Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation

Four of The Cardinal Nation’s top five St. Louis Cardinals prospects will be unavailable to open the regular season

Four of The Cardinal Nation’s top five St. Louis Cardinals prospects are expected to be unavailable to open the regular season.

While the recent rash of injuries have led to seven members of the St. Louis Cardinals being placed on the disabled list, the bug is not confined to the Majors. It is hitting the upper levels of the minor league system as well.

In fact, four of The Cardinal Nation’s top five prospects for 2016 are projected to be on the shelf for minor league opening day, Thursday, April 7. Three are injured and one is suspended. All are pitchers.

TCN prospect no. 1, pitcher Alex Reyes

One of the top prospects in all of baseball has 40 games remaining on his suspension for a second positive test for marijuana. Reyes will likely remain on the restricted list at Double-A Springfield, the level at which the right-hander was assigned when suspended in November.

TCN prospect no. 2, pitcher Jack Flaherty

As far as I know, nothing bad has happened to the right-hander since I saw him pitch in spring training camp two weeks ago. Flaherty is expected to headline the Class A-Advanced Palm Beach rotation in 2016, but perhaps he should be looking over his shoulder.

TCN prospect no. 3, pitcher Marco Gonzales

We reported on Tuesday that Gonzales had experienced forearm discomfort while throwing a bullpen and was not present at Memphis’ Media Day. We also learned that the lefty was expected to open the season in the disabled list. On Wednesday,’s Jenifer Langosch stated the problem is with Gonzales’ elbow and that he is off to a national specialist for a second opinion.

TCN prospect no. 4, pitcher Luke Weaver

The former first-rounder was expected to earn a promotion to Springfield to open the season, but suffered a fracture in his non-throwing hand partway through spring training. (Note the protection on his left hand and wrist in the photo above.) I don’t know if the right-hander will be on the Palm Beach or Springfield DL to open the season, but I was told he will probably miss the first month. Weaver also opened 2015 on the shelf.

TCN prospect no. 5, pitcher Tim Cooney

The lefty had been slowed by shoulder soreness in big-league camp, but threw one inning for St. Louis on March 26 before being sent down to minor league camp the next day. I have no word of any further problems with Cooney. My guess is that he needs more time to build up his arm for the regular season. It appears that as soon as he is ready, Cooney will become the de-facto number six starter for St. Louis, especially given the Gonzales news.

Stay tuned to The Cardinal Nation for more Cardinals system full-season roster information and analysis this week.

For more

To see the entire Cardinals system by level and position, along with free agents and every transaction all year long, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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

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