TCN 2013 Cards Prospect #33: Dixon Llorens

How big of a steal will the Cardinals' 25th-round pick from the 2012 draft turn out to be? Initial returns are very encouraging.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

School: Miami Dade College

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA RHR 11/18/1992 5-10 170 R R 2012 25th

Selected 2012 stats

JC 2 0 0.00 1.16 8 0 2 15.2 5 0 0 6 28 1.25 0.098 0.217
QC 0 1 3.98 2.81 11 0 2 20.1 14 10 3 5 34 0.44 0.189 0.297
Total 2 1 2.25   19 0 4 36 19 10 3 11 62 0.69 0.152  


Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (26): Llorens may be the steal of the Cardinals' 2012 draft. Over 15 K's per nine innings is outstanding for any pitcher in any league but doing it in your first pro season while pitching part of the year in a league where you were one of the youngest players (19 years old in the Midwest League) is even more remarkable. Add to the fact that Llorens did this while showing good control and being nearly unhittable (.152 BAA) and you can see why getting him in the 25th round could be considered criminal!

Llorens was a starter in junior college in 2012 but do not expect him to return to that role as he is only 5' 9" tall and relies mostly on a two-pitch combination of fastball and slider. While it would seem such a dominating pitcher would be in line for a promotion to start 2013, I will not be surprised if the Cards hold him back in the Midwest League a little longer if they want him to work on his one glaring weakness (low groundball rates). But if Llorens performs in 2013 nearly as well as in 2012, I also would not be surprised to see him reach Springfield in 2013.

Message board community (30): Llorens made the prospect list in his first season, ranking 30th on the Community list. He received fan votes as early as 22nd.

Llorens is said to have a low 90's fastball and a slider, and those pitches were good enough to fan 15.5 per 9 innings in his 36 innings this year. He had the best strikeout per nine innings ratio in the Midwest League of anyone who threw at least 20 innings. (Hat tip to Bob Reed for finding that stat.)

Not surprisingly, the righty was more effective against righties (who hit just .137 against him in the MWL) than lefties (.304, albeit in just 5.1 innings). Llorens slid to the 25th round in this year's draft after pitching for Miami Dade College. It could be his height (I've seen it at 5' 9" and 5' 10") worked against him, but to the Cards' benefit. Pitching that effectively in full season ball at 19 is cause for some real interest. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (NR): As I refined my personal prospect list, moving other prospects up, Llorens was one that was pushed downward. In my book, there were several things working against Dixon, also known by his given name, Mariano.

First of all, he was cast out of the gates as a reliever. Almost always, those pitchers in the low minors viewed to have major league potential are starting, no matter what their projected role in the bigs may be. The Cardinals started others who were selected later in the 2012 draft than Llorens, so his assignment was not an opportunity issue - it was an organizational decision, likely based on Llorens' offerings. Not only did he not start, he did not close, either.

Yes, his lack of size is also a concern, yet a bigger worry for me is the absence of a put-away fastball. I see the strikeout rate and his move to Class-A was quick and appeared seamless, but how much of it was unfamiliarity with his unusual delivery? There are too many more-proven prospects and heat-throwers to consider for me to place a just-drafted middle reliever among my top 40.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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