St. Louis Cardinals: Hot & Cold Minor League Hitters


Just as with the big-leaguers, the season is now in full swing for the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor-league teams, and with most hitters having accumulated more than 100 at-bats for the year, there are now some meaningful trends among the players. Obviously, six weeks does not a season make, but it’s enough time to at least make a snap judgement on a player, and it’s often the point at which organizations will start promoting and demoting players due to their early performance. With this in mind, we’ll examine several hitters in the Cardinals system who have gotten off to noticeably hot or cold starts during the early part of the season.

We’ll start off with the Cardinal prospects who have gotten off to good starts at the plate:

  • Greg Garcia, INF (Memphis) HOT- Garcia, who made his big-league debut in spot duty last season, is pushing for an eventual return to the majors as the hottest hitter in the Redbirds’ lineup as of now. While he’s in his third full season at Triple-A and should be expected to dominate the league at this point, he’s definitely putting up respectable numbers, hitting .293/.379/.345 through 116 at-bats. Garcia, who has seen action at shortstop and second base this season for the Redbirds, is hitting .405 with five RBI over his past 10 games.
  • Jonathan Rodriguez, 1B (Springfield) HOT- Rodriguez was probably disappointed to have to return to Springfield after performing capably there during 2014, but he’s doing his best to earn a promotion to Triple-A through the early part of this season. He’s been the best hitter in Springfield’s lineup, hitting for a .292/.353/.443 line with three homers and 15 RBI through 106 at-bats.
  • Jacob Wilson, INF (Springfield) HOT- Wilson,’s 13th-ranked Cards prospect, is a guy that may not impress with the most traditional of “box score scouts”, but he’s doing a good job of breathing life into Springfield’s offense this season. Despite possessing a less-than-impressive .225 batting average, he leads the team in homers (7), RBI (21), walks (17), and slugging percentage (.450). He’ll probably need to start making a bit more contact first, but as a guy who was in line for a promotion to Triple-A before the season, the versatile Wilson could quickly move up to the next level if he keeps getting on base and driving in runs.

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  • Luke Voit, 1B (Palm Beach) HOT- Voit, a 2013 22nd-rounder who is a product of St. Louis and Missouri State, has put up career numbers through the season’s first six weeks. He’s hitting .305/.399/.405, which makes him the team leader in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Voit’s not getting as many extra-base hits as he probably should, and it’s his second year at Palm Beach, which makes his early numbers less impressive, but nevertheless it’s a good sign that he’s started off so well.
  • Nick Thompson, OF (Peoria) HOT- Thompson, an eighth-rounder last June out of William & Mary, has a less-than-impressive .226 batting average through 84 at-bats, but he’s tied for the team lead in on-base percentage at .369, and he’s also tied for the team lead in home runs with four. Throw in a solid 14 RBI, and Thompson is having a solid under-the-radar first full pro season. Thompson is overaged for his league and needs to start making more solid contact, but he’s making a decent impression as he attempts to get himself to Palm Beach as quickly as possible.

And here are a few of the higher-profile Cardinals prospects who have struggled to get things going with the bat early on:

  • Stephen Piscotty, OF (Memphis) COLD- It’s easy to tell that Jeff Luhnow, he of the first-place Astros team with four regular starters hitting under .200, drafted many of these prospects. Piscotty, the Cardinals’ top prospect, is struggling mightily to collect hits at Triple-A Memphis, but his ability to get on base hasn’t suffered, much like his .229/.385-hitting teammate Xavier Scruggs, who just returned from a brief big-league stint. Piscotty has an embarrassing .226 batting average, 41 points below the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League’s average .267 clip. His overall plate discipline, however, is more impressive, as he has a .331 on-base percentage. Piscotty is working on reformulating his swing at Memphis, so he can’t be held fully accountable for his struggles thus far. But as a player who’s in his second full season at Triple-A, time is running short if he wants to establish himself as a future big-league starter.

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  • Ty Kelly, INF/OF (Memphis) COLD- Kelly, going into his third season in the Pacific Coast League and his first in the Cardinals system after being acquired from the Mariners this offseason, was supposed to be one of the Redbirds’ more reliable performers and act as a depth player for the big-league club. Though the 26-year-old has shown solid versatility in the field, seeing action at second base, third base, left field, and center field through his first 35 games, he’s been lost at the plate. Kelly is hitting .170 with just three extra-base hits, one of each variety, through 106 at-bats. He’s taken 19 walks, which leaves him with a much better-looking .294 OBP, but he’s going to need to do a better job of making contact if he wants to earn a big-league call-up anytime soon.
  • Aledmys Diaz, SS (Springfield) COLD- Diaz, who signed a four-year, $8 million dollar deal with the Cardinals a year ago, so far has not lived up to either his contract or his initial billing as the team’s shortstop of the future. The 24-year-old, who is in his second season at Springfield after being limited by injuries last year, is hitting .240/.310/.340 through 103 at-bats. His biggest strength is in the field, where his numbers are still superb, but he needs to step it up at the plate if he plans on supplanting Jhonny Peralta as a big-league starter.
  • Carson Kelly, C (Palm Beach) COLD- Kelly, a former second-rounder who is considered the brightest catching prospect in the organization, is continuing to put the legitimacy of his prospect status in doubt. Kelly, who owns a .243/.308/.363 slash line as a pro, has gotten off to a poor start in his first season at Palm Beach, hitting .208/.271/.302 with two homers through 106 at-bats. On the bright side, he does have an impressive 18 RBI, but with his numbers with runners in scoring position rather unimpressive, he’ll have to do more to cement his status as Yadier Molina’s eventual successor.
  • Rowan Wick, OF (Palm Beach) COLD- After a great stint with the short-season State College Spikes, the Canadian lefthanded hitter has gotten off to a very poor start in High-A this year. Through 122 at-bats, Wick is hitting .189/.217/.320. Most alarmingly, Wick has just three homers thus far after hitting 20 over 260 minor-league at-bats last season. Wick, a former ninth-rounder who had his great season last year while overaged for his league, has always been somewhat of a toss-up as a prospect, but things aren’t looking good at the moment for the player who ranks as the Cardinals’ 26th-best prospect.
  • Magneuris Sierra, OF (Peoria) COLD- Sierra, ranked as the Cardinals’ sixth-best prospect by, has struggled to make strides in his first full season of pro ball. The 19-year-old is still roughly 2.5 years younger than the average hitter in the Midwest League and is the eighth-youngest player in the league overall, but his numbers at the plate are by no means impressive. Through 123 at-bats, Sierra is hitting .203/.233/.268 with just four extra-base hits and five RBI. Perhaps most alarmingly, he has 32 strikeouts but just five walks. He’s got more time to turn it around, but at this point the Cardinals may be wondering whether they were too quick in throwing the teenager into the rigor of full-season baseball.

Check back with us tomorrow, when we’ll have an update on the early progress of the Cardinals’ young pitchers.

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