The subject here in the 45th article in our Top 40 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2016 series is our view of the organization’s best minor league prospects by position. At the end, all top 40 members are shown by position in an organizational prospect depth chart.
The selection process is very straightforward. We have already unveiled our top 40 prospects in the system via the “40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospects” series. Putting together this year’s All-Prospect Team is as simple as culling the top-ranked player at each position from that top 40.
The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team includes 12 players – eight position players, including two corner outfielders considered as one group, plus four pitchers – left and right-handed starters and relievers.
Actually, this time around, only 10 of the 12 come from the top 40. Left-handed relievers, who at the Major League level can be sourced from minor league starters, are broken out separately here for the fifth time. For the second consecutive year, the top-ranked lefty bullpenner is Dean Kiekhefer, among our “Best of the Rest,” those who fell just short of the top 40.
The other non-top 40 participant is at the first base position, one that can be filled by some outfielders, so not a huge priority to develop. Our choice is Luis Bandes, who played in 2015 at the entry level of competition in the US, the Gulf Coast League. Like Kiekhefer, Bandes was profiled in our “Best of the Rest” articles that followed the top 40 countdown.
Listed are each player’s overall ranking in the top 40, age and highest level played in 2015.
The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals 2016 All-Prospect Team
|First Base||Luis Bandes *||40+||19||Rk|
|Second Base||Jacob Wilson||20||25||AAA|
|Third Base||Paul DeJong *||16||22||A|
|Corner Outfield||Nick Plummer *||9||19||Rk|
|Corner Outfield||Magneuris Sierra *||10||19||A|
|LH Starter||Marco Gonzales||3||23||MLB|
|RH Starter||Alex Reyes||1||21||AA|
|LH Reliever||Dean Kiekhefer||40+||26||AAA|
|RH Reliever||Sam Tuivailala||11||23||MLB|
|* new members||22.2|
Last winter, our team had a record level of turnover from 2014, with eight of the 12 members of our 2015 All-Prospect Team having been first-timers. Just the opposite occurred this year, with eight holdovers and just four new additions to our 2016 All-Prospect Team (newbies are names with * above).
All the up-the-middle players are back. Carson Kelly makes his fourth consecutive All-Prospect Team, one at third base and the last three as a catcher. That is two years longer than any other 2016 team member. Other repeaters include second baseman Jacob Wilson and shortstop Aledmys Diaz, along with center fielder Charlie Tilson.
For an organization with so much pitching talent in the pipeline, it may seem a bit surprising that all four hurlers on the All-Prospect Team are back from 2015 – starters Marco Gonzales and Alex Reyes plus relievers Kiekhefer and Sam Tuivailala.
The four new members of the team come from two different backgrounds. Bandes and outfielder Magneuris Sierra were Latin American signings while third baseman Paul DeJong and outfielder Nick Plummer joined the organization in the 2015 Draft.
TCN/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2006 through 2016
|Catcher||Carson Kelly||Carson Kelly||Carson Kelly|
|First Base||Luis Bandes||Xavier Scruggs||J. Rodriguez|
|Second Base||Jacob Wilson||Jacob Wilson||Kolten Wong|
|Shortstop||Aledmys Diaz||Aledmys Diaz||Oscar Mercado|
|Third Base||Paul DeJong||Patrick Wisdom||Patrick Wisdom|
|Corner Outfield||Nick Plummer||Stephen Piscotty||Stephen Piscotty|
|Corner Outfield||Magneuris Sierra||Randal Grichuk||Oscar Taveras|
|Centerfield||Charlie Tilson||Charlie Tilson||James Ramsey|
|LH Starter||Marco Gonzales||Marco Gonzales||Rob Kaminsky|
|RH Starter||Alex Reyes||Alex Reyes||Carlos Martinez|
|LH Reliever||Dean Kiekhefer||Dean Kiekhefer||Sam Freeman|
|RH Reliever||Sam Tuivailala||Sam Tuivailala||Keith Butler|
|Player of Year||* Allen Cordoba||*Magneuris Sierra|
|Pitcher of Year||* Rob Kaminsky||* Zach Petrick|
|Catcher||Adam Ehrlich||Tony Cruz||Bryan Anderson|
|First Base||Matt Adams||Matt Adams||Mark Hamilton|
|Second Base||Kolten Wong||Kolten Wong||Daniel Descalso|
|Shortstop||Ryan Jackson||Ryan Jackson||Pete Kozma|
|Third Base||Carson Kelly||Zack Cox||Zack Cox*|
|Corner Outfield||Oscar Taveras||Oscar Taveras||Oscar Taveras|
|Corner Outfield||Anthony Garcia||Anthony Garcia||Allen Craig|
|Centerfield||James Ramsey||Charlie Tilson||Adron Chambers|
|LH Starter||John Gast||John Gast||John Gast|
|RH Starter||Shelby Miller||Shelby Miller||Shelby Miller*|
|LH Reliever||Sam Freeman||Sam Freeman|
|RH Reliever||Eduardo Sanchez||Eduardo Sanchez||Eduardo Sanchez|
|Player of Year||* M. Carpenter|
|Pitcher of Year||* T. Rosenthal||* B. Dickson|
|Catcher||Robert Stock||Bryan Anderson||Bryan Anderson|
|First Base||Mark Hamilton||Curt Smith||Mark Hamilton|
|Second Base||Daniel Descalso||Jose Martinez||Jose Martinez|
|Shortstop||Pete Kozma||Pete Kozma||Pete Kozma|
|Third Base||David Freese||Brett Wallace*||Allen Craig|
|Corner Outfield||Daryl Jones||Nick Stavinoha||Joe Mather|
|Corner Outfield||Allen Craig||Jon Jay||Jon Jay|
|Centerfield||Jon Jay||Colby Rasmus||Colby Rasmus|
|LH Starter||Jaime Garcia||Jaime Garcia||Jaime Garcia|
|RH Starter||Shelby Miller*||Jess Todd||Adam Ottavino*|
|Reliever||Eduardo Sanchez||Jason Motte||Chris Perez|
|Player of Year||* David Freese|
|Pitcher of Year||* Lance Lynn||* P.J. Walters|
|Catcher||Bryan Anderson||Bryan Anderson|
|First Base||Mark Hamilton||Mike Ferris|
|Second Base||Jose Martinez||Jose Martinez|
|Shortstop||Tyler Greene||Tyler Greene|
|Third Base||Randy Roth||Travis Hanson|
|Corner Outfield||Nick Stavinoha||Nick Stavinoha|
|Corner Outfield||Cody Haerther||Cody Haerther|
|Centerfield||Colby Rasmus||Colby Rasmus|
|LH Starter||Jaime Garcia||Eric Haberer|
|RH Starter||B. Hawksworth||Anthony Reyes|
|Reliever||Chris Perez||Tyler Johnson|
All-Prospect Team members from the previous 10 seasons are included for comparison purposes with our TCN/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year in those years listed in bold. Our 2015 choices were Reyes and Gulf Coast League MVP and batting champion, shortstop Allen Cordoba.
