2016 Cardinals Top Prospects - The Graduates

Members of our top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospects in 2015 no longer on the list for 2016.

As we reach the conclusion, the 49th article in this year’s top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospect countdown, we will delve into why a group of players dropped off our top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospect list from last year to this.


Turnover is at record high, as 20 players left our 2015 top 40. That compares to 18 the year prior. While there was only a small difference in the year-to-year total, not surprisingly, there was a major change in where the departed prospects went.

Of the 18, only three graduated to St. Louis, compared to eight just two years ago. Of course, not every year will feature the impressive group that included Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, Matt Adams, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Pete Kozma and Tyler Lyons. After 2015, outfielders Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham were the only St. Louis Cardinals that left the top 40 for the last time.

The other 17 who dropped off since the 2015 top 40 did so in several ways, including being lost via free agency and Rule 5, as well as traded. Three were released. The most of any category, 10, simply fell off the list due to declined performance. To be fair, it may not be a decline in their individual results as much as others doing even better. In other cases, the injury bug bit.

The departing individuals are listed below with the reason for them leaving along with their top 40 rankings over the previous years, as applicable.

Graduated (3) 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07
Randal Grichuk 4 10 NA NA NA NA NA    
Stephen Piscotty 5 4 12            
Tommy Pham 13 23 NR 23 19 40 NR NR 39
Dropped off (10) 15 14 13 12 11 10      
Breyvic Valera 15 31 19 39 NR        
Juan Herrera 17 27 NA NA          
Nick Petree 20 34              
Bryan Dobzanski 24                
Mike Mayers 25 21              
Rowan Wick 28 NR              
C.J. McElroy 32 NR 31 36          
Mason Katz 33 NR              
Dixon Llorens 37 NR 33            
Juan Perez 40 NR NR NR          
Lost via Rule 5 (1) 15 14 13 12 11 10      
Fernando Baez 38 38 NR NR NR        
Free agent (1) 15 14 13 12 11 10      
Xavier Scruggs 30 NR NR NR NR NR      
Traded (2) 15 14 13 12 11 10      
Rob Kaminsky 3 5              
Malik Collymore 22 NR              
Released (3) 15 14 13 12 11 10      
Cody Stanley 26 NR NR 26 26        
Zach Petrick 29 16 NR            
Ronald Castillo 36 NR NR NR NR NR      
Retired (0) 15 14 13 12 11 10      

Let’s drill down a bit deeper into the 20 players who dropped off the top 40 to see if there is anything to learn.


Given the reputation of the organization having so many pitching prospects, it was a bit surprising that none of them graduated from the top 40. Then again, the best hurlers remaining in the system spent most, if not all of the 2015 at Class-A.

It was also a bit odd that all three promotions to the majors came from the same position, outfield. Those players’ success at St. Louis enabled the team to withstand the losses of three other outfielders in Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos and Jason Heyward, though they preferred to keep the latter. The downside is a lack of top prospect depth in the outfield close to St. Louis.

After the three promotions to the majors, 17 names follow. The positional distribution is interesting: nine are pitchers, with one catcher, one first baseman, three middle infielders and three outfielders leaving the list from the position player ranks.

Dropped off          
Gone Peak Lost momentum Peak Injuries Peak
Xavier Scruggs StL Breyvic Valera Spr Mike Mayers Spr
Cody Stanley StL Nick Petree Spr Mason Katz PB
Zach Petrick Mem Dixon Llorens Spr Juan Herrera PB
Ronald Castillo Spr Rowan Wick PB Bryan Dobzanski JC
Rob Kaminsky PB C.J. McElroy PB    
Fernando Baez SC Juan Perez Peo    
Malik Collymore JC        

Starting at the left of the table, Note that just two of the seven players having left the top 40 and the organization had trials in St. Louis first. At this point, neither Xavier Scruggs nor Cody Stanley seem to have a clear major league future ahead elsewhere. The former is starting over with Miami, while the latter has the stigma of two PED suspensions.

Two others were released. Once-promising outfielder Ronald Castillo could not work his way out of Class-A while 2013 Pitcher of the Year Zach Petrick preferred to try his luck in Japan rather than continue to pitch in Triple-A.

Hard-throwing Fernando Baez suffered through injuries at State College, but was snapped up in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and will not be back.

The other two were dealt away, the same total as the year before. They were a top five prospect in Rob Kaminsky and a short-season outfielder in Malik Collymore.


The center group, labeled “Lost momentum,” had been on the top 40 for an average of two years. Several of these players may have reached a career stall and it is unclear if they will be able to pull out of it. Breyvic Valera may have the best chance, while former power hitter Rowan Wick is re-inventing himself in rookie ball as a hard-throwing reliever. Center fielder C.J. McElroy is several years into a switch-hitting detour that seems incomplete.

The far right group of players, under “Injuries” in the table, all were unable to protect their top 40 position due to major 2015 injuries. None are so far behind that they could not work their way back on. I like the chances for shortstop Juan Herrera most, perhaps followed by hurlers Mike Mayers and youngster Bryan Dobzanski. The first two will be among those in STEP Camp this spring.

In closing

Thank you to those of you who followed along during the entire TCN top 40 prospect journey for 2016. The time has flown by! 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 as well as our nine follow-up articles, click here.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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