2015 Cards Top Prospects – Behind the Numbers

Sourcing of players, mix by position and ages of the St. Louis Cardinals top 40 prospects compared to prior years.

In this, our 46th installment of the series, we will dive into the numbers behind the The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top 40 Prospect List for 2015 in terms of sourcing of players, distribution by position with comparisons to recent years and their ages.

First, we will start with the breakdown of our top 40 prospects by the year in which they became professionals. Seven prior years of data is provided.

The top 40 population is broken out in two ways. The rows indicate how the players were acquired – via the draft, as free agents from the Latin American program or in the US, their contracts having been purchased from other leagues, acquired in the Rule 5 Draft or in trade.

The other dimension, in the columns, is the year the players became professionals, where N equals the most recent year/draft, N-1 being the prior year, etc.

Top 40 Cardinals prospects – sourcing - 2008-2015

Sourcing   Curr   N-1   N-2   N-3   N-4   N-5 N-6 N-8
2015 Top 40  2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2006
Draft  7 8 7 2 3 0 1 1
Latin Am FA  1   3 1 1 2    
US free agent     1          
Rule 5 acquire                
Trade          1 1    
Total   8 8 11 3 5 3 1 1
                 
Sourcing   Curr   N-1   N-2   N-3   N-4   N-5 N-6 N-7
2014 Top 40  2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Draft  6 8 4 8 1 2 0 1
Latin Am FA    2   2 1 2    
US free agent   1            
Rule 5 acquire                
Trade        1 1      
Total   6 11 4 11 3 4 0 1
                 
Sourcing   Curr   N-1   N-2   N-3   N-4   N-5 N-6 N-7
2013 Top 40  2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
Draft  7 5 9 6 3 2   0
Latin Am FA      2 2 2     1
US free agent                
Rule 5 acquire                
Trade              1  
Total   7 5 11 8 5 2 1 1
                 
Sourcing   Curr   N-1   N-2   N-3   N-4   N-5 N-6  
2012 Top 41  2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 Tot 
Draft  4 7 8 4 5 3 1 32
Latin Am FA    2 1 1   1 1 6
US free agent           1   1
Rule 5 acquire       1       1
Trade            1   1
Total   4 9 9 6 5 6 2 41
                 
Sourcing   Curr   N-1   N-2   N-3   N-4   N-5    
2011 Top 40  2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 Tot   
Draft  7 7 3 9 5 2 33  
Latin America  1 1 1   2 1 6  
Purchased        1     1  
Trade              0  
Total   8 8 4 10 7 3 40  
                 
Sourcing   Curr   N-1   N-2   N-3   N-4   N-8        
2010 Top 40  2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2001 Tot   
Draft  8 6 6 8 4 1 33  
Latin America    1 2 1 1   5  
Purchased      1       1  
Trade        1     1  
Total   8 7 9 1 5 1 40  
                         
Sourcing  Curr  N-1  N-2  N-3  N-4  N-5  N-7   
2009 Top 40  2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2001 Tot
Draft  5 7 8 9 1 1   31
Latin America  1 3 1   1     6
Purchased    1         1 2
Trade      1         1
Total  6 11 1 9 2 1 1 40
                         
Sourcing  Curr  N-1  N-2  N-3  N-4  N-5  N-6   
2008 Top 42  2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 Tot
Draft  6 12 1 3 2 2 2 37
Latin America    1   1       2
Purchased        1     1 2
Trade    1           1
Total  6 14 1 5 2 2 3 42

We will start with the rows. Continuing a trend over the last six years, the number of top 40 players acquired from the draft has again declined, to an all-time low of 29. Six years ago, I would have hoped that the contribution of the international program would have increased substantially, but in reality, it hasn’t. The current count of eight is just two higher than the total in 2009 and one of them may require an asterisk. More on that in a moment.

There is not significant change from year-to-year in the number of top 40 players from the most recent draft. This year’s total is seven, up one from a year ago and equal to the total from two years ago. But wait! Remember that the Cardinals had an unprecedented five first-rounders in 2012. When you consider that, the seven top 40 additions from the 2014 draft is a very solid showing.

The number of top prospects in the N-1 and N-2 years at 15 ties the top total in any year since I have been tracking this. It tells me the 2012 and 2013 drafts are standing up well so far. With eight top 40 members, the N-1 draft (2013) remains the most heavily-represented, the same as the N-1 draft was one year ago.

Sierra

As I mentioned before, the number of top prospects from the Latin American program is up by one to eight. That is Cuban Aledmys Diaz, whose age meant that his bonus was outside the international signing bonus restrictions.

