As we near the conclusion of this year’s top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospect countdown, this report will study the levels of all players on a year-to-year basis.
I have captured the level of competition for the top 40 players in each of the last nine years. This information is presented in the tables below, broken out between position players and pitchers.
|Gulf Coast League||5||3||2||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|Gulf Coast League||3||2||1||0||2||2||1||1||2|
First, note the shift, returning to pitching being predominant as it had been in 2014’s top 40 before hitters temporarily took that lead for 2015. The organization’s pitching pipeline has expanded, especially through the opening up of the international program’s results, spurring the return to pitching dominating the top 40 prospects.
While there has been a highly-publicized gap in position players in the middle levels of the system, it is not the case with our top 40 prospect pitchers. In addition to, and of more immediate interest than the spike in the Gulf Coast League is the relative wealth of pitching prospects at A-Advanced Palm Beach and Class-A Peoria. That includes #2 prospect Jack Flaherty. Of course, they are all still a couple of years away at best.
Yet, between the GCL and Midwest League, only one pitcher ranked across two levels. In fact, looking ahead, State College also had no top 40 hitter, either, making the short-season Class-A club the only affiliate at any level so affected. With no top 40 prospects on the roster, manager Johnny Rodriguez and his coaches deserve a special call out for leading their Spikes club to a .539 record, falling just one game short of a New York-Penn League wild card spot.
Though the Cardinals have been breaking in newly-drafted pitchers slowly in the GCL for the last several years, this year’s total of five includes three international hurlers. The five count equals the GCL’s total top 40 pitching representation for the last four years combined.
Though Class-A Peoria has the most position player top 40 prospect selections for 2016, four is the lowest team peak for all levels in the nine years I have been doing these reports. In other words, the hitters are pretty well spread out across levels.
Of course, the challenge is that all top 40 prospects are not equal, with a number of the most promising ones still in short-season ball. That includes three players who close out the top 10 in Nick Plummer, Edmundo Sosa and Magneuris Sierra.
The number of top 40 position players at the top three levels of the system are down, but that is in part since so many were promoted during 2014, including Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham, all of whom are no longer top 40 eligible. Then we have Xavier Scruggs, Zach Petrick and Cody Stanley, all of whom were allowed to leave the organization.
2016 top 40 by 10-round blocks
As already mentioned, not all prospects, even top prospects, are created equal. While we are looking at the position player-pitcher split, here is a high level view of how the 2016 top 40 is broken out by blocks of 10 rounds.
|Top 40 by position||#1-10||#11-20||#21-30||#31-40||Total|
I was very surprised to see perfect balance between hitters and pitchers in each of the first two groups of 10 picks. However, in reality, pitchers dominate the top five and gain their overall edge with a huge majority in the fourth block of 10, prospects 31-40.
Of the 22 hurlers on the 2015 list, just one is a reliever while the other 21 are starters. The latter group is the highest total by far in the decade I have been doing this analysis. Seven of the starters are left-handed, also a new high water mark, up three from 2015.
As long as the starters’ totals hold up, I am not concerned about fewer relievers. In fact, perhaps some of the emerging starters took the spots they held previously. If so, I am good with that.
2016 top 40 by level
We will take one more cut at the full 2016 top 40. This view sorts them by position grouping and level. Including their names and individual rankings help put a face on the data.
Note that despite State College having been shut out, still 13 of our top 40 are not yet established at full-season ball, continuing an upward trend over the last three years. Seven of the “inexperienced 13” are pitchers, again harkening back to the 2015 draft with promising freshmen Jake Woodford and Ian Oxnevad to go with 2014 draftee Ronnie Williams and four international program graduates.
|Top 40 (rank)||Position Players (18)||Pitchers (22)|
|St. Louis||Greg Garcia (19)||Marco Gonzales (3)|
|Sam Tuivailala (11)|
|Tim Cooney (5)|
|Memphis||Aledmys Diaz (7)||Arturo Reyes (33)|
|Jacob Wilson (20)|
|Anthony Garcia (25)|
|Springfield||Charlie Tilson (6)||Alex Reyes (1)|
|Patrick Wisdom (24)||Andrew Morales (37)|
|Michael Ohlman (30)|
|Palm Beach||Carson Kelly (12)||Luke Weaver (4)|
|Daniel Poncedeleon (22)|
|Trey Nielsen (28)|
|Luis Perdomo (R5-29)|
|Corey Littrell (34)|
|Peoria||Darren Seferina (26)||Jack Flaherty (2)|
|Harrison Bader (13)||Ian McKinney (27)|
|Paul DeJong (16)||Austin Gomber (14)|
|Oscar Mercado (32)||Matt Pearce (39)|
|Johnson City||Edmundo Sosa (9)||Ronnie Williams (31)|
|Magneuris Sierra (10)|
|Eliezer Alvarez (36)|
|Gulf Coast League||Nick Plummer (8)||Jake Woodford (15)|
|Bryce Denton (21)||Sandy Alcantara (17)|
|Allen Cordoba (23)||Junior Fernandez (18)|
|Ian Oxnevad (35)|
|David Oca (40)|
|DSL||none||Alvaro Seijas (38)|
As always, our top 40 prospect lists from each of the last 11 years can be accessed via “PROSPECTS” > “The Cardinal Nation Rankings” permanently displayed on the red menu bar underneath the site logo on The Cardinal Nation homepage.
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2016 and read about each individual player, click here.
Next up: The final installment of this series will look at the top 40 players from 2015 who left the list for 2016.
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