The current Cardinals organizational winners include a shared pitching award between Reyes and Austin Gomber and their top hitter Piscotty, who joined St. Louis for good in mid-July.
The asterisks (*) denote those cases in past years when either the Pitcher or Player of the Year (or both) was not ranked as the top prospect in the system at his position in the following off-season.
Those who left the 2015 All-Prospect Team include two graduates to St. Louis, outfielders Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, a departed free agent in first baseman Xavier Scruggs, and third baseman Patrick Wisdom, who had an up and down 2015, and was passed by two new draftees at his position.
Age and experience
With the departure of Scruggs, Kiekhefer becomes the “old man” of the Top Prospect Team at 26 years of age. Three of the four new members are the youngest at 19 years of age, including Sierra and Plummer. The third and youngest of the 19-year-olds, Bandes, replacing the 27-year-old Scruggs also helps drop the average age on the team by a half-year, from 22.7 last year to 22.2. The current average is more in line with the 2013 and 2014 teams.
The level of play reached by the average player is listed as Double-A, but mathematically, it is slightly below that level. Last year, it was just below Triple-A, so the 2016 team is on the average one level less advanced than last year’s, correlating with their ages.
In another indication of the less-experienced 2016 All-Prospect team, just two of those 12 prospects reached the majors during 2015, down from four having played some with St. Louis in each of the two prior years. At the other end of the spectrum, two of the new 12 finished at Class-A this past summer with three below in short-season ball. Last year’s team had no short-season representatives.
Runners-Up/Depth Chart (name/overall ranking)
I will close with this year’s “Runners-Up” - the 30 players who made the 2016 Top 40, but not this All-Prospect Team. The following list also provides a quick visual snapshot of system-wide balance behind the 12-man All-Prospect Team.
|Pos||#||Name (top 40 rank)|
|C||1||Michael Ohlman (30)|
|2B||2||Darren Seferina (26)||Eliezer Alvarez (36)|
|SS||4||Edmundo Sosa (9)||Greg Garcia (19)||Allen Cordoba (23)|
|Oscar Mercado (32)|
|3B||2||Bryce Denton (21)||Patrick Wisdom (24)|
|COF||1||Anthony Garcia (25)|
|CF||1||Harrison Bader (13)|
|LHS||6||Tim Cooney (5)||Austin Gomber (14)||Ian McKinney (27)|
|Corey Littrell (34)||Ian Oxnevad (35)||David Oca (40)|
|RHS||13||Jack Flaherty (2)||Luke Weaver (4)||Jake Woodford (15)|
|Sandy Alcantara (17)||Junior Fernandez (18)||Daniel Poncedeleon (22)|
|Trey Nielsen (28)||Luis Perdomo (R5-29)||Ronnie Williams (31)|
|Arturo Reyes (33)||Andrew Morales (37)||Alvaro Seijas (38)|
|Matt Pearce (39)|
Top prospect depth in the infield looks reasonable, with the clear benefit of the 2015 Draft having added good players at third base. On the other hand, the graduations of Piscotty, Grichuk and Tommy Pham have left the outfield very thin in terms of top prospects.
That lack of depth is especially apparent at the corners, where All-Prospect outfielder from 2012-2013, Anthony Garcia, stands all alone. And I really mean alone, as it can be argued that all three of the outfielders on the 2016 All-Prospect Team are really centerfielders. The question remains, ‘From where will the power come?’
On the pitching side, the right-handed supply remains strong, while the quantity of left-handed starters is double that in 2015. Though no relievers other than Tuivailala made the top 40, as long as there is a plentiful supply of starters, bullpenners can follow.
As always, for more information about these players, click on their highlighted names above to be taken to their free The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com player profile pages with bios, photos, news and more!
Further, to see the entire Cardinals system by position and level on one page, along with all transactions year-round, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
Next up: This article series continues for The Cardinal Nation members as we 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 who left the top 40 from last year to this.
Our 2016 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here.
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