The fact that the flow rate from the overseas top prospect pipeline has not increased significantly remains a concern to me. That is especially the case knowing that the two highest-profile international Cardinals ever, Oscar Taveras and Carlos Martinez, left the prospect ranks this season. Who knows, maybe Magneuris Sierra and Alex Reyes have what it takes to replace them.

In fact, considering the size of every hurdle facing international scouting and player development, perhaps instead of having quantity expectations, one should instead hope for a relatively few home runs. Let the draft add the organizational soldiers needed to fill out rosters. I am going to test this thought with others this season.

Players acquired in non-traditional manners include a US free agent, Zach Petrick, as well as two as the result of trades, Randal Grichuk and Juan Herrera. All three are top 40 repeaters from last year.

The next view is the top 40 by primary defensive position.

Top 40 Cardinals prospects – By position – 2007-2015

Top 40 by position 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
Catcher 2 2 2 3 6 3 2 2 1
First Base 1 0 1 2 2 2 1 3 1
Second Base 6 2 4 5 1 1 1 2 2
Shortstop 4 4 2 2 2 3 3 2 4
Third Base 1 1 3 2 3 3 4 2 1
Corner Outfield 4 3 4 4 6 6 5 4 3
Centerfield 4 6 4 5 3 3 2 4 5
LH Starting Pitcher 4 5 4 1 1 3 2 3 4
RH Starting Pitcher 12 11 10 11 11 10 13 13 13
LH Reliever 0 2 1 1          
RH Reliever 2 4 5 5          
Reliever         5 6 7 7 6
Total 40 40 40 41 40 40 40 42 40

Looking at the top 40 overall, last year’s positional split had been in favor of pitching, 22-18, not surprising considering the Cardinals focus on arms in recent drafts. However, that flipped in the other direction for 2015, with 18 pitchers against 22 position players.

Among the 22 non-pitchers, 12 are infielders, while just two are catchers and the other eight are outfielders. That infield total includes 10 up the middle, representing improvement in a recent focus area by the team. Third base depth remains a concern with no restocking since Carson Kelly and Stephen Piscotty moved to other positions.

The lack of catching is a bit concerning. While the number of catchers is flat at two, one is still new at the position and the other is 26 years old and back on the top 40 after two years away. First base is not represented at all after Xavier Scruggs. That is not particularly worrisome, other than it is often the home of power hitters, an ongoing scarce commodity.

CF Charlie Tilson

The organization’s continued focus on up-the-middle athletes is also reflected in our top 40 outfield. Half of the eight are of the speedy, centerfield type, with Grichuk having a case to join them.

The quantity of top 40 starting pitchers remains constant from 2014, a six-year peak. The distribution of left-handers is down by one, but the total of four is not concerning. Relievers took a big hit, but who would not prefer some better prospects being hitters or starting pitchers?

Possible gap areas to consider in the 2015 draft are the same as last year - catchers, third basemen and power-hitting anything. Keeping the left-handed pitching momentum going seems wise, as well.

Top 40 Cardinals prospects – By age – 2015

Top 40 by age 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 Tot
Catcher   1           1     2
First Base 1                   1
Second Base     1 2   1   1 1   6
Shortstop       1     1 1   1 4
Third Base         1           1
Corner Outfield         2 2         4
Centerfield   1       1 1     1 4
LH Starting Pitcher       1   1   2     4
RH Starting Pitcher     1 1 1 2 2 1 3 1 12
LH Reliever                     0
RH Reliever           2         2
Total 1 2 2 5 4 9 4 6 4 3 40

Though the oldest player from the last two years has graduated, left-handed reliever Sam Freeman, three have replaced him for 2015. Scruggs is the gray-beard of this year’s top 40 at 27, followed by two former top 40 players at age 26 in Tommy Pham and Cody Stanley.

Youth is being served as well. 13 members (32.5 percent) of the 2015 prospect list are 20 years of age or younger, up a substantial five players from last year’s total of eight. Our youngest player last year, shortstop Leobaldo Pina, is now joined by two other 18-year-olds in Magneuris Sierra and Ronnie Williams.

Top 40 by age 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 Total
2015 1 2 2 5 4 9 4 6 4 3 0 40
2014 0 1 4 8 6 6 7 2 5 0 1 40

In the table above, you can see the age shift to the right from last year to this. In 2014, just under half of the top 40 (19 players) were age 23 or older, while that total drops to 14 this year.

If a fair number of these younger players can come through, the Cardinals future may continue to shine brightly.




To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2015 and read about each individual player, click here. You can learn the voters’ philosophies in making their selections and much more.

Next up: This article series nears its conclusion as we take a look at the best and worst picks from the 2014 top 40, the top prospects by level and finally those players that left the top 40 from last year to this.



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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