Editor’s note: The voting for The Cardinal Nation’s top 40 prospects for 2016 occurred prior to Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, when Luis Perdomo left the St. Louis Cardinals system – first taken by Colorado, then flipped to San Diego.
Even though he has moved on, I made the decision to keep Perdomo in this countdown. The reason is that I think it is better than 50 percent odds that the 22-year-old will be back with the Cardinals within six months, with the same talent and potential that earned his spot here in the first place.
More on this follows below.
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Selected 2015 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (35): During the community vote, Luis Perdomo finished as the 35th highest rated player. Perdomo got a lot of support early in the discussion from freshjmm, who tabbed him as high as #15. Eventually, several other posters joined him in support of Perdomo, but not until the vote hit the early 30’s.
Freshjmm stated that he believes Perdomo to have more upside than Ian McKinney, who is a higher-regarded prospect by many people. Freshjmm believes Perdomo has a big-time fastball that can reach the upper 90’s. He also thought that being the Cardinals’ representative in the All-Star Weekend Futures Game is a nice achievement as well. GM4aday noted that Perdomo has a higher WHIP (1.35) than he likes out of a starting pitching prospect, especially those who have been in the system for five years. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore (22): This is not the Luis Perdomo included in the Anthony Reyes trade in 2008. The Cardinals signed this Perdomo as an international free agent in 2010 with this being his first time on The Cardinal Nation's top 40 prospect countdown.
In terms of becoming a legitimate Cardinal prospect, 2015 was Perdomo's coming out party in his fifth professional season. After getting a taste of Low-A Peoria in 2014 and another year of developing and maturing, Perdomo repeated the Midwest League and pitched to a 3.68 ERA in 17 games with 100 strikeouts against 31 walks before representing the Cardinals in Futures Game in July and finishing his successful year at Palm Beach.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, Perdomo will be Rule 5 eligible this month after being left unprotected on the 40 man roster. Although, given his proximity from the big-leagues and without any experience above High-A, there is a slight chance a team takes a flier on him in MLB phase -- that chance would come if there's optimism a move to the bullpen can accelerate his development with use of just two pitches for a full season.
With that in mind, Perdomo has the raw stuff of a starter or long-late inning reliever depending on the development of his changeup and overall command of the strike zone. A prospect evaluator told me his fastball is a borderline plus-plus pitch with a plus, tight slider, the changeup showed potential, and he has a repeatable delivery that allows him to throw strikes with three pitches at the same arm slot, but is a pretty high-effort delivery. Most evaluators like the stuff, but ultimately more see him as a high-leverage reliever than someone pitching 180-200 innings a year.
Brian Walton (25): I threw out most of my original capsule written about Perdomo once the Rule 5 Draft occurred – because I have different points to make now.
However, I am leaving in the words of Cardinals Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque as told to me about 60 days ago.
“When he did get to go to the Futures Game – unfortunately Alex (Reyes) couldn’t – it presented an opportunity for Luis,” LaRocque said. “He took advantage of it. For those saw the one inning he threw at the end of that game, it was an impressive inning. He did a fine job.”
The farm director fairly noted that Perdomo remains a work in progress.
“He has work to do. He understands it. He needs innings. He went to Peoria then came back here to Palm Beach. He had a nice run this year considering that last April he was in the extended program,” LaRocque said.
So, why did the Cards let Perdomo go, then? In a conversation with MLB.com earlier this week, general manager John Mozeliak said he did not believe any eligible Cards would be taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
So much for that. In reality, Perdomo did not last beyond the fourth pick.
OK, the Cardinals probably figured that even if Perdomo was taken, he is not likely to remain in the Major Leagues all season long and so will be returned to them eventually, anyway.
I get that line of thinking, and honestly, they are probably right. At this point, Perdomo has not pitched effectively above Class A and I am pretty sure the National League West is considerably tougher than that.
Then again, why put a top prospect through all of this when you had five open spots on the 40-man roster?
The organization obviously likes Perdomo. Of all the players in their system, he was the one singled out to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game just five months ago. You just read LaRocque’s recent praise.
Yet, all Perdomo may know is that the Cardinals didn’t think enough of him to protect him this fall. Then in rapid succession, he became a Rockie, then a Padre. The good news is that he will reach the Majors before anyone expected, almost certainly including himself. The bad news is that he is not ready and his failures will be magnified because of his tenuous status as a Rule 5 selection.
Instead of being nurtured back in Palm Beach and later, Springfield to get those needed innings and experience in 2016, Perdomo is being thrown to the wolves, with an expectation that he is unlikely to survive the ordeal.
Wouldn’t it have been preferable to skip all that and just protect him in the first place?
Our 2016 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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