As our yearly 40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospects series moves into its analysis phase, this article brings together the voting of the participants from The Cardinal Nation, me - Brian Walton (BW) and the members of our Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals message board community (Cm)*.
The far left column of the table below is the aggregate ranking as we counted down daily over the last six weeks. To the right of the players’ names are our individual votes. (Note that we each ranked well over 40 players to ensure the group’s top 40 would be as representative as possible.) Next are the prior years’ rankings of the players in the new 2015 Top 40 from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007, where applicable.
* (Cm) represents the collaborative effort among a group of very knowledgeable Cardinals fans from our Message Board. That group actually went on to rank 60 players. Click here to see the entire community list and their reasoning behind each selection.
|NA=not in Cards org|
|red = YTY decline|
|yellow = YTY flat|
|green = YTY improve|
I will finish this segment with a look at some of the most notable player changes in 2015 from the 2014 list.
Movers and shakers
The Cardinals’ top two drafted players, both pitchers, are the once again the highest of the newly-ranked players. Last year, it was one high schooler in Rob Kaminsky and a collegiate star in Marco Gonzales.
This time, the roles are played by Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver. I have already written about why I placed Flaherty slightly ahead of the earlier draft pick Weaver, but to net it out, there is the potential of a higher ceiling (as well as a better chance of flaming out).
Both top debuting players who had been in the system in 2013 made their headlines in the 2014 Gulf Coast League. Sierra came over to the US from the Dominican Summer League and earned the consensus Player of the Year honors for the entire system. As a result, he overshadowed his teammate Collymore, who had a very strong summer while repeating the GCL.
Three former top 40 players returned to the list after not making it a year ago. They include outfielder C.J. McElroy and reliever Dixon Llorens. An even bigger return to the spotlight was executed by catcher Cody Stanley, who earned his way back after two years away. His strong season at Springfield also led to a 40-man roster spot.
There is no other player in the system, Marco Gonzales included, who progressed as quickly as did Sam Tuivailala in 2014. I admit that I was slower than some to fully hop onto the bandwagon, but I am now convinced that the right-hander has an MLB career ahead.
Several players made improvements year-to-year, including second baseman Breyvic Valera. In his case, however, he mostly made up top 40 ground lost the previous year.
I admit that I may have overreacted to one strong partial season from Jones in the Midwest League in 2013. While he still has the talent, the right-hander did not have full health in either 2013 or 2014. The prior season was shortened due to a hip flexor injury while this past campaign ended in early May with Tommy John surgery.
On the other hand, Stoppelman fell because he digressed on the mound. The lefty reliever bounced back down to Springfield after a failed trial with Memphis and seems to have lost his way a bit.
Biggest fall still on the top 40: Zach Petrick - #16 to #29
(next: Patrick Wisdom - #15 to #27)
The system-wide Pitcher of the Year in 2013, Zach Petrick, had an uneven introduction to Triple-A in 2014. The message board community was harder on the right-hander than was I, dropping him down to #35. I have him at #28 on my personal list.
While Wisdom continues his power-hitting ways, there hasn’t been enough there to overcome a mediocre batting average. No other top prospect third basemen in the system have stepped up, leaving Wisdom as the Cardinals’ best hope at the position by default.
Next up: This article series continues as we highlight the newest members of the top 40. Then, the voters highlight the players on our personal lists that did not make the 2015 consolidated top 40. We move next to our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, dive into the numbers behind the top 40, take a look back at our best and worst selections from 2014, the top prospects by level of play and finally those players that left the top 40 from last year to this.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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