By J.Y. Mortimer
Rajcic First Pitcher to Earn Award in First Professional Season Since 2011; Top Prospect Hence Captures Award After Earning First Two Professional Wins; Dunn Led All Cardinals Minor Leaguers in AVG, OPS, Hits and Total Bases
ST. LOUIS, Mo., July 5, 2023 – The St. Louis Cardinals today announced their selections for Minor League Player and co-Pitchers of the Month for June, with Springfield (AA) second baseman Nick Dunn, Peoria (High-A) right-handed starter Max Rajcic, and Springfield right-handed starter Tink Hence taking home the honors.
Rajcic, 21 (turns 22 on August 3), posted a 2-2 record with a 1.86 ERA (6 ER/29.0 IP), 0.83 WHIP, 29 strikeouts and a .190 average against across five starts in June. He tossed six no-hit innings in his first start of the month win a June 5 win vs. Daytona and finished by taking another no-hit bid through six innings in his High-A debut with Peoria on June 30 vs. Cedar Rapids. He also earned his first complete game shutout by pitching five shutout innings in a rained shortened 1-0 win vs. St. Lucie on June 16. Rajcic becomes the first Cardinals minor league to take home Pitcher of the Month honors in his first professional season since RHP Kyle Hald won with short-season Johnson City in August 2011.
“Max earned a promotion to Peoria in late June, for the month starting 5 games, 29.0 innings, 29 strikeouts and only 5 walks,” said Cardinals Assistant GM & Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque.
Selected in the 6th round of the 2022 MLB Draft, the former UCLA Bruin recently moved into the organization’s Top 10 Prospects List after ranking number 10 in Baseball America’s midseason update. Through 13 starts this season, Rajcic owns a 6-4 record with a 1.97 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 74 strikeouts across 68.2 innings pitched. His 1.97 ERA currently ranks fourth-lowest among all qualified minor league pitchers.
Hence, 20 (turns 21 on August 6), posted a 2-0 record with a 2.57 ERA (6 ER/21.0 IP), 0.95 WHIP, 20 strikeouts and a .227 average against across five starts for Peoria in June. He earned his first professional win on June 10 vs. Beloit, allowing one run over five innings and followed up with another two starts later with five shutout innings on June 22 at Quad Cities. Hence, ranked as the No. 31 prospect in baseball and the organization’s top overall prospect by Baseball America, was recently promoted to Double-A Springfield on July 1 after posting a 2.81 ERA with 46 strikeouts across 11 starts (41.2 innings) at Peoria. Hence allowed one earned run or less in eight of those 11 starts and only allowed more than four hits in two of those outings.
“Tink’s five games started were highlighted by 20 strikeouts and 3 walks, earning his promotion to Springfield and selection to the Futures Game this weekend in Seattle,” stated LaRocque.
Selected in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Hence was one of two Cardinals minor leaguers selected to the National League roster of the 2023 All-Star Futures Game that will be played at T-Mobile Park on Saturday, July 8th. Hence made his Double-A debut yesterday at Springfield’s Hammons Field, allowing one run on six hits and striking out five across five innings pitched in a no-decision against Amarillo.
Dunn**,** 26, led all qualified Cardinals minor leaguers with a .372 batting average, .450 on-base percentage, and a .971 OPS and ranked among the organizational leaders for the month with 35 hits (1st), 49 total bases (1st), 10 extra-base hits (T2nd), 19 runs (3rd) and a .521 slugging percentage (4th). Dunn reached base safely in 21 of 24 games played, including back-to-back four hit games on June 18 & 20. It is Dunn’s first career Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month award win, becoming the first middle infielder to be recognized since Memphis’ Breyvic Valera in August 2017.
“Nick’s performance in June helped lead Springfield’s offense with a .971 OPS in 107 plate appearances,” said LaRocque.
The left-handed hitter was the club’s 5th round selection in the 2018 Draft out of the University of Maryland. He was named an organizational All-Star in by MiLB.com in 2022 following a career-best .271/.379/.391/.770 slash line at Springfield. This year, Dunn is hitting .307 with a .403 on-base percentage with 18 extra-base hits and 28 RBI in 63 games played, all at Double-A Springfield.
COURTESY CARDINALS MEDIA RELATIONS; COURTESY MLBpressbox.com