The 10th edition of BaseballHQ’s “Minor League Baseball Analyst” just became available. As always, the guide integrates sabermetrics and scouting for over 1000 minor leaguers across all 30 organizations. In-depth scouting reports and stats include batter skills ratings, runner speed, pitch repertoires, Major League equivalents, ultimate potential and much more.
Once again, authors Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney have included their Organizational Ratings for all 30 major league systems, ranking each organization’s top 15 prospects, with details why, as well as a scoring of the organization in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent and overall. We’ll cover a subset of that in the second article of this series, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
The comprehensive information in the Analyst is more in-depth than comparable guides from well-known sources of minor league information and is used by front office personnel, scouts, fantasy players and fans from coast to coast.
It has become almost as eagerly-awaited each hot stove season as HQ’s famous “Baseball Forecaster” has been for over a quarter of a century. If readers order the Minor League Baseball Analyst from HQ directly, online updates will be included in March along with a PDF copy at no additional charge.
Following is a subset of their findings, covering their top 15 Cardinals prospects. Interestingly, every one of the seven US levels of play are represented - from St. Louis to the Gulf Coast League. As always, click on each highlighted player's name to be taken to his in-depth Player Profile page here at The Cardinal Nation.
Please respect the rights of the authors and the associated copyrights by not reproducing this information elsewhere. You are receiving this exclusive view through the courtesy and generosity of BaseballHQ.
Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects - 2015
Rank, player, (position), height/weight, (bat/throw), age, year drafted (round), school level (state) or country
1. Alex Reyes (RHP) … 6-3, 185 … 20 … 2012 FA, Dominican Republic
Comments: Dynamic Dominican hurler has the most upside of any player in the system. 20-year-old right-hander has a good three-pitch mix that is highlighted by a plus mid-90s fastball that tops out at 98 mph and has good late arm-side run. He also has a good hard, 12-6 curveball and a changeup that has plus potential. Has good size and is physically strong, so he should hold up well once he fills out his 6-3 frame. His mechanics and release point, especially on his breaking ball, can inconsistent and he falls off sharply to the first base side of the rubber. He does throw with a bit of effort, but it is toned from a year ago without a loss in velocity. Because of the violent delivery and inconsistent release point, Reyes struggles with control and command and walked five batters per nine, but he can also be unhittable, striking out 137 in 109.1 innings with a stingy .207 oppBA. In August Reyes walked just 6 with a 1.80 ERA while striking out 38 in 25 innings.
Development Path: Reyes was arguably the most dynamic player in the MWL in 2014 and he will likely move up to High-A in the Florida State League with a late jump to Double-A possible.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Reyes certainly has some risk, but if he can continue to refine his change-up and mechanics, he has the raw stuff to be a true staff ace.
Upside Rating: 9D
|Palm Beach (FSL)||37.2||1.43||1.12||1.9||7.7||4.0||0.239|
|St. Louis (MLB)||34.2||4.15||1.53||5.5||8.1||1.5||0.241|
Comments: Short, compact lefty pitched at four different levels and logged important post-season innings. Gonzales has a fluid, clean arm action that leads to plus command and control of his four-pitch repertoire. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and isn’t overpowering, but he locates it well, inducing weak contact. His best offering is a plus change-up that he will throw in any count. It keeps hitters off his below average fastball. He also mixes in a good, but inconsistent curveball and a seldom used slider. Gonzales is competitive and has good composure on the mound.
Development Path: Gonzales will battle for a spot at back-end of the Cardinals rotation in 2015, but might have to wait to see how the Carlos Martinez experiment plays out. If Martinez proves unreliable as a starter or Adam Wainwright isn’t ready to go, Gonzales would likely be next in line.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Gonzales isn’t going to lead the league in strikeouts anytime soon, but he should be a solid mid-rotation starter with a good ERA and WHIP. Similar in profile to Kyle Lohse.
Upside Rating: 8A
Development Path: Given the recent trade for RF Jason Heyward, Piscotty will head back to Triple-A Memphis where he will have to bide his time. He doesn’t have the range or speed to handle CF, but could see some time as an injury replacement or 4th OF if Randall Grichuk struggles to hit for average.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Piscotty has shown the ability to hit for average. Power development will be key to his future fantasy potential. His output in 2014 was disappointing, but he still projects as a .280/.290 hitter with 20 HR power.
