The decision for The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month was incredibly easy to make.
The July put together by Quad Cities outfielder Oscar Taveras stood head and shoulders above his very formidable hitting peers across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. This despite the fact the quantity of competition was even greater than previously. With all short-season clubs having played a full July schedule, the pool size of position players under consideration for this award increased by at least 50.
Just one month after his 19th birthday, the left-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic showed no mercy to bewildered Midwest League pitchers, unable to devise a way to get him out consistently. Taveras exited the month with an active nine-game hitting streak on the heels of a 12-game streak put on the books earlier in July.
It wasn’t just his .402 batting average, as 16 of Taveras’ 41 hits went for extra bases and he collected 27 RBI in just 25 games played. Overall, his July line was a spectacular .402/.448/.637/1.086 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS).
Taveras' .402 monthly average was number one in the Midwest League and ranked sixth in all of Minor League Baseball. His 27 RBI was tied for third among low Class-A affiliates.
Taveras also took the Cardinals organization’s nod as having the top July performance.
“Oscar has a very advanced bat for his age and has hit well all year at Quad Cities,” explained Cardinals farm director John Vuch. “He is beginning to make steady improvements in the other aspects of his game, such as base running and defense, as he continues to develop into a well-rounded player. We’re excited to see him continue to progress and mature as a player.”
Congratulations to Oscar Taveras, The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for July.
Memphis shortstop Tyler Greene may have struggled during his brief major league trials, but he had a fine month in Triple-A. In 24 games and 97 at-bats with the Redbirds, the 27-year-old had 34 hits, including 10 doubles, a triple and six home runs. Greene’s July line was .351/.438/.660/1.097. He scored 18 runs, drove in 15 and was 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
Despite being just 24 years of age, catcher Bryan Anderson is old news to many Cardinals prospect watchers. Starting every day with Tony Cruz in St. Louis, the left-handed hitter had a fine July. Working on a seven-game hitting streak, Anderson batted .351, just like Greene. His OBP and SLG were .449 and .527, respectively.
During a season in which Cardinals minor league catchers have been shuffled extensively, Springfield’s Charles Cutler will not be lost in the shuffle. The left-handed hitter has been so hot, his manager has even played him in the outfield just to keep his bat in the lineup. In 18 July games, the 25-year-old posted a Taveras-threatening slash line of .439/.494/.606.
Though he batted just .280 in July, it is impossible to write one of these articles without checking in on Springfield first baseman Matt Adams. Sure enough, the 22-year-old continues to produce, having driven in 29 runners in 28 games played last month.
2010 first-round draft pick Zack Cox has experienced an up-and-down season, his first as a professional. After tearing up the Florida State League, the 22-year-old batted just .180 in his initial full month of Double-A play in June and had a string of errors. The left-handed hitter turned the page in July with a line of .380/.446/.556 and shored up his play in the field as well.
Dodging injuries, Palm Beach’s Kyle Conley played in just 14 games in July, but had five home runs, 11 RBI and an OPS of .962. If the 24-year-old can carry that success into August, he will be seen here again.
Batavia’s David Medina shook off a .216 June to post a solid .343/.433/.566 line in the New York-Penn League. The 22-year-old Dominican drove in 19 runs in 28 July outings.
Johnson City is having continued success in 2011 and one reason is Anthony Garcia. The 22-year-old outfielder assembled a July line of .349/.452/.581 for manager Mike Shildt’s club.
Garcia’s teammate, 21-year-old infielder Tyler Rahmatulla, is just starting his second full month as a professional. You would never know it by his 21 RBI in 26 July contests. He kept his strikeouts and walks level at 16 and his line was an impressive .326/.421/.611 in Appalachian League play.
Former bonus baby Roberto De La Cruz could improve in the field, but his bat spoke loudly for Johnson City last month. Still just 19 years of age, the right-handed hitter from the Dominican blasted nine home runs and drove in 24 in 24 games. De La Cruz’ line was .286/.323/.648.
Second baseman Ildemaro Vargas just left his teenage years behind two weeks ago in the midst of a torrid July for the Gulf Coast League Cards. The Venezuelan went 25-for-59 (.424) and posted a 1.071 OPS.
You might argue the competition in the Dominican Summer League may not be as strong as in the US, but it seems like outfielder Amauris Capellan could hit anywhere. Last month, the 18-year-old slugged five home runs and collected 25 RBI in just 20 games. The right-handed hitter’s line was .405/.482/.716/1.199.
Capellan’s teammate, second baseman Robelys Reyes, topped Capellan with a video game-like slash line of .437/.529/.676/1.205. The switch-hitting Venezuelan just turned 21.
21-year-old DSL third baseman Ronnierd Garcia batted .362 in July and plated 14 in 16 games.
Dominican Rafael Medina, also a third baseman for the DSL Cards, almost kept up with Garcia by hitting .356 last month.
Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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