As it was after the first month of the season, the Cardinals are flirting around a .500 winning percentage, while still getting production from its youngsters. How they perform through the rest of May and June weighs heavily on the outlook of the rest of the season.
Aledmys Diaz Surging
Before the season started, I knew of Aledmys Diaz, however I honestly could not have told you how he spelled his first name, now it is etched in my brain. Diaz has had one of the hottest starts to a major league career this season and is an early candidate for the National League rookie of the year.
If you take a glance at some of the top hitting categories for the National League, it would not take long for you to notice Diaz’s name at the top of several categories. For starters, he and Daniel Murphy of the Nationals have been switching back-and-forth between the leading hitter, according to batting average. Murphy is currently in the lead at .395, but Diaz is not too far behind in second at .376. His hot hitting is not just bloopers through the infield, but often have been line drives into the gaps of the outfield, and it shows as he is second in slugging percentage (.648), Yoenis Cespedes (.656) recently took over the leading spot, and leads the NL in OPS (1.051), and is only second in the MLB behind MVP candidate Jose Altuve (1.058) of the Astros. Diaz is also among the top ten in four other hitting categories among the National League (hits, runs scored, total bases, and doubles). If you are a sabermetric guy, he is also leading the NL in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), currently at 2.0.
Despite his hot bat, his play at shortstop has left something to be desired, being a large contributor to the Cardinals disappoint defensive showing nearly two months into the season. He is leading the way with 10 errors, all made at shortstop.
Jhonny Peralta Update
Recent news has been released that has Cardinal shortstop Jhonny starting his rehabilitation assignment tomorrow in single-A as he strives to return from a March thumb surgery.
What does this mean for Diaz and the rest of the roster? In an ideal world, whenever Peralta is ready and healthy enough to return to St. Louis, I would like to think that could spell the end for Ruben Tejada’s place in the organization, and would not mind to see him designated for assignment. For Diaz, he is going to have to keep up his hot hitting if he wants to consistently be in the starting lineup. I could see him moving over to second base, and being used in a platoon system with Kolten Wong.
Peralta was arguably the best hitter for the Cardinals last season, for a overall sluggish offense. With him returning to one of the league’s best offenses, Cardinals fans should be giddy with excitement. He hit .275, 17 HR, 71 RBI, .745 OPS, and posted a 1.8 WAR in 2015.
Major League Roster Moves
- Seth Maness placed on 15 day disabled list, with right elbow inflammation
- Dean Kiekhefer recalled from AAA Memphis
- Outfielder Tommy Pham sent to AAA Memphis after recent rehab assignment
These three transactions were the main headlines in Cardinals news throughout the organization. Bringing up left handed relieve Dean Kiekhefer is interesting due to the major league club already having lefties Tyler Lyons and Kevin Siegrist in the bullpen, but through his first two games of work, he has looked impressive. The only knock on him was a solo home run off the bat of Dodgers rookie Corey Seager. He has also has five strikeouts through 2.2 innings of work.
Credits: USA Today Images
The reasoning for leaving Tommy Pham in the minors, according to John Mozeliak, was that he needed more at bats and the best place for that was Memphis. The Cardinals outfield is certainly crowded with Piscotty, Holliday, Hazelbaker, and Grichuk rotating as the main starters. However, bringing Pham back to St. Louis would give the Cardinals the chance to play Holliday at first base more, which has been disappointing with the performances of Matt Adams and Brandon Moss. Pham would also boost the outfield’s defense with him patrolling center field.
Farm System Spotlight
Occasionally, I will post some blurbs about the farm system. I have the opportunity to work the Springfield Cardinals (AA) games this season as a pitch clock operator, so the main focus of these will be from my judgement off of watching those games but I hope to include some insight on some players from the other minor league affiliates. In no way do I have any insider information or do my opinions reflect the organization’s. This section will focus on outfield Harrison Bader, for the AA ball club.
The former third round draft pick out of the University of Florida, looks like the complete package thus far. Before this recent home-stand, he was up hitting above .370, but a slight slump has him down to .351 (I know, how terrible right?). He has also hit seven home runs with 21 runs batted in, and also sported a seventeen game hitting streak during his hot start. He has mainly hit from the lead-off spot.
Bader went straight from low-A in Peoria straight to AA in Springfield after being drafted in last June and has recently received some praise from John Mozeliak as a player that the front office will be keeping an eye on. He has shown some skills that has him looking like a 5-tool player, flashing his glove and speed in center field along with his power at the plate.
A slight concern that I have early on, is his plate discipline. I think this stems from his hot start, that he has gained such great confidence in his abilities which has caused him to swing at some poor pitches in some at-bats, so I’ll be looking to see if he can improve upon that part of his game in coming weeks.
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All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.