Upside Rating: 8C
4. Rob Kaminsky (LHP) … 5-11, 191 … 20 … 2013 (1) HS, NJ
Development Path: Kaminsky will join teammate Alex Reyes at High-A Palm Beach in 2015, giving the team one of the best 1-2 punches in the FSL.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Kaminsky profiles as a command and control lefty once he reaches the majors. Not likely to rack up a tons of Ks, but should be able to help with WHIP and ERA.
Upside Rating: 8C
5. Jack Flaherty (RHP) … 6-4, 205 … 19 … 2014 (1) HS, CA
Development Path: The Cardinals could challenge Flaherty with an assignment to full-season ball in the MWL in 2015. He succeeds more because of his advanced pitchability than by overpowering hitters.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Flaherty can add a couple of miles an hour to his fastball, he has the stuff and pitching sense to be a good mid-rotation starter and is worth targeting in dynasty and other long-term keeper leagues.
Upside Rating: 8D
6. Randal Grichuk (OF) … 6-1, 195 … 23 … R/R … 2009 (1) HS, TX
|St. Louis (MLB)||110||.245/.278/.400||4||73||0.2||3/0|
Development Path: Grichuk should break camp as the Cardinals 4th or 5th OF, though he could steal some time away from Jon Jay if he gets off to a hot start.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Grichuk is still only 23 years old, so there is time for him to rewrite his profile. If he can figure out how to be more selective at the plate and make more consistent contact, he has the power to become an interesting fantasy commodity, but until that happens he is only an end-game option in deep NL-only formats.
Upside Rating: 8C
7. Luke Weaver (RHP) … 6-2, 170 … 21 … 2014 (1) Florida State
|Palm Beach (FSL)||6||0.00||0.67||0.0||13.5||9.0||0.190|
Development Path: As a polished collegiate starter, Weaver could skip the MWL and head straight back to the FSL in 2015.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Profiles as a mid-rotation starter with good dominance, but will need to show that he can throw strikes consistently to reach his potential.
Upside Rating: 8D
Development Path: Cooney will have to bide his time until there is an opening in the Cardinals rotation. Given the Cardinals pitching depth, both in the majors and the minors, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. A trade to another organization would make him an excellent sleeper candidate.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Profiles as a solid back-end starter, but not much more and so doesn’t have broad-based fantasy appeal. Those in deep NL-only league should keep him in mind as an end-game candidate and at some point he should have some value.
Upside Rating: 7B
9. Charlie Tilson (OF) … 5-11, 175 … 22 … L/L … 2011 (2) HS, IL
|Palm Beach (FSL)||370||.308/.357/.414||6||81||0.3||5/10|
Development Path: Tilson will head back to Double-A Springfield in 2015 where he will work on being more selective at the plate and getting consistent reps.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Tilson projects as a second division OF whose primary fantasy value will be his above-average speed. If he can get on base consistently in the majors, he could steal 20-25 bases a year.
Upside Rating: 7C
10. Sam Tuivailala (RHP) … 6-3, 195 … 22 … 2010 (3) HS, CA
|Palm Beach (FSL)||37.2||3.58||1.25||4.3||15.3||3.5||0.207|
|St. Louis (MLB)||1||36.00||7.00||18.0||9.0||0.5||0.625|
Development Path: Tuivailala will be given a chance to win a spot in the Cardinals pen in 2015. He could use some additional time in the minors to refine his approach and learn how to throw strikes consistently.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Project future closers is a tricky proposition since so much depends on opportunity, but Tuivailala has the raw stuff to pitch meaningful innings at the end of big league games.
Upside Rating: 7B
11. Magneuris Sierra (OF) … 5-11, 160 … 18 … L/L … 2012 FA, Dominican Republic
Development Path: Sierra is still fairly raw and inexperienced, but he showed well enough in his debut that the Cardinals will likely send him out to fullseason ball in the MWL in 2015. If they do, Sierra will be tested against older competition and we will get a better idea of how he holds up in a longer season and how he makes adjustments.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Sierra is a raw, but toolsy player with a high upside. If everything comes together he profiles as an excellent top-of-the order hitter with the ability to hit for average, make consistent contact, steal bases and play stellar defense.
