Even without his first-ever call up to the major leagues, which occurred on Monday, and his St. Louis Cardinals debut, which happened the very next day, outfielder Jon Jay is a most deserving recipient of our first The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month nod for 2010.
The 25-year-old was the offensive leader for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds for the first month of the season, leading the club in average (.347), on-base percentage (.420), slugging (.542), OPS (.962), total bases (39), runs (16), stolen bases (7-for-7), and impressively drew as many walks as strikeouts (eight each).
At the time of his promotion, Jay was tied with Daniel Descalso for the Memphis team lead with six multi-hit games. The left-handed hitter collected at least one hit in each of his first 16 games with the Redbirds before his hitting streak ended on Sunday in his final contest before his promotion. That was on the heels of a three-hit performance last Saturday. Overall, Jay hit two home runs and drove in 11, second-best on the Redbirds.
Taken in the second round of the 2006 draft, the former Miami Hurricanes star has been among the Pacific Coast League’s offensive leaders all month as well. Even after missing the final four games of April following his promotion, Jay's seven stolen bases are good for a tie for fifth in the PCL. His 16 runs scored places him fourth in the league and his .347 average is seventh. He is 11th in total bases and 14th in OPS.
With St. Louis, Jay offers Tony La Russa a left-handed hitter off the bench who can play both corner outfield positions, first base and centerfield in a pinch. Though it was not a part of the consideration for this award, Jay was given his first big-league start in Friday night’s rain-delayed loss in St. Louis. He earned his first MLB assist by throwing out a runner at the plate and collected his first major league hit, a ground-rule double. Jay came around to score the Cardinals’ second and final run of the evening. He had been added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster this past November to protect him from potentially being lost via the Rule 5 Draft.
His strong April is not only a redemption of sorts for Jay, it indicates he did not let his uneven major league spring camp and not initially making the Cardinals influence his play. He had arrived at Jupiter, Florida in February as a frontrunner to make the major league team as a reserve, but neither performed well with the bat nor glove, and was optioned to Memphis on March 26. Exactly one month later, on April 26, he received the call to join St. Louis.
Spring camp is ancient history now as Jon Jay excelled with Memphis when it counted and has earned recognition as The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for April.
Update: On Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals organization also announced Jay as their Player of the Month for April.
Note: Check back here Sunday for the announcement of the winner of The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for April.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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