While our popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2016, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I am going to step in with a weekly look at how the members of The Cardinal Nation’s 2016 top 40 prospect list and selected other minor leaguers are doing in Major League camp.
The Cardinals, continuing to be one the more productive farm systems in baseball, especially on the pitching side, have a quantity of prospects close to the majors. While there is not roster space for almost all of them immediately, making a good impression now can pay off later.
I recently went on record with my predictions of which players I thought would make the Major League roster out of spring training. This week, I will be doing the same for all four of the full-season minor league clubs.
I am using those predictions in the tables below, but we should all understand that the roster targets are constantly moving throughout camp based on injuries and performance as the Cardinals figure out who best fits where.
The start of real games offers a first opportunity to regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-lukewarm-cold look from one period that could and likely will change substantially from one week to next.
As evidenced by their 7-5-1 record, the team appears to be in ok shape, all things considered. Not surprisingly, the pitching is ahead of the hitting – and likely it will stay there. St. Louis’ staff has a cumulative ERA of 3.91, sixth-best among the 30 MLB teams this spring. The team batting average is .274, almost in the middle at 14th. Their OPS of .744 is only 22nd, however.
The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 59 players invited, with 39 on the 40-man roster and 20 non-roster invitees. They were vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.
16 of the 59 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2015 – eight pitchers and eight position players. Another 14 minor leaguers are in Major League camp, either as members of the 40-man or as non-roster invitees, but did not place among our top 40.
This group is those about whom I will be reporting. Of course, the list of 30 we are now tracking here – 13 pitchers and 17 position players - will further decline in count each week as camp continues and cuts are made.
In fact, the first cuts of five pitchers and four position players have already occurred, including two 40-man players.
I rank each player based on his momentum – high/medium/low. I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call “Prediction” for where I thought as camp opened that the player will start in April. Players will remain “medium” unless I see as a clear reason to shift them.
Innings pitched (IP) and earned run average (ERA) are for first 13 games of the spring, coming into play on Wednesday, March 16.
The results - pitchers
|Majors camp||40||This wk|
|this week||This wk|
This time, I gave five of the seven top 40 prospect pitchers high marks, though two have already been re-assigned to minor league camp. Also, one non-top 40 earned a “hot” assessment. One medium score was assigned with the five pitchers with ERAs at 6.00 or more and the one who has not pitched called “cold”.
Five are unscored upon – Dean Kiekhefer, Tim Cooney and Sam Tuivailala along with re-assignees Daniel Poncedeleon and Trey Nielsen. Poncedelelon was especially impressive with no hits or walks allowed to go with three strikeouts over three innings. While Marco Gonzales’ 1.35 ERA looks good, his WHIP is dangerously high at 1.65.
Rule 5 addition Matt Bowman, fighting for his Cardinals life, has a lusty opponent batting average against of .421. Co-Pitcher of the Year Austin Gomber hasn’t yet pitched above Class-A, so his .529 batting average against in his first camp can be excused.
The results – hitters
|Majors camp||40||This wk|
|G Garcia||19||40m||St. Louis||22||0.273||Medium|
|this week||This wk|
|L Cruz||NR||NRI||Palm Beach||3||0.333||Low|
The all-important middle tier includes Aledmys Diaz, who had four hits in one game and four more over his other 11 contests. Jeremy Hazelbaker’s 4-for-4 success in stolen bases is worth noting as was Charlie Tilson’s 5-of-6 before he was sent down.
New 40-man outfielder Anthony Garcia is getting a long look in the early going. In fact, his 30 at-bats to date leads the team as do his five doubles and six RBI. Garcia, Kelly and Peguero are among the team leaders in slugging, with all above .600.
To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, STEP campers and more, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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