Upside Rating: 8D
12. Edmundo Sosa (SS) … 5-11, 170 … 18 … R/R … 2012 FA, Panama
Development Path: Sosa will likely replace Juan Herrera as the Peoria shortstop in 2015. He will be very young for the league, so don’t be surprised to see him get off to a slow start, but his overall tools should allow him to shine by mid-season.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Sosa can continue to hit and develop a bit more power, he has the ability to develop into a first division major league shortstop who hits for average, gets on base, and has a bit of pop, but he is years away from reaching that potential.
Upside Rating: 8D
13. Carson Kelly (C) … 6-2, 200 … 20 … R/R … 2012 (2) HS, OR
Development Path: Despite not dominating at the plate, Kelly showed enough development to earn a jump to the Florida State League in 2015.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Kelly has good power potential and decent plate discipline. Once he gets comfortable behind the plate, his offense should be able to catch up and he has modest fantasy value in deep NL only formats.
Upside Rating: 7D
14. Juan Herrera (SS) … 5-11, 165 … 21 … R/R … 2010 FA, Dominican Republic
|Palm Beach (FSL)||31||.194/.219/.194||3||84||0.2||0/1|
Development Path: Herrera struggled against more advanced pitching when he moved up to the FSL and will likely head back to Palm Beach in 2015. While he does a good job of controlling the strike zone, Herrera needs to draw more walks to effectively utilize his plus speed.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Herrera isn’t a great fantasy play as much of his value is tied up in his plus defense. He doesn’t project to have much power, but he does have good speed and his defense could get him playing time in the majors
Upside Rating: 7D
15. Ronnie Williams (RHP) … 6-0, 170 … 18 … 2014 (2) HS, FL
Development Path: Look for the Cardinals to give Williams some much needed time in instructional ball and then a mid-season posting to rookie ball in the Appalachian League. He was a two-way player in high school so is still a bit raw on the mound, but has good athleticism and is a sleeper in the system.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: While Williams doesn’t have the prototypical frame of a major league starter, he does have a live arm and a plus mid-90s heater. At this point he is very much a lottery ticket and not ready for fantasy consideration, but athletic pitchers that can hit 98mph have to at least be on your radar.
Upside Rating: 8E
2015 contributors: Mike O’Neill (OF), Tommy Pham (OF), Zach Petrick (RHP), Boone Whiting (RHP), Heath Wyatt (RHP), John Gast (LHP), Dean Kiekhefer (LHP), Keith Butler (RHP), Jacob Wilson (2B), Breyvic Valera (2B), Jonathan Rodriguez (1B), Patrick Wisdom (3B), and Joey Donofrio (RHP).
Ctrl – control rate – walks per nine innings. The best pitchers will have three of less.
Dom – dominance rate – strikeouts allowed per nine innings. The best pitchers will have six or higher.
Cmd – command ratio – strikeouts/walks. Upper echelon of command pitchers will be at 3.0. Lower than 1.0 (more walks than strikeouts) indicates little chance of success.
ct% - contact rate – (AB-K)/AB – Ability to get the ball into play. The best have 90 percent or better while hackers are at 75 percent or less.
Eye – batting eye – BB/K- measures a hitter’s strike zone judgment. Over 1.00 correlates to .300 hitters. Less than .50 signals a low batting average.
Player Potential Rating - a player’s upside potential on a scale of 1-10
10 – Hall of Fame-type player
9 – Elite player
8 – Solid regular
7 – Average regular
6 – Platoon player
5 – Major League reserve player
4 - Top minor league player
3 - Average minor league player
2 - Minor league reserve player
1 - Minor league roster filler
Probability Rating - a player’s realistic chance of achieving his potential on a scale of A-E
A - 90% probability of reaching potential
B - 70% probability of reaching potential
C - 50% probability of reaching potential
D - 30% probability of reaching potential
E - 10% probability of reaching potential
In Part two, for members of The Cardinal Nation, we will analyze the Minor League Analyst’s organizational ratings for the National League Central Division clubs with scoring of each in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent, depth and overall and compare them to recent past seasons.
Special bonus for The Cardinal Nation readers: The first reader who posts interest on the special thread discussing this article series located on our Cardinals message forum will receive a special prize.
BaseballHQ has provided copies of the brand-new 2015 Minor League Baseball Analyst, which will be mailed to the winners. One copy will be awarded following each segment of this four-part series, so if you don’t win this time, join The Cardinal Nation today and keep trying.
Thank you for reading. Good luck!
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