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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Nielsen Tops Reyes and Kaminsky at Palm Beach

One of my Scout.com colleagues was rightfully excited about Rob Kaminsky’s two hits allowed over seven scoreless innings on Tuesday night for Class A-Advanced Palm Beach and feels a promotion to Double-A is due. After all, the outing lowered the lefty’s season ERA to 2.14.

Well, believe it or not, Kaminsky’s ERA is just the third best in the Beach Birds’ rotation.

If 2.14 ERA is good enough for a promo, then what about Alex Reyes at 2.08? Considered to have a higher ceiling than Kaminsky, Reyes was named to the MLB Futures Game the same day the organization announced he was being placed on the disabled list with right shoulder soreness that is supposedly minor.

Then again, both of them should take a back seat to teammate Trey Nielsen (pictured), who has a 1.85 ERA this season in 13 starts from the same rotation. Since mid-May, Nielsen has been about unstoppable. In his last seven starts, the right-hander has three scoreless outings and he allowed just one earned run in each of the other four, while averaging between six and seven innings pitched.

2015 thru June TCN top 40 ERA Wins Losses Starts IP/start K/9 innings BB/9 innings Opp BA GO/AO
Nielsen 19 1.85 8 4 13 6 6.4 2.7 0.221 1.9
Reyes 2 2.08 2 5 12 5 13.4 4.5 0.217 1.2
Kaminsky 4 2.14 6 4 14 5 2/3 7.9 2.7 0.237 2.2
Weaver 9 2.97 1 4 8 5 7.1 2.5 0.271 0.9

Looking at these numbers, a promotion case could be made for any of the first three, which is my point. Reyes and Kaminsky are top 100 prospects in all of baseball and are among the top three or four players in the Cardinals system. As a former 30th round draft pick, Nielsen remains almost anonymous.

The son of former MLB player Scott Nielsen was a third baseman at Utah, pitching in just four games as a collegian. Nielsen was drafted in 2013 though he could not pitch due to Tommy John surgery. Last season at State College, the 23-year-old right-hander logged a 2.50 ERA with 49 strikeouts against 14 walks in 50 1/3 innings and tossed six scoreless innings of one-hit ball in his only post-season start for the NY-Penn League champs. Nielsen was among the select invitees to Cardinals Spring Training Early Program (STEP Camp) this March.

In The Cardinal Nation’s June top 40 prospect ranking update (member content), the fast-rising Nielsen has moved up to number 19 in the system.

Despite all this quality pitching, the punchless Florida State League Cardinals have just a 36-40 record. But that is a story for another day.

Updates: In my haste to get the initial post up, I neglected to include the third top 10 Cardinals prospect in the Palm Beach rotation, 2014 first-rounder Luke Weaver. His results to date have been added to the above table for comparison.

Nielsen makes his 14th start of the season for Palm Beach at home against Fort Myers on Wednesday night at Jupiter. The Cardinal Nation members should check out local reporter Chris Greene’s Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook, posted Wednesday mornings all season long and full of news from Roger Dean Stadium.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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53 Responses to “Nielsen Tops Reyes and Kaminsky at Palm Beach”

  1. D_Shore23 says:

    While Nielson may be the most anonymous over Kaminsky and Reyes. He seems the more likely to receive a Double-A promotion over both of them with the Cardinals appearing to more hesitant in moving up their highly-touted prospects. To cut to the point, there’s no rush in moving either of them. Unless, the player development staff wants to appease the Springfield Cardinals to some more success.

  2. crdswmn says:

    Do you see much chance for my man Derek Gibson to see a promotion to AA this season? I would like to watch him play in person.

  3. thejager says:

    Nice article… I think the same could be said for the one guy who has already moved up. Mr. Arturo Reyes who seems to be holding his own

  4. blingboy says:

    Nielson’s modest K/9 in mid levels is a red flag as I understand it.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Tendinitis of the wrist sounds painful. With this problem, Jon jay has not been able to hit as he traditionally has. He needs to head to the DL.
    This jay injury could become the long sought chance for tommy Pham, who has been smacking the ball for Memphis.

    • blingboy says:

      Jay’s injury related decline last year to this year is not as precipitous as Craig’s was, but I would not be surprised if the result is similar. I feel sure somebody else will end up paying the $6.85M next year. That’s the Cardinal Way.

