In Part one of this annual four-part series, we looked into the individual rankings, scouting reports and future potential of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top 15 prospects according to BaseballHQ’s “Minor League Baseball Analyst” for 2015.
Next, we dug into 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 compared them to a number of recent past seasons.
Here in Part three, we will look into individual player movement and changes in their projections from year to year.
Special bonus for The Cardinal Nation members: The first reader who posts their interest on the special thread discussing this article series located on our “Cardinals Insiders” message forum will receive a special prize.
BaseballHQ has provided a copy of the brand-new 2015 Minor League Baseball Analyst, which will be mailed to the winner. One copy will be awarded following each segment of this four-part series, so if you don’t win this time, keep trying.
Thank you for subscribing and for reading. Good luck!
There has been considerable churn in the top 15. Seven from last year’s rankings are gone, down from eight last year, but up from six in each of the two prior years. Four of the 2014 top eight left, including the Cardinals’ numbers one, two and three prospects. They all graduated to the majors – the late Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong.
The other four left the list for two different reasons. Two were traded away and the other pair were passed by other hotter prospects. The Cardinals gave up pitcher Tyrell Jenkins and outfielder James Ramsey in trade. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom did not progress offensively in the Texas League. Pitcher John Gast essentially lost a second year due to injury.
|Cards top 15||Hitters on (rank) rating||Hitters off (2014 #s)|
|2015||Sierra (11) 8D||Taveras (1) 9B|
|Sosa (12) 8D||Wong (3) 8B|
|Herrera (14) 7D||Ramsey (10) 7C|
|Wisdom (14) 8D|
|Cards top 15||Pitchers on (rank) rating||Pitchers off (2014 #s)|
|2015||Flaherty (5) 8D||Martinez (2) 9C|
|Weaver (7) 8D||Jenkins (8) 8D|
|Tuivailala (10) 7B||Gast (15) 7C|
|Williams (15) 8E|
(Scan down to the final tables of this article for a refresher on the meaning of the two-digit codes for each player, first introduced in Part 1 of this series.)
This year’s top four were all in the rankings in 2014. Overall, seven players join the top 15 for the first time. The highest debuts are not surprising - the two first-rounders from June’s draft – Jack Flaherty at number five and Luke Weaver at seven. The third new member of the Cardinals system to make his debut is second-rounder Ronnie Williams at 15.
Former infielder, now hard-throwing reliever Sam Tuivailala is the other new pitcher to join the 2015 top 15. Hitters already in the system are outfielder Magneuris Sierra and shortstops Edmundo Sosa and Juan Herrera.
Next we have the eight players remaining on the list from last year. Here, you again see a player’s numeric rank in the top 15, followed by his potential/probability rating, both this year and last. A red box means the player fell in one of both of the scores from last year. Green means improvement while yellow means no significant change on a year-to-year basis.
|Cards top 15||Incumbent hitters 2015||In 2014|
|Piscotty (3) 8C||Piscotty (4) 8C|
|Grichuk (6) 8C||Grichuk (11) 7B|
|Tilson (9) 7C||Tilson (12) 7C|
|Kelly (13) 7D||Kelly (13) 8D|
|Cards top 15||Incumbent pitchers 2015||In 2014|
|Reyes (1) 9D||Reyes (5) 9D|
|Gonzales (2) 8A||Gonzales (6) 7B|
|Kaminsky (4) 8C||Kaminsky (7) 7C|
|Cooney (8) 7B||Cooney (9) 7B|
Looking at the names that go with the colors, a very consistent trend shows itself. All four pitchers improved their relative ranking within the system from year to year, as did three of the four hitters.
After his conversion to catcher, Carson Kelly’s ultimate potential dropped from solid to average regular, as he held his spot in the top 15. No other repeater saw his ultimate potential fall.
There is a more optimistic view of three top 15 members compared to last year. Randal Grichuk move from average to solid, but his odds declined. On the other hand, Marco Gonzales improved in both areas. Rob Kaminsky moved up from average to solid while holding his percentage.
|Cardinals top 15 2015||9 Elite player||8 Solid regular||7 Average regular|
|A 90% chance||Gonzales|
|B 70% chance||Cooney, Tuivailala|
|C 50% chance||Piscotty, Grichuk||Tilson|
|D 30% chance||Reyes||Sierra, Sosa||Kelly, Herrera|
|E 10% chance||Williams|
Looking at the above table by columns, the elite-potential player group is very lonely with Reyes standing alone. No one has yet stepped up to replace graduates Taveras and Martinez.
As noted previously, Gonzales is the major addition to the “solid regulars” column, standing far above the others with 90 percent odds of success. It is great to see seven other names there, but all sit at 50 percent or lower at this early stage.
Remember the Potential Rating for each member of the top 15, in which the higher the number, the more elite the player is expected to be. In terms of Probability Rating, the lower the letter, the more likely the player should reach that potential. Therefore, the upper left is the best place to be. Lower left is arguably next best. (To review the specific value definitions, refer to Part one of this series.)
The final table is a quick-and-dirty quality measure, yet the busy graph holds a lot of information. In the cells, the first number is the quantity of players in the top 15 at that level. The number that follows in parentheses is the change in the number of that level of players since last year. For example, there are no 9B players in 2015 after having one in 2014.
The colors of the cells indicate either fewer players in that group (red), more players (green) or no change from last year (yellow).
|Cards top 15 2015 (vs 2014)||9 Elite player||8 Solid regular||7 Average regular||Total|
|A 90% chance||0 (flat)||1 (up 1)||0 (flat)||1 (up 1)|
|B 70% chance||0 (down 1)||0 (down 1)||2 (down 1)||2 (down 3)|
|C 50% chance||0 (down 1)||3 (up 2)||1 (down 3)||4 (down 2)|
|D 30% chance||1 (flat)||4 (up 1)||2 (up 2)||7 (up 3)|
|E 10% chance||0 (flat)||1 (up 1)||0 (flat)||1 (up 1)|
|Total||1 (down 2)||9 (up 4)||5 (down 2)||15|
When looking at this heat map, the Cardinals’ slip in the overall rankings makes sense. The total number of elite (9) players are down three to one since last year. As noted above, there has been a healthy increase a number of solid regulars (8), but most of them are still under 50 percent chance of reaching their potential. The number of average regulars (7) is down as a result – not a big issue, in my opinion.
Taking the horizontal view, there is just one 90 percent odds player. The quantity of 50-70 percent odds players took a major hit, falling from 11 of the 15 last year to just six for 2015. So the Cards are both down in flash, and in the quantity of higher-odds players of reaching their ultimate potential.
In the final installment of this annual series, we will compare several of the top Cardinals prospects to the best in the game overall, by position in terms of long-range potential in the Major Leagues as well as in top skills. Closing the article will be a review of the Cardinals’ 2014 draft.
In closing, thank you again to BaseballHQ for giving us this special look into their data. Please respect them and copyright laws by not duplicating this material.
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