OK, so the title says 2016, because this article is part of The Cardinal Nation’s top 40 prospect series wrap-up for 2016. It is being written in 2016, but it is actually part of a look back, auditing our work from a year ago.
With the benefit of a full 12 months of hindsight since the last-year’s St. Louis Cardinals top 40 rankings first appeared, it comes the time once again to take some bows and be humbled in comparable measure.
Following are my views of some of our most notable individual picks and pans from our 2015 rankings, completed last January.
Top 2015 pick – Message board community – Tommy Pham #10
The oft-injured outfielder headed into 2015 with a clear job starting every day in Memphis. All he needed to do was play his game and hit – while staying healthy, of course. The message board community had faith, putting Pham in their top 10 last winter. Come August and September, that confidence paid off when he carried the St. Louis offense for several weeks and gave the team their own confidence to let Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos go. Pham is now positioned to be the 2016 team’s fourth outfielder.
Top 2015 pick – Brian Walton – Greg Garcia - #18
The versatile infielder played well enough to get more chances with St. Louis last season than he did, but Pete Kozma had him fully blocked. With no options remaining, Kozma remained on the team despite a batting average closer to .100 than the Mendoza Line. When he finally received his chance late in the season, Garcia seems to have fought his way into the 2016 picture.
Top 2015 pan – Community – Patrick Wisdom - #31
The message board community was not particularly sold on the third baseman’s introductory season at Double-A Springfield in 2014. As it turns out, they were right, as Wisdom’s struggles were back – enough that the organization pulled him out of the Texas League for a refresher course in Florida. Wisdom rebounded strongly for June, but fell back into inconsistent results later on. He has since been passed on our third base prospect depth chart by 2015 draftees Paul DeJong and Bryce Denton.
Top 2015 pan – Walton – Rowan Wick - #28
The community had the then-slugging outfielder as a top-20 selection, choosing to disregard his considerable troubles with strikeouts in the Midwest League. There was something to my skepticism about Wick. As you probably know, the strong-armed former catcher moved to the mound this spring, returning to the Gulf Coast League to work on a new skill.
No one’s predictions will ever be anywhere near 100 percent accurate. Here are some of our highest-profile misses from last year’s rankings.
Most overrated 2015 pick – Community – Jose Godoy - #28
The message board folks thought the catcher was primed for a breakout, placing him as the second-ranked backstop in the system after Carson Kelly. Godoy was coming off a 36-game stint at Johnson City during which he posted an impressive .813 OPS. However, in the same number of 2016 contests one level up at State College, the 21-year-old delivered a mediocre .234 batting average and .659 OPS.
Most overrated 2015 pick – Walton – Nick Petree - #17
I was proven wrong putting Petree in my top 20. The former Missouri State right-hander was quite hittable in his 10 starts at Double-A Springfield and spent the final half of the season back at high-A Palm Beach. His numbers improved somewhat there, but a 25-year-old starting in the Florida State League is not very interesting.
Worst 2015 miss – Community – Trey Nielsen - unranked
One year ago, the community was slow to appreciate the potential in the former third baseman from Utah turned right-handed pitcher, leaving him off their prospect list. I did include Nielsen on mine and wrote him up in my 2015 “Best of the Rest”. After a strong season at Palm Beach, Nielsen vaulted up to 28th for 2016.
Worst 2015 miss – Walton – Anthony Garcia – unranked
To be fair, the community had also lost faith in the power-hitting outfielder. After all, two rough years at high-A, slowed by injury was hardly inspiring. In 2015, however, free from the Florida State League, Garcia turned it on. His success in the Texas League opened the door for a promotion to Triple-A and a spot in the 40-man roster. It was an impressive recovery. With the first outfield injury, Garcia could become the third Garcia in St. Louis this season (along with Jaime and Greg).
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2016 and read about each individual player, click here.
Next up: The final installments of this series will look at our 2016 top 40 prospect list by level of play and position, comparing it to past years, followed by a look at the top 40 players from 2015 who left the list for 2016.
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