Though the St. Louis Cardinals rich farm system has been known more for its pitching than its hitting, it is worth noting all three of the organization’s Appalachian League All-Stars for 2013 are position players.
On Friday, the 14-man post-season All-Star Team for the rookie-level league was announced. Across the 10-team circuit, the Johnson City Cardinals selected are catcher/outfielder Rowan Wick, shortstop Kenny Peoples-Walls and outfielder Vaughn Bryan.
Rowan Wick, 20, began the season as the regular catcher while Steve Bean recovered from an injury. Even after Bean returned to the lineup, Wick’s production was so valued, he has been seeing time in right field while batting fifth in manager Joe Kruzel’s lineup.
The powerful left-handed hitter is tied for second in the league with 10 home runs and his 35 RBI is fifth-most. The British Columbia native has drawn 25 walks, leading to a .369 on-base mark that is 14th in the Appy League. Wick is third in slugging at .511 and second in OPS at .880.
Kenny Peoples-Walls’ emergence is an encouraging story. After being drafted early, in the fourth round in 2011, the Los Angeles native and former MLB Urban Youth Academy player showed steady, but unspectacular improvement in repeating the Gulf Coast League in 2012.
This season, while moving up a level, Peoples-Walls has progressed to the point that he was named the Topps Appalachian League Player of the Month for July. His batting average of .295 and OPS of .811 are both 14th in the circuit, while his SLG of .469 is tied for ninth. He turned 20 years of age just one week ago.
The right-handed hitter is tied for sixth in home runs with six and his 31 RBI is ninth-most. Peoples-Walls in second in the league with 36 runs scored and has swiped eight bags in 11 attempts.
At this point, Vaughn Bryan has to be considered one of the Cardinals’ prime steals of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Selected in the 35th round, the 20-year-old outfielder from Broward College has been a most pleasant surprise.
The switch-hitting leadoff man is tied for third in the Appy League with 35 runs scored. Bryan is tied for seventh with four triples and tied for sixth with a dozen stolen bases (in 14 attempts). His average is .272, OPS is .727 and he has a respectable 24 RBI.
The three All-Star selections in 2013 are the most for Johnson City since the club had four players named in 2010, Oscar Taveras’ Appy League season. Last season, first baseman Jeremy Schaffer and reliever Ronnie Shaban were the Cardinals recognized.
Still, even with the three selections, Johnson City’s two .300 hitters this season, first baseman Justin Ringo (.305) and infielder J.J. Altobelli (.301), did not make the squad of the league’s best.
The rookie-level league does not select a mid-season all-star team or hold an all-star game.
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