  6. Bw52 says:

    4 losses in a row.Pathetic offense .No RISP hitting when runners get on.Wake up MO.Take charge and get off your butt.Enough with the “we will be fine when Holliday comes back crap:.A black hole at 1B,no consistent table setters.Batting orders all over the place.Pitiful bench.Get some help before it becomes desperate.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Take a look around. Seeing a lot of trades across MLB yet? In fact, seeing any trades? Perhaps some patience would be wise.

      • Bw52 says:

        Patience hah.Mo has known about the problems and has done several Band-Aid fixes ( Scruggs,Greg Garca, Phamfoolery) Time to get the jump on everybody else who is looking offense.Is Patience going to cure the offense or simply wait until the whole pitching staff breaks down?Another week of crappy baseball and the Cards could be chasing instead of leading.Why wait Brian? Waiting for the perfect deal while your lead is shrinking rapidly and your team loses confidence and starts feeling pressured .Reynolds has fallen off the face of the earth,Holliday is a pipe dream,Jay is worthless due to injury,and Kozma is a luxury on a team that cannot afford a luxury.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Uh, because it takes two teams to trade… It always kills me when impatient fans expect deals to magically happen just because one side might be motivated. For example, looking at the entire American League, the very worst team right now is only 6.5 games out of the Wild Card.

          Also, trading teams are often reluctant to signal to their fans any earlier than necessary that they are giving up on the season since they are trying to sell tickets for the next three months of home games. It is better for them to wait since the prospects they are likely getting back in trade aren’t going to help this season, anyway.

          Dump trades will start happening later this month across MLB, with the majority of them occurring around the 30th or 31st, which is the non-waiver trade deadline. Some trades will be waiver deals in August.

          That is the way it works and having a fit until then won’t accomplish anything other than to raise your blood pressure.

          • Bw52 says:

            I know it takes 2 teams to trade.Duh.Being snarky doesn`t accomplish much either .

            • JumboShrimp says:

              Being mean spirited accomplishes little as well.

              The offensive problems can be easily fixed with a simple rule change. Each team should be give 20 runs at the start of a game, with batting practice results credited to the hitters. Then at the end of a game it will be 22 to 21, like American football.

              • Bw52 says:

                No way was I mean spirited.I made a disgusted post about the team and how Mo needed to make something happen now before it gets worse.Being told “having a fit” would not do anything but raise your blood pressure” was snarky.If expressing disgust or frustration is having a fit then this ploace is not worth being around.I hope this site isn`t turning into a cheerleader site.

  7. Bw52 says:

    Just speculation on my part……………………..these are some guys who I think could be available this month in trade.
    Ike Davis 1B Oakland LH salary 3.8. million one of several 1B in Oakland not a FA until after 2016 season.
    Josh Reddick OF- LH batter salary 4.1 million FA after 2016 season-might be available due to ARB salary Oakland
    Steve Pearce 1B-OF Baltimore RH batter 3.7 million FA after 2015
    Adam LaRoche 1B White Sox 2015 salary 12.0 million,2016 salary 13.00 million-too pricey for Cards IMHO
    Trevor Plouffe 3B-1B Minnesota RH batter 4.8 salary 2015 FA after 2017 ARB costs might make him trade bait and younger cheaper options are getting time now.
    Garrett Jones 1B-OF- NYY 2015 salary 5.0 million FA after 2015

    • Brian Walton says:

      Yes those look like some possibilities, though there is no Matt Holliday or even Lance Berkman or Will Clark among them. One part of me hopes the Cards aim higher. Though the cost would be considerably more than for one of the spare part guys you list, I think they need more help than an Ike Davis caliber of player. One could argue they already have that in Reynolds. I guess it all gets down to one’s long-term outlook for Matt Adams.

  8. blingboy says:

    Offshore factors are panicked. Big media needs a nail biter to drive viewership and ad revs. A nail biter will pump things up. Overlay a scandal and the Men in Black and you bury the needle. Same with the AL Central. Astros must stumble. Scandal. Feds. Black choppers on a moonless night. Tax shelters. Insurance payoffs. Deferrals. Why do you think the money will sit out the international draft next year?

    Correa is staked out. T-Rex chew toy. Back the dump truck up to the go-fast boat and head for the Yucatan. It looks like its about baseball. It smells like its about baseball. But its not about baseball.

