Before I started writing this article, I assumed that Memphis' Joey Butler would be the selection as The Cardinal Nation's first Player of the Month for 2014. After all, it would be an easy story to write.
Removed from the 40-man roster as spring training ended, the 27-year-old looked to be buried behind three top prospect outfielders at Triple-A. Instead of sulking, Butler hit his way into regular playing time and logged the top April batting average and OPS in the system.
Here's the problem. There are other measures of productivity that I consider and they point me in a different direction.
When considering runs scored and runs batted in, two important measures for run creation and delivery, Butler does not register among the system-wide leaders. Same with home runs.
There is only one player who ranked among the April organizational leaders in all five of these categories – batting average, OPS, runs, RBI and home runs. That is Springfield outfielder James Ramsey.
Let's go to the numbers, starting with all 11 .300 hitters and those with .900 or higher OPS.
|Joey Butler||Mem||0.388||Joey Butler||Mem||1.067|
|Audry Perez||Mem||0.386||Jonathan Rodriguez||Spr||1.059|
|Jonathan Rodriguez||Spr||0.346||James Ramsey||Spr||0.957|
|Cesar Valera||Peo||0.328||Audry Perez||Mem||0.923|
|Ronald Castillo||Peo||0.325||Oscar Taveras||Mem||0.922|
|C.J. McElroy||Peo||0.325||Starlin Rodriguez||PB||0.912|
Along with Butler, who leads both categories, reigning Texas League Player of the Week Jonathan Rodriguez had a very strong April. Ramsey and hot-hitting Oscar Taveras also registered among the leaders. Palm Beach has no .300 hitters.
|James Ramsey||Spr||6||Jacob Wilson||PB||20|
|Oscar Taveras||Mem||5||Ronald Castillo||Peo||18|
|Greg Garcia||Mem||5||James Ramsey||Spr||17|
|David Washington||PB||5||Oscar Taveras||Mem||17|
|Jonathan Rodriguez||Spr||4||Mason Katz||Peo||17|
|Anthony Garcia||PB||4||Randal Grichuk||Mem||17|
|Mason Katz||Peo||4||Aledmys Diaz||Spr||16|
As we move to home runs and RBI, Butler is nowhere to be found. Home run leader Ramsey and Taveras are, however. Rodriguez is among the most prolific home run hitters, but fell just short of the runs driven in leaders. Honorable mentions include top RBI man Jacob Wilson, Ronald Castillo and Mason Katz.
|James Ramsey||Spr||21||Juan Herrera||Peo||7|
|Mike ONeill||Spr||18||Breyvic Valera||PB||6|
|Starlin Rodriguez||PB||18||C.J. McElroy||Peo||6|
|C.J. McElroy||Peo||17||Greg Miclat||Spr||6|
|Rafael Ortega||Spr||17||Charlie Tilson||PB||5|
Ramsey leads his second category, runs scored. The left-handed hitter finished April eighth in the system in batting average, third in OPS, first in runs and home runs and tied for third in RBI. That makes for an impressive breadth of contributions from The Cardinal Nation's Player of the Month for April, James Ramsey.
Like Butler, Ramsey could have been discouraged to start the season. To end 2013, the 24-year-old reached Memphis and then competed in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Yet due to the sheer number of outfielders at Triple-A, Ramsey had to return to Springfield for 2014. He began this campaign as the Texas League Player of the Week for the period of April 3-14.
If Ramsey keeps up this level of performance, his return to Double-A should not last too long.
Note: Though stolen bases did not sway the decision-making, I included the leaders above for informational purposes. His teammate Juan Herrera paced the system in steals, but C.J. McElroy was just one behind, placed among the system-wide scoring leaders, as well, and batted a cool .325.
2014 monthly award winners
|Starter of Month||Pitcher of Month||Reliever of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||2014|
|Player of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||2014|
Coming soonThe Cardinals organization's own selection for top pitcher and player will be announced soon. Because bullpenners always find it difficult to compete with starters, The Cardinal Nation is adding a monthly top reliever award for 2014, as well. In addition, our first monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings is coming soon, exclusively for TCN subscribers.
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