Ultimately, in both cases, I have to assume the best. The player is assigned at a proper level given the current point in his development and his results must be evaluated within the context of the role that has been defined for him.
Though one would normally consider the best prospects are starting, a simple look at St. Louis' roster moves this season reminds one that relievers performing well even in Double-A could end up in the majors very quickly.
For the month of June, I identified nine pitchers to seriously consider for the Pitcher of the Month. Four spent a majority of the month as relievers with the other five starters. I assumed a minimum of 10 innings pitched. They range in level from Triple-A to the Dominican Summer League.
It is very tempting to stop at the first line and declare our winner. Carlos Martinez is clearly the top-ranked prospect on this list and is positioning himself as the defacto number six starter for St. Louis.
Martinez had a superior 1.72 ground out to fly out ratio while holding Pacific Coast League batters to a collective .218 average. The right-hander fanned almost a batter per inning though his walks were a tad high at just under three per nine innings. Martinez had just two wins in six starts, but that was more due to lack of support than his 2.20 ERA pitching.
While Springfield's Seth Blair's 2.93 ERA and one win do not stack up as tall as the best in June, he deserves special recognition for outduelling MLB veteran Roy Oswalt on June 9. In that contest, Blair threw seven scoreless frames on three hits. He fanned seven and walked just two.
Cory Jones of Peoria logged a 1.36 ERA during June. Of concern is that he yielded three long balls, but still managed to allow just four earned runs. 11 strikeouts in 26 innings is not eye-popping.
In short-season ball, State College's Chris Perry is off to a nice 1.65 ERA beginning in three starts. Of some worry is the fact he had twice as many fly ball outs as ground ball outs.
I wish we had first-hand information about the DSL Cardinals' Frederis Parra. The 18-year-old moved into the rotation this year after pitching in relief in 2012. Though his strikeouts are a bit lower than the others, Parra's other numbers are impressive. It helped that four runs against him were unearned, though inconsistent defense is to be expected at that level.
It can be easy to write off a player when he does not stick in the major leagues. Sam Freeman is relatively old news, ironically having spent the entire month of June 2012 with St. Louis. The 26-year-old could sulk about being passed by last month's top pitcher, Kevin Siegrist, but it appears any disappointment was borne by PCL hitters.
For Memphis last month, Freeman did not allow a run. In fact, the left-hander holds the Triple-A club's longest scoreless innings streak by a reliever this season at 19 2/3. That includes the most recent 18 run-free frames with 20 strikeouts during June. Freeman also walked eight, however.
The former Kansas hurler gave up just six hits while holding PCL batters to a .100 average last month. Freeman is deployed and usually excels in tough situations as evidenced by his leading the Redbirds in inherited runners with 17 and in runners stranded with 12 this season.
Freeman's teammate, right-hander Jorge Rondon, had a 1.35 ERA last month and is getting ground balls. However, his five strikeouts and especially seven walks in 13 1/3 innings, leave a lot to be desired.
Both of these Memphis relievers have an incident weighing against them as they were suspended for their roles in a benches-clearing brawl in Albuquerque on June 15. Rondon sat seven games and Freeman was held out for three June contests as a result.
Since his arrival from Palm Beach, lefty Lee Stoppelman has been solid for Springfield. The 2012 draftee yielded just three hits and two runs in 10 1/3 June frames, but did issue seven free passes.
June was a month of change for Zach Petrick. Arriving in Palm Beach then moving from relieving to starting late in the month, the right-hander allowed just four runs, one earned, in 20 innings. Impressively, Petrick fanned 18 and walked just two, though he had more fly ball outs than ground outs.
Though Freeman and Petrick are among the many that could make a strong case, they cound not trump Carlos Martinez, The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for June.
How did last month's selection do?
With a May ERA of 0.00, our Pitcher of the Month Kevin Siegrist continued his minor league momentum into a major league ticket. The 23-year-old received the call to St. Louis on June 6 after having spent barely two weeks with Memphis.
In his first 10 MLB appearances, the left-hander has been phenomenal. Two hits, no earned runs in 10 innings and a 13:3 strikeout to walk ratio indicate Siegrist may be with the Cardinals for a long time to come.
On Tuesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals announced their official winner of the organizational Pitcher of the Month for June. It is Martinez.
Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
|Player of Month||Pitcher of Month|
|2013||The Cardinal Nation||Cardinals organization||The Cardinal Nation||Cardinals organization|
|April||Jamie Romak||Tommy Pham||John Gast||John Gast|
|May||Kolten Wong||Kolten Wong||Kevin Siegrist||Kevin Siegrist|
|June||Anthony Garcia||Carlos Martinez|
Up next: Our monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings is coming this week, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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