St. Louis Cardinals honor July Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Month

The St. Louis Cardinals announced their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for July by honoring outfielder Mike O’Neill and left-handed pitcher John Gast for their accomplishments on the field.

O’Neill, 24, the Cardinals’ 31st round (949th overall) selection out of the University of Southern California in the 2010 first-year player draft, batted .350 (35-100) with eight doubles, three triples, 20 runs scored and 11 RBI in 27 games during the month of July at Palm Beach (A).  He also had a 23-game on base streak from June 27 through July 23, batting .364 during the streak.

The left-handed hitting Riverside, Calif., native currently leads the Florida State League with a .344 batting average and .446 on base percentage, while ranking second in on base+slugging (.970) and hits (125).  O’Neill is attempting to set the Palm Beach franchise record for batting average, currently held by current St. Louis Cardinal Allen Craig, who batted .312 in 2007, and become the first Palm Beach player to win an FSL batting title.

"Mike had another outstanding month in what has been a tremendous season for him,” said Cardinals farm director John Vuch.  “He's really worked to improve his skills as a leadoff man with his ability to get on base and his knack for making contact makes him a tough guy to strike out."

Gast, 23, who was the Cardinals’ sixth round selection out of Florida State University in the 2010 first-year player draft, posted a 3-0 record with a 2.70 ERA in five starts striking out 30 batters in 30 innings. 

The left-hander, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training camp the past two years, is 12-4 this season between Springfield (AA) and Memphis (AAA).  His 12 wins leads all Cardinals farmhands is tied for third among all minor league baseball pitchers while his 139.0 innings ranks sixth in all of the minors.

"John has made big improvements over the course of the season, especially with his breaking pitch,” explained Vuch.  “He's been very consistent with giving his team a chance to win virtually every time he takes the mound"