Monthly Cards prospect rankings: July 2014

Our monthly subscriber-only, in-depth report on rising and falling St. Louis Cardinals prospects. The new rankings reflect the arrival of the 2014 draft class, including Jack Flaherty.

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.

After the prior month, in which both Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong passed the innings pitched and at-bats thresholds to no longer be considered prospects and dropped off, no one did this time.

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.)

Prospect Rankings

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.

Rk Prospect Prior Team Pos    
1 Oscar Taveras 1 Mem-StL OF    
  Hit well enough in Memphis to be recalled at start of July. Should not be back in Triple-A.
             
2 Marco Gonzales 2 Spr-StL LHS    
  From Double-A to bumpy MLB debut. Going to Memphis for Kelly, but will be back.
             
3 Stephen Piscotty 3 Mem OF    
  .467 June OBP was best in full-season ball. May not arrive in StL until September.
             
4 Rob Kaminsky 4 Peo LHS    
  Pitcher of the Month in full-season ball at age 19. Very impressive.
             
5 Randal Grichuk 5 StL-Mem OF    
  Badly struggling since return to Memphis. Needs to show he can pinch-hit in MLB.
             
6 Alex Reyes 6 Peo RHS    
  More inconsistency in June. Strikeouts high, but walks are, too. Very young still. 
             
7 Luke Weaver NA GCL RHS    
  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.
             
9 Tim Cooney 8 Mem LHS    
  Has either been very good or very bad with little in between. Passed by Marco.
             
10 Charlie Tilson 9 PB OF    
  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.

Rk Prospect Rk Team Pos    
11 Carson Kelly 10 Peo C    
  Nice June at the plate, batting .299 with 13 RBI.
             
12 Patrick Wisdom 11 Spr 3B    
  Five home runs, but just 11 RBI and .225 batting average erodes position.
             
13 Sam Freeman 13 Mem-StL LHR    
  No longer obvious he will go down to Memphis when Siegrist returns. Last month on this list.
             
14 Tyrell Jenkins 14 PB RHS    
  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.
             
16 Jack Flaherty NA GCL RHS    
  Initial adjustment period from California high school ball to pro game coming.
             
17 Nick Petree 20 PB RHS    
  Despite only two months in Palm Beach, may be ready to move again soon.
             
18 Zach Petrick 15 Mem RHS    
  4.64 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in June is not inspiring. About 4th in line for MLB call. 
             
19 Greg Garcia 17 Mem 2B    
  Much better June (.273) than May, but not doing enough to draw attention.
             
20 Juan Herrera 19 Peo SS    
  Missed some time on DL, but picked up where he left off. Batting in middle of lineup.
             

21-30

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.

Rk Prospect Rk Team Pos    
21 Breyvic Valera 21 PB-Spr 2B    
  Well-earned promotion to Double-A. Not much power, but switch-hitter hits for average.
             
22 Mike O'Neill 16 Mem-Spr OF    
  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.
             
24 Mike Mayers 23 PB-Spr RHS    
  Moved up to Springfield, with initial results reasonable. 3.79 ERA in 3 starts.
             
25 Ian McKinney 24 SC-JC LHS    
  Teenaged lefty pitching very well at Johnson City.
             
26 Tommy Pham 25 Mem OF    
  Second strong month in a row, but realistically buried in outfield pecking order. 
             
27 Oscar Mercado 22 JC SS    
  Rough .217 average in first partial month in Appalachian League.
             
28 Edmundo Sosa 31 GCL SS    
  Sharp .371 start in the GCL, though just 35 at-bats. 
             
29 C.J. McElroy 29 Peo OF    
  .398 OBP in June is likely what the organization wants to see.
             
30 Lee Stoppelman 27 Spr LHR    
  Back in AA, 13.1 K per nine looks good, but ERA over three not impressive enough.
             

31-40

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.

Rk Prospect Rk Team Pos    
31 Ronald Castillo 26 Peo DL OF    
  Second year in a row that promising season has been derailed by injury.
             
32 Sam Gaviglio 30 Spr RHS    
  Cut ERA in half from over six in May to three in June. Needs consistency.
             
33 Sam Tuivailala 35 PB RHR    
  Ongoing theme: Many, many strikeouts, very high velocity, still too many walks.
             
34 Fernando Baez 38 SC RHR    
  Organization moved hard-thrower into rotation. Initial results promising.
             
35 Ronnie Williams NA GCL RHS    
  Ex-Florida prep standout getting lots of ground balls in GCL introduction.
             
36 Cody Stanley 39 Spr C    
  Continues renaissance with .289/4 HR/12 RBI month and Texas Lg ASG MVP.
             
37 Eric Fornataro 33 StL-Mem RHR    
  Not great in StL, but did well when back in Memphis, though strikeouts dipped.
             
38 Kurt Heyer 34 Mem-Spr RHS    
  Returned to Double-A to continue development. Not ready for Triple-A.
             
39 Boone Whiting 37 Mem RHS    
  Best Triple-A month yet with 3.14 ERA. Needs more of it to get into StL picture.
             
40 Kenny Peoples-Walls 32 Peo OF    
  Badly struggling for second straight month at Peoria (.205 BA). Hanging on here by fingernail.
             

Honorable mentions

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.

Rk Prospect Rk Team Pos    
HM Dixon Llorens HM PB RHR    
  Sidearmer healthy, putting up great numbers for Palm Beach. 
             
HM Bryan Dobzanski NA GCL RHR    
  Fairly or unfaily, ex-New Jersey prep star will be compared to Rob Kaminsky. 
             
HM Mason Katz NR Peo-PB 2B    
  All or nothing. Leads system in HR, just one off RBI lead, but batting just .212.
             
HM Rowan Wick NR SC OF    
  Set team HR record in 19 games, but org had kept him in Extended until end.
             

Graduated

As noted above, no players left the top 40 due to promotion this month. Sam Freeman should exit by next time.

Dropped out

Due to the arrival of the new draft class and no graduations, three players had to be removed from the top 40. They are Jones, Audry Perez and May’s relief phenom Chris Perry.

Rk Prospect Prior Team Pos    
NR Cory Jones 28 PB DL RHS    
  Back on the DL and falling. Injury history makes me cautious.
             
NR Audry Perez 36 Mem C    
  Solid, but unspectacular .263 average in June. Not much power. 
             
NR Chris Perry 40 Peo  RHR    
  2.89 June relief ERA was good, but not otherworldly month like in May. 
             

That is it for this month. Thank you for reading!



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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