TCN 2014 Cards Prospect #18: Lee Stoppelman

The big left-hander is getting noticed after two in-season promotions and impressive results, followed by a stint in the Arizona Fall League.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

School: Central Missouri State University

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR LHR 5/24/1990 6-2 210 L L 2012 24th

Selected 2013 stats

PB 2 1 1.50 2.28 15 0 0 24 16 8 0 10 26 0.88 0.184 0.262
Spr 3 1 1.35 2.88 37 0 6 40 20 6 3 14 50 0.97 0.150 0.207
Mem 1 1 4.50 4.20 3 0 0 2 4 1 0 2 2 4.00 0.400 0.500
Total 6 3 1.50   55 0 6 66 40 15 3 26 78 1.00 0.174  
AFL 0 0 2.89 4.91 9 0 0 9.1 4 3 1 9 12 2.00 0.143 0.200

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (14): The product of Central Missouri, "Stoppelgod" (what his Springfield teammates nicknamed him) was the community's 36th prospect last year. This year he moves all the way up to 14th on the voters' list.

Stoppelman could have been the best pitcher on the Springfield staff in 2013 though he threw only 40 innings there. But in those 40 innings, Stoppelman had a 1.35 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP, and 11.2 K/9. Those are insane numbers for a southpaw drafted in the 24th round out of a Division II college.

Stoppelman was by far the most consistent and dominant pitcher at the Double-A for Springfield against both left- and right-handers, which is very impressive.

I have seen Stoppelman so many times in his season with Springfield that I can remember how quickly he could retire hitters and just pound the bottom part of the zone with strikes. The young lefty slings the baseball from a lower 3/4 arm slot which creates tremendous deception in his high 80s-to-low 90s fastball that runs away from lefties, and goes in on righties. The deception makes his fastball act like it is in the mid 90s based on some wild hacks I've seen hitters take at it.

Stoppelman still has plenty of room left to fill out so he could see one or ticks more on his fastball as he matures physically. Not only is his fastball a weapon but he also has shown the ability to throw strikes with his two good secondary pitches - a change-up and breaking ball which should only get more effective as he improves each of the offerings.

His regular season performance earned him an invitation to the Arizona Fall League. Typically, it is a league for pitchers that missed a lot of time during the regular season but guys like Stoppleman can also benefit. He has fallen under the radar with success at every level at which he has pitched for the Cardinals. His AFL time only got him more attention and exposure around a scout-heavy audience each game.

If Stoppelman impresses in his time at big-league camp during the spring, and pitches effectively at Memphis, he could become the next young Cardinals-developed pitching prospect to make an impact in the bullpen. His ceiling looks to be a lefty reliever if he can get righties out consistently at the major-league level. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (20): I readily admit that it is not fair to Stoppelman, but I cannot help it. Looking at his tall and lanky frame, part of me envisions watching him blowing mid-90's fastballs past overmatched hitters. The reality is that not everyone is the same physically or in how they leverage their abilities.

As noted above, Stoppelman's deception is one of his strengths, as is his consistency. Why risk sacrificing what he does so well in an attempt to squeeze out more velocity – especially when we don't know ahead of time if it would be successful?

Stoppelman's rapid ascension from 2012 in short-season Class-A ball to being on the cusp of the major leagues is one of the biggest success stories of the Cardinals 2013 minor league season. If he was a starter, he might be pushing the top 10 of this prospect list. Then again, if he was a starter, he probably would not have moved as quickly. He will just have to settle for being The Cardinal Nation's Reliever of the Year for the entire system.

As I noted in my John Gast writeup, Stoppelman has leapt over Gast and is right behind Sam Freeman in my interpretation of the Cardinals' the left-handed pitching prospect queue. In fact, Freeman and Stoppelman are my top two relievers, period, on this year's top 40.

The main reason Freeman has the current edge is that he has major league experience and has shown he can compete at that level. In 12 months, as Stoppelman continues to build on his considerable momentum and progress, that slight edge could easily be yielded.

If so, Stoppelman (24th round) would follow Siegrist (41st round) as late-pick left-handed relief scouting and player development successes for the Cardinals.

In his own words: In November from the AFL, Stoppelman spoke about his 2013 season and more. Click here for our interview, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.

Our 2014 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 the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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