BaseballHQ’s annual “Minor League Baseball Analyst” arrived in my mailbox recently. The first prospect guide to fully integrate sabermetrics and scouting includes detailed reports on over 1000 minor leaguers.
In Part 1, we reviewed their top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects with the details as to why they’re ranked where they are. In Part 2, Cardinals’ organizational rankings in areas such as pitching, hitting, depth and top talent were compared to their National League Central Division competitors. Then we followed with a look at individual player movement and projections changes from 2015 to 2016.
Here 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 this article will be a review of the Cardinals’ 2015 draft.
The Cardinals made a poor showing compared to other organizations with just Alex Reyes placing among the overall top 100 prospects. “Fair share” for any organization would also be three, with was St. Louis’ participation last year. That was down from six in 2014.
Top 100 Prospects of 2016 - Top 100 minor league prospects in terms of long-range potential in the major leagues.
5. Alex Reyes, RHP, STL
As in the case of many prospect raters, the overall site rankings represent a melding of multiple votes. BaseballHQ is no different. Right-handers Jack Flaherty (no. 78) and Luke Weaver (no. 89) also made Jeremy Deloney’s top 100, but missed the combined cut.
In the positional lists below, the Cardinals had better hope their infield will remain intact for some time. For the second straight year, the organization has no top 15 prospects at catcher, first, second, third base or shortstop. Magneuris Sierra did place on the top 45 outfielders list.
The Cardinals do have an exceptionally strong representation - five names - on the top 75 starting pitching list, one more than in 2015. That can serve as a reminder that trading strength in one area to address needs in another is an approach that may continue. Sam Tuivailala also placed among the top 15 relief prospects.
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Shortstop
1. Corey Seager, LAD
No Cardinals ranked (same as 2013-15)
Top 45 Prospects by Position – Outfield
1. Byron Buxton, MIN (same as 2014-15)
33. Magneuris Sierra, STL (unranked in 2015)
Top 75 Prospects by Position – Starting pitcher
1. Lucas Giolito, WAS (same as 2015)
2. Alex Reyes, STL (up from #23 in 2015)
49. Jack Flaherty, STL (up from #74 in 2015)
54. Luke Weaver, STL (unranked in 2015)
58. Marco Gonzales, STL (down from #43 in 2015)
69. Tim Cooney, STL (unranked in 2015)
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Relief pitcher
1. Alex Meyer, MIN
12. Sam Tuivailala, STL (unranked in 2015)
Note the following lists are unordered.
Top Power - Top 25 prospects that have the potential to hit for power in the Major Leagues, combining raw power, plate discipline, and the ability to make their power game-usable.
No Cardinals represented (Oscar Taveras was the last Cardinal included, in 2014).
Top Batting Average - Top 25 prospects that have the potential to hit for high batting average in the major leagues, combining contact ability, plate discipline, hitting mechanics and strength.
No Cardinals represented (Oscar Taveras was included in 2014).
Top Speed - Top 25 prospects that have the potential to steal bases in the Major Leagues, combining raw speed and base-running instincts.
No Cardinals listed (again)
Top Fastball - Top 25 pitchers that have the best fastball, combining velocity and pitch movement.
Alex Reyes, RHP, STL (also in 2015)
Top Breaking Ball - Top 25 pitchers that have the best breaking ball, combining pitch movement, strikeout potential and consistency.
Alex Reyes, RHP, STL (Rob Kaminsky was included in 2015)
Comment: It is encouraging to see Reyes take such a prominent place on the national stage.
Top 75 Fantasy Impact – 2016
14. Alex Reyes, (RHP, STL)
43. Marco Gonzales (LHP, STL)
Comment: I respectfully disagree with my friends here. I don’t think Reyes will reach St. Louis until sometime in the second half and with so many other starting candidates ahead of him, I think he will start in the pen, where his 2016 fantasy value will be negligible. Further, I think Cooney should be on the list, perhaps ahead of Gonzales, due to the question marks with the latter’s shoulder.
Bonus coverage - ST. LOUIS CARDINALS 2015 DRAFT RECAP
The Cardinals rolled the dice in 2015 and took high school players with five of their first six picks. They started in round one with Michigan prep OF Nick Plummer and followed up with RHP Jake Woodford (supp 1st), and 3B Bryce Denton (2nd). Plummer has good athleticism, but didn’t face the stiffest competition in high school and could take time to develop. Woodford has a good 90-93 mph fastball and profiles as a solid mid-rotation starter. The Cardinals first collegiate pick, Florida OF Harrison Bader (3rd), is a polished player with nice tools across the board. They also added Illinois State 3B Paul DeJong (4th). Bader and DeJong might be the two best players added in 2015.
Sleeper: C Chris Chinea (17th) has the potential to stick behind the plate with an advanced bat. He hit .313/.356/.506 in his pro debut and should move up to full-season ball in 2016.
Grade: B (down from A- in 2015)
Other NL Central Draft grades
In closing, thank you 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: ”BaseballHQ: Cardinals System Still in MLB’s Middle”
Link to Part 3: ”2016 Cardinals Prospect Changes from BaseballHQ”
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