In selecting The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month of June, a straw poll of our staff brought forward seven names. All are worthy candidates, with the group including the two previous winners this season – Oscar Taveras of Double-A Springfield (April) and Colin Walsh of Class-A Quad Cities (May).
The other nominees are Zack Cox of Triple-A Memphis, Taveras’ teammate Xavier Scruggs, two players from A-Advanced Palm Beach – Jonathan Rodriguez and Starlin Rodriguez and Walsh’s teammate Anthony Garcia.
To help select our winner, let’s look at the numbers logged by the seven, listed from highest level of play to lowest.
Cox had a tremendous June, batting .377, but the third baseman only played in 18 games after missing time due to a concussion. Jonathan Rodriguez is eliminated for the same reason. The first baseman is now out for the year after suffering a wrist injury during the month.
Like the others, Jonathan Rodriguez’ teammate Starlin Rodriguez, batted .300. The second baseman (no relation), swiped as many bases as the other six combined, but fell short in the power categories.
Walsh continues to lead the Midwest League in multiple offensive areas, and his June RBI total of 24 in 24 games was impressive. Yet, the utilityman’s .900 OPS month doesn’t stack up as well with the others. His teammate Garcia continues to be one of the most underrated hitters in the system, with the outfielder logging June numbers that were better than most, but not best.
The data indicates why the St. Louis Cardinals selected Taveras as their organizational winner. The 20-year-old outfielder led this group in doubles and was second in a number of other categories. In addition, Taveras earned the MVP award of the Texas League All-Star Game.
Yet The Cardinal Nation’s winner put up better June numbers than even Taveras, who is currently on his way to the MLB Futures Game and is the top-ranked position player prospect in the system. Remember that this award isn’t about the future, though – it recognizes the last 30 days alone.
That is important to remember because there is no doubt that Xavier Scruggs suffered through a very rough start to the 2012 season. The right-handed hitter batted just .176 in April and .221 in May.
Scruggs put that aside and played exceptionally well in June, earning our Player of the Month honors for his results last month. Springfield’s first baseman plated 25 runs in just 23 games. The 24-year-old topped this group in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. During June, he more than doubled his first two months’ modest home run and RBI totals.
Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation June Player of the Month, Xavier Scruggs. June must just be his month, as Scruggs won this same award in June 2011 when he played for Palm Beach.
Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly award selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.
Looking ahead: For the final two months of the regular season, the pool of potential candidates for both Player and Pitcher of the Month awards almost doubles as the three short-season clubs – Batavia, Johnson City and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals – play a full slate of games.
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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. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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