by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The St. Louis Cardinals have long been a franchise that has been able to develop talent and use it to feed their Major League roster. Who are the next wave of youngsters who could make an impact? There are certainly some intriguing names, both short and long-term, so let’s take a look at who we should be keeping an eye on and what we should be expecting:
1) Alex Reyes – RHP
ETA – 2016
Grade – A
Reyes reached Double-A last season and while he’s going to need a little bit more time to develop, there’s little question about how high his upside is. He showed significant strikeout stuff last season, though he has yet to truly find his control (strikeout rate // walk rate):
- High-A (63.2 IP) – 13.57 // 4.38
- Double-A (34.2 IP) – 13.50 // 4.67
With a fastball that routinely reaches triple digits and a curveball that’s lights out, it’s just a matter of Reyes developing his third offering as well as finding consistency in the strike zone. It should happen, and fairly quickly. It’s not impossible that he makes a significant impact this season, though in 2017 may be much more likely.
2) Jack Flaherty – RHP
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+
Selected in the first round of the 2014 draft, Flaherty certainly presented himself well in his first full season of professional baseball. Over 95.0 IP at Single-A he posted a 2.84 ERA courtesy of a 9.19 K/9 and 2.94 BB/9, cementing his role as a starting pitcher (he was also a third baseman in college, though at this point that appears to be in his rearview mirror). He has the size (6’4”, 205 lbs.) and stuff, plus we all know the Cardinals’ track record in developing pitchers. He belongs on all radars and could really take a step forward in his development in 2016.
3) Charlie Tilson – OF
ETA – 2016
Grade – B (could easily rise to B+)
Could he make us forget about Jason Heyward? Tilson has the potential to develop into your prototypical top of the order bat, something he showed signs of last season at Double-A as he hit .295 with 46 SB. There was never a question about his speed, so it was nice to see it present itself on the field. He also showed improved plate discipline, with a 12.1% strikeout rate, though he could do a bit of a better job of drawing a walk (7.7%). While there’s never going to be significant power, he could easily continue developing into a three category performer.
The truth is that the Cardinals have three outfielders who are nearly on the same level, and you can easily move the rankings in any direction.
4) Magneuris Sierra – OF
ETA – 2018
Grade – B
He reached Single-A for the first time and struggled, hitting .191 with a 27.4% strikeout rate over 190 PA. That said he does have speed (19 SB last season) and as he matures and develops he should continue to grow in that regard. There is also power potential, which he’s just starting to tap into (though it hasn’t presented itself on the field of yet). The upside? He’d be more of a speed option, but he could routinely chip in 10/25 type numbers with the potential to be even more than that.
5) Marco Gonzales – RHP
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B
The 2013 first round draft pick struggled with injuries in ’15, but we can’t ignore that he made quick work of the minors in 2014 and has shown all three skills that we look for in the minor leagues:
- Strikeouts – 8.0 K/9
- Control – 2.3 BB/9
- Groundballs – 1.05 GO/AO
He’s hardly overpowering (he’s averaged under 90 mph on his fastball in the Majors) and will likely struggle to generate a significant number of strikeouts. His value will stem from his ability to spot his pitches, something he’s proven capable of, but that will help to limit his overall appeal.
6) Nick Plummer – OF
7) Edmundo Sosa – SS
8) Luke Weaver – RHP
9) Jake Woodford – RHP
10) Harrison Bader – OF
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs
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Grading System (still in development):
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 Top 10 Prospect Lists: