Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Baby Bird-Watching! The premise is straightforward. I will go through the Cardinals’ minor league affiliates and let you know how they did, a couple of prospects that performed really well, and standout game performances.
And I am gonna warn you. We are gonna talk about some amazing minor league team names. Every single team the affiliates played has just an incredible name. Without any further delay, let’s get started with the first on the list.
Palm Beach Cardinals (A)
The Palm Beach Cardinals had a really good week. They went 4-2 with one game against the Jupiter Hammerheads (10-8 W) and five games against the St. Lucie Mets (8-6 W, 8-4 W, 10-8 L, 4-3 W, 6-0 W, 2-1 L)
Since the team went .666 in the win-loss column in the week, they took first place in the Florida State League East from the Jupiter Hammerheads. They only hold a two-game lead over them but looking at the run differential and other numbers, the Cardinals should win the FSL East easily.
My pick for Position Player Prospect of the Week is gonna be Infielder RJ Yeager. The Palm Beach 3B/1B gave us a wonderful slash line of .375/.583/.500 to be the only qualified player with an OPS over 1.000 (The second highest for the week was .868). He showed good discipline with eight walks to three strikeouts and showed his speed with a triple.
My pick for Pitching Prospect of the Week is RHP Hancel Rincon, who pitched six innings of shutout baseball. He allowed only two hits and had two strikeouts to one walk. While that’s already very impressive, it’s the fact that he has an astronomically low .50 WHIP (Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched) and a BAA (Batting Average Against) of .100. When you’re holding hitters to an average below STL Cardinals legend Austin Romine, that’s something special.
The Standout Single Game has to go to 1B Ryan Yeager, who went 2-for-3 on Tuesday. He also scored two runs and walked twice, exactly what you want from your three-hole hitter.
Peoria Chiefs (High-A)
The Chiefs went .500 this week with a 3-3 record. They played one game against the Dayton Dragons (5-4 W) and five against the Cedar Rapid Kernels (6-5 L, 6-4 W, 6-4 L, 8-4 L, 5-1 W).
Peoria stayed in fourth place with their middling week results, right behind the Cedar Rapid Kernels and in front of the Quad City River Bandits. I doubt they can catch up to first or second place soon, but I am willing to let them prove me wrong.
The Position Player Prospect of the Week is C Jimmy Crooks. The 2022 4th-round pick produced a .316/.381/.632 slash line. Now he didn’t have the highest OPS for the week, that honor belongs to Jeremy Rivas, but Crooks was very close behind (only .042 below). Crooks showed off his wheels with a triple and his power by hitting the only home run among the qualified players this week. He also drew two walks to only three strikeouts. Love seeing this kind of production coming from a player we drafted just last year.
The Pitching Prospect of the Week is going to be RHP Leonardo Taveras. Now, to be fair, he’s a reliever, and you won’t see many on these lists because they usually don’t pitch a lot per week. But this week, he had the second most innings pitched of all Peoria pitchers at 5.2 IP. He allowed only four baserunners in total (one hit, one HBP, two walks). He also struck out the most batters on the week with thirteen Ks, more than double what anyone else had this week. Nice to see this from the international free agent.
The Standout Single Game is going to go to LHP Cooper Hjerpe. People that know me on Twitter know that Hjerpe is probably my second favorite pitcher in the Cardinals’ minor leagues. On Tuesday, he gave arguably his best performance of the season. He went six strong innings, allowing only three hits and two runs. Both runs scored off a home run. He fanned six while only allowing three walks. While he ultimately got the loss for the game, you really can’t blame him for it.
Springfield Cardinals (Double-A)
The Springfield Cardinals did okay, but only had a .500 week. They played a game with the Tulsa Drillers (3-2 W) and five against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (10-9 L, 11-2 W, 10-5 L, 5-3 L, 9-0 W).
Springfield is currently last in the Texas League North, right behind the Wichita Wind Surge. They won’t be a contender for first place for a couple weeks, sadly. Hopefully they can kick it up a notch.
The Position Player Prospect of the Week is 3B Chandler Redmond. He clubbed a homer and had a .400/.520/.650 slash line. He drove in four runs and had two doubles. He’s the only Springfield player to have an OPS over 1.000 this week. He did strike out eight times, which isn’t great, but he walked five times to help his on-base percentage.
The Pitching Prospect of the Week is RHP Connor Lunn. It’s not hard to see why. Seven innings, five hits, one walk, five strikeouts, and only two runs. That’s a .86 WHIP and a .200 BAA. Brandon Komar also went seven innings but gave up more hits, runs, and walks, so it had to go to Lunn. I really hope the 2019 11th round pick keeps this up.
The Standout Single Game is going to 3B Noah Mendlinger, who had a three-hit day on Saturday. He brought home three runs and scored a run himself in a big 9-0 win. I don’t know how high the ceiling is for a guy averaging one home run per season, but his career .402 OBP will play.
Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A)
The Memphis Redbirds had a very bad week. They played one game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (12-11 L) and five against the Gwinnett Stripers (5-4 L, 10-4 L, 4-3 L, 5-4 L, 3-1 W).
The Redbirds currently sit second in the International League West, just a slim 1.5-game deficit to the Iowa Cubs. I would love to see them get back to their winning ways, especially now that they have Jordan Walker down there.
The Position Player Prospect of the Week is C Ivan Herrera. The #8 Cardinals prospect put up a .471/.550/.647 slash line, which is insane to see from a premiere defensive position like catcher. But that’s what happens when you have almost half your hits go for double in 17 ABs. For context for how absurd Herrera was this week, his OPS was 1.197. The next closest was Matt Koperniak at .886. I really hope Herrera gets a call-up soon so that he can learn from Willson Contreras at the major league level.
The Pitcher Prospect of the Week is LHP Connor Thomas. The #16 prospect for the Cardinals made one start this week, going 6.2 innings. He surrendered nine hits, which is too many for my liking, but limited the opposition to only one run. He also struck out four batters, which was second most on the team this week. Not the best outing for Thomas, but it got the job done for a quality start.
The Standout Single Game is for Jordan Walker’s great Sunday. He went 3-for-5 with three RBI. In addition to scoring twice himself, he also walked once and struck out once.
And that’s a wrap on Baby Bird-Watching! No other big news happened this week besides Dakota Hudson (AAA) and Tink Hence (A+) coming off the IL and the promotion of Matthew Liberatore to the majors. Thanks for reading, and I hope you come back for next week’s installment.