School: North Carolina - Wilmington
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (27): Cody Stanley started receiving support from posters CrashDee and CariocaCardinal around the mid-20’s during the community vote. Toward the end of the mid-20’s, I pointed out some interesting stats about Stanley. One, that he improved his walk rate by 3% (to 8.1%) in 2014. In addition, as a left-handed hitter, Stanley would be the perfect complement to Yadier Molina in 2016, once the current back up, Tony Cruz, gets too expensive through arbitration. It seems that was enough as Stanley received plenty of support, making the list at #27. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Stanley put himself back on the prospect map with a turnaround season for Springfield in 2014. Recognition given him included TCN’s Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year.
Stanley was invited to the Arizona Fall League for the second consecutive year, where he hit .292/.363/.375 over a 21-game span. This was enough to convince the Cardinals add Stanley onto the 40-man roster and protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
The growth and improvement Stanley showed behind the plate was achieved by being much cleaner and quieter at receiving, which led to everything being more in sync. Those improvements helped in his ability to control the running game as his caught stealing percentage was a career-best 42% for the 2014 season.
The lefty-hitting catcher even showed some promise with the bat with little improvements in his approach from learning how to really drive the ball instead of being pull-conscious at the plate.
Stanley should be playing regularly at Memphis for 2015 and I could envision him as the next backup to Yadier Molina in the near future.
Brian Walton (26): More so than any other player to date in this countdown, the community and I are in agreement as to Stanley’s approximate ranking. I do not know whether to celebrate or be concerned.
During the Arizona Fall League, Stanley did not agree when I asked him if this was a comeback or bounceback season. In a way, perhaps he was right. While it is not uncommon for a player to drop off our top 40, only to rejoin the next year, in the case of the catcher, it has been two years. That is unusual. Even odder is that fact that he was also ranked exactly 26th both prior times – in 2011 and 2012. Now, it means more as he is much closer to the majors.
In 2014, Stanley was named to the North squad for the Texas League All-Star Game and earned Most Valuable Player honors. Even more elite was his post-season all-star berth, as the league selects just one player per position. To increase his versatility, Stanley was learning to play first base in Arizona.
Still, as I did the monthly prospect ranking tweaking during the season, I found that I could underrate a consistent but unflashy performer like Stanley. Realizing he put together such a solid season defensively while offensively standing out, too, justifies his return to the top 40.
More importantly, Stanley has strong supporters in the organization. They include Springfield manager Mike Shildt, commenting on a player likely to join him in Memphis for 2015.
“I can’t say I am not biased and I am not taking anything away from Alex Yarborough, because he had a really nice year, but I really felt that Cody was the MVP of our league,” the skipper told me this fall.
Had Stanley not faded in August, he might have made it – or at least won the batting title.
“Near the end of the year, he was second in the league in hitting,” Shildt recalled. “Actually he was leading the league for a while, then (second baseman Odubel) Herrera from Frisco ended up qualifying with the number of at-bats and won the batting title by 15 or 20 points.
“Cody went from .310-ish to .285 right in the last two weeks of the year. It was a combination of guys pitching him a little tougher and hitting into some bad luck. But he had a really good offensive year,” his manager said.
The key factor in Stanley’s improvement this season was hitting the ball with authority.
“He learned to drive the ball,” Shildt noted. “He is a super-strong kid. Driving the ball the other way, his average went up and his production went up. He hit 12 home runs, really got into a few, stole 12 bases, which is good for a catcher, was a real presence in the middle of our lineup. I was pleased.”
Stanley almost doubled his still-modest RBI count from the first to the second half.
“Maybe his RBI total was not as high as he would have liked, but what I was pleased about was earlier in the year, he did not drive in as many runs and then his approach got better, Shildt said. “It was always steadfast as far as looking and sitting in an area – Cody is always disciplined in that regard – but when he really learned how to drive the ball the other way, his RBIs started to improve a little bit.
“He had a really strong year for us and I am optimistic about him looking forward,” the manager concluded.
Stanley has shown he is ready for Triple-A, and as the others noted, can put himself in the Major League discussion with a solid 2015 season.
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.
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