Welcome back to The Cardinal Nation's in-season St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Top 40 Prospect List. Each month, I present my view of the top prospects in the Cardinals system.
After the prior month in which the top 10 remained constant from last winter, two graduates have created room for others to move up. During May, both Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong passed the innings pitched and at-bats thresholds to no longer be considered prospects. Sam Freeman is not far behind.
With the draft just around the corner, there will be considerable churn next month as new draftees come on, most likely pushing some others off the list. But let's first celebrate the now!
Some necessary reminders first
While any rankings with numbers attached appear very absolute, I suggest you look at players in groupings. For example, there is little difference in prospects number 21 through 25, for example, or 23 through 27.
It should be remembered that we always have separate awards for the top players of the month. This is a longer-term, prospect-oriented view, instead. Current performance does matter, but not too much. A good month can reinforce an earlier opinion, while a bad month does not usually materially affect a prospect's ultimate future.
This report reflects my opinions and not that of the entire The Cardinal Nation staff, so feel to address any comments or questions either through the premium message board or via email or private message if you prefer.
Note: Players remain eligible for the list as long as they maintain their prospect status (less than 50 innings pitched or less than 130 plate appearances in the major leagues.)
Following each player's name under "Prior" is where he was ranked by the site at the start of last month. Next are the levels at which the player competed during the month, followed by his primary position.
The top 10
As noted above, Martinez and Wong vacated spots numbers two and three. I feel that since the season began, Marco Gonzales has done the most to show progress toward the majors; hence he vaults over Stephen Piscotty, though both moved up.
Three other now-top 10 players made more than the "automatic" two step improvement. Randal Grichuk not only was the best position player in the system in May, he is seeing semi-regular time in the majors. Lefty Tim Cooney clearly has momentum, but it is only two starts in duration.
After the top eight, I really wanted to stop. Charlie Tilson moved into the top 10 more because someone had to. The Palm Beach outfielder has played well, but not spectacularly.
Carson Kelly is the only top 10 member to fall in the rankings. As he gets more comfortable defensively as a catcher, I would have expected to see more with the bat in his second shot at Class-A.
|What a difference two months makes. From criticized in spring to June savior.|
|Mastered A-Advanced level and having nice start at Double-A. Earned his jump.|
|Acclimating to Triple-A but not ready for St. Louis nor is there any need yet.|
|Very nice full-season debut at Peoria with ERA under 2.00 in 1st 20 IP.|
|Wielding the power, but still needs to harness the strikeouts.|
|Rough month. Led system starters in Ks and BBs as ERA approached six.|
|Untimely injury derailed sure chance to return to Triple-A.|
|Two terrible starts followed by two magnificent ones. Better than other way around.|
|FSL all-star coming off best month yet at Palm Beach.|
|Has a lot on his plate, but batted under the Mendoza Line in May|
The second 10
As a policy, I had real trouble moving up any prospect that did not play during the month, though in the same breath, no one was moving up so fast to push those players down. Hence, Tyrell Jenkins and Aledmys Diaz did not change from last month.
|Best power/production month in a long time, but still batted just .230.|
|12||Aledmys Diaz||12||Spr DL||SS|
|Started playing in extended in mid-May but still not activated.|
|Could be his last month on this list - if St. Louis success continues.|
|14||Tyrell Jenkins||14||PB DL||RHS|
|Still waiting for his return from the disabled list.|
|Still handling the adjustment to Triple-A but on the right path.|
|Trending upward in second consecutive month with move back to Memphis.|
|Has opportunity, but hit like Pete Kozma (.175) since return to Memphis.|
|Earned promotion to Springfield and doing quite well in the early going.|
|Nice offensive contributions across the board for MWL all-star.|
|Master pitchmaker did not miss a beat in first month at Palm Beach.|
I should note that as a policy, I also did not advance or drop any players still in extended spring training and therefore, without real game results. This will no longer be relevant in 30 days.
Among those advancing into the 21-30 grouping include position players Breyvic Valera, Tommy Pham, Ronald Castillo and C.J. McElroy. Those who lost ground in May include pitchers Mike Mayers, Lee Stoppelman, Cory Jones and Sam Gaviglio.
Stepping back, I find those groupings interesting. Is it easier for hitters to shine in short bursts or are more pitchers below the first tier just struggling this season?
|May be the most underrated player in the entire system.|
|Not enough hard data to go on to adjust status until short-season ball.|
|Too many baserunners and still adjusting to Florida State League.|
|Lefty had a nice GCL intro last summer. Preparing for short-season.|
|Proving that my bumping him down last month from 23 to 32 was a mistake.|
|Power bat named to Western Division starting lineup in MWL All-Star Game.|
|Major setback in being returned to Double-A, but still ample time to recover.|
|28||Cory Jones||25||PB DL||RHS|
|Very uneven first month at A-Advanced, then injured.|
|Also an all-star in 2nd year in MWL. Doing a nice job leading off for Peoria.|
|Second month at Double-A not much better than first with ERA at six.|
There is not a lot going on in the final 10, to be honest. The exceptions are new arrivals Cody Stanley and Chris Perry. They will likely need to continue to improve to hold onto their spots next month, though.
|Making the big jump from Dominican Summer League to US play in June.|
|Very rough May, batting .219 and striking out one-third of his at-bats.|
|Struggled since return from St. Louis so closing gig seems far away.|
|Pushed quickly to Memphis but was removed from rotation there.|
|14 strikeouts, only 2 walks in 11 IP, but May ERA over four.|
|Continues to have a quietly productive 2014.|
|37||Boone Whiting||37||Mem DL||RHS|
|An uninspiring first month led to a stint on the disabled list in the second.|
|Waiting to see what the hard-thrower can do, probably at State College.|
|Like Perez, enjoying a renaissance in 2014. Batted .364 in May.|
|From unheralded starter to reliever with top May performance among all P in system.|
Dixon Llorens and Jonathan Rodriguez remain from last month, but in reality, did nothing during May to help their respective cases. Palm Beach's Luke Voit had an impressive Florida State League introduction in a system that badly lacks power hitters, but 43 at-bats is not a lot to go on yet.
|HM||Dixon Llorens||NR||PB DL||RHR|
|Can't challenge from the disabled list.|
|Really struggling since coming off the DL.|
|1.100 OPS at PB directly from EST worth noting even if only 43 at-bats.|
No players left the top 40 for reasons of ineffectiveness or because others pushed them off. While some stumbled during May, I did not see ready candidates who had a better long-term track record or projection poised to replace them. Expect this to change with 2014 draftees signed over the next 30 days.
As noted above, Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong have left the top 40 forever.
|Struggling as a short man. Could a return to starting at AAA be ahead?|
|Outhouse (sent down) to penthouse (NL Rookie of Month) in final month here.|
That is all for this month. Thank you for reading!
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