With the benefit of a full 12 months of hindsight since the last-year’s St. Louis Cardinals top 40 rankings first appeared, it comes the time once again to take some bows and be humbled in comparable measure.
Following are my views of some of our most notable individual picks and pans from our 2014 rankings, completed last January.
Best 2014 pick – Message board community – Alex Reyes - #5
Even a year ago, everyone knew about the talented teenaged right-hander from New Jersey by way of the Dominican Republic. However, the community was onto Reyes harder than anyone else, ranking him as the second-best pitcher a year ago, behind only Carlos Martinez. Though Reyes is now behind Marco Gonzales in the 2015 overall rankings, he is second among all players in the system.
Best 2014 pick – Brian Walton – Tim Cooney - #9
While the potentially-overlooked lefty is consensus top-10 material this year, he was not 12 months ago. I had Cooney ninth then, but the community had him sitting way back at number 17. After a strong 2014, Cooney jumped to eighth in the community balloting this time around.
Top 2014 pan – Community – Zach Petrick - #21
Though the non-drafted right-hander swept his way from Peoria to Springfield, winning the Player of the Year honors across the system in 2013, the community held back some of their support. Given Petrick’s uneven 2014 season and resulting skid to number 29 overall for 2015, they appear to have been right.
Top 2014 pan – Walton – Greg Garcia - #23
With Garcia, I just had a hunch. It was the same kind of feeling I had with Ryan Jackson and Tyler Greene and other infielders before him – that the organization did not see him as an ongoing MLB contributor. Garcia’s shortstop defense wasn’t going to be strong enough for him to start and his bat was inconsistent. The community had Garcia 13th a year ago, but I pegged him 10 spots lower. He is 21 this year with five other middle infielders ranked better.
2015 playing time remains a question. Daniel Descalso left, but two new guys have been brought in (Dean Anna and Ty Kelly) and three others will be pushing up from Springfield (Breyvic Valera, Jacob Wilson and Aledmys Diaz). That is a lot of competition.
No one’s predictions will ever be anywhere near 100 percent accurate. Here are some of our highest-profile misses from last year’s rankings.
Most overrated 2014 pick – Community – Lee Stoppelman - #14
The tall lefty looks like he should come in and blow away hitters. Problem is that he does not have a dominating fastball and he was smacked around at Triple-A. To be honest, Stoppelman did not even perform as well at Double-A as he did there in 2013. As a result, he is off the new top 40.
Dishonorable mentions: John Gast at 15, Mike O’Neill at 19, Kenny Peoples-Walls at 24. The latter case is a good reminder to not get too excited about rookie-level success as it does not always immediately translate to Class-A ball.
Most overrated 2014 pick – Walton – Cory Jones - #14
I thought Jones was on the way to big things in 2014, but Tommy John surgery ended that. While there is no reason to believe Jones could not make it back, he will have to earn his way into a return spot on the top 40.
Dishonorable mention: Seth Blair at 31. I admit that I held on to hope too long. Blair has yet to find his stride, even in relief, with the highest walk rate in the system last season.
Worst 2014 miss – Community – Juan Herrera - #40
One year ago, the community was slow to accept the level of player the shortstop acquired from Cleveland in the Marc Rzepczynski trade has turned out to be. They moved him up quite a bit for 2015, up to 22, but there are still concerns about lack of pop in his bat.
Worst 2014 miss – Walton – Sam Tuivailala – #41
I have confessed multiple times that I was slow to acknowledge the rapid improvement that Tuivailala made as a pitcher. In my defense, his 2013 raw numbers at Peoria were not impressive, but his 2014 surely was. We all have Tui as a top-10 player in the system now.
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: The final installments of this series will look at our 2014 top 40 prospect list by level of play and position, comparing it to past years, followed by a look at the top 40 players from 2014 who left the list for 2015.
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