Now that the St. Louis Cardinals have disclosed their initial spring training camp plans:
… it is a good time to review how the members of The Cardinal Nation top prospect list for 2015 have fared in terms of their camp assignments.
Here are the top 40 raw counts by camp/type. To the right are the total populations in each camp, which includes all invitees, top 40 and non-top 40 prospect players alike. At the right are the comparable numbers from one year ago.
|Spring distribution||Top 40||Camp total||Top 40 %||Top 40||Top 40 %|
|MLB camp - 40-man||8||39||20.5%||10||25.6%|
|Regular minors camp||12||132||9.1%||6||4.6%|
As you can see, eight members of the top 40 are among the 39 players already on the 40-man roster, down from 10 last year. Another seven top prospects are among the 18 non-roster invitees to big league camp, also down from 2014. In fact, the top prospects are just over one-third of the NRI population after being over half last year.
Not surprisingly, the STEP Camp, or early minor league camp, continues to have the highest concentration of top prospects with 13 of the 23 camp invitees, comparable to last spring. Top-three prospects Alex Reyes and Rob Kaminsky are back in STEP Camp for a second year.
At the lower end of the spectrum, a dozen members of the 2015 top 40 have regular minor league camp as their initial destination. That is double from last year and suggests there has not been a fill in of new top prospects at the upper levels of the system to replace the ones who graduated. There are a number of longer-shot, younger players in this group.
The next view shows the top 40 by camp assignment and position with ranking for each player.
|Top 40||Top 40||Top 40||Top 40|
|40man (8/39)||Rk||NRIs (7/18)||Rk||STEP (13/23)||Rk||Minors (12/132)||Rk|
|Pitchers (2)||Pitchers (3)||Pitchers (5)||Pitchers (8)|
|Catchers (1)||Catchers (1)||Catchers (1)||Catchers (0)|
|Infielders (3)||Infielders (2)||Infielders (4)||Infielders (2)|
|Outfielders (2)||Outfielders (1)||Outfielders (3)||Outfielders (2)|
Look at the pitching, specifically. That is the really interesting part of this story, in my opinion.
Only five of the top 40 pitching prospects are in big league camp, just half the quantity of the year before. It is a good thing that the major league staff seems relatively set, as there are not a lot of potential high-impact arms approaching St. Louis soon. Certainly Marco Gonzales, Sam Tuivailala and Tim Cooney are very interesting, but after that, there is a dropoff.
The pitching STEP Campers remain about constant from year to year, with the promise represented by Reyes and Kaminsky still a long way from St. Louis. During the upcoming season, College draftees Luke Weaver and Andrew Morales could actually move ahead of the former high schoolers in timing, if not level.
The vast majority of the eight top 40 pitchers in regular camp, six of them specifically, have never pitched above Class-A ball. The two who have, barely have. Nick Petree made the last start of the 2014 season at Double-A and Dixon Llorens had a failed five-game trial at Springfield last summer. In other words, there are a lot of undeveloped arms among this group.
Last year, top 40 outfielders and infielders were balanced at eight each across the four camps. For 2015, the outfielders stayed constant while the top 40 infielders shot up by three. The list of catchers grew by one, but that is dependent on how well Mason Katz progresses at the position and whether it is a permanent move or a sideline.
Finally, here is the entire 2015 top 40 in rank order with spring camp assignments. From this view, it is clear that 10 of the top 15-ranked prospects will be in Major League camp this spring. But as already noted, the skew is away from the Cardinals’ traditional strength, pitching.
|TCN 2015||MLB camp||MLB camp||Minors||Minors|
|Top 40 rk||40-man (8)||NRI (7)||STEP (13)||Regular (12)|
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