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    Putting Pham at the top of the lineup was a surprising lineup decision, but it worked.

    Pham has had injuries, but now he is getting a chance owing to injuries to others.

    A decade ago, we used to find post peak vets. They seem fewer. Now reinforcements are From AAA: Scruggs, Garcia, Pham, Lyons, Cooney, Easley, Socolovich

  10. JumboShrimp says:

    Pham provides badly needed help to the lineup.

  11. Bw52 says:

    Pham is fine until he trips over Jaime Garcia walking by the trainers room.

  12. Bw52 says:

    Pham = Stubby Clapp

    • Brian Walton says:

      Pham would still have a long way to go as Clapp’s number was retired by Memphis.

    • crdswmn says:

      Pham is a manifestation of Backup QB Syndrome.

      “Someone else” is theoretically always better. Pham is a talented player who has suffered many injuries that have held him back. He has the “made of glass” label, and is too old to be a prospect. I may be wrong (as I often am) but I think his window has closed, at least with the Cardinals. Perhaps he would be better served to be allowed to shop himself as a minor league FA, but he can’t do that as long as he is on the 40 man and is being held on to by the Cardinals. Or perhaps the Cardinals know way more than I do about the situation, which is the explanation that is most likely.

      As for the current state of the big league club, I am firmly of the opinion that with the exception of 1B, “someone else” is not needed. What is needed is for the “already there” to play better. I also think random variation and slumping is a thing. But those things aren’t sexy, so folks have to go for something else and someone else.

      • Brian Walton says:

        I generally agree with you but have some additional remarks on Pham and others like him. I can think of very few position players who prospered elsewhere after there was an appearance of them being blocked in St. Louis. The best ones find a way to show their stuff and take the next step for good while the AAAA players eventually move on to continue to be AAAA players in other systems (Adron Chambers, Tyler Greene, Ryan Jackson, Jermaine Curtis, Audry Perez, etc…) To bring this full circle, that group includes Clapp himself!

        • crdswmn says:

          True, but what realistically are Pham’s options? Continue to stay with the Cardinals and compete with the myriad of OF options both above and below him on the depth chart? Even if he could stay on the Cardinals big league club, he will be in his mid thirties before he can become a FA and is he likely to be a starter during that time or just a bench player? He could be traded, but does he have much trade value with his injury history and lack of significant major league experience as of right now? I guess he could stay with the Cardinals and build up trade value by staying healthy, but that could take a while and he isn’t getting any younger.

          • Brian Walton says:

            His best answer is to play better than the guys ahead of him and force his way onto the team. That is what Matt Adams did, for example, even though the team already had Allen Craig at his position. I get that you don’t like the system, but it is what it is until it is changed.

            Perhaps if he is dissatisfied, he could through his agent, request a trade. However, I would be very careful, because getting what you ask for may not always be all it appears from afar.

            • crdswmn says:

              Matt Adams benefited from Allen Craig cratering.

              I get what you are saying, but I see that as a very tall task. Jay and Bourjos are likely gone after next year (hopefully Bourjos before then), but there is still the magnificence of Randal Grichuk to deal with. He could also suffer more injuries, or some other OFer in the system could outshine him.

              It just seems to me he would have a better chance with a team that doesn’t have the plethora of OF options that the Cardinals have.

              I don’t have a dog in this fight, just opining out of boredom.

              • Brian Walton says:

                No, Adams made the team for good in 2013 during Craig’s All-Star season.

                Other teams have good prospects too and they know their own guys a lot better than outsiders.

                • crdswmn says:

                  Yes, he did, but he shared time with Craig at 1B, and only became a starter after Beltran left and Craig moved to the OF. He was also 3 years younger than Pham is now with no other obstacles to contend with other than an aging and subsequently injured Craig. Pham has more obstacles in his path.

                  Like I said, I am not arguing for any particular scenario. I just think Pham has a mountain to climb if he stays with the Cardinals that Adams didn’t have.

      • blingboy says:

        IMO the center field job is wide open and Pham is getting the same chance to walk away with it that Bourjos got when he arrived here. The Cards wanted somebody to take the job away from Jay before and they still do. No 27 year old rookie ever had a clearer path.

  13. Bw52 says:

    Speaking of giveaways……..Cards bullpen let 2 slip away today along with another poor offensive day.Meanwhile Mo fiddles while Stlouis burns.

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