  Reyes has appeared in just six games so far but is hitting .455/.478/.636/1.115, 10-for-22, with seven runs batted in.  Only two of his ten hits are for extra bases, a double and a home run.  Yes, he has a .529 BABIP but the question remains as to why 21-year-old Reyes is not playing more.

 

Prospect Watch

Brandon Buckman – continues to be hot, .404/.474/.787/1.261, 19-for-47, seven walks, 12 strikeouts, .484 BABIP, 17.81 RC, .362 ISO, 1:3.92 K/AB, 4.07 PA/Game

Luke Gorsett is currently batting .277/.320/.362/.682, 13-for-47, with little power (.064 ISO), and a .317 BABIP.  Gorsett struck out once every 7.83 at bats and averaged 3.5 plate appearances a game.  These numbers are almost unchanged from the first report.

Christian Lopez – his at bats went up and his numbers went down somewhat.  Lopez hit .267/.340/.333/.673, 12-for-45, with five walks to 14 strikeouts.  He has a .387 BABIP, 5.10 RC, .044 ISO, 1:3.21 K/AB and 3.57 PA/Game

Donovan Solano – his struggles continue, .128/.208/.128/.335, 6-for-47 with six walks and five strikeouts, a .143 BABIP, 1.16 RC, 0.000 ISO, 1:9.4 K/AB and 3.86 PA/Game

 

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NOTE:  The three sabermetric statistics being used in this report as of now are BABIP, Isolated Power and Runs Created.

 

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) - is used mainly to measure the luckiness or unluckiness of either a pitcher or batter on those balls put into play that involve fielders.  Hence, home runs are excluded.  The standard BABIP range is .280-.310 for either pitchers or hitters so hitters with a BABIP above .310 are getting lucky while those below .280 are unlucky. 

 

Isolated Power (ISO) – is one of five primary production metrics used in identifying a hitter or pitcher's comparables. PECOTA uses a slightly modified version of Isolated Power that assigns the same value to triples as to doubles (extending a double into a triple is generally an indicator of speed, rather than additional power).'

 

Runs Created (RC) - is a statistic created by Bill James to measure a player's total offensive production? Bill James describes it by saying that scoring runs consists of two actions: first - getting on base or creating base runners and second - the advancing of those runners around the bases. The formula we used to ascertain each player's RC incorporates the stolen base element of offense.

 

 

Leonda Markee may be reached via email at uconncard@yahoo.com.

 

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