As we near the conclusion of this year’s top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospect countdown, this report will study the levels of all players on a year-to-year basis.
I have captured the level of competition for the top 40 players in each of the last eight years. This information is presented in the tables below, broken out between position players and pitchers.
|Gulf Coast League||3||2||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|Gulf Coast League||2||1||0||2||2||1||1||2|
First, note the shift of balance from pitching having been predominant in last year’s top 40 to hitters taking back that lead for 2015. Because the organization’s pitching pipeline has expanded, especially through the deployment of top draft picks, this recent shift was a bit surprising to me.
|Marco: Next to graduate|
Stepping back, however, this shift away from top 40 prospect pitching occurred after so many very good pitching prospects reached the majors (Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness, etc...). Plus several were traded away, which help explain what very well could turn out to be a temporary rebalancing.
One has no reason to suspect that the organization will alter its recent high focus on plumbing and filling a continually-flowing pitching pipeline.
However, the acceleration of MLB graduations has led to a major change in the quantity of top 40 pitchers at the Class-A levels through Triple-A. Compared to 17 two years ago and 13 last year, there are just nine hurlers now at the full-season levels.
That is the fewest at those levels since I have been tracking this data. As such, it seems very clear that there will be less top flight immediate pitching help one phone call away in 2015 than there was in any recent season.
On the positive side, there is more help on the way, but it is going to take time.
The next two big pitching names in Rob Kaminsky and Alex Reyes, are still in low-A. Further, the focus on pitching in the early rounds of the 2013 and 2014 drafts as well as international academy graduates have led to seven top 40 pitchers coming from short-season and rookie-level clubs. That ties for the most in any year since I have been compiling this data.
Conversely, the position player center of mass is at the Double-A level, with seven top 40 hitters at Springfield alone. It clearly helps that four of them are not only among the top 15 in the system, but also play important up-the-middle positions defensively. They are middle infielders Aledmys Diaz, Jacob Wilson and Breyvic Valera and centerfielder Charlie Tilson.
The number of Memphis’ top 40 position players is down, but is artificially so since so many were promoted in-season during 2014, including Greg Garcia and Randal Grichuk, followed by final-month cups of coffee tasted by Tommy Pham and Xavier Scruggs.
Top 40 position player totals across the three Class-A clubs - Palm Beach, Peoria and State College – is up slightly at eight. Short-season is represented with three hitting prospects, same as last year.
Ideally, one would like to see the players competing to be next Oscar Taveras rising from the Dominican academy. On the positive side, outfielder Magneuris Sierra’s amazing summer in the Gulf Coast League pushed him past then-injured shortstop Edmundo Sosa into our top-ranked prospect from the international program.
2015 top 40 by 10-round blocks
Of course, not all prospects, even top prospects, are created equal. While we are looking at the position player-pitcher split, here is a high level view of how the 2015 top 40 is broken out by blocks of 10 rounds.
|Top 40 by position||#1-10||#11-20||#21-30||#31-40||Total|
Pitchers dominate the top 10, with position players holding almost as strong of an advantage in the second 10. I was surprised to see so many hitters in #21-#30 group. Though pitching again took a slight edge in the final 10, the position players had established a considerable overall lead.
Of the 18 hurlers on the 2015 list, just two are relievers while 16 are starters. The latter group ties the highest total in at least six years. Four starters are left-handed, down one from last year, but equivalent to 2013.
As long as the starters’ totals hold up, I am not concerned about fewer relievers. In fact, perhaps some of the emerging position players took the spots they held previously. If so, I am good with that.
2015 top 40 by level
We will take one more cut at the full 2015 top 40. This view sorts them by position grouping and level. Including their names and individual rankings help put a face on the data.
Note that 12 of our top 40 have yet to play an inning of full-season ball, up substantially from the eight in each of the last two years. Seven of the “inexperienced 12” are pitchers, again harkening back to the 2014 draft with promising freshmen Jack Flaherty, Bryan Dobzanski and Ronnie Williams.
|Top 40 (rank)||Position Players||Pitchers|
|St. Louis||Randal Grichuk (4)||Marco Gonzales (1)|
|Tommy Pham (13)||Sam Tuivailala (8)|
|Greg Garcia (21)|
|Xavier Scruggs (30)|
|Memphis||Stephen Piscotty (5)||Tim Cooney (7)|
|Mike Mayers (25)|
|Zach Petrick (29)|
|Springfield||Charlie Tilson (10)||Nick Petree (20)|
|Aledmys Diaz (12)||Dixon Llorens (37)|
|Jacob Wilson (14)|
|Breyvic Valera (15)|
|Cody Stanley (26)|
|Patrick Wisdom (27)|
|Palm Beach||Juan Herrera (17)||Luke Weaver (9)|
|Mason Katz (33)||Andrew Morales (35)|
|Peoria||Carson Kelly (11)||Alex Reyes (2)|
|Rowan Wick (28)||Rob Kaminsky (3)|
|C.J. McElroy (32)|
|Ronald Castillo (36)|
|State College||Edmundo Sosa (19)||Ian McKinney (18)|
|Darren Seferina (39)||Daniel Poncedeleon (34)|
|Fernando Baez (38)|
|Johnson City||Orlando Mercado (23)||Juan Perez (40)|
|Gulf Coast League||Magneuris Sierra (16)||Jack Flaherty (6)|
|Malik Collymore (22)||Bryan Dobzanski (24)|
|Ronnie Williams (31)|
As always, our top 40 prospect lists from each of the last ten years can be accessed via links permanently displayed at the lower part of The Cardinal Nation homepage.
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 installment of this series will look at the top 40 players from 2014 who left the list for 2015.
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