School: Miami Dade College
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (28): Dixon Llorens won the community vote all the way up at #28. He began receiving votes considerably earlier, starting at #16 with a vote from desmetlax12. Desmetlax12 went out of his way to document Llorens’ stats this year as a 21-year-old at Palm Beach, emphasizing the reliever’s impressive 41% strikeout rate. Desmetlax12 also talked about how this was not Llorens’ first year with that kind of success, noting how he has done this since being drafted in 2012.
GM4aday said that Llorens has a great K-rate, but really needs to work on finding the plate a bit better. GM4aday believes Llorens is still young enough to get it right. Freshjmm echoed that sentiment, going so far as to comment that Llorens’ big league future depends on him being able to limit the walks. Freshjmm is intrigued, given Llorens allowed just 0.5 hits per inning.
Our original Llorens supporter, desmetlax12, summed it up best mentioning that Llorens was age-appropriate for his league with a strikeout rate in between that of the NL MVP, Clayton Kershaw, who sat at 32% for the year and that of flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman, who led all of baseball with a 51% K-rate. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Llorens is a long-standing community favorite, ranked 23rd by them last year and 28th this year. He missed the TCN top 40 cut last winter but officially made the list this winter with his 37th rank.
Llorens is clearly not like most of the Cardinals top relief prospects at six-foot and above with electric stuff. This submarine-slotted righty brings a different size and skill-set to the table, depending on deception and an aggressive approach for success against hitters.
Named The Cardinal Nation’s Palm Beach Cardinals Reliever of the Year for 2014, Llorens led the club in most relief statistical categories. The organization gave him a shot at Springfield for five games but he had a rough go of it with an inflated ERA of 12.46 in 4 1/3 innings. Certainly Llorens would have liked better results, but it gave him a chance to see what he needed to work on and make adjustments for the upper levels of the minor leagues.
His problems increased when he ran into too many deep counts, which meant a lot of walks that need to be cleaned up for him to have success at Double-A. Look for Llorens to excel and move beyond Springfield if the command comes around.
Brian Walton (44): “Weird” is what first comes to my mind when evaluating Llorens.
That has to start with his delivery, which is unorthodox to say the least. Now, Pat Neshek would probably say that he sees nothing wrong with it. On the other hand, Neshek seems to know where he wants the ball to go and can usually get it there.
To be specific, the Major Leaguer walked just 1.2 batters per nine innings in 2014. On the other hand, Llorens’ walk rate was over five times higher, at 6.4 per nine. Only two pitchers in the entire system were worse in 2014, and they were very close at 6.5 and 6.6, respectively (Robert Stock and Seth Blair).
In fact, Llorens issued more bases on balls in April alone than did Neshek allowed all season long, including the National League playoffs.
Granted, Llorens is not a Major Leaguer, but as noted above, the now 22-year-old was given a shot at Double-A Springfield in August, but struggled and had to be returned to Palm Beach. While not fatal, it reinforced a question already in my mind as to whether Llorens' stuff will continue to baffle hitters at more advanced levels of play.
Continuing on the weird theme, Llorens actually dealt out more free passes (34) this season than hits allowed (27). How many other pitchers survive, let alone thrive, with numbers like that?
On the positive side, Llorens not only topped the entire Cardinals system in strikeouts this season at 15.0 per nine, it was his third consecutive year leading the organization in that measure. So obviously, there is considerable potential if he can somehow find some semblance of control.
We have no indications it is coming, however. In fact, just the opposite is occurring.
The main reason Llorens fell off our top 40 one year ago (into the "Best of the Rest" group) was my concern over his 2013 walk rate of 4.4 per nine at Peoria. (That was up from 2.75 his rookie season.) It continued to spiral in the wrong direction in 2014, as he added a full two more free passes per nine innings (to 6.4).
Color me more concerned than intrigued, yet the fact Llorens placed at number 44 on my list means I am not to the point of counting him out.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
Not yet a member? Join today for as little as $7.95 after our seven-day free trial and be able to read all of our exclusive St. Louis Cardinals minor league content year-round.
© 2014 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.