As an important part of naming The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for May, a straw poll of our staff quickly brought three names to the forefront. All of them are worthy candidates: Colin Walsh of Class-A Quad Cities, Mike O’Neill of A-Advanced Palm Beach and Kolten Wong of Double-A Springfield.
Each is demonstrating continued success in 2012 as all three had received honorable mention in TCN’s April top player selection process.
Wong, the Cardinals’ 2011 first-round draft pick, continues to validate his impressive 2012 jump from Quad Cities to Springfield. In terms of prospect rankings and ultimate runway, the second baseman laps the other two finalists. Further, he is the youngest and least experienced, while playing at the highest level.
However, all that doesn’t matter here. The beauty of this process is that age and level aren’t nearly as important in this award as in ranking prospects. This is about the best May performance by a position player in the St. Louis Cardinals system, period.
To help get to the bottom line, let’s look at the cold, hard numbers logged by the three finalists.
By the way, Matt Adams would have joined the three recognized here, were it not for his May 20 call-up to St. Louis. The big first baseman batted .361 with 16 RBI in 17 games and a 1.077 OPS with Memphis.
Wong had a very solid month in the Texas League, but in comparison to the other two, his across-the-board numbers just don’t stack up.
O’Neill trumps the other two in batting average, having finished just two hits short of batting .400 in May. Further, the outfielder logged an amazing strikeout to walk ratio of 4:13. On the other hand, he had the lowest RBI total and was caught stealing more often than successful.
The data really confirms why when the St. Louis Cardinals selected their organizational winner, it was Walsh. The Cardinal Nation concurs with that choice, making the 22-year-old switch-hitting utilityman a dual winner of Player of the Month honors.
Six home runs, 25 RBI in 27 games, 21 walks against only 13 strikeouts, a .366 average and a 1.085 OPS speak for themselves.
Beyond the table, Walsh’s May highlights include a nine-game hitting streak from May 11-20 and a 22-game on-base streak from May 4-30. He homered in consecutive games against Peoria May 5-6, including his first career two-homer game May 6 at Modern Woodmen Park. In a series against Cedar Rapids May 26-29, Walsh hit safely in all five games, scored five runs, hit one home run and drove in 10.
“Colin has always demonstrated good plate discipline throughout his career, and now has begun to display power and a solid hitting approach from both sides of the plate,” said Cardinals farm director John Vuch. “We’re looking forward to watching him continue to build on his tremendous start to this season”.
Speaking of that start, though this is about May, Walsh is pacing the Midwest League in a number of offensive categories. They include 111 total bases, 35 walks, .620 slugging percentage, and .439 on-base percentage. His 12 home runs, 38 runs and 40 RBIs are all the second-highest totals in the Class-A circuit. He is tied for third with 26 extra-base hits, and his .324 batting average ranks fifth in the Midwest League.
The native of La Jolla, Calif. has started 19 games in the outfield, five in the infield and 24 as the River Bandits designated hitter. 2012 is his third season in the Cardinals organization after his selection in the 13th round of the 2010 draft from Stanford University. Walsh played for rookie-level Johnson City, short-season Batavia and Quad Cities in 2010, and was a member of the 2011 Midwest League Champion River Bandits in 2011.
Walsh is playing like he does not want to remain in the Midwest League much longer. Surely league pitchers and opposing managers are looking forward to the day he is promoted.
Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly award selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.
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Coming soon: Our Pitcher of the Month award and next monthly update to the Cardinals prospect rankings, with the latter exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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