Which St. Louis Pitching Prospects Could Emerge In Alex Reyes’ Absence?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While the attention has fallen to Michael Wacha in the wake of the Alex Reyes news (click here for our look at him), St. Louis has three pitching prospects who have already made their MLB (either with the Cardinals or for another organization) currently on the 40 man roster.  They have another who was a minor league free agent signing, but at 25-years old there’s little doubt that at some point he’ll see time in the Majors.

Any one of these prospects could emerge and make an impact, as the team will likely be forced to go seven or eight starters deep.  Let’s take a quick look at each of them and try to determine who the best of the bunch is:

 

Luke Weaver
Grade – B+

The 2014 first round draft pick is the biggest name of the bunch and the only one who was included in our Top 10 prospect list (click here to view), checking in at #3.  His control is his best asset, despite his 11.15 K/9 over 36.1 innings in the Majors.  His 9.8% SwStr% obviously doesn’t support the mark and there are home run issues:

  • 30.7% groundball rate in the Majors
  • 0.87 GO/AO over minor league career

Control is great, but unless he proves he can maintain the strikeout rate he isn’t going to be more than a mid-rotation starter (at best).

 

John Gant
Grade – C+

Acquired in a trade from Atlanta (as part of the Jaime Garcia return), Gant saw 50.0 innings in the Majors last season (7 starts in his 20 appearances).  He showed enough strikeouts (8.82 K/9) and control (3.78 BB/9), after posting similar marks while at Triple-A (9.16 and 3.54).  Given his minor league numbers there’s nothing that should be viewed as unbelievable:

  • Strikeout Rate – 8.7
  • Walk Rate – 3.2

Both numbers were worse as a starter (8.70 and 4.20) and he was hit hard overall (24.1% line drive rate).  That’s an issue, but the strikeouts are enough and there are at least some groundballs (1.15 GO/AO in the minors).  There’s enough upside to be a back-end starter, though nothing more than that.

 

Mike Mayers
Grade – C

He got a 5.1 inning cup of coffee in the Majors, after splitting time between Double and Triple-A in ’16:

  • Double-A – 2.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
  • Triple-A – 3.73 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

The former third round pick has posted a 7.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 387.2 innings in the minor leagues, though the control has regressed as he’s advanced (3.1 BB/9 at both Double and Triple-A).  Average strikeouts, average groundballs (1.03 GO/AO in ’16) and regressing control doesn’t paint a great picture.  He may be best suited as a long man out of the bullpen.

 

Kendry Flores
Grade – C

Signed as a minor league free agent from Miami, Flores is similar to some of the other prospects the team has.  He isn’t on the current 40-man roster, so you can argue that he may be last in line of this grouping and he’s also seen his numbers regress as he’s moved up the ladder (strikeout rate // walk rate):

  • Double-A (62.1 IP) – 6.6 // 2.2
  • Triple-A (150.0 IP) – 7.0 // 3.2

Throw in not much of a groundball rate (1.01 GO/AO) and there’s little to get excited about.

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

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