note: Check back here through
November 25 as our local writers call out the top players – starter, reliever
and position player - at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league
system. We’ll conclude the series with the top three players across the entire
organization – our 2007 Scout.com Cardinals Players of the Year.
When Brian Walton asked me to pull
together a “Cardinals Players of the Year” article for Johnson City, my first
thought was that it would be difficult to figure out who should be considered
“in the running”, given all the movement of players into and out of the roster
The 2007 Johnson City Cardinals roster saw
forty-three different players receive playing time during the season. Twenty-one of those were pitchers and
twenty-two were position players.
Of the twenty-one pitchers, ten were part of the tandem starting pitcher
rotation system and eleven were relievers.
Of the forty-three who saw playing time for Johnson
twenty-five players (fifty-eight percent of the roster) were on another Cardinal
minor league team at some point during the season. In fact, only seven position players
played their entire season at Johnson City.
Position Player of the Year
The list below shows the names,
primary position, number of games played, and number of times that player was
awarded the “position player of the game” for Johnson City. The list is ordered from top to bottom
by the number of games played.
Those players who played fewer than
thirty-four games (half) of the sixty-eight-game schedule were not considered to
be “in the running” for position player of the year. The twelve players (Charlie Pelt, Paul Vasquez, Jose Garcia, Tony Cruz, Pete Kozma, Ivan Castro, Osvaldo Morales, Brian Buck, Wilmer Alvarado, Roberto Espinoza, Rob Sanzillo, and Hector Alvarez) that
were excluded contributed seventeen “position player of the game” awards.
I will discuss each of the ten players
above in reverse order of how I ranked them for the
Matt Arburr, 10th – Arburr
was second on the team in both triples and home runs however, Arburr had the
greatest strikeout rate (41 percent of his at-bats) and the lowest batting
average (.207). An on base plus
slugging average (OPS) of .687 for an older first baseman/designated hitter
sealed his position toward the bottom of the
Joey Hage, 9th – Hage was
promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals to start Week Four, got his
average up to .277 at the end of Week Seven, and then ended the season at
.208. Hage is a pretty good contact
hitter with very little power. His
outfield defense is above average and he demonstrates good range. Hage was the third youngest of the
forty-three who played so he has time to improve. Hage seemed to be a little bit
overmatched by some of the better pitching he faced.
Casey Mulligan, 8th – Mulligan was with
Johnson City for the second year in a row after hitting only
.201 in sixty games last year. He
improved in all aspects of his game this year but not as much as I had
expected. Hampered by injuries and
lack of a steady fielding position, Mulligan showed great flexibility in being
able to catch, play third base, play first base, and be the designated
hitter. He started slowly, had a
great Week Four to raise his average to .345, and then slowly dropped his
average to .256 by the end of the year.
Mike Folli, 7th – Folli
earned the workhorse of the team award by playing the most games but he was also
the oldest of the ten finalists and was thirty-sixth oldest of the
forty-three. He got his average up
to .306 after hitting .407 during Week Seven but his average steadily dropped
over the last five weeks, ending at .269 for the year. The switch-hitting Folli hit much better
against right-handed pitchers.
Domnit Bolivar, 6th – Bolivar struggled
with his fielding at shortstop, averaging one error every two games, however he
has very good range and made some spectacular, highlight-reel plays. He was the youngest player on the team
and will not be nineteen years old until next May. Bolivar only hit .240 with
being promoted to Batavia during Week Nine but his best impression at the
plate was his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. Bolivar was one of the better hitters on
the team when the pressure to perform was greatest. He will need to be a little more
selective at the plate as he matures.
Bolivar averaged a team low of one walk every thirty-two at bats.
Nick Vera, 5th – Vera was
4-for-4 with two doubles in Game One of the year but then went on a 4-for-31
streak over the next three weeks.
He was relegated to a back-up role and his average dropped to .196 at the
end of Week Five. Vera then
averaged over .400 for three consecutive weeks and raised his season average to
.314. He finished with a .286
average but struggled defensively at third base. Vera committed six errors in eight games
at third base during Week Nine and finished the year playing some first base and
right field. He was the ninth
oldest of the ten finalists.
