by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There’s no question who the Cardinals’ top prospect is, even as he’s battled a slew of injuries, but there are questions as to what comes in behind Alex Reyes (and Nolan Gorman). St. Louis is loaded with a slew of intriguing prospects, though none of them are “can’t miss” or “locks” to take the next step. Who does appear to have the highest upside? Who is worth the investment? Let’s break it down:
1) Alex Reyes – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A-
ETA – Already Arrived
We all know the potential of Reyes, who has shown flashes in the past. The problem and concern is strictly about his health, as he’s virtually lost the past two seasons due to significant injuries:
- Tommy John surgery
- Torn lat muscle
How will that much lost time impact him, at least in the short-term, remains to be seen. The upside is there to develop into an elite starter, it’s just a matter of him staying on the mound.
2) Nolan Gorman – Third Baseman
Grade – B+
ETA – 2022
Selected 19th overall in the 2018 draft, Gorman posted a solid debut season hitting .291 with 17 HR over 237 AB as he split time between Rookie Ball and Single-A. Of course the numbers tumbled a bit after his promotion, though that shouldn’t come as a big surprise as it was an aggressive advancement for an 18-year old. The problem seemed to be focused around the long ball, as he appeared to be swinging for the fences:
- Strikeout Rate – 22.2% at Rookie Ball, 36.4% at Single-A
- Flyball Rate – 48.0% at Rookie Ball, 61.1% at Single-A
- Pull Rate – 41.0% at Rookie Ball, 48.2% at Single-A
There’s no questioning the power potential, though in time we’d anticipate him learning how to balance that ability with a better approach. Give him time, but the upside is obvious.
3) Randy Arozarena – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
He split time between Double-A (91 AB) and Triple-A (267 AB), showing an intriguing blend of power (12) and speed (26 SB). You can argue that there’s a bit too much groundball to his game, with a 53.0% groundball rate, and that could cap his power potential at 12-15 HR. However with his speed, ability to make constant contact (9.6% SwStr%, including a 9.3% mark at Triple-A) and draw a walk (9.0% walk rate at Triple-A), he suddenly appears to have the potential to bring the total package as a top of the order bat. The bigger question is where he fits into the Cardinals’ outfield, but it may not be long before he forces his way into the mix.
4) Dakota Hudson – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
Hudson thrived at Triple-A, with a 2.50 ERA over 111.2 IP. However it came courtesy of a 1.30 WHIP, 7.01 K/9 and 3.06 BB/9, none of which are awe-inspiring numbers. His biggest skill is his groundball rate, with a 57.5% at Triple-A (and it rose to 60.8% while working as a reliever in the Major Leagues).
The question is going to be if he can start missing more bats, and with a 10.4% SwStr% at Triple-A there should be at least a little bit more upside. He also struggled with his control in the Majors (5.93 BB/9), but that could’ve come courtesy of his transition to the bullpen. He may not be an ace, but with a few more strikeouts and his elite groundball stuff the potential is there to thrive.
5) Elehuris Montero – Third Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2021
He split time between Single-A (382 AB) and High-A (98 AB), hitting .315 with 16 HR and 82 RBI. By adding 37 doubles and 3 triples there’s clearly some thunder in his bat, though a 15.0% SwStr% is a significant red flag. That’s something that’s going to have to be monitored very closely, because his 19.4% strikeout rate could obviously regress significantly against more advanced pitching (20.8% at High-A). Keep that in mind before going all in, but the power is real and with any refinement in his approach would go a very long way.
The Next Five
6) Luken Baker – First Baseman (Grade – B-)
Selected 75th overall in 2018, Baker made a strong first impression hitting .319 with 4 HR over 163 AB. With 139 AB at Single-A he showed a strong approach at the plate, with a 19.9% strikeout rate and 10.3% walk rate courtesy of an impressive 8.9% SwStr%. Having added 9 doubles (11 doubles total) there’s room for the power to grow (especially at 6’4” and 265 lbs.). With the approach and power potential, Baker could develop into a strong option and move quickly (he’s 21-years old).
7) Ryan Helsley – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
In 70.1 IP he showed elite strikeout stuff, with a 15.8% SwStr% over 13 starts split between three levels. However he missed significant time due to a shoulder issue and there also are concerns that he ultimately is better suited for bullpen work (at 6’1” some feel he won’t be able to hold up to a starters workload).
8) Andrew Knizner – Catcher (Grade – B-)
He’s going to be overshadowed by Carson Kelly, but Knizner reached Triple-A in ’18 and hit .313 with 7 HR over 335 AB overall. He doesn’t have significant power upside, but a 7.8% SwStr% leading to a 12.8% strikeout rate shows a potentially elite approach. For a catcher, if he can hit .270 and add 12-15 HR he’s going to hold value.
9) Griffin Roberts – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Selected 43rd overall in 2018, there’s talk as to if Roberts’ future lies in the bullpen or as a starter. If it’s the former, he has closer of the future stuff with a fastball that sits in the upper 90s and a slider that reports have as the best in the draft class. You would think that the Cardinals will try to maximize their investment and help him to figure it out as a starter (especially his control), but he has the stuff to make an impact regardless of the role.
10) Genesis Cabrera – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Acquired as part of the Tommy Pham trade, Cabrera showed strikeout stuff in 140.1 IP (mostly at Double-A) with a 9.49 K/9 and 12.2% SwStr%. However he doesn’t generate many groundballs (34.8%) and has thus far struggled with his control (4.55 BB/9). Those are two glaring concerns and he needs to improve in order to ultimately reach his potential.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:
|AL East||AL Central||AL West|
|Baltimore Orioles||Chicago White Sox||Houston Astros|
|Boston Red Sox||Cleveland Indians||Los Angeles Angels|
|New York Yankees||Detroit Tigers||Oakland A's|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Kansas City Royals||Seattle Mariners|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Minnesota Twins||Texas Rangers|
|NL East||NL Central||NL West|
|Atlanta Braves||Chicago Cubs||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|Miami Marlins||Cincinnati Reds||Colorado Rockies|
|New York Mets||Milwaukee Brewers||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Pittsburgh Pirates||San Diego Padres|
|Washington Nationals||St. Louis Cardinals||San Francisco Giants|