Welcome back to The Cardinal Nation’s in-season St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Top 40 Prospect List. Each month during the season, I present my view of the top prospects in the Cardinals system.
With the 2014 draft on the books and the top players signed, the first three chosen have been placed in this first top 40 since draft day. Luke Weaver slid in at number seven, higher than I initially expected. That as much reflects where James Ramsey and Tim Cooney are right now.
It is going to be a challenge to get a read on Weaver’s fellow first-rounder Jack Flaherty, as he looks to be pitching limited innings in the Gulf Coast League. For now, I placed him just behind Tyrell Jenkins, but that could change ahead. Second-rounder Ronnie Williams is in the 30-40 group, good enough to rank, but without enough track record for me to be more aggressive.
Some necessary reminders
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
Other than Weaver slotting in at number seven, which bounced four down one spot, including Carson Kelly from 10 to 11, there was no change in the top 10. After Rob Kaminsky at number four, the remainder of this group had an uninspiring June. An exception is Charlie Tilson, who could make a move up next time.
|Hit well enough in Memphis to be recalled at start of July. Should not be back in Triple-A.|
|From Double-A to bumpy MLB debut. Going to Memphis for Kelly, but will be back.|
|.467 June OBP was best in full-season ball. May not arrive in StL until September.|
|Pitcher of the Month in full-season ball at age 19. Very impressive.|
|Badly struggling since return to Memphis. Needs to show he can pinch-hit in MLB.|
|More inconsistency in June. Strikeouts high, but walks are, too. Very young still.|
|To be given Wacha/Gonzales treatment of starting slowly in GCL.|
|8||James Ramsey||7||Spr DL||OF|
|Hit .316 before getting hurt on 6/20. Can't move up from disabled list.|
|Has either been very good or very bad with little in between. Passed by Marco.|
|All-star continuing to have solid season leading off at Palm Beach.|
The second 10
I dropped Aledmys Diaz three spots because my concern over his ongoing shoulder problems. Nick Petree moved up, just ahead of Zach Petrick. Petrick, Greg Garcia and Juan Herrera lost ground, but remained among the top 20. In fact, Herrera is another to watch.
Bumped out of the top 20 are a couple of stalled Springfield Cardinals, Mike O’Neill and injured Jacob Wilson.
|Nice June at the plate, batting .299 with 13 RBI.|
|Five home runs, but just 11 RBI and .225 batting average erodes position.|
|No longer obvious he will go down to Memphis when Siegrist returns. Last month on this list.|
|Two good starts and one bad since coming off DL. May need some time to ramp up.|
|15||Aledmys Diaz||12||Spr DL||SS|
|Only managed 42 at-bats and a handful of games in field before re-injury to shoulder.|
|Initial adjustment period from California high school ball to pro game coming.|
|Despite only two months in Palm Beach, may be ready to move again soon.|
|4.64 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in June is not inspiring. About 4th in line for MLB call.|
|Much better June (.273) than May, but not doing enough to draw attention.|
|Missed some time on DL, but picked up where he left off. Batting in middle of lineup.|
We still only have a couple of weeks of data from short-season ball, but Ian McKinney is pitching well and moved ahead of his Johnson City teammate Oscar Mercado, who is struggling in the early going. Edmundo Sosa is the other new arrival in this block of 10.
Most of the others in the 21-30 grouping remained about where they were. Among those with nice Junes were outfielders Tommy Pham and C.J. McElroy. Those who lost ground in June and dropped from this set are two injured players, Ronald Castillo and Cory Jones.
|Well-earned promotion to Double-A. Not much power, but switch-hitter hits for average.|
|Return to Double-A does not bode well for immediate future.|
|23||Jacob Wilson||18||Spr DL||2B|
|Was really having a nice season before knee injury.|
|Moved up to Springfield, with initial results reasonable. 3.79 ERA in 3 starts.|
|Teenaged lefty pitching very well at Johnson City.|
|Second strong month in a row, but realistically buried in outfield pecking order.|
|Rough .217 average in first partial month in Appalachian League.|
|Sharp .371 start in the GCL, though just 35 at-bats.|
|.398 OBP in June is likely what the organization wants to see.|
|Back in AA, 13.1 K per nine looks good, but ERA over three not impressive enough.|
There are not too many changes in the final 10. I slotted Williams just behind Sam Tuivailala and Fernando Baez. Eric Fornataro and Kurt Heyer slid a bit while Kenny Peoples-Walls seems overmatched in the Midwest League and is skidding toward leaving the top 40.
|31||Ronald Castillo||26||Peo DL||OF|
|Second year in a row that promising season has been derailed by injury.|
|Cut ERA in half from over six in May to three in June. Needs consistency.|
|Ongoing theme: Many, many strikeouts, very high velocity, still too many walks.|
|Organization moved hard-thrower into rotation. Initial results promising.|
|Ex-Florida prep standout getting lots of ground balls in GCL introduction.|
|Continues renaissance with .289/4 HR/12 RBI month and Texas Lg ASG MVP.|
|Not great in StL, but did well when back in Memphis, though strikeouts dipped.|
|Returned to Double-A to continue development. Not ready for Triple-A.|
|Best Triple-A month yet with 3.14 ERA. Needs more of it to get into StL picture.|
|Badly struggling for second straight month at Peoria (.205 BA). Hanging on here by fingernail.|
Dixon Llorens continues to knock on the door and had the draftees not arrived, the side-armer would have entered. Bryan Dobzanski received $700,000 to sign, so that warrants being put on the watch list even before he throws his first official professional pitch.
Mason Katz is an interesting combination of a middle infielder with power, but is an all-or-nothing proposition. Rowan Wick had an amazing introduction at State College, but was stuck behind in extended spring training a month ago.
|Sidearmer healthy, putting up great numbers for Palm Beach.|
|Fairly or unfaily, ex-New Jersey prep star will be compared to Rob Kaminsky.|
|All or nothing. Leads system in HR, just one off RBI lead, but batting just .212.|
|Set team HR record in 19 games, but org had kept him in Extended until end.|
As noted above, no players left the top 40 due to promotion this month. Sam Freeman should exit by next time.
|NR||Cory Jones||28||PB DL||RHS|
|Back on the DL and falling. Injury history makes me cautious.|
|Solid, but unspectacular .263 average in June. Not much power.|
|2.89 June relief ERA was good, but not otherworldly month like in May.|
That is it for this month. Thank you for reading!
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