Adron Chambers, 4th –
Chambers was injured during a large part of the season but he played very well
when he was able to play. He was
the only left-handed hitter of the ten finalists and his good speed allows him
to get some unexpected infield base hits and outfield line drive outs. Chambers
was little bit older than average (seventh of the ten finalists) but looks to
have a lot of upside potential with both hitting and fielding. He got his average up to .306 after Week
Eight but like many others, it tailed off toward the end of the season and ended
Travis Mitchell, 3rd – Mitchell showed
the most improvement of the finalists repeating a year with
City. He hit only .207 last year in
fifty-eight games but improved that to .293 this year in fifty-three games. Mitchell will need to be a little more
selective at the plate since he averaged only one walk every twenty-four at
bats. He tied for the team lead in
stolen bases for the second straight year and added the ability to bunt for base
hits this year. Mitchell also
dramatically improved his power by going from a slugging average of .235 last
year to .382 this year. If he
continues to listen to coaches, work hard, and play defense with outstanding
range in centerfield, he will get even more attention as a top prospect in the
Jon Edwards, 2nd – Edwards
had a great start last year at Johnson City but tailed off toward the end of the
year and finished the year hitting .266 in forty-eight games. Following that up with a year of .245 in
fifty-five games might seem to be discouraging however, he led the finalists in
doubles, home runs, total bases, runs-batted-in, walks, slugging, and OPS. Edwards’s downside was his strikeout
rate of more than one in every three at bats. He has a great arm in right field and
still looks to be a great prospect for the future, especially if he can shorten
his swing and continue to improve his pitch
Beau Riportella, 1st –
Riportella is not flashy and needs to improve his power and his off-speed pitch
hitting but he is young and fast and has a lot of upside potential. He hit .315 as the sixth youngest player
of the forty-three and the third youngest of the ten finalists. Riportella tied Mitchell for the team
lead in stolen bases and had the best success rate of the eight players with
five or more attempts. He had the
longest hitting steak of the year at fifteen games. Riportella had his average as high as
.368 after Week Six but saw his average decline after a wrist injury caused him
to miss almost two weeks of playing time.
He had the fewest errors of all the outfielders and would have likely had
even fewer than the two he had if he had been able to settle into one outfield
position like most of the other outfielders were able to do.
Relief Pitcher of the Year
The list below shows the names, number
of games pitched, number of saves, innings pitched, and number of times that
pitcher was awarded the “pitcher of the game” for Johnson City. The list is ordered from top to bottom
by the number of games pitched.
Those pitchers who threw fewer than fifteen innings were not considered
to be “in the running” for relief pitcher of the year. The six relievers (Chuck Fick, Wladimir Mendoza, Ryan Hodinka, Steven Hill, Matt Spade, and Pete Parise) that were
excluded contributed seven “pitcher of the game” awards.
I will discuss each of the five relief pitchers
above in reverse order of how I ranked them for the award.
LaCurtis Mayes, 5th – Mayes had the most
walks, the highest walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP), and the second
highest earned run average (ERA) of the finalists. He allowed seven of twelve inherited
runners to score but he was the seventh youngest of the forty-three who played
so he has time to improve. Mayes is
quick to home from the stretch and performed the best of the relievers against
stolen bases, allowing four while nabbing three. He injured his pitching elbow during
Ray Silva, 4th – Silva joined the team
late as a free agent signing but saw a lot of action in middle relief. Silva was the second oldest player of
the forty-three who played but he performed well with inherited runners,
allowing just two of ten to score.
Dylan Gonzalez, 3rd – Gonzalez has some
entertaining habits between pitches on the mound but he struggled with his pitch
counts against many hitters. He
would often seem to struggle more with self-induced jams than he did with
inherited runners, only allowing five of fourteen in the later category to
score. Gonzalez was one of the
older players on the team and was a steady performer.
Joel Pichardo, 2nd – Pichardo was a
mid-season call-up from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals who immediately
performed well in middle relief when starting his own inning. He allowed six of eight runners to score
when he didn’t start his own inning.
The nineteen year-old Pichardo demonstrated excellent control, walking
only five, but was not much of a strikeout pitcher.
Eduardo Sanchez, 1st – This was much
easier than the position players and the tandem starters. Sanchez, like Pichardo, joined the team
mid-season after a promotion from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. He led the relievers in virtually all of
the important statistical categories:
ERA, WHIP, wins, saves, strikeouts, walks, strikeouts per inning. Sanchez performed very well in a closer
role against the best teams in the Appalachian League. He is still just eighteen years old and
was the fourth youngest player on the team. Sanchez looks to have a perfect attitude
for a closer and should follow in the footsteps of former Johnson
such as Luke Gregerson and Mark Worrell.
Tandem Starting Pitcher of the Year
The list below shows the names, number of games
pitched, innings pitched, number of saves/blown saves, and number of times that
pitcher was awarded the “pitcher of the game” for
City. The list is ordered from top to bottom
by the number of games pitched.
