As we continue our series breaking down the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals system, this time we will review the rising prospects who have entered the top 40 for 2016. Of course, a variety of routes were taken by the 19 first-timers and especially, the one returnee, to get there.
That’s right. Exactly half of the top 40 has turned over from year to year, the highest total in at least the last five years and likely longer.
First, some history. One year ago, seven newly-drafted players made The Cardinal Nation top prospect list in their first year of eligibility with six and seven draftees having joined our 2014 and 2013 lists, respectively.
The 2015 Cardinals draft had two first-rounders, same as each of the last two years. But one of them, Jake Woodford, was passed by third-rounder Harrison Bader in our new top 40. Only one – outfielder Nick Plummer – debuted in the top 10 after all four of the first-rounders the last two years - Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver following Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky – opened in the top 10.
Plummer, Bader and Woodford are joined by three other members of the Cards’ 2015 draft class, each making their debuts between numbers 16 and 35. As they were selected in the second and fourth rounds, along with an eighth-rounder bonused as a third, they cannot be considered surprises. I would not characterize any of them – Paul DeJong, Bryce Denton and Ian Oxnevad - as early sleepers.
Overall, of the six draftees ranked, just two are pitchers with four position players. That is the fewest number of newly-drafted pitchers to make the top 40 in some number of years.
Of the Cardinals’ top six signed picks in the 2015 draft, all taken by the 131st selection, only pitcher Jordan Hicks missed the top 40. The prep right-hander, selected 105th overall, was held out of action for the entire summer.
The following table indicates each 2015 draftee’s top 40 ranking along with the round in which he was selected.
|2015 Draft (6)||Pos||T40||Rd|
The continued development of prospects having already been in the system made a significant impact on the list of new additions, with a whopping 12 new top 40 members from the group. The Cardinals also added a top 40 player as a new international signee in pitcher Alvaro Seijas at #38.
Just the opposite of the draftees primarily being position players, this group is made up almost entirely of pitchers – 10 of 13. The only exceptions are shortstop Allen Cordoba, catcher Michael Ohlman and second baseman Eliezer Alvarez.
Pitcher Luis Perdomo worked the longest to achieve this recognition. The right-hander finally debuts in the top 40 in his fifth opportunity. However, Perdomo was since selected in the Rule 5 Draft, and may or may not return to the Cardinals.
Including the draftees, just one of the first-time additions ranks in the top 10 and six more in the top 20. The previous years of eligibility of the non-2015 drafted players are indicated in the table below.
|New int'l sign (1)||Pos||16|
|NA=not in Cards org|
While five drafted prospects ranked higher, it is still encouraging to see two graduates of the Cardinals international program join the top 20 in Sandy Alcantara and Junior Fernandez. They are joined by Cordoba, Perdomo, Alvarez, Seijas and David Oca in the second 20.
|1st time in top 40||#1-10||#11-20||#21-30||#31-40||Total|
|US free agent||0|
|International free agent||2||2||3||7|
|Rule 5 selection||0|
|Acquired in trade||1||1||2|
The above table indicates an interesting split in the 2016 additions. The only new top 10 member is from the 2015 draft, while two of the six in the 11th through 20th-ranked group were international signees. The four who joined the organization in earlier drafts were all ranked in the second 20 other than co-organization Pitcher of the Year Austin Gomber at 14.
Last but not least, just one player rejoined this year’s top 40 after having been ranked previously, then dropping off. In fact, Memphis’ Anthony Garcia did it after two years away. This fall, the outfielder was placed on the 40-man roster so the Cardinals would avoid losing him in the Rule 5 Draft.
In terms of levels of play, all seven US minor league clubs are represented in this group of 20. More on this in an upcoming article in this series.
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2016 and read about each individual player, click here. You can learn the voters’ philosophies in making their selections and much more.
Next up: This article series continues as the voters highlight the players on our personal lists that did not make the 2016 consolidated top 40. We move next to our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, dive into the numbers behind the top 40, take a look at our best and worst selections from 2015, the top prospects by level of play and finally those players that left the top 40 from last year to this.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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