2016 Cards Prospect Changes from BaseballHQ

St. Louis Cardinals individual player movement and projections changes from 2015 to 2016 according to BaseballHQ’s Minor League Baseball Analyst.

In Part 1 of this annual four-part series, we looked into the individual rankings, scouting reports and future potential of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top 15 prospects according to BaseballHQ’s “Minor League Baseball Analyst” for 2016.

Next, we dug into the Minor League Analyst’s organizational ratings for the National League Central Division clubs with scoring of each in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent, depth and overall and compared them to a number of recent past seasons.

Here in Part 3, we will look into individual player movement and changes in their projections from year to year.

There has only been moderate churn in the top 15. Five from last year’s rankings are gone, down from seven last year and eight the year prior. Still, top end talent was affected considerably as half of the 2015 top six left, including the Cardinals’ numbers three, four and six ranked prospects. Two graduated to the majors – outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk – and one was traded – pitcher Rob Kaminsky.

The other two apparently left the list for two different reasons. Catcher Carson Kelly is continuing to progress, but was passed by others. His Palm Beach teammate, shortstop Juan Herrera, missed a considerable share of 2015 due to injury.

Cards top 15 Hitters on (rank) rating Hitters off (2015 #s)
2016 Bader (8) 8D Piscotty (3) 8C
  Plummer (11) 8D Grichuk (6) 8C
    Kelly (13) 8D
    Herrera (14) 7D
Cards top 15 Pitchers on (rank) rating Pitchers off (2015 #s)
2016 Fernandez (10) 9D Kaminsky (4) 8C
  Alcantara (13) 9D  
  Woodford (14) 8D  

(Scan down to the final tables of this article for a refresher on the meaning of the two-digit codes for each player, first introduced in Part 1 of this series.)

This year’s top seven were all in the rankings in 2015. As noted above, five players left, so of course five others join the top 15 for the first time. The debuts are not surprising, including the two first-rounders from June’s draft – Nick Plummer (11) and Jake Woodford (14). The third new member of the Cardinals system to make his debut is third-rounder Harrison Bader, the top debut at 8.

The others to join the top 15 were a pair of hard throwers already in the organization in Junior Fernandez (10) and Sandy Alcantara (13).

Next we have the 10 players remaining on the list from last year, seven of whom are pitchers. Here, you again see a player’s numeric rank in the top 15, followed by his potential/probability rating, both this year and last. A red box means the player fell in one of both of the scores from last year. Green means improvement while yellow means no significant change on a year-to-year basis.

Cards top 15 Incumbent hitters 2016 In 2015
  Sierra (2) 8C Sierra (11) 8D
  Sosa (7) 8D Sosa (12) 8D
  Tilson (9) 7A Tilson (9) 7C
Cards top 15 Incumbent pitchers 2016 In 2015
  Reyes (1) 10D Reyes (1) 9D
  Flaherty (3) 8C Flaherty (5) 8D
  Weaver (4) 8C Weaver (7) 8D
  Gonzales (5) 8C Gonzales (2) 8A
  Cooney (6) 7A Cooney (8) 7B
  Williams (12) 8E Williams (15) 8E
  Tuivailala (15) 7C Tuivailala (10) 7B

Looking at the names that go with the colors, a very consistent trend shows itself. Five of the seven pitchers improved their relative ranking within the system from year to year, as did two of the three hitters.

In the cases of Marco Gonzales and Sam Tuivailala, each had the odds of reaching their ultimate potential dropped and both slid down in the top 15. No other repeater saw his ultimate potential fall.

An impressive five players improved their chances of reaching the same ultimate potential, including Magneuris Sierra, Charlie Tilson, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver and Tim Cooney. Most notable and quite surprising to me was Tilson’s jump from 50% to 90% chance of becoming a solid regular.

Cardinals top 15 2016 10 Hall of Fame-type  9 Elite player  8 Solid regular  7 Average regular 
A 90% chance       Cooney, Tilson
B 70% chance        
C 50% chance     Sierra, Flaherty, Weaver, Tuivailala
D 30% chance Reyes Fernandez, Sosa, Bader, Plummer,  
    Alcantara Woodford  
E 10% chance     Williams  

Looking at the above table by columns, the most important change year to year really stands out. For the first time ever, the Cardinals have a prospect considered to have future Hall of Fame-type talent, Alex Reyes.

The elite-potential player group lost Reyes, but picked up two exciting pitchers in Fernandez and Alcantara. They sit in the same 30% cell that Reyes inhabited last year.

Gonzales is the major drop in the “solid regulars” column, falling from 90 percent odds of success to joining three others at 50 percent. The three 2015 draftees make up a majority of the 30 percent odds group.

Remember the Potential Rating for each member of the top 15, in which the higher the number, the more elite the player is expected to be. In terms of Probability Rating, the lower the letter, the more likely the player should reach that potential. Therefore, the upper left is the best place to be. Lower left is arguably next best. (To review the specific value definitions, refer to Part 1 of this series.)

The final table is a quick-and-dirty quality measure, yet the busy graph holds a lot of information. In the cells, the first number is the quantity of players in the top 15 at that level. The number that follows in parentheses is the change in the number of that level of players since last year. For example, there are two 9D players in 2016 after having one in 2014.

The colors of the cells indicate either fewer players in that group (red), more players (green) or no change from last year (yellow).

Cards top 15 2016 (vs 2015) 10 Hall of Fame-type 9 Elite player  8 Solid regular  7 Average regular  Total
A 90% chance     0 (down 1) 2 (up 2) 2 (up 1)
B 70% chance       0 (down 2) 0 (down 2)
C 50% chance     4 (up 1) 1 (flat) 5 (up 1)
D 30% chance 1 (up 1) 2 (up 1) 4 (flat) 0 (down 2) 7 (flat)
E 10% chance     1 (flat)   1 (flat)
Total 1 (up 1) 2 (up 1) 9 (flat) 3 (down 2) 15

When looking at this heat map, the Cardinals’ slip in the overall rankings and holding flat in top end talent with a B score, are a little surprising. Essentially, the Cardinals have two more Hall of Fame-type (10) and elite (9) players than last year and have two fewer sold regulars (7). That looks like a very positive improvement to me.

As noted above, the number of solid regulars (8) are remaining flat, with the only change, the lower success odds for Gonzales. The number of average regulars (7) are down, but as noted, that is good. Further, the two average regulars are sitting at 90 percent odds, Tim Cooney and Tilson.

Taking the horizontal view, there are just those two 90 percent odds players. The quantity of 70 percent odds players took a major hit, losing two, while the 50 percent went up by one. Granted that all the top-end talent is considered to have 30 percent odds, just the fact they exist is great news as far as I am concerned.

In the final installment of this annual series, we will compare several of the top Cardinals prospects to the best in the game overall, by position in terms of long-range potential in the Major Leagues as well as in top skills. Closing the article will be a review of the Cardinals’ 2015 draft.

In closing, thank you again to BaseballHQ for giving us this special look into their data. Please respect them and copyright laws by not duplicating this material.

Link to Part 1 of this report: ”BaseballHQ’s Top 15 Cardinals Prospects: 2016”.
Link to Part 2 of this report: ”BaseballHQ: Cardinals System Still in MLB’s Middle”.

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