Those pitchers who threw fewer than twenty-five innings were not
considered to be “in the running” for tandem starting pitcher of the year. Only one of the ten starters (Reynier Gonzalez) was excluded using this criterion.
With the tandem starting pitcher system, the
starters were sometimes entering the game in a save situation when it wasn’t
their turn to start. The starters
were able to garner only four saves in those situations. The team had thirteen blown saves for
the year with the starters contributing seven.
I will discuss each of the nine
starting pitchers above in reverse order of how I ranked them for the
Omar Javier, 9th – Javier pitched quite well in spurts but
when he had to pitch well in close games or tight situations, he simply didn’t
make good pitches. His record
finished at 0-8 and he was last amongst the nine starters in ERA, WHIP, hits,
runs, home runs, walks, and errors.
The fourth youngest of the starters, Javier just turned twenty years old
Senger Peralta, 8th – Peralta averaged
more than a strikeout per inning but he also allowed more than a hit per
inning. He had several innings with
more than one strikeout and no hits allowed so he tended give up hits and runs
in bunches. Peralta’s performance
in tight situations and with runners in scoring position was simply not good
enough to rank any higher on this list.
Peralta had labrum surgery last year after just three games and two
starts at Johnson City. The
lefty from Venezuela was able to garner only two wins over two
Tyler Leach, 7th – Another pitcher
returning to Johnson City after missing significant time due to injury,
Leach showed signs of great pitching but suffered some of the biggest ups and
downs of any starter this year. He
pitched his best against the Astros in Game Twenty-Six, allowing only one hit
over five innings while facing the minimum number of fifteen batters. Leach pitched his worst in Game Eighteen
when he allowed seven earned runs on three walks and four hits without retiring
a single batter. Hopes were high
for Leach when he was announced as the opening day starter.
Mark Diapoules, 6th –
Leading the team in hit batters and wild pitches, Diapoules struggled with his
control and with lower back pain throughout the year. He was the second youngest of the
starters and will look to turn things around next year.
Jose Arredondo, 5th –
Equipped with the team’s best curve ball, Arredondo was a little too
inconsistent throughout the year to rank any higher. He ranked third in the league with a
microscopic 1.03 WHIP but he didn’t make smart pitches in many tight situations
while losing five games and blowing three saves. Arredondo just turned twenty years old
two months ago and will look to gain more experience next
Jose Mateo, 4th – Mateo is
the best on the team at pitching to contact with a good sinker/slider. Unfortunately, he tested an infield that
didn’t perform well behind him and over one third of his runs allowed ended up
being unearned. Mateo deserved a
better fate this year and with slightly better control, should battle for a
starting position with a long season A-level team next year. He was the oldest of the nine starters
although he just turned twenty-one three months ago and there were fifteen
players older than him this year on the team.
Nick Additon, 3rd – The best strikeout
pitcher on the team finished ninth in the league with sixty-one. Additon gave up a few more hits and
extra-base hits than I would like to see but when he is keeping his pitches down
in the zone and getting his breaking ball across for strikes, he is almost
unhittable. Additon allowed the
most home runs of all the starters but he will not turn twenty until next month
so the future is bright for the lefty from Florida.
Andres Rosales, 2nd –
Rosales made a big impression after he was called up from the Gulf Coast League
Cardinals in Week Seven. The
somewhat undersized (six foot tall and 140 pounds might be generous) pitcher
wearing glasses looks out of place on the mound until you see him pitch with
pinpoint control and with the aggressiveness of a closer. Rosales was the youngest of the starters
and will not turn twenty until next June.
He is not afraid to pitch inside to make a point. He had four wild pitches and five hit
batters while only walking five. If
you like strikeouts, Rosales probably deserves to be first. He had the second best ratio of
strikeouts to innings pitched on the team and the best for the starters. Rosales struggled in his last appearance
against the Eastern Division Champion Danville
Brian Broderick, 1st – Broderick pitched with pinpoint control throughout the year, walking just four batters in thirty-six innings. His ability to work all the edges of the strike zone while staying out of the middle of the plate was a joy for this fan to watch. He has a very deliberate windup, taking a reproducible four to four and half seconds from first motion to the pitch crossing the plate. Broderick is a tall thin pitcher who could probably add some weight and some velocity. His size easily projects to a major league level pitcher. Broderick’s success is dependent on his location and control. He shined in his last appearance against the Appalachian League and Western Division Champion Elizabethton Twins.
|of the Year
Next up: Gulf Coast League / Dominican Summer League / Venezuelan Summer League
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